Horowitz Kim Set Early Tone At ChampionsGate
Horowitz, the reigning New York City amateur champion, and Kim both fired a 4-under 68 at ChampionsGate to set the early pace. Clint Jensen of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., and Derrick Centers of Kentucky, an employee at ChampionsGate, are just one shot back.
Horowitz was paired with Barry Walters and former N.H.L. star goaltender Grant Fuhr Monday, which turned out to be a thrill of a lifetime for the life-long New York Islanders fan. With the Islanders and Fuhrs Edmonton Oilers the two best teams in hockey from the early to mid-1980s, Horowitz took a moment before the round to joke with the man partly responsible for ending the Islanders streak of four straight Stanley Cups in 1984.
I told him he was a fantastic goalie with a few Stanley Cup rings, but being an Isles fan, I rooted against him, smiled Horowitz, who turned pro just before this qualifying school. But he really was an awesome guy. My brother called to tell me Grant would be playing here, and the next thing you know, I am paired with him. We had a great time out there and I am looking forward to doing it again.
Fuhr had a double-bogey, bogey finish to card a 1-over 73, good enough for a share of 32nd spot. He is the top Canadian after the opening day. Former NFL quarterback Billy Joe Tolliver came in with a 3-over 75.
Even at the tender age of 23, Horowitz knows better than most the opportunity he has this week. He interned in the World Trade Center right up until 2000, and still carries his WTC identification in his golf bag. Horowitz admits it helps him remember what is important.
You take it for granted sometimes, that we get the chance to come out here and attempt to play golf for a living. Being in New York a year and a half ago taught me that we cant take anything for granted. It sounds like a clich, I know, but it keeps things in perspective.
This was a great start for me, but Q-School is a marathon, not a sprint, reasoned Horowitz. I wanted to play even par or better every nine holes, and I have done that so far. But the most important shot for me will be my first shot in Round 2 (Tuesday). What I did today is old news.
A total of 184 golfers from 17 countries will play two rounds each at both the International and National layouts at ChampionsGate. After Thursdays fourth round, the field will be reduced to the low 60 scores plus ties. Those who make the cut will compete Friday for 20 exempt and a minimum of 10 non-exempt cards to be awarded for the 2003 Canadian Tour season.
T1 Kim, Christopher Fullerton, CA 36 32 68 -4
T1 Horowitz, Joe Long Beach, NY 33 35 68 -4
T3 Jensen, Clint Palm Beach Gardens, FL 35 34 69 -3
T3 Centers, Derrick Somerset, KY 33 36 69 -3
T5 Allred, Jason Scottsdale, AZ 33 37 70 -2
T5 Tanaka, Dai Japan 35 35 70 -2
T7 Goti, Ramiro Buenos Aires, Argentina 35 36 71 -1
T7 Bettencourt, Matt Modesto, CA 37 34 71 -1
T7 Hastings, Brad Easton, MD 36 35 71 -1
T7 Takacs, Brendan Clearwater, FL 36 35 71 -1
T7 Patrick, David Scotland 33 38 71 -1
T7 Donovan, Matt Pittsfield, MA 36 35 71 -1
T7 Argiro, Eduardo Argentina 36 35 71 -1
T7 Mikkelsen, Kris Dunwoody, GA 35 36 71 -1
T7 Parra, Chris Tequesta, FL 34 37 71 -1
T16 Lebeck, David Beaverton, OR 35 37 72 0
T16 Hultman, Anders Sweden 35 37 72 0
T16 Boner, Brett Charlotte, NC 37 35 72 0
T16 Pigott, Sam Kent, England 37 35 72 0
T16 Torres, Jesus Mexico 37 35 72 0
