Notes VaTechs Weaver Honors Slain Students

By Associated PressApril 7, 2008, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- With his schools logo on his shirt, cap and golf bag, Drew Weaver looks a lot like all those other college kids whove been lucky enough to earn a spot at the Masters over the years.
 
Except Weaver plays for Virginia Tech, and proudly representing his school has taken on a whole new meaning in the last year.
 
With everything thats happened, Im more than happy to wear the logo and try to put a positive reputation for the university out there, he said Monday. Every time that I go out with a Virginia Tech logo on my bag or my shirt or my hat, Im going to be playing for all of our students and our faculty and everybody involved with the university.
 
Obviously, those who passed on April 16 last year are going to be right in the forefront of who Ill be playing for.
 
It was last April 16 that a student opened fire in a classroom building on the Virginia Tech campus, killing 32 students and faculty members before killing himself. One of the victims, Ryan Clark, was from Martinez, Ga., a suburb of Augusta.
 
Weaver, who would have been in a class in that very building at the same time the next day, was in an accounting class about 100 yards away when the shootings occurred. He and a teammate were leaving their building when they heard gunshots.
 
It was a terrifying few seconds, he said. We couldnt really tell where the shots were coming from. We had a general idea, but we didnt know if they were coming towards us. It was just one of those natural instincts to get as far away as possible, and thats what we did.
 
Is it something that I think about every day? Id say it doesnt necessarily come into my thoughts every day, but its definitely very frequent, Weaver said. Everywhere you go, people ask how the university is doing, and thats great. We appreciate the support, but it is tough to relive the memories.
 
But hell do it, if only so those who were killed arent forgotten.
 
He wore the Virginia Tech logo and colors last summer, when he played in the British Open after a surprising victory at the British Amateur. Weaver was the first U.S. player to win the British Amateur since Jay Sigel in 1979. No American had even made the final since 1983.
 
As the British Amateur champion, he also earned a spot at Augusta.
 
My whole summer was a blur, looking back at it. I didnt really have that much time to think about going to the British Open and playing in it, but this is different, Weaver said. Its just such an incredible week and I just cant believe'I still cant believe that Im actually a part of it and playing in it.
 
Weaver had played Augusta National 13 times before Mondays practice round, enough to make him feel at home. He even gave Johnson Wagner a few pointers. Wagner, a Virginia Tech alum, clinched a spot at the Masters on Sunday with his victory at the Houston Open.
 
No amateur has made the cut the last two years. But Weaver hopes he has the game'and the patience'to end that trend.
 
You see a lot of guys get impatient and make a bogey or two and end up blowing up, he said. I want to stay patient because I know I have the game.
 
And plenty of support.
 
INTERNATIONAL INVITES
Prayad Marksaeng has a big group of fans this week.
 
His entire country.
 
Marksaeng is the third Thai-born golfer to play in the Masters, receiving one of the exemptions given to foreign players who wouldnt otherwise qualify. Liang Wen-Chong of China and Indias Jeev Milka Singh also got exemptions, which are designed to help broaden golfs appeal around the world.
 
I am representing my country this week, and it will energize golf, Prayad said. Everyone will be watching the Masters.
 
Prayad, 42, got interested in golf as a way to pass the time on his way to school. He had to walk across the Royal Hua Hin Golf Club to get to school and, at 12, decided he could make the walk go quicker if he hit a golf ball with a club made out of a tree branch. He later shagged balls for Suthep Meesawat, one of the top pros in Thailand at the time.
 
When Prayad got older, the owner of the Royal Hua Hin club started a team and gave Prayad his first set of real clubs.
 
Prayad has won six times on the Asian Tour, and in 1999 became the first Thai to qualify for the British Open.
 
Its great to be here, not just for myself, but for my friends and family, Prayad said. Ill try to do my best. This is a lifetime dream.
 
Sukree Onsham was the first Thai-born golfer to play at Augusta National, appearing in 1970 and 1971. Thongchai Jaidee was here in 2006. Neither made the cut.
 
Of course, Thailand does have a claim to the worlds best player. Tiger Woods mother, Kultida, is from Thailand.
 
Prayad has played with Woods. The two were paired for the first two days of the 1997 Asian Honda Classic, which Woods won by 10 strokes.
 
It was very hard for me to concentrate that day, Prayad said. There were so many people, but they werent there to see me.
 
SPECIAL VISIT
Stephen Ames came up to Augusta National three weeks ago for a practice round, and he brought some company. Ames invited a teenager from his junior golf program in Trinidad, 17-year-old Ben Martin.
 
Hes still calling to say thank you, Ames said. Hes a good kid, a good player, and Im glad I did it. He got to play eight holes, including Amen Corner, which he probably wasnt supposed to do. It was lot of fun. This can open his eyes, let him see things he wouldnt normally see, and picture where he wants to be someday.
 
