Folds of Honor seeks to 'leave no family behind'

By Mercer BaggsJune 1, 2012, 11:30 am

OWASSO, Okla. – It’s Natasha’s turn to speak. She’s poised and dignified, dark-haired, tall and beautiful.

Her words carry weight and cut to the quick.

“When I’m asked about my family – I don’t know how normal families live,” she says. “I didn’t have that life.”

Natasha is a military kid. Her father was deployed on her first birthday. He was deployed on her second birthday. He didn’t live to see her turn 3.

On April 14, 1994, Chief Warrant Officer Erik Mounsey was in one of two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters over northern Iraq as part of a humanitarian mission, Operation Provide Comfort. The two vessels were misidentified as enemy aircraft and shot down by U.S. Air Force F-15 fighter jets. There were no survivors.

Natasha’s mother, Kaye, first heard about the incident while watching CNN. She saw President Clinton offering comfort to the victims' families.

“That couldn’t involve Erik,” she thought. “They would have told me …”

Messengers soon arrived to inform Kaye that Erik was one of 26 people killed in friendly fire. He was 28.

“The public’s perception is that the government will take care of military families,” Kaye says. “I’m here to tell you, they didn’t for us.”

Kaye says she was given 30 days to vacate government housing. Erik died on April 14. On April 15, Kaye says, military pay ceased.

“He used to always get off the phone saying, ‘Take care of my little girl.’ How was I going to do that?”

Kaye tells this story before 900 teary-eyed men and women during an evening gala on Memorial Day. It’s the emotional climax to a series of events designed to provide relief to families like the Mounseys.

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One hundred seventy-two flags line the entrance to the Patriot Golf Club. It’s the third annual Patriot Cup, a golf tournament founded by Major Dan Rooney to benefit his Folds of Honor Foundation.

Rickie Fowler is here. So are Gary Woodland, Tom Lehman, Peter Jacobsen, Corey Pavin, Ben Crane, Bo Van Pelt and a slew of other PGA and Champions tour players. Country music legend Vince Gill is here, as well as former Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden and actor Craig T. Nelson.

There are Budweiser Clydesdales, a 21-gun salute, a 21-ball salute and multiple flyovers. There is a DJ playing music over loudspeakers, hospitality tents, merchandise for sale, and more than 3,000 people in attendance on this Monday. The pro-am features one tour player or celebrity, one military member with a desired handicap of 5 or less, and one financial donor on each team. It’s the Flyboys vs. the Ground Pound.

“It’s God, country and golf,” Major Rooney says. “I can’t think of anything better.”

It’s all aimed at raising money for the dependents of those killed or injured serving the United States of America. The Folds of Honor Foundation provides educational assistance, primarily through scholarships of $5,000 annually, to spouses, sons and daughters of those who sacrificed for our freedom.

“Freedom,” in a refrain that is repeated by many on this day, “is not free.”

“There are over 1 million dependents of killed or wounded servicemen and women,” Major Rooney says. “More than 87 percent of those dependents do not qualify for any form of federal education assistance. It’s our mission to make sure that no families are left behind.”

Kaye and Natasha MounseyNatasha Mounsey (pictured right, with mother Kaye left) is one of 2,600 current scholarship recipients via the Folds of Honor Foundation. Major Rooney expects that number to grow by 1,000 within the next month. (Click for Folds of Honor scholarship information)

“Because my father was killed pre-9/11, I didn’t qualify for most scholarships.” Natasha says. “It’s as if his death wasn’t as significant because it happened before 9/11.”

“Folds of Honor,” she continues with her voice cracking, “helped me when no one else would.”

Natasha is a rising senior at California State University, Northridge. She’s working on her Bachelor of Arts degree in 2-D and 3-D Animation, and carries a 3.8 GPA.

“She’s level headed. She’s kind. She’s witty. She stays out of trouble,” Kaye says. “She’s just like her dad.”

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Don’t compare your resume with Major Dan’s. Just don’t. He’s been recognized for his accomplishments by everyone from the White House to People magazine. He’s a PGA professional, an F-16 pilot and ran this February’s Boston Marathon in 3:53:02.

“He’s about the best guy I’ve ever met,” says Vince Gill. “I’d like to meet the person who could say no to him.”

Few do.

The Patriot Cup, which was established in 2010, is a sister event to Patriot Golf Day. Both raise money for educational assistance to the dependents of the fallen and injured, and have combined – with national sponsors such as Budweiser, Bushnell, Polo Golf and Titleist – to account for $18 million since 2006.

