Remembering Dave Thomas and the summer of '82

By Brandel ChambleeFebruary 22, 2014, 3:20 pm

Over summer break in 1982 I set off for England and Scotland at the behest of my college roommate, Paul Thomas, who was from Manchester, England, and whose father, Dave Thomas, was a quite famous golfer from Wales. I, not entirely untruthfully, told my parents I wanted to see and come to respect the birthplace of golf.

Collected at the airport, I remember being whisked off to a charming house where we lunched in a glassed-in portico, surrounded by foliage, every shade of green. The wine flowed. Outside, the rain poured. Golf didn’t appear likely to be on the agenda that day.

As we cleared the dishes, Dave said, “All right, boys, get your clubs, we’ve a tee time in an hour.” Three empty wine bottles littered the table and I was in no shape to play golf. Over-served and jet-lagged, I nevertheless found myself a few minutes later in the locker room of their club with just enough time to take a shower, hoping the hot water would revive me.

When around the corner came a familiar face.

I was drunk and naked. As far as I knew, the familiar face was just naked. Then it hit me: Bond. James Bond.

Just as golf has its unwritten rules, the locker room has its unspoken ones. Chief among them: In the absence of clothes, eye contact must never be broken. And so it was that I locked eyes with Sean Connery.

Connery was a friend of Dave Thomas’ and an avid golfer. In 1999, some seventeen years after our awkward encounter, People magazine would name him the Sexiest Man of the Century. Because we kept our pleasantries brief, I had neither the opportunity nor the inclination to form an opinion on any such matter. But even in the few seconds we sized each other up, it was clear only one of us had a magazine cover in his future.

Photos: Sean Connery and golf

A short time later, still wobbling but freshly showered, I was on the tee in the company of my hosts. Had I seen Connery in the locker room? “Well, yes, as a matter of fact, I talked to him for a second, as he was coming out of and I was going into the shower, both of us bare-assed,” I said. “Quite awkward.” Had I felt intimidated, Dave slyly inquired. Now, there are a lot of ways that question can be taken, and I wanted to argue on my behalf. The wine, however, was still in my veins, so all I could muster was that I had shrunk in his presence. Metaphorically, of course. In vino veritas, as they say. Dave burst out laughing, the kind of laugh one laughs when they’re in the company of friends.

PAUL THOMAS WAS a hell of a golfer, clever, funny … and handsome – the kind of handsome that made him slightly aloof in a social setting, knowing that the best-looking woman in the room would come to him. He was also a leaner – sometimes against the wall, mostly against the bar. He would order a scotch and woe-ter and never move. Within an hour, people would be gathered around him – the men cackling, the women cooing – as he held court.

Paul (pictured at top, with me at right) had arranged for us to travel all over northwest England and Scotland playing the courses on the Open Championship rota and a few other gems, some 30-odd rounds where we would keep score between us and play for a silver cup we had engraved with a terribly offensive title. Along the way we would also try to qualify for the Open Championship at Royal Troon. His father’s name opened all the doors along the way.

Dave Thomas had won many tournaments and played on four Ryder Cup teams but is best remembered for his play in the Open Championship. In 1958 he tied with Peter Thomson at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, but lost in a playoff. In 1966 Jack Nicklaus beat him by a stroke at Muirfield. Dave was renowned for his driving, having famously driven the green at the 420-yard second hole at Hoylake during a practice round for the 1967 Open Championship.

Upon retiring from professional golf, Dave went into the golf course architecture business with Peter Alliss and the two of them were successful and immensely popular.

Everywhere Paul and I went, the name Dave Thomas glamorously preceded us and unlocked tee times. Along the way we traveled in the company of some of Dave’s famous friends.

Playing Carnoustie with artist Harold Riley one day I asked him what he was working on. “A commissioned painting,” he said, “which I’ve almost completed.” He didn't offer the subject’s name, and the omission made me think it wasn't particularly important.

A few days later when we were back in Manchester, Harold invited us to his large flat. Meeting us at the door, he went off to make some tea and left us to discover the treasures hanging on the walls, both of his making and of long-dead artists. After a while I came to a large alcove with a high ceiling. There in the middle of the room was a painting, unfinished, but finished enough for me to recognize Pope John Paul II. A commissioned painting indeed.

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Among Riley’s many requests for work were Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh; Prince Alexander of Yugoslavia; Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester; Pope John XXIII; Pope Paul VI; Pope John Paul II; U.S. Presidents John F. Kennedy, Gerald Ford and South Africa President Nelson Mandela.

