Watch an emotional Fred Couples, Colin Montgomerie and Ken Schofield give their acceptance speeches at Monday night's world Golf Hall of Fame induction ceremonies.
Click here to see Jim Nantz's tribute to Fred Couples.
Click here to see Nantz's tribute to Ken Venturi.
Click here to see David Fay's tribute to Ken Schofield.
Click here to see PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem's speech.
Click here to read about all the excitement and emotion on Monday night.
By John Schwarb, PGATOUR.COM
The world of putting on the PGA TOUR became an itty-bitty less interesting this season.
That’s because Robert Garrigus has shelved his itty-bitty putter.
Garrigus is one of the longest hitters on TOUR but also gained notoriety in recent years for his 28.5-inch putter, which looked pretty funny in the hands of a 5-foot-11 pro. Seemingly more suited for a junior’s bag, Garrigus’ putter instead helped lift him to a win at the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic in 2010 and a 74th-place FedExCup finish in 2011.
Alas, the long putter revolution has picked up another believer as Garrigus had a belly putter in play last week at the Humana Challenge, where he finished T2.
Garrigus used a 46-inch Scotty Cameron Big Sur – 17.5 inches taller than his old putter.
“I would have never in a million years been like, ‘oh, I think I need to go to a belly putter,’” Garrigus said after the final round at La Quinta, Calif.
His coach, Jim Ahern, encouraged him to simply try it out.
“I putted with a few different styles, the belly, I tried the chest, and the chest ended up being perfect,” Garrigus said. “It was 46 inches, which is three inches shorter -- kind of fitting, because my other putter was about seven inches shorter than everybody else's. But I started rolling it, I started getting confident with it, and about five or six days before I came out (to Humana), I found the perfect grip for my putting stroke, and it took all the tension out of it. Man, I tell you what, I haven't rolled it this good in quite a long time.
“It's so easy to take it back and take it through. I hit so many good putts this week, it was the straight putts I always had problems with, I always pulled them, now those are starting right on line and it's just awesome. I'm just very, very excited about the year.”
TYPICAL PHIL: Phil Mickelson came to the Humana Challenge not wanting to make any changes in his bagfrom last year. If you know Phil, you knew that vow would have limited shelf life.
“The first day, of course, I hit two (drives) out of bounds and I kind of bagged that idea,” Mickelson said.
After that opening-round 74, he replaced his Callaway FT Tour driver for a RAZR Fit that he had worked with over the offseason. Sure enough, his next three rounds in the desert were 69-66-69.
As for the putter, last year’s belly experiment appeared to be just that. He used a conventional-length Odyssey blade that brought back old vibes.
“I think that as I looked back at these last couple months, the way I putted best over the years, it was when I was an amateur and early in my career where I putted very free with a blade,” Mickelson said. ”So I went back to the putter I used growing up as a kid. Odyssey, identical specs, I’m rolling it much like I did when I was younger, and it feels really good.
TRANSACTIONS: As expected, Rickie Fowler made it official with Cobra Puma Golf. He already wore Puma’s clothes, now he’ll play Cobra clubs including the orange-accented AMP driver. … After eight years with Yonex, Colin Montgomerie is returning to Callaway, the company with which he won five consecutive European Tour money titles. … Ross Fisher signed with Nike Golf.
NEW STUFF: Mark Wilson, not cut from the Mickelson mold of club tinkering, tweeted after winning the Humana Challenge, “I went out of my comfort zone this year, putting new Ping i20 Driver and i20 irons into play cuz they felt so good. Apparently, a good call”. Indeed. For the rest of us, those clubs will be available in late February. … Camilo Villegas put a TaylorMade Ghost Manta belly putter into play at Humana, shooting an opening-round 63 and finishing T19. He finished T39 for the event in Strokes-Gained Putting; he was 141st for the 2011 season. … Luke Donald is taking new Mizuno MP59 irons and MP-R12 wedges to Abu Dhabi.
WINNER’S BAG: Wilson at the Humana
Driver: Ping i20 8.5 degree (Grafalloy Tour X shaft)
3-wood: Cleveland HiBore XLS, 13 degrees
Hybrids: Ping i15, 17 and 20 degrees
Irons: Ping i20 4-PW
Wedges: Ping Tour, 52, 60 degrees
Putter: Ping Karsten Anser
Ball: Titleist ProV1x
Colin Montgomerie may have shot 62 to qualify for the British Open, but he certainly wasn’t happy with his performance at the Old Course this week. The man who finished second at St. Andrews in 2005 only broke par once in four rounds and finished a disappointing 4 over.
“It’s not happening on the course right now,” Monty said. “I’m not firing on any cylinders at all. I need to be firing on all eight if I’m to contend and I’m not doing that right now, unfortunately.”
That said, the European Ryder Cup captain couldn’t be happier when he looked at the leaderboard. Five of the top six players – Paul Casey, Martin Kaymer, Lee Westwood, Henrik Stenson and Rory McIlroy --when Montgomerie finished off his round are potential members of his team for the matches in October in Wales.
