"Roughing the Passer - A PK Frazier Novel"

My new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" is the follow-up to "Illegal Procedure" and "Roughing the Passer" and is now available in print and in e-formats at amazon.com, smashwords.com and iBooks. Follow me on twitter @kevinkrest.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016


Pat Summit Set the Standard: The death of long-time former University of Tennessee women's basketball coach Pat Summit early this morning at the age of 64 was a sad ending to the life of a true pioneer. Eight national titles and almost 1,100 victories over a 38 year career doesn't even begin to tell the whole story. When she took over the Lady Volunteer program, women's basketball was hardly a mainstream college sport. Smaller schools such as Immaculata, Louisiana Tech and  Old Dominion, the latter led by a dynamic Nancy Lieberman, were still dominating the sport. In fact, until 1982 and the first women's NCAA tournament, the ruling body was the AIAW (Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women). At the time, I lived in the Tidewater, Virginia area and marveled at how Lieberman was revolutionizing the style of play. While she was taking the game to a new level on the court, the then Pat Head was forging a similar path in the coaching ranks.

Her accomplishments are well documented, so I'll focus instead on her style and determination, the two attributes I always admired about her. I'm just a few years her junior and since I was a fan of the women's game, tended to follow the Lady Vols. While in college, I even covered the Virginia Tech women's team and did some play by play and analyst work for the campus radio station, so I consider myself somewhat of an early adopter of the sport. What always impressed me about Pat Summit (she was married in 1980), was the total immersion she had in the actions of her players. It was a trait that men's coaches like Dean Smith and Bobby Knight exhibited, but Summit was the first one that I remember taking it to that level in the women's game. The tenacity of her players and the style of play eventually led her program to rise to dominance, winning six NCAA titles between 1987 and 1998. But it was more than that. There was just something special about her that drew interest to her.

I've commented to many people through the years that I truly believe Pat Summit could have been successful coaching any gender at any level. While we still haven't seen a female coach of a men's team in college or the NBA, it's probably only a matter of time and when it happens, we'll have Pat Summit to thank for it. I watch the top coaches in the women's game today, and it's evident that most, if not all, are devotees of Summit's ground-breaking style and commitment to excellence. Her presence has been sorely missed from the game for the past four years, and it will now be forever missed just as those truly great ones always leave a hole in the hearts of those they affected so positively throughout their lives.

Buddy Ryan, A True Original: There was a lot of conversation on sports talk radio this morning on where the defense of the 1985 Chicago Bears rates in the history of professional football. Even though it might not have been the statistical leader in a lot of categories, I believe it was the most dominant I've ever seen, and my NFL viewing began in 1962. Green Bay was great. Even the George Halas led Bears with Dick Butkus wreaking havoc at middle linebacker, had a fierce defense. The Steel Curtain that led Pittsburgh to four Super Bowl victories and the Ravens squad led by Ray Lewis deserve special consideration. But none of them were so strong that when my team went up against them, it was as if there was virtually no hope of being able to get on the scoreboard. The Bears topped the Redskins 45 - 10 in the fourth game of the season and really never looked back, except in their only loss, an inexplicable 38 - 24 defeat by the Miami Dolphins. The defense held opponents to ten points or less in an unbelievable fourteen of nineteen games, including four shutouts. In their two NFC playoff games, they didn't allow a single point. Now that's true dominance. And their leader was Buddy Ryan, who died this morning at the age of 82.

Ryan, who left the Bears after that magical season to take the head coaching job for the Philadelphia Eagles, caught lightning in a bottle. His innovative 46 defense combined with very talented personnel created a force that, as the season wore on, continued to improve to the point that made them virtually unbeatable. Former players have nothing but praise for Ryan, attributing his uncanny ability to get the most from his team as the reason for his success. Even though his Eagles team never won a playoff game under his tutelage, it wasn't necessarily the fault of the defense. Reggie White and Jerome Brown were forces of nature and the reason the Eagles were always at or near the top of the NFC East during his tenure.

But Ryan will not be remembered for those Eagles teams. No, his legacy will always be that one, unbelievable, truly special group of players that lifted the 1985 Chicago Bears to their lone Super Bowl crown. And as far as I'm concerned, you can take your Packers, argue for your Steelers and try to make a case for the Ravens. But they all fall short of Buddy Ryan's 46 defense where the stars aligned and the Bears ruled the football world, if only for that single season.

Don't forget to check out my new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" and my first two, "Illegal Procedure - A PK Frazier Novel" and "Roughing the Passer - A PK Frazier Novel", available in print and e-formats at Amazon.com, iBooks and SmashwordsTune into www.WPFLRADIO.com at 8:40 am EST every Friday for my Beyond the Commentary segment on "Lou in the Morning" with Lou Vickery and Jonathan McMath.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016


Lebron James Cements His Legacy: If there's going to be a single moment that forever erases the pain of "The Drive" and the disappointment of "The Fumble", it was Lebron James literally falling from the sky to slam a late-game fastbreak layup attempt by the Warriors off the glass and keep the Cavaliers' slim championship hopes alive. After fifty-two years of major sports franchise frustration, the city of Cleveland will get to celebrate a long-awaited championship with a parade on Wednesday that will no doubt be attended by virtually everyone in the region. Employers will give their workers the day off, streets will be closed, adult beverages will flow and for one day, a city will be transformed from one of losers to that of victors. For most cities, it wouldn't be a big deal, this sudden change in identity. But we're talking about Cleveland, one of the most maligned cities on the planet that in the past has had good reason to be a little low on the self esteem meter, and not all of it is sports related. Whether it was the pollution of Lake Erie, going bankrupt, or even having the Browns pack up and move to Baltimore, the populace has had good reasons to feel a bit underappreciated. But all of that changed with Cleveland's 93 - 89 win at Golden State that completed the biggest Finals series comeback in history, as they erased a 3 - 1 deficit with two wins at an arena where the home team had only lost once during the regular season.