I asked Riley if he had ever painted any golfers. “Yes,” he said. “In 1960 I went to St. Andrews to see and paint Arnold Palmer, who had won both the Masters and the U.S. Open that year, but at the time I didn’t play golf and knew nothing of the game or its personalities. I arrived, walked around knowing nobody and was drawn to a man with an unmistakable charisma playing a practice round but didn't know who he was. As I started to sketch him, I was told by a passerby my subject was Arnold Palmer.”

Before I left for home that summer Harold Riley gave me a number of paintings, one of a front-porch scene in Texas (right) because he had asked me about my favorite Texas memory, and another of Arnold Palmer from the 1960 Open Championship.

Riley also told me a story of being called by Ben Hogan for a commissioned painting. When Harold arrived in Fort Worth, Hogan told him not to ask any golf questions, he was there just to paint.

Harold, who by then had fallen in love with the game, complied, but over the course of a few weeks his professionalism and calm manner made Hogan lower his defenses. Talking one night, Hogan revealed he had an interest in painting. To which Harold replied, “Please, no questions about painting, Mr. Hogan; I am here to do a job and am expected to do just that.”

PAUL AND I both failed to qualify for the Open that summer, but Paul said we were better off because now we could have some fun. “Some fun,” as it turned out, meant drinking champagne in the Bollinger tent all week at Royal Troon, always on the dime – or rather, the quid – of old rivals and friends of Dave Thomas. Dai Rees, a three-time runner-up in the Open Championship and captain of the only Great Britain & Ireland Ryder Cup team to beat the U.S. between 1933 and 1985 (in 1957), Peter Alliss and a host of others kept us properly hydrated.

Thursday, after the first round of the Open, Paul and I were stumbling out of that tented paradise of bubbly when we ran into Jack Nicklaus. Jack recognized Paul immediately and gave a warm hello. As Paul introduced me, I was at once agog at the sight of the greatest player of all time and amazed that he actually knew my roommate. Jack said to Paul – on my grandparents’ graves, I swear, he said – “Come watch me hit some balls, I played like crap.”

Jack had indeed played like crap, opening with a 77. He was obviously very desperate because sitting behind him on the range were two college kids, their awe overcome by champagne, telling him how to take the club away.

I remember after a series of the most gawd-dang beautiful drives he turned to Paul and said, “Is that about how you hit them?” To which Paul replied, “A bit farther but not quite as straight.” Jack smiled. He smiled right at us as if he were living vicariously through us at that moment and not the other way around.

Paul told him what he thought of his take-away and then Jack finished by hitting six perfect drives in a row that hung in that humid sea air long enough for me to look at the ball, look at Jack, look back at the ball and then look back at Jack.

Jack invited us to dinner.

You know the scene in the movie “Titanic” where Leonardo DiCaprio, playing penniless artist Jack Dawson, ends up at the first-class dining table of Rose DeWitt Bukater, her fiance and their privileged friends in a clash of social classes? That was Paul and I that night.

I was seated next to Jack.

The greatest player of all time was excusably a little less gregarious than he had been at the range. Struggling for something to ask Mr. Nicklaus, I managed the question, “Who do you think is the greatest driver of a golf ball ever?” Figuring to get a humble nod to Hogan or a matter-of-fact self-acknowledgment, I had asked a question I thought I knew the answer to.

Jack looked at me for a second, then nodded in Paul’s direction and said, “His father, Dave. Dave Thomas is greatest driver of a golf ball I ever saw.”

I had heard stories about Dave’s talent for hitting colossally long and straight tee shots, but these stories tend to be more heroic in the telling and I had made allowances for that. I never looked at Paul’s father the same way again.


Dave Thomas' swing

ALMOST TWO MONTHS after I arrived in England, I was standing on the 18th tee of St. Andrews Golf Club. After 30 or so rounds, hard as it is to believe, Paul and I were dead even in our competition for the silver cup engraved with the terribly offensive title. His tee shot sailed out of bounds right and broke the window of a milk truck. I found the expansive fairway, chipped on and, as Paul argued with the owner of the milk truck, putted out for a very unappreciated victory.

Fast-forward to the Open Championship of 1995 played that year at St. Andrews. Paul and I were reunited. Paul had been the Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year on the European Tour in 1985 but already had given up golf and moved into the course design business. He came out to watch me and some fellow University of Texas Longhorns as we played a Tuesday practice round.

Justin Leonard and Bob Estes were all square with Mark Brooks and myself when we came to 16th hole, a 423-yard par 4, with OB right and three bunkers up the left called the Principal’s Nose. As the hole was playing downwind, I went with the risky play and tried to drive the green, fitting my tee shot between the train tracks and OB stakes on the right and the bunkers on the left. My drive finished on the front of the green.

