Notes The Other Watson In Memory of Ray

By Associated PressJuly 7, 2007, 4:00 pm
U.S. Senior OpenHAVEN, Wis. -- While all but eight golfers failed to break par on Saturday, Denis Watson made a charge at the U.S. Senior Open with a bogey-free 67 in the third round.
Watson, who won the Senior PGA Championship on the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island, S.C. in May for his first Champions Tour victory, had the lowest round of the day at Whistling Straits to move to 2-under 214. Watson had the only round without a bogey and is tied for sixth place, five strokes behind leader Tom Watson.
'I've been playing well, but making a lot of mistakes on the golf course,' Denis Watson said. 'My head has been all over the place. Yesterday, I made some dumb mistakes early.'
Those included a triple bogey and two more bogeys to leave him 6-over par early in Friday's round. But he began to make his charge, and in his past 29 holes, he has 10 birdies and one bogey.
'I was grinding to make the cut, working my tail off,' Watson said. 'I still felt like if you get out there and play well, like I did today, that you might still have a shot on the weekend.'
Denis Watson said Saturday his goal wasn't to shoot a bogey-free round but to move to 6 under. He finished with pars on his final four holes.
'I feel good about where I am,' said Watson, who hoped he would be within five strokes heading into Sunday's final round. 'Then it's a tournament for me, where I feel like I might have a shot.'
Watson, who also had three PGA Tour victories in 1984 before injuries derailed his career in 1987, has been one of the Champions Tour's top players in 2007 with three top 3 finishes and four more in the top 10.
It's been an unexpected run for someone who thought his career was over after surgeries on his wrist, elbow and neck limited him to about 30 tournaments over 15 years. His wife, Susan E. Loggans, pushed him to continue.
'She's the one that kind of kept me focused and thinking I could get back and play,' said Watson, who has three children from a previous marriage and eight total, including two sets of twins. 'She kept kicking me in the pants and saying ... 'If you want to play, you've still got it, and you can play. You can do this.''
He said winning the Senior PGA Championship changed his perspective and validated his effort to play golf at the highest levels again.
'It wasn't just like another great win for somebody that's won a lot of tournaments,' Watson said. 'It's really been a big deal. You know, I've been soaking it in and a lot of things have been different. (I'm) just trying to remember that it's still just golf and you have to do the same things.'
Every day this week, Mary Olbrantz has sat in a chair outside her home on County Highway FF and waved at people in cars and buses driving past to the U.S. Senior Open at nearby Whistling Straits.
She is doing it in honor of her husband Raymond, who died May 26 of cancer.
Raymond Olbrantz became famous as the 'Haven hi guy' during the 2004 PGA Championship.
He greeted those headed to the tournament almost nonstop all day long that August with a wave and a sign that said 'Welcome' to tiny Haven, the small community near the course.
His one-man effort toward visitors touched the hearts of many because it reflected the kinder, gentler spirit of a small town.
This time, Raymond's wife is doing the waving.
'He wanted to be here. We talked about it,' Olbrantz said Saturday. 'I'm doing it because he can't be here.'
Her daughter, Lybra, was also greeting people Saturday.
Neighbors have also contributed their time this week when Mary could not be outside with a smile and a wave.
The 7,068-yard Whistling Straits course has tested the physical fitness of competitors in the U.S. Senior Open as much as it has their golf skills.
The links-style course is hard to walk because of elevation changes and narrow, steep footpaths used to descend or climb up to holes running along the Lake Michigan shoreline.
Doug Miller, a physical therapist who has spent nine years tending the aches and pains of Champions Tour golfers, said the course has taken its toll on some seniors.
'We're seeing more shin splits, which we don't usually see on other courses,' Miller said. 'The walking has caused the most problems.'
Miller said senior golfers also struggled in handling the Ocean Course on Kiawah Island, S.C. during the Senior PGA Championship in May.
'That was every bit as tough as this,' Miller said. 'There was so much sand there that they had to change the way that they walked.'
Miller admires the older golfers.
'The guys on the senior tour are pretty tough,' he said. 'Most of them are healthy and in great shape. They work really hard at it.'
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    McIlroy (65) one back in Abu Dhabi through 54

    By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 1:09 pm

    Rory McIlroy moved into position to send a powerful message in his first start of the new year at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    Closing out with back-to-back birdies Saturday, McIlroy posted a 7-under-par 65, leaving him poised to announce his return to golf in spectacular fashion after a winless year in 2017.

    McIlroy heads into Sunday just a single shot behind the leaders, Thomas Pieters (67) and Ross Fisher (65), who are at 17-under overall at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.

    Making his first start after taking three-and-a-half months off to regroup from an injury-riddled year, McIlroy is looking sharp in his bid to win for the first time in 16 months. He chipped in for birdie from 50 feet at the 17th on Saturday and two-putted from 60 feet for another birdie to finish his round.

    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

    McIlroy took 50 holes before making a bogey in Abu Dhabi. He pushed his tee shot into a greenside bunker at the 15th, where he left a delicate play in the bunker, then barely blasted his third out before holing a 15-footer for bogey.

    McIlroy notably opened the tournament playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, who started the new year winning the PGA Tour’s Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii in an eight-shot rout just two weeks ago. McIlroy was grouped in the first two rounds with Johnson and Tommy Fleetwood, the European Tour’s Player of the Year last season. McIlroy sits ahead of both of them going into the final round, with Johnson (68) tied for 12th, four shots back, and Fleetwood (67) tied for fourth, two shots back.

    Those first two rounds left McIlroy feeling good about his off season work.

    “That proves I’m back to full fitness and 100 percent health,” he said going into Saturday. “DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now and of, if not the best, drivers of the golf ball, and to be up there with him over the first two days proves to me I’m doing the right things and gives me confidence.”

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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.