Memorable Trip to Ireland for Some

By Associated PressSeptember 30, 2004, 4:00 pm
KILKENNY, Ireland -- Some players at the 84 Lumber Classic thought they were getting a perk unlike any other on the PGA Tour. They wound up with a flight they won't soon forget.
Players eligible for the American Express Championship were offered up to six seats on a nonstop, round-trip charter to Ireland aboard a 747 equipped only with first-class seats. The value was estimated at $40,000, although it was free to those who played the 84 Lumber Classic in Pennsylvania.
'I guess we got what we paid for,' Scott Verplank said.
The 747 jumbo jet turned into two 737s that had to stop twice for fuel. Smoke filled the cabin in one of the planes when it arrived in Iceland because of a short in the air conditioning system, causing a four-hour delay. Players arrived at Mount Juliet at 8 o'clock, as promised - only it was at night, not in the morning.
'I'm not upset. It was a tremendous gesture,' Brad Faxon said. 'But it's cheaper to pay sometimes.'
84 Lumber spokesman Jeff Nobers said the 747 the company chartered had 'documentation issues,' so organizers had to switch last month to two 737s to accommodate the 133 passengers - although no one bothered to tell the players until two days before they left.
'We were told there would be one stop, but there were two,' said Chris DiMarco, who had to sit in coach seats as one of the last players to board.
After a two-hour drive from Nemacolin Woodlands Resort to Pittsburgh, then a one-hour delay leaving Pittsburgh, the 737s went to Goose Bay, Canada, then on to Iceland.
It was that leg that made everyone nervous on one of the planes.
'The left engine was making a funny noise,' Charles Howell III said. 'And that got our attention.'
Faxon said he was told the squeal came from a broken seal in the landing gear, although that didn't make the flight any less apprehensive.
'My wife was almost in tears,' Faxon said. 'It was not a natural sound.'
Smoke filled the cabin as soon as the plane landed, and players and their guests quickly got off the plane - only to find the airport empty until one worker showed up to serve them coffee.
They finally arrived in Shannon, just in time for a 2 1/2-hour bus drive through windy, narrow roads of Ireland (and those are the main highways) to get to Mount Juliet.
'My son thought it was pretty cool,' David Toms said of his 7-year-old. 'He said, 'Hey, Dad, we've already been to four countries - United States, Canada, Iceland, Ireland.' I didn't think it was all that great.'
Nobers said 84 Lumber founder Joe Hardy and his daughter, who runs the company, were mortified. The company already has arranged for a 767-300ER from Northwest Airlines to fly the players home.
'They are certainly upset about the fact it wasn't what we all anticipated it to be,' Nobers said. 'We've apologized in every way, shape and form. Mr. Hardy doesn't do anything short of first rate.'
That was not lost on most of the players.
They stayed in Hardy's resort at Nemacolin, among the finest accommodations of the year, and they had a gift waiting for him each night. Even on the smaller charter planes, Hardy gave every passenger a combination DVD-TV-CD player and a leather travel kit.
The idea behind the free flight was get a strong field at the 84 Lumber Classic, a second-year tournament during the time of year when players cut back. And it worked, with 21 players from the top 30 on the money list, and world No. 1 Vijay Singh winning the event.
'It's hard to complain when they give you five free seats,' DiMarco said. 'They've been good. And it's a better deal going back.'
One of the players nonplussed by it all was Tim Herron, who flew to Ireland with his father.
'I was on the bad plane,' he said. 'There were some major funny noises, but I was sleeping. I heard some of the guys complaining, and I just rolled over and went back to bed.'
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    Door officially open for Woods to be playing vice captain

    By Ryan LavnerFebruary 20, 2018, 11:50 pm

    PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Thirteen months ago, when Jim Furyk was named the 2018 U.S. Ryder Cup captain, one of the biggest questions was what would happen if Furyk were to play his way onto his own team.

    It wasn’t that unrealistic. 

    At the time, Furyk was 46 and coming off a season in which he tied for second at the U.S. Open and shot 58 in a PGA Tour event. If anything, accepting the Ryder Cup captaincy seemed premature.

    And now?

    Now, he’s slowly recovering from shoulder surgery that knocked him out of action for six months. He’s ranked 230th in the world. He’s planning to play an 18-event schedule, on past champion status, mostly to be visible and available to prospective team members.

    A playing captain? Furyk chuckled at the thought.

    “Wow,” he said here at PGA of America headquarters, “that would be crazy-difficult.”

    That’s important to remember when assessing Tiger Woods’ chances of becoming a playing vice captain.

    On Tuesday, Woods was named an assistant for the matches at Le Golf National, signing up for months of group texts and a week in which he'd sport an earpiece, scribble potential pairings on a sheet of paper and fetch anything Team USA needs.

    It’s become an increasingly familiar role for Woods, except this appointment isn’t anything like his vice captaincy at Hazeltine in 2016 or last year’s Presidents Cup.

    Unlike the past few years, when his competitive future was in doubt because of debilitating back pain, there’s at least a chance now that Woods can qualify for the team on his own, or deserve consideration as a captain’s pick. 

    There’s a long way to go, of course. He’s 104th in the points standings. He’s made only two official starts since August 2015. His driving needs a lot of work. He hasn’t threatened serious contention, and he might not for a while. But, again: Come September, it’s possible.

    And so here was Woods’ taped message Tuesday: “My goal is to make the team, but whatever happens over the course of this season, I will continue to do whatever I can to help us keep the cup.”

    That follows what Woods told reporters last week at Riviera, when he expressed a desire to be a playing vice captain.