The Cup is more of a celebration. It features tour professionals and celebrities in a fun format: two overall teams, three-player scrambles and match play. There are also the gala and the Monday night concert, this year featuring country music’s Rascal Flatts.

Thirty-eight military members compete and 19 scholarship recipients serve as honorary captains.

It’s also a reminder. A reminder that Memorial Day isn’t just a day off from work, a trip to the beach and a cookout. It’s a day of reverence.

Sometimes, we forget.

Patriot Golf Day takes place over Labor Day weekend. Golfers at participating courses are asked to add $1 or more to their green fee. It raised more than $4 million in 2011, with 3,500 courses taking part. Five years prior, there was just one course.

That inaugural venue was Grand Haven (Mich.) Golf Club. It’s owned and operated by Major Dan and his father, Dr. John Rooney, professor emeritus at Oklahoma State. It also ties in to the founding of Folds of Honor.

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“Ladies and gentlemen, we have an American hero on board, Corporal Brock Bucklin; and his twin brother, Corporal Brad Bucklin, is accompanying him home from Iraq,” Major Rooney recalls.

Rooney was headed to his family home in Grand Haven when the flight captain made this announcement. Brock Bucklin was killed in Iraq.

“Please remain seated while Corporal Bucklin’s family receives him in his final homecoming,” the captain requested.

While half the plane started to file out, Rooney watched through the window as the flag-draped casket was greeted by family members, including Brock’s then 4-year-old son, Jacob.

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Major Dan Rooney

When Rooney (pictured above) was a kid, he used to tag along with his father to the golf course. “It was the only way to spend time with him,” Major Dan says.

At age 12, he was playing in a golf tournament in Stillwater, Okla. Major Steve “Reno” Cortright, who was 40 at the time and a fighter pilot, was part of that group and made quite an impression.

“I thought, ‘Wow, you can be cool and be an adult,” says Rooney, who called now Major General Cortright his “first man-crush.” When Rooney later saw “Top Gun,” he says, “That pushed me over the edge.”

On his way to becoming a fighter pilot, Rooney played golf collegiately at Kansas. He wanted to play at Oklahoma State, but as Tulsa native Garth Brooks sang, “Thank God for Unanswered Prayers.”

Rooney met his wife, Jacqy, at Kansas. They have four daughters: Victoria, Tatum, Mia and Reese.

After turning professional, Rooney played on mini-tours and funneled his earnings into obtaining his pilot’s license. At 26, he entered the Air Force – in the metropolis that is Wichita Falls, Texas – and achieved a dream. His call name: Noonan.

“I was actually able to take away a lot from golf in being a fighter pilot: how to handle the pressure when your heart is pounding, when your palms are sweating,” he says.

Major Rooney did three tours in Iraq. His wingman during No. 2 was Scott “Rookie” Rooks, who was a scratch golfer. “We have the lowest combined handicap over Iraq,” they would joke.

But in all seriousness Rooney says, “You cannot imagine the pressure when your job is to make sure that the heroes on the ground go home safely.”

Rooney loved his job, but felt “a strong calling from God to serve my country out of the cockpit.” That mission began to take focus on a Michigan tarmac. The idea to help dependents financially through scholarships was born from a desire to assist Jacob, fostered by his father’s education background.

“I called my wife at 1:30 in the morning and told her I had to do something, that I had found my mission,” Rooney says. Her response: “Are you drunk?”

The answer was no, but many questions persisted. The Folds of Honor Foundation was born – named for the 13 folds of the American flag. But how do you get something like this off the ground? Where will the money come from? How do you run a non-profit organization?

“I had absolutely no clue as to what I was doing,” Rooney says. “Just making it up as I went along.”

He and his father held the first Patriot Golf Day in 2006 and raised $8,000. More had to be done. So Major Rooney wrote a one-page email to PGA of America CEO Joe Steranka, who is now the chairman of the board for Folds of Honor.

It was proposed to get the grassroots project fully functional in two years time, but as Major Rooney told Steranka and Co., “We don’t have the luxury of time. People need help now.”

Steranka agreed, and opportunity soon combined with ingenuity.

