Another Young Name to Know

By Mercer BaggsMarch 20, 2003, 5:00 pm
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Its no tall task to pick Charles Howell III out of a line-up. And finding the fashion-lively Aaron Baddeley is no Wheres Waldo? either.
 
You can probably spot Justin Rose, Adam Scott and Ty Tryon, too. But what about Nick Dougherty? Would you know it if the spiky-haired 20-year-old Brit sat down next to you?
 
Dougherty is making his PGA Tour debut in this weeks Bay Hill Invitational. He is in on a sponsors exemption, thanks to sharing the same agency (IMG) as tournament host Arnold Palmer.
 
If I could pick a tournament to play as a first one, this would be it, said Dougherty, who was a spectator at this event in 2001.
 
Dougherty is in his second full season as a professional, and his first was a tremendous success. He finished 36th on the European Tours Order of Merit (money list) and won the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year Award.
 
This year, hes competed in eight events on the European circuit and has made all eight cuts.
 
Unfortunately thats not one of my goals, just to make cuts, said Dougherty, whose career-best finish on the tour is a runner-up last year in Qatar.
 
Ive lacked consistency for all four rounds. I keep throwing in the 72, 73 which has blown me out of opportunities to win golf tournaments.
 
He had one of those rounds Thursday, shooting 3-over 75, complete with six bogeys and three birdies.
 
While this may be Dougherty's maiden voyage on the PGA Tour, hes not suffering from homesickness.
 
Ive spent half my life growing up in America, he said.
 
Doughertys parents have been traveling Stateside since he was 10 years old. They own a home in the Orlando area, and the golf prodigy usually spent up to five months a year in the U.S.
 
Im pretty used to Florida golf and American golf. Weve got some good roots here, said Dougherty, whose brother lives in New York.
 
He also has a pristine record on this side of the Atlantic. Hes played in three competitive amateur events over here and won each of them. In addition to a pair of junior tournaments, he helped lead his Great Britain & Ireland team to victory in the 2001 Walker Cup in Sea Island, Ga.
 
For some reason, my amateur record seems to be a lot better in the States than the U.K., maybe the golf suits me more the way the courses are set up, he rationalized.
 
Dougherty is spending only one week in town before bolting back home to England, where he hasnt been since November. He hopes to have the opportunity to play in another U.S. event later in the year, and eventually would like to become a PGA Tour member.
 
Ideally, he would like to follow in the broad, world-traipsing footsteps of Ernie Els.
 
My goal is to play all over the world, and Id like to spend most of my time here in America, he said before adding, No matter what I do in my career or how much I play over here in the States, I will dedicate a lot of my time to Europe because the European Tour gave me a lot of opportunities.
 
After I turned pro, they gave me invites to play big tournaments which has allowed me to get where I am. So I owe a lot to them.
 
He feels the same way about Nick Faldo.
 
Dougherty has been the older Nicks protg since playing in the Faldo Junior Series. The six-time major winner has helped shape Dougherty into the player he is today.
 
But theres still plenty to learn. 'Little Nick' doesnt yet have his golfing idols single-minded determination.
 
Not there yet. Im 20 years old, so I like to enjoy myself still, he said. If I did all of this perfectly now I would be disappointed ' the idea that I can still improve a lot of things makes me hopeful that I can get a long way in the sport.
 
Dougherty picked up the game when he was four. Thats late now, he said. Children are starting younger and younger. He won his first tournament two years later.
 
During those formative years, he became an accomplished flutist. His dad gave him the instrument, figuring it would be easier to travel with from event to event than a guitar.
 
So his father traded in the strings for something more compact. There is a catch, however ' the guitar once belonged to Paul McCartney, and Doughertys father is a huge Beetles fan.
 
Nick could do little more than shake his head when asked why his father would do such a thing.
 
You have to ask the old man on that one, he said.
 
Even better with his metal woods than a woodwind, Dougherty greatly considered going to college in the U.S. He was courted by several top-notch programs, but ultimately decided to go the professional route.
 
