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It’s not likely that the “Canyon of Heroes” would beckon, not like it did for Bobby Jones in 1926 and again in 1930, nor as on that 1953 day when Ben Hogan was saluted. No, that small stretch of Broadway from The Battery to City Hall where paper rains down is reserved for the greatest of the greats having done the grandest of the grand.
Jones (for his 1926 win in the Open Championship and in 1930 for his wins in the British Amateur and Open Championship) and Hogan (for what was called his 1953 “Triple Crown”) are the only two golfers honored by the citizenry of New York with a ticker-tape parade, and we can safely say there won’t be one for the winner of THE NORTHERN TRUST.
But that’s not to say that competitors in the first FedExCup Playoffs tournament will not immerse themselves into the New York City scene. Quite the opposite; these guys are good and excited to be in the country’s most vibrant city.
Do they subscribe to a philosophy – “When you leave New York, you ain’t going anywhere” – that the late Jimmy Breslin championed? Probably not. But they largely put a warm embrace around the notion that when in New York, love it. Memorable example: The day in 2009 when Padraig Harrington, refreshingly buoyant about the PGA TOUR’s first visit to Liberty National in Jersey City, N.J., spread his arms, nodded toward the Statue of Liberty and the awe-inspiring skyline of Manhattan, and asked: “How many golf tournaments do we play where we actually stay in New York?”
“The people of New York helped me, or gave me one of the most incredible experiences that I've had in this game of golf. It's been wonderful,” Mickelson said at the 2002 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black. His attitude has never softened, either. Mickelson’s passion for all things New York – the theater, the museums, the history – is unconditional for a simple reason. It’s a destination stop that galvanizes the family.
Heck, even a diehard Boston-centric guy like Keegan Bradley – he of the St. John’s collegiate career – puts a big, warm bearhug around New York City.
“I love to visit my (college) buddies, in particular a kid named ‘Seve’ Calmi. I played with him three years. We always have the most amazing dinners – with me playing – and then we head out and play every day, as many holes as we can.”
To Bradley’s claim that “the best golf in the world is the New York City Met area,” few will argue.
Certainly not Zac Blair. Last year, Blair spent a week leading into THE NORTHERN TRUST at Bethpage Black by exploring National Golf Links of America, Shinnecock, Friar’s Head, Maidstone, Piping Rock, Garden City. He gushed about the experience via his Twitter account and will seize upon this year’s visit to The Glen Oaks Club to visit other courses on the area’s seemingly endless list of classics.
“To catch up with people, eat in nice restaurants, generally have a good time,” is how Rory McIlroy looks at his trips here.
Bradley champions the pizza. “Incredible,” he said.
What the visit to the New York area in late August for the first FedExCup Playoffs tournament also presents is the perfect segue into Arthur Ashe Stadium. Tennis, after all, is a huge favorite to many of the PGA TOUR’s best names – Sergio Garcia, Adam Scott, Justin Rose, just to name a few – and the U.S. Open at Flushing Meadow is a must-see.
You could say that it was love at first sight for Harrington, because he had great success in his first two visits to the NYC area – T-2 in 2004 and victorious in 2005 when the tournament was held at Westchester Country Club. Admittedly cautious about the tournament spreading out to New Jersey venues (Ridgewood CC, Plainfield CC, Liberty National) and onto Long Island (Bethpage Black, Glen Oaks) because he was selfishly in synch with Westchester, Harrington came to applaud the idea. At the end of the day, everything revolved around New York and that made the Irishman smile.
So does William McGirt and his wife, Sarah, but he adds a qualifier.
"It’s always a temptation to take in a New York City visit,” said William McGirt. “But sometimes (with children) it’s not worth dragging them into the city if they aren’t in the mood.”
Then there are those days when work gets in the way.
“If you need to play well to keep advancing (in the playoffs), you almost feel the need to stay out there and keep practicing.” New York City affords you the opportunity to do just that, if you choose. Remember, it’s the city that never sleeps.
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