Thorpe Takes Advantage of Second Chance

By George WhiteAugust 25, 2004, 4:00 pm
Jim Thorpe is a lucky man. He is one of the few people who got a second chance to do what he does best - and he made the most of it.
 
This week, when he plays in the Champions Tours final major 'the JELD-WEN Tradition (TGC, Thurs. at 6 & 10:30 p.m. ET) ' Thorpe will be trying to win the tournament for the second time in three years. He stands eighth on the money list this year and has won two times. In his sixth year out on the Champions Tour, he has marched to the winners circle nine times and won $8.5 million.
 
In his 20 years on the regular tour, he won just three times and collected less than $2 million.
 
Ive always felt that I was a much better player than I showed sometimes, especially on the regular tour, he said. I didnt really work at it hard enough or do the things I needed to do to become a better player. I somehow got the idea that since I was on tour, I didnt need to work anymore. I guess I got lazy, took my talent for granted.
 
When he turned 50, though, his mindset changed. Another tour was awaiting him, another stab at making the very most of his talents. Thorpe grabbed at this one, and he still hasnt let go, well into his 55th year.
 
I realized that God had given me a second chance, said Thorpe. Not that the first chance was a washout, but I didnt really take full advantage of it.
 
Now, in this second time around, he has re-dedicated himself to golf. Sometimes a little maturity is needed to make one see the light. Thorpe went to work with a new zeal, and the results have been eye-opening.
 
As opposed to making swing changes, I made other changes, he said. My work ethics changed. I didnt care so much about the racetrack or any of the other things that used to take up so much of my time. Last year when I won the Charles Schwab Cup Championship, I think I was the last person to leave the golf course every day.
 
Those would have been heretical words to the old Jim Thorpe ' last person on the range.' If a racetrack was within 100 miles of him, Thorpe would have found it. He goes to the track now for a little relaxation. In younger years, he went to make money.
 
I re-directed my priorities, Thorpe said. Now, me and Dana Quigley go to the track just as a diversion. It keeps me from other temptations ' drugs or whatnot. Ill go and sit for a couple of hours, Ill get tired of it and Ill come back to the hotel. Before, I would keep it up trying to win.
 
Thorpe, though, has steadily worked to shore up all aspects of his game. And though he doesnt rank in the top five in any category, he ranks in the top 20 in almost all. Consistency has become his middle name.
 
I worked at giving my game a chance to show up, versus trying to force it, Thorpe said. I had a back injury earlier this year and I missed four or five weeks of playing. But it was probably one of the best things that happened to me, to get away from the game. When I started practicing again, I started back with the basics.
 
He has had a chance to work on his wedge play, and that has paid huge dividends. When he hurt his back in March, he couldnt take a full swing. But he could swing the shorter clubs. And he discovered what a difference a proficiency with that weapon could make.
 
I think my short game has really improved from 100 yards in, and thats why Im playing better, he said simply.
 
Thorpe traditionally begins to play his best in the second half of the year. I love it when it gets hot and muggy, he says. But this is the second year the JELD-WEN has been played just outside Portland, Ore., and temperatures are forecast to be in the 70s.
 
The golf course we are playing we arent real familiar with, but after playing it last year for the first time, we are getting the hang of it, he said. Theyve made a few changes to it, also, which should make it very playable.
 
The final nine weeks of the season could spell the difference for Thorpe. He could still ease up the ladder to the tip-top echelon if he suddenly got hot. He realizes, though, that every player on tour has solid credentials. The player of the year will have survived some very good competition.

I guess we got a little break this year, mused Thorpe. Tom Watson has been hurt most of the year and hasnt played a lot of golf. Tom is a major force when he plays. Hale Irwin has been a magnificent player all year long. Tom Kite has knocked on the door several times. We have 40-50 solid players out here who can win in any given week.
 
To beat these guys and to even have a chance at Player of the Year, youve really played some great golf.
 
So has Thorpe, of course, although it took a little while for him to achieve it. He believes all his compadres on the Champions Tour are skilled golfers. Of course, he isnt overlooking a guy named Thorpe.
 
Theyre all are champions, they all have won golf tournaments, he said.
 
And - we play great golf.
 
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    Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys

    By Rex HoggardDecember 14, 2017, 7:00 pm

    After careful consideration and an exhaustive review of 2017 we present The Rexys, a wildly incomplete and arbitrary line up following one of the most eventful years in golf.

     There will be omissions – just keep your calls, concerns and even e-mails to yourself. We appreciate your patronage, but not your feedback.



    It’s Not You, It’s Me Award. You know the deal: You can’t be a part of two until you’re a better one; but on this front it’s really just a desire to find a better two.

    It was a tough year for caddies, and not just any caddies. In June, Phil Mickelson split with longtime bagman Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both player and caddie cited the need for “change,” but the move reverberated throughout the game.

    “The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.

    In the wake of the Lefty/Bones break, Rory McIlroy split with his caddie J.P Fitzgerald, and Jason Day replaced looper/swing coach Colin Swatton on his bag. It all proves yet again that there are only two kinds of caddies, those who have been fired and those who are about to be fired.



