US Am champion Uihlein on the slow road to the PGA Tour

By Doug FergusonApril 6, 2011, 3:05 am

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Contrary to popular belief, Peter Uihlein’s first golf club was not a Titleist.

It was a Fisher Price.

“My parents have footage of me in a walker, swinging a plastic club,” he said. “I’ve been playing golf ever since I can remember.”

Uihlein brings stout credentials to his debut at Augusta National. He qualified for the Masters by winning the U.S. Amateur on his 21st birthday last summer at Chambers Bay. Two years ago, he was picked for the Walker Cup team and delivered a 4-0 record to help lead the Americans to victory. He is No. 1 in the world amateur ranking.

Uihlein also brings more name recognition than most amateurs at the Masters.

He is the son of Wally Uihlein, one of the more powerful figures in the golf industry as the chief executive of Acushnet, the parent company of Titleist. It is not quite the burden of being the son of Jack Nicklaus or the grandson of Arnold Palmer. Even so, Uihlein has had to deal with the perception of privilege for most of his junior golf career.

“It’s hard to miss it,” said Uihlein, who is finishing his junior year at Oklahoma State.

Clubs, balls and shoes, however, can only take a kid so far.

Passion for golf can’t be taught.

Both of Uihlein’s sons, Jonathan and Peter, took to golf at an early age. Dad tried to make it fun, calling it a “stick-and-ball” game with no promises where it would lead. Peter still remembers the games they played that kept golf interesting. He was allowed to essentially set up his own course and make his own par.

“He moved me from the 80-yard marker to the 100-yard marker, and as I got better, 150 and 200 yards,” Uihlein said. “We had games that kept me interested, and if I made a par or made a birdie, it kept me excited. I do remember making what I believed was a hole-in-one. It was from 80 or 100 yards. I hit a driver and it went in. I was pretty young.”

When he was 9, Uihlein started to win 12-and-under tournaments. What really got his father’s attention was when the boy had not played for three months because of school and the New England winter, then went to a junior event at Doral. At age 10, he did well enough to get into the final group with a kid from Northern Ireland named Rory McIlroy. Uihlein finished third.

Before long, Uihlein was bent on a career in golf and asked his parents if he could attend the IMG Leadbetter Golf Academy in Florida.

“It was tough for the family,” Uihlein said. “It split them up a little bit. But I wanted to play with some of the best players. I wanted to be one of the best. And I figured I could do that six months out of the year. I love New England. But it’s hard to get work in and be ready for competition. Golf is what I wanted to do, and they let me follow my dream.”

His mother moved to Florida and missed seeing her older son grow up. His father travels so much on business that at times, his brother would fly into Massachusetts to look after Jonathan.

“It was tough,” Wally Uihlein said. “It worked for us. We would not recommend it unless you went into the process eyes wide open.”

The education continues, on and off the golf course.

Like most U.S. Amateur champions, Uihlein faces a busy summer. He wants to win an NCAA title for Oklahoma State. Then comes the U.S. Open, a spot at the AT&T National on the PGA Tour, a week of vacation in Britain before the British Open, the Western Open and then his title defense at the U.S. Amateur.

The toughest decision after that? Which classes to take for his senior year at Oklahoma State.

It’s rare these days for a prominent amateur to finish all four years and get a degree. Uihlein is majoring in economics. He said he will stay all four years. “If I can go more, I would,” he said.

Ryan Moore was the last big-time amateur to stay in school. Matt Kuchar, a U.S. Amateur champion who starred at the Masters and U.S. Open in 1998, finished up at Georgia Tech and debated staying an amateur. Phil Mickelson won a PGA Tour event as an amateur and stayed all four years at Arizona State.

Far more common are the accomplished amateurs who turn pro. Rickie Fowler left Oklahoma State after two years, and he went from Q-school to the Ryder Cup in one year.

“A lot of guys play well in a tour event – one event – and they think they’re ready,” Uihlein said. “Look at Justin Rose. How many cuts did he miss. It’s impressive to get where he is. And I’m sure he wasn’t even that far off. These guys are really good. They’re all great. I don’t see anything wrong with wanting to stay four years and getting an education. The PGA Tour is not going anywhere.”

Uihlein will tee it up Thursday with Mickelson – the defending champion always plays with the U.S. Amateur champion – and Geoff Ogilvy, who already has seen the kid play. They had a practice round at Innisbrook last month and when asked for a scouting report, Ogilvy watched Uihlein rip a 3-iron stinger off the tee and said, “What more do you need?”

“I’ve seen plenty of ‘can’t miss’ players who miss,” Ogilvy said. “But he’s got as good a chance as anyone else. I haven’t played with a young kid who doesn’t hit it miles. But Peter is special. He’s a sensible kid. He doesn’t look like he gets overwhelmed.”

Uihlein has set modest goals for the week. He wants to soak up the experience and have fun. He wants to make the cut, and being low amateur would be ideal. One of these days, he wants to return with a green jacket on his mind.

“Just being here is pretty special,” he said.

Getting back would be even better.

The kid has been swinging away since he had a plastic club in his hand. Golf is all he ever wanted to do.

But he’s in no hurry.

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Angela hits Sergio in stride on field at Superdome

By Grill Room TeamDecember 18, 2017, 3:22 pm

Sergio and Angela Garcia's super 2017 keeps getting more ... Super ... Dome. (+1 awful blog lede.)

The couple started the year with Sergio's win at the Masters, then embarked on a whirlwind green jacket media tour, then kicked off El Clasico, then attended Wimbledon, then got married, then announced they were expecting their first child ...

2017 Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

And now, they're throwing each other passes on the New Orleans Saints' home turf at the Superdome.

Man, it must be so cool do that at the Silverdome. ... ... ... I'm sorry, it is the Superdome, brothers.

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

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.