    “Why can’t I have both?” he said. “I like both.”

    Furyk, eventually, will have five assistants in Paris, and he could have waited to see how Woods fared this year before assigning him an official role.

    He opted against that. Woods is too valuable of an asset.

    “I want him on-board right now,” Furyk said.

    Arnold Palmer was the last to serve as both player and captain for a Ryder Cup – in 1963. Nothing about the Ryder Cup bears any resemblance to those matches, other than there’s still a winner and a loser. There is more responsibility now. More planning. More strategy. More pressure.

    For the past two team competitions, the Americans have split into four-man pods that practiced together under the supervision of one of the assistants. That assistant then relayed any pertinent information to the captain, who made the final decision.

    The assistants are relied upon even more once the matches begin. Furyk will need to be on the first tee for at least the first hour of the matches, welcoming all of the participants and doing interviews for the event’s many TV partners, and he needs an assistant with each of the matches out on the course. They’re the captain’s eyes and ears.

    Furyk would need to weigh whether Woods’ potential impact as a vice captain – by all accounts he’s the best Xs-and-Os specialist – is worth more than the few points he could earn on the course. Could he adequately handle both tasks? Would dividing his attention actually be detrimental to the team?

    “That would be a bridge we cross when we got there,” Furyk said.

    If Woods plays well enough, then it’s hard to imagine him being left off the roster, even with all of the attendant challenges of the dual role.

    “It’s possible,” Furyk said, “but whether that’s the best thing for the team, we’ll see.”

    It’s only February, and this comeback is still new. As Furyk himself knows, a lot can change over the course of a year.

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    Furyk tabs Woods, Stricker as Ryder Cup vice captains

    By Will GrayFebruary 20, 2018, 9:02 pm

    U.S. Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk has added Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker to his stable of vice captains to aid in his quest to win on foreign soil for the first time in 25 years.

    Furyk made the announcement Tuesday in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., site of this week's Honda Classic. He had previously named Davis Love III as his first vice captain, with a fourth expected to be named before the biennial matches kick off in France this September.

    The addition of Woods and Stricker means that the team room will have a familiar feel from two years ago, when Love was the U.S. captain and Furyk, Woods, Stricker and Tom Lehman served as assistants.

    This will be the third time as vice captain for Stricker, who last year guided the U.S. to victory as Presidents Cup captain. After compiling a 3-7-1 individual record as a Ryder Cup player from 2008-12, Stricker served as an assistant to Tom Watson at Gleneagles in 2014 before donning an earpiece two years ago on Love's squad at Hazeltine.

    "This is a great honor for me, and I am once again thrilled to be a vice captain,” Stricker said in a statement. “We plan to keep the momentum and the spirit of Hazeltine alive and channel it to our advantage in Paris."

    Woods will make his second appearance as a vice captain, having served in 2016 and also on Stricker's Presidents Cup team last year. Woods played on seven Ryder Cup teams from 1997-2012, and last week at the Genesis Open he told reporters he would be open to a dual role as both an assistant and a playing member this fall.

    "I am thrilled to once again serve as a Ryder Cup vice captain and I thank Jim for his confidence, friendship and support," Woods said in a statement. "My goal is to make the team, but whatever happens over the course of this season, I will continue to do what I can to help us keep the cup."

    The Ryder Cup will be held Sept. 28-30 at Le Golf National in Paris. The U.S. has not won in Europe since 1993 at The Belfry in England.

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    Watch: Guy wins $75K boat, $25K cash with 120-foot putt

    By Grill Room TeamFebruary 20, 2018, 8:15 pm

    Making a 120-foot putt in front of a crowd of screaming people would be an award in and of itself for most golfers out there, but one lucky Minnesota man recently got a little something extra for his effort.

    The Minnesota Golf Show at the Minneapolis Convention Center has held a $100,000 putting contest for 28 years, and on Sunday, Paul Shadle, a 49-year-old pilot from Rosemount, Minnesota, became the first person ever to sink the putt, winning a pontoon boat valued at $75,000 and $25,000 cash in the process.

    But that's not the whole story. Shadle, who describes himself as a "weekend golfer," made separate 100-foot and 50-foot putts to qualify for an attempt at the $100K grand prize – in case you were wondering how it's possible no one had ever made the putt before.

    "Closed my eyes and hoped for the best," Shadle said of the attempt(s).

    Hard to argue with the result.

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    Tiger draws Sneds, Kizzire at Honda Classic

    By Ryan LavnerFebruary 20, 2018, 7:43 pm

    PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Tiger Woods will play alongside Patton Kizzire and Brandt Snedeker for the first two rounds of the Honda Classic.

    The threesome will tee off at 7:45 a.m. ET Thursday off PGA National’s 10th tee, then 12:35 p.m. off the first tee in the second round Friday.

    Woods is making his first start at the Honda, his hometown event, since 2014. He tied for second here in 2012, after a final-round 62.

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    This is the first time he has ever played with Kizzire, a two-time winner this season and the FedExCup points leader.

    Other notable groups for the first two rounds:

    • Justin Thomas, Sergio Garcia, Daniel Berger: 7:35 a.m. Thursday, 12:25 p.m. Friday
    • Tommy Fleetwood, Alex Noren, Gary Woodland: 7:55 a.m. Thursday, 12:45 p.m. Friday
    • Rickie Fowler, Patrick Reed, Kevin Kisner: 12:25 p.m. Thursday, 7:35 a.m. Friday
    • Rory McIlroy, Adam Scott, Padraig Harrington: 12:35 p.m. Thursday, 7:45 a.m. Friday