Spontaneous Moments Spark Strange Golf Stories
Jack Nicklaus was on his way home from a design project in Spain when he stopped in London for a brief chat with the media. He was asked about the British Open at St. Andrews, and Nicklaus said it would be his final major championship. And this time, he meant it.
PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem was walking to the clubhouse during the finals of the Match Play Championship when he was asked an innocuous question about the future at La Costa Resort, which always seems to be under water. Out of the blue, he tipped his hand about massive changes in store for golf.
'We're looking at a lot of different things in the schedule,' he said. 'It's time to take a look at a number of parts of the schedule to see if we can make it more compelling.'
Golf is always full of surprises, especially outside the ropes. Here are some other moments that went beyond birdies and bogeys, green jackets and pink skirts:
It is not unusual for players to help each other with tips, whether on the range or during a practice round.
Michael Campbell was playing with Vijay Singh at Pinehurst No. 2 early in the week of the U.S. Open when they got to the 15th hole. Campbell sought the advice of a three-time major champion on how to play the bunker shot.
'He told me to get your hands ahead of the ball and hit a floaty, running shot,' Campbell said. 'It pops out and high and floats, so there's no check spin.'
On the last day of the tournament, Campbell had a two-shot lead when he hit into the bunker on No. 15. Using the tip from Singh, he blasted out to 6 feet to save par, the pivotal shot in his first major title.
Campbell did not see Singh again until they were at St. Andrews for the British Open. As they passed each other on the range, Campbell smiled and said, 'Hey, thanks for the tip.'
David Duval brought his family to St. Andrews for the British Open, but got off to a late start when he tweaked his back and had to spend an hour in the fitness trailer before his first practice round. He joined his group on the fourth hole, and was walking up the fairway when he stopped and took from his bag what appeared to be a range finder.
It was a digital camera.
Duval paused and took pictures of his stepsons on the Old Course -- Deano standing beside a pot bunker, Nick on the tee with Fred Couples and Davis Love III. Duval never looked more at ease.
He had another tough year, with more rounds in the 80s than the 60s. But on that day, Duval showed he is far from miserable on the golf course.
The relationship between Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia can best be described as curt, and the 25-year-old Spaniard is not afraid to get under Woods' skin. That much was clear at The Players Championship.
The tour has a policy that practice rounds cannot start on the back nine after 8:30 a.m., but Garcia squeezed in front of Woods and Retief Goosen on Wednesday. Woods, who tees off at dawn and tries to finish before breakfast, found himself waiting on nearly every shot.
Worse yet, Kenny Mayne of ESPN joined Garcia for some fun on camera the last few holes.
'I'm going to hold up play for Tiger,' Mayne said to Garcia as he took an extra putt on the 18th.
'Yeah, they're loving it,' Garcia said.
Garcia is a friend of Goosen, and waited for him behind the green. As they chatted, Woods came over to shake Goosen's hand.
He never looked at Garcia, standing a shoulder's length away.
Robert Allenby had not played Doral in four years. He was walking by a row of lockers looking for the gold plate with his name on it when he gave up and asked the attendant, who showed him a locker with his name written on masking tape.
'You must have been one of the late entries, but we're working on it,' the attendant told him. 'We should have it up this afternoon, don't you worry. But it's great to see you again. We've missed you the last few years. It's great to have you back here.'
Allenby was impressed with such star treatment, and was leaving to eat lunch when the attendant called after him.
'Oh, by the way Stuart, you get the upper and lower lockers,' he said.
Allenby and Stuart Appleby are best friends from Australia who often are mistaken for each other, for no reason other than the spelling of their names.
Tiger Woods wasn't playing his best at Bay Hill, and he knew it. Waiting on the tee at the par-3 17th toward the end of the third round, he muttered to himself, 'I (stink). I'll probably miss the cut next week.'
Someone standing next to the tee reminded Woods that he since he left Stanford after two years and didn't get his degree, he was stuck playing golf for a living.
'I could always go to night school,' Woods replied.
And what would be his major? Something like economics?
Woods smiled when he heard this.
'I don't need economics,' he said. 'That's why I left school in the first place.'
Predictions can be a dangerous business in golf, although Adam Scott nailed one.
He was at the Sony Open discussing his plans for the early part of the season when someone asked why he was taking a month off from the PGA Tour.
'For a tour that tries to follow the sun, it seems we play under water a lot of the time,' Scott said.
While there were weather issues on the West Coast, rain wasn't a factor until Scott returned to the PGA Tour at the Nissan Open, where only 36 holes were completed. Six of the next eight tournaments were delayed by rain, and Scott played in five of them.
Scott, by the way, won the Nissan Open in a playoff. But because it was only 36 holes, the PGA Tour didn't count it as an official victory. That means the 25-year-old Aussie did not qualify for the season-opening Mercedes Championships next week at Kapalua.
That's too bad. The weather is supposed to be gorgeous.
