By Len Ziehm


There’s some developments over the last two weeks in the pro golf world that defy the imagination – at least mine. These are changing times in golf, and that’s been the case for a while – but I never would have imagined the following series of events in such a short span.

Some are sad, some strange, some noteworthy.  None are related, but all – in one way or another – are food for thought.  (I’ve  listed them in pretty much chronological order for lack of a better way to put them on display):

Here you have one of the best players win a big tournament, the Wells Fargo Championship, then file for divorce the next day – and that happened to be the day players like Rory McIlroy could start arriving for the PGA Championship, the second major of the season.

McIlroy’s timing was strange, but that’s not all.  He refused to talk about it, even though social media was smothered with speculation and opinions about the sudden turn of events.  It even spread to Amanda Balionis, the popular TV golf reporter who was reported to be McIlroy’s new love interest. She wouldn’t address the subject either.

Here you have one of the PGA Tour’s best player spokesmen and a TV personality whose job it is to explain what’s going on during tour events, and both are letting the speculation about them run wild.  Granted, it’s their own business, but still…..

The world’s best player gets arrested on his way to the second round of the PGA Championship.  To Scottie Scheffler’s credit he – unlike McIlroy – didn’t duck questions about his unfortunate experience at the gates of Quail Hollow.  In fact, he handled the episode with enviable aplomb.  Still, no way an event of this magnitude could have been on any golf follower’s radar.

This is such a sad development.  Grayson Murray, a PGA Tour player, committed suicide in the middle of a tournament.  It shook up the tour, its fans and – most obviously – his friends among the players.  Webb Simpson and Peter Malnati shared their thoughts publically at that emotional time, and I commend them for doing it.  I strongly believe they were a help to many caught in the mourning process.

The best player in women’s golf had won six of her last seven tournaments, then Nelly Korda teed off in the U.S. Women’s Open.  On her third hole she put three balls in the water and took a 10. How does that happen?  Just golf, I guess.

Anyway, Korda missed the 36-hole cut at Lancaster Country Club in Pennsylvania – not surprising, given her early-round nightmare.  What was surprising is all the company she had in failing to qualify for weekend play.

Heading that list was Lexi Thompson, who – at 29 – announced her pending retirement plans before teeing off.  The others on the MC list included defending champion Allisen Corpuz; such LPGA mainstays as Rose Zhang, Brooke Henderson, Lydia Ko, Patty Tavanakit, Sei Young Kim, Leona Maguire, In Gee Chun and Ariya Jutanugarn and you can add No. 1-ranked amateur Ingrid Lindblad and Lottie Woad, winner of the Augusta National Women’s Amateur, to that list.

Only 15 Americans were among the 75 players making the cut at Lancaster, but an established player did win the title.  Yuka Saso, the champion for the second time, was unusual for one thing.  While her win was no fluke, she won the title in 2021 representing the Philippines.  This time she won under the flag of Japan.  She explained that she wanted to honor the homes of both of her parents.

Saso was one of only two players to finish the 72 holes under par – the fewest in 10 years.  It’s only fitting to honor the champion but that doesn’t rule out labeling  the latest staging of arguably the biggest event in women’s golf as “The Disaster at Lancaster.’’

C.T. Pan may be the first player to use four caddies in the same round of any tournament, much less one as prestigious as the Canadian Open.

Pan had one of the premier bag-toters, Mike (Fluff) Cowan, on his bag to start the final round.  Cowan took a fall on the hills at the No. 3 hole, and Pan took a volunteer from the gallery to replace him.  That fan lasted one hole and another replaced him.  That one lasted through the ninth hole before Al Ridell, a nearby resident who has caddied professionally, saw what was happening on television and took over for the final nine.  Pan shot a 69 and finished in a tie for 35th place.

C.T. Pan caddie – Mike (Fluff) Cowen falls on 3rd hole

I guess it should go down simply as “life goes on.’’ Still, it makes me a little apprehensive about the next two weeks on the pro tours, especially with the Memorial and U.S. Open on the schedule.

Len Ziehm

Len has been covering golf for over 56 years. He was the golf columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times for 41 years and has been in the same role for the Daily Herald and several regional newspapers since 2009… Len is also a regular contributor to the Chicago District Golfer magazine and his travel pieces are regularly published in Pro Golf Weekly, New England.Golf, eSouthernGolf and the Ohio Golf Journal. His works for all publications are available at It is in its 15th year of operation and has been enhanced by the photography provided by his partner Joy Sarver… An inductee into the Illinois Soccer Hall of Fame in 2004 (for his reporting and youth coaching, not as a player), Len was also inducted into the Illinois Golf Hall of Fame in 2019. He is also on the Advisory Board of the International Network of Golf, is a lifetime member of the Golf Writers Association of America and a member of the Golf Travel Writers of America.

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