T16 Shuert, Steve St. Louis, MO 36 36 72 0
T16 Compton, Erik Cleveland, OH 35 37 72 0
T16 Peluso, Todd Palm City, FL 34 38 72 0
T16 Carman, Brett Claysville, PA 34 38 72 0
T16 Kanesaka, Fumio Japan 35 37 72 0
T16 Williamson, Lee Crawfordsville, IN 36 36 72 0
T16 Davey, Nick New Zealand 35 37 72 0
T16 Bradford, George Columbia, MD 33 39 72 0
T16 Edmond, Pascal France 37 35 72 0
T16 Hibler, Jesse Boise, ID 35 37 72 0
T16 Lavoie, Ryan West Palm Beach, FL 35 37 72 0
T32 Damron, Patrick Orlando, FL 36 37 73 1
T32 Nelson, Drew Woodstock, GA 40 33 73 1
T32 Bachman, John Orlando, FL 35 38 73 1
T32 Horodesky, Gregory Las Vegas, NV 38 35 73 1
T32 Erickson, Tyler Tempe, AZ 37 36 73 1
T32 Peltomaki, Jyry Finland 35 38 73 1
T32 Brown, Michael Cheltenham, PA 35 38 73 1
T32 Wyatt, Charles Tampa, FL 37 36 73 1
T32 Oppenheim, Rob Andover, MA 38 35 73 1
T32 Link, William Acton, MA 36 37 73 1
T32 Miller, Ryan West Alexandria, OH 35 38 73 1
T32 Cannon, Brad Phoenix, AZ 33 40 73 1
T32 Fuhr, Grant Edmonton, AB 34 39 73 1
T32 Yi, Dong Alameda, CA 36 37 73 1
T46 Davidson, Graham Langholm, Scotland 36 38 74 2
T46 Patterson, John Hilton Head, SC 38 36 74 2
T46 Brost, Matt Austin, TX 39 35 74 2
T46 Gibson, Scott Huntington Beach, CA 40 34 74 2
T46 Corbett, Clark Long Beach, CA 37 37 74 2
T46 Okushima, Tomoaki Japan 38 36 74 2
T46 DiMuccio, Joey New Castle, PA 37 37 74 2
T46 Campbell, Chris Surprise, AZ 38 36 74 2
T46 Jang, Jae Indio, CA 38 36 74 2
T46 Loving, Matthew Corpus Cristi, TX 39 35 74 2
T46 Dailey, John Frisco, TX 38 36 74 2
T46 Knudsen, Erik Orlando, FL 37 37 74 2
T46 Beyer, Cody Tucson, AZ 37 37 74 2
T46 Ki, Yuji Japan 35 39 74 2
T46 McCammon, Jeff Jupiter, FL 38 36 74 2
T46 Duncan, TJ Carson City, NV 37 37 74 2
T46 Lemon, Jim Madison, WI 35 39 74 2
T46 Salinetti, Jim West Palm Beach, FL 33 41 74 2
T46 Martin, Trey Phoenix, AZ 35 39 74 2
T46 Harnden, Brandon Portland, OR 35 39 74 2
T46 Hutsell, David Baltimore,MD 35 39 74 2
T46 Wheatcroft, Steven Tequesta, FL 37 37 74 2
T46 Hong, Chang Bethesda, MD 38 36 74 2
T46 Fosdick, Joshua Nashville, TN 34 40 74 2
T46 Wright, Justin Livermore, CA 36 38 74 2
T71 Habig, Josh Jasper, IN 37 38 75 3
T71 Cohen, Itamar Israel 37 38 75 3
T71 Flugstad, Brian Seattle, WA 38 37 75 3
T71 Horacek, Sandy Los Angeles, CA 37 38 75 3
T71 Higton, Jason Fresno, CA 39 36 75 3
T71 Makino, Yuji Japan 37 38 75 3
T71 Laing, Jason New Zealand 36 39 75 3
T71 Tolliver, Billy Joe Shreveport, LA 37 38 75 3
T71 Snelling, Justin Boise, ID 39 36 75 3
T71 Jeong, Tae Korea 36 39 75 3
T71 Benedetti, Jorge Miami, FL 37 38 75 3
T71 Bloxham, Jordan West Jordan, UT 39 36 75 3
T71 Larrea, Santiago Spain 38 37 75 3
T71 Walters, Barry Yakima, WA 36 39 75 3
T71 Lower, Johua Englewood, FL 36 39 75 3
T71 Wightman, Tele Chicopee, MA 37 38 75 3
T87 Moore, Michael Mississauga, ON 36 40 76 4
T87 Williams, Mark New Zealand 39 37 76 4
T87 Werley, CJ Coshocton, OH 40 36 76 4
T87 Heffernan, John Humboldt, SK 39 37 76 4
T87 Giordano, Davidde Rochester, NY 38 38 76 4
T87 Karnow, Kyle Elk Grove, CA 39 37 76 4
T87 Jenkins, Steven Chesterfield, VA 39 37 76 4
T87 Watt, James Lodi, CA 38 38 76 4
T87 Coughlin, Peter Punta Gorda, FL 39 37 76 4
T87 Koch, Shawn Howell, MI 39 37 76 4
T87 Paganini, Lou Naples, FL 37 39 76 4
T87 Gatchel, Matt Palm Harbor, FL 33 43 76 4
T87 Rodriguez, Miguel Argentina 34 42 76 4
T87 Cuthbertson, Phil Rocklin, CA 34 42 76 4
T87 Ilic, Zoran Lakeland, FL 41 35 76 4
