Koch Playing With Air of Quiet Desperation

By George WhiteAugust 6, 2004, 4:00 pm
The Champions Tour season is a little more than halfway over and Gary Koch is playing now with an air of quiet desperation. As he tees it up this weekend at the 3M Championship near Minneapolis-St. Paul, he realizes he has got to make some money ' or else.
Koch is a fulltime announcer for NBC. Hes a part-time golfer. But he dearly wants to continue his golfing career. Hes 52 now and into his second year on the Champions. If he doesnt finish in the top 30 this year, he loses the exempt status that he got from being a winner on the regular tour (he won six times.)
Ive always known that is a very important year for Gary Koch of the Champions Tour, he said. I knew at the start of the year that it was make-or-break time. I knew I had to play well and finish high enough on the money list if I wanted to continue to play.
Presently he stands 32 in the money race and he needs to climb up two more places to the No. 30 spot.
Koch came within an eyelash of winning the ACE Classic this year, a victory that would have given him an automatic exempt status for next year. But Craig Stadler nosed him out in a playoff at the ACE and its been somewhat of a struggle ever since.
In Kochs case, its been far too long a time in the announcers booth - first for ESPN and then with NBC. And he still tries to maneuver his schedule around playing when NBC isnt doing golf tournaments. And that is very difficult.
You know, in my case, I was away from competition for a long time, he said. There were 13 years where I literally didnt play very often. There is something to having nerves that used to be there versus nerves that arent.
But regardless of whether Koch actually plays or not, many would argue that he still has the ideal job. After all, he IS a golf broadcaster, and as such he never misses a cut, never has to worry about non-exempt status to do his job. Koch knows hes very fortunate.
You know, I really dont look back, he said. At the time when I got into doing television, I did not enjoy playing. I was not playing that well, and I was at a point in my life where I had two small children and a wife at home, I was on the road a lot by myself, I was going back to hotel rooms by myself after shooting 73 and 74s. The television thing came along and I got involved.
Its very different ' for a guy who plays an individual sport, doing television is more of a team effort. There are anywhere from 120 to 200 people are involved.
So no, I dont regret at all going into television. If I suddenly had a lot of success as a player, I still would hold onto the television.
Koch thinks there is a definite advantage to working upstairs before going downstairs onto the course.
It certainly made me aware that the guys who win tournaments dont necessarily always hit the shots perfectly and dont always make a lot of putts. Youve got to have a lot of patience, he said
It was certainly something I was aware of when I got started. Unfortunately, last year, for whatever reason, I just got lost. I didnt know what I was trying to do with my golf swing, I was seeing all the courses for the first time. A lot of things compounded for me to not perform the way I felt I was capable of.
I tried to do the telecast and then come right out and play, and I found out in a very rude way that that isnt so.
So hes going to try this, and if it works out that he cant serve two masters, so be it. At times this year hes been exceptional. But at times, hes been run-of-the-mill. He was one of the games most brilliant putters as a regular-tour member. Now, putting has been a real problem at times.
I definitely feel I have not putted anywhere near as well as I used to, said Koch. The good news is, I probably hit the ball better now than I did then.
I think part of it is time, age ' I dont think theres any question about it. Talking to Ben Crenshaw ' who is still a very, very good putter but Im sure would tell you not as good as he once was ' we were kidding around and we agreed that you probably are allowed to make so many in a lifetime.
But I think age certainly has something to do with it. Personally I think eyesight ' as your eyesight changes ' I look at some pictures now of my setup during my regular-tour days and my setup has changed. Now, it hasnt changed consciously ' I havent purposely tried to set my head in a different position from what I used to. But it is different. And I think that has to do with your eyesight changing.
Koch, though, has already improved tremendously from last year, when he finished 73rd on the money list as a rookie. Hes getting adjusted to what it means to be a player again, and if he finds he can comfortably fit that in with the broadcasting ' well, hell be a broadcasting golfer.
I think this year what I really was able to do was set some pretty specific goals, he said. And I look back on last year and yes, I wanted to play well and yes, I kind of expected to come out here and play well.
But I really didnt set enough specific goals, things that I can get focused on. And the nice thing starting this year, I had to have some specific goals ' there was no choice. And I think thats really helped a lot.
Patience has never been my forte. So consequently the highs are usually higher and the lows are usually lower. Something Ive been working on very hard this year is not to get too high and not to get too low. So far this year, its been a little better.
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    Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

    Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

    Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

    “I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

    The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

    “I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

    Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

    This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

    The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

    Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

    The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.

    Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

    A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

    And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

    The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.

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    Man of the people

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    Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf

    By Grill Room TeamDecember 11, 2017, 9:47 pm

    Well, this is a one new one.

    According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:

    “No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”

    Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.

    “If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.

    The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.

    “I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”

    The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.

    Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.

    Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.