Reverence and the irreverent collide at The Open

By Brandel ChambleeJuly 11, 2017, 11:30 am

Long before Donald Trump followed Barack Obama, The Open was the world leader in incongruences, of the irreverent and reverent. It’s as if the docent at the snobby auction house came in half-cocked and filled the room with Ansel Adams and Leroy Neiman. Elysian Fields meets W.C. Fields. One minute you’re sitting there in that anecdotal cacophony, in that half-windsored, winter-weighted sport-coat world and the periphery of gray is suddenly interrupted by a group of men dressed like bunnies, discussing who was the better teacher, Bob Torrance or Pete Cowen.

In 1985, The Open left Scotland for England (it does that every now and then to remind Britain what makes it “Great”) and was played on the southern shore near the Cliffs of Dover at Royal St. George’s. As the championship Sunday was coming to a close, when the only worry was that they might run out of champagne, and the thread of the rich tapestry of The Open was playing out once again, by cracky, a streaker appeared on the 18th green. Give the man credit, streaking in the cold of Scotland has its own shortcomings; one is more apt to be seen in his full potential in warmer climes of Royal St. George’s I’m told … and the sun was out down south.

This man had to be dealt with, but nobody really wanted to put down their shepherd’s pie and do the dirty deed and the bobbies looked reluctant as they circled the naked villain. Tom Kite and Peter Jacobsen were just short of the home hole watching this dance, when Peter (does anyone else recognize the irony of someone with that name taking hold of the situation?!) horizonalized the man and then celebrated as if he had won golf’s oldest championship. I’m told Sandy Lyle later held the claret jug in the spidered light looking royal, if not yet ancient.

Even the name of the trophy suggest confusion. Claret is a dry red wine from the Bordeaux region of France, of left bank and Chateau Lafitte-Rothschild fame, Napoleonic perhaps. A jug is, well something to put Uncle Buck’s homemade hooch in. But give a man a claret Jug, empty even, and he can hardly speak. Unless his name is Justin Leonard.

Long before Leonard had a Sunday that looked like it was authored by St. Paul and won The Open, Bobby Jones played and spoked his way onto the shoulders of the citizens of St. Andrews in that river of tweed behind the home hole at the Old Course. He held his most prized possession, his putter, Calamity Jane, above the fray. Even that scene, as perfect as it was, illustrates the anachronistic contrasts of color, sartorially and personally, present amongst all things Royal and Ancient.

Jones came to The Open in 1921 as a 19-year-old, and after 36 holes was the low amateur in the field. But in the third round, bunkered at 11, he took four to get out and then inexplicably quit. The petulant and irascible young man, when he left for America, left an irreverent impression of disdain behind. He wouldn’t return for five years and when he did he was never beaten again in The Open, winning in 1926, ‘27 and 1930. The compost of contempt that Jones had felt at first blush at the Old Course blossomed into the most florid prose, when later in his career he said, “I could take out of my life everything except my experiences at St. Andrews and I would still have had a rich and full life.”

Like Jones, Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus know the sting of humility on links golf. Jack’s first round as a professional in The Open, in 1962, he shot 80, and in the third round of the 1987 Open at Muirfield, he equaled his highest ever round as a professional in a major with 81. Fifteen years later, Woods, also at Muirfield and also in the third round, also shot his worst round in a major – 81. Of which the great commentator Peter Alliss said, “It’s like turning up to hear Pavaroti sing and finding out he has laryngitis.” And yet, both of them completed the career Grand Slam by winning golf’s oldest major championship. Jack at Muirfield in 1966 and Tiger at St. Andrews in 2000.

Nicklaus also chose, as had Arnold Palmer, and later Tom Watson, The Open as the place to retire from major golf. The event meant that much to them, I suspect not only for its history but because those that come out to watch the championship are unlike any other spectator in sport.