Since the game is now thirty-six hours old, I choose to focus more on the state of Lebron James' legacy. My wife asked me yesterday why James was disliked so much. I didn't have an answer for her except to explain what I thought were the reasons, even though I don't understand it either. When Lebron James decided to leave the Cavaliers, he made the mistake of make the announcement on ESPN, which had offered him a payday that he donated to his foundation. But unfortunately for James, either his advisers didn't do him any favors or the arrogance of youth gave him the confidence to think he knew better. Either way, Cleveland fans reviled him and other league followers joined in as James took "his talents to South Beach". To make matters worse, along with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh, he predicted surpassing Michaels Jordan's six titles. So if anything, James was guilty of youthful exuberance and a lack of awareness of his impact on fans. But it still doesn't fully explain the outpouring of such a high level of dislike, or even hate. For that, I don't have an explanation.

Lebron James just completed a series during which he led both teams in every major statistical category, the first time in the history of the league that a player has accomplished such a feat. He has led his teams to six consecutive Finals appearances and seven of the last eight. This title was his third in four seasons, during which he was the MVP each time. His team has won with him scoring or feeding others or both. The Cavaliers won two games in last year's Finals against a fully healthy Warriors team primarily because James put the Cavs, a collection of role players on his back before running out of steam. He's 6'8" tall, weighs 270 pounds and can run the court, play defense, make jumpers, block shots and drive to the basket. In short, Lebron is virtually unstoppable. Off the court, there isn't a hint of scandal, he raises millions for charity and is active in his northeast Ohio region. After winning two titles during his tenure with the Heat, he returned home to Cleveland to bring a championship to the Cavaliers, a goal he achieved in only his second season with a team still learning how to play together.

For those critical of Lebron James, I have some questions for you. Have you ever changed jobs for more money, opportunity or just because you were unhappy? If so, then shut up. Are you generally considered the best in the world at what you do? If not, I suggest you stop criticizing someone who is and work at getting better. Have you ever had to perform your job in front of millions of people and been held to a higher standard than virtually everyone at your company or on your staff? If not, then I suggest you withhold judgement of someone who has. Is Lebron James perfect? Of course not. Is he deserving of the criticism that is bestowed on him? No way. We should be celebrating excellence, not tearing down success.

Don't forget to check out my new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" and my first two, "Illegal Procedure - A PK Frazier Novel" and "Roughing the Passer - A PK Frazier Novel", available in print and e-formats at Amazon.com, iBooks and SmashwordsTune into www.WPFLRADIO.com at 8:40 am EST every Friday for my Beyond the Commentary segment on "Lou in the Morning" with Lou Vickery and Jonathan McMath.

Monday, June 20, 2016


The Schedule:  One wave played part of a round on Thursday, then finished up early Friday morning. Initially, the first wave was told they would begin their second rounds late Friday, but by about 10:00 am the USGA had abandoned that idea and sent the players off to do whatever they pleased. Meanwhile, the second wave finally played their opening rounds. After the greens were cut and rolled and the pin placements changed, they went back out for another eighteen holes. Play was called for darkness around 8:45 pm with nine groups still on the course. They came back out at 7:15 am Saturday just after the other wave started their second round at 7:00 am. When all players had completed their rounds, the cut was made and pairings set for the third round. The players then went out at 3:00 pm in threesomes off both tees, and all but eight groups completed play. Those twenty-four players returned to Oakmont Country Club at 7:00 am to finish up. The pairings were reset and the fourth round commenced at 10:00 am, with players going off in twosomes from the first tee. Whew! You can imagine why the players, the media and the volunteers had an interesting and tiring week. Because of the schedule, interview opportunities for the media were few and far between, with most players either in the midst of quick turnarounds for second rounds in a day, or not at the course at all because of the off day for half the field on Friday. For example, first round leader Andrew Landry showed up at the course early Friday morning facing a six foot putt for birdie. With only a putter in his hand, he probably told the cabbie to keep the meter running and waltzed onto the ninth green and coolly sunk the putt. He wasn't seen again at Oakmont until Saturday morning for his second round, where he managed a 71 after making birdies on his final two holes and earning a pairing with Dustin Johnson and Scott Piercy for the third round.

Ultimately, the schedule may have had more of an impact than most people may think. Shane Lowry was forced to play thirty-two holes on Saturday and was among the players that had to go back out and finish his third round early Sunday morning. After making two birdies in his four holes to take a four shot lead heading to the final round, he had to wait some 7 1/2 hours to play again. Eventual winner Dustin Johnson played pretty much the same schedule as Lowry, but it doesn't take a medical degree to notice that the fitness levels of the two are drastically different. DJ is arguably the best athlete on tour, at least since Tiger Woods is sidelined with a myriad of injuries. As the heat and the pressure wilted player after player, Johnson remained composed and steady, most certainly because his physical well-being allowed him to stay more mentally sharp than his competitors. Was it a long four days? Undoubtedly. Did something finally work in DJ's favor? Absolutely.

The Penalty Fiasco: The USGA has since apologized for the way they handled the penalty imposition for a ball that they deemed "more likely than not" was caused to move by Dustin Johnson's actions. There are a couple of issues here that despite the USGA's quick response, should still not be dismissed. The first is the penalty itself. Golf is above all other sports one that is based on integrity. At all but the highest level, players call penalties on themselves and post scores that impact handicaps, flightings and outcomes of club championships. So all players, no matter their skill level or age, have almost an unconscious tendency to assess whether or not they have committed a rules infraction. So if there is a question as to whether a player should be penalized, the final determination should actually fall on the player, not the other way around. In looking at the replay, it was inconclusive to me whether Johnson caused the ball to move on the fifth green. And to get really technical about it, his ball moved backwards, so how could an advantage have been gained? Secondly, the USGA waited until the twelfth hole to inform Johnson that they would determine after the round if a penalty was warranted. Really? This was the US Open, not some other USGA sponsored event. Their decision to wait, based on what they usually do, could have had a significant impact on the results had Lowry and Landry not done them a huge favor by collapsing under pressure. DJ had already been through a rules issue that cost him a major championship. So the pressure caused by the uncertainty alone could have unraveled him. But it also impacted him and all of the other guys chasing him from a strategic perspective. No one really knew what the score was. And at Oakmont in particular, there was the issue of how to approach the reachable par four seventeenth hole. Fortunately for the USGA, DJ did them a huge favor by taking control of the tournament and eventually taking four shot lead, pre-penalty of course. But that shouldn't mean that we give the USGA a pass. Come on. It's the US Open. I know there were a lot of amateurs in the field, but that doesn't mean that mentality should extend to the rules officials.