The PGA Championship was contested in 2007 at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa. Major Rooney took David Feherty on a flight in an F-16, which was featured on CBS' coverage. Dr. John Rooney reached out to contacts he had acquired while consulting for 20 years with Golf Digest. Patriot Golf Day quickly gained traction and had 500 courses participating that year. They anticipate more than 5,000 this year.

“He’s always been that way,” Dr. Rooney says of his son. “My wife is a perfectionist and I’m a driven person. He has both of those traits and it shows in his achievements.”

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Michael Bordelon

Johannah Bordelon recalls the morning.

“My brother woke me up and said, ‘Come on, Mom needs us,’” she says. “She had the telephone in her hand. She was crying …”

Johannah stops. She can’t continue. She’s asked about memories of her father, but says she can’t remember.

“She can,” her mother later says. “She was Daddy’s girl. The moment got to her. She still has a tough time dealing with the loss.”

First Sergeant Michael Joseph Bordelon was born in Scotland, raised in Louisiana, attended LSU, and served in the Army for 18 years.

He was in Italy at the time of the Twin Tower attacks and told his wife, “I need to go there (Iraq).”

The Bordelon family eventually moved back Stateside to Fort Lewis, Wash. Michael had a desk job but reiterated his desire to be deployed.

“I didn’t want him to go, but I had to support him,” his wife, Milalona, says.

Michael was sent to Iraq in 2004. On April 23, 2005, his Stryker vehicle was struck by a Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device (VBIED). A car bomb. A suicide bomber rammed into his vehicle. Three were killed. Bordelon sustained third-degree burns and internal injuries, remaining in the vehicle until all his men were out.

The day before, Michael and Mila had chatted via Yahoo Messenger. Michael told his wife that they were going to be delivering Beanie Babies to Iraqi children. “I am doing it for the children,” he typed.

The next morning, she received the phone call.

“I thought I was dreaming,” she says. “It was 6 o’clock in the morning. I just went numb.”

Mila flew to Germany to meet her husband, who was in critical condition. On April 27, they flew to Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas. It was their 10th wedding anniversary.

On May 10, 2005, First Sergeant Michael Bordelon died. “His body just gave up,” Mila says. “He didn’t give up; his body did.”

Mila grew up in central Philippines. She moved to Hawaii at 15 and met Michael at a club when she was 24. They got married a year later and had son Jacob.

“Jacob doesn’t talk much about his father’s death,” Mila says. “He doesn’t want to make me cry.

“Johannah has lots of stories. … Michael had a hearing aid and Johannah would call him, ‘Dad, Dad.’ And if he didn’t respond, she would yell, ‘Michael, come here now!’ He’d laugh.”

Johannah wears her father’s dog tag around her neck. Mila’s sister gave her niece a necklace last Christmas and Johannah handed it back to her.

“She won’t take (the dog tag) off.  If she does, she’s afraid her father won’t be with her,” Mila says.

Like most every widow and spouse of someone debilitated, Mila feared for her children’s future without her husband. All she wanted was for them to go to college. “Just get your degree,” she would say. “That’s all I want from you.”

Johannah, Mila, Jacob BordelonFolds of Honor is helping make that possible.

Jacob (pictured far right with sister and mother) turned 17 on May 27 and will be a senior in high school in Laveen, Ariz., about 15 miles southwest of Phoenix. He’s thinking about attending Arizona State University and majoring in civil engineering.

“I want to make my daddy proud,” he says.

Johannah will turn 13 in June. She wants to attend law school.

Because Michael was still a resident of Washington and not Arizona at the time of his death, his children did not qualify for state assistance. Thanks to Folds of Honor, both now have college scholarships waiting for them.

“It so touching that they think about the children, making sure they are not forgotten,” Mila says. “Someone is doing something for the children of the fallen.”

All dependents, for that matter. Mila was also awarded a scholarship. She graduated with a BA in Psychology in May.

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One of the biggest misconceptions about the scholarships is that they are reserved only for the families of those gravely injured or of those who lost limbs in battle.

Trey Bruce is a logistics officer in the Oklahoma Air National Guard, 138th Fighter Wing – the same unit as Major Rooney. He has served his country for 22 years, currently making sure people and cargo are properly deployed for war or training.

In 1992, as a vehicle mechanic, he ruptured discs in his back when a transmission fell off a lift and onto him. Today, he is considered 70 percent disabled.

Still, he has his life. He has his arms and legs. And he has two daughters. He also had trepidation in applying for the scholarships.

