The Succulence of Success

By Jerry FoltzAugust 6, 2002, 4:00 pm
If I win tomorrow, it will feel like Ive risen from the dead. Friends and fans of golf were happy to hear those words from Chip Beck Saturday evening in Omaha, Neb., because they signified a rebirth of sorts for a beloved former star whose game has taken him on a trip to golfing purgatory. Fortunately, and hopefully, Sundays third-place finish can give Beck at least the boarding pass on the return portion of his trip.
While the significance of his finish is subjective, the fact is that Chip Beck played in the final pairing of the premiere Tour tournament, with a chance to win. At one point seven shots off the lead early in the round, Beck rallied to within one through 16 holes. The details of his ultimate third-place finish arent nearly as significant as the type of golf he played on the back nine, and the confidence he displayed in doing so.

I had the opportunity to watch Beck play the final 13 holes of his round, and it was difficult for me to notice any difference between the Chip Beck of last week, and the Chip Beck of three Ryder Cups and four PGA Tour victories. He was undoubtedly the fan favorite as there were shouts of support from all corners of the Champions Club on Sunday. But the most poignant moment of the day was when he tapped in on the final hole in front of the most impressive gallery on the tour.
After just narrowly missing a putt to tie for the lead (at the time), he tapped in to a standing ovation. His fellow-competitors Tommy Biershenk and Jay Delsing stopped in their tracks as well, and joined in the gallerys applause. It would be nearly impossible to duplicate the collective emotion of everyone in attendance. And the effect if had on Chip was evident. One look in his ever-optimistic eyes and you could see no trace of a man who once missed 47 consecutive cuts on the PGA Tour. After spending most of his career as a threat to win any tournament, he registered no official earnings on the PGA Tour in 2001. His best finish on this years Buy.Com Tour was a tie for 55th; one of only two cuts he had made leading up to Omaha. At least for now, however, it looks as though Chip is back, and hopefully for good.
I cant tell you how good that was to see, said Jay Delsing. Ive seen Chip play as good as anyone in the world, and Ive witnessed Chip play as bad as any professional golfer could ever play. It just great to see him playing good again.
Delsings and Becks path to the wasnt all that dissimilar.
Delsing began a long and relatively successful PGA Tour career in 1985 as a highly-touted player from UCLA. His best season came in 1992 when he finished 52nd on the money list. After losing his exempt status, he, like Beck, accepted the challenge of working his way back to the Tour through the Buy.Com Tour. Not an easy thing to do according to Curt Byrum, our analyst for the week. I give them both a lot of credit for swallowing their pride and playing the Buy.Com Tour, Curt said. And his point was that players on the PGA Tour refer to playing on the Buy.Com Tour as going to play back down on the Buy.Com Tour.
Jay earned his first-ever PGA Tour-sanctioned victory last year at the Buy.Com Ft. Smith Classic. It was an emotional win for Jay and he was very open about it at the time. Just think what it must be like to play your whole career, lose your status on Tour, and have to wonder in your own heart if you have what it takes to win. And imagine the feeling of relief the instant all those doubts and demons are exorcised.
Although chasing the second victory probably cant compare to the first, in this case it might have been pretty close.
All week long, Jay had a tribute to a good friend on his hat in the form of his initials - JFB. Although the entire city of St Louis, not to mention the entire baseball community have paid tribute to Jack Buck, it was a little more significant for Jay.
Jays father has also been ill. In fact, Jim Delsing was in the same hospital with Buck before he passed. And to see Buck, a good friend of the Delsing family, die while watching his fathers condition deteriorate has taken an emotional toll on Jay. The tribute to Buck was on display for all to see, but the tribute to his father required a closer look.
Jay marks his golf balls with the number 24, the number his father wore during his Major League Baseball career. Jay does many things to remind him that golf is only a game while hes in the heat of the battle. Hes carries a ball marker that reminds him of his three daughters, as well as a few other trinkets. But its that 24 on his Titliest that provided some much needed inspiration on Sunday.
After bogeying the tough par-4 15th, Delsing missed a 7-foot par putt on the 16th. Delsing followed that by hitting what he called a real stinker of a putt for birdie on 17 that would have given him a one stroke lead over Anthony Painter who had just finished at 20-under-par. Delsing now seemed to be feeling the heat. After playing so smart and so good for the entire tournament, that putt on 17 looked very nervous. And now he had to play the 18th with shaken nerves and without the lead.
The 18th hole is a perfect finishing hole. With its amphitheater setting and huge galleries, its always ready for great drama. A relatively long uphill par-4 with a choice of two fairways from the tee, the 18th is perfect because its definitely birdieable, but it doesnt take much of a slip to make bogey either. So the scene was set for another exciting conclusion in Omaha.
Jay hit one of his best drives of the week, long and straight, leaving him with just 142 yards to the hole and a pitching wedge in his hands. From the fairway its tough for the players to see just how close the ball is to the hole, but in Omaha thats not a problem. When Jays ball checked-up about six feet left of the hole, they roared, and Jay knew he had a putt to win from roughly the same distance he had missed on the previous two holes.
After the ovation for Beck, and Biershenk was finished, it came down to Jay Delsing, his nerves, his putter, and a six-footer. But Jay wasnt alone. As he remarked his ball and lined up his putt, there was a myriad of thoughts crossing his mind. However, they all seemed to settle when he noticed that number 24 on his ball. His thoughts went to his ailing dad, and he said to himself, I really want to make this one for you, Dad.
Jay Delsing conquered his nerves and won the 2002 Omaha Classic. Chip Beck conquered his demons and finished third. And Jim Delsing got to watch on TV as his son found the selfless perspective to win one for dear ol dad. Congratulations all.
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Ortiz takes Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

