Ben Hogan or Marilyn Monroe
This is the time of the year when, if you're rich enough, famous enough, connected enough or a combination of all three, you might get to play golf with a genuine, bona fide, world class, professional golfer.
For more than just one day.
I'm talking about the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic and the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. The 'Hope' begins Wednesday and offers amateurs 72 holes of up-close-and-personal with the pros at this 90-hole event. The following week, the swells repair to the Monterey Peninsula where the lucky few get to go three rounds (four if their team makes the pro-am cut) with golf's household names.
This topic goes hand-in-hand with a question I get a lot: Who are the 'good guys' on the Tour. The short answer is: Most of them. There are a few who aren't such good guys. (There's a surprise: The makeup of the PGA Tour mirrors the makeup of society.)
This subject goes hand-in-hand with one of my favorite late-night pub questions: If you had one more round of golf to play and you could pick your foursome's other three members (dead or alive) who would you choose? My answer changes all the time. Right now it would be Hootie Johnson, Martha Burk and St. Peter. Not long ago it was Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods and Mark Twain. Once upon a time it was Jack Nicklaus, Thomas Jefferson and Ben Hogan. Marilyn Monroe and JFK were in there one year, too. The key is to think eclectic.
Who would I choose to play a round or rounds of golf with among current touring pros? Word association:
All great picks in their own right. And that's just for starters. Woods, Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els are obvious choices for obvious reasons.
But what about David Duval? Lots of people I know are quick to misinterpret his shyness as standoffishness. Make no mistake, David isn't perfect. But I have found him to be smart, and honest. If you have a chance to get to know him even a little bit you will appreciate that if you ask him a thoughtful question, you will get a thoughtful, frank answer. Ask him what he perceives to be a stupid question, however, and he will not suffer you gladly.
It's the opinion here, by the way, that Duval is going to have a big year. The Hope will mark his first start of 2003. Don't be surprised if he wins at the same tournament where he shot a stunning 59 in 1999. Duval took a deep breath after winning the British Open two years ago. He had won his first major. And the monkey was off his back. It was a huge relief. He needed to take a mental step back and exhale. He also needed to get his personal life in order. All signs now point to the 'real' David Duval returning to form on the golf course.
Meanwhile back at the fantasy ranch. Others who would make terrific pro-am partners include Paul Azinger, Tom Lehman, Harrison Frazar, Mike Weir, Charles Howell III, Brandel Chamblee, Jay Williamson, Len Mattiace, Brad Faxon, John Cook, Joey Sindelar, Pat Bates, Ben Bates, Frank Nobilo, Brian Henninger, Donnie Hammond, D.A. Weibring, Sandy Lyle. . . . The list goes on and on.
My all-Twilight Zone foursome would be Ken Green, Fulton Allem and John Daly.
Davis Love III sort of deserves his own category. He, too, will be making his 2003 debut at the Hope. Love really is the poster boy for what the Tour is trying to sell. He's a monster talent, a good family man, a terrific quote and a 'company' guy without being a puppet.
Who wouldn't I want to play with?
That's easy: Ty Tryon.
Nothing personal, Ty. I just don't like being called 'Mr. Hewitt.' Not even by my caddie.
Fleetwood rallies to defend Abu Dhabi title
The 2018 European Tour season has begun just as the 2017 one ended: with Tommy Fleetwood's name atop the standings.
Facing the most difficult conditions of the week, Fleetwood charged down the stretch to shoot a 7-under 65 in the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, good enough for a two-shot win and a successful title defense.
Abu Dhabi was the start of Fleetwood's resurgence a year ago, the first of two European Tour victories en route to the season-long Race to Dubai title. This time around the Englishman started the final round two shots off the lead but rallied with six birdies over his final nine holes to reclaim the trophy.
Fleetwood was five shots behind countryman Ross Fisher when he made the turn, but he birdied the par-5 10th and then added four birdies in a five-hole stretch from Nos. 12-16. The decisive shot came on the final hole, when his pitch from the left rough nestled within a few feet of the hole for a closing birdie.
Fleetwood's 22-under total left him two shots ahead of Fisher and four shots clear of Rory McIlroy and Matthew Fitzpatrick. After entering the week ranked No. 18, Fleetwood is expected to move to at least No. 12 in the world when the new rankings are published.
Garcia cruises to five-shot win in Singapore
SINGAPORE - Sergio Garcia played 27 holes on the last day without dropping a shot to win the Singapore Open by five strokes Sunday in an ominous display of his newfound self-belief as he prepares to defend his Masters title.
Still brimming with confidence after claiming his first major title at Augusta National last year, Garcia started his new season with a runaway victory at the Sentosa Golf Club, finishing at 14-under 270.
Returning to the course just after dawn to complete his third round after play was suspended on Saturday because of lightning strikes, Garcia finished his last nine holes in 4 under for a round of 66 to take a one-shot lead into the final round.
With organizers desperate to avert the constant threat of more bad weather and finish the tournament on time, Garcia promptly returned to the first tee shortly after and fired a flawless 3-under 68, cruising to victory with 10 straight pars as his rivals floundered in the stifling humidity.
''It may have looked easy, but it wasn't easy. You still have to hit a lot of good shots out there,'' Garcia said. ''It's always great to start with a win, to do it here at this golf course against a good field in Asia on conditions that weren't easy. Hopefully I can ride on this momentum.''
Garcia's closest rivals at the end were Japan's Satoshi Kodaira (71) and South African Shaun Norris (70). Both birdied the last hole to share second spot but neither was ever close enough on the last day to challenge the leader.
''I could not reach Sergio. I was thinking, 12 or 13 under for the win, but he went beyond that,'' Kodaira said.
Jazz Janewattananond (71) and his fellow Thai Danthai Bonnma (73) finished equal fourth at 8 under, earning themselves a spot in this year's British Open, while American Sean Crocker, who was given an invitation to the event after turning pro late last year, also won a place at Carnoustie by finishing in a tie for sixth.
Garcia made just three bogeys in 72 holes and his victory provided the 38-year-old with the 33rd title of his professional career and his sixth on the Asian Tour.
He has also won three titles in the last 12 months, including the Masters, and his game looks to be in better shape now than it was a year ago.
He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for Augusta National because of the steamy conditions and the testing stop-start nature of the tournament, which is regularly stopped because of inclement weather.
Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore a year ago, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.
"I'm extremely happy with how the week went. It was a tough day and a tough week, with the stopping and going. Fortunately, the weather held on. Still, it was hard to play 27 holes under this heat and I can't wait to get a cold shower,'' Garcia said. ''I came with some good confidence and wishing that I will play well. I hit the ball solid the whole week and didn't miss many shots.''
Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole
KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.
After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.
It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.
Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.
Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.
Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder
Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.
Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.
“I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”
The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.
“The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”
Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.