Traipsing through the sand dunes, in the worst that Mother Nature can throw at them, they seem to have an inexhaustible zest for life. Jauntily headed to see Phil or Lee or Luke, they’ll stop to look out at a bit of windblown sea and then predict the coming weather with pharmaceutical precision. It is not just rain to them. It is a warm rain or a driving rain or it is a soft rain and why worry because, as they say, most of it ends up as Scotch, anyway.

And if the sun comes out, regardless of temperature, out come the shorts – from younger and skinnier days most likely – and you’ll see legs as white as string cheese and they will walk past men dressed like bunnies. And just when you think you’re at the Piccadilly Circus a positively surreal scene will unfold and there in front of you is nothing impermanent and everything is royal and ancient.

Yep, nobody does the irreverent and reverent like The Open.

Tributes pour in for legendary caddie Sheridan

By Randall MellNovember 23, 2017, 2:54 pm

Tributes are pouring in as golf celebrates the life of Greg Sheridan after receiving news of his passing.

Sheridan, a long-time LPGA caddie who worked for some of the game’s all-time greats, including Kathy Whitworth and Beth Daniel, died Wednesday in Indian Rocks Beach, Fla., at 63. He was diagnosed in July 2016 with brain and lung cancer.

Sheridan worked the last dozen years or so with Natalie Gulbis, who expressed her grief in an Instagram post on Wednesday:

“Greg…I miss you so much already and it hasn’t even been a day. 15+ seasons traveling the world you carried me & my bag through the highs and lows of golf and life. You were so much more than my teammate on the course…Thank you.”

Sheridan was on Whitworth’s bag for the last of her LPGA-record 88 titles.

“When I first came on tour, I would try to find out how many times Greg won,” Gulbis told Golfweek. “It’s a crazy number, like 50.”

Matthew Galloway, a caddie and friend to Sheridan, summed up Sheridan’s impressive reach after caddying with him one year at the LPGA Founders Cup, where the game’s pioneers are honored.

“Best Greg story,” Galloway tweeted on Thanksgiving morning, “coming up 18 at PHX all the founders were in their chairs. Greg goes, `Yep, caddied for her, her and her.’ Legend.”

In a first-person column for Golf Magazine last year, Gulbis focused on Sheridan while writing about the special bond between players and caddies. She wrote that she won the “looper lottery” when she first hired Sheridan in ’04.

“Greg and I have traveled the world, and today he is like family,” Gulbis wrote. “Sometimes, he’s a psychologist. Last year, my mom got sick and it was a distraction, but he was great. When I used to have boyfriend issues and breakup issues, he was my confidant. In a world where caddies sometimes spill secrets, Greg has kept a respectful silence, and I can’t thank him enough for that. He’s an extension of me.”

Four months after Gulbis wrote the column, Sheridan was diagnosed with cancer.

“The LPGA family is saddened to hear of the loss of long-time tour caddie, Greg Sheridan,” the LPGA tweeted. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and players he walked with down the fairways. #RIP.”

Dean Herden was among the legion of caddies saddened by the news.

“Greg was a great guy who I respected a lot and taught me some great things over the years,” Herden texted to

Here are some of heartfelt messages that are rolling across Twitter:

LPGA commissioner Mike Whan in a retweet of Gulbis – “A really tough loss to the @LPGA family. God just added a fantastic teammate in heaven. Thinking about you, Nat!”

Christina Kim – “Rest with the Angels now, Greg Sheridan.”

LPGA caddie Shaun Clews – “RIP Greg Sheridan. One of the most successful and great caddies of World Golf, period.”

LPGA caddie Jonny Scott – “Sad to hear that long-time tour caddie Greg Sheridan has passed away. Greg, you will be missed.”

LPGA caddie Kevin Casas – “The world is a sadder place today without our buddy Greg Sheridan, a caddy and a friend for lifetimes…Godspeed buddy.”

LPGA pro Jennie Lee – “So sad to hear the news of long time LPGA caddie Greg Sheridan. I remember sitting next to him on the plane from Walmart to the U.S. Open one year and he gave me the best words of wisdom on player/caddie chemistry. He will be missed greatly. Thinking of you.”

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 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.