Notes Inspiring charitable giving Blast from the past

By Doug FergusonMarch 23, 2011, 4:21 am

PGA Tour (75x100)ORLANDO, Fla. – Bubba Watson was moved when he heard about the earthquake and tsunami that caused so much destruction in Japan, and he began thinking about a contribution to the relief efforts, just as he did with Haiti earthquake.

A lighthearted conversation with Ryuji Imada, a former teammate at Georgia, pushed in that direction.

Imada, who was born in Japan, pledged to donate $1,000 toward relief efforts for every birdie he made during the Transitions Championship last week at Innisbrook.

“That made me interested,” Watson said Tuesday. “But I said to Ryuji, ‘What if you don’t make any birdies?’ I told him if he went two days without making birdies, I’d give $10,000 in his honor. We were joking. But he said he thought about that, but he was going to give money no matter what he did.”

The next day, Imada opened with a 74 without making a single birdie.

Watson then told Imada that because he’s been a longtime friend, he would give $50,000 to the American Red Cross. Imada made two birdies on Friday, but by then, the seed had taken root. Watson finished his final round Sunday, found a PGA Tour official and handed him a check for $50,000 for the Japan relief efforts.

“We always give to charity,” Watson said. “It’s about helping people who need help. Me and my wife, Angie, we talked about it when the disaster happened. We wanted to help. We can’t dig through the rubble, so how about money? We’ve been blessed with money, why not help? And then Ryuji brought it to our attention.

“We think about this all the time, how blessed we are,” he said. “From where I grew up to where I am now, it’s a blessing to be able to write a check like that.”

Watson wasn’t alone in his personal charity efforts.

K.J. Choi, who has spent a career giving back, pledged $100,000. From his first victory on the PGA Tour, Choi had given a percentage of his winning check to the church he attended in the city that week.

Bobby Gates and Brandt Snedeker were among those who pledged money based on their birdies. Watson said he hopes the effort picks up momentum at the next few tournaments.


 

BLAST FROM THE PAST: Among the past champions at Bay Hill this week is a player that more than half the field won’t even recognize. That’s OK with Andy Bean. He doesn’t know them, either.

Bean won the Bay Hill Classic in 1981, so long ago that Fred Couples was still a rookie and among those who missed the cut were amateur Hal Sutton and Bill Calfee, who now runs the Nationwide Tour.

But it wasn’t the 30-year anniversary of his win that brought Bean back.

“We don’t have a tournament this week,” Bean said.

The Champions Tour typically has an event the week of the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Bean used to joke about the open dates on the senior schedule and ask officials to keep this week open. It worked out this year, and he wasn’t about to miss.

“Any time you can play in Arnold Palmer’s tournament, it’s cool,” said Bean, who lives less than an hour away in Lakeland.

The last of his 11 regular tour wins came in 1989, and Bean hasn’t played a full PGA Tour schedule since 2000. Bean, who turned 58 last week, last played a PGA Tour event in 2003.

“I’m looking forward to playing,” he said. “I’m sure it plays longer, and it was tougher than it was in years past. But if you drive well and putt well, that recipe works just about everywhere.”

Asked to pick two players in the field he would want in his group, Bean had to think long and hard. He settled on Palmer and Jack Nicklaus, adding with a laugh, “I know they’re not even playing.”

He’ll be playing Thursday and Friday with Brandt Jobe and Yuta Ikeda of Japan.

Bean is amazed at some of the young talent on tour these days, and thought it was good that more natural athletes are gravitating to golf. He said he played five sports in high school before settling on golf.

“I didn’t have to run fast and I didn’t have to jump high,” he said.


 

AMATEUR SCHEDULE: U.S. Amateur champion Peter Uihlein played the Transitions Championship last week and easily made the cut. He’s back at Oklahoma State this week, even though he had an automatic exemption to Bay Hill and doesn’t need to worry about burning exemptions because he won’t be turning pro any time soon.

It’s all a matter of scheduling, and Uihlein has one busy schedule.

“I’m going to be missing a lot of school because of the Masters,” he said.

Uihlein makes his way to Georgia next week for the 14th annual Georgia Cup match that features the U.S. Amateur and British Amateur champions. He plays Jin Jeong next Tuesday at The Golf Club of Georgia.

Then it’s back to school before a weekend at Augusta National to get ready for his first Masters appearance. The rest of his summer should be easier to juggle. The U.S. Open and British Open come after school is out.


