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Saturday, May 23, 2020

In praise of USGA qualifiers

   And then there were four.
   The United States Golf Association was out this week with the latest updates to a 2020 championship schedule that has been ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic.
   The latest casualties were: The U.S. Mid-Amateur, which was scheduled to be played Sept. 12 to 17 at the Kinloch Golf Club in Manakin-Sabot, Va. and Independence Golf Club in Midlothian, Va.; the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur, which was scheduled to be played Aug. 29 to Sept. 3 at the Berkeley Hall Club in Bluffton, S.C.; the U.S. Senior Amateur, which was scheduled to be  played Aug. 29 to Sept. 3 at the Country Club of Detroit in Grosse Pointe Farms, Mich.; and the U.S. Women’s Senior Amateur, which was scheduled to be played Sept. 12 to 17 at The Lakewood Club in Point Clear, Ala.
   For now, the plan is to still try to play the 120th U.S. Amateur, scheduled to be played Aug. 10 to 16 at the Bandon Dunes Golf Resort in Bandon, Ore., and the 120th U.S. Women’s Amateur, scheduled to be played a week earlier from Aug. 3 to 9 at Woodmont Country Club in Rockville, Md.
   You’re probably already aware that the 120th U.S. Open will still be played at Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, N.Y., but the traditional June dates have been changed to Sept. 17 to 20.
   And the 75th U.S. Women’s Open will still be played at Champions Golf Club in Houston, Texas with its planned May dates changed to Dec. 10 to 13. Maybe a little women’s golf action to watch after doing some Christmas shopping.
   Having said all of that, the really bad news is there will be no qualifiers in 2020. Not just for the two cancelled Mid-Am and Senior Am championships, but no qualifiers for the four events that will be played, the two Opens and the two Amateurs.
   I will offer the same disclaimer I’ve made in addressing all of these USGA postponements and cancellations: The logistics of running national championships with nationwide qualifiers is just too difficult in the face of the uncertainty brought on by this crazy global pandemic.
   So, in the absence of USGA qualifiers in 2020, I come to praise them. And nobody bemoaned the loss of the qualifiers more than John Bodenhamer, the USGA’s senior managing director of Championships.
   “As you can imagine, this was an incredibly difficult decision, as qualifying is a cornerstone of USGA championships,” Bodenhamer said in the USGA release that announced the latest changes to the 2020 schedule. “We take great pride in the fact that many thousands typically enter to pursue their dream of qualifying for a USGA championship and we deeply regret that they will not have that opportunity this year.
   “But this structure provides the best path forward for us to conduct these championships in 2020.”
   I’ve caddied in two USGA championships, for Jay Cudd, an assistant pro at Scioto Country Club in Columbus, Ohio and born and raised in Augusta, Ga., in the 1981 U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club’s historic East Course, and for Michael Mitani of Irvine, Calif. and a one-time junior standout in Southern California, in the 2016 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship at Stonewall’s twin Tom Doak designs. Yes, those two assignments were 35 years apart.
   Cudd and Mitani both were qualifiers. I have a memory that Cudd had been the medalist in his sectional U.S. Open qualifier, although I’m not positive that’s true. Mitani told me he had to be talked into teeing it up in a Mid-Am qualifier at Hillcrest Country Club in Los Angeles by a buddy, but he put together a good round when it mattered and earned a trip to his first USGA championship. Mitani was one of the survivors in a five-man playoff for the final four tickets to Stonewall at Hillcrest.
   Cudd failed to make the cut at Merion in 1981 and Mitani did not reach the match-play bracket at Stonewall in 2016. My conclusion, though, from watching both guys compete is that if you are good enough to qualify for a USGA championship, you can play. You’re a player.
   There are tons of good players out there and many ways to measure whether somebody is a player or not. But qualifying for a USGA championship makes you a player in my book.
   I’ve probably been involved in more U.S. Amateur qualifiers over the years, covered a few, live-blogged a couple and caddied in a couple more.
   I’ve mentioned in a post before that I stumbled into carrying Jay Sigel’s bag in the Merion half of a U.S. Amateur qualifier circa 1972, or thereabouts, during my 12 years of looping at the Hugh Wilson masterpiece in the Ardmore section of Haverford Township. He had played a morning round at Llanerch Country Club.
