Major coup: Wright donates mementos to USGA

By Doug FergusonNovember 13, 2011, 11:46 pm

SYDNEY – The silver U.S. Women’s Open trophies. Her famous Bulls-Eye putter she used for all but one of her 82 victories. Rare video footage of her golf swing, which Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson once called the best they ever saw.

Mickey Wright kept this treasure in her Florida home for nearly 40 years, some of it on tables and shelves, some of it stashed away in closets and under the bed. She never gave it another thought.

Considered by many to be the greatest player in LPGA history, Wright was never one to get wrapped up in the past.

“I’m not a real sentimental type,” she said.

That’s why it was such a major coup for the U.S. Golf Association when Wright agreed to donate some 200 personal artifacts for a permanent display at the USGA Museum in Far Hills, N.J.

Wright will be only the fourth player - and first woman - to have a gallery in her name at the museum. The others are for Hogan, Bobby Jones and Arnold Palmer. It is scheduled to open in June.

“This is exciting beyond belief,” USGA executive director Mike Davis said. “Many people suggest she had one of the finest swings ever in the game. She dominated women’s golf for a long time. And she’s got a little bit of that Hogan mystique. She’s pretty quiet, and when she left the game, she really did leave the game. People didn’t have a lot of access to her.”

The 76-year-old Wright has been inducted into the LPGA Hall of Fame and honored at the Memorial Tournament by Jack Nicklaus. The Mickey Wright Room at the USGA Museum is special - not just for her, but to draw attention to women’s golf.

“I’m so excited for this room, the first for a woman,” Wright said in an interview with The Associated Press. “It’s a great honor. The best thing will be the contrast that people will be able to see between today’s golf, which is a completely different game from what was played in the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s. I hope they can appreciate their roots.”

Wright spent the last few months helping to pack the 34 boxes that were shipped to the USGA and arrived last Thursday.

They include that putter given to her by the late Mary Lena Faulk, and the Wilson Staff golf clubs that she used in every win since 1963 except for one. She briefly came out of retirement in 1973 and won the Colgate Dinah Shore.

Trophies range from the 1952 U.S. Girls’ Junior to two of her four U.S. Open titles. She still has a contestant’s badge from the 1954 U.S. Women’s Open when she was an amateur paired with Babe Zaharias. Most special to her are the 25 scrapbooks compiled by longtime friend Peggy Wilson of clippings, letters and her nationally syndicated column, “Lessons from Mickey Wright.”

It was a rare occasion for Wright to look back on a career in which she won 44 tournament in a span of four years in the early 1960s, and 12 majors between 1958 and 1966.

“I’m not much for living in the past,” she said. “But I enjoyed doing it, reliving it.”

Two items she kept for herself were the Bob Jones Award she received last year, the USGA’s highest honor; and a three-page letter of “fatherly advice” that longtime USGA executive director Joe Dey wrote to her when she turned pro.

One of the last items she packed was a mat that was rolled up and had been collecting dust as she recovered from knee surgery.

For years, Wright used to hit balls off that mat from her patio onto the 14th fairway of the golf course where she lives each morning. Then, she would go out to the fairway to pick them up.

“I sat on her patio and watched her do it,” said Rhonda Glenn, a USGA historian and longtime friend. “It was a treat. I used to watch Hogan practice when I was a little girl, at Seminole. There was this crack when he hit the ball. I had never heard it again until Mickey was hitting balls, this crack with a 6-iron. Of all the great players I’ve seen, there were only two who hit it like that.”

A week ago, Wright cleaned off the mat, went out to the patio and one last time hit wedges out to the fairway.

It was Glenn and Barbara Romack, who twice beat Wright in the U.S. Women’s Amateur, who encouraged her to give the public a chance to share in an LPGA career like no other.

“Rhonda tossed out the idea that I might want to donate some of my items to the USGA, and it just mushroomed from there,” Wright said. “It sounded like a really good idea.”

The collection includes footage of Wright developing her swing with Harry Pressler, her teacher who worked in San Gabriel, Calif. Wright’s mother used to drive her two hours from their home in San Diego each Saturday to work with him.

“This is the greatest treasure,” Glenn said. “She showed me a home movie of herself hitting balls at 11. I was transfixed. She said she was embarrassed. ‘My footwork is so sloppy!’ I said, ‘Mickey, you were 11!”’

The pursuit of perfection, much like Hogan, was endless.

The star power was reminiscent of Tiger Woods.

Wright held such appeal that sponsors threatened to cancel tournaments if she didn’t play. It was a burden she accepted by averaging 30 tournaments a year between 1962 and 1964. She drove from one stop to the next, often hitting putts into a glass in her hotel room to get feel back into the hands that had been wrapped around a steering wheel all day.

She walked away at her peak, returning a decade later for the occasional the tournament.

“I can go back and second-guess that one,” Wright said. “I should have played longer. At the time, I had physical problems and had to play in tennis shoes. And then there was the pressure and the stress of having to win, of having won so much, of the press being disappointed if I didn’t win, having to be at tournaments.”

“I finally had enough,” she said. “And I had accomplished what I had set out to do.”

The Mickey Wright Room will be 400 square feet, next to the Palmer gallery, overlooking the magnolia trees in front of the museum.

