R&A boss Martin Slumbers ‘pleased’ by LIV-PGA Tour-DP World Tour merger

The R&A said “we look forward to working with the new entity for the benefit of the sport globally” as to professional golf’s new format.

Martin Slumbers, CEO of the R&A, weighed in Tuesday on the announcement that LIV Golf, the PGA Tour and the DP World Tour plan to merge under the umbrella of one new for-profit company that is yet to be named.

The R&A governs the sport of golf in most of the world outside the United States and Mexico. The R&A (originally part of the Royal & Ancient Golf Club but now an independent governing body) is separate from the DP World Tour, formerly the European Tour. The R&A conducts the Open Championship, known by many in the U.S. as the British Open. In cooperation with the USGA, the R&A determines the Rules of Golf.

It was not made clear if the R&A had been aware of the merger ahead of Tuesday’s statement. Many professional golfers have expressed surprise upon hearing the news. The USGA had not made any statements about the planned merger as of early Tuesday afternoon.

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The full statement from Slumbers, who has been head of the R&A since 2015:

“We are pleased that an agreement has been reached which will help men’s professional golf move forward in a collaborative, constructive and innovative fashion. We care deeply about golf’s future and are committed to ensuring that the sport continues to thrive for many years to come. This agreement represents a huge step toward achieving that goal for golf and we look forward to working with the new entity for the benefit of the sport globally.”

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Greg Norman long believed LIV Golf, PGA Tour should come together: ‘One hundred percent I do’

Norman, who lives in Palm Beach Gardens, was behind the creation of LIV Golf.

The PGA Tour and Saudi-backed LIV Golf, who have been embroiled in a year-long bitter rivalry, have agreed to merge, they each announced Tuesday morning.

The tours, including the DP World Tour, signed an agreement that would combine their commercial businesses and rights into a new company. The move is thought to be a big win for the sport, which had become divided.

“After two years of disruption and distraction, this is a historic day for the game we all know and love,” PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said in a statement. “This transformational partnership recognizes the immeasurable strength of the PGA Tour’s history, legacy and pro-competitive model and combines with it the DP World Tour and LIV — including the team golf concept — to create an organization that will benefit golf’s players, commercial and charitable partners and fans.

“Going forward, fans can be confident that we will, collectively, deliver on the promise we’ve always made — to promote competition of the best in professional golf and that we are committed to securing and driving the game’s future.”

The tours have been embroiled in a year-long bitter rivalry that has included insults being hurled back and forth by LIV commissioner and CEO Greg Norman and Monahan along with several lawsuits. As part of the new deal, those lawsuits will be dropped.

Norman, who lives in Palm Beach Gardens, was behind the creation of LIV Golf. The league, financed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, has come under fire for what detractors say is a form of “sportswashing,” with Saudi Arabia attempting to distract from its atrocious human rights violations.

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From the start, Norman was seeking collaboration from the PGA Tour and told The Palm Beach Post last summer he believed a LIV-PGA Tour merger was in the future.

“One hundred percent I do,” Norman said when asked if he believed the two tours could come together. “Jay Monahan, if he had the decency to take our meetings right from the get-go, none of this stuff would be in place today. The game of golf would be in a much better place. The Tour would be in a much better place. European golf would be in a much better place.

“In the world of business if you got a competitor coming to challenge you, understand what your competitor’s got by sitting down and signing an NDA, having a conversation and see (what) works for us.”

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Check the yardage book: Muirfield Village for the 2023 Memorial Tournament on the PGA Tour

StrackaLine offers a hole-by-hole course guide for Muirfield Village in Ohio, site of the Memorial Tournament on the PGA Tour.

Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio – site of the 2023 Memorial Tournament on the PGA Tour – was founded and designed by Jack Nicklaus, opening in 1974. The course has been the site of the Memorial since 1976.

Muirfield Village ranks No. 1 in Ohio on Golfweek’s Best list of private courses in each state. It also ranks No. 12 among all modern courses in the United States.

The course, which completed a large renovation in 2020, will play to 7,533 yards with a par of 72 for this week’s Memorial Tournament.

Thanks to yardage books provided by StrackaLine – the maker of detailed yardage books for thousands of courses around the world – we can see exactly the challenges the pros face this week at Muirfield Village.

