Peterson's Open play a welcome distraction for grieving family

By Jason SobelJune 17, 2012, 4:38 pm

SAN FRANCISCO – Father’s Day celebrations for Bill Peterson were always perfectly satisfying if not jubilant. He and wife Elizabeth would take their four boys to church in Fort Worth, then return home, where he'd grill up a steak before they'd all head over to Colonial Country Club for a late-afternoon nine-hole sixsome.

They were the type of celebrations he at once refers to as both 'nothing special' and 'some of the most special moments.' He tries to explain, but you already know exactly what he means.

In recent years, with the boys all grown up, Bill and Elizabeth would spend Father’s Day at their son David's house, enjoying the Rockwellian revelry of eating barbeque and watching the U.S. Open with their grandkids.

“It’s just a good ol’ family time,” Bill says. “Just loving each other and doing things together and taking some pictures.”

Nothing special. Some of the most special moments.John Peterson

On June 4, the Petersons’ grandson, John – last year’s NCAA champion from Louisiana State University – qualified for the very same tournament they watch as a family every Father's Day. With no status on any major tour, playing in his first U.S. Open would be a huge accomplishment. And it meant this year’s celebration would be different for the Peterson family.

Not that anyone was complaining, of course.

Bill and Elizabeth (pictured right with John) have always been great supporters of John's golf game, furiously refreshing Internet leaderboards when he's competing in tournaments and calling him to offer their praise - win or lose - after his rounds.

For him to reach the U.S. Open field was big news in the Peterson family - until they were struck by devastation.

Not long after John qualified for the tournament, Elizabeth developed an infection. Her health quickly deteriorated in the hospital, and last Saturday she passed away at age 85.

Playing in the FedEx St. Jude Classic at the time, John’s thoughts immediately turned to his grandmother. On Friday, he shot 65 using a ball marked “ELP.” Her initials. It was later placed in her casket, buried with her forever.

He thought about his grandfather, too. About the insignificance of trying to play golf while he was in such pain.

“When you’ve been married to someone for 64 years and all of a sudden she’s not there anymore, it’s really tough on him,” John says. “I couldn’t play that weekend very well. I talked to my granddad. He said, ‘You know what? The last thing that she would want you to do is to be distracted.’ She lived forever. She got sick and died in a week. She’s up in heaven, she’s looking down at me and hopefully I can make her happy.”

Golf has always been an integral part of the Peterson family dynamic. When David moved with wife Jan and their children from Baton Rouge to Fort Worth a decade ago, Bill passed on his Colonial membership to his son, ensuring his grandchildren would enjoy the game on the course he loved so much.

Since then, Bill and David and John would often tee it up together, three generations of Petersons doing what they loved most.

“He would watch me hit balls and we used to play at Colonial when he could still swing,” John says of his grandfather. “Him and me and my dad, I grew up playing with those two guys at Colonial and I owe a lot of my start to him. Giving me the opportunity to play at Colonial was awesome. He basically got me started in the game.”

This week, the game has taken on greater meaning. It’s not just a game - and this is not just a golf tournament.

No, it’s a bonding experience for the Peterson family. A way to keep them together, to keep them celebrating in the wake of such heartache.

It’s a way for Bill to keep from thinking too much about Elizabeth’s death, a way for David to assuage his worries about Bill, a way for John to keep up everyone’s spirits.

And that’s exactly what he’s done so far. With rounds of 71-70-72, the kid with no status on any major tour finds himself in a share of eighth place, just four strokes off the lead entering the final round of the U.S. Open.

The fact that he has a chance to win on Father’s Day makes it even sweeter.

“I’m getting to see my dad’s dream and I’m getting to see my son’s dream at the same time,” David says, fighting back tears. “To see those be fulfilled is pretty cool. John is getting to live his dream and frankly, I’m getting to live my dream, too.”

“He’s told me forever, ‘The best Father’s Day gift for me would be for you to be playing in the U.S. Open on a Sunday,’” John adds. “I’m doing that. I’m fulfilling his dream. I’d love to win, but I’ve got a long way to go. I’d love to do that and give him that trophy, but I just think me being out there and being in contention is good enough for him.”

As John Peterson competes in the final round, his brothers and sister will join Bill at his house, assisting their grandfather with the grieving process. They’ll cry with him, laugh with him, talk with him.

All the while, they'll be huddled around the television, watching one of their own try to win the U.S. Open on Father’s Day.

It will be nothing special. It will be some of the most special moments.

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TT postscript: Tiger (E) survives difficult day

By Tiger TrackerFebruary 22, 2018, 6:40 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Here are some observations after watching Tiger Woods’ even-par 70 in the first round of the Honda Classic:

• Whew, that was tough. Like, by far the most difficult conditions Woods has faced this year. The wind blew about 20 mph all day, from different directions, and that affected every part of the game, especially putting.

• And though the stats aren’t necessarily pretty – half the fairways hit, just 10 greens – this was BY FAR his best ball-striking round of the new year. He even said so himself. When he walked off the course, he was just four off the lead.

Full-field scores from the Honda Classic

Honda Classic: Articles, photos and videos

• Woods had only one bad hole Thursday. It came on the par-5 third hole, his 12th of the day. He blew his driver into the right bunker. He had to lay way back, to clear the lip of the bunker. And then he tugged his third shot just barely in the greenside trap. And then his bunker shot didn’t get onto the green. Then he chipped on and missed a 4-footer. A truly ugly double bogey.

