Calcavecchia Remembers Troon in 89

By Golf Channel NewsroomJuly 13, 2004, 4:00 pm
TROON, Scotland -- Mark Calcavecchia left Royal Troon 15 years ago with a claret jug and the bright promise of other majors to come. He's back this week still seeking his second major championship, but now Calcavecchia acknowledges it will take something short of a miracle for him to do it again.
 
'I would have thought for sure I'd have had at least one more major by now,' Calcavecchia said. 'I don't think I'm done, by any stretch, but at this point I wouldn't say 'underachiever' would be a definition, but I should have won far more.'
 
Calcavecchia was 29 and a budding star when he beat Greg Norman in an odd playoff that ended with Norman not even finishing the final hole.
 
It seemed a given he would be a major factor in the 1990s. But, though Calcavecchia's won assorted tournaments, he's yet to win the ones every player wants most.
 
Calcavecchia isn't sure where the time has gone. He's had a respectable career, but yearns for more.
 
He's back at the scene of his greatest triumph this week knowing time is running out. He also knows this: If he could somehow, some way, find a way to win another Open, it would be even sweeter at age 44.
 
After making a handful of birdies Monday in a practice round, he cautioned against counting him out.
 
'I've still got a lot of good shots in me, and we can still wreak some havoc somewhere,' Calcavecchia said. 'Hopefully, six days from now a miracle could happen.'
 
Miracle might be the right word for Calcavecchia, who has struggled this year with only one top-10 finish in 13 tournaments. He's a feel player who hasn't felt well on the course recently, and he admits he needs to lose some weight and get in better shape to compete on a weekly basis.
 
That wasn't the case in 1989 when he birdied the final hole in regulation and the final hole of a four-hole playoff to cost Norman yet another major.
 
'Obviously the greatest thing that's ever happened to me in the game of golf,' Calcavecchia said.
 
He and Norman were tied going into the final hole of the four-hole playoff when his tee shot that was going way right bounced safely off a spectator and left him with an open shot to the green.
 
Norman, on the other hand, watched in disbelief as his perfectly struck tee shot rolled and rolled into a fairway bunker he thought was unreachable. After watching Calcavecchia stick his second shot 5 feet away, he tried for a miracle shot and reached a greenside bunker, then hit that shot out of bounds.
 
It left a stunned Calcavecchia holding the claret jug - which still contains his name.
 
He's never really contended again for a major, though he finished fourth in the 2001 Masters and PGA.
 
'Being 44 years old and winning this tournament - or winning any major - would mean far more today than it did 15 years ago, at least in my position and my mind,' he said. 'But that was a great day for me. And I remember it very well.'
 
Tiger Woods also remembers winning majors well. But that memory is fading as he tries not to extend a streak of eight majors in a row he hasn't won.
 
Woods won in 2000 at St. Andrews, contended at Royal St. George last year and would like nothing better than to make this his ninth major championship.
 
On Monday, he walked to the 10th tee at the far end of Royal Troon and turned to face a freshening breeze off the Irish Sea. Glancing back at the first nine holes he played, Woods grinned and said, 'That was a nice little course, wasn't it?'
 
Then, staring ahead at a blind tee shot over mounds of prickly gorse bushes on a 438-yard hole that begins one of the most daunting back nines in the British Open, Woods said sternly, 'This is where it starts.'
 
'That was the JV,' he added. 'This is the varsity.'
 
Perhaps no other links in the British Open has two nines that are more diverse.
 
The outward nine plays with the prevailing wind and is only 3,462 yards with two par 5s, one of them reachable in two with as little as a 7-iron. The inward nine is 3,713 yards and plays into the teeth of the wind, yet it has only one par 5.
 
'You're going to see a lot of birdies and sure enough some eagles on the front nine,' Calcavecchia said. 'But then you get to the 10th tee, and the fun starts. If the wind is blowing pretty good, which I hope it does, I've got to believe the back nine will play ... five shots harder.'
 
Related Links:
  • TV Airtimes

  • British Open Photo Gallery

  • Full Coverage - 133rd Open Championship
     
    Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
  • Getty Images

    The Social: The end was nigh, then it wasn't

    By Jason CrookJanuary 16, 2018, 7:00 pm

    The star power at the Sony Open may have been overshadowed by a missile scare, but there were plenty of other social media stories that kept the golf world on its toes this week, including some insight on Tiger Woods from a round with President Obama and some failed trick shots.