T87 Trevino, Chris Chula Vista, CA 38 38 76 4
T103 Goik, Brent Bay City, MI 39 38 77 5
T103 Herberth, Erik Avon Lake, OH 39 38 77 5
T103 Mathews, Stan Monteca, CA 44 33 77 5
T103 Sauger, Mark Cape Coral, FL 41 36 77 5
T103 Coughlan, Richie Ireland 40 37 77 5
T103 Marino, Steve Fairfax, VA 41 36 77 5
T103 Levy, Jon Scottsdale, AZ 39 38 77 5
T103 Vitali, Peter Tequesta, FL 40 37 77 5
T103 San Gabriel, Paulo Covina, CA 37 40 77 5
T103 Havens, David Wytheville, VA 37 40 77 5
T103 Lane, Matthew New Zealand 39 38 77 5
T103 Gentry, Brian Tahoe City, CA 37 40 77 5
T103 Hodgkinson, Richard England 36 41 77 5
T103 Weatherly, Scott Fort Payne, AL 38 39 77 5
T103 Slawson, J.D. Austin, TX 39 38 77 5
T103 Irie, Norio Gardenia, CA 39 38 77 5
T103 Fribley, Chad Tualatin, OR 39 38 77 5
T103 Rudolph, John La Jolla, CA 39 38 77 5
T103 DeLeon, Daniel Mexico 37 40 77 5
T122 Nomura, Eric Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 38 40 78 6
T122 Harvey, Billy Las Vegas, NV 42 36 78 6
T122 McAfee, Alan Germantown, TN 41 37 78 6
T122 Sueki, Tsuyoshi Japan 39 39 78 6
T122 Maki, Peter Franklin, MA 39 39 78 6
T122 Desjardins, Carl Ste. Catherine, QC 37 41 78 6
T122 Sandeman, Alex England 37 41 78 6
T122 Corcoran, Rob South Windsor, CT 39 39 78 6
T122 Saglio, Matthew Clearwater, FL 38 40 78 6
T122 Douglas, Rob Stratford, ON 39 39 78 6
T122 Ping, David Ypsilanti, MI 41 37 78 6
T122 Sine, Josh Springfield, OH 39 39 78 6
T122 Stevens, Kevin Menlo Park, CA 37 41 78 6
T122 Sessions, Dean Westminster, CO 37 41 78 6
T136 Fonner, Matthew Saratoga, CA 40 39 79 7
T136 Kemp, Korky Greensboro, NC 40 39 79 7
T136 Licursi, Daniel Chatsworth, CA 41 38 79 7
T136 Kitts, Ben Summerfield, FL 42 37 79 7
T136 Holowczak, Adam Parma, OH 39 40 79 7
T136 Miller, Scott Royal Palm Beach, FL 41 38 79 7
T136 Busby Jr., John St. George, UT 39 40 79 7
T136 Newboldt, Tim Kihei, HI 38 41 79 7
T136 Nakatsuka, Kazuta Japan 37 42 79 7
T136 Thornburg, Michael Hendersonville, NC 40 39 79 7
T136 Leao, Ivo Brazil 42 37 79 7
T136 Evangelist, Shane Irving, TX 39 40 79 7
T148 Van Rensburg, Morne South Africa 41 39 80 8
T148 Byers, Aaron Albany, OR 41 39 80 8
T148 Rohrbaugh, Doug Carbondale, CO 41 39 80 8
T148 Ellis, Ryan Draper, UT 36 44 80 8
T148 Corson, Adam Potomac, MD 39 41 80 8
T148 Takase, Atsushi Japan 39 41 80 8
T148 Hasson, Felipe Brazil 41 39 80 8
T148 Stone, Jason Brentwood, CA 39 41 80 8
T148 Kuliesh, John Lewisburg, W.V. 43 37 80 8
T157 Slowinski, Matt Glen Ellyn, Il 41 40 81 9
T157 McGaha, Benji Easley, SC 38 43 81 9
T157 Humerickhouse, Keith Boca Raton, FL 45 36 81 9
T157 Smith, Brandon Tucson, AZ 43 38 81 9
T157 Veres, Mike Logan, West VA 44 37 81 9
T157 Gavlak, Zac Palmer, AK 40 41 81 9
T157 Edmond, Olivier France 41 40 81 9
T164 Shears, Jared Roy, UT 41 41 82 10
T164 Slabbert, Gavin Roseville, CA 43 39 82 10
T164 Lacroix, Brandon Roanoke, VA 42 40 82 10
T164 Paul, Thomas Scottsdale, AZ 40 42 82 10
T164 Banks, Ben England 39 43 82 10
T164 Caldwell, Raymond San Antonio, TX 41 41 82 10
T170 Stevens, Noah Austin, TX 39 45 84 12
T170 Mortimer, Jamie Waterloo, ON 42 42 84 12
T170 Harrison, Jeremy Hollywood, FL 41 43 84 12
T170 Heiple, Josh Sturgis, MI 42 42 84 12
T170 Guilder, Tony Irvine, CA 43 41 84 12
T175 Stewart, Travis Jamestown, NC 43 42 85 13
T175 Tassic, Don Northville, MI 45 40 85 13
177 Fox, Derek Draper, UT 44 42 86 14
178 Payne, Dusty Fayetteville, GA 42 45 87 15
179 Chor, Michael Phnom Penh, Cambodia 45 43 88 16
