Stadler Anxious to Play Alongside Legends

By Associated PressFebruary 5, 2005, 5:00 pm
2005 WendyMAUI, Hawaii -- Craig Stadler has wanted to play alongside Hall of Famers Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson in the Champions Skins Game for a long time. But getting a spot in the exclusive four-man event isn't easy.
 
Stadler made sure he received an invitation to Saturday's made-for-TV event by winning five times and taking the money title on the Champions Tour last year.
 
'I think that was the reason I played the last seven events last year, to make sure I stayed on and won the money title and got an invite over here,' Stadler said. 'Playing with those three guys, it's something where if you have the opportunity to, you certainly don't want to miss.'
 
Defending champion Tom Watson, who has had a fast start in Hawaii this year by earning $262,000 in two events, will attempt to defend his title. Last year, he won at Wailea with a par on the third playoff hole worth five skins and $260,000, for a winning total of 10 skins and $400,000.
 
Palmer was second with five skins and $140,000, Jack Nicklaus made $60,000 with three skins and Lee Trevino was shut out.
 
The 55-year-old Watson said he feels relaxed and comfortable playing in the islands.
 
The 39-time PGA Tour winner finished second in the season-opening MasterCard Championship on the Big Island and tied for third at last week's Turtle Bay Championship, the Champions Tour's first full-field event of the season.
 
'You can't get any better than playing in Hawaii,' he said. 'Where I live in Kansas, it could be 5-below zero. It's not 5-below zero, but you have to wear a couple turtlenecks and a rain suit and maybe use some orange golf balls to find the ball in the snow.'
 
At Friday's pro-am, Watson jokingly bet Nicklaus $10 in a driving contest on the first tee. But Nicklaus wanted to up the ante to dinner.
 
Watson decline, explaining he would have to pick up the tab for Nicklaus' entire family.
 
This is the 17th Skins appearance in 18 years for Palmer, who won the event in 1990, '92 and '93. Nicklaus, who won in 1991, is playing for the 15th time.
 
Watson is playing his third Skins event, while the 51-year-old Stadler, the youngest in the group, is making his debut.
 
'Craig Stadler is a youngster as far as I'm concerned,' the 75-year-old Palmer said.
 
Stadler has had a busy year. He tied for seventh at the MasterCard and played two events on the PGA Tour. He tied for ninth at the Sony Open and tied for 14th at last weekend's Bob Hope Chrysler Classic.
 
'He's playing great and obviously, he's making a lot of birdies,' Watson said. 'He'll be the man to beat.'
 
The foursome has combined to win 290 events, including 18 majors and more than $43 million.
 
'It doesn't get any better playing with Jack and Arnold and Tom,' said Stadler, the Champions Tour player of the year in 2004. 'It's going to be a wonderful day. Make some putts, you'll make a little cash and if you don't, you don't.'
 
Palmer said he hopes to play better, but is still in honeymoon-mode after being married last week on Oahu.
 
'My game has been terrible,' Palmer said. 'But there are some encouraging moments now, and I'm feeling a little bit better about my game now. It will take some time to work that all out and, hopefully, we'll see some results this Skins Game.'
 
Nicklaus, who turned 65 last month, said he hasn't played a competitive round of golf since his back surgery on Nov. 23.
 
His schedule includes the Skins Game, and 'see after that,' he said.
 
The first six holes are worth $20,000, Nos. 7-12 $30,000, the next five $40,000 and No. 18 $100,000.
 
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  • Thompson wins Race, loses tournament after short miss

    By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 8:52 pm

    The drama went down to the very last hole in the LPGA's final event of 2017. Here's how things ended up at the CME Group Tour Championship, where a surprising miss from Lexi Thompson opened the door for Ariya Jutanugarn to win in dramatic fashion:

    Leaderboard: Ariya Jutanugarn (-15), Lexi Thompson (-14), Jessica Korda (-14), Pernilla Lindberg (-13), Eun-Hee Ji (-13)

    What it means: There were scenarios aplenty entering the final round, with nearly every season-long accolade still hanging in the balance. Thompson appeared set to take them all as she sized up a 2-foot par putt on the final hole - a stroke that looked like it would take her to world No. 1 for the first time. Instead, the putt barely touched the hole and allowed Jutanugarn to rally to victory with birdies on the closing two holes. Thompson still took home $1 million for winning the season-long Race to the CME Globe, as it was a reverse scenario from last year when Jutanugarn won the $1 million but not the final tournament.

