Van de Velde Facing Frightening Adversary

By Associated PressJuly 16, 2007, 4:00 pm
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland -- Jean Van de Velde would have preferred to be at Carnoustie this week, staring down his golfing demons in person.
 
Instead, the guy who threw away the 1999 British Open is tackling a much more frightening adversary: a mysterious ailment that has his doctors puzzled and Van de Velde fretting about whether he's got some sort of dire disease.
 
On Monday, he went in for an exam that will hopefully rule out any signs of bone cancer. Later this week, he's scheduled for another major test in hopes of determining what's been causing all his pain and nausea. He's looking to get a full medical report within 10 days.
 
'To be really honest, I think my health is more important than playing in a golf tournament,' said Van de Velde, his career on hold.
 
The dashing Frenchman will forever be linked with this devilish links course along the Scottish coast, where he squandered a three-stroke lead on the 72nd hole. The most lasting -- some might say pitiable -- image was Van de Velde standing barefooted in the Barry Burn, his pant legs rolled up as he considered whether to try to hit the ball from the chilly water.
 
He wound up making triple bogey, forcing a playoff, and lost the claret jug to Paul Lawrie, whose record 10-stroke comeback in the final round is largely obscured by Van de Velde's follies (and who even remembers there was a third player for those four extra holes, Justin Leonard?).
 
Van de Velde graciously accepted his stunning defeat, an attitude that has endured over the years even as it became more and more apparent that he had blown his one and only chance to win a major championship.
 
He's only qualified for one major over the last five years, missing the cut at St. Andrews in 2005. There was talk of giving him an exemption into this week's Open, but he would have been in no condition to play.
 
Over the past few months, Van de Velde's declining health has sapped his will to tee it up. Only 41, he was initially diagnosed with a form of glandular fever. But the aching in his shoulder and joints won't let up, so doctors ordered up additional tests to ensure that nothing more sinister is going on.
 
Van de Velde is eager to get all this poking and prodding behind him so he can return to the course. Despite that one devastating hole eight years ago, it remains the place where he feels most comfortable.
 
'I still want to play golf. I still want to compete,' he said during a phone interview that was piped in to Carnoustie. 'Right now, it's just a little bit of a (setback).'
 
Until his health took a turn for the worse, Van de Velde had every intention of being in Scotland this week. If he didn't earn a spot in the Open field, there surely would have been offers to work as a television analyst.
 
He wanted to come back. He longed to come back. Much like someone who turns off the lights to deal with their fear of the dark, he planned to deal with this lingering ghost on his terms, right out in the open for everyone to see. Right up until the last minute -- which, in golfing terms, would be a week ago -- he was determined to qualify.
 
His ailing body just wouldn't allow it.
 
'I am very sad that that I'm not there this week,' Van de Velde said. 'I have respect for the place and the tournament as well, and for all the people that are going to be there. Yes, I would have liked to have come.'
 
He's still asked about Carnoustie at just about every event he plays. Sure, it's gets old, but he rarely shows signs of being frustrated with his infamous place in the sport. Immediately after his loss, he said that no one would remember what happened in, oh, 200 years or so.
 
But eight years later? No one has forgotten.
 
'I think it's going to last at least a good 15 to 20 years before people stop asking me questions,' Van de Velde said. 'So, there's probably another 12 to go.'
 
Even those who don't bring it up -- Van de Velde's fellow golfers -- are keenly aware of what happened the last time the Open was played at Carnoustie.
 
'When I was walking up the fairway,' Graeme McDowell said after getting in a few practice holes, 'absolutely you're reminiscing. It's one of the more notable golf moments of the last 10 years, for all the wrong reasons. It's one of those where you remember exactly where you were when it happened.'
 
McDowell was still a teenager, camped out in front of his television after his family had its Sunday dinner.
 
'I remember feeling sick for the guy,' he said. 'It was a painful to watch. You never want to see that happen to any golfer.'
 
Right after his meltdown, Van de Velde insisted that he had no regrets about the way he played the 18th hole. Eight years later, he largely sticks to that way of thinking -- even though he was, and still is, roundly condemned for the swashbuckling way that he attacked the hole with such a comfortable lead.
 
The driver off the tee, which veered off into a peninsula carved out by the burn. The 2-iron that struck and ricocheted straight back into knee-high rough. Instead of chopping out into the fairway with his third shot, he went for the green.
 