 

CADDY FOR A CURE: Russ Holden has been running a unique charity for the past several years called “Caddy for a Cure,” in which people can bid to spend one day at a PGA Tour event as the caddie for a tour player.

Auction proceeds support PGA Tour military charities, Birdies for the Brave, the Fanconi Anemia Research Fund, the PGA Tour Caddy Assistance Fund and the charities of the tournament that week.

Luke Donald agreed to take part at the Northern Trust Open, one week before he went to No. 3 in the world. Next on the schedule is the two guys ahead of him in the world ranking – Martin Kaymer and Lee Westwood.

Kaymer has agreed to have the highest bidder caddie for him in a practice round at the Wells Fargo Championship, while Westwood will take part during the week of his title defense at the St. Jude Classic.

“We’ve had most of the world’s best players participate with us before,” Holden said. “This is the first time we’ve had the top three in the world. Whoever wins these opportunities to spend a day with Kaymer or Westwood is guaranteed to have a day they will never forget.”

The online auction is found at www.caddyforacure.com and eBay auction links.


 

DIVOTS: Ernie Els said he raised $720,000 on Monday when he hosted several players for a pro-am that raises money for the “Els for Autism Center of Excellence” he is building in south Florida. … Gary Woodland’s win last week was the 299th by a player who once competed on the Nationwide Tour. … The Byron Nelson Championship is bringing back its popular “Caddy for a Caddie” promotion. Why is it popular? The winner’s caddie receives a 2011 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid.


 

STAT OF THE WEEK: Three of the four winners on the Champions Tour this year have been No. 1 in the world – Nick Price, Bernhard Langer and Tom Lehman.


FINAL WORD: “I think the public itself cares who’s winning, not who’s qualifying.” – Paul Goydos.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 1, Justin Thomas

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 1:00 pm

He won a major, captured the FedExCup and was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year. It should come as no surprise that Justin Thomas holds the top spot on our Newsmakers list for 2017.

Thomas entered the year ranked outside the top 20, and few might have pegged him for a transcendent campaign. But he kicked off January with a win in Hawaii, added another before leaving the Aloha State and never looked back.

Thomas’ seminal moment came in August when he captured the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow for his breakthrough major title. One month after greeting Jordan Spieth behind the final green at Royal Birkdale, this time it was Thomas’ turn to have friends stick around to snap pictures with the trophy that signaled his arrival among golf’s upper echelon.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


In addition to racking up the hardware – five in total, including the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in his first start of the new wraparound season – Thomas dazzled with style. His runaway win at the Sony Open included an opening-round 59, and his third-round 63 at Erin Hills marked the first time anyone had ever shot 9 under on a U.S. Open venue.

Thomas’ consistency was rewarded at East Lake, when a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship netted him the season-long title and $10 million prize. It was in the subsequent press conference where he shared the goals list he had written into his cell phone in February, having ticked off nearly every one. It showed a dedicated attention to detail as well the tactical approach with which Thomas had steered his rapid ascent.

Heading into a new year, he’s now very clearly entrenched as one of the world’s best. And as his career progresses, it’s likely we’ll look back at 2017 as the point where Thomas first transformed great potential into eye-popping results.

Win No. 1: Title defense at the CIMB Classic

Article: Thomas (64) rallies to defend CIMB title


Win Nos. 2 and 3: The Hawaiian double

Article: Thomas refuses to let disastrous hole derail TOC win

Article: Worst week ever ends with another title at Sony Open


Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open

Article: Thomas becomes youngest player to shoot 59

Take a look: Thomas’ scorecard from his amazing 59


Record Round No. 2: 63 at the U.S. Open

Article: Thomas sets U.S. Open record with 9-under 63


Temporary Slide: Open MC makes it three in a row

Watch: Thomas loses club, makes 9, misses Open cut


Mr. Major (and win No. 4): PGA champ at Quail Hollow

Article: Thomas joins the club – the major club


Win No. 5: Dell Technologies Championship

Article: Thomas wins the battle of buddies over Spieth


The $10 Million Man: FedExCup champ


Biggest Win of All? Player of the Year


And One to Grow On: Wins at CJ Cup in 2017-18 season

Article: Thomas caps torrid 12-month run with CJ Cup win


Photo Galleries: Best of ...

Best of: Justin Thomas and Jillian Wisniewski

Best of: Justin Thomas through the years

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 12:30 pm

Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.

Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.