Random musings of a gray-haired man

By Brandel ChambleeJuly 1, 2011, 12:23 am

Perhaps I am too young to reminisce but the gray-haired man that stares back at me in the morning thinks otherwise, so what follows are the ramblings of a broken-down pro in no particular order.

My rookie year on Tour I was paired with Jeff Sluman in the third round of the Manufacturers Hanover Westchester Classic. Jeff was an established player having his best year and I had been struggling but was having my best week. During the round, our scorer – a very attractive woman – was at every chance talking to Jeff, who is enormously clever and funny, but was understandably more concerned with his golf.

When we were done and in the scoring tent, Jeff and I were checking our scorecards as the scorer called out each hole. While she was calling my scores, I saw her slide a note to Jeff which had her phone number written in the top right hand corner. After reading the note, Jeff held up his left hand which had a gold band on the ring finger and using the thumb of his left hand pushed the inside of the band up and down so as to make the band move and said quietly, “You see this? It means commitment, but thanks for thinking of me,” and then he got up and walked out of the trailer.

In April of 1986, I was playing in an obscure mini tour event in Savannah, Ga. run by a shady group of investors. On Tuesday night of that week, I was in the lobby of my hotel playing a game of pool with a friend when a tall, dark-haired man whom I recognized immediately walked in. He ordered a beer from the waitress who gushed at him and then he leaned against the wall and watched our game of 8-ball. He didn’t say a word but he might as well have been screaming at the top of his lungs. Seve Ballesteros, the best player in all of golf, was in town tuning up for The Masters.

Over the next few hours we played several games of pool as he lamented how it was that he came to be in Savannah and playing in an event in which the total purse wouldn’t pay his typical appearance fee anywhere else in the world. Banned from playing the PGA Tour because he didn’t play the minimum number of events in 1985, Seve could only play in New Orleans as the defending champion and the majors as bodies other than the PGA Tour governed them.

In preparation for the year’s first major he was trying to get acclimated to the time change and in need of competition because he had been tending to his ill father and not his golf game. The next day his father would pass away hastening his exit but not before it occurred to all of us in the event how silly the impasse was between him and Ponte Vedra Beach. Ironically, the Tour is currently on the cusp of facing a similar standoff from this point forward owing to the international laden world rankings.

On Sunday morning of the 1987 British Open, I was standing in the breakfast line in player dining when an old man, dressed handsomely, asked me to join him at his table. Strained for time and consumed with thoughts of my upcoming round, I thought about declining with apologies owing to time constraints but alas, I sat down.

The man was three-time British Open champion Henry Cotton whose last victory in the Open came in 1948 at the very course I was playing that day, Muirfield. He talked about the need to control the ball through “training the hands” and he explained the proper hand action and then, picking up the club beside him, went into greater detail. I was the best, he said, because I could hit it here every time, as he pointed to the dime-sized worn spot on the center of the face of the 4-wood. He then showed me his grip and he talked about the placement of the fingers and the proper pressure needed to bring the club into the ball.

A few months later, on December 22, 1987 I read of Henry Cotton’s passing and the world of golf mourned one of its greatest and most influential players.

At the 2000 U.S. Open on Saturday, the wind blew how it can on any course by the sea and how you pray it doesn’t. Paired with Nick Price, I played miserably. My fortune would change around dinner time, as my best friend Jack Harden, his wife Nancy and I were able to get Greg Norman’s unclaimed table for dinner because he had missed the cut and understandably left town. After a great meal, I headed to my room, which was at the Lodge overlooking the first tee.

Around midnight I heard a knock on the door and slumbering over to the peep hole, I saw Jack standing at my door with a few clubs tucked under his arm, scotch in one hand, a cigar in the other. I opened the door smiling because I knew what he was up to. “Pro,” he said, “come keep me company as I play the 18th.”

A few minutes later Jack, Nancy, and I were standing on the 18th tee and Jack was hitting one tee shot after another into the night, over the ocean and hopefully onto the fairway. After Jack hit 10 or 15 tee shots, we ambled to the fairway talking about golf, golf swings and the not insignificant fact that Tiger was decimating the field in this, the national championship.

We found most of his tee shots and then he launched another volley of shots at the green where there stood maybe 40 people with similar, but not nearly as well-thought-out plans on how to toil away the night. Upon arrival to the green, we were greeted to applause and some comical commentary and then we all stood enjoying the sounds of the crashing waves and the sight of the moonlight reflecting off the ocean.

The next day Tiger, would of course win by 15 but as my second shot sailed across the ocean and jumped up on the 18th green, I looked at Jack and Nancy and we all smiled like I had just won the U.S. Open.

I can’t remember what I shot at Westchester, the British Open or the U.S. Open but I can tell you why I always pull for Jeff Sluman and pulled for Seve Ballesteros, what Henry Cotton’s hands looked like on the club and what Pebble Beach looks like at midnight. I know these memories – and others like them – don’t fill a trophy case, but they keep me company like trophies never could.

Fitzpatrick one back in 2018 Euro Tour opener

By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 1:37 pm

HONG KONG – S.S.P. Chawrasia had six birdies and a bogey Thursday for a 5-under 65 and a one-stroke lead at the Hong Kong Open, the first event of the 2018 European Tour season.

Playing in sunny but breezy conditions at the Hong Kong Golf Club, the greens had the players struggling to gauge the approach.

