Between caddie tryouts Villegas gets one of best

By Doug FergusonJune 9, 2009, 4:00 pm
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. ' Camilo Villegas, who has emerged as one of the top players in golf, found himself without a regular caddie after his looper decided to leave him to work part-time for Sergio Garcia.
 
Just dont get the idea he will be at a disadvantage at the U.S. Open.
 
Villegas played in a charity event the Monday after The Players Championship with Fred Couples, who will not be at Bethpage and thus offered the services of his caddie ' Joe LaCava, one of the best in the business.
 
LaCava also works with Davis Love III and walked 36 holes at a U.S. Open qualifier Monday. Now he gets two straight weeks, the St. Jude Classic and U.S. Open, with the 27-year-old Colombian. Why not just take a week off?
 
Let me ask you a question, LaCava replied. Would you want a week off when you could work for this kid?
 
Villegas closed out last year with victories in the BMW Championship and Tour Championship, earned $4.4 million and picked up a $3 million bonus for finishing second in the FedEx Cup.
 
That begs another question ' why would anyone want out of a bag that lucrative?
 
Villegas said Gary Matthews, a steady voice during his success last year, is about to start a family and wanted to work less. Garcia has been employing two caddies the past couple of years, and half the job opened up when Billy Foster departed.
 
When you split with your caddie, you can look at it positively or negatively, Villegas said. Im looking at it positively. This is a chance for me to try different guys.
 
His brother, Manny, who is trying to qualify for Nationwide Tour events, caddied for him at the Memorial. Villegas said he is getting a lot of phone calls from caddies offering to take the job, which should come as no surprise. He did not say whom he might use the rest of the year, but does not seem to be in a big hurry.
 
I believe I treat caddies well, and we get along great, Villegas said. If I play well, they make a lot of money. Its all good.
 
Strangely enough, Matthews worked the last two weeks for Michelle Wie, who needed a temporary caddie. Villegas said that was facilitated by Clarke Jones, the agent at IMG for Garcia, Villegas and Wie.
 
PLAYOFF POP: The U.S. Open remains the only major that has an 18-hole playoff, and USGA executive director David Fay said thats not about to change.
 
We are doggedly determined to go 18 holes, he said.
 
It was worth it last year at Torrey Pines, one of the most compelling rounds of the year. Tiger Woods, on a wounded knee, built a lead, blew a lead, had to birdie the 18th to force overtime and won on the 19th hole over Rocco Mediate. Some ticket gates were not manned, leading to some 30,000 fans trying to follow two players. The atmosphere was over the top.
 
Just dont get the idea that the USGA makes a mint out of the extra day. Quite the opposite.
 
Fay said the USGA had to spend nearly $120,000 for an extra day of buses, $45,000 for the smaller buses, $30,000 for parking, $60,000 for security to stay an extra night and day. Throw in lunches for bus drivers, media, volunteers, parking for the media and travel costs for the USGA staff.
 
When you round it up, and throw in the ever popular miscellaneous, it came out to $513,000, he said. Sure, we hope to see a few more hot dogs and beers and shirts. But the answer is, you dont earn that money back.
 
Fay found it peculiar that what appeared to be a mismatch (Woods was No. 1, Mediate at No. 157) turned out to be a terrific playoff. That hasnt always been the case. Jack Nicklaus won easily in a highly anticipated playoff against Arnold Palmer at Oakmont in 1962, just as Lee Trevino won handily over Nicklaus at Merion in 1971.
 
Some years, you feel that this deserves to go another 18 or more, Fay said. On paper, the ones you look forward to the most, dont always go that way.
 
ROUGH EXHIBIT: On Tuesday of the Memorial, Steve Rintoul, the PGA Tour official in charge of setting up Muirfield Village, said that because the 3 1/2 -inch rough was less dense than the previous year, it could make it play even tougher.
 
Sitting in his cart along the trees left of the ninth fairway in the second round, he was proven correct.
 
Geoff Ogilvy was in the right rough, with the pin on the left part of a green protected by water. He studied his shot with three dozen fans standing behind him.
 
Lets see what Geoff does here, Rintoul said. This is exactly what we were talking about in my office. See all those people behind him? Think theyd like to see Geoff pull out a wedge and punch out to the fairway? He still might, but hes got a choice.
 
Ogilvy settled over his ball, taking a wide stance. As soon as he made contact, Rintoul said, Uh-oh. He got a flyer.
 
Fore left! came a cry from the gallery.
 
Ogilvy went long and left, leaving him little hope of getting it close. He did well to chip 20 feet past the hole. If he had punched out, he likely would have been no more than 10 feet away.
 
Later in the round, Vijay Singh caught a flyer on the 18th. Needing par to make the cut, his ball hit a path over the green and landed next to the clubhouse, leading to double bogey.
 
DIVOTS: Instead of flying home after the Memorial, six players headed to Liberty National in New Jersey on short notice to take part in the Commissioners Cup, a pro-am event with the PGA Tours corporate partners. The players were Steve Stricker, Rod Pampling, Stewart Cink, John Merrick, D.J. Trahan and Nick Watney. Joining them was Carl Pettersson, who already had gone home to North Carolina after missing the cut, and Arron Oberholser, who flew across the country from Arizona. Davis Love III took the long way home after missing The Players Championship, taking part in Kyle Pettys Ride Across America on motorcycles. Love started in Idaho, and put 3,286 miles on his Harley-Davidson before arriving home in Sea Island, Ga. The worst part of the trip was parking it at home. I asked Kyle, Can we turn around and go back?
 
STAT OF THE WEEK: For the second straight year, Kevin Silva and Charlie Beljan made it to the U.S. Open by going through 18-hole local and 36-hole sectional qualifying.
 
FINAL WORD: I think that everybody has got something to lose because hes got so much to gain. Thats the way I look at it. ' Jack Nicklaus, talking about challengers to Tiger Woods.
 

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

    What it means: Jordan 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.

    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.

    Day: Woods feeling good, hitting it long

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 22, 2017, 9:33 pm

    Jason Day says Tiger Woods told him he feels better than he has in three years, which is good news for Woods a week ahead of his return to the PGA Tour at the Hero World Challenge.

    Day, a fellow Nike endorser, was asked about Woods during his news conference at the Emirates Australian Open on Wednesday. "I did talk to him," Day said, per a report in the Sydney Morning Herald,"and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years'" Day said.

    "He doesn't wake up with pain anymore, which is great. I said to him, 'Look, it's great to be one of the best players ever to live, but health is one thing that we all take for granted and if you can't live a happy, healthy life, then that's difficult.'"

    The Hero World Challenge will be played Nov. 30-Dec. 3 in the Bahamas and broadcast on Golf Channel and NBC.

    Day, who has had his own health issues, said he could empathize with Woods.

    "I totally understand where he's coming from, because sometimes I wake up in the morning and it takes me 10 minutes to get out of bed, and for him to be in pain for three years is very frustrating."

    Woods has not played since February after undergoing surgery following a recurrence of back problems.

    "From what I see on Instagram and what he's been telling me, he says he's ready and I'm hoping that he is, because from what I hear, he's hitting it very long," Day said.

    "And if he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.

    "There's no pressure. I think it's a 17- or 18-man field, there's no cut, he's playing at a tournament where last year I think he had the most birdies at."