T180 Dawson, Philip Shingle Springs, CA 49 40 89 17
T180 Smith, Lang Lakeland, TN 45 44 89 17
182 Pereira, Jeff Vancouver, BC 48 44 92 20
T183 Saito, Tokuro Japan 43 50 93 21
T183 Vitorino, Tito Sarasota, FL 47 46 93 21
Open Qualifying Series kicks off with Aussie Open
The 147th Open is nearly eight months away, but there are still major championship berths on the line this week in Australia.
The Open Qualifying Series kicks off this week, a global stretch of 15 event across 10 different countries that will be responsible for filling 46 spots in next year's field at Carnoustie. The Emirates Australian Open is the first event in the series, and the top three players among the top 10 who are not otherwise exempt will punch their tickets to Scotland.
In addition to tournament qualifying opportunities, the R&A will also conduct four final qualifying events across Great Britain and Ireland on July 3, where three spots will be available at each site.
Here's a look at the full roster of tournaments where Open berths will be awarded:
Emirates Australian Open (Nov. 23-26): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties
Joburg Open (Dec. 7-10): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties
SMBC Singapore Open (Jan. 18-21): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties
Mizuno Open (May 24-27): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties
HNA Open de France (June 28-July 1): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties
The National (June 28-July 1): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties
Dubai Duty Free Irish Open (July 5-8): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties
The Greenbrier Classic (July 5-8): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties
Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open (July 12-15): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties
John Deere Classic (July 12-15): Top player (not otherwise exempt) among top five and ties
Stock Watch: Lexi, Justin rose or fall this week?
Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.
Jon Rahm (+9%): Just imagine how good he’ll be in the next few years, when he isn’t playing all of these courses for the first time. With no weaknesses in his game, he’s poised for an even bigger 2018.
Austin Cook (+7%): From Monday qualifiers to Q-School to close calls on the Web.com, it hasn’t been an easy road to the big leagues. Well, he would have fooled us, because it looked awfully easy as the rookie cruised to a win in just his 14th Tour start.
Ariya (+6%): Her physical tools are as impressive as any on the LPGA, and if she can shore up her mental game – she crumbled upon reaching world No. 1 – then she’ll become the world-beater we always believed she could be.
Tommy Fleetwood (+4%): He ran out of gas in Dubai, but no one played better on the European Tour this year than Fleetwood, Europe’s new No. 1, who has risen from 99th to 18th in the world.
Lexi (+1%): She has one million reasons to be pleased with her performance this year … but golf fans are more likely to remember the six runners-up and two careless mistakes (sloppy marking at the ANA and then a yippy 2-footer in the season finale) that cost her a truly spectacular season.
J-Rose (-1%): Another high finish in Dubai, but his back-nine 38, after surging into the lead, was shocking. It cost him not just the tournament title, but also the season-long race.
