Butch Harmon? Hank Haney? Nah. Give us Eddie Merrins, the Little Pro. The diminutive teacher made a splash at the U.S. Open acting as Rocco Mediate’s short-game coach, and that turned out pretty well. Then he played a role in Stewart Cink’s win last week at the Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Conn.
According to Cink (18-under 262), Merrins “just walked up to me one time and said, ‘Don’t get your goals and rewards confused.’ I thought about it, and he was right. So I sort of adjusted to what I would call a small-picture set of goals — I have goals for every shot. [Sunday] is a perfect example of that. Stay intense on all my shots and putts and everything from start to finish, [then] end up with the reward. So it feels good to know that Eddie Merrins probably helped me pull through on a day like today.” Merrins would likely settle for a few inches from the 6′ 4″ Cink as payment.
• He may not have won the Travelers, but Tommy Armour III, at 48 the oldest full-time member of the PGA Tour, earned something almost as dear. “I have job security,” says Armour, who shot a 17-under 263 to tie for second with Hunter Mahan and haul in the second-largest payday ($528,000) of his 26-year career on Tour. “This will lock up my card for next year.”
The good result follows a trend that began after Armour’s younger brother and swing coach, Sandy, started carrying his bag at the Zurich Classic in March. Since then Armour has made seven of eight cuts, including four top 10s, vaulting him to 46th in the FedEx Cup standings and, with $1.13 million in winnings, securing his playing privileges through October 2009, when he’ll turn 50 and take his playboy swagger and haze of cigarette smoke to the more relaxed Champions tour. “I’m still playing golf for a living,” he says, looking amazed.
• The World Golf Hall of Fame’s class of 2008 will include Denny Shute, Carol Semple Thompson, Herbert Warren Wind and Craig Wood. They will be inducted during a ceremony at the Hall in St. Augustine on Nov. 10 along with course designer Pete Dye, whose selection in the Lifetime Achievement category was announced earlier in the year. One final inductee will be named at the British Open in July…. Eun-Hee Ji won the Wegmans LPGA at Locust Hill Golf Club in Pittsford, N.Y., by shooting a 16-under 272, but the more interesting finish may have belonged to Michelle Wie, who produced three rounds under par, including a closing 69, to make her second cut of the year and get her first top 25 in a full-field LPGA event since the July 2006 U.S. Women’s Open…. UCLA senior Tiffany Joh beat incoming USC freshman Jennifer Song 2 and 1 to win her second U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links. Joh, a 21-year-old from San Diego, was outshone only by Erin Hills Golf Course, the Wisconsin public course that will host the 2011 U.S. Amateur and, on the heels of the success at Torrey Pines, is expected to receive the 2016 U.S. Open.