Stars mingle with the long shots at US Open

By Doug FergusonJune 15, 2009, 4:00 pm
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2009 U.S. OpenFARMINGDALE, N.Y. ' Tiger Woods held the putter with only his left hand as he rapped a 60-foot putt across the practice green. Then he hit another putt with his right hand, a third putt with both hands in conventional style
 
He asked for the wedge to try a variety of shots out of sticky grass, searching for the best approach.
 
Woods knows all the drills.
 
This is his 15th straight year playing in the U.S. Open, and his third attempt this decade at joining an elite group as back-to-back champions in the so-called toughest test in golf.
 
Woods is the overwhelming favorite at Bethpage Black, where he won by three shots in 2002 as the only player to finish under par. The challenge figures to come from a familiar cast, whether its Padraig Harrington or Phil Mickelson, Geoff Ogilvy or Jim Furyk.
 
What gives the U.S. Open its charm, however, are the long shots.
 
Ogilvy finished warming up on the range and walked past players he had never seen. One of them was Scott Lewis, a 20-year-old amateur still trying to get over the shock of playing in his first U.S. Open.
 
Lewis just finished his sophomore year at the University of California-Santa Barbara, where his best finish this year was a tie for seventh in the Wyoming Desert Invitational. An alternate from sectional qualifying, he didnt learn he was in the U.S. Open until Friday. Before he could blink, he had an audience like never before.
 
People are watching me hit balls, he said. First time thats ever happened.
 
Stranger still was walking to the range and hearing someone ask for an autograph. He kept right on walking until his father, who is caddying for him, realized no one else was around and tapped his son on the shoulder to sign.
 
Another first.
 
On the far end of the range was Clinton Jensen, a 34-year-old father of two young girls who quit golf for a couple of years until he realized he couldnt stay away. He is playing the Tar Heel Tour and wants to try Q-school again this fall, hopeful this time he can get past the second stage for the first time.
 
I just couldnt stay away, Jensen said.
 
For every Woods, Mickelson and Harrington who are trying to add to their collection of majors, there are players like Lewis, Jensen and 19-year-old David Erdy who are simply happy to be at Bethpage Black.
 
The U.S. Open is the only major where more than 50 percent of the field is open to any player willing to qualify. The last player to go through 18-hole local qualifying and 36-hole sectional qualify and win the U.S. Open was Orville Moody in 1969.
 
They all know their odds are longer than some of the par 4s at Bethpage Black.
 
The thrill was getting here.
 
Lewis, who had the seventh-best scoring average of the Gauchos this year, made a 35-foot birdie putt on the final hole of sectional qualifying that got him into a four-man playoff for three spots. With jangled nerves, he made bogey and was first alternate.
 
The USGA handed him a packet of instructions for alternates ' they cannot play the golf course, but they can use the practice facilities as long as theyre not taking up space. Lewis didnt even bother opening the envelope.
 
Then I got a text at 5:24 a.m., he said, a small detail that recites as easily as his birthday. It said to call the USGA because theres been a change in plans. I couldnt get back to sleep.
 
Lewis replaced Dudley Hart, who withdrew with an injury.
 
He finished final exams on Sunday, played in the sectional qualifier Monday, moved out of his house in Santa Barbara on Tuesday because his lease was up, traveled home to Henderson, Nev., spent Thursday unpacking, then began booking flights to New York.
 
He took a redeye and arrived Monday morning.
 
My head is spinning, Lewis said. Everything happened so fast.
 
Its about to hit warp speed. He signed up for a practice round Monday afternoon, which was cut short when mostly sunny skies gave way to afternoon thunderstorms, dumping even more water on a Bethpage Black course already softer than the USGA prefers. That will make it play even longer than its 7,406 yards, no matter what tees are used.
 
I just want to learn as much as possible, Lewis said. Wed all like to be out there and play well. Im looking forward to competing.
 
Jensen made a 30-foot birdie putt on his last hole of sectional qualifying, then lost to a birdie in the playoff and was first alternate. He was debating whether he should even come to New York until he learned Thursday he would be among the top alternates. Three days later, he got in when former Masters champion Trevor Immelman withdrew with an elbow injury.
 
And to think he gave up on golf after missing the cut in his only other U.S. Open, in 2005 at Pinehurst No. 2.
 
I was just beating my head against the wall, he said.
 
Something told him not to stray too far, however, for he took a job at Lost Tree Golf Club in south Florida. He might find a new career someday, but he wasnt ready to quit just yet.
 
This is all Ive ever done since I was 15, Jensen said.
 
Then he looked around a practice range that was quickly getting crowded, and bleachers that were getting full.
 
