US PGA diary

Padraig Harrington threw in a few Irish jokes when he hosted Tuesday’s Champions Dinner at a Minneapolis Hotel.

Past Champions: Front Row (L-R) Dow Finsterwald, Shaun Micheel, Padraig Harrington, Doug Ford, Rich Beem, David Toms. Back Row (L-R) Mark Brooks, Davis Love III, Paul Azinger, Bobby Nichols, Bob Tway, Steve Elkington, Vijay Singh, and Tiger Woods with the Wanamaker trophy at the Champions' Dinner held during the 91st PGA Championship at Sofitel in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, on Tuesday, August 11, 2009. (Photo by Montana Pritchard/The PGA of America)Apart from a couple of “two Irishmen walked out of a bar” type quips, he had the former US PGA champions in stitches with his after dinner speech.

Having put a huge amount of effort into choosing the Irish themed menu with his wife Caroline so that the guests would not starve, Harrington allowed himself a joke at his own expense.

"I'm off to the Waffle House with the Mrs. I'm not sure if I'll be upset if I see any of you there or not," he said after the meal that featured all sorts of Irish delights from leek and potato soup to Irish beef stew braised in Guinness to grilled salmon with Irish Champ.

The defending champion traditionally presents the guests with a gift and Harrington’s choice of bodhrans went down well.

In 2004 Shaun Micheel gave the champions a guitar while Phil Mickelson gave the champions a scrapbook of newspaper clippings from their PGA victory.

"Micheel gave us a guitar," Rich Beem said. "All I need now is a bass player and I'm good to go."

Beem thoroughly enjoyed the gift and the thought that Harrington had put in to choosing it.

Even better was Harrington's explanation, which according to Beem and Paul Azinger, went something like this:

"In the hands of the right Irishman, it's makes a lovely sound," Harrington told them. "In the hands of a 6-year-old, I'm not so sure. You might want to keep it on a high shelf."

(Loadsa money)

The purse for the 91st PGA Championship was announced yesterday. It’s $7.5 million (€5.29 m), which is the same as it was in 2008. The winner on Sunday will pocket a very healthy $1.35 m (€945,000). The winner will also get 600 FedExCup points, which would be good news for Padraig Harrington, who is the only one of the Irish quartet in action who is a member of the PGA Tour.


Caddie are wonderful sources for stories and two of the best are in action here at Hazeltine.

Englishman Pete Coleman is the oldest bagman in the field at 68 years of age and working the course for the third time after stints with Bernhard Langer in the 1991 US Open and the 2002 US PGA.

“I’ll keep on going as long as my legs are strong,” said Coleman, who is caddying for former US Open champion Steve Elkington this week. “I’ve had strong legs thanks to my amateur football days with Kingstonians in London. “The weight of the bag is not the problem for the caddy. It’s the legs that go first but I’ll keep on going until I drop.”

Coleman was give a gift of a Porsche by Langer for services rendered many years ago and while not all of them make money, there are some entrepreneurs in the caddie shack.

American Kayce Kerr, whose grandparents hailed from Dundalk, is with Steve Elkington right now after his regular man Fuzzy Zoeller, won the Skins Game in Hawaii earlier this year and decided to play fewer events.

Kerr won $10,000 when he had $100 on Geoff Ogilvy to win the 2006 US Open at Winged Foot and used the money to travel to Ireland for the Ryder Cup at the K Club, where he travelled to the course by helicopter with his Irish pal, Rory McIlroy’s caddie, JP Fitzgerald.

Obviously man with an eye for a business opportunity, Kerr is currently a partner in a 500 acre vineyard in Williamyettte Valley in Oregon. Apparently, they do a very nice Pinot Noir and an even nicer Pinot Geis.

Despite the economic downturn, sales are brisk.

“People still like to have a drink in tough times,” Kerr said with a grin.

(Harrington gets tough)

Padraig Harrington is known worldwide for his glittering smile.

Just don’t cross him.

Walking off the 10th green in yesterday’s opening round, the Dubliner tossed his ball to a small child as he headed towards the 11th tee.

But the spanking new Titleist was snatched in mid-flight by an elderly gentleman before it reached its intended target.

Harrington turned to see the smile on the child’s face only to spy the Asian fan in question clutching the ball in delight.

Stopping in mid stride, Harrington fixed the offender with a glassy stare and the word: “Hello?”

Needless to say the ball was soon in the hands of a small boy.