    Round of the day: Sei Young Kim made the day's biggest charge, turning in a 6-under 66 to close the week in a share of 11th at 10 under. Kim made eight birdies during the final round, including five over her first eight holes en route to her lowest round of the week while erasing a third-round 75.

    Best of the rest: Jutanugarn seemed like an afterthought as the tournament was winding down, but she kept her hopes alive with an 18-foot birdie on No. 17 and then capitalized on Thompson's mistake with a clutch birdie on the difficult final hole. It capped off a final-round 67 for the Thai who now ends what has been a tumultuous season with a smile on her face.

    Biggest disappointment: Thompson faced heartbreak after the penalty-shrouded ANA Inspiration, and she again must handle a setback after essentially missing a tap-in with everything on the line. Thompson can enjoy a $1 million consolation prize along with the Vare Trophy, but a tournament win would have clinched Player of the Year honors as well as her first-ever trip to world No. 1. Instead, she now has the entire off-season to think about how things went awry from close range.

    Shot of the day: There were only three birdies on No. 18 during the final round before Jutanugarn laced one down the fairway and hit a deft approach to 15 feet. The subsequent putt found the target and gave her win No. 7 on her young LPGA career.

    Watch: Fleetwood gets emotional with family after Race to Dubai win

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 19, 2017, 5:30 pm

    Tommy Fleetwood took home the season-long Race to Dubai title on Sunday after a T-21 finish at the DP World Tour Championship.

    He was, understandably, emotional after learning his fate while sitting with his wife and baby following a career year in which he won the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship and the French Open and finished fourth at the U.S. Open.

    Luckily for us, cameras were rolling:

    Matsuyama after Koepka rout: 'Huge gap between us'

    By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 4:22 pm

    Hideki Matsuyama offered a blunt assessment after finishing 10 shots behind Brooks Koepka at the Japan Tour's Dunlop Phoenix event.

    Koepka waxed the field en route to successfully defending his title in Japan, shooting a 20-under par total that left him nine shots clear of a runner-up group that included PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Xander Schauffele. Koepka's score was one shot off the tournament record, and his margin for victory eclipsed Tiger Woods' eight-shot romp in 2004.

    Matsuyama appeared set to make a final-round charge after a birdie on No. 2 was followed by an ace on the par-3 third hole. But he played the next eight holes in 3 over and eventually finished alone in fifth place following a 2-under 69. Afterwards, he stacked his game up against that of Koepka in a telling comment to the Japan Times.

    "I feel there's a huge gap between us," Matsuyama said.

    The Japanese phenom entered the week ranked No. 4 in the world, though he will be passed in the next rankings by Jon Rahm following the Spaniard's win in Dubai. Matsuyama won twice this year on the PGA Tour, including the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, but he has largely struggled since missing out on a maiden major title at the PGA Championship, where he tied for fifth.

    Matsuyama was a runner-up to Koepka at the U.S. Open earlier this summer, and the 25-year-old seems headed back to the drawing board before defending his title at the Hero World Challenge in two weeks.

    "I don't know whether it's a lack of practice or whether I lack the strength to keep playing well," Matsuyama said. "It seems there are many issues to address."

    McCormick to caddie for Spieth at Aussie Open

    By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 2:21 pm

    When Jordan Spieth returns next week to defend his title at the Australian Open, he will do so without his regular caddie on the bag.

    Spieth and Michael Greller have combined to win 14 tournaments and three majors, including three events in 2017. But Greller's wife, Ellie, gave birth to the couple's first child on Oct. 13, and according to a report from the Australian Herald Sun he will not make the intercontinental trip to Sydney, where Spieth will look to win for the third time in the last four years.

    Instead, Spieth will have longtime swing coach and native Aussie Cameron McCormick on the bag at The Australian Golf Club. McCormick, who won PGA Teacher of the Year in 2015, is originally from Melbourne but now lives in Texas and has taught Spieth since he was a rising star among the junior golf ranks in Dallas.

    While Greller has missed rounds before, this will be the first time as a pro that Spieth has used a different caddie for an entire event. Greller was sidelined with an injury last year in Singapore when Spieth's agent, Jay Danzi, took the bag, and trainer Damon Goddard has subbed in twice when Greller was sick, including this year at the Dean & DeLuca Invitational.

    Spieth's torrid 2015 season traced back to his win at The Australian in 2014, and he returned to Oz last year where he won a playoff at Royal Sydney over Cameron Smith and Ashley Hall.