Player Finally Gets His Chance

By David Marr IiiNovember 15, 2001, 5:00 pm
Gary Player never got a chance to compete in a Ryder Cup match, and that's a shame. He's been an eternal optimist, voracious competitor, and gregarious ambassador of the game for more than 48 years. He would have been an ideal golfer on that international stage. He embodies the qualities that Samuel Ryder sought to honor when he offered the Cup in the 1920s: tenacity between the ropes and dignity outside of the arena. Player could only watch, as others played biennially for a cause greater than their own bank accounts.
To understand Gary Player's essence, you need to look at his origins. Born in South Africa, possessing great skill and determination, Player's idol early on was Bobby Locke. Locke is considered by some to be the greatest pressure putter in history, but his eccentricities and disdain for the American tour seems to have limited his stature in the game, at least in this country. The distance between his homeland and the riches of the PGA Tour was so extreme, the odds were against him ever making an impact on the U.S. golf scene.
Player was certainly the best South African golfer of his generation and has inspired the likes of major championship winners Ernie Els and Retief Goosen. To reach his potential, Player knew early on that he needed to compete against the best golfers in the world, week in and week out. Since the world's best rarely made their way to South Africa, Player needed to take his show on the road.
People who travel to remote locations these days do so with huge airliners, business class, hot towels for your face, little booties for your feet, a couple of pieces of luggage and a carry-on bag. The Players traveled in the days before in-flight movies, and they traveled en masse. Golf wives like Winnie Palmer and Barbara Nicklaus have always been commended for the jobs they did running their families and supporting their husbands, and each was vital to her husband's success. But Vivienne Player had a tall order.
When the Player clan hit town, it was a scene like no other. Six children of varying ages, more than 30 pieces of luggage including steamer trunks, suitcases and satchels, cribs, clubs and helpers. The luggage alone took three taxicabs to transport. Gary was physically fit, but he was 5'7' 145 pounds soaking wet and didn't look even that big. He wore black to soak up all available solar energy, ate a clove of garlic each day and practiced religiously while Vivienne took care of the domestic situation. It looked like the Players were actually moving their entire life and resettling every week.
They would settle in to their new temporary home early in the week, and then Gary would go big-game hunting. Arnold Palmer was the dashing crowd favorite with great physical strength and daring style. Later, Jack Nicklaus burst on the scene with a physique and single-mindedness that made his nickname fit to a tee - 'the Golden Bear.' Player was the diminutive man with the funny accent, strange dress, doing push-ups and eating only healthy food, but he got the better of his famous rivals on more than one occasion.
When Player completed his career Grand Slam at Bellerive in 1965, only Gene Sarazen and Ben Hogan had accomplished the task. He may not admit it, but Player is proud that he reached that milestone before Nicklaus. His rivalry with Palmer was intense as well. The two were always respectful and complimentary, but the competition was more heated and the desire to beat the other was more deeply rooted than they ever let on.
Gary Player was well in to his Senior career when the Presidents Cup was created and Ernie Els got a run at the Americans in an international competition. I can only imagine what Player must have been feeling - probably pride, perhaps a little envy, but certainly rooting for his team.
2001 Warburg CupThis week he captains the internationals at the UBS Warburg Cup. It is a long awaited assignment. The same resolve that enabled him to overcome tall odds, move his entire family on a weekly basis and take on the game's giants over and over again will be present at Kiawah Island. He will say all the right things, sign all the autographs, and smile for all the cameras. He will also look across the table at his old adversary and do whatever he needs to lead his team to victory.
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Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook played a six-hole stretch in 6 under and shot an 8-under 64 in breezy conditions Saturday to take the lead at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Cook began the run at La Quinta Country Club with birdies on Nos. 4-5, eagled the sixth and added birdies on No. 7 and 9 to make the turn in 6-under 30.

After a bogey on the 10th, he birdied Nos. 11, 12 and 15 and saved par on the 18th with a 20-footer to take a 19-under 197 total into the final round on PGA West's Stadium Course. The 26-year-old former Arkansas player is making his first start in the event. He won at Sea Island in November for his first PGA Tour title.

Fellow former Razorbacks star Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were a stroke back. Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 on the Stadium Course. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. They are both winless on the PGA Tour.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

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Jon Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium Course to reach 17 under. The top-ranked player in the field at No. 3, Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.

Scott Piercy also was two strokes back after a 66 at the Stadium.

Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on PGA West's Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course, and Harkins shot 68 on the Stadium Course.

Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium Course to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time.

The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.

Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. The Southern California recruit had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over for the week.

John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine – and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.

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Mickelson misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 am

Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.

He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.

How rare is his missing the cut there?

The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.

The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.

Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.

Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.

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Defending champ Gana co-leads Latin America Amateur

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 11:20 pm

Toto Gana moved into early position to try to win a return trip to the Masters Saturday by grabbing a share of the first-round lead at the Latin America Amateur Championship.

The defending champ posted a 3-under-par 68 at Prince of Wales Country Club in his native Chile, equaling the rounds of Argentina’s Mark Montenegro and Colombia’s Pablo Torres.

They are one shot ahead of Mexico’s Alvaro Ortiz and Mario Carmona, Argentina’s Horacio Carbonetti and Jaime Lopez Rivarola and the Dominican Republic’s Rhadames Pena.

It’s a bunched leaderboard, with 19 players within three shots of each at the top of the board in the 72-hole event.

“I think I have my game under control,” said Gana, 20, a freshman at Lynn University. “I hit the ball very well, and I also putted very well. So, I am confident about tomorrow.”

The LAAC’s champion will get more than a Masters invitation. He also will be exempt into the The Amateur, the U.S. Amateur and any other USGA event he is eligible to play this year. The champion and players who finish runner-up are also exempt into the final stages of qualifying for The Open and the U.S. Open.

The LAAC was founded by the Masters, the R&A and the USGA, with the purpose of further developing amateur golf in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.

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LAAC returning to Casa de Campo in 2019

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 8:23 pm

The Latin America Amateur Championship will return to Casa de Campo in the Dominican Republic in 2019 (Jan. 17-20), event organizers announced Saturday in Chile, where this year’s championship is underway.

The LAAC champion receives an invitation to play the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club every spring.

The champion is also exempt into The Amateur, the U.S. Amateur and any other USGA event for which he is eligible to compete. The champion and players who finish runner-up are also exempt into the final stages of qualifying for The Open and the U.S. Open.

The LAAC was founded by the Masters, the R&A and the USGA, with the purpose of further developing amateur golf in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.

The championship got its start in 2015 with Chile’s Matias Dominguez winning at Pilar Golf in Argentina. In 2016, Casa de Campo hosted, with Costa Rica’s Paul Chaplet winning. At 16, he became the first player from Central America to compete in the Masters. In 2017, Chile’s Toto Gana won the title at  Club de Golf de Panama.