Hideki (-2%): After getting blown out at the Dunlop Phoenix, he made headlines by saying there’s a “huge gap” between he and winner Brooks Koepka. Maybe something was lost in translation, but Matsuyama being too hard on himself has been a familiar storyline the second half of the year. For his sake, here’s hoping he loosens up.
Golf-ball showdown (-3%): Recent comments by big-name stars and Mike Davis’ latest salvo about the need for a reduced-flight ball could set up a nasty battle between golf’s governing bodies and manufacturers.
DL3 (-4%): Boy, the 53-year-old is getting a little too good at rehab – in recent years, he has overcome a neck fusion, foot injury, broken collarbone and displaced thumb. Up next is hip-replacement surgery.
LPGA Player of the Year (-5%): Sung Hyun Park and So Yeon Ryu tied for the LPGA’s biggest prize, with 162 points. How is there not a tiebreaker in place, whether it’s scoring average or best major performance? Talk about a buzzkill.
Titleist's Uihlein fires back at Davis over distance
Consider Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein unmoved by Mike Davis' comments about the evolution of the golf ball – and unhappy.
In a letter to the Wall Street Journal, the outlet which first published Davis' comments on Sunday, Uihlein took aim at the idea that golf ball distance gains are hurting the sport by providing an additional financial burden to courses.
"Is there any evidence to support this canard … the trickle-down cost argument?” he wrote (via Golf.com). “Where is the evidence to support the argument that golf course operating costs nationwide are being escalated due to advances in equipment technology?"
Pointing the blame elsewhere, Uihlein criticized the choices and motivations of modern architects.
"The only people that seem to be grappling with advances in technology and physical fitness are the short-sighted golf course developers and the supporting golf course architectural community who built too many golf courses where the notion of a 'championship golf course' was brought on line primarily to sell real estate," he wrote.
The Titleist CEO even went as far as to suggest that Tiger Woods' recent comments that "we need to do something about the golf ball" were motivated by the business interersts of Woods' ball sponsor, Bridgestone.
"Given Bridgestone’s very small worldwide market share and paltry presence in professional golf, it would seem logical they would have a commercial motive making the case for a reduced distance golf ball," he added.
Acushnet Holdings, Titleist's parent company, announced in September that Uihlein would be stepping down as the company's CEO at the end of this year but that he will remain on the company's board of directors.
Class of 2011: For some, the struggle is real
They all have stories.
Tales about the time that they went toe to toe with a future major champ, or maybe even clipped him by a shot. Memories of walking the range just a few short years ago and viewing some of golf’s brightest stars simply as peers.
The Class of 2011 continues to expand its collective footprint on the national stage, but it extends beyond names like Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas. In almost every field at every level of professional golf, there are players from that prodigious class, each still straddling the divide between memories of the past and dreams for the future.
Once junior competitors, they are now young men entrenched in their mid-20s. And while some of their former classmates have already piled up long lists of achievements, dozens more are still fighting for status on the various echelons of golf’s meritocracy.
Their common goal remains a simple one: join former classmates on the big stage as soon as possible.
Michael Johnson at the 2016 Barbasol Championship (Getty Images)
Michael Johnson gets asked about it a couple times per year.
When The Players Championship rolls around in mid-May, his phone lights up with calls or texts about the time that he topped an elite field on the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass.
It was the 2010 AJGA Junior Players Championship, and its leaderboard could pass for a current-day PGA Tour event. Spieth was a runner-up alongside Emiliano Grillo, while Patrick Rodgers was seventh. Daniel Berger and Ollie Schniederjans tied for eighth.
But the man with the trophy was Johnson, who also ended up sixth in the final AJGA/Polo recruiting rankings for the Class of 2011 – ahead of the likes of Grillo, Berger and Schniederjans.
“Obviously that Junior Players is something I look back on, and it puts a smile on my face,” Johnson said.
He went on to have a successful career at Auburn, including first-team All-American honors his senior year. A hip injury led to a redshirt season and dropped him a year behind his classmates, but he graduated in the summer of 2016 and quickly turned pro.
|MORE ON THE Class of 2011|
|Lavner: Origins of the Class|
|Hoggard: Who's got next?|
|Gray: The struggle is real|
|Baggs: Other great 'groups'|
|Photos: The AJGA days|
Johnson’s PGA Tour debut revealed just how thin the margin can be between the fast track to stardom and a more arduous battle. Playing on a sponsor invite at the Barbasol Championship, he finished third.
