Notes: Rookie takes different path to PGA Tour

By Doug FergusonOctober 18, 2016, 9:14 pm

NAPA, Calif. – Of the 70 players who made the cut in the PGA Tour season opener, Nicholas Lindheim easily could have been mistaken for a college kid who Monday qualified. He had a carry bag. He was not wearing a cap with a logo. He didn't have an equipment deal. He didn't have an agent.

Lindheim, who turns 32 next month, is the oldest of the 25 rookies on the PGA Tour.

And there aren't many like him.

The California native made it to the big leagues without going to college, and without having much game in the first place.

''I played my sophomore year in high school, and I was terrible,'' he said. ''Being as competitive as I am, I just couldn't put it down. I knew I could do it. I wouldn't say I knew I could play on the PGA Tour, but to do it competitively.''

The competitive side of him, not to mention the athleticism, comes naturally. His dad was a swimmer, his mother ran track. His sister, Bryttani, played softball at Florida State. Lindheim was into skateboarding, soccer and baseball until he threw his arm out.

As for golf?

''Watching it on TV, I was like, 'How hard is it to put a ball in the hole?''' he said. ''I just had this fixation. My play is more unorthdox. I've been self-taught my whole life. I'm just really competitive. Just get the ball in the hole as fast as you can.''

Turns out it was plenty difficult, though not enough for him to stop trying.

He worked in the cart barn at Mission Viejo Country Club, then moved to Menifee Lakes Country Club in Murrieta, California, where he would play every day after work until he got better. He tried Q-school for the first time in 2011. He qualified for the U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2 in 2014, made the cut and played with Jim Furyk in the final round (Lindheim closed with a 77 and tied for 56th, Furyk shot 67 and tied for 12th).

He finally got some status on the Tour, and Lindheim won on the Latin America circuit in 2014 and 2015.

And then he was ready to quit.

''I thought maybe at one point this year I wasn't good enough,'' Lindheim said. ''It was my daughter's third birthday. I was in Springfield, Illinois, and had just missed the cut by a shot. I missed an 8-footer on the last hole. I called my wife and said, 'This isn't fun.' I was missing out on life at home.''

His wife, Gracie, an attorney in Satellite Beach, Florida, told him to finish up the year and take stock.

Lindheim won the next week in Utah and was on his way to the big leagues.

''That's how crazy this game is,'' Lindheim said.

Others seem more impressed than Lindheim that he was still learning to play when his fellow rookies on tour were in the NCAAs, the U.S. Amateur or the Walker Cup.

''That's what my wife says,'' Lindheim said with a laugh. ''She says I don't realize the level I'm at. I just expect a lot out of myself.''

AMATEUR HOUR: A policy change on the PGA Tour involving amateurs has a historical footnote involving Tiger Woods and Matt Kuchar.

Woods' record of 142 consecutive cuts made on the PGA Tour would have been only 117 in a row if not for Kuchar. At the Bay Hill Invitational in 1999, Woods opened with rounds of 74-72 and went into the weekend in a tie for 71st. The cut policy for years had been top 70 ''professionals'' and ties.

Kuchar shot 73-69, but because he was an amateur, Woods made the cut. He went six more years before the streak ended at the Byron Nelson Classic.

Starting this season, the cut is top 70 and ties, with no distinction between amateur and professional.

LPGA PROMOTION: Madelene Sagstrom led the list of 10 players from the Symetra Tour who earned cards on the LPGA Tour for next year. Sagstrom, a 23-year-old Swede who went to LSU, won three times and had 11 finishes in the top 10.

Among the LPGA newcomers is Nelly Korda, whose tie for sixth in the Symetra Tour Championship allowed her to get into the top 10 on the money list and join big sister Jessica Korda in the big leagues next year.

Six of the 10 were playing the Symetra Tour for the first time - Sagstrom, Korda, Ally McDonald, Wichanee Meechai, Dana Finkelstein and Peiyun Chien.

FEDEX CUP: The PGA Tour has adjusted its point distribution for the FedEx Cup to put more emphasis on higher finishes. It essentially uses a similar model to how the money is paid out at tournaments.

What tour officials discovered was that a player who finished ninth one week and missed the cut the following week earned roughly the same amount of FedEx Cup points was someone who finished 31st at both those events. But in the money distribution, ninth place and a missed cut was worth at least twice as much money.

As an example of the change, a player last year received 40 points for finishing 31st. This year he gets 26.5 points.

