Thanks and Remembrance
That feeling of true gratitude, the what-would-I-have-done-without notion, the idea that you can never repay completely, yet no discomfort in thatits rare. Sure, its easy to look around at a collection of things, at the solidity of your house, at creature comforts, and feel grateful. You can even be thankful to have chosen golf over, say, tennis or skiing, because you have discovered you get more of a spiritual boost out of golf.
But that deeper feeling of gratitude most often involves people. Perhaps a person you were glad to know.
I have one in mind, and it so happens I met him through golf. You would have liked him.
Sal Lupo was one of the original McHenry Boys. McHenry, the far northwestern suburb of Chicago, was the hometown of Gary Adams, father of the modern metal wood. Sal, a marketing communications whiz, had an agency in Chicago. He helped Adams get Taylor Made (now TaylorMade-adidas Golf) off the ground in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Sal moved to California with Gary, sticking with him through his subsequent companies ' Founders Club and McHenry Metals ' and through the long wrestle with pancreatic cancer that Adams eventually lost with a champions grace.
Even after Sal had slowed down his business activities, I spoke with him occasionally. He had moved back to Prospect Heights, near Chicago, to be closer to his grandkids. And whenever we spoke, he was always as cordial ' yet warm and informal ' as anyone I have ever met. And thats no surprise, because Sal was that way from the moment I entered the business in 1993 as a former lawyer with golf reporting ambitions. There was never any youre-a-rookie-with-dues-to-pay treatment. Sal was always a gentleman.
Thats why the shock lingers from Sals death last month. He fell, injuring his head, and never recovered. One revelation met with surprise ' the fact that Sal was past 80, a fact belied by his continued vigor.
The thing about Sal was, it was never about Sal. He was as generous with his time and effort as he was with his smile, and he always seemed to be looking out for someone else. In the year before he died, he asked me to join with other industry veterans in a letter-writing campaign to encourage the leaders of the World Golf Hall of Fame to consider admitting Gary Adams for his contributions to the game. (Look at your favorite metal wood. Remember how good it feels to pure it. Nuff said.)
Evidently, helping out was Sals stock in trade.
He was a wonderful father and just a great guy, said Patti Lupo, one of his daughters, when she informed TaylorMade executives of her fathers death. He was always so proud of the work that he did for Taylor Made and for the tremendous success of the company. As you know, he was there from the very beginning in Gary Adams garage in McHenry, when metal woods were completely new to the golf industry.
To see how that dream transformed the golf industry and to be a part of that and the game he loved so much was a source of joy for him.
Sal was unique, except in one respect: This is a game, and an industry, filled with Sals. Men and women who habitually extend a hand both to shake and to offer help. People of principle but not severity or undue formality. You know what I mean. You have met such people on the tee at your regular muni, at your club, on your kids high school team, across the bracket in an amateur tournament. Ive been at this in various forms for more than a decade now, and the supply of Sals, thank goodness, appears to be endless.
So thats where I will direct a substantial portion of this years thanks ' after wife, kid, dog, parents, friends, comfortable and happy home. Then comes the game, and especially the people it has allowed me to meet.
And, alas, miss.
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Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field
Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.
Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.
In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.
Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.
After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth.
Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation.
Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder
Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.
He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.
“I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”
After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).
Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129.
The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.
Landry stays hot, leads desert shootout at CareerBuilder
LA QUINTA, Calif. –
Andrew Landry topped the crowded CareerBuilder Challenge leaderboard after another low-scoring day in the sunny Coachella Valley.
Landry shot a 7-under 65 on Thursday on PGA West's Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course to reach 16 under. He opened with a 63 on Thursday at La Quinta Country Club.
''Wind was down again,'' Landry said. ''It's like a dome out here.''
Jon Rahm, the first-round leader after a 62 at La Quinta, was a stroke back. He had two early bogeys in a 67 on the Nicklaus layout.
''It's tough to come back because I feel like I expected myself to go to the range and keep just flushing everything like I did yesterday,'' Rahm said. ''Everything was just a little bit off.''
