Signs pointed to Hamilton's surprise '04 Open triumph

By Mercer BaggsJuly 12, 2016, 11:38 am

TROON, Scotland – In retrospect, the signs were there. But when you’re in the middle of living the experience, signs are more coincidence than a showcase of fate.

Todd Hamilton was a 38-year-old, world travelling, one-time PGA Tour winner when he arrived at Royal Troon for the 2004 Open. A journeyman, by every definition.

He came over to Scotland with his wife, three kids and his mother. He had won the Honda Classic in March, but there was no reason – even for him – to believe that he would return to the U.S. with the claret jug.

Sure, Ben Curtis, then world No. 396, had won The Open the previous year, but lightning wasn’t likely to strike twice for a surprising American winner.

“Looking back,” he said on Monday at Royal Troon, his first appearance there in 12 years, “there were a lot of odd things that had happened.”

There was the scoreboard incident. Hamilton arrived in Scotland on Tuesday, the byproduct of a delayed charter flight following the John Deere Classic. He was one of the last players on the course that evening and he noticed workers changing scores on the manual, big yellow scoreboard off the 18th green.

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“And my name was one of the two that were tied at, I think it was 4 under. They had just kind of done a trial run of the scoreboard, and my name was up there with, I want to say it was Clarke, maybe Darren Clarke,” he said. “And I think they had [David] Duval at minus-3, and again, there were eight to 10 scores. But they had my name at the very top, which I thought was kind of odd.”

There was another incident, maybe it was Tuesday, maybe it was Wednesday, where Hamilton and family  and his caddie, Ron “Bambi” Levin  were at an Italian restaurant.

“As we were being served, the guy that was the owner asked what we were doing in town, are we here for the golf? Yes,” Hamilton said. “And Bambi, Ron, piped up, ‘We'll bring you the jug back Sunday night when we win.’ (and, yes, they did)"

And, not to be forgotten, there was the incident on the flight over.

“[M]y wife sat by a priest from, I think he was from South or North Dakota, and they conversed about what each individual was doing, where they were going, and my wife mentioned that we were coming over to play golf. He ended up praying for us,” Hamilton said.

That never hurts.

And so the prayer was answered. Hamilton defeated Ernie Els in a four-hole aggregate playoff.

How much of a miracle was it? Never before or since has Hamilton finished better than T-15 in a major – and that’s his lone other top-25. In 36 career major starts, he has missed 20 cuts.

Hamilton is 50 now and playing on the PGA Tour Champions. No matter what the signs tell him this week, he’s not harboring illusions of repeated grandeur.

“I have good memories here. I don't remember everything that happened, but I remember enough to make it a very memorable and cherished event,” he said. “Would like to have some other good memories this year. Doesn't have to be a victory, but at least have some good golf and play some good golf.”

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

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.

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Rose leads Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

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

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

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.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

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.

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 12:30 pm