Notes Perks of Winning Wie Watch
Some of the best perks came Tuesday.
Verplank stood outside the locker room at Quail Hollow and could barely complete a sentence without players, caddies and officials stopping by to congratulate him. His cell phone was so overloaded with voice mail and text messages that the screen broke, so he switched to his wife's phone and that one broke, too.
``I'm on my third in two days,'' he said. ``I've had more people call and text message me than I ever have in my life.''
It was the fifth win of his PGA TOUR, and by far the most meaningful.
Verplank won the Western Open while in school at Oklahoma State, at the time the first amateur in 29 years to win on tour. His last victory had been the Canadian Open in 2001, significant because it came a few weeks after he was the first player to make his first Ryder Cup team as a captain's pick.
Winning the Byron Nelson was emotional in so many ways.
He was among the best juniors in Dallas, and his relationship with Nelson began when Verplank was 17 and Nelson called him up and asked to watch him hit balls. To win the first tournament after Nelson died was almost too much for him to handle.
``I've never been choked up winning a golf tournament in my life,'' Verplank said, who struggled slightly to keep his composure even as he spoke on Tuesday. ``There's no crying in golf, but I'm telling you, I could hardly speak.''
And while it was important to win for the memory of Nelson, it also was meaningful for his grandfather.
Bob Bybee had been hospitalized that week because of congenital heart failure. Verplank went to see his 87-year-old grandfather after his first round Thursday.
``I called him right when I got done (Sunday) and asked him if he was feeling better,'' Verplank said. ``He said, 'You betcha!' To me, he's a guy a lot like Byron Nelson. He's been a great influence in my life. He's a real gentleman, and he was a pretty fair golfer in his day.''
Michelle Wie has accepted a sponsor's exemption to play in the Canadian Women's Open, the first time she will play north of the U.S. border. The tournament will be held Aug. 16-19 at Royal Mayfair Golf Club in Edmonton.
But it won't be her first time playing a Canadian event.
Wie first played against the men in 2003 at age 14 in the Bay Mills Open Players Championship on the Canadian Tour, even though the tournament was held in Michigan. She missed the cut after rounds of 74-79.
``I'm excited to get out there and play again and especially excited to make my professional debut in Canada,'' she said.
Playing the Canadian Women's Open likely will give Wie three straight events on the LPGA Tour, as it follows the Evian Masters in France and the Women's British Open at St. Andrews. Wie would have a week off before going to Canada.
And then it will be off to college for her freshman year at Stanford.
Wie, 17, has not played since the Sony Open because of a wrist injury. She is to return to competition at the Ginn Tribute, a new LPGA event in South Carolina to be held the last week in May.
David Toms had to withdraw from the Wachovia Championship because of personal reasons, leaving the tournament with 27 of the top 30 players in the world ranking. The other players from the top 30 not at Quail Hollow are Paul Casey and Justin Rose.
Also pulling out was David Duval.
The former British Open champion has not played since the Nissan Open in February because his wife, pregnant with their second child, is not bed rest for the final four months of her pregnancy.
Val Skinner, a six-time winner on the LPGA Tour who has devoted 15 years to raising money for breast cancer research, will be honored with the Winnie Palmer Award at the Metropolitan Golf Writers Association dinner June 18.
Skinner in 1996 launched a program called LIFE (LPGA pros In the Fight to Eradicate breast cancer), which benefits the New Jersey Cancer Institute and Susan G. Komen for a Cure. The annual charity pro-am has raised $500,000 every year, the largest single-day donation ever for breast cancer from a golf event.
The Winnie Palmer Award was created in 2000 to acknowledge an individual who has consistently given time, energy and enthusiasm to those less fortunate. The award is named in honor of Arnold Palmer's deceased wife Winnie, who devoted much of her life to charity work for literacy programs and health care.
