Donald Mistakenly Entered Casey Contoversy

By Associated PressNovember 23, 2004, 5:00 pm
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. -- Hardly anyone noticed Luke Donald sitting on a sofa Tuesday morning in the stately lobby at Sea Island Golf Club, where he faced a daylong photo shoot with a corporate sponsor.
Considering the mess he got drawn into last week in Spain, that was fine by him.
Im hoping that people will see through this, Donald said. I hope people will know me for who I am the last three years, not someone who is outspoken like that. Im not one for the limelight.
Donald didnt make headlines at the World Cup; he just tried to explain them.
The source was English teammate Paul Casey, who said in an interview with The Sunday Times that he learned to properly hate the Americans during the Ryder Cup. He went on to say that U.S. fans can be bloody annoying and that the vast majority of Americans dont know whats going on.
By the time tabloid editors got hold of the story, one headline in The Mirror quoted Casey as saying, Stupid Americans. I hate them.
Casey faced the British press on the eve of the World Cup with Donald at his side, two players whose personalities are polar opposites'Casey is brash and shoots from the lip, Donald is quiet and cautious.
Indeed, Donald has been a model of modesty since he came to the United States seven years ago and quietly assembled solid credentials. He won the NCAA title as a sophomore at Northwestern, made it through all three stages of Q-school on his first try and finished off his rookie season on the PGA Tour with a victory.
Where he really shines is in team competition.
Donald twice played on winning Walker Cup teams for Great Britain & Ireland and posted a 7-1 record. He was 2-1-1 in his Ryder Cup debut at Oakland Hills, where he and Sergio Garcia were a formidable team in alternate shot. And last week in Seville, he and Casey gave England the World Cup title for only the second time since it began in 1953.
In the press tent, however, Donald might have been too much of a team player.
Going into that press room Wednesday morning, I had little idea what was about to happen'no idea, really, Donald said. I literally heard a few minutes before that there was a controversy over something in the Mirror. I didnt know what it was about.
He found out during the news conference, as Casey tried to explain his remarks and dug himself a deeper hole. Casey also went off on the next U.S. Ryder Cup captain, suggesting Tom Lehman did not embody the spirit of sportsmanship that is supposed to define the matches.
Before long, the questions came to Donald.
Luke, youre sitting there very quietly, one reporter said.
Lets have your take.
Donald could have held up his hands, begged ignorance and let his teammate fend for himself. Instead, he tried to answer the questions.
I felt Paul was being hounded by the press, Donald said. Being his teammate and partner for the week, I wanted to defend him and try to have some kind of explanation to why he would say those things.
Big mistake.
Donald said Americans tended to be insular, that they could gain a lot by exploring the world'peculiar comments from an Englishman who has played only the PGA Tour and makes his home in Chicago.
Asked if he agreed with Caseys comments about Lehman, Donald repeated stories that have been making the rounds in Europe the last five years'that Lehman was an instigator in the premature celebration at Brookline and one of the first players to storm across the 17th green when Justin Leonard made the winning putt. None of the photos show Lehman leading the charge.
Ive never had anything but positive experiences with Tom, Donald said. Hes a gentleman on the course. The first question I was asked was, Luke, can you comment on the bad things Paul has been saying?
Id like to take that back. It wasnt my place to comment.
What set off Casey, then Donald, was an innocent comment by 28-year-old rookie Ryan Palmer when he won at Disney last month for his first PGA Tour victory.
Donald was watching the telecast when Palmer, who closed with a 62, said he was confident he could win because he had won the previous year on the Nationwide Tour, which is one of the best tours in the world next to the PGA Tour.
I dont think it was his place to say that because he hasnt played in Europe, Donald said. Instances like that are irritating to me and other Europeans that played on a victorious Ryder Cup team, and played so well. To hear that deflates us a little.
Yes, Americans can be insular and they dont always grasp the dry British humor.
And Europeans still have a chip on their shoulders.
The only one who relishes this nitpicking is the PGA of America, because it keeps the Ryder Cup part of golf conversations even though the next one is still 22 months away.
Meantime, Casey is rightfully concerned about what kind of reception hell get on the PGA Tour next year.
Donald can only hope that his blind support of a teammate doesnt spoil the goodwill he has built in his adopted home.
Chicago was his first stop when Donald came to the United States, and he hasnt left.
Hell be the first to say its not all bad.
Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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Report: Augusta may lengthen par-4 fifth hole

By Will GrayFebruary 18, 2018, 1:18 am

One of the more difficult holes at Augusta National Golf Club could be adding some teeth in time for the 2019 Masters.

