Baker-Finch competing again in Champions Tour

By Associated PressMarch 11, 2011, 4:32 am
Champions Tour

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. – Two days before Australian Ian Baker-Finch is to make his debut on the Champions Tour, he hits his first shot in a pro am round at Newport Beach Country Club.

The ball flies effortlessly over a small pond on the 143-yard par 3 and comes to rest 12 feet below the hole.

It is an excellent shot, but it is not in a competition and no one realizes that more than Baker-Finch.

“The most important competition is actually playing, putting the pencil on the card, shooting a score when it counts, when the cameras are on,” Baker-Finch said.

Baker-Finch’s inability to do that is what made him walk away from professional golf at the age of 36 after shooting an opening round 92 at the 1997 British Open and promptly withdrawing.

After years of purgatory, Baker-Finch is ready to return to competition Friday in Southern California, even if it is in a limited capacity.

“Not many people wish their lives away and can’t wait until they get to 50,” Baker-Finch said. “But to get a chance to come out and play on the Champions Tour is going to be a great thrill for me.”

That enthusiasm is slightly tempered by thoughts of the past repeating itself.

“It’s not a nervousness, it’s more of maybe a fear of failure, or just apprehension,” Baker-Finch said. “It troubles me so much that you feel bad about yourself. It’s not an anger management thing. It’s more of trying to make emotions be more positive rather than down. But I think I will be fine.”

Baker-Finch’s performance in the 1997 British Open was his second major letdown at the oldest major championship.

The first came two years earlier when his opening tee shot at St. Andrews hooked left out of bounds. Considering the opening hole’s generous fairway, it was considered almost impossible to hit one out of bounds.

It was a stretch of frustration for Baker-Finch, who was sliding into obscurity. In 1991, Baker-Finch won the British Open. From 1993 to 1997, he played in 70 events and missed the cut in 46 and withdrew five times.

Injuries were part of the problem. Baker-Finch had knee and shoulder issues in 1994 but also had a strong voice in his head telling him he could no longer play professionally.

“It had become ingrained in me and the scar tissue was so thick I couldn’t relax enough to compete,” Baker-Finch said. “I think a lot of people thought I lost my game and couldn’t play at all, but I was always capable of shooting under 70 every time I played. But under pressure I couldn’t relax enough to play the way I played. I got so down I felt like I was two inches tall some days.”

So when many professional golfers are in their prime, Baker-Finch was washed up. A battalion of sports psychologists and swing trainers couldn’t get Baker-Finch out of his own head.

“The reason the good players are really good is that they let those thoughts go,” Baker-Finch said. “They focus on what they’re doing and their routine is sharp.”

He turned to broadcasting and has enjoyed a successful career as a golf analyst, but the desire to play again never left. This isn’t a comeback, however. Baker-Finch plans to play four events on the Champions Tour and can’t play more because of his obligations to CBS, TNT and an Australian TV network.

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.

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Rose leads Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose completed the final two holes of his second round early Saturday for a 3-under 69 and a one-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, who had a first-round 62, was among a quarter of the field forced off the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course after weather delays on Friday.

The Englishman, who bogeyed his last hole, had a two-round total of 13-under 131.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who completed his 64 on Friday, was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters. He has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.

Playing with the pros

Tiger, DJ and Faxon

Article: Video, images from Tiger, DJ's round with Trump

Article: After DJ and Tiger, Trump plays golf with Jack

Rory faces criticism

Article: Rory: Round with Trump about respect for presidency

Article: Rory: Round with Trump not a 'political statement'

President at the Presidents Cup

Video: President Trump makes the rounds at Liberty National

Article: President Trump presents trophy to U.S. team

Article: Stricker: 'Great thrill' to get trophy from Trump

Purported round of 73 with Lindsey Graham

Article: Senator tweets Trump shot 73 in windy, wet conditions

Article: Graham offers details on Trump's round of 73

Cart on the green

Article: Trump appears to drive cart on Bedminster green

Presence and protests at U.S. Women's Open

Article: Trump makes presidential history at Women's Open

Article: Trump supporters, protesters clash near Women's Open

Article: UltraViolet takes protest inside Trump National

Photo gallery: President Trump at the U.S. Women's Open

Trump golf properties


Article: Environmental group vandalizes Trump golf course

Article: Man accused of vandalizing four Trump courses


Article: Two Trump courses in Scotland losing millions

Article: Eric Trump denies Russia helped fund golf courses

Article: Trump company ordered to pay $5.77M in dues dispute

Reportedly fake TIME covers

Article: Trump clubs display fake Time magazine cover

Trump apologizes for voter-fraud story

Report: Trump's voter fraud claim tied to Langer

Langer: Trump 'apologized' for story mix-up

Pros comment on the president

Article: Players defend Trump at Senior PGA Championship

Article: Trump congratulates Daly; Daly congratulates Trump

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 12:30 pm