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Golf notebook: PGA of America paints top events Black

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--The Black Course at Bethpage State Park in Farmingdale, N.Y., put on quite a show, with help from Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, when it became the first public course to host the United States Open in 2002.

The PGA of America was paying attention, and now it has scheduled its top two events at Bethpage Black, the 2019 PGA Championship and the 2024 Ryder Cup.

New York hosted the PGA Championship for the 13th time last month, when Jason Dufner captured the title at Oak Hill. The first PGA was won by Jim Barnes of England in 1916 at Siwanoy Country Club in Eastchester, N.Y.

This will be the first Ryder Cup in the Empire State.

Ted Bishop, president of the PGA of America, said he was following Mickelson and Rickie Fowler during a practice round at the 2010 Ryder Cup when Lefty asked why New York has never hosted the biennial event.

Fowler chimed in: "Can you imagine what a great home-field advantage and how intimidating a Bethpage Black Ryder Cup would be?"

Can you say, "War on the Shore?"

That was the name given to the contentious Ryder Cup played in 1991 on the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island, where the Americans rode the emotion of the fans to a 14 1/2-13 1/2 victory.

The New York fans could certainly provide as much atmosphere.

Of course, perhaps 20-year-old Jordan Spieth is the only player on the United States team in the Presidents Cup next week who might be on the American team in 11 years.

However, Mickelson is immensely popular among the New York fans, and as soon as the PGA of America made the announcement, his name was floated as a possible captain for the U.S. side.

--Travelers Companies Inc. has been title sponsor of the Travelers Championship since 2007, and its contract extends through next year's event.

However, talks about the company sponsoring future events have been stalled to the point that the deadline for an agreement has been extended beyond the pre-set date of Sept. 30, the Hartford Courant reported.

Not to worry, said Andy Bessette, Travelers executive vice president and chief administrative officer. Bessette said an agreement should be reached by the end of the year.

Even though the event is played annually in June at River Highlands Golf Club in Cromwell, Conn., the hang-up concerns the 2016 Olympics Games in Rio de Janeiro, where golf will be played for the first time since 1904.

The Olympics will be held in August, but Travelers is concerned that qualifying tournaments held by some countries might impact the field for its tournament.

There were 42 non-Americans in the field for the Travelers Championship in June, when Ken Duke claimed the first title of his PGA Tour career.

"Negotiation is the wrong word," Bessette said of contract talks. "It's not all negotiations. It's fact-finding."

In addition to questions about the Olympics, there is contract language concerning digital and social media and their impact on Travelers, an official marketing partner of the PGA Tour.

--Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa earned his spot on the International team for the Presidents Cup by finishing fifth in the point standings, but he has not played since missing the cut in the John Deere Classic in July because of neck, back and hip injuries.

Captain Nick Price said when he announced his captain's picks a few weeks ago that he was concerned about Oosthuizen's readiness for the matches next week at Muirfield Village in Dublin, Ohio.

Oosthuizen will try to ease Price's mind when he plays this week in the Dunhill Links Championship, a European Tour event at St. Andrews, where he captured the 2010 Open Championship.

"My biggest concern ... right now is Louis Oosthuizen and how his health is going to be," Price said. "He's had three, four, five weeks of therapy now, and he's very confident that he's going to be able to play at the Dunhill."

Oosthuizen began practicing for the first time since the injury two weeks ago.

--Peter Jacobsen, who won seven times on the PGA Tour, was selected as the recipient of the 2013 Payne Stewart Award.

The award is given annually to a pro golfer who displays the character, charity and sportsmanship of the late Payne Stewart, who won 11 times on the PGA Tour, including three majors, before he died in a plane crash at age 42 in 1999.

"I am incredibly humbled to receive such a prestigious award, particularly one that honors a dear friend of mine who was such a remarkable and esteemed individual," Jacobsen said.

"I was extremely lucky to have Payne as a friend, competitor and role model, and the best way to carry on his legacy is by upholding the same values he did. Payne taught us all the meaning of sportsmanship and integrity, and I can only hope to pass that on to younger generations the way he did."

Jacobsen and Stewart, along with Mark Lye, formed the rock band "Jake Trout and the Flounders" in the 1980s, releasing albums in 1988 and 1999.