   A day earlier, I had Sigel in a practice round in which he was joined by a young player he was mentoring, one George “Buddy” Marucci Jr., who was carrying his Maryland Terrapin bag.
   My abiding memory of caddying for Sigel, probably the second-best amateur golfer behind Bobby Jones in the history of American golf, was that, by the end of the two days, all my yardages had been confirmed. This was long before range-finders, but if you told Sigel he had a 140-yard shot, he hit it 140 yards. All day.
   Sigel had yet to win the first of his two U.S. Amateur crowns, but he easily qualified for the U.S. Amateur that day. And that is no easy feat.
   When there was a local U.S. Amateur qualifier at Overbrook Golf Club and Radnor Valley Country Club in 2013 while I was still working at the Delco Daily Times, I snuck over to Sproul Road and covered it.
   My favorite memory of that day was the sheer joy exhibited by recent Episcopal Academy graduate Sean Fahey. An Overbrook member, Fahey had struggled on his home course in the morning before going across the street and setting a competitive course record at Radnor Valley to earn a trip to The Country Club in Brookline, Mass. (“Having a course record anywhere is pretty cool,” Fahey said in the afterglow, getting all sorts of congratulations from the Overbrook members gathered on the porch).
   Pretty sure he was excused from his first week of orientation at Dartmouth to go tee it up in the U.S. Amateur.
   The round I saw the most of that day was that of Stephen Seiden, also at Radnor Valley. The former Strath Haven standout, part of a talented core of players at Llanerch, scratched and clawed his way to a hard-earned ticket to The Country Club. A pharmacist by trade, Seiden was always quick to remind you that he worked for a living.
   The point being he was basically a weekend golfer, but a guy who worked at it hard enough to qualify for the U.S. Amateur. A player in my book.
   With the 2005 U.S. Amateur coming to Merion, I couldn’t pass up covering the local qualifier held at Llanerch, the underrated site of the 1958 PGA Championship, and Rolling Green Golf Club, the William Flynn gem in Springfield that played host to the 2016 U.S. Women’s Amateur.
   Some of this area’s best amateur golfers were dying to make it to a U.S. Amateur at Merion, but that day belonged to a bunch of kids, many of whom I had covered on the high school scene the previous couple of years.
   I was particularly happy to see Adam Cohan, whom I had watched win the 2002 PIAA Championship as a junior at Radnor, qualify. He was coming off his freshman year at Georgia Tech.
   Last summer when Cole Willcox grabbed the opening-round lead in the Pennsylvania Open at Waynesborough Country Club, I recalled how Willcox, about to enter his senior year at Malvern Prep, had survived the qualifying gauntlet that day and earned a U.S. Amateur berth at Merion.
   And I certainly can’t forget the disappointment etched on the face of Michael McDermott, who had grown up playing a Llanerch, but pushed his tee shot out of bounds on his final hole, the ninth at Llanerch, to just miss a trip to Merion.
   McDermott is a member at Merion, among other prestigious golf addresses, these days and won the last of his three BMW Philadelphia Amateur Championship titles on the East Course, site of five U.S. Opens, in an epic battle with a friend and rival in Jeff Osberg in the 2016 final. The Philly Am, as old as the U.S. Open, is the most prestigious event on the Golf Association of Philadelphia calendar each year.
   Later that summer, McDermott stood on that ninth tee at Llanerch, pretty much in the same position he was 11 years earlier. This time he was trying to earn a berth in the 2016 U.S. Mid-Am at Stonewall, a course he knows well. This time, McDermott drove it over the trees on the left and into the 10th fairway. No way this tee ball was going OB.
   McDermott thought a little local knowledge might be really helpful at Stonewall’s Old Course. He was right. He reached the quarterfinals before falling to eventual champion Stewart Hagestad.
   Earlier that summer I took a ride over to New Jersey’s Hawk Pointe Golf Club for the local qualifier for the U.S. Women’s Amateur because several of the area’s standout women whom I had covered on the high school scene the previous few years were geared up to get a shot at playing a home game at Rolling Green.
   And two of them made it, former Lower Merion standout Alessandra Liu and former Pennsbury star Jackie Rogowicz punching their ticket to Rolling Green a day after Hawk Pointe had been deluged by four inches of rain. The place was so drenched that every bunker on the golf course was declared ground under repair.
