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    Dow Finsterwald, Golfer Known for Some Close Calls, Dies at 93

    Finsterwald was one of the sport’s most consistent money winners. But he may be best known for twice narrowly missing out on winning the Masters.Dow Finsterwald, who captured the 1958 P.G.A. Championship and twice narrowly missed out on winning the Masters while becoming one of golf’s most consistent money winners, died Nov. 4 at his home in Colorado Springs. He was 93. His death was confirmed by his son Dow Jr., The Associated Press reported. No cause was given.Finsterwald won 11 PGA Tour events and finished in the money in 72 consecutive tournaments in the 1950s. That streak was the second longest at the time, after Byron Nelson’s 113 consecutive tournament cuts in the 1940s.“My conservative play brings the highest rewards,” Finsterwald told The New York Times after winning the P.G.A. Championship by two shots over Billy Casper. “I just keep trying to move the ball toward the hole.”Finsterwald won the 1957 Vardon Trophy for best scoring average of the year and was named the 1958 pro golfer of the year by the P.G.A.He played on four Ryder Cup-winning teams and was the nonplaying captain of the victorious 1977 American squad, which faced a British-Irish team for the last time before the event became a competition between Europe and the United States. But for all his achievements, Finsterwald endured frustration at the Masters.He finished two strokes behind the victorious Arnold Palmer, a close friend, in 1960 after incurring a two-stroke penalty for taking a prohibited practice putt. He finished tied for the lead with Palmer and Gary Player after four rounds at the 1962 Masters, but he fell to third place in the 18-hole playoff, which Palmer captured with a late charge.Finsterwald may have lacked the flair that would appeal to the galleries, but he did have a fine short game.“Jerry Barber and I were playing a practice round, $5 or $10 Nassaus,” he told The Columbus Dispatch in 2007, referring to a type of bet. “He chipped in two or three times and I called him a ‘lucky something.’ He said, ‘The more I practice, the luckier I get.’“That was the first time I’d heard that. If I was able to get a decent short game, it was because I think I worked at it a little harder than others.”Dow Henry Finsterwald was born on Sept. 6, 1929, in Athens, Ohio.When he was 14, his father, Russell, a former head football and basketball coach at Ohio University in Athens, got him a summer job at the Athens Country Club. He bought a set of clubs, went on to play for the Ohio University golf team, played on the PGA Tour as an amateur, and turned pro in November 1951.Finsterwald was the runner-up in the 1957 P.G.A. Championship, when he was upset in the final by Lionel Hebert. It was the 39th and last time the event used the match play format.He had won only four tour events going into the 1958 P.G.A. Championship, which was held at Llanerch Country Club in Havertown, Pa.Entering the fourth round, Finsterwald was two strokes behind the leader, Sam Snead, and one behind Billy Casper. He shot a 31 on the first nine on Sunday, finished with a 67 and won by two shots over Casper.Two years later, Finsterwald endured a shattering experience at the Masters.When he set the ball down for a practice putt after holing out on a second-round green, Casper, his playing partner, warned him that this was prohibited by the course rules, which were printed on the back of the scorecards.Finsterwald, unaware of the prohibition, told Casper that he had in fact taken a practice putt on a green after holing out in the first round.He then reported his transgression to the officials, who retroactively assessed a two-shot penalty for his first-round practice putt. But they did not invoke the usual automatic disqualification of a golfer who turns in an incorrect scorecard, which Finsterwald had done for the first round, in view of the delay in imposing the penalty.Palmer birdied the last two holes of the fourth round and beat Ken Venturi by one stroke — and Finsterwald by the two shots he had lost to his penalty.Finsterwald, who was considered an expert on the rules of golf, was an official at the 2013 Masters, at which Tiger Woods made an improper drop after hitting into the water in the second round. Finsterwald mentioned his 1960 Masters misadventure to the head of the competition committee, believing that it might serve as a guide on how to penalize Woods.Woods was assessed a two-shot penalty for the infraction. But, like Finsterwald, he was not disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard, since the penalty was imposed after the second round had ended. He finished in a tie for fourth place, four shots back. (Adam Scott defeated Angel Cabrera in a playoff.)After retiring from regular tour play in 1963, Finsterwald served as the director of golf at the Broadmoor Golf Club in Colorado Springs.Finsterwald’s wife, Linda Pedigo Finsterwald, died in 2015. They had a daughter, Jane, and four sons, Dow Jr., John, Russell and Michael, who died shortly after birth. A complete list of survivors was not immediately available.Although Finsterwald twice fell short at the Masters, the attention he received led to a job as the host of a series more than 150 syndicated television vignettes about the early 1960s, “Golf Tip of the Day,” in which he gave pointers to athletes and show-business figures.The rewards for Finsterwald were mostly limited to his becoming a modest presence as a TV personality. As he told the news website TCPalm in 2011, the shows paid him what “today would be called small peanuts.” More

