Former Stanford teammates Martin, Woods back together

By Jason SobelJune 12, 2012, 2:13 am

SAN FRANCISCO – Time embellishes all tales. Years go by and the mundane becomes interesting, the interesting becomes outrageous, the outrageous becomes exceedingly unbelievable.

The following story sounds easily amplified, enhanced for the benefit of dinner-table conversation and back-room banter.

And it could be, except for one little detail: There remains concrete evidence – or at least a pretty telling paper trail.

Eighteen years ago, two college kids played on the same golf team. Separated by three years, they may not have been the best of buddies, but the relationship quickly took on mentor-mentee proportions. One was a senior; he walked with a limp, but also carried a mercurial short game. The other was a freshman; skinny yet super-talented and armed with a cool nickname.

Video: Casey Martin news conference

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Their common bond was one of competitiveness. It showed in their matches against other schools, sure, but really reared its head during intrasquad putting matches after practice. Camped out on the green next to the 10th hole at their home course, the senior always enlisted one of his brethren as a teammate while the freshman partnered with a fellow underclassman.

Maybe it shouldn’t come as a surprise, but the seniors swept a large majority of the matches. And perhaps it’s hardly noteworthy all these years later, but the freshman paid up – even once to the tune of a $190 check.

No, this would all be just a footnote in the annals of history – a lively story for the parties involved, free of any embellishment – until it’s revealed that the main characters of this tale competed for Stanford University.

The senior was Casey Martin. The freshman was Tiger Woods.

And yes, there’s proof.

“One day we had a match,” Martin recalled Monday. “We were leaving the next day on a trip. And [Tiger] says, ‘I'll come out and let me try to earn it back.’ He might have been down 40 bucks or something.

“Well, I putted very well, and he kept trying to push the envelope and I kept winning and I think I won $190, which is a lot for a college kid. And he brought me a check. And it says: ‘To Casey Martin from Tiger Woods, $190.’ So I Xeroxed it, sent it home. My mother cashed it, but then she put it in the scrapbook, so it's official. You can come track it down. It happened.”

The story remains relevant so many years later, as Martin and Woods have taken clearly divergent paths to reach the same destination this week, both competing in the 112th U.S. Open Championship at The Olympic Club, not far from their Stanford roots.

Martin, of course, tried to make it as a touring professional, famously winning a Supreme Court case which allowed him the use of a cart during competitive rounds because of the effect Klippel-Trenaunay-Weber syndrome has incurred on his right leg. Meanwhile, Woods’ career has become the stuff of legend, as he’s compiled 73 career PGA Tour victories and 14 major championship titles at the age of 36.

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Until this week, they hadn’t seen each other in years, the University of Oregon coach rarely getting a chance to catch up with the jetsetting pro. It’s the nature of a truly “open” championship, though, in which for one week two men with distinctly opposite journeys can stand on equal footing in the same spotlight.

“It’s amazing how it’s panned out,” said Conrad Ray, the current Stanford head coach who usually served as the underclassman teammate to Woods in those post-practice putting contests. “It’s pretty surreal. I think there are a lot of common threads. Even though they’ve gone down different paths, I still think the common thread is that they’re both ultimate competitors. They want to win and they usually do. You can see that in whatever Casey has done and whatever Tiger has done, too.”

“They both have established tremendous precedence and taken on the establishment in different regards,” added Notah Begay, a PGA Tour pro and the fourth member of those matches. “Tiger in the way he plays and the fact that he’s African-American and has brought so many people to the game. Casey in that he’s taken one of the most powerful institutions to the U.S. Supreme Court and won.”

Perhaps that’s why, so many years later, there remains such mutual admiration between the two men. Time may have eroded the friendship slightly, as it does to so many contemporaries from college. But time hasn’t embellished their tale, hasn’t added conjecture or hyperbole to the good ol’ days.

This week, they will play at least one practice round together. One more chance for Casey and Tiger to relive their college days before starting on equal footing as fellow competitors once again.

The mentor has other things in mind, too. He wants some more of his mentee’s money, although he understands it may be a bit trickier than when he was a wide-eyed Stanford freshman.

“The word on street is it's hard to get,” Martin said with a laugh. “He doesn't like to pay. Don't say that; this is probably live, so don't tell him that. But I know that it's tough to get that wallet out. At least that's what I've been told.”

He should take solace armed with the knowledge of one point of information: Tiger Woods does know how to write a check.

Casey Martin owns the proof.

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Watch: Daly makes an ace at the Chubb Classic

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 18, 2018, 9:01 pm

John Daly won't walk from the Chubb Classic with the trophy, but he certainly deserves recogition for his Sunday scorecard, which came complete with a hole-in-one.

Daly aced the 154-yard par-3 16th on the Talon Course at TwinEagles, when his ball carried the froont bunker and tracked right to the hole.

Two holes later, Daly signed for a final-round 67 that included four birdies, three bogeys and two eagles, which both in the span of four holes on the back nine.

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Gustafson shares stuttering success video

By Randall MellFebruary 18, 2018, 8:31 pm

Sophie Gustafson shared a breakthrough Sunday morning on YouTube.

Gustafson, a five-time LPGA winner and 16-time Ladies European Tour winner, shared her news in a 4-minute and 15-second video.

She did so without stuttering.

And that’s the nature of her breakthrough, something she is sharing in hopes that it will help others who stutter.

“I’m certainly not perfect, and the next time you see me, I am going to stutter, there is no question about that,” she says in the video. “But I am excited, because I am going in the right direction, and I believe I have found the solution that works for me.”

