'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.

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Ortiz takes Web.com Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

Former Web.com Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Web.com Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Web.com Tour Player of the Year.

McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.

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Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?

By Randall MellJanuary 16, 2018, 12:00 am

Memo to the golf gods:

If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?

Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?

It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.

With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.

It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.

We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.

We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.

Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.

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Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line.  Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.

We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors. 

In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.

While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.

Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.

Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.

Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.

While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.

Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.

So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?

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McIlroy: 2018 may be my busiest season ever

By Will GrayJanuary 15, 2018, 6:28 pm

With his return to competition just days away, Rory McIlroy believes that the 2018 season may be the most action packed of his pro career.

The 28-year-old has not teed it up since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in early October, a hiatus he will end at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It will be the start of a busy spring for the Ulsterman, who will also play next week in Dubai before a run of six PGA Tour events leading up to the Masters.

Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph, McIlroy confirmed that he will also make a return trip to the British Masters in October and plans to remain busy over the next 12 months.

"I might play more times this year than any before. I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that," McIlroy said. "I could get to 30 (events), depending on where I'm placed in the Race to Dubai. But I'll see."

McIlroy's ambitious plan comes in the wake of a frustrating 2017 campaign, when he injured his ribs in his first start and twice missed chunks of time in an effort to recover. He failed to win a worldwide event and finished the year ranked outside the top 10, both of which had not happened since 2008.

But having had more than three months to get his body and swing in shape, McIlroy is optimistic heading into the first of what he hopes will be eight starts in the 12 weeks before he drives down Magnolia Lane.

"I've worked hard on my short game and I'm probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road."

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What's in the Bag: Sony Open winner Kizzire

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 15, 2018, 6:05 pm

Patton Kizzire earned his second PGA Tour victory by winning a six-hole playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Take a look inside his bag.

Driver: Titleist 917D3 (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Atmos Black 6 X shaft

Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 95 TX shaft

Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19 degrees), with UST Mamiya AXIV Core 100 Hybrid shaft

Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB (4), 718 CB (5-6), 718 MB (7-9), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Wedges: Titleist SM7 prototype (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Tour prototype

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x