Jose Maria Olazabal to be inducted into Hall of Fame

By Doug FergusonMay 20, 2009, 4:00 pm
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Jose Maria Olazabal and Seve Ballesteros, known as the Spanish Armada during their indomitable partnership in the Ryder Cup, never had to exchange ideas because they thought and played so much alike.
We were erratic off the tee, solid with irons, extremely good around the green, Olazabal said Wednesday. Whenever we had to make a decision, there was not much thinking to do, not much talking. We saw the same shot, the same flight, we had the same ideas.
Linked by their Spanish heritage and superb short game, they will be together again in the World Golf Hall of Fame.
Olazabal was elected on the International ballot with 56 percent of the vote, joining Ballesteros as the only Spaniards in the shrine. He will be inducted Nov. 2 at the World Golf Village in St. Augustine, Fla.
Its a very special feeling to be part of that group, and for me in particular, knowing that Seve is there, with the relationship Ive had with him through my career, Olazabal said. He made me believe in myself. He made me believe my game was good enough to win tournaments. I owe him everything.
Olazabal did his part with 29 victories worldwide and two Masters, the second green jacket the most unlikely of all.
In the prime of his career, Olazabal feared he would never play with a mysterious ailment that later was diagnosed as rheumatoid arthritis in the joints of both feet. He battled Greg Norman along the back nine of Augusta National and won by two shots.
He spent two years on the couch, needing help just to get to the bathroom, his only access to golf what he saw on television.
More than once, I thought my career was over, I was not going to be able to play golf again, he said. To be where I am now, after what I went through, is quite remarkable.
Two victories on the PGA Tour defined his resiliency and explosive style.
He made the cut on the number in the 2002 Buick Invitational at Torrey Pines, then closed with rounds of 67-65 for a one-shot victory. The other was the World Series of Golf at Firestone in 1990, when he opened with a 61 and went on to a 12-shot victory.
All the players kept telling me that was the toughest golf course we play all year, Olazabal said. Once the week was over, it seemed easy. I went back the following year to defend the title, and after a practice round Tuesday, I was shaking my head at how the hell I managed to score that well.
Butch Harmon, one of three swing coaches in Olazabals career, knew the answer.
Hes always been the ultimate warrior, Harmon said Wednesday. He reminds me of the gladiators in the Coliseum in the old days, when the put them in there with the lions. He didnt know how, but he was coming out. I always felt like Jose Maria and Tiger Woods are very similar, but God gave Tiger more talent. You look at his heart, desire and work ethic, and he had the ability to rise to the occasion.
Olazabal grew up on a golf course in Spain, the son of a greenskeeper, learning golf with a putter cut down to his size. Olazabal never thought he had a great swing, but he compensated with a big heart.
Two words spring immediately to mind when reflecting on the wonderful career of Jose Maria Olazabal ' courage and determination, said George OGrady, chief executive of the European Tour.
Among his early feats was beating Colin Montgomerie in the 1984 British Amateur at Turnberry. Olazabal won his first European Tour event at the Swiss Open when he was 20.
He met Ballesteros when he was 14, and they became the greatest partnership in Ryder Cup history with an 11-2-2 record.
Most satisfying to the 43-year-old Olazabal was that he achieved so much without having a sound swing.
I had to work hard to be competitive, he said.
Election requires 65 percent of the vote from a panel of Hall of Famers, media and various golf officials. Olazabal got in through a loophole that takes the player with the most votes provided it is more than 50 percent.
The class of 2009 thus far includes Lanny Wadkins (PGA Tour ballot) and Christy OConnor Sr. (Veterans Category).

National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 11:10 pm

The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.

Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.

These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon:

Rookie Cook (66-62) credits prior Tour experience

By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 10:36 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook is a rookie only on paper. At least, that’s the way he’s played since joining the circuit this season.

This week’s RSM Classic is Cook’s fourth start on Tour, and rounds of 66-62 secured his fourth made cut of the young season. More importantly, his 14-under total moved him into the lead at Sea Island Resort.