   Rogowicz, coming off her freshman season at Penn State, survived a playoff to get the final spot up for grabs, although the other player involved in the playoff, Christine Parsells of Bernardsville, N.J., eventually got in at Rolling Green as an alternate. Liu had just wrapped up a standout college career at William & Mary when she earned a spot in the Women’s Amateur at Rolling Green.
   About 45 years after caddying for Sigel at Merion, I again found myself on the bag in a U.S. Amateur qualifier, this time at Stonewall, 18 on the North, a pretty fair test in its own right, and 18 on the Old Course.
   My man was 16-year-old A.J. Aivazoglou, a junior at The Haverford School whose name I was familiar with as I’ve followed the Inter-Ac League pretty closely in this blog. A member at Rolling Green, Aivazoglou struggled on a day that was delayed at the start by heavy overnight rains, got hot and steamy in the middle, was delayed again by a drenching thunderstorm and finished nearly in the dark.
   It was the kind of day the USGA loves because it knows only the strong will survive. Aivazoglou didn’t earn a ticket to the U.S. Amateur that day. Was he a better player for having tested his game in such difficult conditions? Absolutely. He's at Fordham now after helping the Fords win back-to-back Inter-Ac titles in 2017and 2018.
   I’ve made the USGA qualifiers a staple since I expanded the blog in 2016 after my journalism career came to a sudden end.
   The GAP-administered ones are easy to follow because of the great job Marty Emeno and his crew do in covering them on the GAP website. I’ll often add a little touch for a player I’m familiar with, particularly the scholastic standouts, past and present.
   It was pretty darn exciting to see a kid like Chris Crawford, the former Holy Ghost Prep and Drexel standout, make it through local and sectional qualifying for not just the U.S. Open at Oakmont Country Club in 2016, but the 2017 Open at Erin Hills the following year while still an amateur.
   Pretty sure “Golf’s Longest Day,” with sectional qualifiers all around the country, would have been June 1 this year. I’ll never forget calling up the USGA page in 2016 and seeing a picture of Crawford celebrating after his 40-foot birdie bomb on the 18th hole at Canoe Brook Country Club’s North Course punched his ticket to Oakmont.
   In an attempt to fill the considerable golf void earlier this spring, GAP ran a bracket-style tournament on Twitter, asking golf fans to vote for the top moment on the local golf scene in the last decade or so.
   Crawford’s accomplishment of making it to the National Open two years in a row out of local and sectional qualifiers beat out the tremendous McDermott-Osberg 2016 Philly Am final to win the mythical title. I think the voters got it right.
   A year ago, Chris Fieger, at age 56, earned a berth in his first USGA championship when he shot a 69 at LuLu Country Club in a qualifier for the U.S. Senior Amateur Championship. He easily qualified for match play at Old Chatham Golf Club in Durham, N.C. before falling in the opening round in a 21-hole thriller.
   I remembered Fieger, a Dallas, Lancaster County resident, as a scholastic standout, pretty sure it was the early days of Strath Haven, but it might have still been Nether Providence, when I was covering high school golf at The Mercury in Pottstown in the 1980s. Fieger was a perennial contender in the District One Championship.
   And he never forgot how to play. He’s a player because if you can qualify for a USGA championship, you’re a player. Don’t know if Fieger planned to take a shot at a return trip to the U.S. Senior Am at the Country Club of Detroit this summer. It’s a shame he won’t get that opportunity.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Pepperdine's Theegala wins Haskins Award, Furman's Srinivasan the Annika Award winner

   The NCAA Division I women’s golf regionals should be teeing off Monday, the college postseason starting to shift into high gear after a month of conference championships.
   Of course, it’s not happening in the ill-fated year that is 2020, thanks to the coronavirus.
   A year ago, I had 49 posts in the month of April. This year I had two. It’s usually a busy time on the golf schedule. In addition to the college postseason, we’ve already missed the U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship and the PGA National Professional Championship.
   There should be a dozen or so Philadelphia Section PGA Junior Tour events already in the books for 2020. A year ago, the Golf Association of Philadelphia’s major championship season for seniors had already begun with an emotional Warner Cup victory for eventual GAP Senior Player of the Year Oscar Mestre, the Overbrook Golf Club standout.
   Mestre and his Overbrook buddies should in the midst of battling for a Playoff berth in the top division of GAP’s BMW Team Matches. Players with high hopes should be teeing it up in local qualifiers for the U.S. Open.