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Steve Stricker’s second major win of 2023 is a family affair at 83rd KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship

Stricker’s youngest daughter, Izzi, looped for her pops like a pro in her debut.

FRISCO, Texas – Steve Sticker is yet again a major winner on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 2021 Ryder Cup captain took down Padraig Harrington on the first playoff hole of the 83rd KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship to take home his sixth major on the senior circuit.

The win is also his second major title of the season after claiming the 2023 Regions Tradition earlier this year. With Joe LaCava Jr. on his bag that week, Stricker opted to keep it in the family this week at Fields Ranch East.

Stricker’s youngest daughter, Izzi, looped for her pops like a pro in her debut. Never caddying for her dad before, both Strickers admitted they had some nerves coming down the stretch, but they never let it get in the way of the special moment.

“She did well,” Stricker told reporters. “Both of us, we got a little, we clammed up a little bit coming in. I think we were both – I had my head down grinding and trying to figure out how to get it in the hole at times…But all in all, after it’s all said and done, it was a lot of fun.”

The rising high school senior shared a similar sentiment.

“Yeah, I was pacing,” Izzi told Golfweek. “Like he (Stricker) said, we were kind of clammy, we didn’t really talk much but I knew if I kept my focus, we would give off similar vibes and I needed to keep my head down as much as he did.”

So what was the coolest part of the week for Izzi?

“I have always watched him outside the ropes and this is a whole different experience,” she said. “I learned so much about his mental game, too. I see his physical game all the time but I never really get to see him that close in a major championship so I learned a lot on the mental side.”

For Stricker, the win also holds a special place in his heart.

This means a lot,” he said. “I said it in there when I was toasting the people inside there that I spent a lot of time with the PGA of America during the Ryder Cup. I got to know a lot of people. We spent basically three years, two and a half years because of the COVID issue and I developed a lot of friendships. John Lindert from Wisconsin as well and just special people to me and our family. I mean, they gave me an unbelievable opportunity to captain a Ryder Cup team in my home state.”

For Padraig Harrington, his chance at a wire-to-wire victory came and went a handful of times Sunday.

After losing the lead to after a Stricker birdie on No. 11, the 51-year-old had a day of what-ifs.

I look back to the two shots I look back on that with a bit of regret is how I played my second shot safe on 14,” he told reporters after losing in the one hole playoff.

Playing it safe proved not to be the move as he hit his approach into the hole through the green and into the rough.

“That’s the one that I’ll look back on and go, you know, I shouldn’t have bailed out. Maybe I shouldn’t have bailed out there. That’s – but I thought I was fine. I thought I would have had a reasonable eagle chance from there.”

Trailing Stricker by a stroke on the par-3 17th, he squandered another opportunity to force the issue. Luckily for him, both he and Stricker made bogey and made their way to the par-5 18th.

Needing a birdie to tie, Harrington used his PGA Tour Champions-leading length to get on the green in two for a 30-foot eagle putt to win. He’d walk away with a birdie, forcing a playoff with Stricker and another chance to seal a wire-to-wire victory.

First to play, Harrington pulled driver, looking to apply pressure on Stricker but left the drive well out to the right. In the penalty area, Harrington tried to advance the ball but caught it on the hosel, keeping him in the hazard and forcing a drop.

2023 KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship
Steve Stricker embraces his caddie/daughter, Izzi Strickerr, after winning the 2023 KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship at Fields Ranch East at PGA Frisco in Frisco, Texas. (Photo: Orlando Ramirez/Getty Images)

What followed was one of the best shots of the week. From 272 yards out, his 5-wood never left the flag and nestled behind the hole to about 10 feet.

“If I hole the putt we could say it was one of the best shots I ever hit. The fact that I didn’t hole the putt we’ll forget about it.”

He laughed. “Golf is cruel.”

Low PGA pro

PGA Professional Mark Brown had one goal in mind coming into Sunday’s final round: earn his wife a new kitchen.

As part of the winnings for low PGA Professionals at the Senior PGA Championship is a kitchen suite courtesy of title sponsor, KitchenAid. Having been co-low pro at the 2019 Senior PGA at Oak Hill, Brown reaped the reward but has since moved, now residing in Florida.

The 56-year-old PGA Teaching Professional at the Yacht & Country Club in Stewart, Florida, had the outright lead by three as he stood on the 17th tee. A quick bogey still gave him a two-shot cushion over Tim Weinhart who finished at 6 over and had already left the property.