Of the 58 players exempt from qualifying for the U.S. Open, only 26 are from the United States. ... Luke Donald has 12 consecutive rounds in the 60s at the Byron Nelson Championship, but still no trophy. He has finished second, tied for sixth and tied for 18th the last three years. ... Vaughn Taylor has signed an endorsement deal with E-Z-GO, the world's largest manufacturer of golf carts. The deal is a perfect fit because both are based in Augusta, Ga., and Taylor's mother worked at E-Z-GO for 18 years. Vijay Singh will be playing the BMW PGA Championship on the European Tour on May 24-27, the first of four straight tournaments through the U.S. Open. It will be the 10th time Singh has played Europe's flagship event, with one only top 10. ... Brett Wetterich got the prime parking spot at the Byron Nelson Championship as the defending champion. He also gets good spots at the World Golf Championships. ``My name is close to Tiger's and he's always up front,'' he said.
STAT OF THE WEEK:
Americans have won 13 of the first 18 events on the PGA Tour, their best start since they won 14 times through April in 2001.
``It's not a business of being sentimental. It's a business of trying to win as many tournaments as you can.'' - Jerry Kelly, explaining why only two of the top 10 players in the world ranking played in the Byron Nelson Championship.
Copyright 2007 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Angela hits Sergio in stride on field at Superdome
Sergio and Angela Garcia's super 2017 keeps getting more ... Super ... Dome. (+1 awful blog lede.)
The couple started the year with Sergio's win at the Masters, then embarked on a whirlwind green jacket media tour, then kicked off El Clasico, then attended Wimbledon, then got married, then announced they were expecting their first child ...
And now, they're throwing each other passes on the New Orleans Saints' home turf at the Superdome.
Man, it must be so cool do that at the Silverdome. ... ... ... I'm sorry, it is the Superdome, brothers.
Newsmaker of the Year: No. 1, Justin Thomas
He won a major, captured the FedExCup and was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year. It should come as no surprise that Justin Thomas holds the top spot on our Newsmakers list for 2017.
Thomas entered the year ranked outside the top 20, and few might have pegged him for a transcendent campaign. But he kicked off January with a win in Hawaii, added another before leaving the Aloha State and never looked back.
Thomas’ seminal moment came in August when he captured the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow for his breakthrough major title. One month after greeting Jordan Spieth behind the final green at Royal Birkdale, this time it was Thomas’ turn to have friends stick around to snap pictures with the trophy that signaled his arrival among golf’s upper echelon.
In addition to racking up the hardware – five in total, including the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in his first start of the new wraparound season – Thomas dazzled with style. His runaway win at the Sony Open included an opening-round 59, and his third-round 63 at Erin Hills marked the first time anyone had ever shot 9 under on a U.S. Open venue.
Thomas’ consistency was rewarded at East Lake, when a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship netted him the season-long title and $10 million prize. It was in the subsequent press conference where he shared the goals list he had written into his cell phone in February, having ticked off nearly every one. It showed a dedicated attention to detail as well the tactical approach with which Thomas had steered his rapid ascent.
Heading into a new year, he’s now very clearly entrenched as one of the world’s best. And as his career progresses, it’s likely we’ll look back at 2017 as the point where Thomas first transformed great potential into eye-popping results.
Win No. 1: Title defense at the CIMB Classic
Win Nos. 2 and 3: The Hawaiian double
Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open
Record Round No. 2: 63 at the U.S. Open
Temporary Slide: Open MC makes it three in a row
Mr. Major (and win No. 4): PGA champ at Quail Hollow
Win No. 5: Dell Technologies Championship
The $10 Million Man: FedExCup champ
Biggest Win of All? Player of the Year
And One to Grow On: Wins at CJ Cup in 2017-18 season
Photo Galleries: Best of ...
Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017
GolfChannel.com counted down the top 10 Newsmakers of the Year as voted on by Golf Channel’s writers, editors, reporters and producers. Check out the list below. And click here for the full collection of articles.
Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge
ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.
The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.
They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.
Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.
Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.
Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.
''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''
The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.
In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''
Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.