   It’s always so busy at this time of the year that I’m not sure I’ve ever really devoted a post to the winners of Division I college golf’s biggest awards, the Fred Haskins for the guys and the Golfweek Annika Award for the gals. I guess I always figured I could refer to the winners during the month-long celebration of college golf that is the NCAA Tournament.
   But this year’s different. There will be no team champions in college golf, so it’s only fitting to salute two of the country’s top individuals, Pepperdine’s Sahith Theegala, the Wave’s fifth-year senior from Chino Hills, Calif., and Furman’s Natalie Srinivasan, a senior from Spartanburg, S.C., the respective deserving winners of the Fred Haskins Award and the Golfweek Annika Award.
   The awards, both of which are presented by Stifel, were announced in a broadcast by The Golf Channel Friday evening. It was the 50th time the Haskins has been handed out. The first winner in 1971 – and the second and third winner, for that matter – was Texas’ Ben Crenshaw.
   I hadn’t been paying that much attention to Pepperdine during the fall portion of the wraparound 2019-2020 season. With Theegala pulling out a one-shot victory over Southern California’s Leon D’Souza in the individual chase, the host Wave claimed a 17-shot win in the Southwestern Invitational at the North Ranch Country Club in Westlake Village, Calif. as the spring portion of the season dawned.
   Theegala had donned a Kobe Bryant jersey for the final hole at North Ranch to honor his boyhood hero who had died in a tragic helicopter accident the previous Sunday. A video surfaced of Theegala draining a clutch putt on the 18th green to preserve the victory, doing his hero Kobe proud. It wasn’t a long putt, but it wasn’t a gimme either and it was to win the tournament.
   By the time Pepperdine claimed a two-shot victory over Texas in The Amer Ari Invitational at Waikoloa Kings’ Course in Waikola, Hawaii, Golfstat had elevated the Wave to No. 1 in its rankings.
Theegala finished in a tie for sixth in The Amer Ari, three shots behind the individual winner, William Mouw, one of Pepperdine’s super-talented freshmen.
   Pepperdine remained No. 1 in the Golfstat rankings and its tie for fifth place in the Southern Highlands Collegiate at Southern Highlands in Las Vegas turned out to be its final tournament of the season. Theegala finished in a tie for fourth place, two shots behind the winner, Texas sophomore Parker Coody.
   Theegala had risen to No. 3 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR) and Pepperdine had remained No. 1 in the Golfstat rankings when the college season came to an abrupt end in mid-March.
   In eight tournaments in the 2019-’20 season, Theegala had two wins and six top-10 finishes. He finished in the top 20 in all eight events against some top competition and he broke par in 17 of his 24 rounds. Theegala’s 69.04 scoring average for the season and his career scoring average of 70.61 are both Pepperdine records. His 74 career rounds under par also established a program record. He finished tied for the top spot in Pepperdine history for wins with four and top-20 finishes with 36.
   “Words cannot even begin to describe it, honestly, it still hasn’t set in,” Theegala said during The Golf Channel broadcast. “Just to think that my name belongs with some of the other names on the list like Tiger and Phil and the other greats is just unbelievable to think about. It’s an incredible honor.”
   With Theegala’s talent and experience at the top of the lineup and a group that went at least eight deep, including those precocious freshmen, Pepperdine had the look of a team that was gearing up for a big postseason run. Theegala’s individual honor will have to stand as a symbol of one of the great seasons in the program’s history.
   The Annika Award has only been around since 2014, but Srinivasan joins an impressive list of winners. Brad Faxon won the Haskins Award as a Paladin in 1993, which means Furman joins UCLA as the only programs that can boast winners of both awards.
   Srinivasan was really coming on strong in the spring portion of the 2019-’20 season. She claimed a four-shot victory over teammate Anna Morgan in the individual chase in the Moon Golf Invitational hosted by Louisville at Duran Golf Club in Melbourne, Fla.
   Srinivasan then closed out her season by finishing in a tie for second in the Darius Rucker Intercollegiate, one of the top events in women’s college golf each spring hosted by South Carolina at  the Long Cove Club’s Pete Dye Course on Hilton Head Island, S.C. Srinivasan and four others finished just a shot behind individual champion Emilia Migliaccio, Wake Forest’s standout junior.