    All that and more in this week's edition of The Social.

    By now you've undoubtedly heard about the false alarm in Hawaii on Saturday, where just about everyone, including most Sony Open participants, woke up to an emergency cell phone alert that there was a ballistic missile heading toward the islands.

    Hawaiian emergency management officials eventually admitted the original message was mistakenly sent out, but before they did, people (understandably) freaked out.

    As the situation unfolded, some Tour pros took to social media to express their confusion and to let the Twittersphere know how they planned on riding out this threat:

    While I would've been in that bathtub under the mattress with John Peterson, his wife, baby and in-laws (wait, how big is this tub?), here's how Justin Thomas reacted to the threat of impending doom:

    Yeah, you heard that right.

    “I was like ‘there’s nothing I can do,'” Thomas said. ”I sat on my couch and opened up the sliding door and watched TV and listened to music. I was like, if it’s my time, it’s my time.”

    Hmmm ... can we just go ahead and award him all the 2018 majors right now? Because if Thomas is staring down death in mid-January, you gotta like the kid's chances on the back nine Sunday at Augusta and beyond.

    Before the Hawaiian Missile Crisis of 2018, things were going about as well as they could at Waialae Country Club, starting with the Wednesday pro-am.

    Jordan Spieth might have been the third-biggest star in his own group, after getting paired with superstar singer/songwriter/actor Nick Jonas and model/actress Kelly Rohrbach.

    You'd be hard-pressed to find a more photogenic group out on the course, and the "Baywatch" star has a gorgeous swing as well, which makes sense, considering she was a former collegiate golfer at Georgetown.

    As impressive as that group was, they were somehow outshined by an amateur in another group, former NFL coach June Jones.

    Jones, who now coaches the CFL's Hamilton Tiger-Cats, played his round in bare feet and putted with his 5-iron, a remedy he came up with to battle the yips.

    Former NFL and current CFL coach June Jones: A master of 5-iron putting?

    A post shared by PGA TOUR (@pgatour) on

    Considering he made back-to-back birdies at one point during the day, it's safe to say he's won that battle.

    With Tiger Woods' return to the PGA Tour about a week away, that sound you hear is the hype train motoring full speed down the tracks.

    First, his ex-girlfriend Lindsey Vonn told Sports Illustrated that she hopes this comeback works out for him.

    “I loved him and we’re still friends. Sometimes, I wish he would have listened to me a little more, but he’s very stubborn and he likes to go his own way," the Olympic skiier said. "I hope this latest comeback sticks. I hope he goes back to winning tournaments.”

    Vonn also mentioned she thinks Woods is very stubborn and that he didn't listen to her enough. That really shouldn't shock anyone who watched him win the 2008 U.S. Open on one leg. Don't think there were a lot of people in his ear telling him that was a great idea at the time.

    We also have this report from Golf Channel Insider Tim Rosaforte, stating that the 14-time major champ recently played a round with former president Barack Obama at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., where he received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon.

    The Farmers Insurance Open is sure to be must-see TV, but until then, I'm here for all of the rampant speculation and guesses as to how things will go. The more takes the better. Make them extra spicy, please and thanks.

    These poor New Orleans Saints fans. Guess the only thing you can do is throw your 65-inch TV off the balcony and get 'em next year.

    Here's two more just for good measure.

    Farts ... will they ever not be funny?

    Perhaps someday, but that day was not early last week, when Tommy Fleetwood let one rip on his European teammates during EurAsia Cup team photos.

    Fleetwood went 3-0-0 in the event, helping Europe to a victory over Asia, perhaps by distracting his opponents with the aid of his secret weapon.

    Also, how about the diabolical question, "Did you get that?"

    Yeah Tommy, we all got that.

    Ahhh ... golf trick shot videos. You were fun while you lasted.

    But now we’ve officially come to the point in their existence where an unsuccessful attempt is much more entertaining than a properly executed shot, and right on cue, a couple of pros delivered some epic fails.

    We start with Sony Open runner-up James Hahn’s preparation for the event, where for some reason he thought he needed to practice a running, jumping, Happy Gilmore-esque shot from the lip of a bunker. It didn’t exactly work out.

    Not to be outdone, Ladies European Tour pro Carly Booth attempted the juggling-drive-it-out-of-midair shot made famous by the Bryan Bros, and from the looks of things she might have caught it a little close to the hosel.