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo
Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Really good at golf. Really good at vacationing.
With #SB2K18 still months away, Thomas and Spieth headlined a vacation to Cabo San Lucas, and this will shock you but it looks like they had a great time.
Spring break veteran Smylie Kaufman joined the party, as did Thomas' roommate, Tom Lovelady, who continued his shirtless trend.
The gang played all the hits, including shoeless golf in baketball jerseys and late nights with Casamigos tequila.
In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.
Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys
After careful consideration and an exhaustive review of 2017 we present The Rexys, a wildly incomplete and arbitrary line up following one of the most eventful years in golf.
There will be omissions – just keep your calls, concerns and even e-mails to yourself. We appreciate your patronage, but not your feedback.
It’s Not You, It’s Me Award. You know the deal: You can’t be a part of two until you’re a better one; but on this front it’s really just a desire to find a better two.
It was a tough year for caddies, and not just any caddies. In June, Phil Mickelson split with longtime bagman Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both player and caddie cited the need for “change,” but the move reverberated throughout the game.
“The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.
In the wake of the Lefty/Bones break, Rory McIlroy split with his caddie J.P Fitzgerald, and Jason Day replaced looper/swing coach Colin Swatton on his bag. It all proves yet again that there are only two kinds of caddies, those who have been fired and those who are about to be fired.
Run for the Rose Cup. Sergio Garcia got the green jacket, a lifetime exemption to the game’s most coveted member-member and a long-awaited major, but Justin Rose took home the slightly less prestigious “Rose Cup.”
Following a frenzied afternoon at Augusta National in April, Rose lost to Garcia on the first playoff hole, but he won so much more with his honesty and class.
“You're going to win majors and you're going to lose majors, but you've got to be willing to lose them,” Rose figured following the final round. “You've got to put yourself out there. You've got to hit the top of the leaderboard. There's a lot of pressure out there and if you're not willing to enjoy it, then you're not ready to win these tournaments. I loved it out there.”
Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.
Half-Empty Cup. It was the perfect setting, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and the promise of the Tristate masses descending on this fall’s Presidents Cup.
If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.
For the sixth time in the last seven matches, the U.S. team rolled to a victory of at least three points. This particular edition was even in danger of ending on Saturday afternoon thanks to a particularly dominant performance by a young American squad led by Steve Stricker.
Officials spoke of the purity of the competition and the attention the ’17 cup generated, but however you spin the 19-11 rout, this cup is half empty.
Enigma Award. The actual hardware is simply an oversized question mark and was sent directly to Tiger Woods’ South Florida compound following the most curious of seasons.
While it’s become customary in recent years to consider the uncertain path that awaits the 14-time major winner, this most recent calendar brought an entirely new collection of questions following fusion surgery on his lower back in April, his arrest for DUI on Memorial Day and, finally, a glimmer of hope born from his tie for ninth at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.
When will he play again? Can he compete against the current generation of world-beaters? Can his body withstand the rigors of a full PGA Tour schedule? Should Jim Furyk make him a captain’s pick now or wait to see if he should be driving a vice captain’s golf cart instead?
Little is certain when it comes to Woods, and the over-sized question mark goes to ... the guy in red and black.
After Further Review Chalice. In April, Lexi Thompson endured a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, the byproduct of a surreal ruling that arrived a day late via a viewer e-mail and cost the would-be winner a major championship.
The entire event was so unsavory that the USGA and R&A made not one but two alterations to the rules and created a “working group” to avoid similar snafus in the future.
That working group – it turns out the U.S. Ryder Cup team has some sort of copyright on “task force” – initially issued a decision that introduced a “reasonable judgment” and a “naked eye” standard to video reviews, and last week the rule makers kept the changes coming.
The new protocols on video review will now include an official to monitor tournament broadcasts and ended the practice of allowing fans to call in, or in this case e-mail, possible infractions to officials. The USGA and R&A also eliminated the two-stroke penalty for players who sign incorrect scorecards when the player is unaware of the penalty.
While all this might be a step in the right direction, it does nothing to change Thompson’s fate. The AFR Chalice won’t change the harsh reality, but at least it will serve as a reminder of how she helped altered the rulemaking landscape.
Nothing Runs Like a Deere Award. Nothing gets fans fired up like officials turning fields of fescue rough into hay on the eve of a major championship, and the USGA’s decision to do some 11th-hour trimming at Erin Hills in June certainly caught many by surprise.
Officials said the nip/tuck on four holes was in reaction to a particularly foreboding forecast that never materialized, and the maintenance drew the ire of some players.
“We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” Rory McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here; if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”
The record low scoring at the U.S. Open – winner Brooks Koepka finished with a 16-under total – didn’t help ease the fervor and had some questioning whether the softer side of the USGA has gone a bit too far?
Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'
John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.
That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.
Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.
Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid
Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.
Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.
Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.
World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.
Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.