DIVOTS: Bank of Hope, the largest Korean-American bank in the United States, with more than $13 billion in assets, has become title sponsor of the Founders Cup on the LPGA Tour. The event, which celebrates the LPGA founders, will still be played at Wildfire Golf Club in Phoenix. ... Golfweek magazine reports that Lydia Ko has split with her caddie of two years, Jason Hamilton. She won 10 times with him on the bag, including two majors. ... Justin Thomas has pledged $250 for every birdie (or better) he makes at the Safeway Open, the CIMB Classic and HSBC Champions to Convoy of Hope, which aids those affected by Hurricane Matthew. Thomas made 23 birdies and one eagle at the Safeway Open, totaling $6,000.

STAT OF THE WEEK: Patton Kizzire has been runner-up in each of his two PGA Tour season openers.

FINAL WORD: ''I don't think I'm a fast player. I just think I'm usually ready to go.'' - Bill Haas on pace of play.

Bradley, wife welcome baby boy, already rocking Patriots gear

By Grill Room TeamNovember 20, 2017, 6:40 pm

Keegan Bradley and his wife Jillian announced on social media that they welcomed a baby boy, Logan James Bradley, to the world last week.

The Bradleys both posted photos on Instagram over the weekend, introducing their healthy newborn baby, who was (not-surprisingly) already decked out in head-to-toe New England Patriots gear.

Bradley, 31, grew up in New England and is not shy about showing his support for the area's sports teams.

Logan James Bradley 11/13/17 He’s changed @jillian_bradley and my life forever. We couldn’t be happier #gopats #dab

A post shared by Keegan Bradley (@keeganbradley1) on

A big congratulations is in order for the new parents.

And all you other adorable kids of PGA Tour golfers, you've officially been put on notice. You've got some new competition.

Country music star Owen to play in event

By Will GrayNovember 20, 2017, 6:19 pm

Country music star and avid amateur golfer Jake Owen has accepted a sponsor invitation to play in the 2018 Nashville Golf Open on the Tour.

Owen, 36, has sold millions of albums while becoming one of the top male singers in the country genre. He has also been frequently spotted on the links, teeing it up last week alongside host Davis Love III in the RSM Classic pro-am and participating each of the last three years as the celebrity partner for Jordan Spieth at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

Owen will now try his hand in competition against some of the game's rising stars at the May 24-27 event, held in his hometown and benefitting the charitable foundation of PGA Tour pro Brandt Snedeker.

"I am truly honored to have this opportunity to play golf with guys whose work ethic I admire so much, like my buddy Brandt Snedeker," Owen said in a release. "I know how hard everyone works to get to play in these ( Tour) tournaments. I'm really grateful, and I can't wait for this week in May 2018 to get here."

Owen will be following in the footsteps of NBA superstar Steph Curry, who played on a sponsor invite earlier this year at the's Ellie Mae Classic and, while missing the cut, largely exceeded expectations. Curry is currently listed as a 0.8 handicap, while Owen played at Pebble Beach in February as a 3 handicap.

Like Curry, Owen will play via an "unrestricted" sponsor invite and will retain his amateur status.

Jeremy Roenick uses golf clubs to catch rattlesnake

By Jason CrookNovember 20, 2017, 6:00 pm

Jeremy Roenick has never seemed to be afraid of much, whether it was another guy breaking his jaw on the hockey rink or an alligator interrupting his golf game.

The retired American hockey legend who currently works as an NBC Sports analyst was at it again over the weekend, coming across a rattlesnake in Arizona and just casually using a couple of golf clubs to catch it before grabbing it with his bare hands and showing it off for the camera.

The person recording can be heard calling Roenick "psycho" and "nuts" several times before the snake is thrown off the property.

That person is not wrong.

What's in the bag: RSM Classic winner Cook

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 20, 2017, 3:52 pm

PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook earned his first Tour title at the RSM Classic. Take a look inside his bag.

Driver: Ping G400 (8.5 degrees adjusted to 9.2), with Fujikura Speeder Evolution 661X shaft

Fairway wood: Ping G400 (13 degrees), with Fujikura Motore VC 7.0 shaft

Hybrids: Ping G400 (19, 22 degrees), with Matrix Altus Red X shafts

Irons: Ping S55 (5-PW), with KBS Tour S shafts

Wedges: Ping Glide 2.0 (50, 56, 60) with True Temper Dynamic Gold S400 shafts

Putter: Ping Sigma G Tyne

Ball: Titleist Pro V1