Brooks arched his eyebrows, gave me a grim look, then hit a 4-iron up the left side. As we walked off the tee, he berated me for immaturely and needlessly taking on the risk of the OB and the bunkers when providence or some old sage had provided a little hump just to the right-center of the green that allows one to run a ball up from the far left side of the fairway short of the bunkers and use those contours to feed the ball into birdie range. In Mark’s view, that made the driving-the-green play a wanton risk.

Puffing on a cigarette and pausing to hit his approach, he otherwise never stopped the scolding. I thought about telling him that I had played dozens of rounds on the sacred ground back in a foggy youthful summer but I let him go on and then I two-putted for birdie. As we were walking to the 17th tee he added, “you never go for that green.”

“Got it,” I said.

I missed the cut, had dinner with Paul in the Auld Grey Toon and headed for home on Saturday, arriving at my condo in San Antonio on Sunday in time to turn on the TV and see who was winning the Open.

On the 16th tee stood Mark Brooks, tied for the lead in golf’s oldest championship. On my grandparents’ graves, he had a driver in his hands. His tee shot found one of the Principal’s Nose bunkers and his ball cuddled up against the lip. Mark made double bogey on 16 and missed the playoff between John Daly and Costantino Rocca by one.

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"555536","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image media-image-right","height":"290","style":"float: right;","typeof":"foaf:Image","width":"250"}}]]Sad as I was to see this calamity, I couldn't help but be amused by the thought that this game makes students out of teachers and fools of us all. Later that night, as I told the story to my companions over a scotch and woe-ter, I laughed the way one does when they know they’re about to get the better of a friend.

A few weeks later as I was parking my car at Warwick Hills in Flint, Mich., site of the Buick Open, I saw Mark getting out of his car. As he started walking toward me I had a mental Rolodex of quips ready. He was walking with his head down, sucking on a cigarette like a kid sucks on a thick milkshake. I was certain he hadn’t noticed me.

Twenty feet away, still walking and without looking up, Mark pulled the cigarette out of his mouth and barked, “Don’t you say a (bleeping) word. The situation had changed!”

This past summer I heard from my good friend Ken Schofield, formerly the executive director of the European Tour and now Golf Channel’s erudite voice from that continent. He said Dave Thomas (pictured at right) was in a bad way and in the hospital. I reached out to Paul and extended my deep condolences.

Dave Thomas passed away on Aug. 27, 2013, at age 79. I felt the pull of melancholy as I remembered the summer of 1982. His time had passed so quickly. So had the time since I had heard him laugh the laugh that one does when they know they got the better of a friend.

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Monday Scramble: Just getting started

By Will GrayJanuary 22, 2018, 4:30 pm

Tommy Fleetwood dazzles, Jon Rahm outlasts, Phil Mickelson falters, Rory McIlroy starts the year on the right foot and more in this week’s edition of Monday Scramble:

He didn't hit a single shot on Sunday, but the biggest winner of the weekend may have been Thomas Bjorn.

That's because the burly Dane watched one potential European Ryder Cup stud after another either lift a trophy or show significant signs of promise.

First it was Sergio Garcia cruising to victory in Singapore, then Tommy Fleetwood's stirring rally in Abu Dhabi. By the time Jon Rahm finished off the CareerBuilder Challenge in the waning daylight, the European skipper likely had a grin plastered from ear to ear.

There will be countless ebbs and flows of momentum before the first shot is struck at Le Golf National, but this week proved once again that the Americans won't be the only ones sporting some serious depth at the biennial matches.

1. The most dazzling display Sunday came from Fleetwood, who successfully defended his title in Abu Dhabi thanks to an absolutely unconscious back nine.

The Englishman was five shots back when he made the turn, but six birdies over his final nine holes turned that deficit into a two-shot win.

It was in Abu Dhabi last year that he sparked a career turnaround, winning the event en route to the season-long Race to Dubai title. He turned up once again this year with ample confidence and a new wedding ring, and the results were much the same.

He doesn't have the star power of some of his contemporaries, but it's becoming increasingly clear that Fleetwood can more than hold his own against even the best in the game.

2. Hours before Fleetwood caught fire, it was Garcia rolling to a five-shot win in Singapore to complete the transition from tournament headliner to tournament champion.

Garcia was just days removed from his 38th birthday and making his first start with a full bag of Callaway clubs. But he showed no signs of offseason rust or equipment adjustment while capturing his second worldwide win since slipping into his green jacket.

The Spaniard has certainly enjoyed the fruits of his Masters victory nine months ago, but it's apparent that he has no plans to rest on the laurels of last spring.

