People vs. the Pros seemed to elicit a wide variety of responses. From, Please dont ever do that to me again to, THAT MUST BE REBROADCAST, the responses ran the gamut.
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One common theme was one that Lee Trevino alluded to the two times I interviewed him on the course. The older Andy must have been a sandbagger, was a common theme; although, I must say that I found poetic justice in the posting that read something to the effect of: The ultimate hustler just got hustled.
I have absolutely no background information on Andy Rineer, so I wont attempt to defend his personal integrity. I will, however, share the fact that I thoroughly examined the amateur entry guidelines. My assessment of those entry guidelines is that the organizers went to great lengths to ensure that the handicaps of all 200 amateur participants were legitimate.
Lee Trevino played poorly. Although his typical entertaining persona was evident at every juncture, he wasnt himself on the course. And he got beat by a guy with a 10 handicap who, in my opinion, played the round of his life.
Andy Chao (aka. Rockboy), the under-50 amateur qualifier that spent his share of time in the desert, didnt have a good day against John Daly. Although I thought he was far more composed on the first tee than was Rineer, he seemed immeasurably more affected by the pressure once play began.
On the first hole, Daly putted up to about 3 feet. His ball was near Chaos line so Daly asked if his mark would be OK. Chao, not knowing the intricacies of tournament golf amongst the pros, replied, Yea, thats good. Daly assumed that Chao had actually conceded the putt so he scooped it up with back of his putter and stood aside as Chao proceeded to three-putt from about 20 feet uphill. It wasnt Chaos intention to concede the putt; however, here he was on the first hole playing head to head with one of the games modern legends. He must have thought, Who am I to then tell Daly that I had actually wanted to see the putt? It was the first of many instances when the conceptual charm of this made-for-TV event was evident'regular Joe vs. a legend. Charm is an accurate description for the way Rockboy handled himself.
Every time Andy Chao hit it into the desert, my job was to billygoat my way up to his ball in order to accurately describe his predicament. And every time he got to his ball and I was standing there, he would say, Sorry Jerry, as if he felt some unnecessary need to apologize. I was the one that felt sorry for him. Not sorry for the way the competition turned out, but for the fact that it was obvious he is a fine player who was way out of his element. Daly played relentless, nearly flawless golf against him, and Andy really didnt stand a chance from that fateful first green when he three-putted to lose the hole.
Andy Rineer, a day trader by profession who lives in Las Vegas yet ironically professes to not enjoy gambling, seemed unfazed by the surroundings as he stuck to his game plan and easily defeated a struggling Trevino. In hindsight, he was fortunate Trevino wasnt on his game for a couple of reasons.
If Lee Trevino played the way were used to seeing when he won 29 times of the PGA Tour and 29 times on the Champions Tour, then Rineer would have been in big trouble. And when Trevino plays well, Trevino gets chatty'extra chatty. Much to his credit, he gave Rineer a great deal of respect. He spared him from the legendary antics that are part of the folklore surrounding Trevinos early days as a hustler in El Paso. Trevino could have easily worked Rineer with the needle. It wouldnt have been tough; any amateur golfer in his situation would have been ripe to fold under such pressure, and if Trevino had started in on him with the verbal jabs, certainly Rineer would have been even more uncomfortable. Trevino didnt, and Rineer played like a 10 handicap who was ready for the biggest day of his golfing life.
From what I saw, Andy Rineer has a good golf swing. He has the ability to probably get his handicap down to a low single-digit number in time. However, his short game is a bit suspect. He had no difficulty keeping the ball in play, but like most players of all skill levels that dont get much chance to practice, his short game lacked a few things'most notably, touch. That should be understandable considering the circumstances.
I met Andy Rineer about 11:00 AM, a full six hours before the competition was to begin. Ben Wright introduced him to me and later as Ben and I talked, we agreed that he had no chance to Beat Trevino. He should have been resting, he should have been in comfortable surroundings, he should have been keeping his mind off what lie ahead as much as possible. But there he was, sitting in the clubhouse surrounded by strangers that kept asking the same question that I asked, Are you nervous? Not really, he replied, although I must say that I wrote it off as a man that was just trying to kid himself. I sensed nervousness throughout our brief conversation, and understandably so. I shudder to think how nervous I would have been in that situation and Ive had 10 inglorious years as a professional golfer. Hed never been in any situation like this in his life.
It was easy to sense that just about every person in attendance was pulling for the amateurs--kind of the American Idol TV show mentality. Unknown becomes star for a day. And although both Andys played starring roles, it was Rineer that received the heros welcome at the end of the day. A day that I wont soon forget, and a heartwarming day that I hope to be a part of again.
If I were a DBer (as the regular discussion board members call themselves) my post would read something like this: It was fun.
Which is exactly what it was supposed to be.
Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole
KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.
After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.
It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.
Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.
Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.
Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder
Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.
Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.
“I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”
The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.
“The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”
Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.
Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder
LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook hit a hybrid into the fairway bunker on the par-4 18th on a breezy Saturday afternoon at La Quinta Country Club, then chunked a wedge and raced a chip 20 feet past the hole.
Kip Henley, the longtime PGA Tour caddie who guided Cook to a breakthrough victory at Sea Island in November, stepped in to give the 26-year-old former Arkansas star a quick pep talk.
''Kip said, 'Let's finish this like we did on the first day at the Nicklaus Course.' We made a big par putt on 18 there and he said, 'Let's just do the same thing. Let's get this line right and if you get the line right it's going in.'''
It did, giving Cook an 8-under 64 and a one-stroke lead in the CareerBuilder Challenge going into the final round on the Stadium Course at PGA West. Fellow former Razorback Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were tied for second, and Jon Rahm and Scott Piercy were a another stroke back after a tricky day in wind that didn't get close to the predicted gusts of 40 mph.
''I know that I wouldn't have wanted to play the Stadium today,'' Cook said. ''I think we got a great draw with the courses that we got to play on the days that we got to play them.''
Cook played the final six holes on the front nine in 6 under with an eagle and four birdies.
''Starting on my fourth hole, I was able to make a birdie and kind of get the ball rolling and it never really stopped rolling,'' Cook said. ''Kip and I were doing really good at seeing the line on the greens.''
After a bogey on 10, he birdied 11, 12 and 15 and parred the final three to get to 19-under 197.
''I think that tonight the nerves, the butterflies, all that will kind of be a little less,'' Cook said. ''I've been in the situation before and I was able to finish the job on Sunday. I think it would be a little different if I didn't play like I did on Sunday at Sea Island.''
He's making his first start in the event.
''I came in from Hawaii on Monday, so I only had two days to prepare for three courses,'' Cook said.
Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 at the Stadium. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. Winless on the PGA Tour, they will join Cook in the final threesome.
''Piller's a good guy and we have played a lot together and same with Cookie,'' said Landry, the only player without a bogey after 54 holes. ''Hope the Hogs are going to come out on top.''
Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium to reach 17 under. The third-ranked Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.
''A little bit of a survival day,'' Rahm said.
The wind was more of a factor on the more exposed and tighter Stadium Course.
''The course is firming up,'' Rahm said. ''I know if we have similar wind to today, if we shoot something under par, you'll be way up there contesting it over the last few holes.''
Piercy had a 66 at the Stadium.
''I controlled my ball really well today,'' he said.
Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on the Nicklaus Course, and Harkins shot 68 at the Stadium.
Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.
Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. He had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over.
John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine - and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.
Phil misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years
Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.
He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.
How rare is his missing the cut there?
The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.
The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.
The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.
Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.
Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.