Heintz goes from Q-School regular to Penn golf coach

By John FeinsteinNovember 7, 2012, 7:58 pm

Bob Heintz signed his scorecard, walked out of the scoring area at Lake Jovita Golf and Country Club in Flordia and shook his head.

“Time to go scoreboard watch again,” he said with a wry smile. “I feel a little bit ghoulish standing there, hoping guys go backwards but I don’t have much choice.”

This was seven years ago at second stage of the 2005 PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament. Heintz had played the PGA Tour that year, but lost his card. He wasn’t alone. Among those playing second stage that year were Steve Stricker, Matt Kuchar, Steve Pate, Guy Boros and Mike Hulbert.

As it turned out, several players in the late groups went backwards on the back nine and Heintz survived on the number.           

“When you see those big numbers go up you have mixed emotions,” he said. “You know it’s good for you but a lot of the time it’s someone you know and you feel bad for him. But in the end, if you’re being honest with yourself, you’d rather feel bad for someone who isn’t you.”

Three weeks later, at Q-School finals, Heintz felt bad for himself. He walked off the course after the sixth and final round and headed back to the scoreboard. This time there weren’t quite enough high numbers in the late afternoon and Heintz knew he was headed back to what was then the Nationwide Tour.

“In a sense, those two weeks were a microcosm of my career,” he said earlier this week. “I spent a lot of time staring at Q-School scoreboards. I always made my share of birdies, so what it came down to was that I always made just enough mistakes that, instead of walking to my car and saying, ‘OK, let’s go get ready to play on Tour,’ I was standing around hoping. Just think how much of that time I could have spent practicing.”

Heintz is now 42 and his days of staring at scoreboards are over. He was hired in September as the golf coach at the University of Pennsylvania, a return to his Ivy League roots. He was a three-time Ivy League champion at Yale, which was pretty good for someone who thought his best sport in high school was baseball. That’s not surprising, considering that his younger brother, Chris, was good enough to play for the Minnesota Twins.

However, three years after graduating from Yale, in 1992, he honestly didn’t think he was good enough to play on the PGA Tour.

“The first time I played (Q-School) finals, I felt completely overwhelmed, like I didn’t belong,” he said. “I played a practice round with Jesper Parnevik, who was moving from the European Tour to the PGA Tour. He had won, I think, the Scottish Open that year. He was so good. I felt completely intimidated before I’d hit a shot.

“I struggled on the Nike Tour in ’94 and didn’t even make it back to finals that year. My wife and I were getting ready to have our first child. There was also that question in my mind about is this what I should be doing with a Yale degree.”

He decided to put the economics degree to use in 1996 by going to work for Edward Jones, the investment firm. He did fine as a money manager but wasn’t especially happy doing it. He put on weight and began to look unhealthy to some of his friends. Finally, the week before Christmas in 1997, Dave Paterson, who had been his coach at Yale, showed up on his doorstep.

“He was in town (Tampa) doing something and we invited him to the house to dinner,” Heintz remembered. “I opened the door and his first words were, ‘Bob, you look like s----. Why aren’t you playing golf anymore?’”

Heintz explained that he had a newborn daughter and that he had run out of money trying to play golf for a living.

“Do you remember where you went to college?” Paterson asked him. “I can raise sponsorship money for you. Just give me the word.”   

With help from Paterson and his father-in-law, Heintz headed off to Hooters Tour Q-School a couple of months later with a $40,000 head start.

“I wasn’t sure I could make it through their Q-School and then I ended up very high on their money list,” Heintz said. “That really helped my confidence. I learned how to play four-round tournaments week in and week out. I’d only been partially exempt on the Nike (Tour) in ’94 so I didn’t get to play that much. That was a big step for me.”

Heintz made it back to PGA Tour Q-School finals in 1998 and was fully exempt on the Nike Tour a year later. He won twice in ’99, including at the Nike Tour Championship, jumping him from 16th on the money list to sixth. In those days, only the top 15 automatically moved on to the PGA Tour.

“I went into that last tournament thinking I had two great chances to make the (PGA) Tour,” he said. “Even if I didn’t make the top 15, I was exempt into the finals (of Q-School) and I really believed I would make it. By then I knew I was good enough.”

Of course, good enough to make the Tour is different than good enough to stay on the Tour. Heintz was an exempt player on PGA Tour on five different occasions – once in 2000 and then four more times after surviving his Q-School scoreboard stare-downs. “Every time I made it, I made it close,” he said, laughing. “I never breezed.”

The last time he made it through the finals was in 2006. He played the last day with a very young and confident Anthony Kim and an older and very nervous Michael Bradley. “I’ll never forget the feeling being with those two guys that day,” he said. “Anthony hit driver every hole, just hit it and started walking to some place way past Michael and me. Michael wanted to make it back to the Tour so much I think he hit two drivers all day. I had to walk away from him a couple times because I could feel the tension dripping off him. Somehow, we all made it.”