3. He didn't leave Abu Dhabi with the trophy, but McIlroy may have found something more lasting: confidence.

It was in his first start last year that McIlroy injured his rib and plummeted into a vicious cycle of attempted rehabs and ill-fated comebacks. This time around, he came out of the gates with a relaxed swagger en route to a tie for third.

As Ryan Lavner wrote, it was an ideal beginning to a big year for McIlroy, who has already offered up the notion that 2018 could be the busiest season of his career as he chases the final leg of the career Grand Slam and a return to golf's upper echelon.

After the first leg of a two-week stay in the Middle East, that plan is off to a promising start.

4. Let's take a moment to marvel at McIlroy's record in Abu Dhabi, where he has done everything but win the tournament.

In his last nine appearances, McIlroy has finished fifth or better eight times. That stretch includes four runner-up results and now two straight T-3 finishes.

There remain two equally remarkable factors to McIlroy's run: the fact that he somehow hasn't managed to lift the trophy (yet), and the lone outlier: a missed cut in 2013 after his celebrated switch to Nike.

5. With darkness rapidly encircling the Coachella Valley, Rahm managed to shake off Andrew Landry and capture his second career PGA Tour victory.

Rahm's 20-foot birdie on the fourth playoff hole proved the difference in Palm Springs, where he entered as the highest-ranked player in the field and supported that status with his stout play.

Rahm barely took his foot off the gas, both across the difficult closing stretch at PGA West and during the playoff when he sent one approach after the next hurtling toward the pin. It's the fourth worldwide win in less than a year for Rahm, who continues to outpace even the rosiest of projections for his burgeoning career.

6. The win moves Rahm past Jordan Spieth to world No. 2, making him the fourth-youngest player to ever reach such heights.

One year ago, the Spaniard was ranked 137th in the world. His win at the Farmers Insurance Open the following week altered his trajectory, and he now finds himself only one rung away from the top of the ladder.

While so much focus has been (deservedly) heaped upon players like Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas, perhaps it's Rahm who has the best chance to eventually unseat world No. 1 Dustin Johnson. He'll have a chance to chip into that deficit this week as he defends his title at Torrey Pines.

7. Speaking of Torrey Pines, it's officially Farmers Insurance Open week which means that Tiger Woods watch is about to kick off in earnest.

It's something of a tradition to see Woods strolling the fairways of the South Course, where he has won eight times including the 2008 U.S. Open. But this week will bring heightened expectation following Woods' better-than-anticipated return from injury last month at the Hero World Challenge.

Granted, Torrey Pines is a far cry from the forgiving fairways of Albany. But if Woods is able to put together two solid rounds and make the cut, it should be seen as a step in the right direction.

Of course, for all of Woods' success in San Diego, it's also the place where he struggled with chipping yips prior to a withdrawal in 2015 and missed the cut last year in his final official PGA Tour start of the year. So his results this time around might be anyone's guess.

Ken Duke is one of the bona fide nice guys on Tour, and he proved it this weekend in Palm Springs.

Duke is playing off past champion status this season, and he unsuccessfully petitioned tournament officials at the CareerBuilder Challenge for a sponsor invite. With 156 players in the field, Duke was the odd man out at No. 157 and relegated to first alternate status.

He didn't get into the tournament proper, but Duke was willing to step in when Corey Pavin's first Tour start since 2015 ended with a withdrawal after just 17 holes. Because of the tournament's pro-am format, Pavin's amateur partner was left without a pro for the next two rounds.

So in came Duke to play what amounted to a 36-hole pro-am, an effort of good faith to help an event that couldn't find room for him at the start of the week:

It's not often you see a pro compete where his score only counts for his amateur partner. But such was Duke's situation this week, and kudos to him for handling it with class.

This week's award winners ...

Unusually Short Stay: Phil Mickelson. Lefty has become a regular in Palm Springs, but three shaky rounds left him with his first missed cut in this event since 1994 - a few months before Rahm was born.

Nice Job, Kid: Sungjae Im. The 19-year-old Korean joined Jason Day as the only two teenagers to win on the Tour, as Im shot a final-round 65 to win the season opener in the Bahamas.

A for Effort: Andrew Landry. Landry put up a stellar fight in Palm Springs, holing a birdie putt on the 72nd hole to force a playoff and going shot-for-shot with Rahm for nearly an hour. He came up short in his effort to win for the first time, but Landry certainly has plenty of positive takeaways from his week in the desert.

On the Disabled List: Brooks Koepka. The reigning U.S. Open champ is out for the next couple months because of a torn ligament in his wrist, with hopes of returning before the Masters. The diagnosis comes after Koepka finished last at both the Hero World Challenge and Sentry Tournament of Champions.