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    LIV Golf Threw a Sport Into Chaos. It Also Changed It.

    The Saudi-backed golf series, which will expand next year, has forced the PGA Tour to redesign its economic model. The drama between the two golf entities seems far from over.DORAL, Fla. — To hear the 52-year-old Phil Mickelson’s account, whatever happened this year in his golf career — a greed-fueled rupture, a simply-business parting of ways, an inevitable estrangement, a lucrative exercise in denial and downplaying — has yielded something close to sublime.“I see LIV Golf trending upward, I see the PGA Tour trending downward and I love the side that I’m on,” Mickelson said this month in Saudi Arabia, the country whose sovereign wealth fund bankrolled the new LIV Golf circuit, including a Mickelson contract believed to be worth about $200 million.As the series closes its first season Sunday, when its team championship event is to be decided at Trump National Doral Golf Club and a $50 million prize fund divided, it can credibly claim that it has disrupted men’s professional golf more than anything else since the late 1960s, when what would become the PGA Tour emerged.It has done so with a checkbook that seems boundless, nearly unchecked brazenness and self-assurance, and the political cover of a former American president who has looked past Saudi Arabia’s record on human rights. It has not, though, been a romp without resistance or an instantaneous and definitive dethroning of the old order.The PGA Tour, now redesigning its economic model so urgently that it is tapping reserve funds, still commands the bigger roster of current stars and the loyalties of the tournaments that matter most to history. The tour, less tainted by geopolitics, has lucrative television deals; LIV Golf is on YouTube. Players earn world ranking points at PGA Tour events; they drop in the rankings the longer they compete in the new series. Dustin Johnson knows this well, as he is now No. 30, down from No. 13 when he signed with LIV in May. (But perhaps Johnson does not mind all that much: He captured LIV’s individual championship and has won at least $30 million on the circuit this year, after accruing about $75 million in career earnings during a PGA Tour tenure that started in 2007.)Dustin Johnson’s world ranking has fallen to No. 30 from No. 13 when he joined LIV Golf in May.Ross Kinnaird/Getty ImagesWhat many golf executives are figuring out, though, is that it is possible to revile much about LIV, from its financial patron to its devotion to 54-hole tournaments to its defiant dispensing of starchy atmospheres, and yet recognize that the PGA Tour had left itself vulnerable to at least a spasm of drama. Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, who ascended again to the world’s No. 1 ranking after a tour event last weekend, have been two of LIV Golf’s foremost critics — and two leading architects of a new strategy to fortify and reinvent a PGA Tour that had some popular players feeling undervalued and some younger ones struggling for financial breakthroughs.A Quick Guide to the LIV Golf SeriesCard 1 of 6A new series. More

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    Augusta National and U.S.G.A. Drawn Into Justice Department Antitrust Inquiry