A recent report from the Augusta Chronicle details preliminary site plans from the Augusta Planning and Development Department. Chief among the proposed changes is a lengthening of the par-4 fifth hole, which currently measures 455 yards.

According to the report, a new tee could be constructed across Old Berckmans Road that could lengthen the hole by 20-30 yards. The change would alleviate congestion between the tee and the nearby fourth green and includes plans to curve the road – which has been closed to public traffic since 2015 – around the new fifth tee.

At last year’s Masters, former club chairman Billy Payne highlighted the area as a possible site for minor changes.

“We are always looking at certain holes, certain improvements to the golf course,” Payne said. “We have a great opportunity now in that we now own the Old Berckmans Road. It gives us the ability, as it touches certain holes, it gives us some way to expand or redesign – not redesign, but lengthen some of those holes, should we choose to do so, and all of them are under review.”

Should the new tee be built, it would mark the first club-enacted course changes since six holes were lengthened in 2006. According to the preliminary plans, construction would start on approximately May 1, following this year’s tournament, and would conclude by early November.

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Thomas: Raucus crowds becoming 'completely unacceptable'

By Will GrayFebruary 18, 2018, 12:53 am

LOS ANGELES – After spending the first two rounds of the Genesis Open caught amid the traveling circus that accompanies tournament host Tiger Woods anytime he tees it up, Justin Thomas relished his third trip around Riviera with fewer bodies – and voices – in the crowd.

Thomas was part of this week’s marquee early-round grouping, playing the first 36 holes alongside Woods and Rory McIlroy. McIlroy suggested that the chaos of a Woods gallery costs the 42-year-old half a shot per round, and it’s a sentiment that Thomas supported after climbing into the top 10 with a third-round 67.

“Yeah, it was pretty wild this first couple days. It was all right for a little bit today, but there at the end it got a little out of hand,” Thomas said. “I guess it’s a part of it now, unfortunately. I wish it wasn’t. I wish people didn’t think it was so amusing to yell and all that stuff while we’re trying to hit shots and play.”

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Thomas enters the final round four shots behind Bubba Watson as he looks to win for the second time this season. While the crowds at Riviera are a fraction of the size encountered two weeks ago at TPC Scottsdale, Thomas recalled a couple of unfortunate incidents from that event when fans spoke up and snapped mid-swing pictures while he played the first two rounds alongside Jordan Spieth.

“I don’t know - I guess they just think it’s funny,” Thomas said. “It might be funny to them, and obviously people think of it differently and I could just be overreacting. But when people are now starting to time it wrong and get in people’s swings, is just completely unacceptable really.

“We’re out here playing for a lot of money, a lot of points, and a lot of things can happen. And you would just hate to have, hate to see in the future something happen down the line because of something like that.”

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Durant leads Stricker, MAJ into Chubb Classic Sunday

By Associated PressFebruary 18, 2018, 12:50 am

NAPLES, Fla. - Joe Durant birdied five of the last eight holes for a 9-under 63 to match Steve Stricker's Saturday finish and take the second-round lead in the PGA Tour Champions' Chubb Classic.

Durant rebounded from a three-putt bogey on the par-4 10th with birdies on the next two holes and also birdied Nos. 15-17. He had a 14-under 130 total on TwinEagles' Talon course for a one-stroke lead over Stricker.

''You're going to laugh at me when I tell you this, but it was actually a par I made on my first hole,'' Durant said. ''I pulled my tee shot left, went into a bush and had to take an unplayable, had to drop back and hit an 8-iron about 15 feet and made par and it was kind of like, 'OK, well, maybe the putter is going to work today.'''

