Notes Nicklaus Wanting Fans to Be More Polite

By Associated PressSeptember 23, 2005, 4:00 pm
2005 PresidentGAINESVILLE, Va. -- When Michael Campbell missed a crucial 8-foot putt at the 17th hole, the crowd cheered. When the New Zealander hit a chip at the 18th that could have won his match, someone in the gallery yelled ``Don't go in!''
 
The rowdiness was nowhere close to Ryder Cup levels Friday at the Presidents Cup, but usual golf etiquette took a bit of a dive -- especially after a one-hour, 20-minute rain delay in the afternoon, during which some fans appeared to have spent too much time at the beverage stalls.
 
``Obviously there must have been some beer factor in there,'' U.S. player Fred Funk said.

U.S. captain Jack Nicklaus was concerned more about the lack of appreciation given to the International players before the delay. Nicklaus walked up to people in the galleries at various times to express his displeasure.
 
``I said 'Hey guys, you can root if you want to for the American team, I think that's fine, but when the International team hits a good shot, I think they deserve a round of applause in appreciation,''' Nicklaus said. ``Nick O'Hern hit about a 25-footer at 8 today and you could almost here a pin drop. I didn't like that at all.''
 
Nicklaus realizes he takes the matter more seriously than most -- he even wishes the fans would behave better when he goes to football games at his alma mater, Ohio State.
 
``I love going to Ohio State, but I cannot stand when they boo the opposing team when they run onto the field,'' Nicklaus said. ``It drives me insane. To me, not basically appreciating what the other team is doing is not the spirit (International captain) Gary (Player) and I want to see in the matches. I don't think it was terrible today, but I think we could be better.''
 
Later in the day, Vijay Singh stared down some fans for their reaction after he missed a 10-foot putt at the ninth hole.
 
Campbell, however, said he wasn't bothered by the hecklers.
 
``That's human nature,'' the reigning U.S. Open champion said. ``That's normal, wherever you go. If you played in Australia or South Africa, it would have been the same thing if Americans missed a putt. That's all part of the game over here in America. I know it's very vocal at times. You've got to accept that as a player. ... If you hear the heckling in the crowd -- like this guy said to me 'Miss the putt' -- it's pretty unfair, but it got me revved up.''
 
A TURTLE NAMED FUNK
It's been 17 years since Fred Funk was the golf coach at the University of Maryland, but you'd never know it by following him around at the President Cup.
 
Shouts of ``Go Terps!'' and ``Fear the Turtle!'' greeted Funk at every hole. Funk, his wife or his caddie seemed to know by name at least a half-dozen people in any given section of the gallery. Funk waved more than the Queen of England at a royal parade.
 
``This is cool,'' Funk said. ``I really do pinch myself to realize where I've come from. To obtain some of the things I have obtained out here is pretty cool.''
 
Funk is the local favorite any time he plays in the Maryland or D.C. area, but he says fans call out the ``Terps'' and ``Turtle'' greetings when he plays in other parts of the country, too. Even though he now lives in Florida, he isn't surprised by the loyalty. He was born in Takoma Park, Md., and went to high school not far from the University of Maryland's campus in College Park.
 
``I was almost born a Terp,'' he said.
 
HIT BY A TIGER
Give spectator Steve Cagle of Battle Creek, Mich., an assist to Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk in their match against Stuart Appleby and Mark Hensby.
 
On the first hole, Woods' drive was headed hard right until it bounced off Cagle's left shoulder and into the middle of the fairway.
 
Woods walked over to Cagle and rewarded him with an autographed glove, then went on to score par to give his team a 1-up lead.
 
Asked if it stings to be on the receiving end of a drive by Woods, Cagle simply nodded: ``It caught me flush,'' he said.
 
TAKING NOTES
Ryder Cup captain Tom Lehman said he would pay close attention to the Presidents Cup matches, and he meant it.
 
Instead of watching on television, Lehman showed up on the course Friday. He was decked out in a white Presidents Cup shirt and stood behind the 18th green as Phil Mickelson and Chris DiMarco halved their better-ball match against Michael Campbell and Angel Cabrera.
 
``I'm just here to watch, to see who's playing with who and how it works -- how they interact, was it good, was it bad and if they would want to do it again,'' Lehman said.
 
The Ryder Cup is one year from now in Ireland.
 
Lehman played in the Presidents Cup three times.
 
FLYING TIGER
Team captains Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player had to stop their daily Presidents Cup news conference for a few seconds Friday evening when a noisy, low-flying plane went over the media tent.
 
``I hope Tiger comes back for morning play,'' Nicklaus said, drawing a big laugh as he looked toward the ceiling. ``He's got to go to dinner somehow, guys.''
 
