Blueprint for Success

By Rex HoggardNovember 25, 2009, 10:41 pm

It’s a golf success story, but it all began – like most tales of inspiration – far from any fairways.

The Billy Andrade-Brad Faxon Charities for Children has been creating opportunities for at-risk kids for the better part of three decades and donated nearly $20 million to Rhode Island charities. Yet for Andrade, the more animated half of New England’s philanthropic duo, the journey began on the south side of Providence, R.I., at the Meeting Street School.

Andrade’s older brother by six years, Jack, attended the school and the pain and suffering he saw there stayed with him through an All-America stint at Wake Forest and the early stages of a prolific professional career. When the opportunity presented itself to do something for Meeting Street it was an easy decision.

“Anyone who has ever walked into a children’s hospital and seen what the kids go through . . . if you’re not touched by that you don’t have a soul,” Andrade said.

In 1988 Andrade convinced fellow Rhode Islander Faxon of the need for a celebrity event that would benefit Meeting Street and the tournament quickly turned into a New England staple.

If the tournament was a labor of love, neither player ever confused the outing for work.

“Bobby Orr was there. When I was a kid he was the biggest thing to hit Boston,” Faxon said. “Look, I still get chills on my arm talking about him.”

The event was played at Wannamoisett Country Club, a Donald Ross gem, and the golf was unforgettable, if more often than not unspectacular. But the highlight of the week, at least for Faxon and Andrade, was an informal, celebrity-only dinner on Sunday.

“I remember having (Sandy) Koufax in a room with (Andy) Pettite and (Tom) Glavine and they were talking about how lefties can come inside to right-handed hitters,” Faxon said. “Unbelievable.”

In 1994 Andrade and Faxon established their foundation and five years later they began the CVS/Caremark Charity Classic, a two-man team event featuring Tour pros at Rhode Island Country Club.

“In the beginning, I thought we could have a tournament and raise a lot of money, but we had no real rhyme or reason to it,” Andrade recalls. “It was a real mom-and-pop organization.”

The success of the “mom-and-pop organization” quickly outpaced both players’ ability to juggle family, golf and charity and the CVS/Caremark event became their primary focus, annually drawing the game’s top players in June to a tournament that raised $1.8 million last year for Rhode Island charities.

The CVS/Caremark – which has never been won by the co-hosts – is now the primary supporter of the Andrade-Faxon Charity, which received a record number of requests for grants (100) in 2009.

“I couldn’t imagine how much it’s grown, but it’s gotten to the point where we have done some great work” Andrade said. “All the other players have come to our tournament and seen it. That makes me proud to see the success we’ve had.”

Between Faxon (eight) and Andrade (four) they have 12 Tour titles, good stuff on a circuit that sometimes undervalues the significance of a victory, but both players concede much of their legacy begins and ends the third week of June when the golf world takes a competitive pause midseason for a worthy cause.

There is an unofficial waiting list for Tour players wanting a start at the CVS/Caremark, perhaps the ultimate compliment on a crowded competitive docket, and those who play the event more times than not go over and above the call – like Boo Weekley this year, who donated his winnings to the Faxon/Andrade charity.

“Guys want to play our event and I am as proud of that as anything I’ve done in my career,” Faxon said.

Heady stuff from a two-time Ryder Cup player, but then competitive accomplishments are easy to envision by comparison to what the two have done for New England charities. And for Andrade, it all goes back to his brother and Meeting Street.

“That’s what life is all about to – to touch people,” Andrade said. “Golf is special but it’s just an avenue to do better things.”

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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.