Show Time For Nicole Castrale

By Brian HewittJanuary 17, 2008, 5:00 pm
2008 PGA Merchandise ShowYoure 28 years old. Youre ranked No. 25 in the world. And you finished 15th on the 2007 LPGA money list.
 
Those numbers will fly quite nicely in the golf industry. Which is exactly what Nicole Castrale did Wednesday: She flew on a plane from her Palm Springs area home base to Orlando for the PGA Merchandise Show.
 
From 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Thursday morning she signed autographs in the booth of Ashworth, the company whose clothing she endorses. From 11 to 11:30 she did an interview with GOLF CHANNEL. From 11:30 to 1 p.m. she attended a luncheon with Ashworths executives. From 2:45 to 3:45 she was ushered over to the LPGA booth for more autograph signing. Finally, from 5:30 to 7:30 there was a reception to attend for Ashworths key retailers.
 
Kind of overwhelming, Castrale said on the first morning of her first appearance at the overwhelming event that is The Show. Obviously my ties are to Ashworth. And Im happy to be here with them. But I wouldnt mind looking around a little.
 
Looking around The Show, that runs through Saturday, takes a while when you consider that there are 10 miles of aisles and half a million square feet of display space at the enormous Orange County Convention Center.
 
If you are remotely attracted to golf, you will feel like a kid in a candy store. And Castrale was just one of many golf celebrities on hand. Others included Jim Furyk, Butch Harmon, Fuzzy Zoeller, Johnny Damon, Annika Sorenstam, David Leadbetter, Brandt Snedeker and Charles Howell III.
 
The Ashworth execs doted over Castrale, and for all kinds of reasons. Shes a rising star on the course. Shes a model citizen off the course. And she looks, well, like a model.
 
While in the Convention Center, Castrale was never far away from her chaperones - husband Craig and agent, Greg Nared. Yes, thats the same Greg Nared who used to be Tiger Woods main product guy at Nike and, later, served as Michelle Wies agent before he resigned that post.
 
To Nards credit he never publicly criticized the Wie family. Many others have. He has since started his own company and Castrale is his first major client. They met, Castrale said, through a mutual friend. With his business sense and contacts it was almost a no-brainer going with Greg, she said.
 
To be sure, Castrale has surrounded herself with respected people at every turn. Her instructor, for the last eight years, has been Billy Harmon, one of the teaching Harmon brothers.
 
Castrale said she had great fun watching Billy Harmon serve as a panelist on last years Fore Inventors Only show that appeared on GOLF CHANNEL. Billy and all the Harmons are entertainers, she added with a smile,
 
Castrale broke through with her first win on the LPGA at the Ginn Tribute Hosted by ANNIKA in June, stopping World No. 1 Lorena Ochoa in a playoff. She then performed admirably in tough conditions for the winning U.S. Solheim Cup squad in Sweden. And her goals for 2008 include hitting more fairways and greens, winning more tournaments and contending more consistently in the majors.
 
You acquire respect from the other players when you have won on tour, she said.
 
Castrale also acquired enough respect from Sorenstam that Annika picked her to play of the Lexus Cup squad captained by Sorenstam. The two have becomes friends.
 
And, Castrale warns, we should all be watching for a Sorenstam comeback in 2008. You can see it in her eyes, Castrale said.
 
Friday morning Castrale was scheduled to be back on a plane that would take her back to Palm Springs. Back to work.
 
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    Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

    Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

    While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

    “I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

    Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.  

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    DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

    Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.

    “I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”

    Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).

    “Everyone was hitting good shots,” McIlroy said. “That’s all we were seeing, and it’s nice when you play in a group like that. You feed off one another.” 


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.

    Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace). 

    “It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.” 

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    Closing eagle moves Rory within 3 in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:57 pm

    What rust? Rory McIlroy appears to be in midseason form.

    Playing competitively for the first time since Oct. 8, McIlroy completed 36 holes without a bogey Friday, closing with an eagle to shoot 6-under 66 to sit just three shots back at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    “I’m right in the mix after two days and I’m really happy in that position,” he told reporters afterward.

    McIlroy took a 3 ½-month break to heal his body, clear his mind and work on his game after his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro.

    He's back on track at a familiar playground, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where he’s racked up eight top-11s (including six top-3s) in his past nine starts there.


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    McIlroy opened with a 69 Thursday, then gave himself even more chances on Day 2, cruising along at 4 under for the day when he reached the par-5 closing hole. After launching a 249-yard long iron to 25 feet, he poured in the eagle putt to pull within three shots of Thomas Pieters (65). 

    Despite the layoff, McIlroy edged world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, by a shot over the first two rounds. 

    “DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now, and one of, if not the best, driver of the golf ball," McIlroy said. "To be up there with him over these first two days, it proves to me that I’m doing the right things and gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”

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    Duke to fill in for injured Pavin at CareerBuilder

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:25 pm

    Ken Duke will fill in for Corey Pavin for the next two rounds of the CareerBuilder Challenge – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard.

    Pavin was 4 over par when he withdrew after 17 holes Thursday because of a neck injury. Tournament officials contacted Duke, the first alternate, and asked if he would take Pavin’s spot and partner with Luis Lopez for the next two rounds, even though he would not receive any official money.

    Duke accepted and explained his decision on Twitter:

    Playing on past champion’s status, the 48-year-old Duke has made only four starts this season, with a best finish of a tie for 61st at the RSM Classic.

    Pavin received a sponsor exemption into the event, his first PGA Tour start since the 2015 Colonial.