When Golf Brings a Family Closer

By George WhiteJuly 12, 2006, 4:00 pm
This is not a story about professional golfers, not a debate on whether Tiger Woods is the best player in the world, no argument on whether Michelle Wie is doing the right thing or the wrong thing, or whether Annika Sorenstam will eventually catch Kathy Whitworth.
This is not story about professional golf courses, or the professional instructors. Its a story about you or me, everyday people who do everyday things, but maybe in little special way.
Its a story about the Pease family ' brothers Jesse and Jason, their father Keith and mother Joelle, who live in the heartland of Sioux City, Iowa. And its a story about Special Olympics golf. Jesse, age 24, has an intellectual disability, and the entire family has rallied around him to see that he gets his week to experience golf in a tournament setting, competing against similar golfers from all across the country.
The Special Olympics golf tournament was held last week in Ames, Iowa, 141 athletes from 41 states competing. Jesse and 29-year-old Jason competed as a team in Level 3 - an 18-hole alternate shot format that teams a Special Olympics player with a non-Special Olympics player of similar ability. Oh ' Jesse and Jason finished second, behind only Jason Plante, age 16, and his father Robert Plante of Lafayette, Ind.
The question is, who enjoyed the experience more ' Jesse or big brother Jason? And the answer might have been, Jason.
This is the first time that Ive ever done something like this, said Jason, and for me it was a phenomenal experience. And I just tried to make every day all about him.
Weve gone out and weve practiced and weve prepared for this. But to come out and play on the course, and to see him play as well as he did ' I was speechless. And I was amazed at how well we played. We had two bad holes, but we still tied our personal best. It was phenomenal.
The pair scored better every day, shooting 90 the first day, trimming 10 strokes to get to 80 the second, and finishing with 79.
Father Keith, who happens to be on the Special Olympics board in Iowa, is overjoyed that his two sons enjoyed themselves so much.
When your children are out there playing and competing, and theyre playing as good as they know how to play. It would be one thing if you walked in and said, Hey they could have played better. But hey ' they played well. So that makes you proud, he said.
And there was another reason the experience resonated with Keith. Im also the coach, he said, so Im the one who taught him to play the game. It was nice to see that they listened and learned ' its not very many parents who get to see that happen all the time.
The men have been playing for about 10 years. The mom, Joelle, sat at home in the early stages while the men went to the course. But she decided, Well, why not? And then she took the big step ' she became a player, too.
Exactly! she said. I decided that if I was ever going to see my husband and my family between April and October, Id better learn how to play this game.
So, thats what I did. And I love it! We all get to experience being outdoors. And ' Im getting better.
And golf is the common bond that makes this a close-knit family. When they are playing at home, no one has a disability. No one notices that this family member or that family member might have a handicap. They are just four people, out for an afternoon stroll on the course.
Golf brings everybody together, explained Joelle. We have something to do where were out together and ' lets do it. You know, its fun, and we enjoy each other.
Its heartwarming to hear about such stories, about the PGA of America who sponsors the Special Olympics golf program, about the group Play Golf America. And its heartwarming to hear of people like the Pease family. Golf, they say, will be a major part of their family forever.
Oh, it better, said Jesse, the Special Olympian. It better. Absolutely. In fact, well get home and Im sure well play two or three times together next week.
Theres something truly special about this sport.
'Golf is what we have in common, said Jason. It is our connection and our chance to really interact. We like going to hockey games together, but that we can only do as spectators. Golf takes our relationship to a whole new level.'

'Golfing with Jason, says father Keith, has done so much for Jesse... involving him with peer groups, acceptance by friends, developing socialization skills, building his confidence and just creating such a strong bond among all of us.'
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Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:07 am

SAN DIEGO – Jason Day has withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open, citing a sore back.

Day, the 2015 champion, played a practice round with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, and he is still expected to play in the tournament.

Day was replaced in the pro-am by Whee Kim. 

Making his first start since the Australian Open in November, Day is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker.

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Farmers inks 7-year extension through 2026

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:04 am

SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance has signed a seven-year extension to serve as the title sponsor for the PGA Tour event at Torrey Pines, it was announced Tuesday. The deal will run through 2026.

“Farmers Insurance has been incredibly supportive of the tournament and the Century Club’s charitable initiatives since first committing to become the title sponsor in 2010,” PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

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“We are extremely grateful for the strong support of Farmers and its active role as title sponsor, and we are excited by the commitment Farmers has made to continue sponsorship of the Farmers Insurance Open for an additional seven years.

In partnership with Farmers, the Century Club – the tournament’s host organization – has contributed more than $20 million to deserving organizations benefiting at-risk youth since 2010. 

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Woods impresses DeChambeau, Day on Tuesday

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 11:27 pm

SAN DIEGO – Bryson DeChambeau played with Tiger Woods for the first time Tuesday morning, and the biggest surprise was that he wasn’t overcome by nerves.

“That’s what I was concerned about,” DeChambeau said. “Am I just gonna be slapping it around off the tee? But I was able to play pretty well.”

So was Woods.

DeChambeau said that Woods looked “fantastic” as he prepares to make his first PGA Tour start in a year.

“His game looks solid. His body doesn’t hurt. He’s just like, yeah, I’m playing golf again,” DeChambeau said. “And he’s having fun, too, which is a good thing.”