“I hardly feel worthy of being in the same company of the others,” Bruce says. “But I didn’t do this for me; I did it for our girls.”

Kyra and Sydney BruceSydney (pictured right) is 18 and headed to Oklahoma State University in the fall. She wants to major in education and minor in French. Maybe teach the second grade. Kyra (pictured left) will soon turn 15 and is a rising sophomore at Bixby High School in Bixby, Okla. She, too, is contemplating elementary education – or perhaps theatre – at OSU.

“It doesn’t seem fair, because I didn’t do anything,” Sydney says. “But I’m really grateful.”

Adds Kyra, “It’s amazing that I’m getting rewarded for his being in the military. He has shown how brave he is and how he would do anything to protect his country. I’m so proud of him.”

Ronny Sweger volunteers to promote scholarship application for Folds of Honor. He and his wife, Claudia, are part of the foundation’s Speaker’s Bureau. They also have 5-year-old triplet boys who have received scholarships.

Ronny joined the military at 19, because “college wasn’t for me.” He was on the Special Forces A-team in Afghanistan, where he earned two Purple Hearts and returned with traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

“Things happen,” he says matter-of-factly. “You have to adapt.”

Part of that adaptation is mental.

“We joined the military to give, not to receive,” Sweger explains.

Others first and then yourself. When you’re military, it applies to every facet of life. Sweger had to overcome the belief that other families were in more need of financial education assistance than his. When he relented, he was able to relax. A burden was lifted. He and his wife are now focused on sharing that feeling.

“It’s my new mission, to help give others the peace of mind that I have received,” Ronny says. “But they have to apply. We don’t give scholarships based on need. We give scholarships because you served.”

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The Patriot Cup

It’s a bright, blue, sunny day in eastern Oklahoma. Little Rickies are following bigger Rickie and they’re all wearing flat-brimmed hats.

Fowler has easily drawn the biggest crowd and when he’s finished with his match he takes more than a half-hour to pose for photos and sign every autograph request.

“To be part of a day like this,” Fowler says, “with the Folds of Honor Foundation, and to help take out one of the worries of life – it’s pretty special.”

Gary Woodland is the only touring professional to carry the Folds of Honor logo on his bag. He teamed with Major Rooney to defeat Fowler’s team, 3 and 2.

“We play golf for a living; they fight battles for us,” Woodland says. “If there is anything I can do to give back, I want to do it. We can’t thank the men and women who protect us enough.”

In the end, the Flyboys defeated the Ground Pound to claim the third annual Patriot Cup. Corey Pavin led the victorious team and joked, “On a personal note, I’m just glad to have been a captain and won a trophy.”

In addition to the Cup, Pavin is presented with a folded American flag. He is overwhelmed by the honor.

When Pavin was the U.S. Ryder Cup captain in 2010, he asked Major Rooney to speak to the Americans prior to their matches in Wales. Rooney talked about accountability and individuals uniting for one cause. He talked about national pride. He told the story of Colonel Brock Bucklin and his son.

Jacob Bucklin was the first person awarded a Folds of Honor scholarship. He is now 10 and Rooney keeps in constant contact with him.

“Our mission is to leave no family behind in the field of battle,” Rooney reiterates. “We must remember the sacrifices that were made.”

At 1 p.m. CT, "Taps" is played over the loudspeakers. A bell tolls 13 times, as it does every day at 1300 hours at the Folds of Honor Foundation, which stands on Patriot Golf Club grounds.

Thirteen rings. Thirteen folds of the flags.

Everyone stops. Men and women come to attention. Jets fly overhead. For a moment, everyone is aware.

“In all honesty,” Natashsa Mounsey would say later that evening, “I don’t think most Americans realize how lucky we are to live in a country with the freedom we possess.”

We should never forget.

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Monday Scramble: Just getting started

By Will GrayJanuary 22, 2018, 4:30 pm

Tommy Fleetwood dazzles, Jon Rahm outlasts, Phil Mickelson falters, Rory McIlroy starts the year on the right foot and more in this week’s edition of Monday Scramble:

He didn't hit a single shot on Sunday, but the biggest winner of the weekend may have been Thomas Bjorn.

That's because the burly Dane watched one potential European Ryder Cup stud after another either lift a trophy or show significant signs of promise.

First it was Sergio Garcia cruising to victory in Singapore, then Tommy Fleetwood's stirring rally in Abu Dhabi. By the time Jon Rahm finished off the CareerBuilder Challenge in the waning daylight, the European skipper likely had a grin plastered from ear to ear.