   Srinivasan’s showing in the Darius Rucker enabled her to inch past Texas junior Kaitlyn Papp as the third highest American in the Women’s WAGR at No. 14. The top three Americans on that list were to be automatic qualifiers for the U.S. Curtis Cup team, which was scheduled to take on a Great Britain & Ireland side in June at Conwy Golf Club in Caernarvonshire, Wales in June.
   The 2020 Curtis Cup has been postponed until 2021 and Srinivasan and the other seniors who were candidates for the U.S. team -- who were already delaying the start of their pro careers to tee it up in Wales this year -- might not be able to wait another year, no matter how much they yearned to represent the Red, White & Blue in the Curtis Cup.
   Srinivasan’s victory in the Moon Golf Invitational was her third of the 2019-’20 season as she had rattled off back-to-back wins in the fall in the Glass City Invitational and in the Lady Paladin Invitational hosted by Furman.
   Srinivasan compiled a 70.8 scoring average in 18 rounds this season, a single-season record at Furman and her career scoring average of 72.6 in in 118 rounds is a record for a program that has produced World Golf Hall of Fame members Betsy King and Beth Daniel and Dottie Pepper, among others.
   “It is such an honor to be named the winner of this year’s Annika Award,” Srinivasan said on The Golf Channel broadcast. “This is something I have only dreamed of receiving. The award means so much since it is voted on by my peers and I am grateful to have that opportunity.
   “I would like to thank my family, my teammates and my coaches, especially my head coach, Jeff Hull. I would not be the player I am today without them.”

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Green's KPMG Women's PGA title defense at Aronimink will now come in October

   The word arrived Wednesday via Twitter and Joe Juliano backed it up with an article in Thursday’s print edition of The Inquirer, but it wasn’t a huge surprise to see the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, scheduled to be held June 25 to 28 at Aronimink Golf Club, the Donald Ross gem in Newtown Township, Delaware County, was on the move to October as the coronavirus continued to leave its ugly mark on the 2020 sports landscape.
   I had been in touch with Ian Helling, one of the PGA of America officials involved with marketing for the KPMG Women’s PGA at Aronimink. I had been planning to do something on defending champion Hannah Green for Joe Burkhardt’s Tri-State Golfer magazine, an assignment I was really looking forward to, having watched Green play a little when, as a 19-year-old, she reached the quarterfinals of the 2016 U.S. Women’s Amateur at Rolling Green Golf Club, the William Flynn gem in Springfield, Delaware County.
   As recently as early April, Helling said the PGA of America was working on two parallel tracks concerning the KPMG Women’s PGA, one scenario in which the event was still played on its original date and another in which a postponement to a later date was being considered.
   A lot of things happened in April, hardly any of them good. So, the PGA of America finally threw in the towel on its original June dates. The event will will be held Oct. 8 to 11 at Aronimink. Whether the coronavirus will allow for fans to get to watch the best women professional golfers on the planet in person is a whole other issue.
   Bottom line, though, is that it’s a good thing the PGA of America will try to get the tournament in. The Philadelphia area has already lost a really neat USGA championship, the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball, to the coronavirus.
   It was scheduled to tee off the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend at the Philadelphia Cricket Club’s Wissahickon and Militia Hill courses and there were several local interests among the big field of better-ball partners from all over the country.
   The Wissahickon, of course, is the A.W. Tillinghast gem in Whitemarsh Township. And yeah, we have some really great courses, classics from the legends of early American golf course architecture, all over the place in the Philadelphia area. And calling each a gem, in many ways, doesn’t do any of them justice.
   I did a post in December, fairly thorough if I do say so myself, chronicling some of the accomplishments of some of the players we got to see at Rolling Green in 2016. It seems like forever, but it’s less than four years ago.
   And I started that post with Green, the Australian whom I had watched battle France’s Mathilde Cappeliez to a 19th hole before finally falling just short of a spot in the semifinals. Green’s victory in last summer’s KPMG Women’s PGA last summer at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minn. made her the first player from the field at Rolling Green to capture a major professional championship.
   I mentioned how the announcers on the broadcast of the KPMG Women’s PGA at Hazeltine National just couldn’t believe how poised the young Aussie was as she tried to hold off one of the best players on the planet in South Korea’s Sung Hyun Park, the defending champion, to win her first major championship.