Woods arrived at Torrey Pines before 7 a.m. local time Tuesday, when the temperature hadn’t yet crept above 50 degrees. He warmed up and played the back nine of Torrey Pines’ South Course with DeChambeau and Jason Day.

“He looks impressive; it was good to see,” Day told PGATour.com afterward. “You take (Farmers) last year and the Dubai tournament out, and he hasn’t really played in two years. I think the biggest thing is to not get too far ahead, or think he’s going to come back and win straight away.

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“The other time he came back, I don’t think he was ready and he probably came back too soon. This time he definitely looks ready. I think his swing is really nice, he’s hitting the driver a long way and he looks like he’s got some speed, which is great.”

Woods said that his caddie, Joe LaCava, spent four days with him in South Florida last week and that he’s ready to go.

“Before the Hero I was basically given the OK probably about three or four weeks prior to the tournament, and I thought I did pretty good in that prep time,” Woods told ESPN.com, referring to his tie for ninth in the 18-man event.

“Now I’ve had a little more time to get ready for this event. I’ve played a lot more golf, and overall I feel like I’ve made some nice changes. I feel good.”

Woods is first off Torrey Pines’ North Course in Wednesday’s pro-am, scheduled for 6:40 a.m. local time. 

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With blinders on, Rahm within reach of No. 1 at Torrey

By Rex HoggardJanuary 23, 2018, 10:10 pm

SAN DIEGO – The drive over to Torrey Pines from Palm Springs, Calif., takes about two and a half hours, which was plenty of time for Jon Rahm’s new and ever-evolving reality to sink in.

The Spaniard arrived in Southern California for a week full of firsts. The Farmers Insurance Open will mark the first time he’s defended a title on the PGA Tour following his dramatic breakthrough victory last year, and it will also be his first tournament as the game’s second-best player, at least according to the Official World Golf Ranking.

Rahm’s victory last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, his second on Tour and fourth worldwide tilt over the last 12 months, propelled the 23-year-old to No. 2 in the world, just behind Dustin Johnson. His overtime triumph also moved him to within four rounds of unseating DJ atop the global pecking order.

It’s impressive for a player who at this point last year was embarking on his first full season as a professional, but then Rahm has a fool-proof plan to keep from getting mired in the accolades of his accomplishments.

“It's kind of hard to process it, to be honest, because I live my day-to-day life with my girlfriend and my team around me and they don't change their behavior based on what I do, right?” he said on Tuesday at Torrey Pines. “They'll never change what they think of me. So I really don't know the magnitude of what I do until I go outside of my comfort zone.”

Head down and happy has worked perfectly for Rahm, who has finished outside the top 10 in just three of his last 10 starts and began 2018 with a runner-up showing at the Sentry Tournament of Champions and last week’s victory.

According to the world ranking math, Rahm is 1.35 average ranking points behind Johnson and can overtake DJ atop the pack with a victory this week at the Farmers Insurance Open; but to hear his take on his ascension one would imagine a much wider margin.

“I've said many times, beating Dustin Johnson is a really, really hard task,” Rahm said. “We all know what happened last time he was close to a lead in a tournament on the PGA Tour.”

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Rahm certainly remembers. It was just three weeks ago in Maui when he birdied three of his first six holes, played the weekend at Kapalua in 11 under and still finished eight strokes behind Johnson.

And last year at the WGC-Mexico Championship when Rahm closed his week with rounds of 67-68 only to finish two strokes off Johnson’s winning pace, or a few weeks later at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play when he took Johnson the distance in the championship match only to drop a 1-up decision to the game’s undisputed heavyweight.

As far as Rahm has come in an incredibly short time - at this point last year he ranked 137th in the world - it is interesting that it’s been Johnson who has had an answer at every turn.

He knows there’s still so much room for improvement, both physically and mentally, and no one would ever say Rahm is wanting for confidence, but after so many high-profile run-ins with Johnson, his cautious optimism is perfectly understandable.

“I'll try to focus more on what's going on this week rather than what comes with it if I win,” he reasoned when asked about the prospect of unseating Johnson, who isn’t playing this week. “I'll try my best, that's for sure. Hopefully it happens, but we all know how hard it is to win on Tour.”

If Rahm’s take seems a tad cliché given the circumstances, consider that his aversion to looking beyond the blinders is baked into the competitive cake. For all of his physical advantages, of which there are many, it’s his keen ability to produce something special on command that may be even more impressive.

Last year at Torrey Pines was a quintessential example of this, when he began the final round three strokes off the lead only to close his day with a back-nine 30 that included a pair of eagles.

“I have the confidence that I can win here, whereas last year I knew I could but I still had to do it,” he said. “I hope I don't have to shoot 30 on the back nine to win again.”

Some will point to Rahm’s 60-footer for eagle at the 72nd hole last year as a turning point in his young career, it was even named the best putt on Tour by one publication despite the fact he won by three strokes. But Rahm will tell you that walk-off wasn’t even the best shot he hit during the final round.

Instead, he explained that the best shot of the week, the best shot of the year, came on the 13th hole when he launched a 4-iron from a bunker to 18 feet for eagle, a putt that he also made.

“If I don't put that ball on the green, which is actually a lot harder than making that putt, the back nine charge would have never happened and this year might have never happened, so that shot is the one that made everything possible,” he explained.

Rahm’s ability to embrace and execute during those moments is what makes him special and why he’s suddenly found himself as the most likely contender to Johnson’s throne even if he chooses not to spend much time thinking about it.