The Roar: I was in the media center with my wife, watching the last couple of holes of Sunday's final round. Before heading to the cooler confines and the availability of high definition televisions, we'd been on the course as Shane Lowry pulled his drive on the seventeenth hole to the deep rough left of the green and Dustin Johnson had split the fairway on the finishing hole. As we watched the action on the screen, which was delayed about ten seconds from what was happening on the last two holes, a huge roar could be heard from one of the greens. It was audible from inside a large structure that was located at least six hundred yards from the eighteenth green and four hundred yards from the penultimate hole. My initial reaction was that Lowry must have holed his chip at seventeen, the closer of the two greens still in play. It would have placed the Irishman at three under par, just one shot behind Johnson, who stood at four under but still facing the threat of a one-shot penalty. However, it didn't take long for us to realize that the sound had emanated from eighteen, where Johnson had stuck his second shot to within four feet behind the flag. With the technology available, especially by virtue of American Express' distribution of thousands of on-course earpieces that carried live coverage, most of the fans in the grandstands surrounding the green were aware of the perceived injustice that Johnson had been forced to endure the final six holes. I've been to a lot of sporting events, including over twenty rounds at the famed stadium course at TPC Sawgrass, and I've never heard a roar quite like that. And I was at Sawgrass on the sixteenth hole when Tiger Woods hit his famous putt on the island green seventeenth to stay ahead of Vijay Singh in the 2001 Players Championship. Johnson took all of the suspense out of the result by sinking the putt, resulting in another monster roar, and letting the USGA off the hook for a bad decision all the way around. Good for Dustin Johnson to put the tournament away under very difficult circumstances. The most interesting aspect of the entire issue is how the fans responded in his favor, even if the ruling body of American golf chose not to.

Don't forget to check out my new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" and my first two, "Illegal Procedure - A PK Frazier Novel" and "Roughing the Passer - A PK Frazier Novel", available in print and e-formats at Amazon.com, iBooks and Smashwords.  Tune into www.WPFLRADIO.com at 8:40 am EST every Friday for my Beyond the Commentary segment on "Lou in the Morning" with Lou Vickery and Jonathan McMath.

Saturday, June 18, 2016


Landry, Lingmerth and Tracy on the Leaderboard: I had the pleasure to speak with a couple of University of Arkansas grads who also happen to be in the mix after two rounds of the 116th US Open Championship at Oakmont Country Club. Andrew Landry, after holding the lead after round one, shot a one-over par seventy-one to hold onto second place entering the third round. Swede David Lingmerth recovered from an opening seventy-two to shoot a one-under sixty-nine and sits in a tie for sixteenth as the players prepare to tee off a little later this afternoon.

Landry, who will turn twenty-six later this summer, came into this event very confident, despite making five of eleven cuts and currently standing 203rd in the FedEx Cup standings. He qualified for the PGA Tour this season by virtue of his twenty-first place finish on last year's Web.com Tour. After a difficult stretch on the front nine where he went four over par in three holes, he righted the ship and birdied the final two holes. When asked about the three bogies on six, seven and eight, he commented "I didn't hit bad shots. I made good swings...I didn't really do anything that bad besides just not hitting fairways." When asked what he did to keep from focusing too much on the lead during the day off, he just stayed "with family and friends. Just hanging out, keeping my mind off of it and eating and drinking waters."

Speaking of family, I had an opportunity to briefly speak with Andrew's parents, who are obviously very proud. Both indicated what a great Fathers Day gift it has been to have him playing well and in contention.  They were getting ready to grab something to eat and head back out to follow their son in what will be quite a third round, paired with Dustin Johnson. As for the Razorback connection, Andrew mentioned that he gets a lot of support from University of Arkansas fans, and that his golf coach, Brad McMakin continues to be quite supportive. He added, "There's also David Lingmerth. He's out here as well." And for any Hogs fans out there that wondered if he snuck a couple of other beverages yesterday, here was his response. "Not beer, not cold beer." Perhaps that will change with a strong finish this weekend.

Lingmerth, who was a two-time All American while at the University of Arkansas, is in his fourth season on the PGA Tour. After a win in 2015 and a thirty-seventh place finish in the FedEx Cup race, he is currently 46th and has made the cut in thirteen of seventeen tournaments. He has amassed over $6 million in earnings, so it's fair to say he's a success on tour. When asked if he thinks his wave got an advantage in the way the weather delays altered play, he indicated that it was probably a wash. Even though the other wave had to play thirty-six holes yesterday, he said the stopping and starting on Thursday, combined with having to come back out and play Friday morning, was tough. Lingmerth says he's playing pretty well and looks forward to the weekend, even if it involves playing two full rounds today. As far as Razorback fan support goes, he sang the same tune as Landry. His coach is still heavily involved and fans of the University of Arkansas are very much behind him.

A third Razorback also made the cut this week. Twenty-six year old Ethan Tracy, who has been competing on the Latin American and McKenzie-Canada tours, completed his even par seventy this morning to get in the clubhouse at three over par, a tie for twenty-seventh. I didn't have an opportunity to speak with Tracy, but his strong play this weekend could clearly be a nice springboard for his career.

With three former Hogs in the top thirty, it's fair to say U of A fans will have a lot to keep them glued to Fox Sports and the US Open the next couple of days.

Don't forget to check out my new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" and my first two, "Illegal Procedure - A PK Frazier Novel" and "Roughing the Passer - A PK Frazier Novel", available in print and e-formats at Amazon.com, iBooks and Smashwords.  Tune into www.WPFLRADIO.com at 8:40 am EST every Friday for my Beyond the Commentary segment on "Lou in the Morning" with Lou Vickery and Jonathan McMath.


Busy Morning: Saturday mornings in most PGA and major tournaments are tranquil, with the back nine deserted and quiet. Not so at Oakmont Country Club, site of this year's 116th US Open Championship. Due to torrential rains Wednesday night and into Thursday, less than half the field was able to complete the second round by last night. Nine groups were still on the course at about 8:45 pm, when darkness forced suspension of play. Those players came out this morning at 7:15 to complete their rounds. At 7:00 am, the second round began for the wave that played all day Thursday and briefly Friday morning. With a day off and still moist conditions, I would expect the scores to be pretty good from this group.