Disaster very nearly struck Brown as he crawled away with a double-bogey on the par 5 18th. 

Mission failed successfully. 

The double kept him from having the solo honor but nonetheless, he’ll keep his wife happy with a new kitchen suite making its way to Hobe Sound, Florida.

As for Weinhart, the 53-year-old PGA Director of Instruction at Heritage Golf Links in Tucker, Georgia, was still shocked that he had played himself back into it. He left the course and was halfway through a double-double at In-N-Out when he heard he tied Brown.

Not in the field to start the week, Weinhart was an alternate and a late addition to the field.

Monday we played a practice round and we’re like, well I hope we get in,” he told reporters. “I got a known call late Monday night or not late, 6:45. 7 o’clock. I was grateful.”

While the pair did not finish high enough for an exemption into the 84th KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship, the duo put a nice bow on a historic two week stretch for PGA Teaching Professionals that began with Michael Block in Oak Hill.

The 84th KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship heads to Michigan in 2024 where Harbor Shores Golf Club in Benton Harbor, Michigan, will play host.

83rd KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship: Adilson da Silva’s path to the U.S. was a unique one

The 51-year-old Brazilian got his start in golf as a caddie after meeting a man buying tobacco.

FRISCO, Texas – Adilson da Silva had never been to the United States.

The statement seems logical for most people but for a man that has played professional golf since 1994, it’s mind boggling that he has never teed it up in the U.S., let alone set foot in the country. It’s even more puzzling that a player in his position would be in the running for a major title, but nonetheless, da Silva is making the most of his inaugural trip.

The 51-year-old Brazilian got his start in golf as a caddie after meeting a man buying tobacco in his hometown. The chance meeting would be the start of a decades-long career spanning more than six continents.

He showed promise as a player by winning the 1990 and 1991 Brazilian Amateur Open Championship. With those wins under his belt, de Silva took a leap of faith thanks to a friend that helped him settle his life in Zimbabwe.

“I met a gentleman called Andy Edmondson and became good friends,” da Silva told reporters following his second round Friday at PGA Frisco. “And after a year or two he invited me to go to Zimbabwe and that’s when golf started. So I was really fortunate to get a break. Brazil those days golf was a very closed society. My parents weren’t able to afford it. So I was really fortunate to start the golf.”

The opportunity to play golf professionally was something he simply could not pass up. Not knowing a single word in English, da Silva learned the language over the course of a couple of years before moving from Zimbabwe to South Africa to begin his life as a touring golf pro.

Once established in South Africa, de Silva began playing on the Sunshine Tour full time on the in 1995 where he racked up 12 wins from 1997 to 2012. In 2018, he ended a six year winless drought, taking home the Mercuries Taiwan Masters by one stroke.

With his best years seemingly behind him and two young children to raise, da Silva came close to calling it a career during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“My wife and I, we sat down and we had to almost like make a fresh lens somewhere,” da Silva told Golfweek. “And then we just decided to give it a go at the seniors in Europe and just see how they go. Obviously, I got the invite at my first event at the Legends Tour and finished third and got an exemption into the next event and so I just sort of started getting momentum there.”

His big break came in 2022 at the PGA Seniors Championship.

“I won one at the PGA in Formby and then that gave me the exemption to play all the other ones (tournaments) so that was a big deal for me. So now I can stay on the tour and do what I love doing.”

The win reignited da Silva’s career. He finished second in the 2022 Order of Merit, allowing him to come to earn exemptions into the 2023 Senior PGA Championship and 2023 U.S. Senior Open. Before landing in Dallas this past Sunday, da Silva won his second Legends Tour event, this time in Austria.

Coming into the event in winning form, da Silva’s American welcoming is going about as well as one can expect given the travel and demands that Fields Ranch requires.

“This is top notch,” da Silva said to Golfweek. “It’s (Fields Ranch) is a beautiful golf course but it can also be a monster.”

So far, the East Course has been tamed by the Brazilian. Through two rounds da Silva is 6 under and tied for fifth.

He’s joined by a who’s who of the PGA Tour Champions, all trying to chase down Padraig Harrington.

