'A very good night' follows Clarke's Open triumph

By Associated PressJuly 18, 2011, 12:37 pm

SANDWICH, England – Darren Clarke’s bleary, bloodshot eyes told it all.

The party began shortly after he walked off the 18th green at Royal St. George’s with the claret jug in hand. Beer and red wine flowed through the night, the revelry not letting up until Clarke had to return Monday morning for a few more interviews and some picture-taking at the spot where he tapped in the final putt to win the British Open.

“I have not been to bed yet,” Clarke said. “I probably won’t get any sleep until tomorrow at some stage. You have to enjoy it while you can.

“It’s been,” he added mischievously, “a very good night.”

Clarke sure earned it.

No one had ever gone more than 15 British Opens before winning. Clarke did it on his 20th try at 42, making him the oldest first-time major winner since Roberto De vicenzo in 1967.

But that only tells part of the story. Clarke lost his wife, Heather, to cancer five years ago, leaving him to raise two young boys. Not surprisingly, his focus on the course wavered, which sent him plummeting out of the top 100 in the world. It had been a decade since he was a serious contender in a major – he didn’t even qualify for the three majors that preceded the Open.

“I definitely appreciate an awful lot more what I’ve achieved,” Clarke said. “Ten years ago, I did take an awful lot of things for granted.”

His parents and new love, fiancee Alison Campbell, were at Royal St. George’s to cheer him. Clarke’s two boys stayed home in Northern Ireland, but he phoned them shortly after his three-stroke victory over Americans Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson.

“Tyrone, my oldest one, was very pleased, very proud,” Clarke said. “He was going to tell everybody his dad was Open champion.”

And Conor, his youngest?

“He wanted to know what he could spend all the money on,” Clarke said, breaking into a grin.

That’s not surprising. Clarke has always been a guy who lived life to the fullest, so it’s only appropriate that he passed on that attitude to his children.

Then again, given all that’s happened, Clarke plans to handle the spoils of this triumph a bit more prudently than he would have, say, 10 years ago. His Open prize was nearly $1.5 million, and there will undoubtedly be a flood of new endorsement opportunities.

“I actually don’t have anything in mind because I’ve been there, done all that before,” Clarke said. “I’ve had the opportunity to buy whatever I want to buy and all that. This time, I’m a little bit older and a little bit more sensible. If I can put a little bit more aside for my boys’ future, then that’s what I’ll do, as opposed to looking after myself.”

Clarke has long been a stalwart of the European Ryder Cup team, and he’s made no secret of his desire to serve as captain one day. He may have to put off those ambitions for a few years.

Turns out, this guy can still play.

“Playing,” he said, “is much better than being a non-playing captain.”

Clarke became the third golfer from tiny Northern Ireland to win in the last six majors, following U.S. Open champions Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell. The Americans haven’t won any during that span, their longest drought of the modern Grand Slam era, though they did have five of the top seven at Royal St. George’s.

Mickelson played the first 10 holes Sunday at 6 under and actually claimed a share of the lead at one point, only to fade down the stretch when his putter faltered. Johnson was in contention again at a major but made another huge blunder, knocking a shot out of bounds just five holes from the finish.

“Northern Ireland…… Golf capital of the world!!” McIlroy tweeted, and there will undoubtedly be a push to add that country’s Royal Portrush club to the rotation of nine courses that regularly host the British Open.

“We’re all very aware of the fact that three winners from Northern Ireland increases the interest level in this,” R&A chief Peter Dawson said Monday. “I have agreed to take a look.”

In 1951, Royal Portrush became the only course outside Scotland and England to hold the championship. But the Royal & Ancient is concerned that a lack of hotels and major roads would make it difficult to host such a big event in the modern era.

“The usual mixture of a great course and plenty of infrastructure combined with the prospect of commercial success is what’s needed,” Dawson said.

From Clarke’s point of view, the course at Royal Portrush is already worthy of a major. But he understands other factors must be considered.

“I would love to have it there,” he said. “It is every bit as good as any Open venue that’s on the rota right now.”