Golf tournaments, because of the role of weather, always contain a bit of luck. Players either go out Thursday morning and Friday afternoon, or Thursday afternoon and Friday morning. We've seen a number of instances in recent years where a group of competitors get on the "wrong side of the weather". It remains to be seen, but the wave that was forced to play 36 holes in hot and steamy conditions on Friday may end up in that situation. Of course, every player to make the cut will be forced to play 36 at least one day, so perhaps it will all even out. It will be interesting to see how many players from each wave make it past the second round.

Under the circumstances, the USGA probably did the best they could, using the normal process of sending the morning group out for another round yesterday. It just made it very difficult for all players to get their rounds in before dark, and they didn't. If the other wave had been ready to go off yesterday afternoon, it might have bought the USGA some time, but given that the greens had to be cut and rolled, and the pin placements changed, it most likely wouldn' t have made any difference. We expect the third round to get underway this afternoon by about 3:00 or 3:30, depending on how long it makes to get the cut made, greens taken care of and pairings determined. The players will be going off the first and tenth tees in threesomes in an effort to get the round in this evening. It will be tight, but even if some players have to come back out early Sunday morning, it looks as if the USGA will get its wish of having a normal final round, with twosomes all teeing off at the first hole.

So here at Oakmont, the weather is perfect, the best players in the world are playing one of the best courses on the planet, and I'll be bringing you updates throughout the day. Although there is still a lot of golf to be played, we know for sure that Dustin Johnson will again be in one of the final groups this afternoon. He may end being the story of the day as he once again attempts to grab his first major championship. And as I've written for the last couple of weeks, this course always seems to produce a new major winner. After yesterday, there were only three anywhere close to the top of the leaderboard, so it could certainly happen again.

Don't forget to check out my new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" and my first two, "Illegal Procedure - A PK Frazier Novel" and "Roughing the Passer - A PK Frazier Novel", available in print and e-formats at Amazon.com, iBooks and Smashwords.  Tune into www.WPFLRADIO.com at 8:40 am EST every Friday for my Beyond the Commentary segment on "Lou in the Morning" with Lou Vickery and Jonathan McMath.

Friday, June 17, 2016


Weather Outlook Improving, But Still Tough Footing: I took a walk around Oakmont Country Club this morning and while the sun and the wind are rapidly drying out a course that was dumped with over three inches of rain in the previous twenty-four hours, the spectator areas are still a bit slick and treacherous. That hasn't kept golf fans from flocking to the historic course outside of Pittsburgh. There will be plenty of action for them to witness, as the half of the field that failed to start their rounds yesterday will play 36 holes today. After initially planning to get the other half started on their second rounds later this evening, the USGA decided to postpone any further play by that group until tomorrow morning. After determining the cut, the third round will be played Saturday afternoon, with threesomes going off the first and tenth tees in an effort to get the tournament back on schedule for Sunday morning. It's an incredible tribute to the grounds keeping staff at Oakmont that there is still any chance of accomplishing that goal.

After starting play early this morning to complete the round they weren't able to finish last night, the plan would initially had those players teeing off as late as 9:00 pm tonight to get their second rounds underway. The first group I thought of that would be especially inconvenienced are the caddies. I was able to catch up with a couple of them before they left the course this morning. In addition to getting their reaction to the play of the competitor they are carrying a bag for, I got a couple of great stories. Patrick Wilkes-Krier, who was chronicled in a Golf Channel story earlier this week, has one of his former students on the bag. David Szymanski plays collegiate golf at Robert Morris College and prior to that attended Kendall Academy, where Wilkes-Krier coaches. Szymanski was very pleased that there would no more golf for him today and was a little disappointed that his player's opening 78 makes a strong round tomorrow morning necessary if he is requred to make a second trip around Oakmont with a bag on his shoulder. But I asked the young man how he was enjoying the experience, and since he has aspirations of playing golf for a living, David indicated it was an wonderful opportunity to see what it takes to play golf a high level. I wish him success.

Brian Hughes, a Latin American Tour player who is currently 113th on their order of merit, is caddying this week for his fellow competitor Mike Miller. Both entered local qualifying, with Miller getting through to the sectional and Hughes coming close, with alternate status. They both made the trip to Summit Hill New Jersey, but no one dropped out, so only Miller played. He ended up qualifying, and Hughes is on his bag. After playing well in round one, Miller was able to post a two-over 72, putting him in position to contend for the cut. When asked if he was pleased with their day being over, Hughes didn't hesitate with an affirmative answer. If they have to go 36 tomorrow, he said he'll just stay with it. After all, his guy will have made the cut in the U.S. Open. Of course, Brian Hughes, a twenty-five year old mini-tour grinder would rather it was him hitting the shots, but the great thing is, he always has a chance.

Instead of watching golf after talking to the caddies, I decided to check out the spectator village located behind the second green and third fairway. For an avid golf fan, it resembles something more like a theme park in Disney World, maybe going by the name of USGA Kingdom. The centerpiece of the place is the massive merchandise tent, if you can call it that. According to Kaitlin Casey, one of the managers, they will sell over half a million pieces of logoed merchandise during the course of the tournament. I attempted to get an estimated overall sales figure, but she declined to speculate. She did, however, provide me with a few details. The "tent" took from April 18 to May 1 to construct, and the next two weeks were spent assembling and placing fixtures. Beginning around Memorial Day, merchandise arrived daily. By last weekend, they were up and running, and Monday morning the whole dismantling process begins. For those of us that have any retailing in our past, that might just be as big an accomplishment as Dustin Johnson driving the 17th green.

Don't forget to check out my new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" and my first two, "Illegal Procedure - A PK Frazier Novel" and "Roughing the Passer - A PK Frazier Novel", available in print and e-formats at Amazon.com, iBooks and Smashwords.  Tune into www.WPFLRADIO.com at 8:40 am EST every Friday for my Beyond the Commentary segment on "Lou in the Morning" with Lou Vickery and Jonathan McMath.