There will be countless ebbs and flows of momentum before the first shot is struck at Le Golf National, but this week proved once again that the Americans won't be the only ones sporting some serious depth at the biennial matches.


1. The most dazzling display Sunday came from Fleetwood, who successfully defended his title in Abu Dhabi thanks to an absolutely unconscious back nine.

The Englishman was five shots back when he made the turn, but six birdies over his final nine holes turned that deficit into a two-shot win.

It was in Abu Dhabi last year that he sparked a career turnaround, winning the event en route to the season-long Race to Dubai title. He turned up once again this year with ample confidence and a new wedding ring, and the results were much the same.

He doesn't have the star power of some of his contemporaries, but it's becoming increasingly clear that Fleetwood can more than hold his own against even the best in the game.

2. Hours before Fleetwood caught fire, it was Garcia rolling to a five-shot win in Singapore to complete the transition from tournament headliner to tournament champion.

Garcia was just days removed from his 38th birthday and making his first start with a full bag of Callaway clubs. But he showed no signs of offseason rust or equipment adjustment while capturing his second worldwide win since slipping into his green jacket.

The Spaniard has certainly enjoyed the fruits of his Masters victory nine months ago, but it's apparent that he has no plans to rest on the laurels of last spring.



3. He didn't leave Abu Dhabi with the trophy, but McIlroy may have found something more lasting: confidence.

It was in his first start last year that McIlroy injured his rib and plummeted into a vicious cycle of attempted rehabs and ill-fated comebacks. This time around, he came out of the gates with a relaxed swagger en route to a tie for third.

As Ryan Lavner wrote, it was an ideal beginning to a big year for McIlroy, who has already offered up the notion that 2018 could be the busiest season of his career as he chases the final leg of the career Grand Slam and a return to golf's upper echelon.

After the first leg of a two-week stay in the Middle East, that plan is off to a promising start.

4. Let's take a moment to marvel at McIlroy's record in Abu Dhabi, where he has done everything but win the tournament.

In his last nine appearances, McIlroy has finished fifth or better eight times. That stretch includes four runner-up results and now two straight T-3 finishes.

There remain two equally remarkable factors to McIlroy's run: the fact that he somehow hasn't managed to lift the trophy (yet), and the lone outlier: a missed cut in 2013 after his celebrated switch to Nike.



5. With darkness rapidly encircling the Coachella Valley, Rahm managed to shake off Andrew Landry and capture his second career PGA Tour victory.

Rahm's 20-foot birdie on the fourth playoff hole proved the difference in Palm Springs, where he entered as the highest-ranked player in the field and supported that status with his stout play.

Rahm barely took his foot off the gas, both across the difficult closing stretch at PGA West and during the playoff when he sent one approach after the next hurtling toward the pin. It's the fourth worldwide win in less than a year for Rahm, who continues to outpace even the rosiest of projections for his burgeoning career.

6. The win moves Rahm past Jordan Spieth to world No. 2, making him the fourth-youngest player to ever reach such heights.

One year ago, the Spaniard was ranked 137th in the world. His win at the Farmers Insurance Open the following week altered his trajectory, and he now finds himself only one rung away from the top of the ladder.

While so much focus has been (deservedly) heaped upon players like Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas, perhaps it's Rahm who has the best chance to eventually unseat world No. 1 Dustin Johnson. He'll have a chance to chip into that deficit this week as he defends his title at Torrey Pines.



7. Speaking of Torrey Pines, it's officially Farmers Insurance Open week which means that Tiger Woods watch is about to kick off in earnest.

It's something of a tradition to see Woods strolling the fairways of the South Course, where he has won eight times including the 2008 U.S. Open. But this week will bring heightened expectation following Woods' better-than-anticipated return from injury last month at the Hero World Challenge.

Granted, Torrey Pines is a far cry from the forgiving fairways of Albany. But if Woods is able to put together two solid rounds and make the cut, it should be seen as a step in the right direction.

Of course, for all of Woods' success in San Diego, it's also the place where he struggled with chipping yips prior to a withdrawal in 2015 and missed the cut last year in his final official PGA Tour start of the year. So his results this time around might be anyone's guess.

Ken Duke is one of the bona fide nice guys on Tour, and he proved it this weekend in Palm Springs.