Even though he partied all night long, Clarke still hadn’t taken a swig of one of his favorite adult beverages from the oldest trophy in golf.

“I’m a little bit of a traditionalist,” he said. “I feel a bit funny about putting stuff in the claret jug that shouldn’t be in there, so I’m little bit more reserved as to what I should do. That may not be the case as the week goes by, but at the moment there’s been nothing in there.”

At some point, he’ll try to sort out all the messages he’s received since winning the Open, a victory that was popular with both local fans and his fellow players.

“I have 294 messages,” Clarke said, squinting as he looked down at his cell phone, “and the writing is far too small for me to look at them in this state.”

That will have to wait.

The party’s not over yet.

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Angela hits Sergio in stride on field at Superdome

By Grill Room TeamDecember 18, 2017, 3:22 pm

Sergio and Angela Garcia's super 2017 keeps getting more ... Super ... Dome. (+1 awful blog lede.)

The couple started the year with Sergio's win at the Masters, then embarked on a whirlwind green jacket media tour, then kicked off El Clasico, then attended Wimbledon, then got married, then announced they were expecting their first child ...


2017 Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia


And now, they're throwing each other passes on the New Orleans Saints' home turf at the Superdome.

Man, it must be so cool do that at the Silverdome. ... ... ... I'm sorry, it is the Superdome, brothers.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 1, Justin Thomas

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 1:00 pm

He won a major, captured the FedExCup and was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year. It should come as no surprise that Justin Thomas holds the top spot on our Newsmakers list for 2017.

Thomas entered the year ranked outside the top 20, and few might have pegged him for a transcendent campaign. But he kicked off January with a win in Hawaii, added another before leaving the Aloha State and never looked back.

Thomas’ seminal moment came in August when he captured the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow for his breakthrough major title. One month after greeting Jordan Spieth behind the final green at Royal Birkdale, this time it was Thomas’ turn to have friends stick around to snap pictures with the trophy that signaled his arrival among golf’s upper echelon.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


In addition to racking up the hardware – five in total, including the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in his first start of the new wraparound season – Thomas dazzled with style. His runaway win at the Sony Open included an opening-round 59, and his third-round 63 at Erin Hills marked the first time anyone had ever shot 9 under on a U.S. Open venue.

Thomas’ consistency was rewarded at East Lake, when a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship netted him the season-long title and $10 million prize. It was in the subsequent press conference where he shared the goals list he had written into his cell phone in February, having ticked off nearly every one. It showed a dedicated attention to detail as well the tactical approach with which Thomas had steered his rapid ascent.

Heading into a new year, he’s now very clearly entrenched as one of the world’s best. And as his career progresses, it’s likely we’ll look back at 2017 as the point where Thomas first transformed great potential into eye-popping results.

Win No. 1: Title defense at the CIMB Classic

Article: Thomas (64) rallies to defend CIMB title


Win Nos. 2 and 3: The Hawaiian double

Article: Thomas refuses to let disastrous hole derail TOC win

Article: Worst week ever ends with another title at Sony Open


Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open

Article: Thomas becomes youngest player to shoot 59

Take a look: Thomas’ scorecard from his amazing 59


Record Round No. 2: 63 at the U.S. Open

Article: Thomas sets U.S. Open record with 9-under 63


Temporary Slide: Open MC makes it three in a row

Watch: Thomas loses club, makes 9, misses Open cut


Mr. Major (and win No. 4): PGA champ at Quail Hollow

Article: Thomas joins the club – the major club


Win No. 5: Dell Technologies Championship

Article: Thomas wins the battle of buddies over Spieth


The $10 Million Man: FedExCup champ


Biggest Win of All? Player of the Year


And One to Grow On: Wins at CJ Cup in 2017-18 season

Article: Thomas caps torrid 12-month run with CJ Cup win


Photo Galleries: Best of ...

Best of: Justin Thomas and Jillian Wisniewski

Best of: Justin Thomas through the years

Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.