Thursday, June 16, 2016


The Weather is the Leader in the Clubhouse: After two weather delays, only nine golfers were able to complete play before the third one was called just before 4:00 pm EDT. Finally, the USGA gave up the fight and suspended play for the day at just after 4:30 pm local time. Even if it stops raining, the golf course has had to absorb at least an inch of moisture today, making it unlikely the course could have been returned to playing condition in time to get the players back out this evening.

The other story of the day continues to be PGA Tour rookie Andrew Landry, the 28 year old who played at the University of Arkansas. Landry got it to five under par before bogies at seven and eight dropped him back to -3 with one hole left. An eight footer for birdie awaits him when he gets out to the ninth hole to finish his round tomorrow morning. If he makes it, he'll enjoy a two stroke cushion with Bubba Watson and Danny Lee right on his heels. One round under par round has been carded, that one by amateur qualifier Scottie Scheffler, who was able to get into the locker room with a 69 on the par 70 layout.

I was able to get out and walk the back nine, which along with the first and ninth holes is on the southern side of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, which bisects the course. It was after the second delay, so footing was treacherous and it was difficult to navigate the rolling terrain. But it appeared that the closely cut fairways remained firm and the greens, while more receptive to shots, were still quick enough to pose problems for the players. Even with the soft conditions, only six of the first 78 players out are below par, although there is a fairly sizable group of eight players at even par.

One of the highlights of the day for me was being able to get on the practice range and stand behind the players as they warmed up. They used a variety of techniques, with some clearly working on different aspects of their swing, with others content with simply getting loose before their round. With the exception of a few drives, where spectators can sometimes get behind the players on the tee box, we don't generally get the opportunity to get that close to them as they hit iron shots. The precision and consistency of their ball striking is remarkable, with the ball making a wonderful clicking sound as it leaves the clubface. It takes a lot of hours on the range and in most cases, exceptional instruction to get a golf game good enough to compete at this level.

Tomorrow I plan on making a visit to the locker room to see if I can gather some more insights into the life of a professional golfer competing at a major championship. Keep checking my blog throughout the weekend for my observations and news from Oakmont.

Don't forget to check out my new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" and my first two, "Illegal Procedure - A PK Frazier Novel" and "Roughing the Passer - A PK Frazier Novel", available in print and e-formats at Amazon.com, iBooks and Smashwords.  Tune into www.WPFLRADIO.com at 8:40 am EST every Friday for my Beyond the Commentary segment on "Lou in the Morning" with Lou Vickery and Jonathan McMath.


I'm covering the US Open Championships this week from Oakmont Country Club outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It is one of the truly great venues in American golf, hosting the national open on a regular basis, generally every decade or so. During the course of the tournament, I'll try to give my readers some insight into the behind the scenes activities taking place at the US Open. From the media center to the practice range to the locker room, you will be given a perspective few golf fans get to experience, especially at a major championship.

After overnight rain, the players at this year's US Open are hoping for softer conditions today than they've seen in the days approaching the tournament. With all 78 golfers in the morning wave now on the course, we'll get a chance to see if someone con put up a low score. Chances are good that there are a few 66's or 67's out there, but it would surprise me if we get a 65. Thus begins the first of my posts from the media center at the US Open Championship from Oakmont Country Club, which had play suspended about 10:00 am due to a line of thunderstorms approaching the golf course. Interestingly enough, the lead is held by Andrew Landry, who played collegiately at the University of Arkansas. His three under score through eleven holes has him as one of ten players under par early in round one.

The media center at the US Open is an incredible place. There are two huge screens showing live coverage, surrounded by four other screens showing up to the minute hole by hole scoring as well the leaderboard. There is seating for about 400 journalists, including me. We have desks with power strips and access to Wi-Fi and more information and statistics than you could ever even attempt to digest. Since the action is paused for the weather, those in attendance are a literal who's who of golf and sports journalism. Dan Jenkins, the legendary author and sportswriter, was seated four chairs away. John Feinstein, noted print and television personality and the author of "A Good Walk Spoiled", which chronicled a season on the PGA Tour in the 90's, was holding court in the media dining room. Tour player Paul Casey is chatting with some writers a few feet away, and Tim Rosaforte, who does features for several networks, including the Golf Channel, was hanging out, trying to stay dry.

Eventually though, as soon as play resumes, the story will end up being the golf course and the ability of the players to navigate their way between punishing rough and around 200 or so bunkers to find their way to one of the most difficult collection of greens in championship golf. The course will no doubt be at its easiest today, with the continued moisture softening the greens. But after this evening, there is no more rain in the forecast for the duration of the action, giving the putting surfaces two or three days to dry out before Sunday's final round is played under warm temperatures and sunny skies. And I'll be right here at Oakmont for all of it, so check in periodically for more behind the scenes coverage.

Don't forget to check out my new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" and my first two, "Illegal Procedure - A PK Frazier Novel" and "Roughing the Passer - A PK Frazier Novel", available in print and e-formats at Amazon.com, iBooks and SmashwordsTune into www.WPFLRADIO.com at 8:40 am EST every Friday for my Beyond the Commentary segment on "Lou in the Morning" with Lou Vickery and Jonathan McMath.

Friday, June 10, 2016


Can Fox Sports Improve From Chambers Bay?  It was a disaster in the making. A sports organization with little or no golf coverage experience broadcasting it's first  major championship from a young venue that wasn't really ready for prime time hosted by a commentator and analyst that had no golf television experience. Should anyone have been surprised that both the tournament and the coverage were clearly over par for a US Open? While I have a lot of respect for Joe Buck, the Fox Sports veteran in the football and baseball booth, the voice of World Series and Super Bowls, he was clearly facing an unplayable lie when it came to golf. And Greg Norman, an accomplished golfer and businessman, just never could find the right tone in the eighteenth hole tower.