    The Justice Department is investigating the PGA Tour for anticompetitive behavior in its dealings with LIV Golf, the breakaway Saudi-backed league.DORAL, Fla. — The Justice Department’s antitrust inquiry into men’s professional golf — a sport splintered this year by the emergence of a lucrative circuit financed by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund — has in recent months come to include the organizers of some of the most hallowed and influential tournaments in the world, according to people familiar with the matter.The United States Golf Association, which administers the U.S. Open, acknowledged on Wednesday that the Justice Department had contacted it in connection with an investigation. Augusta National Golf Club, which organizes the Masters Tournament, and the P.G.A. of America, which oversees the P.G.A. Championship, have also drawn the gaze of antitrust officials.The federal inquiry is unfolding in parallel with a separate civil suit filed in California by LIV Golf, the new Saudi-backed series, accusing the PGA Tour, which organizes most of the week-to-week events in professional golf, of trying to muscle it out of the marketplace. Moreover, LIV has contended that major tournament administrators, such as Augusta National and the P.G.A. of America, aided in the PGA Tour’s urgent efforts to preserve its long standing as the premier circuit in men’s golf.LIV, for instance, has accused the leaders of the R&A, which runs the British Open, and Augusta National of pressuring the Asian Tour’s chief executive over support for the new series. LIV also said that Fred S. Ridley, the Augusta National chairman, had “personally instructed a number of participants in the 2022 Masters not to play in the LIV Golf Invitational Series” and that the club’s representatives had “threatened to disinvite players from the Masters if they joined LIV Golf.” (A handful of golfers, including Phil Mickelson, joined the lawsuit but later withdrew their names from it, content to let LIV Golf wage the courtroom fight.)LIV executives have also fumed over perceived stalling by Official World Golf Ranking administrators to award ranking points to LIV players, who include Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Cameron Smith. The ranking system’s governing board includes executives from each of the major tournament organizers, as well as the PGA Tour.A Quick Guide to the LIV Golf SeriesCard 1 of 6A new series. More

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    PGA Tour Accuses LIV Golf of Interfering With Its Contracts

    The PGA Tour filed a counterclaim against the breakaway, Saudi-backed LIV Golf series, which has accused the tour of antitrust violations.The PGA Tour filed a countersuit against LIV Golf on Wednesday, the latest turn in a winding legal battle between the tour and the Saudi-backed circuit that has drawn a number of top players.In its counterclaim, the PGA Tour, which LIV is suing for antitrust violations, said the upstart series had “tortiously interfered” with the tour’s contracts with golfers who had left to join LIV. It added that LIV had “falsely informed” its players that they could break their contracts with the tour “for the benefit of LIV and to the detriment of all tour members.”“Indeed, a key component of LIV’s strategy has been to intentionally induce tour members to breach their tour agreements and play in LIV events while seeking to maintain their tour memberships and play in marquee tour events like The Players Championship and the FedEx Cup Playoffs, so LIV can free ride off the tour and its platform,” the PGA Tour said in its counterclaim.The PGA Tour, which declined to comment on Thursday, asked for a trial by jury, which was set for January 2024. The tour also seeks damages for any lost profits, “damages to reputational and brand harm” and other legal costs.In a statement on Thursday, LIV said the PGA Tour “has made these counterclaims in a transparent effort to divert attention from their anti-competitive conduct, which LIV and the players detail in their 104-page complaint.”A Quick Guide to the LIV Golf SeriesCard 1 of 6A new series. More

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    How Bryson DeChambeau Saved Long Drive Golf

