Notes Players Make Pitch for New Orleans Maui Green

By Associated PressJanuary 3, 2006, 5:00 pm
04 Mercedes ChampionshipsKAPALUA, Maui -- John Subers is one of the most visible tournament directors on the PGA Tour, usually seen with a gentle smile and a handshake as he makes a pitch for players to come to the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.
 
This year, the reception has been more enthusiastic than ever.

The Zurich Classic had to switch venues when the TPC at Louisiana was battered by wind and flooding, moving to English Turn for the April 27-30 event. Even so, it is expected to be the first major sporting event in New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina devastated the city in September.
 
Subers couldn't help but notice how interested players were about coming back to New Orleans.
 
'They've shown compassion and a desire to be part of the regrowth, the rebirth,' he said. 'The compassion they've shown has been overwhelming.'
 
He has been busy getting early commitments, and some players have offered brief interviews that the tournament wants to package in a six-week television campaign to build support in Louisiana.
 
'The theme is, 'We're the PGA Tour, we're supporting New Orleans, we look forward to seeing you, we look forward to coming back and we believe in you,'' Subers said. 'We're not trying to script it, but picture six weeks of commercials, with 15 to 20 players saying they're coming to New Orleans. We think it will make an impact.'
 
Among the early commitments are David Toms, Kenny Perry and Davis Love III. Toms is a natural, because he grew up in Louisiana and considers the Zurich Classic his hometown event.
 
Beyond a soundbite for TV, however, Toms also has turned into a recruiter.
 
'I'll talk to some of the players along the way,' Toms said. 'It's something I felt an obligation to do. I think it's important to the future of that event. It's important to showcase it on television, the rebuilding effort. The more quality players in the event, the bigger the television audience will be.'
 
Subers said the tournament, meanwhile, is offering reduced rates to companies for corporate hospitality, although it still hopes to continue its level of charitable giving. The Zurich Classic raised a little more than $1 million last year, and was ready to distribute it to 25 local charities when Katrina arrived.
 
Only recently did the tournament distribute the money, with all of it going to agencies helping Katrina victims.
 
PLANTATION GREEN
Tiger Woods has long complained about the severe grain in the greens on the Plantation course at Kapalua. By not showing up this year, he doesn't know what he's missing.
 
Kapalua made a huge investment this year by renovating all 18 greens with a new strain of grass that is tighter and stands more vertical, allowing them to be cut lower to have greater consistency. During the last few days of practice, players have been astonished at how true they roll.
 
'The best I've seen them,' Mark Calcavecchia said.
 
It was no small cost.
 
Kapalua vice president Gary Planos said the resort considered redoing the greens after the first tournament on the Plantation course in 1992, at the old Lincoln-Mercury Invitational. Instead, the staff tried to maintain them and noticed some improvement, but not as great as they wanted.
 
The Plantation course had to be closed four months to redo the greens.
 
'Financially, it was a very hard decision because you displace some 18,000 rounds of golf,' Planos said. 'Closing the Plantation from April to July is not inexpensive. But the results are coming in overwhelmingly, and it's a big home run.'
 
SONY PRACTICE
Ernie Els is not playing in the Sony Open this year, meaning Michelle Wie had to get a new practice partner. She found one in someone old enough to be her big brother -- 23-year-old Sean O'Hair.
 
O'Hair, the PGA Tour's rookie of the year, was talking to David Leadbetter when the swing coach mentioned he would be at the Sony Open to work with Wie. O'Hair mentioned he'd like to play a practice round with her.
 
'I guess I still have to ask her,' he said. 'I'm going to have stand real tall.'
 
That shouldn't be a problem because O'Hair is a lean 6-foot-2.
 
'She hasn't grown any, has she?' he asked.
 
GWAA AWARDS
Jack Nicklaus, Bart Bryant and former USGA president Sandy Tatum have won awards voted on by members of the Golf Writers Association of America.
 
Nicklaus, who has been dealing with the press for nearly 50 years, won the ASAP Sports/Jim Murray Award for his cooperation, quotability and accommodation to the media.
 
Bryant won the Ben Hogan Award, given to the individual who continues to be active in golf despite a physical handicap or serious illness. Bryant, whose three victories in the last two years include a wire-to-wire win at the Tour Championship, has had three significant surgeries since 1992 that almost knocked him out of the game.
 
The William D. Richardson Award went to Tatum, 85, whose involvement in golf spans his leadership at the USGA to the way he cut through the red tape of San Francisco politics to get Harding Park transformed into a public gem good enough to host a World Golf Championship. The Richardson Award is for those making outstanding contributions to golf.
 
They will be honored April 5 at the GWAA's annual awards dinner in Augusta, Ga.
 