The insanity of the USGA's decisions compounded what would have been a challenge for themselves and whatever network carried the tournament. Awarding the tournament to Chambers Bay, an untested, visually challenged course that was not in major championship condition hamstrung the competitors and Fox. I was critical of the USGA when they awarded the TV rights to their championships to Fox and I remain skeptical that the money they received is worth the risk of having the premier contest in American golf handled by an outfit that is still trying to figure out how to do something three or four times a year that CBS, NBC, The Golf Channel and ESPN have been working on for at least two decades and in CBS' case, well over half a century. It will take Buck years to get the experience in golf that he gets in a single season of football games. Unfortunately for us and fortunately for Fox, they'll have a long time to get it right, as the contract runs for another nine years.

That being said, Fox catches a big break this year, as the US Open returns to one of the most storied venues in the history of American golf. Although the USGA doesn't have a formal course rotation for the US Open like the Royal & Ancient has for The Open Championship, Oakmont Country Club would be on it if they did. Once every decade, the tournament returns to the lush, sandtrap infested track outside Pittsburgh. Whether it's the shots of the Pennsylvania Turnpike dissecting the course, or of the best players in the world attempting to extricate themselves from the church pew bunker, Oakmont provides a familiar and stunning visual backdrop about which to comment. The addition of what was basically the old ABC/ESPN crew will also help the network's quality of coverage. Paul Azinger and Curtis Strange, experienced, frank and outspoken analysts will bring much needed credibility to the team.

But the piece of the puzzle that's much more difficult to put together is the actual production of the broadcast. Unlike football and baseball, the two sports where Fox cut its teeth form the outset of the network, gimmicks and flashy graphics don't cut it. Frank Chirkanian, the late and former CBS producer of its golf broadcast, took years to learn and implement the tricky transition from hole to hole, shot to shot. It's literally like eighteen baseball games taking place at once. Mickelson's putting for birdie on four, Spieth is in the bunker at six, McIlroy is between clubs on a crucial approach at seventeen. Which one do you show live? Which one can you afford to show on replay? What do you do or say when that giant roar can be heard three holes away?

This year I won't be watching on television, I'll be covering the event on site at Oakmont. But I sincerely hope that the changes Fox has made in conjunction with the inherent advantages provided by the course will result in a much improved viewing experience. But from my perspective, you generally get better with practice or by repetition, and unfortunately for Fox, they don't have but a handful of times a year to do that. Still skeptical? Absolutely. Hopeful for improvement? Ditto.

Don't forget to check out my new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" and my first two, "Illegal Procedure - A PK Frazier Novel" and "Roughing the Passer - A PK Frazier Novel", available in print and e-formats at Amazon.com, iBooks and SmashwordsTune into www.WPFLRADIO.com at 8:40 am EST every Friday for my Beyond the Commentary segment on "Lou in the Morning" with Lou Vickery and Jonathan McMath.


Cavs Stay Alive With Rout: After two lackluster performances in Oakland, the Cleveland Cavaliers had been almost left for dead in their NBA Finals series against the Golden State Warriors. But with Kevin Love sidelined with a concussion, Lebron James and Kyrie Irving combined for 62 points and JR Smith woke up long enough to pour in 20 as Cleveland romped to a 120 - 90 victory. Considering the Warriors' dismal game three record going back to last year's Finals, it wasn't surprising to see them fall behind from the beginning, trailing 9 - 0 in the opening minutes and never really recovering. For the third consecutive game, the Cavs were able to neutralize MVP Steph Curry and his backcourt mate Klay Thompson. This is starting to look more like a trend than a blip, with Curry in particular looking far different than the sensation we've seen emerge over the last couple of seasons.

Considering that despite their third game woes, the Warriors are still only two games away from their second consecutive title, it's premature to push the panic button if you're a Golden State fan. But the Cavs have definitely found something to at least neutralize the Splash Brothers, and with game four still in Cleveland, can probably be optimistic that they can even the series heading back to Golden State. The big question is can Cleveland get a win in Oakland, especially given their lack of production there to start the series? Lebron James and Kyrie Irving were able to find their shooting touch in game 3, which should be a concern for the Warriors as they try to game plan for tonight. James hasn't shot jumpers very well throughout the season, so he has been mostly deferring on mid-range shots and passing to teammates, at least until Wednesday night. Will he continue to shoot confidently, even on the road? If he does, the Cavs might look a little differently offensively as the series continues.

At this writing, Kevin Love's status for game four is still uncertain. Whether he plays or not, lineup tweaking and roster changes made from game to game are what make the NBA Finals so fascinating. It's particularly important in this series because there is such a disparity between the effectiveness of different lineups for both teams. But at the end of the day, coaches can do any number of strategic tinkering in  from the sidelines, but if the players don't shoot well, rebound and play good defense, it doesn't much matter who is on the floor. And for the past two seasons, the Warriors have just shot better played better defense than their opponents, thus finding themselves where they are.

Can Cleveland still win this series? I think so, but they'll need to continue their aggressive play and timely shooting while denying Steph Curry and Klay Thompson room and time to get off their shots. The Cavs will also need the officials to keep allowing more physical play, something that is clearly disruptive to the Warriors' style of play. I'm hoping for a Cavs win, not so much because it will keep alive my prediction of a Cleveland title, but because it will extend the series to at least six games, and possible seven. It would be a great way to finish the season and start the countdown to football.

Don't forget to check out my new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" and my first two, "Illegal Procedure - A PK Frazier Novel" and "Roughing the Passer - A PK Frazier Novel", available in print and e-formats at Amazon.com, iBooks and SmashwordsTune into www.WPFLRADIO.com at 8:40 am EST every Friday for my Beyond the Commentary segment on "Lou in the Morning" with Lou Vickery and Jonathan McMath.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016


US Open Field Almost Set: With Monday's sectional qualifying completed, the field for the 2016 US Open in close to being finalized. One hundred-fifty of the 156 spots have been filled, with six more being held back in case that many play their way into the top 60 in the world. Tiger Woods, as expected, will not be teeing up on June 16, still not ready to play competitive golf. Most of the contenders will come from those that were exempt long before the local and sectional qualifying, but there were a handful of players that qualified on Monday that might be able to make a run at the title.

The most prominent name among the group is former world number one Luke Donald, who despite a stellar career, has yet to win a major championship. His lack of length will be an issue at Oakmont, especially since he's currently 159th in driving distance and 174th in driving accuracy. It's no mystery as to why he's fallen off the elite list of golfers. For him to have a chance in the Open he will have to regain a form we haven't seen in several years.