Officials told him that based on the non-member FedExCup points he earned, Johnson could expect a spot in the Web.com Tour Finals that fall and a chance to play for a PGA Tour card. At worst, he’d lock up Web.com status for 2017.
But the numbers didn’t pan out as expected, and even after Monday qualifying for the season-ending Wyndham Championship, Johnson knew he had work to do. But he missed the cut by a shot.
With the top 200 in points qualifying for the Finals, Johnson finished 201st.
“It was pretty tough, honestly,” he said. “I was on such a high that whole summer and came crashing down pretty quickly.”
Instead of a shot at the PGA Tour, Johnson tumbled all the way down to the ground floor: the first stage of Web.com Tour Q-School.
“It was kind of funny,” he said. “I’d be on the range and my friends would be like, ‘Why are you here?’ I’d be like, ‘Well, I’ve got to go through Q-School, just the same as you.’”
Johnson played his way up, one level at a time, before ultimately earning his Web.com card for 2017 and retaining it for the upcoming season. This fall he watched on TV as several of the players he beat that memorable week at TPC Sawgrass competed at the Presidents Cup.
Johnson still awaits his next opportunity, and the confidence that he’ll soon join former classmates on a full-time basis hasn’t wavered.
“I would say that people, they don’t know how hard it is,” Johnson said. “People are just confused, thinking golf is just a recreational sport and you’re out there having fun. But it’s just like any other sport in that it’s so hard to get into the big leagues.”
Morgan Hoffmann, Brooks Koepka, Jordan Spieth and Byron Meth at the 2015 Masters (Getty Images)
For Byron Meth, the questions always trace back to the 2015 Masters.
That’s when the winner of the final U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship made his Augusta National debut. As he soaked in the azaleas, Meth asked to join Morgan Hoffmann for a Tuesday practice round. Hoffmann told him simply to turn up to the 10th tee to see who they were facing.
Their opponents for the day turned out to be Spieth and Brooks Koepka.
“It was a little reminiscent of our AJGA days, but more so our college practice rounds,” Meth recalled. “We were just hitting shots and telling stories. Just kind of hung out and embraced the day.”
Five days later, Meth watched the kid from Texas he had known for years slip into a green jacket. Inevitably, reporters wanted to know what sort of spark he had seen from Spieth in their practice round together.
“Jordan didn’t look any different that day than he did when we were kids,” Meth explained. “But the confidence was definitely way higher because of his success.”
Growing up in Southern California, Meth’s duels with reigning PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Xander Schauffele date back to their high school days. Meth was 26th in the final recruiting rankings, one spot ahead of current PGA Tour player C.T. Pan, and it was qualifying for the Masters that convinced Meth that his game was strong enough to compete on an elite level.
That belief was quickly reinforced in his first event as a pro, a pre-qualifier for the 2016 Sony Open. He advanced, then went on to Monday qualify for the main event.
It was success beyond anything that he could have anticipated, but it’s a result that now elicits a sigh.
“It kind of sounds strange, but Monday-ing into the Sony might have been one of the worst things that happened to me in 2016,” he said. “I made the mistake of having expectations. I thought it was going to happen like that all the time.”
As many other pros can attest, easy success is either fleeting or entirely non-existent. Meth quickly learned that lesson, and like Johnson became the victim of razor-thin margins. He missed the cut in the first stage of Web.com Q-School by a shot last year, and fell short by the same number this year. In between, he spent his months toiling on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada and now faces a similarly uncertain future in the spring.
The rigors of Q-School do not show favor to former major participants, nor do they offer midseason reprieves for those who fail to advance. Meth is back to the drawing board, fully aware of the uphill battle that awaits.
But he remains imbued with confidence from his week at Augusta National, a brief stint alongside the game’s best where he had a front-row seat for the pinnacle of Spieth’s career.
“I asked him that day, ‘It doesn’t look like you’re doing anything different physically than you did when we were kids,’” Meth said. “He goes, ‘I just had an opportunity to play, and I took advantage of it.’”
Joseph Winslow competing on the 2017 Latinoamerica Tour (Getty Images)
As one of the top junior golfers in the Kansas City area, Joseph Winslow had a keen eye for other Midwest names on the leaderboard. One, in particular, continued to stand out.