The three-time major winner has yet to make a bogey all week, using his length to pick apart the new home of the PGA of America. Following an opening round eight under 64 with another bogey-free round of 68, Harrington is clear of the field by three strokes as the championship hits the halfway point.

“You want to be a little bit freer and take a few more chances. But sometimes when you’re leading you just get a little bit cautious,” he said. “That’s why, I suppose it happens all the time in golf, it’s very, very difficult for a leader to move away from the field. It’s easy for the field to chase him down. Because there’s a bit of freedom. They have nothing to lose. So obviously I have another 36 holes of that coming up, so it’s going to be a long weekend for me.”

Katsumasa Miyamoto (9 under), Stewart Cink (8 under) and Steve Stricker (7 under) are within striking range of Harrington while Darren Clarke, Y.E. Yang, Alex Cejka are tied with da Silva at 6 under.

For da Silva, the taste of American golf is something he will definitely be back for.

“I had a chance to come and I never did and it was a big mistake. So, but I may come back to the Tour school at the end of the year for the PGA Tour Champions.”

Check the yardage book: Colonial Country Club for the 2023 Charles Schwab Challenge on the PGA Tour

StrackaLine offers a hole-by-hole course guide for Colonial Country Club for the PGA Tour’s Charles Schwab Challenge.

Colonial Country Club – site of the 2023 Charles Schwab Challenge on the PGA Tour – opened in 1936 with a course designed by John Bredemus and Perry Maxwell. The layout in Fort Worth, Texas, was the home course to Ben Hogan for a time and has hosted a PGA Tour event since 1946.

Colonial ties for No. 85 on Golfweek’s Best list of all classic courses built in the U.S. before 1960. It also is No. 4 in Texas on Golfweek’s Best list of private courses in each state.

The layout will play to 7,209 yards with a par of 70 for this year’s event.

The course is scheduled to undergo a $20 million renovation by the design team of Gil Hanse and Jim Wagner as soon as this year’s event ends. Completion of the work is planned before the PGA Tour event returns in 2024.

Thanks to yardage books provided by StrackaLine – the maker of detailed yardage books for thousands of courses around the world – we can see exactly the challenges the pros face this week at Colonial.

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Check the yardage book: Oak Hill’s East Course for the 2023 PGA Championship

What do the pros face this week in the PGA Championship? StrackaLine shares the details on Oak Hill East.

Oak Hill’s East Course in Rochester, New York – site of this week’s PGA Championship – originally was designed by architectural legend Donald Ross and opened in 1926. The layout was revised several times over the decades, most recently as Andrew Green put much of the Ross flavor back into the East.

Oak Hill’s East will play to 7,394 yards with a par of 70 for this week’s major championship.

The East ranks No. 12 in New York on Golfweek’s Best list of private courses in each state. It also comes in at No. 42 on Golfweek’s Best ranking of all classic courses in the United States.

Thanks to yardage books provided by StrackaLine – the maker of detailed yardage books for thousands of courses around the world – we can see exactly the challenges the pros face this week at Oak Hill.

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Kamaiu Johnson breaks APGA scoring record, ties TPC Scottsdale Champions course record en route to victory

Johnson registered two eagles and four birdies on the back nine, notching his seventh APGA Tour win.

If the name Kamaiu Johnson rings a bell, it may be because of a rule mishap at the 2023 Arnold Palmer Invitational when he was DQ’d for signing an incorrect scorecard. The situation made waves and was widely talked about.

However, what Johnson did Tuesday at TPC Scottsdale will also have people talking, as he set a new APGA Tour record for the lowest round in the tour’s history and tied the course record at the Champions Course.

Johnson fired a final-round 10-under 61 to win the APGA at TPC Scottsdale event. He broke loose from a four-way tie after the first round and finished with a four-stroke victory. Johnson registered two eagles and four birdies on the back nine, notching his seventh APGA Tour win.

“I was just trying to stay in the moment down the stretch. Wasn’t sure where I was, but I was comfortable because the other leaders were in my group,” Johnson said. “Last week, I was 13 over after two days on the Latinoamerica tour, and today 16 under. I’ve never experienced anything like that. It just shows you what kind of a funny game it is that we play.”

He also takes home the first-place prize of $7,500 from the $25,000 purse.

By Wednesday morning, Johnson was teeing it up across the country in Gainesville, Florida, at a U.S. Open local qualifier at Mark Bostic Golf Course.