“This is such a find,” Davis said. “There’s probably people today who don’t know much about Mickey Wright. For anyone who loves history of the game, they know what she’s done. I think when the news gets out, women who follow the game - particularly ones who played the tour before - are going to be inspired.

“Mickey decided to give up things that had been very private.”

Watch: Fleetwood gets emotional with family after Race to Dubai win

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 19, 2017, 5:30 pm

Tommy Fleetwood took home the season-long Race to Dubai title on Sunday after a T-21 finish at the DP World Tour Championship.

He was, understandably, emotional after learning his fate while sitting with his wife and baby following a career year in which he won the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship and the French Open and finished fourth at the U.S. Open.

Luckily for us, cameras were rolling:

Matsuyama after Koepka rout: 'Huge gap between us'

By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 4:22 pm

Hideki Matsuyama offered a blunt assessment after finishing 10 shots behind Brooks Koepka at the Japan Tour's Dunlop Phoenix event.

Koepka waxed the field en route to successfully defending his title in Japan, shooting a 20-under par total that left him nine shots clear of a runner-up group that included PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Xander Schauffele. Koepka's score was one shot off the tournament record, and his margin for victory eclipsed Tiger Woods' eight-shot romp in 2004.

Matsuyama appeared set to make a final-round charge after a birdie on No. 2 was followed by an ace on the par-3 third hole. But he played the next eight holes in 3 over and eventually finished alone in fifth place following a 2-under 69. Afterwards, he stacked his game up against that of Koepka in a telling comment to the Japan Times.

"I feel there's a huge gap between us," Matsuyama said.

The Japanese phenom entered the week ranked No. 4 in the world, though he will be passed in the next rankings by Jon Rahm following the Spaniard's win in Dubai. Matsuyama won twice this year on the PGA Tour, including the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, but he has largely struggled since missing out on a maiden major title at the PGA Championship, where he tied for fifth.

Matsuyama was a runner-up to Koepka at the U.S. Open earlier this summer, and the 25-year-old seems headed back to the drawing board before defending his title at the Hero World Challenge in two weeks.

"I don't know whether it's a lack of practice or whether I lack the strength to keep playing well," Matsuyama said. "It seems there are many issues to address."

McCormick to caddie for Spieth at Aussie Open

By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 2:21 pm

When Jordan Spieth returns next week to defend his title at the Australian Open, he will do so without his regular caddie on the bag.

Spieth and Michael Greller have combined to win 14 tournaments and three majors, including three events in 2017. But Greller's wife, Ellie, gave birth to the couple's first child on Oct. 13, and according to a report from the Australian Herald Sun he will not make the intercontinental trip to Sydney, where Spieth will look to win for the third time in the last four years.

Instead, Spieth will have longtime swing coach and native Aussie Cameron McCormick on the bag at The Australian Golf Club. McCormick, who won PGA Teacher of the Year in 2015, is originally from Melbourne but now lives in Texas and has taught Spieth since he was a rising star among the junior golf ranks in Dallas.

While Greller has missed rounds before, this will be the first time as a pro that Spieth has used a different caddie for an entire event. Greller was sidelined with an injury last year in Singapore when Spieth's agent, Jay Danzi, took the bag, and trainer Damon Goddard has subbed in twice when Greller was sick, including this year at the Dean & DeLuca Invitational.

Spieth's torrid 2015 season traced back to his win at The Australian in 2014, and he returned to Oz last year where he won a playoff at Royal Sydney over Cameron Smith and Ashley Hall.

Rahm wins finale, Fleetwood takes Race to Dubai

By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 1:42 pm

Jon Rahm captured the final tournament on the European Tour calendar, a result that helped Tommy Fleetwood take home the season-long Race to Dubai title.

Rahm shot a final-round 67 to finish two shots clear of Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Shane Lowry at the DP World Tour Championship. It's the second European Tour win of the year for the Spaniard, who also captured the Irish Open and won on the PGA Tour in January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

"I could not be more proud of what I've done this week," Rahm told reporters. "Having the weekend that I've had, actually shooting 12 under on the last 36 holes, bogey-free round today, it's really special."

But the key finish came from Justin Rose, who held the 54-hole lead in Dubai but dropped back into a tie for fourth after closing with a 70. Rose entered the week as one of only three players who could win the Race to Dubai, along with Sergio Garcia and Fleetwood, who started with a lead of around 250,000 Euros.

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With Fleetwood in the middle of the tournament pack, ultimately tying for 21st after a final-round 74, the door was open for Rose to capture the title thanks to a late charge despite playing in half the events that Fleetwood did. Rose captured both the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open, and was one round away from a two-trophy photo shoot in Dubai.

Instead, his T-4 finish meant he came up just short, as Fleetwood won the season-long race by 58,821 Euros.

The title caps a remarkable season for Fleetwood, who won the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship as well as the French Open to go along with a pair of runner-up finishes and a fourth-place showing at the U.S. Open.

"I find it amazing, the season starts in November, December and you get to here and you're watching the last shot of the season to decide who wins the Race to Dubai," Fleetwood said at the trophy ceremony. "But yeah, very special and something we didn't really aim for at the start of the year, but it's happened."