    The sport is gaining fans among the public and professional golfers, many of whom have adopted its techniques for their own games.In August 2021, long drive was on the brink of collapse. The niche sport — in which competitors drive golf balls as far as humanly possible, often more than 400 yards — had endured a difficult year, disrupted by the pandemic, and registrations for the world long drive championship were dismal.That’s when Bryson DeChambeau, the winner of the 2020 U.S. Open and a member of the 2018 and 2021 U.S. Ryder Cup teams, entered the competition, sparking a surge in interest and dozens of new entries.“He saved us, that’s for sure,” Kyle Berkshire, a two-time world long drive champion, said.DeChambeau’s participation was not a total shock: In recent years, more and more established pros, increasingly obsessed with driving distance, have become unabashed fans of long drive, with PGA Tour winners like Justin Thomas, Tony Finau and Cameron Champ expressing support. Berkshire has become a go-to training partner and sounding board for many of these pros, sharing tips on swing technique, stretching, fitness routine and more.“Back when I was in college, everyone thought the long drive guys were the clowns of the golf world,” Berkshire said. “That whole perception is changing.”DeChambeau has played a major role in that, and after finishing seventh in the 2021 competition, he’ll be back for this year’s world championship, which begins Tuesday.DeChambeau made headlines in 2020 by bulking up and drastically changing his swing, increasing his average driving distance by nearly 20 yards to lead the PGA Tour. He ultimately won that year’s U.S. Open, and he has not been shy about crediting long drive — particularly its emphasis on swing speed — with much of his success.“I actually watched the 2019 world long drive championship, and that’s what inspired me and got me thinking,” DeChambeau said in a recent phone interview. “These guys were swinging the golf club 40 or 50 miles faster than me, so I thought, what if I could add just 15 percent to my swing speed and use that on tour? That’s how it started, and then I got addicted to hitting it farther and farther.”With the help of Berkshire and other long drivers, DeChambeau adopted a common long drive practice method: overspeed training, in which competitors swing the driver as hard as possible, with no regard for accuracy, in the hopes that it will also improve the speed of their more typical, controlled swings.The method worked incredibly well for DeChambeau — so much so that now, he and Berkshire said, it has become a standard training routine for many professional golfers.“It’s sort of a new revolution,” Berkshire said. “At this point, it’s almost required for professional golfers, since everyone is doing it.”According to Mark Broadie, a Columbia University professor and golf researcher who helped coach DeChambeau in 2020, the embrace of long drive within the golf world is a logical next step. Years ago, Broadie invented the “strokes gained” metric, which analyzes the impact of every shot throughout a round of golf in relation to the rest of the field. His analysis ultimately found that even marginal gains in driving distance could have a major effect on scores.“It’s true for all players: If you drive it 20 yards longer, even with a little less accuracy, you can gain a stroke per round,” Broadie said. “So it feels like a natural evolution for long drive to be more accepted. If you want to drive the ball as far as possible, then you clearly want to talk to the long drivers, the guys who have optimized that throughout their careers.”Long drive has existed, in some form or another, since 1949, when a driving competition was held in conjunction with that year’s P.G.A. Championship. A more formal long drive world championship would form in 1976, and various professional leagues have taken shape since the 1990s.One of the most recent iterations of a long drive league — the World Long Drive Association, sponsored by Golf Channel — essentially disbanded in 2020 after canceling its season because of the pandemic. In its wake came a spiritual successor, the Professional Long Drivers Association, which has hosted a number of tournaments, including the 2021 world long drive championship.While the association’s administrators are happy to be gaining acclaim in golf circles, they are also hopeful it will translate into mainstream acceptance.“This year, we’re getting a really big response from players wanting to compete, and more fans are coming out to watch our events,” said Bobby Peterson, the association’s managing partner and majority owner. A former long drive competitor, Peterson has been a part of the sport since 1992, and he said there had never been as much enthusiasm surrounding it as there is this year, including interest from possible corporate partners. “This isn’t just hyperbole,” Berkshire said. “Based on the talks I’ve been involved in, this sport is in the best position it’s ever been in.”Long drive’s recent ascent comes at a time when golf is reckoning with a major disruption in the form of the LIV Golf Series, whose major shareholder is the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia. In its first season, LIV Golf poached some high-profile golfers from the PGA Tour, including DeChambeau, and implemented innovations aimed at enhancing the fan experience and changing how viewers watch golf, including shorter tournament structures and a team format.David Carter, a sports business professor at the University of Southern California, said long drive could ultimately be an intriguing acquisition or partner with either the PGA Tour or LIV Golf, as both look to add content in the years to come.“It’s all about this next generation of consumer: younger people who want short-form, digestible content,” Carter said. “Something like long drive could be curated in a lot of different ways, whether online, through social media, or in conjunction with tournaments.”As long drivers prepared for this year’s world championship, Berkshire was grateful for DeChambeau’s continued support. He said he nearly had to pinch himself when he thought of how far long drive had come in such a short time.“Just a year ago, I had never seen a sport in such a bad position,” Berkshire said. “Now, I’ve never seen one poised for such a bright future. It’s just an exciting time all around.” More