Next up on the APGA Tour is APGA at TPC Deere Run May 28-30 in Silvis, Illinois, with APGA at Valhalla to follow July 23-25 in Louisville, Kentucky.

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PGA Tour adds new event, the Myrtle Beach Classic, to its 2024 schedule

The host site of the Myrtle Beach Classic features one of the most extreme doglegs in tournament golf.

The PGA Tour announced Wednesday it will in 2024 launch a new full-field tournament, the Myrtle Beach Classic in South Carolina. An opposite-field event to be played the same week as one of the Tour’s designated events, the new tournament will be played at the Dunes Beach and Golf Club.

Visit Myrtle Beach will sponsor the new event and offer a purse of $3.9 million with 300 FedEx Cup points going to the winner. A four-year agreement was announced, but the dates of the event were not. The full 2024 Tour schedule is yet to be determined.

“We are thrilled to announce the debut of the Myrtle Beach Classic, an exciting new playing opportunity for our members in one of our country’s most recognized and visited destinations,” PGA Tour President Tyler Dennis said in a media release announcing the news. “With its incredible passion for golf, the Myrtle Beach community is a natural fit to bring this tournament to life. We look forward to partnering with Visit Myrtle Beach for a first-class tournament at a championship venue in Dunes Golf and Beach Club.”

The course at Dunes Golf and Beach Club was designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr., and nine holes (the back nine) opened in 1949. It was renovated by Jones’ son, Rees Jones, in 2013. It is ranked by Golfweek’s Best as the No. 4 public-access layout in the state, and it comes in at No. 143 on Golfweek’s Best list of all classic courses in the U.S. The course is best known for its brilliant, often elevated and tilted greens, many of which feature brisk runoffs in multiple directions, confounding players on approach shots.

The layout also features one of the most extreme examples of a dogleg in golf. The par-5 13th boomerangs around a lake, almost turning back on itself as it juts to the right. Jones Sr. called it one of his best examples of “heroic architecture,” and it will be interesting to see how Tour pros tackle the hole.

The club hosted the PGA Tour Champions’ season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship from 1994 to 1999, and it was the site of PGA Tour Q-School Finals in 1973, with Ben Crenshaw taking the medalist spot. Among other top-tier events and national championships, it also hosted the 1962 U.S. Women’s Open, won by Murle Lindstrom.

The Tour noted that the Myrtle Beach Classic will be one of its two stops in the Palmetto State in 2024, along with the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town Golf Links, an event that made its debut in 1969.

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South Africa’s John Bland, five-time PGA Tour Champions winner, dies at 77

John Bland won multiple titles in South Africa and on what is now the DP World Tour.

South African golfer John Bland, who won twice on the DP World Tour before coming to prominence in the U.S. on PGA Tour Champions, has died. He was 77.

Bland’s death was announced by the Sunshine Tour, of which he claimed the circuit’s Order of Merit title four times and he ranked fifth in career wins with 21. He died Tuesday at a hospital in George, South Africa “after a battle with cancer,” the Sunshine Tour said.

Born Sept. 22, 1945, in Johannesburg, Bland turned pro in 1969 and won his first of 36 titles at the 1970 Transvaal Open. He won the South African PGA Championship in 1977 over Gary Player, one of three victories that year and a total he matched again in 1983 when he claimed the European Tour’s Benson and Hedges International over Bernhard Langer.

In a professional career that spanned more than 40 years, he didn’t compete in the U.S. until turning 50 but quickly proved his mettle with five senior titles and more than $7 million in earnings. He won in his second start as a Monday Qualifier, earning exempt status for a year and went on to be named Senior PGA Tour Rookie of the Year in 1996 after winning four times and finishing third on the money list. Some of his best duels were with Jim Colbert, who finished second to Bland in four of his five victories on the circuit. Bland also won three times on the European Senior Tour.

“It’s so hard to post the utterly devastating news that John Bland, my traveling companion of so many years and mentor has passed away,” fellow South African golfer Tony Johnstone tweeted. “He was so much more than a friend and words don’t express the true meaning of ‘brother’.”

Bland is survived by his wife, Sonja, three children – John-Mark, Bonney and Candice – and three grandchildren. He died with family and bulldog Handsome by his side.

The Sunshine Tour said Bland was “one of the most loved and respected South African sportsmen.”