Of that group, Casey, Kaymer and Stenson have yet to qualify either off the world points list or the European points list. Four players qualify off the world list and five from the European, then Montgomerie gets three Captain’s Picks.
“I need a few to do me proud,” Monty said. “I don’t want to have to waste picks on world stars like Paul Casey, for instance, and he can seal his spot right now. He’s probably not thinking about the Ryder Cup now, he’s thinking about trying to win the British Open. But at the same time, I am. …
“It’s a big, big day for a lot of these guys just on the fringe.”
Montgomerie said he actually was doing the math Saturday night, trying to see where Casey would end up if he finished second on Sunday. And if Casey did crack the top nine automatic qualifiers, who would be knocked out –- and would that cause another dilemma for Montgomerie as he pondered his picks?
“Of course I’ve got some headaches, but I’ve also got some good headaches,” the captain said. “I can pick two teams here that can beat each other on any given day. That’s the strength and the depth of European golf, especially this year.
“We’ve had our first British winner of the U.S. Open for 40 years, Lee Westwood almost won the Masters, we’re contending here again and who says we won’t do it at the U.S. PGA in a month’s time? Justin Rose winning twice in America – it’s been a fabulous year for British golf.
“In any form of business, and this is one, if standards rise, the competition has to follow suit, which is great for me.” – Helen Ross
He won his first of two U.S. Open titles when he was just 24. And on Friday, after he shot 3 under in the second round of his 18th U.S. Open, Ernie Els couldn't help but smile at the memory of that playoff win at Oakmont.
"I must have been out of my head to think that I could have won at 24," he said.
Els is fast approaching his 41st birthday in October, and he knows the window of opportunity to add to his three career majors is dwindling. But the big South African has already won twice in 2010, he leads the FedExCup standings and he'll start the third round at Pebble Beach just two strokes off the lead.
So surely another title run isn't out of the question.
"I feel good," the two-time U.S. Open champ acknowledged. "I feel my game's there. I'd like to think I've got quite a few more left."
Els matched the leader, Graeme McDowell, for the low round of the day -- and the tournament to date – with Friday’s 68. He's driving the ball extremely well, hitting all but five fairways in the first two rounds, and has found 24 of 36 greens in regulation.
An early morning date with Tiger Woods and Lee Westwood on Friday enabled Els to take advantage of optimum scoring conditions. His putter was particularly cooperative on the poa annua greens that had yet to see the kind of traffic they had when Els struggled a bit on Friday afternoon. He needed just 25 putts, compared with 33 in the first round.
"You get a bit more tense when you feel that some aspects of your game aren't quite there," said Els, who worked on his ball position and aim Thursday night to remedy the situation. "You might get a little flustered. Yesterday I felt uncomfortable on the greens. You don't want to feel like that in a U.S. Open. You want to feel like you're going to hole some putts. When something is not quite there, obviously, we all are human beings, and you're going to feel a little tension.
"I feel my game is very good this week, for some reason. So the last two days I felt a bit more calm. I've played this event where I've been very tense and other times I've been quite calm. And all I can say is that the times that I've been tense my game wasn't quite there. And there's so much trouble that you've got to stop thinking about it. This week I'm feeling all right."
Els has felt that way for most of the year, actually. He broke a two-year victory drought when he won the World Golf Championships-CA Championship and followed up with a win at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard in his next start.
The Big Easy then honored his commitment to play in the Shell Houston Open, where he tied for 44th and finished 18th at the Masters. A tie for third at the Valero Texas Open was sandwiched between two missed cuts, including in his last start at the Memorial Tournament.
"So I think I've been a little over-golfed, to be honest," said Els, who spent part of last week playing golf in Florida with his father. "It's given me a bit more time to get some energy and work a little on my game the last week and I feel a little bit better now. But I like this time of the year."
And why not? In addition to his two U.S. Open wins, Els also won the 2002 British Open. And lest we forget, he was tied for first in the 'B' Flight at Pebble Beach in 2000, finishing as the runner-up, 15 strokes behind Tiger Woods in that epic win.
Els has played in 71 majors and posted 28 top-10 finishes -- seven of which have come at the U.S. Open. He trailed Colin Montgomerie by four at the midway point of the 1994 Open and Tom Lehman by one in 1997 and went on to win.
"It's been such a long time since I won one of these," Els said. "But we've got a long way to go. Obviously, I needed a round like today to get me back in the tournament, which is nice. We've just got to look at conditions. I feel comfortable with my game, you know. I worked really hard coming in here. So I feel my game's there, which is nice, because you need your game around a U.S. Open venue.
"Are the wins going to help? Sure it will help. It's been so long, I've been in all kinds of situations. But there are a lot of guys hungry for a win, so it's not just me going for a win. So there's still a lot of golf to be played you've just got to plug along and see what happens on the back nine on Sunday." -- Helen Ross