Still the Bridesmaid: Ross Fisher. The Englishman now has 14 runner-up finishes on the European Tour after he coughed up a late lead to Fleetwood. It's been a resurgent year for Fisher, including nine top-10s and three runner-ups in his last six starts. But he's still looking for his first win in nearly four years.

More Euro Momentum: Not to be outshone by Fleetwood and McIlroy, Matthew Fitzpatrick (T-3) and Thomas Pieters (T-5) both started the year on the right foot in Abu Dhabi. Both men were at Hazeltine two years ago, and expect one (or both) to factor on the team in Paris this fall.

Blown Fantasy Pick of the Week: Bill Haas. A two-time winner and the all-time leading money-winner in Palm Springs, Haas never factored and eventually missed the cut. Honorable mention here goes to 2014 champ Patrick Reed who also stayed home on Sunday.

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Rosaforte Report: Landry's grit born in a Pea Patch

By Tim RosaforteJanuary 22, 2018, 3:40 pm

In this week's Rosaforte Report: The birthplace of Andrew Landry's grit, Tiger's former coach invites instruction debate, downtime may be good for Brooks Koepka, Stacy Lewis is amped for 2018, and a "very boring" birthday gift for Jack Nicklaus.

The beauty and drama of tournament golf played out in the California desert on Sunday when Andrew Landry, a journeyman who learned the game on a shabby nine-hole course called the Pea Patch in Port Groves, Texas, took the hottest young player in the game, Jon Rahm, to four holes of a sudden death playoff before finally succumbing. It was riveting drama in a yard-for-yard, stride-for-stride and putt-for-putt contrast that ended with the sun setting over the Santa Rosa Mountains.

With it, the 23-year-old Rahm went to No. 2 in the world and the 30-year-old Landry, a grinder finally off the Tour, moved from 184th to a career high 102nd in the world ranking.

The 5-foot-7 Landry, who had his “Tin Cup” moment in the 2016 U.S. Open at Oakmont, where he held the first-round lead and hung with the big boys until a T-15 finish, never backed off in the shadow of the 6-foot-2 Rahm, just as he never backed away from bets in the Tuesday and Saturday games at the Pea Patch. That’s where he would write his name on the chalkboard for the “Dog Fights” that were the club’s version of the SWAT competition that is an Oakmont tradition.

“Those money games are what made us,” Andrew’s brother, Adam, told me the day his sibling became the proverbial no-name leader after shooting the lowest opening round (66) in U.S. Open-Oakmont history.

Andrew Landry lost his money game to Rahm, but his second-place finish still paid out $637,200, putting him over the $1 million mark for the season, and sending him off to the Farmers Insurance Open with a message that this isn’t the last time we’ll hear from him.

“We’ll take it and move on to Torrey Pines,” Landry said before exiting Palm Springs. “It’s obviously a great course for me. I’m driving the ball really well and I’m doing everything really good, so we’ll try again next week.”

GREAT(S) DEBATES: Chris Como may not be Tiger Woods’ teacher anymore, but he was recently appointed director of instruction at Dallas National, one of the plush practice environments in golf. He is also architect of an interesting forum on the mental game and the philosophy of instruction Tuesday at the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, Fla., which features Claude Harmon III, David Leadbetter, Jim McLean, Mike Adams, Fran Pirozzolo, Hal Sutton, Brad Faxon and Brandel Chamblee.

“It’s an event that invited open dialog and debate about all the topics of golf instruction,” Como said in a text message. “The goal is to put a bunch of smart people in the same room together to move our industry forward in a positive direction.”

This should be entertaining dialog, especially coming two days before Tiger makes his comeback at the Farmers.

Stacy Lewis at the 2017 LPGA Cambia Portland Classic

STACY'S SPARK: On the week when she was named winner of the Ben Hogan Award for overcoming scoliosis, Stacy Lewis did what Hogan epitomized – she doggedly continued to work on her game.

Heading into her 10th season on the LPGA tour and facing her 33rd birthday on Feb. 16, Lewis flew from Houston to Florida, on her way to the Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic, for checkups with instructor Joe Hallett and performance coach Dave Donatucci.

After workouts and an evaluation at his gym, Donatucci noted the veteran’s vertical leap was 2 inches higher than she’s ever jumped before. “Physically, she’s in a great place,” Donatucci said. Mentally, she is in a great place as well, breaking a 39-month winless streak in September with a victory in the Cambia Portland Classic. After playing lessons at Old Palm and The Floridian, Hallet told me, “There’s an energy there that she’s always had.”