Stricker had nine birdies in a bogey-free round.

''I look forward to playing with Steve,'' Durant said. ''He's a class act, one of my buddies out here, and obviously he is playing well and he had a great round today. It will be a shootout tomorrow, no question, but it will be fun.''

The 53-year-old Durant has two PGA Tour Champions victories after winning four times on the PGA Tour.

The 50-year-old Stricker is making his first start of the year on the 50-and-over tour after playing six tournaments last year - a runner-up finish in his debut and three third-places ties but not a victory.

''That's why I'm here, to try to win the golf tournament,'' the 12-time PGA Tour winner said.

He played the last two weeks on the PGA Tour, tying for 31st in the Phoenix Open and tying for 26th at Pebble Beach.

''You can be a little more patient on the big tour because pars sometimes are good scores,'' Stricker said. ''Out here you need to make some birdies and when you see guys running away, that's when you lose your patience, at least I did yesterday.''

Playing alongside John Daly, Stricker birdied three of the last four on the front nine and birdied the last two for a back-nine 31.

''Yesterday, I wasn't very patient and I let a couple slip away that I should have had,'' Stricker said. ''On the par 5s on my second nine yesterday, I walked away from a couple pars, and that was frustrating. So I kind of let that get to me. Today, I was a lot more patient, and I felt it on the greens. When you're patient on the greens, you tend to roll the ball a little bit better, and I rolled a lot of nice putts.''

First-round leader Miguel Angel Jimenez was two strokes back. He birdied three of the last four in a 68 after opening with a 64.

''Tomorrow is going to be a fight,'' Jimenez said. ''It's going to be nice. As long as you are around the lead, one shot behind, one shot ahead. A lot of golf to come. Just play golf, let everything come.''

Lee Janzen (67) was 11 under, and Kevin Sutherland (68) and Scott McCarron (68) were another stroke back. Daly was 8 under after his second 68. Three-time champion Bernhard Langer had a 70 to get to 5 under.

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Watson takes one-shot lead at Riviera

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 17, 2018, 11:49 pm

It's an even-numbered year, so we shouldn't be surprised that Bubba Watson is leading at Riviera. Here's how things shake out going into the final round of the Genesis Open:

Leaderboard: Bubba Watson (-10), Patrick Cantlay (-9), Cameron Smith (-8), Kevin Na (-8), Tony Finau (-8), Graeme McDowell (-8)

What it means: Watson won the Tour's Los Angeles stop in 2014 and 2016, first shooting 64-64 on the weekend to come from eight shots back and beat Dustin Johnson by two strokes, then edging Jason Kokrak and Adam Scott by a stroke two years later. On Saturday, after a Friday night spent playing in a celebrity basketball game that was part of NBA All-Star Weekend (and getting a shot swatted into the stands by 6-foot-8 Tracy McGrady), he eagled the par-5 first hole, hitting a 200-yard approach to 18 inches, and kept his foot on the gas the rest of the way, adding five birdies against one bogey.

Round of the day: Dustin Johnson moved up 45 spots with a 64. Like Watson, he eagled the first hole, then added four birdies to make the turn in 29. His back nine was an exercise in treading water, with eight pars and a birdie, at the par-5 11th.

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Best of the rest: Watson's 65 was matched by Cameron Smith, who moved up 12 spots to T-3 by making an eagle and four birdies.

Biggest disappointment: At 49, two-time former U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen was just four shots off the lead after 36 holes, but a Saturday 75 dropped him to a tie for 51st. Goosen's round was a matter of slow bleeding, with three bogeys and a birdie on both sides.

Shot of the day: Derek Fathauer eagled the par-4 third hole, holing his approach shot from 120 yards.

Quote of the day: "You've got to know that this golf course is going to make you mess up." - Bubba Watson

Biggest storyline going into Sunday: Although Watson has won twice at Riviera, he hasn't won anywhere since his 2016 victory in L.A. His 2016-17 season finish of 75th in the FedExCup standings was the worst of his career. His closest pursuer, Cantlay, is just one stroke back after closing with a 54-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole.