Former Pitcher Tries Another Profession

By Golf Channel NewsroomAugust 21, 2003, 4:00 pm
WEST DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) -- Concentration is critical for major league pitchers and professional golfers. Humility also is essential. A short memory is a must.
Rick Rhoden also sees a glaring difference.
'In baseball when you're playing bad, they take you out,' the former pitcher said Wednesday. 'In golf, you've got to stay out there for four hours. It's not a lot of fun when you're playing bad.'
Rhoden, who spent 16 years in the big leagues, is trying to make it on the Champions Tour. He'll play in his second event with the 50-and-over set when he tees up Friday in the first round of the Allianz Championship.
'I'm not trying to do this as a lark,' the lanky right-hander said. 'This is what I'd like to do.'
Rhoden has made a comfortable living off celebrity tournaments, earning some $2 million in the last 12 or 13 years. He recently picked up $100,000 by winning the American Celebrity Tournament at Lake Tahoe for the sixth time.
But competing against the likes of Johnny Bench, Steve Bartkowski and Ivan Lendl is one thing. Going against Bruce Lietzke, Tom Watson and Hale Irwin -- and on tougher courses -- is quite another.
Rhoden found that out when he played in the U.S. Senior Open at Inverness this summer, his first appearance in a senior tournament. He struggled to a 78 in the first round but recovered with a 74 the next day and missed the cut by only one stroke.
'I hit the ball really good there,' Rhoden said. 'I just had a hard time when I got around the greens. I never played in rough like that.
'I wish I would have played in a regular event before that just to get my feet wet. I was kind of nervous the first couple of holes. After that, it was just playing golf.'
So what's more nerve-racking? That or pitching to Mike Schmidt with the bases loaded?
'They're both hard,' Rhoden said. 'But in golf, you have a direct link to what happens. In baseball, you don't always have that. You might throw one down the middle and he might pop it up. And he might not. Golf is a direct result of what you do.'
Rhoden went 151-125 with the Dodgers, Pirates, Yankees and Astros from 1974-89. He didn't get serious about golf until after retiring from baseball and has never had a formal lesson.
Actor Randy Quaid got Rhoden interested in the celebrity tour and he won the first major tournament he entered, the Lake Tahoe event in 1991.
'It's just been a nice thing,' Rhoden said. 'Not only can you make a little money at it, I think the best part of it is you get a chance to meet guys you admired in other sports.
'Michael Jordan. He's still Michael Jordan, but on the golf course, he's just another one of our golfers. Golf is a very humbling game.'
Rhoden failed in his first attempt at qualifying for the Champions Tour last November. He was done in by a 75 in the final round after shooting 70, 68 and 70.
This week he's playing on a sponsor's exemptions, and hopes to get a couple more before the year is out. If not, he'll play in some Monday qualifiers.
'My goal is to play out here as much as I can,' he said. 'If I had to choose between a celebrity tournament and this, I'm playing here.'
And now the key question. Could Jordan make money playing golf?
'If he played with Charles Barkley,' Rhoden replied.
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    Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

    Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

    "Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

    Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.

    Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

    "That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

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    Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

    By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

    There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

    Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

    Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

    Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.


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    The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

    It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.

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    Mickelson starts fast, fades to 70 at La Quinta

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:07 pm

    Phil Mickelson got off to a fast start in his first competitive round of 2018 - for six holes, at least.

    The 47-year-old is making his first start since the WGC-HSBC Champions this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, and only his third competitive appearance since the BMW Championship in September. Four birdies over his first six holes indicated that a strong opener might be in the cards, but Mickelson played his subsequent holes in 2 over.

    It added up to a 2-under 70 at La Quinta Country Club, typically the easiest of the three courses in rotation this week, and left Mickelson eight shots behind Jon Rahm.

    "It was fun to get back out and be competitive," Mickelson told reporters. "I for some reason am stuck on 70 here at La Quinta, whether I get off to a good start or a bad one, I end up shooting the same score."

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    Mickelson stunted his momentum with a tee shot out of bounds on the par-4 eighth hole, but he managed to save bogey and otherwise drove the ball relatively well. Instead, he pointed to his normally reliable iron play as the culprit for his back-nine backslide on a day when more than 120 players in the 156-man field broke par.

    Mickelson will now head to the Nicklaus Tournament Course with the Stadium Course on tap for Saturday's third round. While there were several low scores Thursday at La Quinta, Mickelson remains bullish about the birdie opportunities that still lie ahead.

    "This isn't the course where I go low on," Mickelson said. "I feel more comfortable on Stadium and Nicklaus. Neither of them are nearly as tight and I tend to score a lot lower on those other two than I do here, historically."

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    Rahm (62) shoots career low round at CareerBuilder

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 10:33 pm

    After a banner year in 2017, Jon Rahm found a way to add yet another accolade to his growing list of accomplishments during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    Rahm got off to a fast start at La Quinta Country Club, playing his first seven holes in 6 under en route to a 10-under 62. The score marked his career low on the PGA Tour by two shots and gave him an early lead in an event that utilizes a three-course rotation.

    La Quinta was the site of Adam Hadwin's 59 during last year's event, and Rahm knew full well that a quick start opened the door to a memorably low score.

    "Any time you have that going for you, you get thoughts come in your head, 60, maybe 59," Rahm told reporters. "I knew that if I kept playing good I was going to have more birdie opportunities, and I tried not to get ahead of myself and I was able to do it."

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    Rahm birdied his first two holes before an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole sparked him to an outward 30. He added four more birdies on the inward half without dropping a shot.

    The Spaniard is the highest-ranked player in the field this week, and while many players opted for a two-week stint in Hawaii he instead came home for some practice after opening the new year with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. That decision appears to have paid some early dividends as Rahm gets set to defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

    Low scores were plentiful on all three courses during the opening round, and Rahm remained pleased with his effort even though he fell short of matching Hadwin's sub-60 score from a year ago.

    "That's golf. You're not going to make every single putt, you're not going to hit every shot perfect," he said. "Overall, you've got to look at the bigger picture. I birdied the last hole, had a couple of great sand saves coming in, shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for."