    Run for the Rose Cup. Sergio Garcia got the green jacket, a lifetime exemption to the game’s most coveted member-member and a long-awaited major, but Justin Rose took home the slightly less prestigious “Rose Cup.”

    Following a frenzied afternoon at Augusta National in April, Rose lost to Garcia on the first playoff hole, but he won so much more with his honesty and class.

    “You're going to win majors and you're going to lose majors, but you've got to be willing to lose them,” Rose figured following the final round. “You've got to put yourself out there. You've got to hit the top of the leaderboard. There's a lot of pressure out there and if you're not willing to enjoy it, then you're not ready to win these tournaments. I loved it out there.”

    Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.



    Half-Empty Cup. It was the perfect setting, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and the promise of the Tristate masses descending on this fall’s Presidents Cup.

    If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.

    For the sixth time in the last seven matches, the U.S. team rolled to a victory of at least three points. This particular edition was even in danger of ending on Saturday afternoon thanks to a particularly dominant performance by a young American squad led by Steve Stricker.

    Officials spoke of the purity of the competition and the attention the ’17 cup generated, but however you spin the 19-11 rout, this cup is half empty.



    Enigma Award. The actual hardware is simply an oversized question mark and was sent directly to Tiger Woods’ South Florida compound following the most curious of seasons.

    While it’s become customary in recent years to consider the uncertain path that awaits the 14-time major winner, this most recent calendar brought an entirely new collection of questions following fusion surgery on his lower back in April, his arrest for DUI on Memorial Day and, finally, a glimmer of hope born from his tie for ninth at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.

    When will he play again? Can he compete against the current generation of world-beaters? Can his body withstand the rigors of a full PGA Tour schedule? Should Jim Furyk make him a captain’s pick now or wait to see if he should be driving a vice captain’s golf cart instead?

    Little is certain when it comes to Woods, and the over-sized question mark goes to ... the guy in red and black.



    After Further Review Chalice. In April, Lexi Thompson endured a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, the byproduct of a surreal ruling that arrived a day late via a viewer e-mail and cost the would-be winner a major championship.

    The entire event was so unsavory that the USGA and R&A made not one but two alterations to the rules and created a “working group” to avoid similar snafus in the future.

    That working group – it turns out the U.S. Ryder Cup team has some sort of copyright on “task force” – initially issued a decision that introduced a “reasonable judgment” and a “naked eye” standard to video reviews, and last week the rule makers kept the changes coming.

    The new protocols on video review will now include an official to monitor tournament broadcasts and ended the practice of allowing fans to call in, or in this case e-mail, possible infractions to officials. The USGA and R&A also eliminated the two-stroke penalty for players who sign incorrect scorecards when the player is unaware of the penalty.

    While all this might be a step in the right direction, it does nothing to change Thompson’s fate. The AFR Chalice won’t change the harsh reality, but at least it will serve as a reminder of how she helped altered the rulemaking landscape.



    Nothing Runs Like a Deere Award. Nothing gets fans fired up like officials turning fields of fescue rough into hay on the eve of a major championship, and the USGA’s decision to do some 11th-hour trimming at Erin Hills in June certainly caught many by surprise.

    Officials said the nip/tuck on four holes was in reaction to a particularly foreboding forecast that never materialized, and the maintenance drew the ire of some players.

    “We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” Rory McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here; if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”

    The record low scoring at the U.S. Open – winner Brooks Koepka finished with a 16-under total – didn’t help ease the fervor and had some questioning whether the softer side of the USGA has gone a bit too far?

    Getty Images

    Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 5:28 pm

    John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.

    That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.

    Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.

    Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid

    By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 4:22 pm

    Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.

    Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.


    Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters


    Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.

    World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.

    Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.

    Nathaniel Crosby at the 1983 Bing Crosby Pro-Am at Pebble Beach. Getty Images

    Crosby selected as 2019 U.S. Walker Cup captain

    By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 3:19 pm

    The USGA announced that former U.S. Amateur champ Nathaniel Crosby will serve as the American captain for the 2019 Walker Cup, which will be played at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England.

    Crosby, 56, is the son of entertainment icon and golf enthusiast Bing Crosby. He won the 1981 U.S. Amateur at The Olympic Club as a teenager and earned low amateur honors at the 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He also played in the 1983 Walker Cup, coincidentally held at Royal Liverpool, before embarking on a brief career in professional golf, with his amateur status reinstated in 1994.

    "I am thrilled and overwhelmed to be chosen captain of the next USA Walker Cup team," Crosby said in a statement. "Many of my closest friends are former captains who will hopefully take the time to share their approaches in an effort to help me with my new responsibilities."

    Crosby takes over the captaincy from John "Spider" Miller, who led the U.S. squad both in 2015 and earlier this year, when the Americans cruised to a 19-7 victory at Los Angeles Country Club.

    Crosby is a Florida resident and member at Seminole Golf Club, which will host the 2021 matches. While it remains to be seen if he'll be asked back as captain in 2021, each of the last six American captains have led a team on both home and foreign soil.

    Started in 1922, the Walker Cup is a 10-man, amateur match play competition pitting the U.S. against Great Britain and Ireland. The U.S. team holds a 37-9 all-time lead in the biennial matches but has not won in Europe since 2007.