The Big Three - from Milton Fla That Is

By Associated PressApril 9, 2008, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- The guys in the green jackets had to love this.
 
Boo Weekley and Heath Slocum were back home at the Tanglewood Golf and Country Club last week, finishing up a quick round before starting a clinic for local fans. As they walked up 17'or maybe it was 18, Slocum wasnt quite sure ' Weekley came across a dead snake on the fairway. Ever the prankster, he picked up the carcass. Slocum knew somebody was in for a surprise.
 
Sure enough, that snake made an appearance during the clinic.
 
He said to my dad, `Hey Jack, can you get me a good golf ball. He reaches his hand in there and theres the dead snake, Slocum said, laughing. Boos mind, it just works funny. He looks at something and sees it completely different than I do.
 
Little Milton, Fla., is on the map in a big way this week. The city with fewer than 8,500 people'and the unfortunate former name of Scratch Ankle'has three homeboys in the 94-player Masters field. Imagine that. Weekley, Slocum and Bubba Watson all grew up in the same tiny Florida panhandle town and now here they are, each playing in his first Masters.
 
Its about as opposite of ritzy as you can get, Slocum said, referring to Tanglewood, where all three played as kids. I dont even know how to describe it. Its such an anomaly for three guys from the same college to get on the tour, let alone from the same high school. How does that happen?
 
Lots of luck.
 
And lots and lots of talent.
 
Slocum came by the game naturally. His father, Jack, was a longtime golf pro, and the family moved to Milton when Heath was 13 after Jack got the job at Tanglewood. Shortly after they arrived, Heath Slocum heard rumors there was another kid his age who could really play, and a lifelong friendship began.
 
Heath is just like a son, said Tom Weekley, Boos father.
 
Slocum and Weekley were in the same class at Milton High School, and played on the golf team together. When they werent golfing, they could usually still be found hunting, fishing or playing pranks. Weekley was as gregarious then as he is now'this, remember, is the guy whose thick Southern drawl and homespun naivete fascinated the locals at the British Open last year'and was the undisputed ring leader.
 
Pretty much. Though I might have egged him on, said Slocum, who is as low-key as his buddy is colorful. He brings a little more personality to me.
 
Watson is five years younger than Slocum and Weekley, so he wasnt nearly as tight with the older two growing up. But because he played at Tanglewood, too, the older boys knew all about the young kid with the big swing.
 
Its also kind of hard to overlook a kid who wore knickers'like his idol, Payne Stewart.
 
Good boys, all three, said Stacie Stutzman, the food and beverage manager at Tanglewood. Good Southern boys.
 
While Slocum and Watson both turned pro after playing golf in college' Slocum at South Alabama, Watson at Faulkner State and Georgia'Weekley worked at a chemical plant before he decided to see if he, too, could make a living on the course. All three spent time on the Nationwide Tour and, one by one, worked their way up to the majors.
 
Slocum was the first to make it, winning three Nationwide events in 2001. Hes been on the tour ever since, has won twice and earned his first trip to the Masters by finishing 30th on the money list last year.
 
Next came Weekley. After kicking around on the minitours for a few years, he got through Q-school at the end of the 2001 season. Jack Slocum was his caddie, just as he was for his son and Watson. His first stay on the PGA Tour was brief after he made just five cuts in 2002. Weekley spent the next four years on the Nationwide Tour, finally getting back to the big leagues after finishing seventh on the money list in 2006.
 
When he returned last year, he was a smashing success'on and off the course. He had five top-10 finishes, including a win at the Verizon Heritage, and his folksy ways made him a fan favorite. (Think John Daly, without the drama.)
 
Its caveman golf: Hit it, find it, hit it again, Weekley said, quite possibly the first person to describe Augusta National in such terms. I just try to play it as I see it.
 
Watson caught up to his older friends in 2005, earning his PGA Tour card after finishing 21st on the Nationwide money list. Hes still looking for his first victory, but his tie for fifth at the U.S. Open gave him exemptions for this years Open and the Masters.
 
Growing up from the same hometown were always pushing each other, Watson said. The Masters is going to be another one where were all pushing each other.
 
No matter how rich and famous they get, the three remain Milton boys at heart. Weekley and Watson still live in the area, and Weekley and Slocum were back at Tanglewood last week for the TPC'that would be the Three Pros Championship. Several members from Tanglewood and Stonebrook Golf Club, another club in the area, are here in Augusta, making the 7 1/2 -hour trip to watch the three in person.
 
We sent them off good. Tried to anyway, Stutzman said. Boo, Heath and Bubba say it all for Milton. Good boys, and a lot of talent.
 
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    Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

    By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

    Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

    ''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''


    Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship


    First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

    ''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

    David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

    The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    ''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

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    The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

    By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

    Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

    Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

    I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

    One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

    So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

    You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

    Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

    I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

    This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

    Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

    On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

    The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

    “What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

    Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

    Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

    Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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    Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

    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. 

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    Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

    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.”


    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    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.