Exactly one year before he must cross his fingers and hold his breath while preparing Bethpage Black for a major championship in May, Kerry Haigh recently visited the course to see just how it looks this time of year. “I was pleasantly surprised,” said Haigh, chief championships officer for the PGA of America.
“Even after all the Nor’easters and the very late winter, there was a lot of growth,” he said on the phone this week from the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship in Benton Harbor, Michigan.
Obviously, there is no way to say for sure what Long Island weather will be like next winter, before the PGA Championship debuts its roll-of-the-dice scheduling move from August to May. Just because things were blooming this mid-May does not mean they will look the same next mid-May. PGA of America officials know they will be in for strong criticism if conditions are poor.
But he and his staff have studied patterns of recent springs and remain optimistic that the setting will be worthy of a major. Haigh, who gets high marks from people in the golf industry for his course setups, had heard about the rough March here. He was pleased with the way the Black Course got through it and did not have to spend time surveying any damage.
His visit comprised all of the steps he would have covered anywhere, any time of year. Haigh toured the grounds with officials from CBS, marking spots for broadcast towers and camera stations. He spent a good deal of time with Bethpage superintendent Andrew Wilson and his assistants as well as architect Rees Jones, who renovated the Black for the 2002 U.S. Open and still is an advisor about the course.
“We left there looking forward even more to next May,” Haigh said.
Biggadike wins Travis
Andrew Biggadike of the Olympic Club in San Francisco won the 109th Travis Invitational at Garden City Golf Club Sunday, shooting 5 under in his 3 and 1 final victory over Daniel Russo, 60, of Schuyler Meadows Club in upstate Loudonville. The 39-year-old champion played for Guilford College. U.S.
Mid-Amateur champion Matt Parziale, the Massachusetts fireman who played in the Masters, reached the quarterfinals and made a hole-in-one on No. 2. Tim Schmitt of Garden City, son of former Jets center John Schmitt, won the William Taft Cup Division.
In the season’s first major amateur event, the Havemeyer Invitational at Southward Ho the previous week, Jonathan Jeter of the Nassau Players Club won for the second consecutive year, defeating Christopher O’Keefe of Bethpage, 2 and 1, in the final.
Another chance for Scott
Following up on last week’s story about Adam Scott, who once shot 63 at Shinnecock Hills but is on the bubble for the U.S. Open there this year: He missed by one stroke of qualifying for the Open last week at AT&T Byron Nelson. He ended the tournament 61st in the Official World Golf Ranking and needed to be in the top 60 by the Monday deadline. But the U.S. Golf Association announced an extended deadline of June 11, giving him more chances. Scott has played in 67 consecutive major championships . . . Jennifer Rosenberg of Laurel Hollow and Cold Spring Harbor High School, who once made the national Drive, Chip and Putt finals at Augusta and last year won the Nassau girls high school championship with a record score, led Tulane University’s women’s golf team with eight rounds of par or better. At the American Athletic Conference tournament, she tied for best freshman.
Ace for 93-year-old
We should all leave the stage the way 93-year-old Ohio resident Ben Bender did. He told the Zanesville Times-Recorder that his recent round at Zanesville’s Green Valley Course was the last of his life because his hip bursitis had become too painful. On the 16th hole that day, just before he finished forever, he made his first hole-in-one.