Other than Cristie Kerr, who is 40, the top 10 players in the Race to the CME Globe were all in their 20s. Lewis, who was 13th, told the Houston Chronicle she played some of her best golf the last six to seven tournaments of 2017. “Honestly it doesn’t feel like that start to a new year,” she said. “It just feels like a little bit of a break and I’m starting up again.”

KOEPKA'S HEALING TIME: Claude Harmon III had an interesting take on the torn wrist tendon that will sidelineU.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka until the Masters. “To be honest, the time off for the injury part of it doesn’t worry me,” Harmon said, using last year as his point of reference.

Looking back to the start of 2017, Koepka missed cuts at the Farmers Insurance Open, was T-42 as defending champion of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, missed cuts at the Genesis Open and the Honda Classic, finished T-48 in the no-cut WGC Mexico Championship, and didn’t play on the weekend at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Three months later, Koepka overpowered Erin Hills and tied Rory McIlroy’s U.S. Open scoring record of 16 under par. Harmon used McIlroy’s third-place finish at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship in his return “as something to look at and emulate.”

The hard part is that Koepka closed out the 2017 season with a second-place finish in the WGC-HSBC Champions in China and a nine-stroke win over Xander Schauffele in the Dunlop Phoenix, rising to a career high seventh in the world. But between cardio at Joey D’s gym and putting practice (once he gets doctor’s clearance), Harmon doesn’t think Koepka will look at the next three months as down time.

BIG-TIME PERFORMER: Thomas Pieters was back in the top-five of a premier tournament again, finishing T-5 in Abu Dhabi after a run of nine events at the end of 2017 that did not match the first eight months of his rookie year.

Coming off a Ryder Cup performance in 2016 that set European records for most points (4) and wins (4) by a rookie, Pieters was T-2 at the Genesis Open, T-5 at the WGC-Mexico Championship, T-4 at the Masters and solo fourth at the Bridgestone Invitational.

In a news conference after his opening-round 67, Pieters admitted it was nice having fun again and attributed the lack of enjoyment to some struggles he was having off the golf course.

“With a lot of players these days, it’s more off the course than on the course; life in general sometimes causes problems,” swing instructor Pete Cowen told me Monday morning from Dubai, without getting into specifics. “Pieters is looking a lot better. I think he’s now in a great frame of mind.”

After winning the NCAA Championship as a sophomore for Illinois in 2012, the now 25-year-old Belgian is 34th in the world, 33 spots behind his goal.

“Tom Pieters doesn’t want to be a superstar, he just wants to be the best player,” Cowen said. “That’s what drives him … what I like about him. He wants to be the best, and will do whatever it takes to be the best.”

GIFT OF LOVE: What do you give a man that has everything for his 78th birthday? For Barbara Nicklaus it was classified in a text message with a smiley face emoji as a “Very boring!!!!!” gift of two pairs of pants and a shirt.

As you can see from the above photo, just being together with his family and bride of 57 years at The Bears Club was enough.

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Golf Channel to Deliver Worldwide Coverage of the 2018 PGA Merchandise Show, "The Major of Golf Business," Tueday-Friday, Jan. 23-26

By Golf Channel Public RelationsJanuary 22, 2018, 2:45 pm

Morning Drive, Golf Central to Give Viewers Insider Access to the PGA Show with Nearly 20 Hours of Live Coverage; Golf Channel’s School of Golf Instruction Program to Originate From On-Site

Golf Channel’s Portfolio of Lifestyle Brands – GolfNow, Golf Channel Academy, Revolution Golf and World Long Drive On-Site at the PGA Show Contributing to the Network’s Comprehensive Coverage


ORLANDO, Fla. (Jan. 18, 2018) – Golf Channel announced plans for its comprehensive coverage of the 2018 PGA Merchandise Show – the largest golf convention and business gathering in the world – with nearly 20 hours of news and instruction coverage Tuesday, Jan. 23 – Friday, Jan. 26. Golf Channel’s coverage will span across the four days, beginning Tuesday with the “PGA Show Demo Day” from the Orange County National Golf Center & Lodge driving range in Winter Garden, Fla., and continuing Wednesday-Friday at the PGA Merchandise Show from the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando.

With an insider look at the PGA Merchandise Show – a golf industry event that is not open to the public – Golf Channel’s coverage via Morning Drive and Golf Central will be delivered to a worldwide audience in more than 36 countries. Coverage will provide viewers live interviews with industry leaders, professional golfers from the world’s major tours, PGA of America members and a comprehensive overview of the latest products and trends for 2018 from some of the nearly 1,100 golf brands exhibiting on-site.