Ames said Martin is good enough to get a college scholarship, perhaps somewhere in Florida.
 
The trip to Augusta was on Monday of the CA Championship at Doral, and Martin certainly had a full week. He returned to Miami with Ames, and when the tournament was carried over to Monday because of rain, he wound up caddying for Ames for the final four holes.
 
DIAPER DANDY
Sean OHair made his Masters debut in 2006, and played Augusta National for the first time that Tuesday in a practice round with none other than Tiger Woods and Mark OMeara.
 
Talk about a nerve-racking experience.
 
I needed a diaper, just in case, OHair said last month at Bay Hill. It was pretty overwhelming.
 
When he arrived Monday and headed for his locker, he found his allotment of golf balls, gloves, hats'and thankfully, no diapers.
 
I was expecting to see one in there, he said. If you do put one in there, just make sure its clean.
 
OH NEAUX, TIGERS!
This wasnt the result David Toms wanted.
 
No, not his golf game. Thats fine. His alma maters basketball team, now thats a different story.
 
Toms stayed up late Sunday to watch LSU play Tennessee in the national semifinals. It was the fifth straight year the Lady Tigers had made it to the Final Four'and the fifth straight year they lost in the semifinals. This loss was particularly tough, with Tennessee winning 47-46 on Alexis Hornbuckles putback with less than a second left.
 
It was a good game, Toms said. Too bad we came out on the losing end again.
 

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    Teenager Im wins Web.com season opener

    By Will GrayJanuary 16, 2018, 10:23 pm

    South Korea's Sungjae Im cruised to a four-shot victory at The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic, becoming just the second teenager to win an event on the Web.com Tour.

    Im started the final day of the season-opening event in a share of the lead but still with six holes left in his third round. He was one shot behind Carlos Ortiz when the final round began, but moved ahead of the former Web.com Player of the Year thanks to a 7-under 65 in rainy and windy conditions. Im's 13-under total left him four clear of Ortiz and five shots ahead of a quartet of players in third.

    Still more than two months shy of his 20th birthday, Im joins Jason Day as the only two teens to win on the developmental circuit. Day was 19 years, 7 months and 26 days old when he captured the 2007 Legend Financial Group Classic.

    Recent PGA Tour winners Si Woo Kim and Patrick Cantlay and former NCAA champ Aaron Wise all won their first Web.com Tour event at age 20.

    Other notable finishes in the event included Max Homa (T-7), Erik Compton (T-13), Curtis Luck (T-13) and Lee McCoy (T-13). The Web.com Tour will remain in the Bahamas for another week, with opening round of The Bahamas Great Abaco Classic set to begin Sunday.

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    Mickelson grouped with Z. Johnson at CareerBuilder

    By Will GrayJanuary 16, 2018, 8:28 pm

    He's not the highest-ranked player in this week's field, but Phil Mickelson will likely draw the biggest crowd at the CareerBuilder Challenge as he makes his first start of 2018. Here are a few early-round, marquee groupings to watch as players battle the three-course rotation in the Californian desert (all times ET):

    12:10 p.m. Thursday, 11:40 a.m. Friday, 1:20 p.m. Saturday: Phil Mickelson, Zach Johnson

    Mickelson is making his fourth straight trip to Palm Springs, having cracked the top 25 each of the last three times. In addition to their respective amateur partners, he'll play the first three rounds alongside a fellow Masters champ in Johnson, who tied for 14th last week in Hawaii and finished third in this event in 2014.


    11:40 a.m. Thursday, 1:20 p.m. Friday, 12:50 p.m. Saturday: Jon Rahm, Bubba Watson

    At No. 3 in the world, Rahm is the highest-ranked player teeing it up this week and the Spaniard returns to an event where he finished T-34 last year in his tournament debut. He'll play the first two rounds alongside Watson, who is looking to bounce back from a difficult 2016-17 season and failed to crack the top 50 in two starts in the fall.


    11:40 a.m. Thursday, 1:20 p.m. Friday, 12:50 p.m. Saturday: Patrick Reed, Brandt Snedeker

    Reed made the first big splash of his career at this event in 2014, shooting three straight rounds of 63 en route to his maiden victory. He'll be joined by Snedeker, whose bid for a Masters bid via the top 50 of the world rankings came up short last month and who hasn't played this event since a missed cut in 2015.


    1:10 p.m. Thursday, 12:40 p.m. Friday, 12:10 p.m. Saturday: Patton Kizzire, Bill Haas

    Kizzire heads east after a whirlwind Sunday ended with his second win of the season in a six-hole playoff over James Hahn in Honolulu. He'll play alongside Haas, who won this event in both 2010 and 2015 to go with a runner-up finish in 2011 and remains the tournament's all-time leading money winner.