For someone who has struggled with stuttering all of her life, Gustafson has touched so many with her ability to communicate. She has entertained her legion of Twitter followers with her sense of humor. She also has written articles.

Back in 2011, Gustafson touched Golf Channel viewers when she opened up about her stuttering in an interview that was aired during the Solheim Cup. Her courage in sharing her challenges was recognized the following year, when the Golf Writers Association of American presented her its Ben Hogan Award, an honor bestowed to someone who has persevered through physical ailment. She also won the LPGA’s Heather Farr Perseverance Award that year.

Gustafson, 44, left the game as a player three years ago to become Beth Allen’s full-time caddie on the Ladies European Tour. She explains in the YouTube video that she is making her breakthrough with the help of Steve Gill, a team member with Tony Robbins’ life and business strategy group.

Gustafson said Gill led her to breathing, meditation and incantation exercises that have helped her since they began working together eight months ago.

“If you know anyone who stutters, tell them to breathe in and then speak,” Gustafson said. “I tried it the other way for 44 years, and it's just not working.” 

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J.Y. Ko wins her first start as an official LPGA member

By Randall MellFebruary 18, 2018, 4:09 pm

Make way for Jin Young Ko.

The South Koreans keep delivering one new star after another to the LPGA ranks, and they aren’t going to disappoint this year.

Ko made some history Sunday winning the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open, closing with a 3-under-par 69 to claim a wire-to-wire victory. She became the first player in 67 years to win her LPGA debut as a tour member. Beverly Hanson (1951) is the only other player to do so.

Hyejin Choi, an 18-year-old who just turned pro, is yet another emerging South Korean star looking to crack the LPGA ranks. She finished second Sunday, three shots back after closing with a 67. She played on a sponsor exemption. She is already No. 11 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings and likely to move up when the newest rankings are released. Had Choi won Sunday, she could have claimed LPGA membership for the rest of this season.

Full-field scores from the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open

Ko, 22, moved herself into early position to try to follow in Sung Hyun Park’s footsteps. Park won the Rolex Player of the Year and Rolex Rookie of the Year awards last year. She joined Nancy Lopez as the only players to do so. Lopez did it in 1978. Park shared the Player of the Year honor with So Yeon Ryu.

Ko said winning the Louise Suggs Rookie of the Year Award is a goal, but she didn’t come into the year setting her sights on Player of the Year.

“I haven’t thought about that yet,” she said.

Ko finished at 14 under overall.

It was a good week for rookies. Australia’s Hannah Green (69) finished third.

Ko claimed LPGA membership this year based on her victory as a non-member at the KEB Hana Bank Championship in South Korea last fall. She’s already a star in South Korea, having won 10 times on the Korean LPGA Tour. She is No. 20 in the world and, like Choi, poised to move up when the newest world rankings are released.

Former world No. 1 Lydia Ko closed with an even par 72, finishing tied for 19th in her 2018 debut. She is in next week’s field at the Honda LPGA Thailand.

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Luiten takes title at inaugural Oman Open

By Associated PressFebruary 18, 2018, 3:25 pm

MUSCAT, Oman - Joost Luiten of the Netherlands won the inaugural Oman Open on Sunday to break a title drought of nearly 17 months.

The 32-year-old Dutchman shot a 4-under 68 to finish on 16-under 272, two shots ahead of his friend, England's Chris Wood (69).

It was Luiten's sixth European Tour title and the first since the 2016 KLM Open.

Frenchman Julien Guerrier (71) virtually assured that he would not have to go to qualifying school for the 12th time with a third-place finish after a 13-under 275.

Luiten started with three birdies in his first four holes, but bogeys on the seventh and eighth set him back. On the back nine, he made three birdies, including a key one on the 16th, where he made a 30-foot putt.

''It feels great. I didn't know what to expect when I came here but to play a course like this which is in great condition - it's a great technical golf course as well - it was beyond my expectation and to hold the trophy is even better,'' said Luiten, who is expected to rise to No. 65 in the new rankings on Monday.

''I had a great start, that's what I was hoping for. I hit some nice ones in close and rolled in a couple of nice putts and that gets you in the right position, where you want to be.

Full-field scores from the NBO Oman Golf Classic

''Unfortunately, I had a couple of bogeys as well on the front nine, but I recovered from that with a couple of nice birdies on the back nine and it was a good battle with Woody.''

Playing one group ahead, England's Wood was right in the mix and tied with Luiten at 15-under when their fortunes went in opposite directions almost at the same time. On the 17th hole, Wood drove his tee shot into the hazard left and could do no more than chip his ball out for a bogey. Luiten, meanwhile, drained his 30-footer birdie putt on the 16th for a two-shot swing.

Recovering his form after a series of disappointments, Wood was let down by the loss and said: ''It's golf isn't it? You are never happy.

''I played poorly for six or eight months. Would have never thought I would have put myself into contention. And when you do, you feel gutted when you don't win. I am pretty down really, but in the grand scheme of things, when I reflect after a couple of days, I will think it is a big step in the right direction.''

Luiten's win also got him into the top 10 in the Race to Dubai, securing him a start at the WGC-Mexico Championship in two weeks.

Frenchman Alexander Levy (70), who was hoping to finish in the top five to push into the top 10 in the Race to Dubai and grab the WGC-Mexico spot himself, did manage a joint fourth place at 11 under, but Luiten's victory kept him 11th.

The European Tour next moves to Doha for the Qatar Masters starting on Thursday.