• The driver is still a concern – he found the fairway only once in five attempts. But only one of those misses was way off-line. That came on the 12th, when he double-crossed one way left.

• Though the driver is uncooperative, he has showed a lot of improvement with his 3-wood. The four times he used it, he controlled the ball flight beautifully and hit it 300-plus. His 2-iron is making a comeback, too, in a big way.

• After this round, he should have a little wiggle room Friday to make the cut, barring a blowup round. It’s playing tough, and the 36-hole cut should be over par. Tiger needs four rounds of competitive reps. If he plays like this Friday, he’ll get them. 

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Tiger Tracker: Honda Classic

By Tiger TrackerFebruary 22, 2018, 5:45 pm

Tiger Woods is making his third start of the year at the Honda Classic. We're tracking him at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

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Pepperell among co-leaders early in Qatar

By Associated PressFebruary 22, 2018, 5:06 pm

DOHA, Qatar – Eddie PepperellGregory Havret, and Aaron Rai made the most of calm early morning conditions at Doha Golf Club to set the pace in the opening round of the Qatar Masters at 7-under-par 65 on Thursday.

Havret went bogey free, Pepperell made one bogey and eight birdies, while fellow English golfer Rai eagled his last hole to add to five birdies.

One shot behind the leaders were four players, including former Ryder Cup player Edoardo Molinari of Italy and former champion Alvaro Quiros of Spain.

Defending champion Jeunghun Wang of South Korea started with a 68, and Race to Dubai leader Shubhankar Sharma of India shot 69 despite a double bogey on the 15th hole.

Full-field scores from the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters

Pepperell, who is fast gaining a reputation on the European Tour for his irreverent tweets and meaningful blogs, showed his clubs can also do an equal amount of talking after missing cuts in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Malaysia.

Pepperell birdied Nos. 10, 11, 14, 16 and 18 with a single blemish on 13 after starting on the back nine. He made three more birdies on his back nine.

He was joined on top of the leaderboard by Havret, who made five birdies in six holes from the sixth, and Rai, who eagled the last.

''I surprised myself, really,'' said Pepperell, who finished third in Portugal and Netherlands last year.

''I've made some changes this week with personnel, so I've been working on a couple of new things and I surprised myself out there with how well I managed to trust it.

''I hit some quality tee shots, that's the area I feel that I've been struggling with a bit lately. We had a good time.

''It's definitely a bigger picture for me this week than tomorrow and indeed the weekend. I'm not overly-fussed about my early season form.”

Molinari, a three-time champion on the tour including last year in Morocco, started with eight straight pars, and then made seven birdies in his last 10 holes, including a chip-in for birdie on the last.

''I hit every green apart from the last one. I hit a lot of fairways, I had a lot of chances for birdie,'' said Edoardo, the older brother of Francesco.

''Last week in Oman, I had a decent week, I had a bad first round and then three very good rounds. It's been the case for the last few weeks so my focus this week was to try and get a good start.''

Oliver Fisher of England was the best among the afternoon groups with a 6-under 66, joining Molinari, Quiros and Germany's Marcel Schneider in a tie for fourth.

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Honda Classic: Tee times, TV schedule, stats

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 22, 2018, 2:15 pm

The PGA Tour heads back east to kick off the Florida Swing at PGA National. Here are the key stats and information for the Honda Classic. Click here for full-field tee times.

How to watch:

Thursday, Rd. 1: Golf Channel, 2-6PM ET; live stream:

Friday, Rd. 2: Golf Channel, 2-6PM ET; live stream:

Saturday, Rd. 3: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream:; CBS, 3-6PM ET

Sunday, Rd. 4: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream:; CBS, 3-6PM ET

Purse: $6.6 million ($1,188,000 to the winner)

Course: PGA National, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida (par-70; 7,140 yards)

Defending champion: Rickie Fowler (-12) won by four, picking off his fourth PGA Tour victory.

Notables in the field:

Tiger Woods

• Making his fourth start at the Honda Classic and his first since withdrawing with back spasms in 2014.

• Shot a Sunday 62 in a T-2 finish in 2012, marking his lowest career final-round score on the PGA Tour.

• Coming off a missed cut at last week's Genesis Open, his 17th in his Tour career.

Rickie Fowler

• The defending champion owns the lowest score to par and has recorded the most birdies and eagles in this event since 2012.

• Fowler's last start was at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, where he failed to close a 54-hole lead. Fowler is 1-for-6 with 54-hole leads in his Tour career, with his only successful close coming at last year's Honda.

• On Tour this year, Fowler is first in scrambling from the fringe, second in total scrambling and third in strokes gained around the green. 

Rory McIlroy

• It's been feast or famine for McIlroy at the Honda. He won in 2012, withdrew with a toothache in 2013, finished T-2 in 2014 and missed the cut in 2015 and 2016.

• McIlroy ascended to world No. 1 with his victory at PGA National in 2012, becoming the second youngest player at 22 years old to top the OWGR, behind only Woods. McIlroy was later edged by a slightly younger 22-year-old Jordan Spieth.

• Since the beginning of 2010, only Dustin Johnson (15) has more PGA Tour victories than McIlroy (13).