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    Herbert Kohler, Plumbing Mogul Who Created a Golf Mecca, Dies at 83

    The billionaire chief of a family company known for its bathtubs, toilets and faucets, he brought championship play to a tiny Wisconsin town.Herbert V. Kohler Jr., who built a century-old family business known for bathtubs, toilets and faucets into a multibillion-dollar global enterprise and turned a tiny company town into an unlikely stop for the world’s top golfers, died on Sept. 3 in Kohler, Wis. He was 83.The death was announced on the Kohler Company website. No cause was cited.As a young man, Mr. Kohler bridled at his father’s wish that he join the business full time after college.“That just wasn’t my cup of tea,” he told Forbes in 2010.But he ultimately took the path that had effectively been set for him when his grandfather John Michael Kohler, an Austrian immigrant, bought a Sheboygan, Wis., foundry with a partner in 1873.The company, which began as a maker of plows and other agricultural implements, took a defining turn 10 years later when its patriarch put enamel on a cast-iron vessel used as a horse trough and for scalding hogs and sold it to farm families as a bathtub.Kohler was on its way to literally becoming a household name.The company’s fixtures were included in a 1929 Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibition of contemporary home design. Its colorful “The Bold Look of Kohler” advertising campaign was introduced in 1967.By 1972, when Herbert Kohler Jr. took the top job at the privately held business, which also made engines and generators, it had $133 million in annual sales and was the second-largest U.S. producer of kitchen and bath fixtures, behind American Standard.When he retired as chief executive in 2015, it had annual sales of $6 billion. In 2018 it was the top choice for bath fixtures and accessories among U.S. builders, according to the research firm Statista.Under Mr. Kohler, the company acquired makers of furniture, cabinets and tiles; built or bought factories in China, Mexico, India, Europe and elsewhere; and developed two-person bathtubs, robotic toilets and a shower with stereo sound.He also started a golf and hotel business that attracted three P.G.A. championships, a U.S. Senior Open, two U.S. Women’s Opens and last year’s Ryder Cup to Sheboygan County and allowed him to put his mark on the seaside Scottish town where the game was born.Mr. Kohler’s vision, drive and appetite for risk fueled the company’s growth. He might have been slow to embrace his dynastic destiny, but when he did, it was with gusto.“I loved it,” he told Forbes, “because I saw so much potential for change.”Mr. Kohler and his wife, Natalie, at his Whistling Straits golf course, the site of last year’s Ryder Cup.Andrew Redington/Getty ImagesHerbert Vollrath Kohler Jr. was born on Feb. 20, 1939, in Sheboygan, about an hour north of Milwaukee. His father was the Kohler Company’s chairman and chief executive. His mother, Ruth (De Young) Kohler, was a historian and a former women’s editor at The Chicago Tribune.Young Herbert’s mother died when he was a teenager, and he was sent east to boarding school, initially at Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire, where, he told Forbes, “there wasn’t a rule or regulation I didn’t break.”Dismissed from there, he went to the Choate School in Connecticut. After graduating, he entered Yale, his father’s alma mater, but he lacked focus and left. He served in the Army Reserve and then studied math and physics at the University of Zurich. It was, he told The Chicago Tribune in 1994, “a period of total rejection of a prescribed life.”Returning to the United States, he enrolled at Knox College in Illinois. He studied acting, dabbled in poetry and edited what he described in a 2012 interview with Cigar Aficionado magazine as a “wild political newspaper.”