''Very tough conditions today,'' Chawrasia said. ''It's very firm greens, to be honest. I'm just trying to hit the second shot on the green and trying to make it like a two-putt.''

Full-field scores from the UBS Hong Kong Open

Shubhankar Sharma and Matthew Fitzpatrick (both 66) were one shot behind, while seven others were tied for fourth a further stroke behind.

''Hit it great tee to green,'' Fitzpatrick said. ''I think I had like seven or eight chances inside 15 feet, and on a day like today when it's so windy and such a tough golf course, with how tight it is, yeah, it was a good day.''

Justin Rose, who won the title in 2015, shot was 2 under with five birdies and three bogeys.

''I think the course played a couple shots harder than it typically does,'' Rose said. ''I like this course. I think it offers plenty of birdie opportunities.''

Masters champion Sergio GarciaRafa Cabrera Bello and defending champion Sam Brazel (69) were in a group of 16 at 1 under.

Day, Spieth chasing Davis after Day 1 of Aussie Open

By Jason CrookNovember 23, 2017, 6:50 am

The PGA Tour is off this week but a couple of the circuit’s biggest stars – Jordan Spieth and Jason Day – are headlining the Emirates Australian Open, the first event in The Open Qualifying Series for the 2018 Open at Carnoustie. Here's how things look after the opening round, where Cameron Davis has opened up a two-shot lead:

Leaderboard: Davis (-8), Taylor MacDonald (-6), Nick Cullen (-5), Day (-5), Brian Campbell (-4), Lucas Herbert (-4), Stephen Leaney (-4), Anthony Quayle (-4)

What it means: Spieth has won this event three of the last four years, including last year, but he got off to a rocky start on Thursday. Playing in the windy afternoon wave, the world No. 2 bogeyed his first two holes but rebounded with birdies on Nos. 4 and 5. It was more of the same the rest of the way as the 24-year-old carded three more bogeys and four birdies, getting into the clubhouse with a 1-under 70. While it certainly wasn't the start he was hoping for, Spieth didn't shoot himself out of the tournament with 54 holes left to play, he has plenty of time to claw his way up the leaderboard.

Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open

Round of the day: With Round 1 in the books, the solo leader, Davis, is the easy pick here. The 22-year-old Aussie who turned pro last year, came out of the gates on fire, birdieing six of his first seven holes, including four in a row on Nos. 4 through 7. He did drop a shot on the ninth hole to go out in 30 but rebounded with three more birdies on the back to card a 8-under 63. Davis, who was born in Sydney and played this year on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada. He will attempt to get his Web.com Tour card next month during qualifying in Arizona.

Best of the rest: Making his first start in his home country in four years, Day started on the 10th hole at The Australian Golf Club and made four birdies to one bogey on the back side before adding four more circles after making the turn. Unfortunately for the 30-year-old, he also added an ugly double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole and had to settle for a 5-under 66, good enough to sit T-3. Day, who has dropped to No. 12 in the world rankings, is looking for his first win on any tour since the 2016 Players Championship.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Can the upstart 22-year-old Davis hold off the star power chasing him or will he fold to the pressure of major champions in his rearview mirror? Day (afternoon) and Spieth (morning) are once again on opposite ends of the draw on Friday as they try to improve their position before the weekend.

Shot of the day: It’s tough to beat an ace in this category, and we had one of those on Thursday from Australian Brad Shilton. Shilton’s hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole came with a special prize, a $16k watch.

Quote of the day: “Just two bad holes. Pretty much just two bad swings for the day,” – Day, after his 66 on Thursday. 

Watch: Shilton wins $16k timepiece with hole-in-one

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 2:50 am

Australian Brad Shilton made a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole during the first round of the Australian Open, and he was rewarded handsomely for his efforts - with a Tag Heuer watch worth $16k.

Day gets in early mix with 66 in return to Australia

By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 2:32 am

SYDNEY - Jason Day's first tournament round in Australia in four years was a 5-under 66 to put him among the leaders early Thursday at the Australian Open.

Day's round came unhinged late with a double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole, his second-last of the day. He hit his tee shot into the trees on the left, hit back out to the fairway, missed his approach to the green and then couldn't get up and down.

''That was brutal,'' Day said of the 481-yard hole that played into gusting winds.

But Day recovered quickly to birdie his last to sit three strokes behind fellow Australian and early leader Cameron Davis, who started on the first, had six front-nine birdies and shot 63 at The Australian Golf Club.

In between the two was Australian Taylor MacDonald, who shot 65.

''It was a pretty solid round, I didn't miss many fairways, I didn't miss many greens,'' Day said. ''I'd give myself a seven or eight out of 10.''

Defending champion Jordan Spieth, attempting to win the Australian Open for the third time in four years, was off to a poor start among the afternoon players, bogeying his first two holes.

The Sydney-born Davis played most of this season on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada and will attempt to secure his Web.com card in the final round of qualifying from Dec. 7-10 in Chandler, Arizona.

''Everything went to plan,'' Davis said. ''I got off to a great start. I was hitting my spots and was able to keep it together on the back nine.''

NOTES: Australian Brad Shilton had the first ace of the tournament, using a 5-iron for a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole, his second hole of the day. Australian veteran Geoff Ogilvy, the 2006 U.S. Open winner, shot 69. He and Rod Pampling (68) played the first round with Day.