'Be Somebody, One Time'

By Gary WilliamsJune 14, 2014, 5:43 am

Be somebody, one time. 

I heard it for the first time in the spring of 1979 as a weak-hitting second baseman in Pony League baseball during the only two years my dad was my formal coach in any sport. 

Buck Williams was a college baseball star at the University of Florida, but never imposed himself on me in his sport, other than two formative years and one May evening on a sandlot field at Benjamin Franklin Junior High school in North Jersey. That’s when I heard the phrase that guides me to this day. 

As a late substitution in a critical game I found myself walking to the plate with two men on base and one out in a tie game in the top of the last inning. Dad was the manager and third-base coach. I looked at him for my instructions and, rightfully so, he signaled to sacrifice the runners over and leave it to someone else to get us the lead. 

After taking the first pitch for a ball I stepped out and gave the obligatory look down to the old man, expecting the same instructions. Instead, he wiped his hands down his forearms and clapped twice, which meant to hit away. That was followed by the audible instructions that are my compass to this day: “Be somebody, one time." 

Lacing a double down the line was just icing. What really mattered was my dad’s belief in me, his words, his trust at the moment. It crystallized my relationship with my father, a relationship that would be carried forward not through baseball, but through golf. 

My acumen as a golfer at the scholastic level was better than average. Dad knew that, and consequently made it his mission to give me every experience, every memory that golf could provide. As a lieutenant in the U.S. Coast Guard, stationed in Hawaii in the late 1950s he did two things when he wasn’t serving his country: court his future wife and play golf. He achieved two goals: He got the girl and became a single-digit handicap. 

Time and career eroded the game and ballooned the handicap to 12, but in his advancing years he would fight you for every dollar and charm the pants off all the company he kept. It’s a narrative so many sons can share: We want our fathers around not just for their healthy handicaps, but because we cherish their company. 

Golf has forever been the tie that binds fathers and sons, from Old and Young Tom Morris to Jay and Bill Haas. But it isn’t about how well you both play, it’s about what you both got out of the game together. 

It started out that I would always appeal to Dad to give me anything close to the leather, because I was consumed with improving my handicap. Ultimately, the roles reversed and he would turn to me to rake away a shaky 3-footer. The refrain was always the same: “Take it away, that’s good.” 

For dads, the golf course is akin to a traveling classroom, gymnasium, laboratory, or private study. It’s a place to teach discipline, competition and respecting your opponent. Then when the student (the son) becomes old enough, he learns how to love his opponent ... the Old Man. 

The last time I broke a club was May 12, 1992, at Dooks Golf Club in Glenbeigh, Ireland, on the par-4 third hole after making a double bogey. Dad didn’t say a word. At that stage of my life he felt he didn’t have to. I was an apprentice in the PGA of America by that point and should have known better. I never broke another club. 

I drank my first beer with Dad while on a golf boondoggle in April 1984 with his buddies outside of Savannah, Ga., on the Plantation Course at the Landings on Skidaway Island. On Sept. 24, 1996, while playing Royal Portrush I told my father that I was going to marry my girlfriend just six months after meeting her. I figured it was a good time since I was 2 down plus a press with six holes to go. 

It didn’t help my case that day but it was just another seminal moment between father and son that showed me that the golf course was where I had to show him he could trust me to be respectful and act responsibly. It was a place where I could learn by watching - remove your hat, look an adult in the eye, shake their hand, walk with your head up and accept results without comporting blame elsewhere. These are the teaching moments that our fathers gave us while stealing time playing golf. Bob Jones said about the game, “that which burns inwardly and sears your soul.” 

Pinehurst No. 2, where the U.S. Open is scheduled to conclude on Father’s Day, is the site of the last time my dad was on a golf course. On April 11, 2011, I had the humbling honor of joining Ben Crenshaw for the grand re-opening of No. 2. The convergence of emotions was powerful. 

I was poised to share a round with the only sports hero I ever chose to attach my allegiance to in Crenshaw. My dad, terminal with stage 4 kidney cancer, his right kidney having been removed just two weeks prior, had no business traveling to Pinehurst from his home in Chapel Hill, N.C., but he was going to do what he always did and not let me down when it came to meeting on a course. He lasted five holes before giving in to the pain, but not before sharing a conversation with Ben and me. There, sitting on the bench off the fifth tee, I realized that these were the only two men that I admired – one from afar and the other as my guiding light and champion in life. 

The gift was so large it will never allow me to speak of the experience without pause and a sense of sentimentality that I hope everyone can capture at some point. It was through golf that these moments bubbled up and presented themselves as pillars to a foundation of a relationship and a love affair – the former and the latter for each other and this great game.

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.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.