September News

Pinehurst’s Kelly Mitchum keys U.S. victory at PGA Cup (Photo Gallery)

 

The first PGA Cup was contested in 1973 at – where else? – Pinehurst No. 2.

Thus it seems apropos that 40 years later, a Pinehurst professional would prove to be the critical component in leading Team USA in its quest to retain the PGA Cup against Great Britain and Ireland in Northumberland, England, last week.

Kelly Mitchum was brilliant during the three-day event, which is modeled after the Ryder Cup and pits the nation’s top golf professionals against their counterparts abroad. Mitchum was 3-1 with partner J.C. Anderson in team play, helping set the tone as Team USA built a large lead entering singles play Sunday.

But as the GB&I team roared back with a rally not unlike Europe’s run in the Ryder Cup on American soil last year, Mitchum helped Team USA earn a critical point, sinking a 100-foot putt to rattle his European Tour veteran opponent on his way to a crucial victory that enabled a 13-13 tie between the teams and USA holding onto the Cup.

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Phil in ’14? Is Mickelson the favorite to win at Pinehurst? Crenshaw, Pelz weigh in

Phil in '14?

Phil in ’14?

Three Down, One To Go For Mickelson

By LEE PACE

Ben Crenshaw was among the millions captivated by the drama, entertainment and sheer wonder of what was unfolding on his television set early the afternoon on July 21, 2013. Six time zones away on the east coast of Scotland, Phil Mickelson marched the ancient, crusty links at Muirfield Golf Club in five-under 66 to storm from five shots behind and win the British Open going away.

Crenshaw has made golf history himself—winning two Masters and 19 PGA Tour events—and been involved from the periphery in another major story as well, captaining the United States team to victory in the 1999 Ryder Cup Match at Brookline. But watching from his home in Austin, Texas, Crenshaw was sucked into the vortex of the afternoon’s significance.

“Gosh, what a great performance,” Crenshaw says. “It was unbelievable. It was fascinating to watch. Phil made the right decisions and he played very aggressively. That second shot on 17 was one for the ages. He had confidence in that club, essentially it was a brassie, and struck it really well. It hit on the downslope and, man alive, what a great bounce, right to the middle of the green. Then he hit two beautiful shots on 18. He did so many good things. It was a special week for Phil, no question.”

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The Great What-If: Phil Mickelson and the 1999 U.S. Open (with Video)

 

BY LEE PACE

It was golf theatre unlike anything the grand old course had ever seen, the roars funneling through the pine trees and engulfing the memory of polite applause from the villagers and resort guests when Hogan and Snead, Ward and Patton, Nicklaus and Palmer had passed through earlier in the century.

Payne Stewart stuck his 6-iron tee shot to 4 feet on the par-3 17th hole in the final round of the 1999 U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2. Phil Mickelson didn’t flinch, firing his 7-iron to 6 feet. Mike Hicks, Stewart’s caddie, says he’d never heard the kind of noise he heard on 17 that day—“And I’ve worked several Ryder Cups.” NBC’s Roger Maltbie observed on-air, “It’s getting kinda wild out here.” Tiger Woods had to wait to hit his approach on 18 until the applause for Stewart and Mickelson subsided.

“At first I thought I was in a small earthquake,” says Ron Crow, a volunteer scorer who walked with the final pairing on that gray, drizzly afternoon. “The ground shook some because of the reception the gallery gave those two players.”

Stewart had just rammed home a monster putt on the 16th green, an improbable, double-breaking downhiller from 25 feet to protect his tie atop the leaderboard with Mickelson. Stewart and Hicks began surveying Stewart’s putt, and Mickelson and his caddie, Jim “Bones” Mackay, began analyzing Mickelson’s putt.

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Video: Sir Nick Faldo Says Yes to Sand, Previews 2014 U.S. Open at Pinehurst

 

Sir Nick Faldo made his second trip in the last 11 months to Pinehurst to participate in a Glenmorangie event, but took a few minutes after his golf clinic to discuss the Coore & Crenshaw restoration of Pinehurst No. 2, which will host back-to-back U.S. Opens in 2014.

Faldo said that PGA Tour players are not accustomed to playing shots out of waste areas with native grasses, but added that he believes players will welcome the myriad options they will have playing out of Pinehurst-style rough.

Faldo also said he could see golf course design mirroring Pinehurst No. 2′s restoration in the future, and reflected on his troubles – and Payne Stewart’s triumph – at the 1999 U.S. Open.

Faldo, the 6-time major champion and Hall-of-Famer? Troubles at No. 2? But why?

Because of Donald Ross – and fear.

And from Sir Nick’s last visit…Storytime at Pinehurst…

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9.11.01 We Will Never Forget

Pinehurst Flag Half Staff

Our thoughts, our hearts, our prayers remain with those we honor and remember today.

We will never forget.

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