The next most compelling qualifier is Dyson DeChambeau, last year's United States Amateur champion who by turning pro after the Masters, gave up his US Open exemption. In order to cash in on that exemption, he would have had to maintain his amateur status. By finishing second in the brutal sectional that included a plethora of PGA Tour players that remained in Ohio following the Memorial, he regained his chance to compete for a US Open title. After a promising start to his pro career with a fourth place finish at the RBC Heritage, DeChambeau missed four consecutive cuts, but seemed to regain his footing in Columbus, finishing a respectable 38th despite a closing 73. He's young, he's different and he has game. If he gets in contention on Sunday, look for a lot of coverage as he makes the turn home.

Forty nine year old David Toms made it through qualifying as well. The 2001 PGA champion's primary weapon at Oakmont will be his driving accuracy, enabling him to miss the 180 or more bunkers and stay out of what is sure to be deep and punishing rough. While his sights are probably set more on the Champions Tour, which he will qualify for next year, he's managed to collect three top ten finishes the last couple of seasons. His lack of length off the tee will most likely make it difficult for him to contend. But he's a good guy who will have a lot of fan support if he manages to get into the mix on Sunday afternoon.

A few other prominent touring pros came out of the sectionals, but none excite me as far as their chances at Oakmont. JJ Henry, Spencer Levin, DJ Trahan, Brendan Steele and Kevin Streelman, while solid players, don't tend to exhibit the qualities that would make me think they can break through with a major championship, especially at this year's venue. So we'll probably need to look farther up the field to find true contenders, whether darkhorses or favorites. My next installment of the Countdown to Oakmont will break down the players I think have a real chance to make a run as the sun sets on June 19.

Don't forget to check out my new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" and my first two, "Illegal Procedure - A PK Frazier Novel" and "Roughing the Passer - A PK Frazier Novel", available in print and e-formats at Amazon.com, iBooks and SmashwordsTune into www.WPFLRADIO.com at 8:40 am EST every Friday for my Beyond the Commentary segment on "Lou in the Morning" with Lou Vickery and Jonathan McMath.

Monday, June 6, 2016


Stories from Sectional Qualifying Day: The field for the 2016 U.S. Open at Oakmont is yet to be finalized, but there were still plenty of great stories from what is usually known as "The Longest Day in Golf". Players not yet exempt from qualifying for the USGA's most coveted title teed it up this morning in 36 hole qualifying tournaments at ten sites throughout the nation. Between three and thirteen spots in the U.S. Open were up for grabs at each site. The participants ranged from accomplished major tournament winners like Vijay Singh to amateurs like you and me that made it through the almost 10,000 players that teed it up for local qualifying last month. The great aspect of our National Open is that it is truly that: Open. Anyone with a handicap index of 1.4 or lower can pay the entry fee and take a shop at qualifying for the dream of a lifetime. Four hot rounds and you can go from playing for the club championship to having a locker next to the best golfers on the planet. From locations laden with touring professionals who were exempted from local qualifying to those heavily populated with amateurs, each one had a unique flavor. I've highlighted a few.

Powell, Ohio, Wedgewood Golf and Country Club/Kinsale Golf and Fitness Club: When US Amateur and NCAA champion Bryson DeChambeau turned pro following the Masters, he forfeited his exemption to the US Open. He would have had to remain an amateur in order to keep his spot that he earned by winning the Amateur title. But his gamble paid off as he fired a seven under par 63 in his second round and finished second in a sectional stacked with PGA tour players. Former world number one Luke Donald will need to emerge from a six-man playoff for the final five spots if he is to have another chance at his first major.

Rockville, Maryland, Woodmont Country Club: Naval Academy grad and service veteran Billy Hurley III has made just four cuts and pocketed a little over $66,000 this season, but after beating the field by three shots, he'll get a second consecutive chance at taking home a piece of the $10,000,000 purse at the U.S. Open in his effort to stay exempt for the 2017 season. One of the players to fall short at Woodmont was Champions Tour and past PGA Tour veteran Woody Austin, who may be best known for battling Tiger Woods in the 2007 PGA Championship at Southern Hills in Tulsa.

Memphis, Tennessee, Germantown Country Club/Ridgeway Country Club: In a sectional where 14 of the 121 entries withdrew before posting their second round scores, PGA Tour veterans DJ Trahan, David Toms and JJ Henry were among the ten qualifiers. In advance of this week's St. Jude's Classic tour event, this site also attracted a high number of Tour players. Forty-nine year old Steve Stricker was among those that missed the six-man playoff for the last two spots by a single stroke.

Jacksonville, Florida, Timuquana Country Club: Rains from tropical storm Colin caused this sectional to be halted midway through the second round. The aforementioned Vijay Singh finds himself three shots behind the top four with thirteen holes left to play. Singh is a multilple major winner whose length and accuracy could still make him a threat at Oakmont, even at the age of 53.

Springfield, Ohio, Springfield Country Club: Amateur Charles Danielson holed a 40 foot putt to defeat professional Tony Finau in a playoff, joining two other amateurs in advancing to the Open from Springfield, the only sectional site that seemed to be kind to those playing for the love of the game.

As we look forward to the US Open and my coverage from Oakmont Country Club, I'll be handicapping the field and picking my favorites to lift the trophy on June 19 in posts over the next ten days.

Don't forget to check out my new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" and my first two, "Illegal Procedure - A PK Frazier Novel" and "Roughing the Passer - A PK Frazier Novel", available in print and e-formats at Amazon.com, iBooks and SmashwordsTune into www.WPFLRADIO.com at 8:40 am EST every Friday for my Beyond the Commentary segment on "Lou in the Morning" with Lou Vickery and Jonathan McMath.


Cavs on the Ropes: For a team that rolled through the first three rounds of the playoffs with only a pair of losses, the Cleveland Cavaliers look woefully ineffective against the Golden State Warriors. The Cavs have now dropped seven consecutive games to the Warriors over the last two seasons, five of those in the Finals. Lebron and Company look out of synch and unprepared for a team that they probably figured to be facing from the beginning of the season. Perhaps it's just a poor matchup for the Cavs, or more likely the Warriors, as the Jazz found out when trying to defeat Jordan's Bulls in the '90's, are just a more complete basketball team. Whatever the reason, it's clear that the Cavs need to make some significant changes to the way they're approaching this series.

