A learning loop

By Rex HoggardMarch 15, 2011, 1:55 am

PALM HARBOR, Fla. – By the fifth hole my towel was dry and my feet were wet and the thought quickly occured that caddying, like the NFL, whose greed and ego threatens to derail another season, is not a game for scrubs.

You know the ones, those grizzled types who know just the right amount of pressure to apply to a rake to properly manicure a sand bunker, not to mention the correct amount of pressure to apply to a jittery pro with a bunker mentality.

Your scribe is adept at neither, yet somehow landed a gig looping for Gavin Coles at Monday’s open qualifying for this week’s Transitions Championship near Tampa.

“The range finder, really?” I asked incredulously on the first tee, flummoxed by the addition of unnecessary weight yet feeling the pressure of already lowering expectations. I’d already violated two-thirds of the caddie creed – show up and shut up – and the added weight only magnified my anxiety.

Starting on the back nine of Innisbrook Resort’s Island Course, a rolling and tree-lined 7,300 yards, Coles was 1 under through four holes when I made the first of many moonlighting miscues, suggesting he play a safe shot to the middle of the 14th green.

“We’re attacking,” Coles, a longtime friend and genuinely nice fellow who is plying his trade on the Nationwide Tour this year, calmly explained. “We’re trying to take it on on every hole.”

With that the Australian roped a hybrid to 3 feet for birdie and I resigned myself to the role of pack mule for the day. Nothing says “shud it” like a tap in from 220 yards.

There was a measure of redemption at the 16th hole when Coles asked me the “number” for his approach shot – 227 yards. “No . . .,” he said before recalculating, “You’re right . . . but I got you on the par 3 (13th hole, where my math resembled the World Golf Ranking arithmetic and was off by some 20 yards).

But then on the par-5 15th hole we mindlessly forgot to give Coles back his golf ball after he’d putted to 1 foot. “They don’t do ‘gimmes’ at Monday qualifiers,” I smiled.

Just past the turn another often-uttered Tour cliché came to mind: what doesn’t last long? Dogs that chase cars and pros that putt for pars. Despite a 6-footer at the 18th and a 5-footer at the first to save par, we were 2 under and the sprint that is Monday qualifying was starting to feel like the dog days of a marathon.

Through 14 holes we remained 2 under, including three pars on the par 5s, when Coles announced, “We have four (more holes) to make our number.” Six under, he reasoned, may be good enough for a playoff for one of the four qualifying spots.

He was right, when we completed our round a group of three players was tied at 67 and one player was at 66 (Travis Hampshire 66; Russell Knox 67; Jason Kokrak 67; Will Claxton 67). We were not among that group, but Coles came close with a birdie at the par-5 seventh from 12 feet and another at the ninth after hitting his approach to 4 feet.

“I knew it,” he said. “Six (under) was the number.”

For the day Coles hit 11 fairways, 13 greens in regulation and 27 putts; while your scribe didn’t lose any clubs or fall down. A victory of form, if not function.

“Come on, I’ll buy you lunch,” he smiled, “it’s the least I can do.'

It didn’t seem like the right time to tell him he may also want to look into buying a new range finder to replace his old one which I left lying on the 12th tee. In this game every stroke, and ounce, counts.

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Angela hits Sergio in stride on field at Superdome

By Grill Room TeamDecember 18, 2017, 3:22 pm

Sergio and Angela Garcia's super 2017 keeps getting more ... Super ... Dome. (+1 awful blog lede.)

The couple started the year with Sergio's win at the Masters, then embarked on a whirlwind green jacket media tour, then kicked off El Clasico, then attended Wimbledon, then got married, then announced they were expecting their first child ...

2017 Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

And now, they're throwing each other passes on the New Orleans Saints' home turf at the Superdome.

Man, it must be so cool do that at the Silverdome. ... ... ... I'm sorry, it is the Superdome, brothers.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 1, Justin Thomas

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 1:00 pm

He won a major, captured the FedExCup and was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year. It should come as no surprise that Justin Thomas holds the top spot on our Newsmakers list for 2017.

Thomas entered the year ranked outside the top 20, and few might have pegged him for a transcendent campaign. But he kicked off January with a win in Hawaii, added another before leaving the Aloha State and never looked back.

Thomas’ seminal moment came in August when he captured the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow for his breakthrough major title. One month after greeting Jordan Spieth behind the final green at Royal Birkdale, this time it was Thomas’ turn to have friends stick around to snap pictures with the trophy that signaled his arrival among golf’s upper echelon.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

In addition to racking up the hardware – five in total, including the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in his first start of the new wraparound season – Thomas dazzled with style. His runaway win at the Sony Open included an opening-round 59, and his third-round 63 at Erin Hills marked the first time anyone had ever shot 9 under on a U.S. Open venue.

Thomas’ consistency was rewarded at East Lake, when a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship netted him the season-long title and $10 million prize. It was in the subsequent press conference where he shared the goals list he had written into his cell phone in February, having ticked off nearly every one. It showed a dedicated attention to detail as well the tactical approach with which Thomas had steered his rapid ascent.

Heading into a new year, he’s now very clearly entrenched as one of the world’s best. And as his career progresses, it’s likely we’ll look back at 2017 as the point where Thomas first transformed great potential into eye-popping results.

Win No. 1: Title defense at the CIMB Classic

Article: Thomas (64) rallies to defend CIMB title

Win Nos. 2 and 3: The Hawaiian double

Article: Thomas refuses to let disastrous hole derail TOC win

Article: Worst week ever ends with another title at Sony Open

Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open

Article: Thomas becomes youngest player to shoot 59

Take a look: Thomas’ scorecard from his amazing 59

Record Round No. 2: 63 at the U.S. Open

Article: Thomas sets U.S. Open record with 9-under 63

Temporary Slide: Open MC makes it three in a row

Watch: Thomas loses club, makes 9, misses Open cut

Mr. Major (and win No. 4): PGA champ at Quail Hollow

Article: Thomas joins the club – the major club

Win No. 5: Dell Technologies Championship

Article: Thomas wins the battle of buddies over Spieth

The $10 Million Man: FedExCup champ

Biggest Win of All? Player of the Year

And One to Grow On: Wins at CJ Cup in 2017-18 season

Article: Thomas caps torrid 12-month run with CJ Cup win

Photo Galleries: Best of ...

Best of: Justin Thomas and Jillian Wisniewski

Best of: Justin Thomas through the years

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 12:30 pm

Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.