PGA Merchandise Show Week Programming Schedule: Jan. 23-26 (All Times Eastern)


Morning Drive

7-11 a.m. (Live)



Golf Central

5-6 p.m. (Live)



School of Golf

8-9 p.m.



Morning Drive

7-11:30 a.m. (Live)



Golf Central

5-6 p.m. (Live)



Morning Drive

8:30-11:30 a.m. (Live)



Golf Central

7-8 p.m. (Live)



Morning Drive

8:30-11:30 a.m. (Live)



Golf Central

7-8 p.m. (Live)




Golf Channel’s expansive coverage of the PGA Merchandise Show will utilize several on-air personalities from the network’s news division, beginning with Charlie Rymer and Lauren Thompson offering coverage of the PGA Show Outdoor Demo Day on Tuesday. In addition to Rymer and Thompson, Wednesday-Friday coverage from the PGA Show Floor will include Matt Adams, Cara Banks, Lisa Cornwell, Matt Ginella, Damon Hack, Bailey Mosier and Gary Williams.


Golf Channel’s PGA Merchandise Show on-air coverage will be available to stream via Golf Channel Digital Tuesday-Friday. Comprehensive online editorial coverage also will be available throughout the week, with contributions from writers Jay Coffin and Will Gray. Golf Channel’s social media platforms will keep viewers engaged in the conversation about what’s generating buzz at the #PGASHOW throughout the week via the network’s social media channels – @GolfChannel and @GCMorningDrive on Twitter, @GolfChannel and @GCMorningDrive on Instagram and GolfChannel and GCMorningDrive on Facebook. Golf Channel social media host Alexandra O’Laughlin will host Golf Channel’s digital and social media coverage throughout the week.


Golf Channel’s coverage of “Demo Day” will begin Tuesday, Jan. 23 at 7 a.m. ET with Morning Drive airing live and on-site to highlight the latest in golf equipment from the expansive driving range at Orange County National. Rymer and Thompson will host Morning Drive on-site, featuring interviews and product demonstrations.


Coverage of the PGA Show will transition indoors to the Orange County Convention Center, Wednesday-Friday, Jan. 24-26 to give viewers an all-access tour of the PGA Show. Morning Drive and Golf Central will provide on-site reports throughout the week, with featured interviews and segments originating from the PGA Show Floor. Coverage from the Convention Center will originate from a large, multi-purpose space elevated above the PGA Show Floor, with three set configurations for interviews, along with a putting green and a golf simulator for product demonstrations. Golf Channel also will feature a “Fly Cam,” a unique camera technology made popular in televising football and other sports. Suspended above the PGA Show Floor, the Fly Cam will span more than 700 feet, giving viewers an aerial viewpoint of the vast floor and the exhibitors. New for 2018 will be a “Jib Cart,” a mobile cart with a camera jib affixed allowing high shots of the booths throughout the Show Floor.


School of Golf, Golf Channel’s signature instruction program that airs on Tuesday nights, will kick off its eighth season with a one-hour special at Demo Day on Tuesday, Jan. 23, airing in primetime from 8-9 p.m. ET. Originating from the Cleveland Golf/Srixon/XXIO booth on the Orange County National driving range and hosted by Martin Hall and Blair O’Neal, the show will include special guests and interactions with a live audience.


In addition to Golf Channel’s on-air and digital coverage, the network’s lifestyle brands – GolfNow, World Long Drive, Golf Channel Academy and Revolution Golf will showcase their services at the PGA Show with special clinics, product demonstrations and on-site activations.


GolfNow, the industry’s leader in golf-related technology and services, will be exhibiting Wednesday-Friday from Booth #2173. In addition to showcasing advanced technologies that have created the largest tee-time marketplace in golf, GolfNow also will be educating course owners and operators about innovations and services designed to help them run their businesses more efficiently and successfully. GolfNow Business experts will be on hand at GolfNow’s 2,400-square-foot booth, offering its course partners technology demonstrations, as well as consultation on any of the GolfNow Services: Plus, a top-line focused consultative performance system for golf courses, including marketing, sales and automated pricing; Answers, a call center for golf courses, answering customer calls day and night; and Ride, a no-cost purchasing program that saves course operators from 6-35 percent on items they buy day-to-day, such as food, office supplies and agricultural products.


Thursday at 2 p.m. ET, World Long Drive competitors will be at the PGA Show to compete in a World Long Drive Bracket Challenge. Hosted by Golf Channel’s social media host Alexandra O’Laughlin and airing live via Golf Channel’s Facebook Live, the competition will take place at Golf Channel’s simulator on the Show Floor featuring eight men and four women, including World No. 2 Ryan Reisbeck, No. 3 Maurice Allen, No. 5 Trent Scruggs and 2017 Volvik World Long Drive Women’s Champion Sandra Carlborg.


