Uihlein's remarkable journey on European Tour

By Doug FergusonMay 21, 2013, 10:20 pm

The quotation from the proud father was a version of Ralph Waldo Emerson's famous words, ''Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.''

The path of Peter Uihlein took him inside a cage below the surface of the Indian Ocean, where a Great White Shark with jaws wide open approached while closing in on a tuna. The jagged, triangular teeth gnashed at the tuna's head against the cage, and the former U.S. Amateur champion could see black eyes roll over to white.

''That was the coolest,'' Uihlein said. ''When I knew I was going to South Africa, that's the thing I've always wanted to do. We were in Mossel Bay. I was told it was a good cage dive, so we did it. We were out there for five hours. They chum up the water, and there were six or seven of them. It was incredible.''

Uihlein spoke on his way from Gatwick to Wentworth, a familiar path for the best on the European Tour.

The 23-year-old out of Oklahoma State earned a spot in the BMW PGA Championship with his two-shot victory Sunday in the Madeira Islands Open in Portugal, his first win since he turned pro in December 2011 and set off on a course where few Americans venture.

It started with the Gujarat Kensville Challenge in India.

In the last 18 months, he has been to Korea and Kazakhstan, Finland and France, the Czech Republic and Copenhagen.

Uihlein tried Q-School on the PGA Tour as an amateur and didn't get out of the second stage, leaving him no status on any tour. Most young Americans, especially with his pedigree as a U.S. Amateur champion and two-time Walker Cup player, would try to make the most out of sponsor exemptions on the PGA Tour, or even try to work their way up through the Web.com Tour.

Looking at golf through a wide lens, and with the advice of those who see golf on a global landscape, Uihlein headed to Europe and beyond.

His father is Wally Uihlein, chief executive of Acushnet, which makes Titleist golf equipment. His agent is Chubby Chandler of International Sports Management, whose stable began with Lee Westwood and Darren Clarke and now includes a couple of South African stars in Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel. He began working with Butch Harmon and his son, Claude Harmon III.

There were times when travel, failures and solitude could have made him question what he was doing so far from home.

''Based on the guys I have around me – Butch, Chubs, my dad – they've been doing this a long, long time,'' Uihlein said. ''If they say it's the right thing to do, who am I to question what they say? I had no doubts.''

Frustrations?

''Name me one golfer that doesn't get frustrated,'' he said with a laugh.

He says he is not the least bit envious of Jordan Spieth, the 19-year-old from Texas who started out trying to make it through sponsor exemptions. Spieth was closing in on Web.com Tour status when he tied for second in the Puerto Rico Open and tied for seventh in the Tampa Bay Championship, which earned him unlimited exemptions on the PGA Tour. He now has locked up his card for 2014.

Two years ago, Bud Cauley left Alabama and earned his card without ever going to Q-school.

''Those guys played well with the opportunity, and that's what it's about,'' Uihlein said. ''To do what Spieth did, you have to be a great player, and you have to be ready to come out and play well in a few events. They both played great. But for every one or two of those guys, there are 20 who don't pull that off.''

Before there was a Hogan Tour – now called the Web.com Tour – it made more sense for players without a PGA Tour card to travel the world in search of a game. That's what Payne Stewart did. Corey Pavin spent his first year out of UCLA on the European Tour and won the German Open by beating Seve Ballesteros.

These days, the options range from the Web.com Tour, the eGolf Tour in North Carolina, the Hooters Tour in the South. Uihlein chose to travel to obscure outposts in golf, and even in some down times, there have been few regrets.

''It helps you grow up as a player and a person,'' he said. ''There are so many different variables every week. It's all about becoming a more well-rounded player, and not a one-dimensional player. You might hear someone say, 'Hilton Head sets up well for them.' I don't want that stereotype.''

Uihlein started slowly. He made only one cut in the five European Tour events he played – a tie for 57th in the Avantha Masters in India – but at least secured status on the Challenge Tour, which is Europe's version of the minor leagues.

It sounds exotic traveling the world, yet there were times when his confidence took a beating, just like any golfer. He withdrew from the Hassan Trophy after opening with an 83 and didn't play for nine weeks. Part of that time was spent with Harmon in Las Vegas.

Harmon said the problems were his driving and confidence, and one was easier to fix than the other.

''He's worked his butt off,'' Harmon said. ''The kid always has been able to play, he just lost his way a little bit. I've talked to Wally. We thought the European Tour was the way to go. Young kids get spoiled over here. You get over there, you play in bad conditions on different courses, and you appreciate it more. He's doing the right thing, and I'm real happy for him.''

With his win in Portugal, Uihlein now has a full European Tour card, which can only help get him to where he eventually wants to be, back home in America.

Even now, Uihlein is in no hurry. He is seeing the world. He is learning. He takes nothing for granted.

''If you're OK with being a little lonely out there, it's definitely the route,'' Uihlein said. ''It's a different route for an American, but I think you'll see it more and more.''

Uihlein started this year by playing seven straight weeks that took him from India to South Africa to Kenya and back to South Africa for two weeks, and then to Puerto Rico and Florida before taking a five-week break. He shares a home in South Florida with Brooks Koepka, who plays the Challenge Tour in Europe, and Matt Broome, a childhood friend who is playing the PGA Tour Latinoamerica.

''We have a house rule that whoever wins a tournament has to buy a jet ski,'' Uihlein said. ''Brooks won a Challenge Tour event a few weeks ago. So now we're going to have two jet skis at the house when I get home.''

And then he'll be back on the road again, leaving a trail.

Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

"It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’


Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

“Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

“That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.

The golf world celebrates Thanksgiving

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 6:01 pm

Here's a look, through social media, at how the golf world celebrates Thanksgiving.

Lexi Thompson:

Baking time!!

A post shared by Lexi Thompson (@lexi) on

David Feherty:

Jack Nicklaus:

GC Tiger Tracker:

Steve Stricker:

Golf Channel:

Frank Nobilo:

Ian Poulter:

Tyrone Van Aswegen:

Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017

By Grill Room TeamNovember 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.

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: