Bugg Loses Battle with Leukemia
Diagnosed with acute mylogenous leukemia shortly after the 2002 Nationwide Tour Championship a year ago, Jace fought bravely and optimistically to the end. In a phone conversation with close friend David Branshaw Tuesday evening, Jace said, 'Im feeling good. Still having a little trouble getting up the stairs, but Im going to be all right.'
A couple of unwavering faith, Jace and Misty faced this challenge with amazing strength, believing the entire time that their miracle was coming and Jace would someday return to his second love'that of playing professional golf.
Those who knew and loved Jace had prepared themselves for this moment since Jace was advised to return home to Kentucky just before this years Nationwide Tour Championship a month ago. Prior to that he was undergoing treatment in Houston, Texas, where his team of physicians felt that all treatment options had been exhausted and it was time for Jace to be with family.
A winner on both the Canadian and Nationwide Tours, Jace was also a winner in life. Battling unfavorable odds since his diagnosis, Jaces optimism and faith never wavered. When chemotherapy wasnt successful, Jace knew his cure was just around the corner. When a bone marrow transplant sent Jace into remission earlier this year, Jace thought his prayers had been answered. When he relapsed, Jace sought more treatment with the confidence he so often displayed on the golf course. And when doctors told him that all hope was lost, Jace quietly knew they were wrong. You see, Jace knew a thing or two about overcoming odds.
Jace Bugg didnt have an all-world playing resume when he embarked on his professional quest. His collegiate consisted of a couple of years at Rend Lake Junior College. His amateur career was highlighted by a quarter-final appearance in the 1997 U.S. Amateur. But his determination to prove himself was stronger than his pedigree showed. When Jace won on the Canadian Tour in the spring of 2001, he did so in dramatic fashion by shooting a final-found 63 to overcome a six-shot deficit and win by three. He was obviously thrilled, but he knew it was just one step along the way of getting to the top. His wife, Misty, was caddying and it was obvious that sharing it with her was more important than any trophy could ever be.
When he Monday qualified for the First Tee Arkansas Classic early last year, he was just hoping to find a way to play himself onto the Nationwide Tour. A final-round 65 gave him a one-stroke victory and more importantly, an exemption through 2003 and a realistic chance to get to the PGA Tour.
Somehow, Jace managed to finish the season 29th on the money list despite an abundance of nagging injuries. Bothered by sore joints for most of the year, Jace thought he had a feisty case of tendonitis, but he never complained. When he didnt respond to therapy after a four-week hiatus from the tour is when doctors decided to test for potentially more serious causes of his soreness. He learned the cause just before he was to leave to go to Q School.
Although his time on the Nationwide Tour was brief, he managed to touch many hearts. In an individual pursuit like professional golf, acquaintances are many, but true friends are rare. Jace Bugg was rare.
Never the type of guy to engage in idle gossip, and never the type of guy to cast a stone, Jace never had a cross word to say about anybody. Jace had an ego the size of a Titleist, and a heart the size of a giant.
When his good friend David Branshaw was in contention at last years Gila River Golf Classic last fall, Jace left his sponsors home in Las Vegas, packed his stuff in his RV., and drove the six plus hours to Phoenix to see his friend win his first Nationwide Tour tournament. That happened at the end of his four weeks of treatment, and his body ached mightily the entire time. He never complained. When Branshaw was fighting back tears at the trophy presentation ceremony, Jace and Misty could be seen in the stands with more than a few tears welling up in their eyes. And when David called Jace this past Tuesday night, Jace didnt care that David was calling to check on him, all he wanted to do was wish his buddy good luck on the eve on Q School finals.
We all believed that Jace would someday tee it up again. We all knew that every tournament he played, every person he met, and every town he visited were all better off when he left than they were before he was there.
If the true measure of a man is whether or not he leaves the world a better place than it was before, then Jace was, indeed, a giant.
Jace Bugg was 27.
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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm
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
Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff
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.
Watching Andrew Landry and Jon Rahm in playoff. Walking off tee talking to each other. Are you kidding me ? Talking at all. ?— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.
0 words— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
The issue is I don’t want to make you a bit relaxed or comfortable. High pressure, good.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
Did you watch the end of the NFL games yesterday ? Enough said.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
I didn’t say you couldn’t be friends and competitive. But in a playoff, 1 tiny mistake and you lose, and that devastated me. Friends before and after, competitors during play.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
Did you win ? It’s all about surviving the competition to test yourself.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.
Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over
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.
Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions
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.