    PSA to trick-shot artists everywhere: For the sake of the viewing public, if you feel a miss coming on, please make sure the camera is rolling.

    Seriously, though, who cares? Definitely not these guys and gals, who took the time to comment, "who cares?" They definitely do not care.

    Getty Images

    Spieth selected by peers to run for PAC chairman

    By Will GrayJanuary 16, 2018, 6:43 pm

    Jordan Spieth may still be relatively young, but he has gained the confidence of some of the PGA Tour's most seasoned voices.

    Spieth is one of two players selected by the current player directors of the Tour's Policy Board to run for Chairman of the Player Advisory Council (PAC). Spieth will face Billy Hurley III in an election that will end Feb. 13, with the leading vote-getter replacing Davis Love III next year on the Policy Board for a three-year term through 2021.

    Last year's PAC chairman, Johnson Wagner, replaces Jason Bohn as a player director on the Policy Board beginning this year and running through 2020. Other existing player directors include Charley Hoffman (2017-19), Kevin Streelman (2017-19) and Love (2016-18).

    The 16-member PAC advises and consults with the Policy Board and Tour commissioner Jay Monahan on "issues affecting the Tour."

    In addition to Spieth and Hurley, other PAC members for 2018 include Daniel Berger, Paul Casey, Stewart Cink, Chesson Hadley, James Hahn, Zach Johnson, Matt Kuchar, Anirban Lahiri, Geoff Ogilvy, Sam Saunders, Chris Stroud, Justin Thomas, Kyle Thompson and Cameron Tringale.

    Getty Images

    Florida golfers encounter python-wrapped alligator

    By Grill Room TeamJanuary 16, 2018, 6:29 pm

    Alligator sightings are pretty common on Southern golf courses - see here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

    Also, here. (RIP, Timmy the Turtle.)

    But here's one that deserves distinction.

    Those images come from the Golf Club at Fiddler's Creek, down in Naples - in case you're booking a vacation to Southwest Florida or just looking for a Hot Deal this week. Hit 'em straight, folks.

    Getty Images

    McIlroy 'happy to be back', can 'empathize' with Tiger

    By Associated PressJanuary 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

    ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – After a long layoff from golf, Rory McIlroy has some newfound sympathy for Tiger Woods.

    The 28-year-old Northern Irishman is making a comeback at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship after ending his season early last year. He has not played a round since the final day of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Oct. 8.

    McIlroy, a four-time major champion who has slipped to No. 11 in the world rankings, last won the Tour Championship on the PGA Tour in September 2016. He injured a rib in his first outing of 2017 – at the South African Open – and felt its after-effects throughout the year.

    McIlroy, who has seven top-five finishes in his last eight starts in Abu Dhabi, said Tuesday he felt mentally low because of his physical issues.

    ''Honestly, I was excited to be done. I could have shut it down after the PGA Championship very easily and taken the rest of the year off, but I didn't. I played six events after that, played OK and had a chance to win one of them,'' McIlroy said. ''But I was just excited to take that time off and get myself just sort of a re-set.''

    Last week, McIlroy also revealed that he has a minor, non-threatening heart condition that needs regular check-ups.

    ''After that 3-plus months of a re-set, I'm very happy to be back. I felt like I needed it physically and mentally. I just felt like it was a little bit of a sabbatical. I've been out here for 10 years, and I want to get ready for the next 10.''

    McIlroy compared his situation to what Woods has been going through.

    ''I've only been through, maybe, not even 5 percent of what he's had to go through. And you can tell from where he was to where he is now mentally, because of physically where he is ... he's a totally different person,'' McIlroy said. ''Of course, I empathize with him, and I know he was in a dark place there for a while. It's just so great to see him out of that and back and excited to be playing golf again.''

    The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship will be the first of back-to-back events for McIlroy, who is also playing next week in Dubai.

    ''I think the next two weeks will be a big learning curve, just to see where I'm at,'' McIlroy said. ''I'm obviously coming into the events trying to play as well as I can and trying to compete and trying to win, but I think there will definitely be things I'll have to work on going into that stretch in the States.''

    The tournament, which starts Thursday, has attracted some big names, including top-ranked Dustin Johnson, No. 6 Justin Rose, No. 9 Henrik Stenson, No. 14 Paul Casey and No. 15 Matt Kuchar. No. 18 Tommy Fleetwood is the defending champion.