“I really think that a couple years ago, the experience that I have had, I think I've played maybe 10 events, nine events before this season,” Cook said. “Being in contention a few times and making cuts, having my card has really prepared me for this.”

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Full-field scores from the RSM Classic

Cook has been perfect this week at the RSM Classic and moved into contention with four consecutive birdies starting at No. 13 (he began his round on the 10th hole of the Seaside course). A 6-footer for birdie at the last moved him one stroke clear of Brian Gay.

In fact, Cook hasn’t come close to making a bogey this week thanks to an equally flawless ball-striking round that moved him to first in the field in strokes gained: tee to green.

If Cook has played like a veteran this week, a portion of that credit goes to long-time Tour caddie Kip Henley, who began working for Cook during this year’s Tour finals.

“He’s got a great golf brain,” Henley said. “That’s the most flawless round of golf I’ve ever seen.”

Cook fires 62 for one-shot lead at RSM Classic

By Associated PressNovember 17, 2017, 10:26 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook made a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at the RSM Classic.

Cook has gone 36 holes without a bogey on the Plantation and Seaside courses at Sea Island Golf Club. He played Seaside - the site of the final two rounds in the last PGA Tour event of the calendar year - on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.

''We've just been able to it hit the ball really well,'' Cook said. ''Speed on greens has been really good and getting up-and-down has been great. I've been able to hit it pretty close to the hole to make some pretty stress-free putts. But the couple putts that I have had of some length for par, I've been able to roll them in. Everything's going well.''

The 26-year-old former Arkansas player was at 14-under 128 and had a one-stroke lead over Brian Gay, who shot 64 on Seaside. No one else was closer than five shots going into the final two rounds.

The 45-year-old Gay won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2013.

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Full-field scores from the RSM Classic

''I've hit a lot of greens and fairways,'' Gay said. ''I've hit the ball, kept it in front of me. There's a lot of trouble out here, especially with the wind blowing, so I haven't had to make too many saves the first couple days and I putted well.''

Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. He earned his PGA Tour card through the Tour, and has hired Gay's former caddie, Kip Henley.

''With him being out here so long, he knows everybody, so it's not like I'm completely the new kid on the block,'' Cook said. ''He's introduced me to a lot of people, so it's just making me feel comfortable out here. He knows his way around these golf courses. We're working really well together.''

First-round leader Chris Kirk followed his opening 63 on the Plantation with a 70 on the Seaside to drop into a tie for third at 9 under with C.T. Pan (65) and Vaughn Taylor (66).

Brandt Snedeker is looking strong in his first start in some five months because of a sternum injury. Snedeker shot a 67 on the Plantation course and was six shots back at 8 under.

''I was hitting the ball really well coming down here,'' Snedeker said. ''I was anxious to see how I would hold up under pressure. I haven't played a tournament in five months, so it's held up better than I thought it would. Ball-striking's been really good, mental capacity's been unbelievable.

''I think being so fresh, excited to be out there and thinking clearly. My short game, which has always been a strength of mine, I didn't know how sharp it was going to be. It's been really good so far.''

Bubba (64) fires his lowest round of 2017

By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 10:12 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Bubba Watson’s plan when he left the Dell Technologies Championship in September was to take a few months off and come back fresh in 2018

Those plans changed after a few weeks.

“What we figured out was the mental side, preparing for kindergarten - not for me, for my son - preparing for [wife] Angie's knee surgery. It's been a tough go,” Watson said.

“Being home and being with the family and everything, I realized how much I missed the game of golf, and that's why I wanted to come and play in these tournaments.”

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Full-field scores from the RSM Classic

The plan has paid off this week at the RSM Classic, where Watson is tied for 12th place after a second-round 64 on the Seaside course moved him to 7 under par.

Watson, who tied for 51st two weeks ago in Las Vegas, got off to a quick start on Day 2, playing the opening nine in 29. Despite a miscue at the 14th hole, when his tee shot wedged into a tree, he was solid coming in for his best individual round this year.

The left-hander was particularly sharp with his ball-striking after what has been a difficult year.

“I want to play golf now and right now I'm swinging at it pretty nicely,” he said.