He wound up in the creek instead.
 
'It's one shot I would have played differently,' Van de Velde conceded. 'You know, people say we learn from experiences. That's life.'
 
He rarely watches others playing golf on television, but he'll be tuned in this week. And, if everything goes according to plan, Van de Velde will get well, qualify for next year's British Open at Royal Birkdale -- and not make a mess of the 72nd hole.
 
'That's a date,' he said, just before hanging up the phone. 'I'll see you in Birkdale.'
 
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    Snedeker starts slow in effort to snag Masters invite

    By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 4:22 pm

    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.

    Nathaniel Crosby at the 1983 Bing Crosby Pro-Am at Pebble Beach. Getty Images

    Crosby selected as 2019 U.S. Walker Cup captain

    By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 3:19 pm

    The USGA announced that former U.S. Amateur champ Nathaniel Crosby will serve as the American captain for the 2019 Walker Cup, which will be played at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England.

    Crosby, 56, is the son of entertainment icon and golf enthusiast Bing Crosby. He won the 1981 U.S. Amateur at The Olympic Club as a teenager and earned low amateur honors at the 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He also played in the 1983 Walker Cup, coincidentally held at Royal Liverpool, before embarking on a brief career in professional golf, with his amateur status reinstated in 1994.

    "I am thrilled and overwhelmed to be chosen captain of the next USA Walker Cup team," Crosby said in a statement. "Many of my closest friends are former captains who will hopefully take the time to share their approaches in an effort to help me with my new responsibilities."

    Crosby takes over the captaincy from John "Spider" Miller, who led the U.S. squad both in 2015 and earlier this year, when the Americans cruised to a 19-7 victory at Los Angeles Country Club.

    Crosby is a Florida resident and member at Seminole Golf Club, which will host the 2021 matches. While it remains to be seen if he'll be asked back as captain in 2021, each of the last six American captains have led a team on both home and foreign soil.

    Started in 1922, the Walker Cup is a 10-man, amateur match play competition pitting the U.S. against Great Britain and Ireland. The U.S. team holds a 37-9 all-time lead in the biennial matches but has not won in Europe since 2007.

    Rose (62) sets blistering pace in Indonesia

    By Associated PressDecember 14, 2017, 3:06 pm

    JAKARTA, Indonesia – Justin Rose shot a 10-under 62 Thursday to take a two-stroke lead after the first round of the Indonesian Masters.

    Rose, starting on the back nine at Royale Jakarta Golf Club, had five birdies to go out in 31, then birdied four of five holes midway through his final nine and another birdie on his last hole in the $750,000 tournament.


    Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters


    Gunn Charoenkul (64) was in second place and Kim Giwhan and Phachara Khongwatmai (both 65) were tied for third.

    Brandt Snedeker shot 72. Ranked 51st in the world, the American is aiming for a strong finish in Jakarta to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

    Getty Images

    LaCava: Woods wouldn't talk after H.O.R.S.E. match

    By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 2:27 pm

    The competitive streak within Tiger Woods knows no bounds - even on the basketball court, according to caddie Joe LaCava.

    LaCava has been on Woods' bag since 2011, and he recently shared a story on "Inside the Ropes" on Sirius/XM PGA Tour Radio about a clash between the two men over a seemingly friendly game of H.O.R.S.E. Actually, it turned into nine straight games (and nine straight wins) for LaCava, who exploited a weakness in Woods' on-court strategy while leaning on a mid-length jumper of his own:

    "The thing with him was if I missed a shot, which I missed plenty of shots, but if I missed the shot he'd go back down to the 3 (point line) because he liked to make the 3," LaCava said. "But it's harder obviously to make a 3, and I'd go right back to the baseline 12-footer, and he couldn't make it."

    It's a short list of people who have beaten Woods nine times in any athletic pursuit, let alone in a row. But for LaCava, the fallout from his afternoon of on-court dominance was less than subtle.

    "He did not talk to me the rest of the day," LaCava explained. "I didn't even get the old text, 'Dinner is ready,' because I stay across at the beach house. I didn't even get that text that night. I had to get take-out. He didn't announce he wasn't (talking), he just did it. I'm telling you, nine games in a row. Like I said, he's so competitive, even at something like that."