Former Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Tour Player of the Year.

McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.

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Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?

By Randall MellJanuary 16, 2018, 12:00 am

Memo to the golf gods:

If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?

Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?

It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.

With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.

It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.

We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.

We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.

Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.

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Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line.  Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.

We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors. 

In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.

While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.

Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.

Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.

Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.

While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.

Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.

So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?

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McIlroy: 2018 may be my busiest season ever

By Will GrayJanuary 15, 2018, 6:28 pm

With his return to competition just days away, Rory McIlroy believes that the 2018 season may be the most action packed of his pro career.

The 28-year-old has not teed it up since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in early October, a hiatus he will end at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It will be the start of a busy spring for the Ulsterman, who will also play next week in Dubai before a run of six PGA Tour events leading up to the Masters.

Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph, McIlroy confirmed that he will also make a return trip to the British Masters in October and plans to remain busy over the next 12 months.

"I might play more times this year than any before. I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that," McIlroy said. "I could get to 30 (events), depending on where I'm placed in the Race to Dubai. But I'll see."

McIlroy's ambitious plan comes in the wake of a frustrating 2017 campaign, when he injured his ribs in his first start and twice missed chunks of time in an effort to recover. He failed to win a worldwide event and finished the year ranked outside the top 10, both of which had not happened since 2008.

But having had more than three months to get his body and swing in shape, McIlroy is optimistic heading into the first of what he hopes will be eight starts in the 12 weeks before he drives down Magnolia Lane.

"I've worked hard on my short game and I'm probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road."

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What's in the Bag: Sony Open winner Kizzire

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 15, 2018, 6:05 pm

Patton Kizzire earned his second PGA Tour victory by winning a six-hole playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Take a look inside his bag.

Driver: Titleist 917D3 (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Atmos Black 6 X shaft

Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 95 TX shaft

Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19 degrees), with UST Mamiya AXIV Core 100 Hybrid shaft

Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB (4), 718 CB (5-6), 718 MB (7-9), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Wedges: Titleist SM7 prototype (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Tour prototype

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x