The Long Road From the Far East to Scotland
Well, Curtis may have been the unknown. But Hamilton has had a solid, if somewhat unspectacular, career. He isnt the player you would pick for a major, but he isnt nearly the surprise Curtis was.
Curtis was 396th in the world when he won. Hamilton was 56th. Hamilton is 38 years old, Curtis was just 26. Hamilton has been a pro for 17 years, won 11 times in the Far East, and earlier this year ' his first on the PGA Tour after eight trips to Q-School ' he won at the Honda Classic. Curtis had been a pro for just three years and had compiled quite an amateur record in the U.S., but he was virtually unknown outside the borders.
Hamilton may have been unknown to golf fans, but his name certainly is well known to international players. Ernie Els knew him quite well long before this year.
Whenever our paths crossed, wherever we were in the world, we always had a nice chat, Els said. I always asked him how he was. I always knew he was a good player.
On the one hand, Curtis made a much more dramatic splash because absolutely no one could see it coming. But Hamilton, though a longshot, was at least on the radar screen, whether the average fan knew him or not.
His story is really quite interesting. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma and turned professional in 1987. Then he started on a long ordeal of trying to get his tour card, failing, and then going to the Asian Tour. In 1992 he was the leading money winner in the Far East, was able then to play fulltime in Japan, and for 10 years didnt go to the PGA Tour Q-School any longer.
There were the good times in Japan, as well as the bad times. Always, however, he kept his primary residence in McKinney, Texas, just north of Dallas. He would go to Japan and stay in a Tokyo hotel, then return to the States for a couple of weeks, making the journey perhaps five times a year. This had been ongoing since 1987.
He returned to Q-School in 2001 and 2002 - and missed. Then in 2003 he won four times on the Japanese Tour, and in the fall when he returned to the U.S., he finally got that seemingly impossible tour card.
For me to qualify for the PGA Tour and get my tour card was like winning the (British) Open Championship and allowed me a place to play, a place that I've always dreamt of playing, he said.
Hamilton had no idea what to expect. He knew he was good enough to win repeatedly in Japan. But how would that translate to the American courses? He had no idea.
I knew I worked hard, said Hamilton. Sometimes I think what kept me back - two things, I put a lot of pressure on myself to do well and a lot of times I felt like tournaments like this, if I happened to get into them, I didn't really feel that I belonged.
Those days in Japan are still so vivid in his memory. The days spent on the golf course and sometimes the days spent just being there, having missed a cut.
I remember a stretch, oh, I think it was two or three years ago, I went over for six weeks and missed every cut, said Hamilton. It was probably the longest month and a half I've ever had playing golf. It was so boring.
I did have a DVD machine, portable DVD machine that I took over, but you can only watch 15 movies so many times.
But I think it forced you to play well. If you didn't play well, you knew you were going to be in for a long Saturday, a long Sunday, a long Monday, Tuesday was going to be a practice round and I wasn't getting in the Pro Ams on Wednesday, so I had five long days to wait to get a chance for the next round.
He came perilously close to being forced out of tournament golf and into a club-pro job. The two men who were sponsoring him had just about decided to pull the plug before the 92 season. But they decided to hang in one more year. And that was a big year for Hamilton with the money title victory.
The British Open win, though, was a victory for all the players in Asia, in Japan, in Canada, in Australia and South Africa who are dismissed out of hand as potential major-tour champions. These guys are indeed good, as much as the ads say the PGA Tour players are good.
I've always felt that if you go through the trials and tribulations throughout a four-day tournament and win a golf tournament, that can only benefit you in the long run, he said. He mentioned Zach Johnson as a guy who won multiple times on the Nationwide Tour, then won this year when he got to the big time.
So I hope our victories we've had can spur guys, whether they're rookies on the PGA Tour, guys on the Canadian Tour, guys on the Hooters Tour or the Challenge Tour here in Europe. If they look at us and see, if that guy can do it, who's that guy, I should be able to do that. I think that's good for the game of golf.
And if Hamilton can do it, so can a lot of those no-names, he was saying. Many are like him, playing in a foreign country where the culture is different but the golf is the same.
I enjoy playing golf, he said, sometimes to a fault But it beats working, that's for sure.
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Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters
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.
Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational
Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.
The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.
Rose leads Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs
JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose completed the final two holes of his second round early Saturday for a 3-under 69 and a one-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters.
Rose, who had a first-round 62, was among a quarter of the field forced off the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course after weather delays on Friday.
The Englishman, who bogeyed his last hole, had a two-round total of 13-under 131.
Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who completed his 64 on Friday, was in second place.
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. He has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season.
Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump
Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.
Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.
None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.
Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.
An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.
In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.
Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.
Playing with the pros
Tiger, DJ and Faxon
President at the Presidents Cup
Purported round of 73 with Lindsey Graham
Cart on the green
Presence and protests at U.S. Women's Open
Trump golf properties
Reportedly fake TIME covers
Trump apologizes for voter-fraud story
Pros comment on the president