A Candle Whose Light Will Burn Always

By George WhiteDecember 22, 2004, 5:00 pm
So Patty Berg has Alzheimers disease.
 
Patty is perhaps the most loved figure in womens sports. Bad fortune tried to claim her in 1971, when she was operated on for a cancerous tumor. She recovered and quickly regained her life, giving hundreds of exhibitions afterwards and appearing again almost as regularly as she was asked.
 
And theres no doubt that she will do the same with Alzheimers ' the good Lord willing, of course. She is 86, but Patty never felt that she was elderly. If a person is only as old as they feel, then Patty must be about 30.
 
Patty Berg has always been the face of womens golf. She wasnt the most prolific winner. She wasnt the top money-earner. But she has always been the woman most respected.
 
Born in Minneapolis of an upper-income family, she played all sports as a child ' speed skating, track, and even played on a kids football team. She was the quarterback, of course, running behind another sports celebrity, longtime Oklahoma University football coach Bud Wilkinson. Yeah, the 50th Street Tigers were a fiercesome bunch.
 
Such a rough-and-tumble existence never exactly prepared her for debutante status. She passed right over the Miss Priss stage, never quite developing into the shy wallflower woman. Instead, she has lived a wonderfully boisterous life, doing exactly what she wanted, when she wanted.
 
Her golfing titles are legendary, both as an amateur where she would win 29 titles, then as a professional, where she won 15 major championships and 57 victories over-all. But that is all stuff that will make nice statistics at the base of a statue somewhere. Patty Berg, you see, is much more than wins and losses, dollars and cents.
 
Patty has forever been a friend of womens golf. She has cheerfully gone across the country giving her clinics and delivering her speeches. She is adored by all, and that includes the champions of another era ' Mickey Wright and Kathy Whitworth; another generation ' Nancy Lopez, Beth Daniel; and the modern lineup of great players ' Annika Sorenstam, Juli Inkster, et al.
 
As you might expect, she has had a difficult time coming to grips with this scurrilous disease. She wrote a letter to the LPGA which began, Once you read it, Im sure you can appreciate how difficult it is for me to write this letter. Believe me, it was 10 times more difficult for Patty Berg to write it because she is the original sunshine girl, completely full of life, vim and vigor.
 
As much as I wish it werent so, I find myself in the early stages of Alzheimers disease, and, accordingly, am forced to curtail somewhat my participation in LPGA affairs, Patty wrote. Ill still show up whenever I can, and if possible will attend functions to which I am asked to take part.
 
Patty knows exactly what may be in store for her. She wrote to the LPGA that, Im certain you can appreciate how hard it is for a lifelong athlete, even one 86 years of age, to first face and then adapt to diminishing powers, both physical and mental. However, I have no other choice and as a result I ask your indulgence if at times Im not exactly the Patty Berg youve known all these years.
 
She asked for no sympathies. All she wants is understanding ' understanding during those moments when the effects of Alzheimers manifest itself. She will be forgetful, sure. She will be unaware at times, of course.
 
But she will never be forgotten, regardless of what her condition is. She will always be Patty Berg, the most adored woman in the history of womens golf.
 
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Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

“I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.  

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DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.

“I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”

Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).

“Everyone was hitting good shots,” McIlroy said. “That’s all we were seeing, and it’s nice when you play in a group like that. You feed off one another.” 


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.

Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace). 

“It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.” 

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Closing eagle moves Rory within 3 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:57 pm

What rust? Rory McIlroy appears to be in midseason form.

Playing competitively for the first time since Oct. 8, McIlroy completed 36 holes without a bogey Friday, closing with an eagle to shoot 6-under 66 to sit just three shots back at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

“I’m right in the mix after two days and I’m really happy in that position,” he told reporters afterward.

McIlroy took a 3 ½-month break to heal his body, clear his mind and work on his game after his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro.

He's back on track at a familiar playground, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where he’s racked up eight top-11s (including six top-3s) in his past nine starts there.


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


McIlroy opened with a 69 Thursday, then gave himself even more chances on Day 2, cruising along at 4 under for the day when he reached the par-5 closing hole. After launching a 249-yard long iron to 25 feet, he poured in the eagle putt to pull within three shots of Thomas Pieters (65). 

Despite the layoff, McIlroy edged world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, by a shot over the first two rounds. 

“DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now, and one of, if not the best, driver of the golf ball," McIlroy said. "To be up there with him over these first two days, it proves to me that I’m doing the right things and gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”

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Duke to fill in for injured Pavin at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:25 pm

Ken Duke will fill in for Corey Pavin for the next two rounds of the CareerBuilder Challenge – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard.

Pavin was 4 over par when he withdrew after 17 holes Thursday because of a neck injury. Tournament officials contacted Duke, the first alternate, and asked if he would take Pavin’s spot and partner with Luis Lopez for the next two rounds, even though he would not receive any official money.

Duke accepted and explained his decision on Twitter:

Playing on past champion’s status, the 48-year-old Duke has made only four starts this season, with a best finish of a tie for 61st at the RSM Classic.

Pavin received a sponsor exemption into the event, his first PGA Tour start since the 2015 Colonial.