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    Mackay still a caddie at heart, even with a microphone

    By Doug FergusonJanuary 16, 2018, 7:34 pm

    HONOLULU – All it took was one week back on the bag to remind Jim ''Bones'' Mackay what he always loved about being a caddie.

    It just wasn't enough for this to be the ultimate mic drop.

    Mackay traded in his TV microphone at the Sony Open for the 40-pound bag belonging to Justin Thomas.

    It was his first time caddying since he split with Phil Mickelson six months ago. Mackay was only a temporary replacement at Waialae for Jimmy Johnson, a good friend and Thomas' regular caddie who has a nasty case of plantar fasciitis that will keep him in a walking boot for the next month.

    ''The toughest thing about not caddying is missing the competition, not having a dog in the fight,'' Mackay said before the final round. ''There's nothing more rewarding as a caddie, in general terms, when you say, 'I don't like 6-iron, I like 7,' and being right. I miss that part of it.''

    The reward now?

    ''Not stumbling over my words,'' he said. ''And being better than I was the previous week.''

    He has done remarkably well since he started his new job at the British Open last summer, except for that time he momentarily forgot his role. Parts of that famous caddie adage – ''Show up, keep up, shut up'' – apparently can apply to golf analysts on the ground.

    During the early hours of the telecast, before Johnny Miller came on, Justin Leonard was in the booth.

    ''It's my job to report on what I see. It's not my job to ask questions,'' Mackay said. ''I forgot that for a minute.''

    Leonard was part of a booth discussion on how a comfortable pairing can help players trying to win a major. That prompted Mackay to ask Leonard if he found it helpful at the 1997 British Open when he was trying to win his first major and was paired with Fred Couples in the final round at Royal Troon.

    ''What I didn't know is we were going to commercial in six seconds,'' Mackay said. ''I would have no way of knowing that, but I completely hung Justin out to dry. He's now got four seconds to answer my long-winded question.''

    During the commercial break, the next voice Mackay heard belonged to Tommy Roy, the executive golf producer at NBC.

    ''Bones, don't ever do that again.''

    It was Roy who recognized the value experienced caddies could bring to a telecast. That's why he invited Mackay and John Wood, the caddie for Matt Kuchar, into the control room at the 2015 Houston Open so they could see how it all worked and how uncomfortable it can be to hear directions coming through an earpiece.

    Both worked as on-course reporters at Sea Island that fall.

    And when Mickelson and Mackay parted ways after 25 years, Roy scooped up the longtime caddie for TV.

    It's common for players to move into broadcasting. Far more unusual is for a caddie to be part of the mix. Mackay loves his new job. Mostly, he loves how it has helped elevate his profession after so many years of caddies being looked upon more unfavorably than they are now.

    ''I want to be a caddie that's doing TV,'' he said. ''That's what I hope to come across as. The guys think this is good for caddies. And if it's good for caddies, that makes me happy. Because I'm a caddie. I'll always be a caddie.''

    Not next week at Torrey Pines, where Mickelson won three times. Not a week later in Phoenix, where Mackay lives. Both events belong to CBS.

    And not the Masters.

    He hasn't missed Augusta since 1994, when Mickelson broke his leg skiing that winter.

    ''That killed me,'' he said, ''but not nearly as much as it's going to kill me this year. I'll wake up on Thursday of the Masters and I'll be really grumpy. I'll probably avoid television at all costs until the 10th tee Sunday. And I'll watch. But it will be, within reason, the hardest day of my life.''

    There are too many memories, dating to when he was in the gallery right of the 11th green in 1987 when Larry Mize chipped in to beat Greg Norman. He caddied for Mize for two years, and then Scott Simpson in 1992, and Mickelson the rest of the way. He was on the bag for Lefty's three green jackets.

    Mackay still doesn't talk much about what led them to part ways, except to say that a player-caddie relationship runs its course.

    ''If you lose that positive dynamic, there's no point in continuing,'' he said. ''It can be gone in six months or a year or five years. In our case, it took 25 years.''

    He says a dozen or so players called when they split up, and the phone call most intriguing was from Roy at NBC.

    ''I thought I'd caddie until I dropped,'' Mackay said.

    He never imagined getting yardages and lining up putts for anyone except the golfer whose bag he was carrying. Now it's for an audience that measures in the millions. Mackay doesn't look at it as a second career. And he won't rule out caddying again.

    ''It will always be tempting,'' he said. ''I'll always consider myself a caddie. Right now, I'm very lucky and grateful to have the job I do.''

    Except for that first week in April.

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    The Social: The end was nigh, then it wasn't

    By Jason CrookJanuary 16, 2018, 7:00 pm

    The star power at the Sony Open may have been overshadowed by a missile scare, but there were plenty of other social media stories that kept the golf world on its toes this week, including some insight on Tiger Woods from a round with President Obama and some failed trick shots.