The amount of opportunity I wanted in college golf would be playing tournament golf all year round, which in Britain you cant do. But I was playing international golf ' I was doing that already, traveling all over the world, he said.
 
Sometimes I regret a little bit I missed out on the college side of it, but I like the social side of golf, and I like my time off. Given how much I like to party in my time off it would not have been the best thing to go there.
 
Plus, If I had gone, my mom would have wanted me to finish my (schooling) and I dont believe I would have wanted to stay (an) amateur until I was 21, he said. Its a chance we took and it worked out.
 
Doughertys used to taking chances ' take one look at his hair.
 
It was red. Its gone pinky and a little bit orange in the back, he described. Golf is not just a sport, its a business; its all about marketingits about creating the right image.
 
Image isnt everything; talent counts for more. Dougherty may not have a complete hold over the former just yet, but hes certainly got a tight grip on the latter.
 
Related Links
  • Full-field scores from the Bay Hill Invitational
  • Full coverage of the Bay Hill Invitational
  • Getty Images

    PGA Tour, LPGA react to video review rules changes

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 1:32 pm

    The USGA and R&A announced on Monday updates to the Rules of Golf, including no longer accepting call-ins relating to violations. The PGA Tour and LPGA, which were both part of a working group of entities who voted on the changes, issued the following statements:

    PGA Tour:

    The PGA Tour has worked closely with the USGA and R&A on this issue in recent years, and today's announcement is another positive step to ensure the Rules of Golf align with how the game is presented and viewed globally. The PGA Tour will adopt the new Local Rule beginning January 1, 2018 and evolve our protocols for reviewing video evidence as outlined.

    LPGA:

    We are encouraged by the willingness of the governing bodies to fully vet the issues and implement real change at a pace much quicker than the sport has seen previously. These new adaptations, coupled with changes announced earlier this year, are true and meaningful advances for the game. The LPGA plans to adopt fully the protocols and new Local Rule as outlined.

    Getty Images

    Sharma closes on Monday, wins Joburg Open

    By Associated PressDecember 11, 2017, 12:43 pm

    JOHANNESBURG – Shubhankar Sharma won his first European Tour title by a shooting 3-under 69 Monday in the final round of the weather-delayed Joburg Open.

    The 21-year-old Indian resumed his round on the eighth green after play was halted early Sunday afternoon because of storms. He parred that hole, birdied No. 9 and made par on every hole on the back nine.


    Full-field scores from the Joburg Open


    Sharma finished at 23-under 264, three strokes ahead of the pack, and qualified for next year's British Open, too.

    ''I actually wasn't going to come here about a week ago ... so I'm really happy that I came,'' said Sharma, who shot 61 in the second round. ''I don't think I'm ever going forget my first time in South Africa.''

    Erik van Rooyen (66) was second, three strokes ahead of Shaun Norris (65) and Tapio Pulkkanen (68).

    Getty Images

    Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 pm

    Sharma among three Open qualifiers at Joburg Open

    By Will GrayDecember 11, 2017, 12:16 pm

    Shubhankar Sharma earned his first career European Tour win at the rain-delayed Joburg Open and punched his ticket to The Open in the process.

    Sharma returned to Randpark Golf Club Monday morning after storms washed out much of the scheduled final day of play. Beginning the re-start with a four-shot lead, he hung on to win by three over South Africa's Erik Van Rooyen.

    Both men can make travel plans for Carnoustie next summer, as this was the second event in the Open Qualifying Series with three spots available for players not otherwise exempt who finished inside the top 10. The final spot went to Shaun Norris, who tied for third with Finland's Tapio Pulkkanen but had a higher world ranking (No. 192) than Pulkkanen (No. 197) entering the week.

    The Joburg Open was the final official European Tour event of the year. The next tournament in the Open Qualifying Series will be the SMBC Singapore Open in January, where four spots at Carnoustie will be up for grabs.