DIVOTS
John Francis Mallon, the father of two-time U.S. Women's Open champion Meg Mallon, died of a heart attack on New Year's Eve. He was 82. Services will be held Wednesday in Bluffton, S.C. ... Tiger Woods and Retief Goosen not playing at Kapalua this year means that Vijay Singh has the longest active streak of consecutive starts in the Mercedes Championships at four. ... Jim Furyk has signed a contract deal with Srixon, and will start the season playing its ball and wedges, while he works with the company on a set of irons.
 
STAT OF THE WEEK
Eight players from last year's winners-only Mercedes Championships are at Kapalua for the start of the 2006 season.
 
FINAL WORD
'You make a putt to win on the last hole, walk off the green and there's Jack Nicklaus standing there waiting to shake your hand. That's golfer utopia.' -- Bart Bryant on winning the Memorial.
 
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    If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

    By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

    She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

    You don’t believe it, though.

    She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

    Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

    Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

    “In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

    Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

    Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

    Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

    At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

    She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

    She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

    And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.


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    There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

    Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

    It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

    Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

    Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

    “I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

    About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

    Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

    “She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

    David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

    “She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

    Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

    Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

    “Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

    Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

    “It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

    Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

    “No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

    Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.

    National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 11:10 pm

    The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.

    Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.

    These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon:

    Rookie Cook (66-62) credits prior Tour experience

    By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 10:36 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook is a rookie only on paper. At least, that’s the way he’s played since joining the circuit this season.

    This week’s RSM Classic is Cook’s fourth start on Tour, and rounds of 66-62 secured his fourth made cut of the young season. More importantly, his 14-under total moved him into the lead at Sea Island Resort.

    “I really think that a couple years ago, the experience that I have had, I think I've played maybe 10 events, nine events before this season,” Cook said. “Being in contention a few times and making cuts, having my card has really prepared me for this.”


    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


    Cook has been perfect this week at the RSM Classic and moved into contention with four consecutive birdies starting at No. 13 (he began his round on the 10th hole of the Seaside course). A 6-footer for birdie at the last moved him one stroke clear of Brian Gay.

    In fact, Cook hasn’t come close to making a bogey this week thanks to an equally flawless ball-striking round that moved him to first in the field in strokes gained: tee to green.

    If Cook has played like a veteran this week, a portion of that credit goes to long-time Tour caddie Kip Henley, who began working for Cook during this year’s Web.com Tour finals.

    “He’s got a great golf brain,” Henley said. “That’s the most flawless round of golf I’ve ever seen.”

    Cook fires 62 for one-shot lead at RSM Classic

    By Associated PressNovember 17, 2017, 10:26 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook made a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at the RSM Classic.

    Cook has gone 36 holes without a bogey on the Plantation and Seaside courses at Sea Island Golf Club. He played Seaside - the site of the final two rounds in the last PGA Tour event of the calendar year - on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.

    ''We've just been able to it hit the ball really well,'' Cook said. ''Speed on greens has been really good and getting up-and-down has been great. I've been able to hit it pretty close to the hole to make some pretty stress-free putts. But the couple putts that I have had of some length for par, I've been able to roll them in. Everything's going well.''

    The 26-year-old former Arkansas player was at 14-under 128 and had a one-stroke lead over Brian Gay, who shot 64 on Seaside. No one else was closer than five shots going into the final two rounds.

    The 45-year-old Gay won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2013.


    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


    ''I've hit a lot of greens and fairways,'' Gay said. ''I've hit the ball, kept it in front of me. There's a lot of trouble out here, especially with the wind blowing, so I haven't had to make too many saves the first couple days and I putted well.''

    Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. He earned his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour, and has hired Gay's former caddie, Kip Henley.

    ''With him being out here so long, he knows everybody, so it's not like I'm completely the new kid on the block,'' Cook said. ''He's introduced me to a lot of people, so it's just making me feel comfortable out here. He knows his way around these golf courses. We're working really well together.''

    First-round leader Chris Kirk followed his opening 63 on the Plantation with a 70 on the Seaside to drop into a tie for third at 9 under with C.T. Pan (65) and Vaughn Taylor (66).

    Brandt Snedeker is looking strong in his first start in some five months because of a sternum injury. Snedeker shot a 67 on the Plantation course and was six shots back at 8 under.

    ''I was hitting the ball really well coming down here,'' Snedeker said. ''I was anxious to see how I would hold up under pressure. I haven't played a tournament in five months, so it's held up better than I thought it would. Ball-striking's been really good, mental capacity's been unbelievable.

    ''I think being so fresh, excited to be out there and thinking clearly. My short game, which has always been a strength of mine, I didn't know how sharp it was going to be. It's been really good so far.''