Im having a great time, he said.
 
Over on the putting green, Woods finished his short-game practice, motioned to his caddie and coach, and walked briskly to the parking lot, just another day at the office.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage -2009 U.S. Open
  • First- and Second-Round Tee Times
  • Sectional Qualifying results
  • Bethpage Black Ballpark
  • Tributes pour in for legendary caddie Sheridan

    By Randall MellNovember 23, 2017, 2:54 pm

    Tributes are pouring in as golf celebrates the life of Greg Sheridan after receiving news of his passing.

    Sheridan, a long-time LPGA caddie who worked for some of the game’s all-time greats, including Kathy Whitworth and Beth Daniel, died Wednesday in Indian Rocks Beach, Fla., at 63. He was diagnosed in July 2016 with brain and lung cancer.

    Sheridan worked the last dozen years or so with Natalie Gulbis, who expressed her grief in an Instagram post on Wednesday:

    “Greg…I miss you so much already and it hasn’t even been a day. 15+ seasons traveling the world you carried me & my bag through the highs and lows of golf and life. You were so much more than my teammate on the course…Thank you.”

    Sheridan was on Whitworth’s bag for the last of her LPGA-record 88 titles.

    “When I first came on tour, I would try to find out how many times Greg won,” Gulbis told Golfweek. “It’s a crazy number, like 50.”

    Matthew Galloway, a caddie and friend to Sheridan, summed up Sheridan’s impressive reach after caddying with him one year at the LPGA Founders Cup, where the game’s pioneers are honored.

    “Best Greg story,” Galloway tweeted on Thanksgiving morning, “coming up 18 at PHX all the founders were in their chairs. Greg goes, `Yep, caddied for her, her and her.’ Legend.”

    In a first-person column for Golf Magazine last year, Gulbis focused on Sheridan while writing about the special bond between players and caddies. She wrote that she won the “looper lottery” when she first hired Sheridan in ’04.

    “Greg and I have traveled the world, and today he is like family,” Gulbis wrote. “Sometimes, he’s a psychologist. Last year, my mom got sick and it was a distraction, but he was great. When I used to have boyfriend issues and breakup issues, he was my confidant. In a world where caddies sometimes spill secrets, Greg has kept a respectful silence, and I can’t thank him enough for that. He’s an extension of me.”

    Four months after Gulbis wrote the column, Sheridan was diagnosed with cancer.

    “The LPGA family is saddened to hear of the loss of long-time tour caddie, Greg Sheridan,” the LPGA tweeted. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and players he walked with down the fairways. #RIP.”

    Dean Herden was among the legion of caddies saddened by the news.

    “Greg was a great guy who I respected a lot and taught me some great things over the years,” Herden texted to GolfChannel.com.

    Here are some of heartfelt messages that are rolling across Twitter:

    Retired LPGA great Annika Sorenstam:

    LPGA commissioner Mike Whan in a retweet of Gulbis:

    Golf Channel reporter and former tour player Jerry Foltz:

    Christina Kim:

    LPGA caddie Shaun Clews:

    LPGA caddie Jonny Scott:

    LPGA caddie Kevin Casas:

    LPGA pro Jennie Lee:

    Fitzpatrick one back in 2018 Euro Tour opener

    By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 1:37 pm

    HONG KONG – S.S.P. Chawrasia had six birdies and a bogey Thursday for a 5-under 65 and a one-stroke lead at the Hong Kong Open, the first event of the 2018 European Tour season.

    Playing in sunny but breezy conditions at the Hong Kong Golf Club, the greens had the players struggling to gauge the approach.

    ''Very tough conditions today,'' Chawrasia said. ''It's very firm greens, to be honest. I'm just trying to hit the second shot on the green and trying to make it like a two-putt.''


    Full-field scores from the UBS Hong Kong Open


    Shubhankar Sharma and Matthew Fitzpatrick (both 66) were one shot behind, while seven others were tied for fourth a further stroke behind.

    ''Hit it great tee to green,'' Fitzpatrick said. ''I think I had like seven or eight chances inside 15 feet, and on a day like today when it's so windy and such a tough golf course, with how tight it is, yeah, it was a good day.''

    Justin Rose, who won the title in 2015, shot was 2 under with five birdies and three bogeys.

    ''I think the course played a couple shots harder than it typically does,'' Rose said. ''I like this course. I think it offers plenty of birdie opportunities.''

    Masters champion Sergio GarciaRafa Cabrera Bello and defending champion Sam Brazel (69) were in a group of 16 at 1 under.

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

    What it means: 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.


    Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


    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.