   But you can’t convince me that the five-footer for par she buried on the 18th green to win the KPMG Women’s PGA wasn’t stitched with the scar tissue of the four-footer she missed on the 18th green at Rolling Green that would have sent her to the U.S. Women’s Amateur semifinals three summers earlier.
   Another of the quarterfinal losers that day, Japanese teen Nasa Hataoka, has probably been the most successful pro out of that 2016 U.S. Women’s Amateur class. Hataoka, who turned 21 in January, nearly became the first Rolling Green alum to win a major championship in the 2018 KPMG Women’s PGA when she lost in a playoff to Park, a three-player overtime session that also included another South Korean superstar in So Yeon Ryu at Kemper Lakes Golf Club in suburban Chicago.
   In addition to that near-miss at Kemper Lakes, Hataoka already has three LPGA Tour victories on her resume.
   Hopefully, I’ll still get a chance to chat with Green about her memories of Rolling Green and the successful pro career that has followed.
   Not sure how many alums from the 2016 Women’s Amateur will make the field for the KPMG Women’s PGA, but you can get a pretty good idea by revisiting the post I did in December on some of the success stories that have emerged from Rolling Green.
   The KPMG Women’s PGA is the direct descendant of one of the oldest major championships in women’s golf, for years known as the LPGA Championship.
   Those of us who follow women’s golf were fortunate enough to have that major championship played in our backyard from 1994 to 2004 when McDonald’s teamed up with the LPGA Tour to stage the McDonald’s LPGA Championship at DuPont Country Club just north of Wilmington, Del.
   McDonald’s got involved in women’s golf when it staged the McDonald’s Kids Championship at White Manor Country Club in Willistown Township, Chester County, beginning in 1981. That event was such a success that the decision was made by McDonald’s to move it to DuPont, making it one of the biggest sporting events in Delaware.
   Beginning in 1994, the McDonald’s Championship morphed into the McDonald’s LPGA Championship and suddenly there was an LPGA major on the schedule each summer in the Philadelphia area. It was a marriage of one of the LPGA’s premier events, which had moved around to different sites over the years, with one of the tour’s most successful events.
   I covered most, if not all, of the McDonald’s Kids Championships at White Manor and the McDonald’s Championships at DuPont before my 15-year career at The Mercury in Pottstown came to a sudden end in the spring of 1994.
   I was hired as an editor in the sports department and the backup to the backup golf writer when I arrived at the Delaware County Daily Times late in 1995. But I could get free tickets to the McDonald’s LPGA Championship and went as a fan most years. Tickets to the McDonald’s LPGA Championship were in plentiful supply as door prizes at the annual All-Delco Awards Banquet the Daily Times used to stage to honor the top high school athletes in the county each year.
   The most dramatic and exciting golf tournament I’ve ever seen live unfolded at DuPont with the playing of the 1999 McDonald’s LPGA Championship.
   The record says it was a ho-hum four-shot victory for World Golf Hall of Famer Juli Inkster, the fifth of the seven professional majors for the product of San Jose State and Pasatiempo Golf Club in Santa Cruz, Calif.
   Doing some Google searches yielded precious few details on Inkster’s remarkable finish. My memory is that she arrived on the tee at the par-5 16th hole with the championship still very much in doubt. Inkster proceeded to reach the green in two and make the putt for an eagle. She then stiffed her tee shot at the par-3 17th hole and made the birdie putt. The outcome of the tournament was no longer in doubt.
   Inkster played her approach to the 18th green safely in the middle and didn’t she then proceed to drain, oh, I don’t know, like a 35-footer for a closing birdie. Inkster had gone 4-under on the final three holes for a closing 6-under 65 that gave her a four-shot victory in a major championship.
   It’s hard to argue that a World Golf Hall of Famer is underrated, but I have often made the point that if Tiger Woods had ever gone eagle-birdie-birdie to close out a major championship it would be considered the greatest three holes in the history of the game.
   Well, it was the greatest three holes of golf I’ve ever seen in a major championship and Inkster will never be underrated in my book. I left DuPont that day with the kind of buzz you usually get from a Springsteen concert or whomever your favorite live performance artist is. Because it was more than golf, it was performance art.
   It promises to be a very busy fall sports calendar, but if they let fans attend, it might be worth your while to check out the best female golfers in the planet at Aronimink in October. You just never know when greatness might suddenly happen right in front of you.