“One of my friends called me ‘the first of the great unwashed,’” he told Forbes. “That’s a hell of a note for the son of a bathroom baron.” (At the time, he was mostly estranged from his father. “I seldom spoke to the poor man,” he said.)While at Knox, he met his future first wife, Linda Karger, who was directing a play he was in. They married in 1961 and divorced in the 1980s.Mr. Kohler’s attempt at independence continued at Furman University in South Carolina, where he enrolled briefly while also working. But he was soon back at Yale. He graduated in 1965 with a degree in industrial administration and joined the Kohler Company as a research technician.He became a company director in 1967; vice president of operations a year later, when his father died; executive vice president in 1971; and chairman and chief executive a year after that.One hurdle Mr. Kohler faced in taking the helm was the company’s bitter history with organized labor, including a United Auto Workers strike that began in 1954 and lasted more than six years — the longest such walkout in U.S. history at the time.“Rightly or wrongly, everyone knew the name Kohler because of the strike,” Mr. Kohler told The New York Times in 1973. (There have been two, much shorter, strikes since then, in 1983 and 2015.)The family was also in danger at the time of having its control of the company slip away amid a dilution of its shares’ value. Mr. Kohler engineered a reverse stock split that slashed the number of shares and gave him and his closest relatives near-total control.With his position solidified, Mr. Kohler reinvested heavily in the company, which was already associated with innovative design. He kept the emphasis on form as well as function, opening the Kohler Design Center, a museumlike product showplace, and, with his sister, Ruth, creating a residency program for artists.John Torinus, who got to know Mr. Kohler as business editor of The Milwaukee Sentinel, described him in a phone interview as a “genius” and a “tough cookie” whose fascination with design resembled that of Steve Jobs.“He was very particular about everything, down to the smallest detail,” said Mr. Torinus, who is now the chairman of Serigraph, a Wisconsin company that makes decorative parts for other businesses’ products, including, sometimes, Kohler’s.That focus undoubtedly helps explain what Sarah Archer, a design and culture writer, called the company’s enduring place in the bathroom firmament.“They weren’t just selling cleanliness or modernity,” she said via email. “They were offering a kind of mini-vacation.”Mr. Kohler married Natalie Black, a former chief legal officer and current board member of the Kohler Company, in 1985. She survives him. His survivors also include a son, David, Kohler’s chief executive since 2105 and now its board chairman as well; two daughters, Laura Kohler, a board member and senior company vice president, and Rachel Kohler, also a board member; 10 grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.In the late 1970s, Mr. Kohler decided to get into the hospitality trade by making a resort hotel out of a run-down building that had originally been used to house company workers after the foundry moved four miles west of Sheboygan in 1899 to what became the town of Kohler. Many people around him scoffed, but he forged ahead.“He didn’t like to give up on anything that was part of his heritage,” said Richard Blodgett, the author of “A Sense of Higher Design: The Kohlers of Kohler” (2003), a company-commissioned corporate history.Mr. Kohler’s instincts proved correct. The hotel, the American Club, opened in 1981. Augmented by a private hunting and fishing preserve, a tennis club, restaurants, shops and a spa, it was soon a tourist magnet.Still, something was missing.“You have this boutique resort hotel, but you don’t have your own golf course,” Mr. Kohler, speaking in a 2015 interview, recalled customers telling him. “That’s kind of embarrassing for a C.E.O.”Mr. Kohler had little interest in the game, but he quickly immersed himself in it.Working with Pete Dye, who was once called the Picasso of golf-course design, he developed two nearby championship-caliber courses, Blackwolf Run and Whistling Straits.Mr. Kohler deepened his golf investment in 2004, buying a hotel alongside the famous Old Course in St. Andrews, Scotland, and the nearby Duke’s Course.Not all his golf projects have gone smoothly. Local environmentalists thwarted plans for a course on the Oregon coast, and the development of a new one near Kohler has been slowed by residents opposed to its reliance on public land, and by the discovery of Native American artifacts and human remains on the property.Mr. Kohler shrugged off such obstacles. He pressed on, guided by a phrase adapted from the 19th-century British critic John Ruskin and found in an old stained-glass window at the American Club: “Life without labor is guilt. Labor without art is brutality.”Kitty Bennett contributed research. More