Wednesday-Friday, Golf Channel Academy coaches will provide on-site instruction clinics at Golf Channel’s simulator set on the Show Floor. Wednesday’s clinics will feature driving, full swing, wedge play and putting clinics. Thursday’s clinic will include the full swing and Friday’s clinic will feature the short game, all streamed live via Golf Channel Academy’s Facebook page.


Revolution Golf, the industry’s largest direct-to-consumer digital platform delivering high-quality video-based instruction, travel content and integrated e-commerce will have a significant presence at the PGA Show. Golf Channel’s newest digital acquisition, Revolution Golf will be shooting digital segments at Demo Day and throughout the PGA Show Floor, including segments with its team of instructors.

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CareerBuilder purse payouts: Rahm wins $1.062 million

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 12:50 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry on the fourth hole of sudden death to win the CareerBuilder Challenger. Here's a look at how the purse was paid out in La Quinta, Calif.:

1 Jon Rahm -22 $1,062,000
2 Andrew Landry -22 $637,200
T3 Adam Hadwin -20 $306,800
T3 John Huh -20 $306,800
T3 Martin Piller -20 $306,800
T6 Kevin Chappell -19 $205,025
T6 Scott Piercy -19 $205,025
T8 Brandon Harkins -18 $171,100
T8 Jason Kokrak -18 $171,100
T8 Sam Saunders -18 $171,100
T11 Harris English -17 $135,700
T11 Seamus Power -17 $135,700
T11 Jhonattan Vegas -17 $135,700
T14 Bud Cauley -16 $106,200
T14 Austin Cook -16 $106,200
T14 Grayson Murray -16 $106,200
T17 Andrew Putnam -15 $88,500
T17 Peter Uihlein -15 $88,500
T17 Aaron Wise -15 $88,500
T20 Ricky Barnes -14 $57,754
T20 Stewart Cink -14 $57,754
T20 Brian Harman -14 $57,754
T20 Beau Hossler -14 $57,754
T20 Charles Howell III -14 $57,754
T20 Zach Johnson -14 $57,754
T20 Ryan Palmer -14 $57,754
T20 Brendan Steele -14 $57,754
T20 Nick Taylor -14 $57,754
T29 Lucas Glover -13 $36,706
T29 Russell Knox -13 $36,706
T29 Nate Lashley -13 $36,706
T29 Tom Lovelady -13 $36,706
T29 Kevin Streelman -13 $36,706
T29 Hudson Swafford -13 $36,706
T29 Richy Werenski -13 $36,706
T36 Jason Dufner -12 $27,189
T36 Derek Fathauer -12 $27,189
T36 James Hahn -12 $27,189
T36 Chez Reavie -12 $27,189
T36 Webb Simpson -12 $27,189
T36 Tyrone Van Aswegen -12 $27,189
T42 Bronson Burgoon -11 $18,983
T42 Ben Crane -11 $18,983
T42 Brian Gay -11 $18,983
T42 Chesson Hadley -11 $18,983
T42 Patton Kizzire -11 $18,983
T42 Hunter Mahan -11 $18,983
T42 Kevin Na -11 $18,983
T42 Rob Oppenheim -11 $18,983
T50 Alex Cejka -10 $14,025
T50 Corey Conners -10 $14,025
T50 Michael Kim -10 $14,025
T50 Kevin Kisner -10 $14,025
T50 Sean O'Hair -10 $14,025
T50 Sam Ryder -10 $14,025
T50 Nick Watney -10 $14,025
T57 Robert Garrigus -9 $13,039
T57 Tom Hoge -9 $13,039
T57 David Lingmerth -9 $13,039
T57 Ben Martin -9 $13,039
T57 Trey Mullinax -9 $13,039
T57 Brett Stegmaier -9 $13,039
T63 Scott Brown -8 $12,449
T63 Wesley Bryan -8 $12,449
T63 Brice Garnett -8 $12,449
T63 Sung Kang -8 $12,449
T67 Talor Gooch -7 $12,095
T67 Tom Whitney -7 $12,095
T69 Matt Every -6 $11,623
T69 Billy Hurley III -6 $11,623
T69 Smylie Kaufman -6 $11,623
T69 Keith Mitchell -6 $11,623
T69 Rory Sabbatini -6 $11,623
T69 Chris Stroud -6 $11,623
75 John Peterson -5 $11,210
76 Abraham Ancer -4 $11,092
77 Ben Silverman 4 $10,974