Golf Links: Saturday, June 24 news and updates

Jun 23, 2017; Cromwell, CT, USA; Fans wear shirts supporting Jordan Spieth during the second round of the Travelers Championship golf tournament at TPC River Highlands. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 23, 2017; Cromwell, CT, USA; Fans wear shirts supporting Jordan Spieth during the second round of the Travelers Championship golf tournament at TPC River Highlands. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports /

Golf Links connects you to Saturday morning’s major golf news: this morning 3rd rounds at the Travelers and BMW International Open and 2nd round at the NW Arkansas top the headlines, with Tom Whitney, China’s tortured golf policy, and Omar Uresti also making a bit of golf news.

The ProGolfNow Golf Links column provides a quick way to get your Saturday morning golf news and stay on top of the game, wherever it’s being played.

The Traveler’s Championship and the BMW International Open play their third rounds today and the 54-hole WalMart NW Arkansas Championship plays its second round. But before we get to the main events, let’s check in on the PGA TOUR Champions and tournaments.

In Madison, Wisconsin, former Senior Open champion Paul Broadhurst is leading after the first round at the PGA TOUR Champions American Family Insurance Championship. Tournament host Steve Stricker, Kenny Perry, and Fred Couples are in the mix as well going into the second round today.

Stricker is clearly enjoying his continuing local celebrity.

You can follow the PGA TOUR Champions second round action today on Golf Channel, beginning at 12:30pm ET and again at 3pm ET.

Tom Whitney has a two stroke lead at the mid-point of the’s Lincoln Land Charity Classic in Springfield, Illinois and is going into the weekend feeling positive about his game.

However, no matter how comfortable Whitney may feel, with Kyle Thompson trailing by two and 11 others locked in a battle for third place at nine-under par, moving day at the Lincoln Land could get interesting. Unfortunately, the Lincoln Land isn’t covered by Golf Channel.

Into the weekend at the Travelers, BMW International, and NW Arkansas Championship

At the Travelers Championship Jordan Spieth looks to be firmly in control going into the weekend – ProGolfNow’s Mike Randleman has the weekend preview this morning, but it was Marc Leishman who scored the Friday shot of the day, a birdie from the fairway on the par-4 17th hole.

Here it is again, in case you missed it.

You can catch the Saturday Travelers Championship action beginning at 10am ET with PGA TOUR LIVE. Golf Channel coverage begins at 1pm ET and CBS takes over at 3pm ET.

In Munich, Joel Stälter and Joakim Lagergren will lead the way Saturday with Sergio Garcia and defending champion Henrik Stenson one shot behind and in hot pursuit. Garcia, playing in his first European Tour event since his Masters victory in April has delivered two solid rounds, but is hoping for better today.

While you wait for Golf Channel to begin coverage of the BMW International Open third round battle at 8am ET, perhaps you’ll enjoy a bit of the pro-am from last Wednesday. It’s a golf treat, Bavarian style for the European Tour American fans who are sitting it out on the western side of the pond.

There’s an interesting battle unfolding at the WalMart NW Arkansas Championship. With the stormy weather now moving north and east, the skies will be sunny for the weekend and the field is going to be chasing the Tour’s SuperRookie, Sung Hyun Park, who goes into the third round with a two stroke lead over So Yeon Ryu, Mel Reid, and Ally McDonald. I’m looking for that lead to increase today. Park is due a win and she’s playing a strong, comfortable game. Local favorite and Razorback alumnae Stacy Lewis is three shots back. If she’s going to make the gallery happy she needs birdies, and lots of them.

Defending champion Lydia Ko is having problems with her flatstick, which doesn’t bode well for her upcoming Skills Challenge against Phil Mickelson next week at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.

Related Story: Lefty takes on the glass ceiling at the Women's PGA Championship

Golf Channel coverage of the NW Arkansas Championship second round begins at 5pm ET.

Golf Links Notes: China’s Tortured Golf Policy

China and golf have a mixed and conflicted history. Mao declared the game a corrupt pastime of the bourgeoisie but then in 1979 Jimmy Carter explained to Deng Xiaoping that the game involves

". . . a small ball hit over a big field into a hole, and people gamble about it and they buy each other drinks."

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Deng thought that sounded like fun and commissioned Robert Trent Jones Jr. to build China’s first golf course of the modern era, the Shanghai Country Club. Other courses followed, many hundreds of them, but the political pendulum has again swung toward Mao and the government is shutting down courses and prohibiting government officials from playing, particularly during working hours.

Tell the thousands of golf fans who follow and adore Shanshan Feng, their Olympic bronze medalist, that golf is a game to be shunned.

NPR reports that the iconic journalist Alistair Cook facilitated the expansion of the game in the Soviet Union by explaining to officials that Karl Marx played golf in Hyde Park while he was writing Das Kapital. Perhaps if the Chinese understood the stress-relieving aspect of a game played by Marx and Scottish economist Adam Smith they might view the game and the industry more favorably?

Golf Links Alert: Rory is close to banishing his new putter

We’ve all been there. Rory McIlroy has a new putter that looks good but isn’t performing as advertised. It’s a red Taylor-Made Spider (in defense of the Spider, I love mine and it has only rarely failed me) – just like Jason Day’s, Sergio Garcia’s, and Jon Rahm’s. Dustin Johnson has a black one. It should work, but it doesn’t.

Rory knows what we all know about malfunctioning golf equipment.

"But it’s nothing to do with the putter, it’s mostly what I’m doing with it."

Golf Links Update: Not everybody is happy about Omar Uresti’s victory

More from Golf News

Omar Uresti joined the PGA TOUR in 1995, played 356 events, and remained winless. Uresti played 209 events and recorded two wins. He earned about $4.7 millions playing on the two tours. Then he started playing PGA of America qualifiers, competing against club pros and teaching professionals. He has now won the 50th PGA Professional Championship.

This is an event specifically designed for club professionals, who have to qualify in order to participate. Uresti is conforming to PGA of America rules and regulations, but not everybody is happy with the situation. Jeff Crabbe, head professional at King Carter Golf Club in Irvington, Virginia minced no words in his tweet following Uresti’s win.

Realistically, while Uresti has every right to compete under the current PGA of America rules and regulations, there does seem to be a bit of an imbalance in the competition. Perhaps the board of directors will revisit current qualifying regs?

Golf Links Rules Note: Confusion reigns in Munich

Thorbjørn Olesen had a very tough day in Munich and confusion among the rules officials didn’t help matters. Olesen had already hit one shot into the water when, as he was contemplating his chip, his number two ball, the one he’d dropped on a steep slope to replace the one he hit into the water, took a backward roll into the water. (Golfers have nightmares about scenarios like this one.) The referee told him there was no penalty for the second roll-in-accident. Later the chief refereed overruled the on-course referee. The ball had been at rest and was in play.

Olesen was not happy. He’s in good company. Perhaps a chat with Anna Nordqvist or Dustin Johnson or Lexi Thompson would be soothing.

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Who are you following today? Will Spieth put more distance between himself and the field? Will Garcia turn on the gas and take over in Munich? Will the LPGA’s SuperRookie Sung Hyun Park get closer to notching her first win in Arkansas? Golf Links will be back Sunday morning.