I've watched every game the Cleveland has played in the postseason, and the way they have run their offense against the Warriors is markedly different than what they were doing in their other series. There isn't nearly as much ball movement and the Cavs aren't reacting very well when the Warriors collapse defensively on Lebron James. There seems to be a lot standing around instead of moving without the ball, and Kyrie Irving in particular seems tentative on offense. The other key piece to their offensive puzzle for much of the playoffs has been JR Smith, who has mysteriously disappeared against the Warriors. I don't know if he missed the flight to the Bay area or just decided to extend the week off that Cleveland enjoyed prior to the Finals. It doesn't really matter what happened in Oakland, but he has to show up in games three and four at home for his team to have any chance in this series.

Can the Cavs make this a competitive series, or is Golden State just too good?  If they return to form, perhaps. One area of success for them has been the ability to limit the production of the Splash Brothers, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. Unfortunately for Cleveland, the rest of the team has stepped up, whether it's Draymond Green, Shaun Livingston or even Leandro Barbosa and Harrison Barnes. The Cavs have almost no production from their bench, which makes JR Smith's contributions even more critical if Cleveland is to put up any kind of resistance to what appears to be a juggernaut of a team that has won its last five playoff games. At the beginning of the playoffs, I picked the Cavs to win the title, thinking that they had developed the game and the chemistry to defeat whoever came out of the Western Conference. It looks at this point as if I either overestimated Cleveland or underestimated the power of the Warriors.

If the Cavs do fail to bring the city of Cleveland their first professional sports title since 1964, a streak of 146 total competitive seasons that is the longest of its type in sports, there will be ample speculation about the future and legacy of Lebron James to easily fill the commentary void that generally exists between the NBA Finals and the beginning of the football season. Considering that Tyronn Lue had about half a season to implement some changes and the fact that the Cavs still made it to the Finals the past two seasons, I'd like to see them make a couple of tweeks to their personnel and give James one more shot at bringing that trophy to his home region. But professional sports is a fickle and sometimes unforgiving business where recent results matter and knee-jerk reactions to disappointing seasons abound. I can't even pretend to be able to predict what kind of off-season moves might result from a win by the Warriors in four or five games. But if the Cavs come close again, and at this point the series is still a long way from being over, maybe this Cleveland team stays largely intact and gets another shot next season.

Don't forget to check out my new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" and my first two, "Illegal Procedure - A PK Frazier Novel" and "Roughing the Passer - A PK Frazier Novel", available in print and e-formats at Amazon.com, iBooks and SmashwordsTune into www.WPFLRADIO.com at 8:40 am EST every Friday for my Beyond the Commentary segment on "Lou in the Morning" with Lou Vickery and Jonathan McMath.

Friday, June 3, 2016


First Time Major Winners the Norm at Oakmont: For the many players in this year's US Open field that are looking for their first major victory, it should be encouraging that the last five contested at Oakmont have produced champions with only one prior major victory. It should also be good for them to know that those victors went on to win at least one more major, led by Jack Nicklaus' 17 additional titles. In addition to Nicklaus, those winners were Johnny Miller, Larry Nelson, Ernie Els and Angel Cabrera. Nicklaus and Miller bested Arnold Palmer, Nelson defeated Tom Watson, Els denied Colin Montgomery and Loren Roberts what would have been their first major, and Cabrera outlasted Tiger Woods. Not that history always repeats itself or that it can't be altered going forward, but for whatever reason, the top golfers of the day have had a tough time closing the deal at Oakmont. What does that say about the chances of Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy or Jason Day? Maybe a lot, or it may mean nothing at all. If I'm Brandt Snedeker, Ricky Fowler, Patrick Reed, Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia or Matt Kuchar, all accomplished players still looking for their first major win, it might be an encouraging statistic.

As of this writing, there are still only 78 players listed as exempt for the US Open on the USGA website. The sectional qualifying in the United States takes place Monday at ten sites, after which the field will pretty much be set. One player that probably won't be participating is Tiger Woods, yet at the moment he is in the field. When he withdraws, and it's likely he will, an alternate will get his spot in the tournament. Of course, Tiger has until today to enter the St. Jude Classic in Memphis, which is the final event prior to the Open. If he doesn't play any tournaments prior to Oakmont, it's almost impossible to believe that he would remain entered without having hit a competitive shot since last August.

Of those already exempt, and forgetting about the last five Oakmont US Open results, it's hard to dismiss the chances of Jordan Spieth and Jason Day, given how they've rounded into form the last month or so. Spieth, after his disaster at the Master's, rebounded by taking the Dean & Deluca last week in Fort Worth. Jason Day went wire to wire at the Players in winning against the toughest field of the season. A good indicator of how well players are looking in advance of the Open is their performance at the Memorial, which is played on a tough course with lush rough and fast greens. As the afternoon wave begins their second round, some of those mentioned earlier are in contention, including co-leader Matt Kuchar, Dustin Johnson and Jason Day. Phil Mickelson, who has made a career out of tough and sometimes inexplicable losses in the US Open, is still dealing with his insider trading issues, but is in the clubhouse after two rounds at seven  under par, five shots off the pace.

Once all of the sectional qualifiers are complete, I'll take a look at the entire US Open field, beginning with some dark horses that may be able to contend at Oakmont. As we've seen before, we can end up with some surprising finishes at major championships. Just take a look at the most recent one, where Danny Willett shocked the golf world by coming from behind to win the Master's. Stay with me for the next couple of weeks as I preview this years US Open, then cover it live from Oakmont Country Club June 16 - 19.

Don't forget to check out my new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" and my first two, "Illegal Procedure - A PK Frazier Novel" and "Roughing the Passer - A PK Frazier Novel", available in print and e-formats at Amazon.com, iBooks and SmashwordsTune into www.WPFLRADIO.com at 8:40 am EST every Friday for my Beyond the Commentary segment on "Lou in the Morning" with Lou Vickery and Jonathan McMath.