On the eve of nationals, Big Break gals share wisdom with Am Tour competitors

By Mike BaileySeptember 10, 2012, 2:27 am

Stephanie Sparks and Charlie Rymer with Big Break's Shannon Fish, Alison Micheletti entertain the crowd on the eve of the Golf Channel Am Tour National Championships. 

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- On the eve of the Golf Channel Amateur Tour National Championship's open division, the competitors got a little bit of advice from a few players who recently learned a thing or two about playing under pressure.

At a dinner welcoming a record 636 players to the 2012 event, four of the dozen women of this year's Big Break Atlantis were special guests and shared their experiences, hopes and dreams with the packed ballroom at the Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort & Spa, which is the host hotel and headquarters for the event.

Christina Stockton was particularly candid about her nerves, which nearly got the best of her at times. She ultimately battled them successfully on Big Break Atlantis, making it all the way to the ninth episode before being eliminated.

'You can be nervous and hit good golf shots,' said Stockton, from Rocklin, Calif. 'You just have to accept your nerves and deal with it.'

Sunday night, the women appeared anything but nervous. Besides Stockton, Big Break Atlantis was also represented on Sunday night by Shannon Fish of Spring, Texas, Allison Micheletti of St. Louis, and Selanee Henderson of Apple Valley, Calif. All were poised, articulate and seemed at ease being interviewed by hosts Charlie Rymer and Stephanie Sparks of the Golf Channel, no doubt helped by experiences on Big Break.

Sparks, a former professional player herself, has hosted Big Break for 14 seasons, while Rymer can also list hosting the Golf Channel's popular reality show on his resume. Also on stage Sunday night was Big Break director Paul Schlegel, who shared with the audience how the producers came up with the show, which just finished its 18th season.

'It was basically survival golf,' he said. 'But in the end, it's about making somebody's dream come true.'

Fish, a former all-American at the University of Texas, said getting eliminated in the second week of the show was one of the most difficult things she's ever dealt with, but 'I'm getting on with it,' she said. This week, she successfully made it through the first stage of LPGA Qualifying School.

At the conclusion of the dinner, Rymer had a suggestion for the competitors when they play the Dye Valley Course at the TPC Sawgrass, one of four courses used in the rotation this week.

'I hear the rough is a little up on the Valley Course because they've got a Web.com Tour event (Wynn-Dixie Jacksonville Open) in the next few weeks,' he said. 'I've got a little advice for you. Just chip it out to the fairway. There's nothing wrong with that.'

All kinds of players this week

Including the senior division of the Golf Channel Am Tour National Championships, which just concluded, there are 1,136 competitors playing. They range from ages 16-79 and come from all walks and all parts of the continent.

Headlining the open division are two former major league baseball pitchers -- former St. Louis Cardinals and Oakland Athletics pitcher Mark Mulder and four-time World Series championship pitcher Orlando :El Duque' Hernandez.

'I'm looking forward to playing in my second Golf Channel Am Tour National Championships against so many good players from around the country and testing myself at TPC Sawgrass, one of the best courses that the pros play on Tour,' said Mulder, who shared the first-round lead at the American Century Championship at Lake Tahoe in July en route to a seventh-place finish. 'Trying to put together four good rounds is difficult at any time, much less when you are trying to control your nerves against these good players.'

There are also 23 past champions, who are returning for the national championships, including 10 defending champions. Also included in the roster of past champions are three golfers from the 2010 National Championships that also was contested at TPC Sawgrass: Don Miller (North Bay, Ontario, Canada, Senior Palmer Flight), Randy Adcock (Vidor, Texas, Senior Jones Flight) and Michael Poole (West Chester, Ohio, Snead Flight).

The PLAYERS Stadium Course and neighboring Dye’s Valley Course at TPC Sawgrass, along with Ponte Vedra Inn and Club’s Lagoon and Ocean Courses are serving as host courses.

Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

"It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’

Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open

Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

“Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

“That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.

The golf world celebrates Thanksgiving

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 6:01 pm

Here's a look, through social media, at how the golf world celebrates Thanksgiving.

Lexi Thompson:

Baking time!!

A post shared by Lexi Thompson (@lexi) on

David Feherty:

Jack Nicklaus:

GC Tiger Tracker:

Steve Stricker:

Golf Channel:

Frank Nobilo:

Ian Poulter:

Tyrone Van Aswegen:

Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017

By Grill Room TeamNovember 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.

Tributes pour in for legendary caddie Sheridan

By Randall MellNovember 23, 2017, 2:54 pm

Tributes are pouring in as golf celebrates the life of Greg Sheridan after receiving news of his passing.

Sheridan, a long-time LPGA caddie who worked for some of the game’s all-time greats, including Kathy Whitworth and Beth Daniel, died Wednesday in Indian Rocks Beach, Fla., at 63. He was diagnosed in July 2016 with brain and lung cancer.

Sheridan worked the last dozen years or so with Natalie Gulbis, who expressed her grief in an Instagram post on Wednesday:

“Greg…I miss you so much already and it hasn’t even been a day. 15+ seasons traveling the world you carried me & my bag through the highs and lows of golf and life. You were so much more than my teammate on the course…Thank you.”

Sheridan was on Whitworth’s bag for the last of her LPGA-record 88 titles.

“When I first came on tour, I would try to find out how many times Greg won,” Gulbis told Golfweek. “It’s a crazy number, like 50.”

Matthew Galloway, a caddie and friend to Sheridan, summed up Sheridan’s impressive reach after caddying with him one year at the LPGA Founders Cup, where the game’s pioneers are honored.

“Best Greg story,” Galloway tweeted on Thanksgiving morning, “coming up 18 at PHX all the founders were in their chairs. Greg goes, `Yep, caddied for her, her and her.’ Legend.”

In a first-person column for Golf Magazine last year, Gulbis focused on Sheridan while writing about the special bond between players and caddies. She wrote that she won the “looper lottery” when she first hired Sheridan in ’04.

“Greg and I have traveled the world, and today he is like family,” Gulbis wrote. “Sometimes, he’s a psychologist. Last year, my mom got sick and it was a distraction, but he was great. When I used to have boyfriend issues and breakup issues, he was my confidant. In a world where caddies sometimes spill secrets, Greg has kept a respectful silence, and I can’t thank him enough for that. He’s an extension of me.”

Four months after Gulbis wrote the column, Sheridan was diagnosed with cancer.

“The LPGA family is saddened to hear of the loss of long-time tour caddie, Greg Sheridan,” the LPGA tweeted. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and players he walked with down the fairways. #RIP.”

Dean Herden was among the legion of caddies saddened by the news.

“Greg was a great guy who I respected a lot and taught me some great things over the years,” Herden texted to GolfChannel.com.

Here are some of heartfelt messages that are rolling across Twitter:

Retired LPGA great Annika Sorenstam:

LPGA commissioner Mike Whan in a retweet of Gulbis:

Golf Channel reporter and former tour player Jerry Foltz:

Christina Kim:

LPGA caddie Shaun Clews:

LPGA caddie Jonny Scott:

LPGA caddie Kevin Casas:

LPGA pro Jennie Lee: