Where have all the Texas legends gone?

By Jason SobelMay 18, 2012, 9:20 pm

IRVING, Texas – They say everything is bigger in Texas, from the trucks to the cattle to the 4-inch stiletto heels preferred by many of the local females here in the Byron Nelson Championship gallery.

It’s a notion which extends beyond the usual reproduction of T-shirt phrases and bumper-sticker slogans. It shapes the collective attitude of the state’s inhabitants. The way of life 'round these parts is so common that it has even spawned an adjective, and it doesn’t take a real-life cowboy to understand the meaning of “Texas-sized.”

Professional golfers have always been bigger here, too. Bigger presences, bigger winners, bigger legends. The chain of champions from the Lone Star State reads like a chronology of the game’s history, from Byron Nelson to Ben Hogan to Jimmy Demaret to Lloyd Mangrum to Jackie Burke Jr. to Lee Trevino to Tom Kite to Ben Crenshaw. Each generation has enjoyed a Texas-sized superstar, with some throughout history overlapping in the same area.

Each one, that is, except the current one.

Check the roster of best golfers with a Texas address and you’ll find an amalgamation of worldly travelers who have transplanted to a place with sustainable roots in the game. The list covers Hunter Mahan, Jason Day, K.J. Choi, Rory Sabbatini, Y.E. Yang and many others who came for the golf and weather – and never left.


Photo gallery: Texas' greatest players


It’s not that the current era is completely devoid of talent. Justin Leonard is the current active PGA Tour victory leader from here with 12; Bob Estes, Harrison Frazar, Mark Brooks and Scott Verplank have enjoyed lengthy careers; Colt Knost, Bobby Gates and J.J. Killeen are amongst a bevy of up-and-comers; and young studs Jordan Spieth and Kelly Kraft provide hope for the future.

There’s some hope for the very immediate future, too. The No. 2 position on the leaderboard halfway through the Nelson is shared by, amongst others, a pair of Colleyville residents in Chad Campbell and Ryan Palmer, no strangers to such surroundings in PGA Tour events.

Between 'em, they own seven career titles – Campbell has four; Palmer three – putting each on the short list of most accomplished active players from the state. Living just 25 minutes from the TPC-Four Seasons course probably doesn’t hurt, either.

“It’s hard to say,” Campbell surmised. “Obviously, I know the course probably as well as anybody, so you definitely think you would play better.”

Campbell and Palmer know each other as well as anybody, too.

Even though Campbell is two years older, they grew up playing junior golf against each other – Palmer and Campbell’s caddie, Judd Burkett, were on the same high school team – and have now been neighbors for about five years.

“We live a 30-second walk away from each other,” Palmer said. “Right around the corner. Out my gate and to the left.”

Really? That close?

“You could probably fly a 5-iron from my backyard to his,” he continued with a laugh. “I haven’t tried it yet.”

To which Campbell countered, “It would probably take me a 3-iron. He’s a little bit longer than I am.”

Each player intimated that he would enjoy a Sunday afternoon pairing with the other – especially if that pairing just happened to be the last one of the day.

“That would be great,” Campbell said. “We play quite a few practice rounds together.”

“We all stayed together at Honda this year and I went to dinner over at their house twice last week at Players,” Palmer added. “It’s funny, we’re never home together. I see him more on the road than at home.”

They’re not only battling for supremacy in the community, but amongst Texas players, as well. Only one native of this state has captured the Nelson in the past two decades; that was Verplank a half-decade ago.

If motivation and home cooking aren’t enough to propel either to victory this week, then consider more tangible reasoning.

A healthy, consistent wind blew through the course on Friday and – as usual around here – is expected to persist throughout the week. Advantage goes to the Texans, who are accustomed to battling in such conditions.

“In my mind, it is. I played well in it last year,” said Palmer, who lost in a playoff to Keegan Bradley. “To me, I wouldn’t say I’m a favorite, but in my mind I have a little bit of an advantage going forward because of last year.”

There haven’t been many favorites from this state in recent years. The days of Hogan and Nelson, and even Kite and Crenshaw, are either long gone or simply long dormant, waiting for a rebirth in the current era.

A win from Campbell or Palmer would hardly revive the prominence of Lone Star State golf, but around here it would certainly serve as a Texas-sized victory.

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Watch: Daly makes birdie from 18-foot-deep bunker

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 11:14 pm

John Daly on Friday somehow got up and down for birdie from the deepest bunker on the PGA Tour.

The sand to the left of the green on the 16th hole at the Stadium Course at PGA West sits 18 feet below the surface of the green.

That proved no problem for Daly, who cleared the lip three times taller than he is and then rolled in a 26-footer.

He fared just slightly better than former Speaker of the House, Tip O'Neill.

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Koepka (wrist) likely out until the Masters

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 9:08 pm

Defending U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka is expected to miss at least the next two months because of a torn tendon in his left wrist.

Koepka, who suffered a partially torn Extensor Carpi Ulnaris (ECU), is hoping to return in time for the Masters.

In a statement released by his management company, Koepka said that doctors are unsure when the injury occurred but that he first felt discomfort at the Hero World Challenge, where he finished last in the 18-man event. Playing through pain, he also finished last at the Tournament of Champions, after which he underwent a second MRI that revealed the tear.

Koepka is expected to miss the next eight to 12 weeks.

“I am frustrated that I will now not be able to play my intended schedule,” Koepka said. “But I am confident in my doctors and in the treatment they have prescribed, and I look forward to teeing it up at the Masters. … I look forward to a quick and successful recovery.”

Prior to the injury, Koepka won the Dunlop Phoenix and cracked the top 10 in the world ranking. 

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Cut Line: Color Rory unafraid of the Ryder Cup

By Rex HoggardJanuary 19, 2018, 7:09 pm

In this week’s edition, Rory McIlroy gets things rolling with some early Ryder Cup banter, Dustin Johnson changes his tune on a possible golf ball roll-back, and the PGA Tour rolls ahead with integrity training.


Made Cut

Paris or bust. Rory McIlroy, who made his 2018 debut this week on the European Tour, can be one of the game’s most affable athletes. He can also be pointed, particularly when discussing the Ryder Cup.

Asked this week in Abu Dhabi about the U.S. team, which won the last Ryder Cup and appears to be rejuvenated by a collection of new players, McIlroy didn’t disappoint.

“If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”

McIlroy has come by his confidence honestly, having won three of the four Ryder Cups he’s played, so it’s understandable if he doesn't feel like an underdog heaidng to Paris.

“The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that,” he said. “The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

September can’t get here quick enough.

Mr. Spieth goes to Ponte Vedra Beach. The Tour announced this year’s player advisory council, the 16-member group that works with the circuit’s policy board to govern.

There were no real surprises to the PAC, but news that Jordan Spieth had been selected to run for council chair is interesting. Spieth, who is running against Billy Hurley III and would ascend to the policy board next year if he wins the election, served on the PAC last year and would make a fine addition to the policy board, but it is somewhat out of character for a marquee player.

In recent years, top players like Spieth have largely avoided the distractions that come with the PAC and policy board. Of course, we’ve also learned in recent years that Spieth is not your typical superstar.


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

On second thought. In December at the Hero World Challenge, Dustin Johnson was asked about a possible golf ball roll-back, which has become an increasingly popular notion in recent years.

“I don't mind seeing every other professional sport. They play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball,” he said in the Bahamas. “I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage.”

The world No. 1 appeared to dial back that take this week in Abu Dhabi, telling BBC Sport, “It's not like we are dominating golf courses. When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy?”

Maybe it didn’t feel that way, but DJ’s eight-stroke romp two weeks ago at the Sentry Tournament of Champions certainly looked pretty easy.

Long odds. I had a chance to watch the Tour’s 15-minute integrity training video that players have been required view and came away with a mixture of confusion and concern.

The majority of the video, which includes a Q&A element, focuses on how to avoid match fixing. Although the circuit has made it clear there is no indication of current match fixing, it’s obviously something to keep an eye on.

The other element that’s worth pointing out is that although the Tour may be taking the new program seriously, some players are not.

“My agent watched [the training video] for me,” said one Tour pro last week at the Sony Open.


Missed Cut

Groundhog Day. To be fair, no one expected Patton Kizzire and James Hahn to need six playoff holes to decide last week’s Sony Open, but the episode does show why variety is the spice of life.

After finishing 72 holes tied at 17 under, Kizzire and Hahn played the 18th hole again and again and again and again. In total, the duo played the par-5 closing hole at Waialae Country Club five times (including in regulation play) on Sunday.

It’s worth noting that the playoff finally ended with Kizzire’s par at the sixth extra hole, which was the par-3 17th. Waialae’s 18th is a fine golf hole, but in this case familiarity really did breed contempt.

Tweet of the week:

It was a common theme last Saturday on Oahu after an island-wide text alert was issued warning of an inbound ballistic missile and advising citizens to “seek immediate shelter.”

The alert turned out to be a mistake, someone pushed the wrong button during a shift change, but for many, like Peterson, it was a serious lesson in perspective.

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Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

“I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.