Jason Kokrak was 14 under after a 67 at Nicklaus. Two-time major champion Zach Johnson was 13 under along with Michael Kim and Martin Piller. Johnson had a 64 at Nicklaus.
Landry, Rahm, Kokrak and Johnson will finish the rotation Saturday at PGA West's Stadium Course, also the site of the final round.
''You need to hit it a lot more accurate off the tee because being in the fairway is a lot more important,'' Rahm said about the Pete Dye-designed Stadium Course, a layout the former Arizona State player likened to the Dye-designed Karsten course on the school's campus. ''With the small greens, you have water in play. You need to be more precise. Clearly the hardest golf course.''
Landry pointed to the Saturday forecast.
''I think the wind's supposed to be up like 10 to 20 mph or something, so I know that golf course can get a little mean,'' Landry said. ''Especially, those last three or four holes.''
The 30-year-old former Arkansas player had five birdies in a six-hole stretch on the back nine. After winning his second Web.com Tour title last year, he had two top-10 finishes in October and November at the start the PGA Tour season.
''We're in a good spot right now,'' Landry said. ''I played two good rounds of golf, bogey-free both times, and it's just nice to be able to hit a lot of good quality shots and get rewarded when you're making good putts.''
Rahm had four birdies and the two bogeys on his first six holes. He short-sided himself in the left bunker on the par-3 12th for his first bogey of the week and three-putted the par-4 14th – pulling a 3-footer and loudly asking ''What?'' – to drop another stroke.
''A couple of those bad swings cost me,'' Rahm said.
The top-ranked player in the field at No. 3 in the world, Rahm made his first par of the day on the par-4 16th and followed with five more before birdieing the par-5 fourth. The 23-year-old Spaniard also birdied the par-5 seventh and par-3 eighth.
''I had close birdie putts over the last four holes and made two of them, so I think that kind of clicked,'' said Rahm, set to defend his title next week at Torrey Pines.
He has played the par 5s in 9 under with an eagle and seven birdies.
Johnson has taken a relaxed approach to the week, cutting his practice to two nine-hole rounds on the Stadium Course.
''I'm not saying that's why I'm playing well, but I took it really chill and the golf courses haven't changed,'' Johnson said. ''La Quinta's still really pure, right out in front of you, as is the Nicklaus.''
Playing partner Phil Mickelson followed his opening 70 at La Quinta with a 68 at Nicklaus to get to 6 under. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer is playing his first tournament of since late October.
''The scores obviously aren't what I want, but it's pretty close and I feel good about my game,'' Mickelson said. ''I feel like this is a great place to start the year and build a foundation for my game. It's easy to identify the strengths and weaknesses. My iron play has been poor relative to the standards that I have. My driving has been above average.''
Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on a sponsor exemption, had a 70 at Nicklaus to match Mickelson at 6 under. The Southern California recruit is playing his first PGA Tour event. He tied for 65th in the Australian Open in November in his first start in a professional tournament.
Mickelson 'displeased' with iron play; 10 back
All of Phil Mickelson’s offseason work on his driver has paid off through two rounds of the CareerBuilder Challenge.
His iron play? Not as sharp, and it’s the reason why he heads into the weekend 10 shots off the lead.
“I’ve been pretty pleased, overall, with the way I’ve been driving the ball, and very displeased with the way my iron game has been,” said Mickelson, who shot 68 Friday on PGA West’s Nicklaus course. He has hit only 21 of 36 greens so far this week. “Usually my iron play is a lot better than what it’s been. So I’ll go work on it and hopefully improve each round in this tournament and build a solid foundation for the upcoming West Coast events.
“I feel like if I continue to drive the ball the way I am, and if I got my iron play back to my normal standard, I should have the results that I’ve been expecting.”
Mickelson, of course, is always bullish this time of year, but he has been able to find 10 of 14 fairways each of the past two rounds, including at narrower La Quinta Country Club, which doesn’t always fit his eye.
“This is actually the best I’ve driven it in a lot of years,” he said.
Currently in a tie for 67th, Mickelson will need a solid round on the more difficult Stadium course Saturday to ensure that he makes the 54-hole cut. He hasn’t missed a cut in his first West Coast event of the new year since 2009.