The 59-year-old Jacobsen, who has won twice on the Champions Tour, also is a TV analyst for NBC and the Golf Channel, and events managed by Peter Jacobsen Sports have contributed more than $40 million to various nonprofit organizations around the United States since 1989.

"Peter, who was a good friend of Payne's, exemplifies the values that Payne defined," PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said. "Peter has done wonderful things for the game over the years, and has set an example both inside and outside the ropes."

The Payne Stewart Award previously went to Byron Nelson, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Ben Crenshaw, Nick Price, Tom Watson, Jay Haas, Brad Faxon, Gary Player, Hal Sutton, Davis Love III, Kenny Perry, Tom Lehman, David Toms and Steve Stricker.

--Lydia Ko is going to put away her golf clubs for a while.

The 16-year-old amateur from New Zealand, who has won four professional tournaments and ranks fifth in the Rolex Women's World Golf Rankings, returned to New Zealand, for exams after finishing second in the Evian Championship, the final LPGA Tour major of the year in France.

"The next time you see me, I may be a pro," Ko said after finishing two strokes behind Suzann Pettersen of Norway in the Evian. "I'll be doing study pretty much every day. I don't want to see my golf clubs for about two months.

"I've got exams until mid-November. I have had some invitations to tournaments from the end of November to December, but I haven't said yes or no at the moment because I'm going to concentrate on studies.

"We are thinking if I play them I might be pro then, that's what I was saying (in France), but I don't have a date. There hasn't been a clear decision on when. I may not be pro then."

Ko, the top-ranked women's amateur in the world, surpassed Lynnette Brooky's 12th place finish in the 2002 U.S. Open, which previously was the best finish by a New Zealand woman in a major championship.

While playing golf around the world, Ko has fallen about a year behind in her studies at Pinehurst School in Albany, New Zealand, and because she has remained an amateur, she has missed out on an estimated $2 million in winnings and endorsement money.

"I don't care about the money," the Korean-born Ko said. "The best prize is something that my mum and aunt organized. I got to meet my favorite Korean actor (So Ji-Sub), and they organized for me to meet him, and that is the best prize I have been able to get. For now."

Ko became the youngest golfer, male or female, to win a professional tournament when she captured the 2012 Bing Lee/Samsung New South Wales Open, an Australian Ladies Professional Golf Tour, at Oatlands Golf Club near Sydney while still 14.

Later in the year, Ko became the youngest champion on the LPGA Tour at 14 years four months when she won the CN Canadian Women's Open by three strokes at Vancouver Golf Club, and she repeated in Canada with a five-stroke victory at Royal Mayfair Golf Club in Edmonton last month.

Ko's other victory against the pros came last February in the ISPA Women's New Zealand Open at Clearwater Golf Club in Christchurch, New Zealand.

--Arron Oberholser, who seemed to be on his way to stardom on the PGA Tour when he captured the 2006 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, is facing the prospect of retirement at age 38.

Oberholser, who had four surgical operations on his left hand, was making progress in his comeback before being hit with a setback in the first event of the Web.com Tour Finals.

"I'm almost positive my golf career is over," said Oberholser, who captured the Samsung Canadian PGA Championship and the Utah Classic on what was then Nationwide Tour in 2002. "The writing is kind of appearing on the wall, in neon.

"It's not a good situation. It bothers me even on day-to-day stuff, and it's never done that before. It's never hurt this many days in a row without playing."

Oberholser posted scores of 66-68-68 to start the Hotel Fitness Championship, first event of the Web.com Tour Finals last month. However, he reinjured his hand when he shot 73 in the final round to tie for 18th.

Because of the injury, he was unable to play in the last three events of the Finals.

"I still want to be able to play with my boys as they grow older," said Oberholser, who tied for fourth in the 2004 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits and tied for ninth in the 2005 U.S. Open at Pinehurst.

"That's one thing I'm worried about, not being able to even play casual rounds of golf without pain."

Oberholser has a fallback position if he cannot continue with his golf career. He graduated from San Jose State in 1998 with a degree in broadcast journalism and has proven to be a natural in stints as a part-time analyst on the Golf Channel.
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