Heintz came closest to winning on the primary circuit in 2010, when he got into the Reno-Tahoe Open as an alternate and had a 3 12-foot putt on 18 on Sunday to put himself into a playoff with Matt Bettencourt. “I tried to make sure I didn’t just wish the putt at the hole,” he said. “I got a little over-excited and pulled it.'

He admits that when he sees Bettencourt pop onto his TV screen nowadays, he still thinks back to what might have been. “He certainly made the most out of the win and good for him,” he said. “But every once in a while when I see him out there I think to myself, ‘Are you kidding me?’ But at least it gave me a teaching tool I can use with the kids I’m coaching now.”

Heintz began to look for his next chapter towards the end of 2011. He could feel himself running out of steam on the now Web.com Tour. With four kids at home, grinding it out, hoping to find something again, began to feel like too big a hill to climb. Then came the opportunity at Penn.

“It’s all new right now but so far I love it,” he said. “I’m learning as I go. In the fall tournaments this year I let my guys make mistakes on the golf course a few times because that’s how you learn. After they made a decision that went wrong I said, ‘Let’s talk about what went into that decision.’ It’s taken me a while to figure out how to best use my education. What I think I know now is the area where I have the most expertise is golf. So why not use that knowledge and be on a job that I really think I’m going to enjoy?”    

There’s one added benefit to his new life: He doesn’t need to drag himself over to watch scoreboards any more.

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Angela hits Sergio in stride on field at Superdome

By Grill Room TeamDecember 18, 2017, 3:22 pm

Sergio and Angela Garcia's super 2017 keeps getting more ... Super ... Dome. (+1 awful blog lede.)

The couple started the year with Sergio's win at the Masters, then embarked on a whirlwind green jacket media tour, then kicked off El Clasico, then attended Wimbledon, then got married, then announced they were expecting their first child ...

2017 Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

And now, they're throwing each other passes on the New Orleans Saints' home turf at the Superdome.

Man, it must be so cool do that at the Silverdome. ... ... ... I'm sorry, it is the Superdome, brothers.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 1, Justin Thomas

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 1:00 pm

He won a major, captured the FedExCup and was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year. It should come as no surprise that Justin Thomas holds the top spot on our Newsmakers list for 2017.

Thomas entered the year ranked outside the top 20, and few might have pegged him for a transcendent campaign. But he kicked off January with a win in Hawaii, added another before leaving the Aloha State and never looked back.

Thomas’ seminal moment came in August when he captured the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow for his breakthrough major title. One month after greeting Jordan Spieth behind the final green at Royal Birkdale, this time it was Thomas’ turn to have friends stick around to snap pictures with the trophy that signaled his arrival among golf’s upper echelon.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

In addition to racking up the hardware – five in total, including the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in his first start of the new wraparound season – Thomas dazzled with style. His runaway win at the Sony Open included an opening-round 59, and his third-round 63 at Erin Hills marked the first time anyone had ever shot 9 under on a U.S. Open venue.

Thomas’ consistency was rewarded at East Lake, when a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship netted him the season-long title and $10 million prize. It was in the subsequent press conference where he shared the goals list he had written into his cell phone in February, having ticked off nearly every one. It showed a dedicated attention to detail as well the tactical approach with which Thomas had steered his rapid ascent.

Heading into a new year, he’s now very clearly entrenched as one of the world’s best. And as his career progresses, it’s likely we’ll look back at 2017 as the point where Thomas first transformed great potential into eye-popping results.

Win No. 1: Title defense at the CIMB Classic

Article: Thomas (64) rallies to defend CIMB title

Win Nos. 2 and 3: The Hawaiian double

Article: Thomas refuses to let disastrous hole derail TOC win

Article: Worst week ever ends with another title at Sony Open

Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open

Article: Thomas becomes youngest player to shoot 59

Take a look: Thomas’ scorecard from his amazing 59

Record Round No. 2: 63 at the U.S. Open

Article: Thomas sets U.S. Open record with 9-under 63

Temporary Slide: Open MC makes it three in a row

Watch: Thomas loses club, makes 9, misses Open cut

Mr. Major (and win No. 4): PGA champ at Quail Hollow

Article: Thomas joins the club – the major club

Win No. 5: Dell Technologies Championship

Article: Thomas wins the battle of buddies over Spieth

The $10 Million Man: FedExCup champ

Biggest Win of All? Player of the Year

And One to Grow On: Wins at CJ Cup in 2017-18 season

Article: Thomas caps torrid 12-month run with CJ Cup win

Photo Galleries: Best of ...

Best of: Justin Thomas and Jillian Wisniewski

Best of: Justin Thomas through the years

Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.