Kindred spirits: Singh and Snead

By Jason SobelJuly 5, 2012, 7:23 pm

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. – At a resort where Sam Snead served as head professional for much of his adult life, it is equal parts appropriate and ironic that Vijay Singh leads The Greenbrier Classic through the opening round.

They are two men cut from the same cloth, separated by a few generations. Snead and Singh could each be described as curmudgeonly, men who never cared much about public image, instead eschewing social graces for hard work, forever digging secrets out of the dirt.

It should come as no coincidence that they are considered amongst the preeminent late-career performers in the history of the game. Snead owned the PGA Tour record for victories after the age of 40 with 17 – until Singh surpassed him in 2007, since adding four more to his total. How impressive are those numbers? No other player has more than 11.

Of course, when Singh eclipsed Snead at the season-opening Mercedes-Benz Championship a half-decade ago, his take on owning the record was typical Vijay. Which is to say, it was a comment only Slammin’ Sam would have loved.

“I don't know what it means,” he said at the time. “If Sam Snead was out there and he played great all his career, for me to pass his record after 40, really, it does not mean much. There's no trophies for doing it, you know what I mean?”

The truth is, the 49-year-old Singh has never viewed his advancing age as any sort of disadvantage or deterrent. He remains the game’s ultimate range rat, unofficially leading the ranks in practice time year after year.

On Thursday, that practice was paying off once again.

Singh opened with a 7-under 63 at The Old White TPC Course, claiming the early lead on a track where Snead’s memory lingers on, both physically in photos and other mementos and metaphysically, his image remaining an intangible presence on the premises.

After posting a birdie on the first hole, Singh bogeyed his fourth, then birdied the seventh to make the turn in 1 under. He heated up in the sticky West Virginia humidity on the back, though, making birdies on six of his final eight holes, including each of the last four.

Never one who seems very startled to shoot a good score, Vijay was perhaps uncharacteristically pleased and surprised with himself after the round.

“Gosh, I don’t know where that came from,” he said. “I’ve been playing pretty good golf for a while, but just never got any scoring going. But today seemed I hit it close and drove the ball really well, hit a lot of greens and made some putts.”

That comes as a byproduct of recent play. In 17 starts this season, he has made the cut on 13 occasions, but the former top-10 machine has elicited just one such result so far. Last week’s AT&T National was emblematic of his issues, as his scores ascended from Thursday through Sunday, culminating in a frightful 10-over 81 on the final day.

It was enough to leave him pleasantly surprised after besting that number by 18 strokes in his next competitive round.

“You know, it’s my first good round of the year, I would say, that I felt really comfortable” he explained. “It’s a good way to start a tournament.”

Playing a ninth event in 10 weeks would leave most near-50-year-olds – he’ll hit the half-century mark next February – with undesirable aches and pains, not to mention a dose of lethargy that could be lethal to the golf game.

Of course, Singh isn’t most near-50-year-olds.

“I don’t feel tired; I feel really energized,” he said. “I’ve been working really hard on my game, so it’s nice to see something happen.”

If Snead were still around, he wouldn’t gush over Singh’s play nor would he resort to hyperbole in an effort to explain the leader’s feat so far.

Instead, the man who made a living at this course likely would have offered a tip of his hat and limited praise. All of which would suit Singh just fine. That’s just his style, too.

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:

Fitzpatrick one back in 2018 Euro Tour opener

By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 1:37 pm

HONG KONG – S.S.P. Chawrasia had six birdies and a bogey Thursday for a 5-under 65 and a one-stroke lead at the Hong Kong Open, the first event of the 2018 European Tour season.

Playing in sunny but breezy conditions at the Hong Kong Golf Club, the greens had the players struggling to gauge the approach.

''Very tough conditions today,'' Chawrasia said. ''It's very firm greens, to be honest. I'm just trying to hit the second shot on the green and trying to make it like a two-putt.''


Full-field scores from the UBS Hong Kong Open


Shubhankar Sharma and Matthew Fitzpatrick (both 66) were one shot behind, while seven others were tied for fourth a further stroke behind.

''Hit it great tee to green,'' Fitzpatrick said. ''I think I had like seven or eight chances inside 15 feet, and on a day like today when it's so windy and such a tough golf course, with how tight it is, yeah, it was a good day.''

Justin Rose, who won the title in 2015, shot was 2 under with five birdies and three bogeys.

''I think the course played a couple shots harder than it typically does,'' Rose said. ''I like this course. I think it offers plenty of birdie opportunities.''

Masters champion Sergio GarciaRafa Cabrera Bello and defending champion Sam Brazel (69) were in a group of 16 at 1 under.

Day, Spieth chasing Davis after Day 1 of Aussie Open

By Jason CrookNovember 23, 2017, 6:50 am

The PGA Tour is off this week but a couple of the circuit’s biggest stars – Jordan Spieth and Jason Day – are headlining the Emirates Australian Open, the first event in The Open Qualifying Series for the 2018 Open at Carnoustie. Here's how things look after the opening round, where Cameron Davis has opened up a two-shot lead:

Leaderboard: Davis (-8), Taylor MacDonald (-6), Nick Cullen (-5), Day (-5), Brian Campbell (-4), Lucas Herbert (-4), Stephen Leaney (-4), Anthony Quayle (-4)

What it means: Spieth has won this event three of the last four years, including last year, but he got off to a rocky start on Thursday. Playing in the windy afternoon wave, the world No. 2 bogeyed his first two holes but rebounded with birdies on Nos. 4 and 5. It was more of the same the rest of the way as the 24-year-old carded three more bogeys and four birdies, getting into the clubhouse with a 1-under 70. While it certainly wasn't the start he was hoping for, Spieth didn't shoot himself out of the tournament with 54 holes left to play, he has plenty of time to claw his way up the leaderboard.


Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


Round of the day: With Round 1 in the books, the solo leader, Davis, is the easy pick here. The 22-year-old Aussie who turned pro last year, came out of the gates on fire, birdieing six of his first seven holes, including four in a row on Nos. 4 through 7. He did drop a shot on the ninth hole to go out in 30 but rebounded with three more birdies on the back to card a 8-under 63. Davis, who was born in Sydney and played this year on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada. He will attempt to get his Web.com Tour card next month during qualifying in Arizona.

Best of the rest: Making his first start in his home country in four years, Day started on the 10th hole at The Australian Golf Club and made four birdies to one bogey on the back side before adding four more circles after making the turn. Unfortunately for the 30-year-old, he also added an ugly double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole and had to settle for a 5-under 66, good enough to sit T-3. Day, who has dropped to No. 12 in the world rankings, is looking for his first win on any tour since the 2016 Players Championship.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Can the upstart 22-year-old Davis hold off the star power chasing him or will he fold to the pressure of major champions in his rearview mirror? Day (afternoon) and Spieth (morning) are once again on opposite ends of the draw on Friday as they try to improve their position before the weekend.

Shot of the day: It’s tough to beat an ace in this category, and we had one of those on Thursday from Australian Brad Shilton. Shilton’s hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole came with a special prize, a $16k watch.

Quote of the day: “Just two bad holes. Pretty much just two bad swings for the day,” – Day, after his 66 on Thursday.