Fuzzy a Winner Regardless of the Score

By George WhiteJune 11, 2002, 4:00 pm
Senior PGA Championship logoSo, did you have a bad day today? You better go see Fuzzy Zoeller. He never has a bad day. Oh, some of his golfing days are better than others. But he never has a bad day.
 
On occasion, he can still bring home a trophy. It happened Sunday at the PGA Senior Championship. Nobody did anything particularly outstanding, and thats including Zoeller. But he grabbed the lead and hung on for dear life, and nobody was as good at it Sunday as ol Fuz. And lo and behold, he won himself a Senior major!
 
Is there anything to dislike about the guy? Maybe to his closest friends, he does something irritating. But to the rest of the world, he just goes about his business, whistling some silly tune while he strolls along. Does he realize the serious of the game hes playing? Probably. But it doesnt make any difference.
 
Ive watched him up close since his U.S. Open win at Winged Foot in 1984. I cant say I really know Fuzzy Zoeller. I dont know if anybody in the press does. But I dont know if I have ever met anyone in this game who is more pleasant. Now, that doesnt mean he is always funny. Sometimes he doesnt even try to answer your question. But still he smiles. Its the most courteous turn-down youve ever seen. Some guys look gruff even when they are answering.
 
If hes not a laugh-a-minute guy in the interview room, he certainly is one on the golf course. He chatters incessantly. I wonder what it is like when he is paired with Lee Trevino? And he isnt just yapping to make noise. He reduces golf down to what it was meant to be in the first place ' a game.
 
Maybe, some think, its just a game because he never had to worry about three squares a day. His family was upper middle class as a youth, and his marriage simply solidified that status. What if golf were his ticket to a meal, some have wondered? Would he have the same slap-happy attitude? Good question. The fact remains, some players who were born with a silver spoon in their mouth are still grouchy. So being well-to-do isnt the answer.
 
Its just the mans nature. Hes always had a beautiful sense of humor.
 
Thank God! said Zoeller earlier this year. Have you seen me play golf lately?
 
Yuks were forthcoming around the room ' isnt there always a lot of yuks when Fuz is present? But Zoeller turned serious for a moment.
 
If I didnt have a sense of humor, I would not have a club left in that bag out there (meaning that he would have flung every one.) Ive been blessed, Ive had great parents and both of them have great sense of humors. They were very easygoing, and thats kind of the way my life has been. Every once in a while I do get a little fired up. But not the golf course, he said.
 
Zoeller is a 50-year-old rookie on the Senior Tour, experiencing for the first time the double pro-am. The Seniors often play two pro-ams when they play a three-day tournament. Fuzzy never has a problem with that, unlike a few others.
 
Ill play three, he volunteered. The regular tour members are required to devote only one day per week to the pro-am.
 
I enjoy the pro-ams, said Zoeller. I enjoy getting corporate America out of their office and showing them a day of fun. There will be some razzing, yeah. I want them to have a day they will remember, and not necessarily on their golf.
 
But on the first hole, it is a little weird for an amateur golfer, all of the people standing around. They are thinking, My God, they came out to see me. I always try to make it clear to my amateur golfers ' These people are not here to see you. Just enjoy your game. They know youre worth a damn, so dont worry about it.
 
In other words, they should emulate Fuzzy. He just doesnt sweat it, and it doesnt matter where it is or what the competition. Before the final day of that 84 U.S. Open, he warmed up for the four-hour round of golfing hell by playing a game of catch with his caddie.
 
One, its a fastball. Two, its a curveball. Three, its a ' oops, duck!! Its a beanball!!
 
Now hes on the elder gents tour, where the stories flow like fine wine and the old gaffers relax and spin yarn after yarn. This is so much more Fuzzy. Hes in his element, and if he happens to look up and win one every now and then, well bless em all, anyway.
 
Everybody else kind of enjoys that 50-yard marker when you get out here, he said. All of a sudden, the ball starts going in the hole again. Like what Ben Crenshaw said - the one thing he really enjoys about the Senior Tour is making the cut.
 
Meaning, naturally, that EVERYBODY makes the cut at most of the tours events. Not everybody is like Fuzzy, though. Golf - heck, sports as a whole - would be so much better if it were.
 
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Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''


Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship


First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

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The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

“What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

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Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

“I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”


Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.