WRAPPED WRIST
After Friday's rain delay, International player Peter Lonard returned to the course with his left wrist wrapped.
 
``My wrist just sort of locked up at the start of the week, and the (trainer) reckons it looks better if I put a little white towel around it or something -- a magic sponge,'' Lonard said. ``It's fine.''
 
It must be. He and Nick O'Hern beat Davis Love III and Kenny Perry 3 and 2.
 
TV SWITCH
NBC has moved the first hour of Saturday's Presidents Cup broadcast to the USA Network in order to devote an extra hour of coverage of Hurricane Rita's expected landfall in the Gulf Coast.
 
USA will carry the tournament from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m., while NBC airs a special edition of ``Saturday Today.'' NBC's coverage of golf begins at 9 a.m. and is scheduled to end at 6 p.m.
 
POINTLESS PLAYERS
After two days of the Presidents Cup, five players have yet to score a point: Fred Couples, Kenny Perry, David Toms and Davis Love III of the American team and Stuart Appleby of the International team.
 
Related Links:
  • Scoring - Presidents Cup
  • Full Coverage - Presidents Cup
  • Photo by Enrique Berardi/LAAC

    Top-ranked amateur Niemann one back at LAAC in Chile

    By Nick MentaJanuary 21, 2018, 8:44 pm

    Argentina’s Jaime Lopez Rivarola leads the Latin America Amateur Championship at 5 under par following a round of 3-under 68 Saturday in Chile.

    The former Georgia Bulldog is now 36 holes from what would be a return trip to Augusta National but his first Masters.

    "The truth is that I crossed off on my bucket list playing Augusta [National], because I happened to play there," Rivarola said. "I've played every year with my university. But playing in the Masters is a completely different thing. I have been to the Masters, and I've watched the players play during the practice rounds. But [competing would be] a completely different thing."

    He is followed on the leaderboard by the three players who competed in the playoff that decided last year’s LAAC in Panama: Joaquin Niemann (-4), Toto Gana (-4), and Alvaro Ortiz (-3).


    Click here for full-field scores from the Latin America Amateur Championship


    Chile’s Niemann is the top-ranked amateur in the world who currently holds conditional status on the Web.com Tour and is poised to begin his career as a professional, unless of course he takes the title this week. After a disappointing 74 in Round 1, Niemann was 10 shots better in Round 2, rocketing up the leaderboard with a 7-under 64.

    “Today, I had a completely different mentality, and that's usually what happens in my case," Niemann said. "When I shoot a bad round, the following day I have extra motivation. I realize and I feel that I have to play my best golf. The key to being a good golfer is to find those thoughts and to transfer them into good golf."

    Niemann’s fellow Chilean and best friend Gana is the defending champion who missed the cut at the Masters last year and is now a freshman at Lynn University. His second-round 70 was a roller coaster, complete with six birdies, three eagles and a double.

    Mexico’s Ortiz, the brother of three-time Web.com Tour winner Carlos, was 6 under for the week before three back-nine bogeys dropped him off the pace.

    Two past champions, Matias Dominguez and Paul Chaplet, sit 5 over and 7 over, respectively.

    The winner of the Latin America Amateur Championship earns an invite to this year’s Masters. He is also exempt into the The Amateur Championship, the U.S. Amateur, U.S. Open sectional qualifying, and Open Championship final qualifying.

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    McIlroy gets back on track

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 21, 2018, 3:10 pm

    There’s only one way to view Rory McIlroy’s performance at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship:

    He is well ahead of schedule.

    Sure, McIlroy is probably disappointed that he couldn’t chase down Ross Fisher (and then Tommy Fleetwood) on the final day at Abu Dhabi Golf Club. But against a recent backdrop of injuries and apathy, his tie for third was a resounding success. He reasserted himself, quickly, and emerged 100 percent healthy.

    “Overall, I’m happy,” he said after finishing at 18-under 270, four back of Fleetwood. “I saw some really, really positive signs. My attitude, patience and comfort level were really good all week.”

    To fully appreciate McIlroy’s auspicious 2018 debut, consider his state of disarray just four months ago. He was newly married. Nursing a rib injury. Breaking in new equipment. Testing another caddie. His only constant was change. “Mentally, I wasn’t in a great place,” he said, “and that was because of where I was physically.”

    And so he hit the reset button, taking the longest sabbatical of his career, a three-and-a-half-month break that was as much psychological as physical. He healed his body and met with a dietician, packing five pounds of muscle onto his already cut frame. He dialed in his TaylorMade equipment, shoring up a putting stroke and wedge game that was shockingly poor for a player of his caliber. Perhaps most importantly, he cleared his cluttered mind, cruising around Italy with wife Erica in a 1950s Mercedes convertible.