“I would look at the standings and saw this kid from Avon, Indiana,” Winslow said. “And I was just wondering like, ‘What’s his deal? Why is he winning, what’s he doing?’”
That kid turned out to be Rodgers, who went on to a decorated career at Stanford and has won more than $4 million on Tour. As the No. 18 recruit in the Class of 2011, according to AJGA/Polo rankings, Winslow saw plenty of Rodgers growing up. But he also ventured south to challenge elite fields that featured Spieth, Thomas and Grillo.
“I think if you look at the invitationals from late 2010 into 2011, those were probably some of the strongest fields ever in AJGA, junior golf history, when you look at current players today,” Winslow said.
He committed to Iowa, and as freshman tied for 13th alongside Rodgers at the 2012 NCAAs. Days later, Spieth edged Thomas in a memorable match at Riviera while helping Texas win a team national title.
The chilly winter weather led him to transfer to the University of South Florida, and Winslow’s first move after turning pro was to qualify for the Asian Tour. But the status he earned didn’t make the extensive travel worthwhile, so he opted to spend his first summer scratching out checks closer to home on the Adams Pro Tour.
“It was a little bit of culture shock starting out, turning up to golf courses and seeing greens with weeds on them,” he said. “Just stuff that you’ve never experienced before, and that’s part of the life.”
This year Winslow gained a foothold with status on PGA Tour LatinoAmerica, and he’s been giving his passport a workout ever since. A pro for less than three years, he estimates that he’s already teed it up in 21 different countries in search of a path that will earn him another tee time next to Rodgers.
“My goal is to be out there on the PGA Tour, playing with the guys I’ve been playing with my whole life,” he said. “We’re just working our way back up, putting in the time that you have to, and take advantage of your opportunities when you get them.”
Stephen Behr at the 2017 Amateur Championship. (courtesy: Stephen Behr)
Stephen Behr knew that the sound was just different.
It was at the 2010 AJGA Polo Golf Classic that Behr, No. 11 in the Class of 2011, looked around him on the driving range and found all the usual suspects: Spieth, Thomas, Grillo, Schniederjans.
“Berger wasn’t even that good back then,” Behr recalled. “And now he’s a stud.”
Going through his own warm-up routine, Behr took in the sights. But he listened even more intently, focusing on the sounds of future major champions making crisp contact each and every time. Whoosh. Whoosh.
And it was the sound that gave him pause, even at age 17.
“It was just like, it almost made you feel bad about your game,” he said. “You’d watch them hit it and it was like, I’ve got training wheels on and they’re in Ferraris.”
That realization is a big reason why Behr, an accomplished player who earned All-American honors during his senior year at Clemson, now works as a risk consultant with Ernst & Young. His battles with the stars from his graduating class are now entirely in the rear-view mirror, a wistful recollection of time spent in the arena.
“I don’t think I ever beat Spieth,” he said. “I think my record against him is like 0-52. I never beat him because his off weeks, I feel like he still finished third.”
While Behr didn’t turn pro after graduation, his clubs aren’t exactly collecting dust. His amateur ranking based on his final days at Clemson was good enough to gain entry into the British Amateur this summer, and these days the self-described “weekend warrior” carries a plus-3.2 handicap.
“I can still get it around, man,” Behr said. “I’m just not quite as sharp as I used to be.”
Behr excelled both in the classroom and on the course at Clemson. Afforded the option of a promising gig in finance with ample on-course networking opportunities, he happily headed for corporate America while some of his former peers were busy racking up trophies.
“A lot of people, when I tell them that I played with those guys, they think that maybe I just played like in one tournament against them,” he said. “But like, no. I actually played in the same group with them, and competed with them.”
Behr explained that while his time against such top-tier talent created great memories, it also affected his career choice. Perhaps, he admitted, he might have tried the pro golf circuit had he been a member of the Class of 2010 or 2012.
Instead, he was constantly flanked on the range by Ferraris.
Behr still plans to remain active in amateur golf, and next year will take his first crack at the U.S. Mid-Amateur. A win there would earn him a spot in two majors, and perhaps a chance to improve his record against Spieth.
Until then, he’s able to reflect fondly from an office chair on memorable days gone by.
“I’m glad I got into those AJGAs and got to compete against them, and see first-hand how impressive they were,” he said. “I think this 2011 class, I’ll look back when I’m a granddad and be telling my grandkids about some of these guys that I got to play with.”