    All that and more in this week's edition of The Social.

    By now you've undoubtedly heard about the false alarm in Hawaii on Saturday, where just about everyone, including most Sony Open participants, woke up to an emergency cell phone alert that there was a ballistic missile heading toward the islands.

    Hawaiian emergency management officials eventually admitted the original message was mistakenly sent out, but before they did, people (understandably) freaked out.

    As the situation unfolded, some Tour pros took to social media to express their confusion and to let the Twittersphere know how they planned on riding out this threat:

    While I would've been in that bathtub under the mattress with John Peterson, his wife, baby and in-laws (wait, how big is this tub?), here's how Justin Thomas reacted to the threat of impending doom:

    Yeah, you heard that right.

    “I was like ‘there’s nothing I can do,'” Thomas said. ”I sat on my couch and opened up the sliding door and watched TV and listened to music. I was like, if it’s my time, it’s my time.”

    Hmmm ... can we just go ahead and award him all the 2018 majors right now? Because if Thomas is staring down death in mid-January, you gotta like the kid's chances on the back nine Sunday at Augusta and beyond.

    Before the Hawaiian Missile Crisis of 2018, things were going about as well as they could at Waialae Country Club, starting with the Wednesday pro-am.

    Jordan Spieth might have been the third-biggest star in his own group, after getting paired with superstar singer/songwriter/actor Nick Jonas and model/actress Kelly Rohrbach.

    You'd be hard-pressed to find a more photogenic group out on the course, and the "Baywatch" star has a gorgeous swing as well, which makes sense, considering she was a former collegiate golfer at Georgetown.

    As impressive as that group was, they were somehow outshined by an amateur in another group, former NFL coach June Jones.

    Jones, who now coaches the CFL's Hamilton Tiger-Cats, played his round in bare feet and putted with his 5-iron, a remedy he came up with to battle the yips.

    Former NFL and current CFL coach June Jones: A master of 5-iron putting?

    A post shared by PGA TOUR (@pgatour) on

    Considering he made back-to-back birdies at one point during the day, it's safe to say he's won that battle.

    With Tiger Woods' return to the PGA Tour about a week away, that sound you hear is the hype train motoring full speed down the tracks.

    First, his ex-girlfriend Lindsey Vonn told Sports Illustrated that she hopes this comeback works out for him.

    “I loved him and we’re still friends. Sometimes, I wish he would have listened to me a little more, but he’s very stubborn and he likes to go his own way," the Olympic skiier said. "I hope this latest comeback sticks. I hope he goes back to winning tournaments.”

    Vonn also mentioned she thinks Woods is very stubborn and that he didn't listen to her enough. That really shouldn't shock anyone who watched him win the 2008 U.S. Open on one leg. Don't think there were a lot of people in his ear telling him that was a great idea at the time.

    We also have this report from Golf Channel Insider Tim Rosaforte, stating that the 14-time major champ recently played a round with former president Barack Obama at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., where he received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon.

    The Farmers Insurance Open is sure to be must-see TV, but until then, I'm here for all of the rampant speculation and guesses as to how things will go. The more takes the better. Make them extra spicy, please and thanks.

    These poor New Orleans Saints fans. Guess the only thing you can do is throw your 65-inch TV off the balcony and get 'em next year.

    Here's two more just for good measure.

    Farts ... will they ever not be funny?

    Perhaps someday, but that day was not early last week, when Tommy Fleetwood let one rip on his European teammates during EurAsia Cup team photos.

    Fleetwood went 3-0-0 in the event, helping Europe to a victory over Asia, perhaps by distracting his opponents with the aid of his secret weapon.

    Also, how about the diabolical question, "Did you get that?"

    Yeah Tommy, we all got that.

    Ahhh ... golf trick shot videos. You were fun while you lasted.

    But now we’ve officially come to the point in their existence where an unsuccessful attempt is much more entertaining than a properly executed shot, and right on cue, a couple of pros delivered some epic fails.

    We start with Sony Open runner-up James Hahn’s preparation for the event, where for some reason he thought he needed to practice a running, jumping, Happy Gilmore-esque shot from the lip of a bunker. It didn’t exactly work out.

    Not to be outdone, Ladies European Tour pro Carly Booth attempted the juggling-drive-it-out-of-midair shot made famous by the Bryan Bros, and from the looks of things she might have caught it a little close to the hosel.

    PSA to trick-shot artists everywhere: For the sake of the viewing public, if you feel a miss coming on, please make sure the camera is rolling.

    Seriously, though, who cares? Definitely not these guys and gals, who took the time to comment, "who cares?" They definitely do not care.