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    After an intense buildup to his season debut, McIlroy was curious about the true state of his game, about how he’d stack up when he finally put a scorecard in his hand. It didn’t take him long to find out. 

    Playing the first two rounds alongside Dustin Johnson – the undisputed world No. 1 who was fresh off a blowout victory at Kapalua – McIlroy beat him by a shot. Despite a 103-day competitive layoff, he played bogey-free for 52 holes. And he put himself in position to win, trailing by one heading into the final round. Though Fleetwood blew away the field with a back-nine 30 to defend his title, McIlroy collected his eighth top-5 in his last nine appearances in Abu Dhabi.

    “I know it’s only three months,” he said, “but things change, and I felt like maybe I needed a couple of weeks to get back into the thought process that you need to get into for competitive golf. I got into that pretty quickly this week, so that was the most pleasing thing.”

    The sense of relief afterward was palpable. McIlroy is entering his 11th full year as a pro, and deep down he likely realizes 2018 is shaping up as his most important yet.

    The former Boy Wonder is all grown up, and his main challengers now are a freakish athlete (DJ) and a trio of players under 25 (Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm) who don’t lack for motivation or confidence. The landscape has changed significantly since McIlroy’s last major victory, in August 2014, and the only way he’ll be able to return to world No. 1 is to produce a sustained period of exceptional golf, like the rest of the game’s elite. (Based on average points, McIlroy, now ranked 11th, is closer to the bottom of the rankings, No. 1928, than to Johnson.)

    But after years of near-constant turmoil, McIlroy, 28, finally seems ready to pursue that goal again. He is planning the heaviest workload of his career – as many as 30 events, including seven more starts before the Masters – and appears refreshed and reenergized, perhaps because this year, for the first time in a while, he is playing without distractions.

    Not his relationships or his health. Not his equipment or his caddie or his off-course dealings.

    Everything in his life is lined up.

    Drama tends to follow one of the sport’s most captivating characters, but for now he can just play golf – lots and lots of golf. How liberating.

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    Crocker among quartet of Open qualifiers in Singapore

    By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 2:20 pm

    Former amateur standout Sean Crocker was among four players who qualified for the 147th Open via top-12 finishes this week at the Asian Tour's SMBC Singapore Open as part of the Open Qualifying Series.

    Crocker had a strong college career at USC before turning pro late last year. The 21-year-old received an invitation into this event shortly thereafter, and he made the most of his appearance with a T-6 finish to net his first career major championship berth.

    There were four spots available to those not otherwise exempt among the top 12 in Singapore, but winner Sergio Garcia and runners-up Shaun Norris and Satoshi Kodaira had already booked their tickets for Carnoustie. That meant that Thailand's Danthai Boonma and Jazz Janewattanond both qualified thanks to T-4 finishes.


    Full-field scores from the Singapore Open


    Crocker nabbed the third available qualifying spot, while the final berth went to Australia's Lucas Herbert. Herbert entered the week ranked No. 274 in the world and was the highest-ranked of the three otherwise unqualified players who ended the week in a tie for eighth.

    The next event in the Open Qualifying Series will be in Japan at the Mizuno Open in May, when four more spots at Carnoustie will be up for grabs. The 147th Open will be held July 19-22 in Carnoustie, Scotland.

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    Got a second? Fisher a bridesmaid again

    By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:40 pm

    Ross Fisher is in the midst of a career resurgence - he just doesn't have the hardware to prove it.

    Fisher entered the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship with a share of the lead, and as he made the turn he appeared in position to claim his first European Tour victory since March 2014. But he slowed just as Tommy Fleetwood caught fire, and when the final putt fell Fisher ended up alone in second place, two shots behind his fellow Englishman.

    It continues a promising trend for Fisher, who at age 37 now has 14 career runner-up finishes and three in his last six starts dating back to October. He was edged by Tyrrell Hatton both at the Italian Open and the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in the fall, and now has amassed nine worldwide top-10 finishes since March.


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    Fisher took a big step toward ending his winless drought with an eagle on the par-5 second followed by a pair of birdies, and he stood five shots clear of Fleetwood with only nine holes to go. But while Fleetwood played Nos. 10-15 in 4 under, Fisher played the same stretch in 2 over and was unable to eagle the closing hole to force a playoff.

    While Fisher remains in search of an elusive trophy, his world ranking has benefited from his recent play. The veteran was ranked outside the top 100 in the world as recently as September 2016, but his Abu Dhabi runner-up result is expected to move him inside the top 30 when the new rankings are published.