Duke is playing off past champion status this season, and he unsuccessfully petitioned tournament officials at the CareerBuilder Challenge for a sponsor invite. With 156 players in the field, Duke was the odd man out at No. 157 and relegated to first alternate status.

He didn't get into the tournament proper, but Duke was willing to step in when Corey Pavin's first Tour start since 2015 ended with a withdrawal after just 17 holes. Because of the tournament's pro-am format, Pavin's amateur partner was left without a pro for the next two rounds.

So in came Duke to play what amounted to a 36-hole pro-am, an effort of good faith to help an event that couldn't find room for him at the start of the week:

It's not often you see a pro compete where his score only counts for his amateur partner. But such was Duke's situation this week, and kudos to him for handling it with class.

This week's award winners ...


Unusually Short Stay: Phil Mickelson. Lefty has become a regular in Palm Springs, but three shaky rounds left him with his first missed cut in this event since 1994 - a few months before Rahm was born.

Nice Job, Kid: Sungjae Im. The 19-year-old Korean joined Jason Day as the only two teenagers to win on the Web.com Tour, as Im shot a final-round 65 to win the season opener in the Bahamas.

A for Effort: Andrew Landry. Landry put up a stellar fight in Palm Springs, holing a birdie putt on the 72nd hole to force a playoff and going shot-for-shot with Rahm for nearly an hour. He came up short in his effort to win for the first time, but Landry certainly has plenty of positive takeaways from his week in the desert.



On the Disabled List: Brooks Koepka. The reigning U.S. Open champ is out for the next couple months because of a torn ligament in his wrist, with hopes of returning before the Masters. The diagnosis comes after Koepka finished last at both the Hero World Challenge and Sentry Tournament of Champions.

Still the Bridesmaid: Ross Fisher. The Englishman now has 14 runner-up finishes on the European Tour after he coughed up a late lead to Fleetwood. It's been a resurgent year for Fisher, including nine top-10s and three runner-ups in his last six starts. But he's still looking for his first win in nearly four years.

More Euro Momentum: Not to be outshone by Fleetwood and McIlroy, Matthew Fitzpatrick (T-3) and Thomas Pieters (T-5) both started the year on the right foot in Abu Dhabi. Both men were at Hazeltine two years ago, and expect one (or both) to factor on the team in Paris this fall.

Blown Fantasy Pick of the Week: Bill Haas. A two-time winner and the all-time leading money-winner in Palm Springs, Haas never factored and eventually missed the cut. Honorable mention here goes to 2014 champ Patrick Reed who also stayed home on Sunday.

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Rosaforte Report: Landry's grit born in a Pea Patch

By Tim RosaforteJanuary 22, 2018, 3:40 pm

In this week's Rosaforte Report: The birthplace of Andrew Landry's grit, Tiger's former coach invites instruction debate, downtime may be good for Brooks Koepka, Stacy Lewis is amped for 2018, and a "very boring" birthday gift for Jack Nicklaus.

The beauty and drama of tournament golf played out in the California desert on Sunday when Andrew Landry, a journeyman who learned the game on a shabby nine-hole course called the Pea Patch in Port Groves, Texas, took the hottest young player in the game, Jon Rahm, to four holes of a sudden death playoff before finally succumbing. It was riveting drama in a yard-for-yard, stride-for-stride and putt-for-putt contrast that ended with the sun setting over the Santa Rosa Mountains.

With it, the 23-year-old Rahm went to No. 2 in the world and the 30-year-old Landry, a grinder finally off the Web.com Tour, moved from 184th to a career high 102nd in the world ranking.

The 5-foot-7 Landry, who had his “Tin Cup” moment in the 2016 U.S. Open at Oakmont, where he held the first-round lead and hung with the big boys until a T-15 finish, never backed off in the shadow of the 6-foot-2 Rahm, just as he never backed away from bets in the Tuesday and Saturday games at the Pea Patch. That’s where he would write his name on the chalkboard for the “Dog Fights” that were the club’s version of the SWAT competition that is an Oakmont tradition.

“Those money games are what made us,” Andrew’s brother, Adam, told me the day his sibling became the proverbial no-name leader after shooting the lowest opening round (66) in U.S. Open-Oakmont history.

Andrew Landry lost his money game to Rahm, but his second-place finish still paid out $637,200, putting him over the $1 million mark for the season, and sending him off to the Farmers Insurance Open with a message that this isn’t the last time we’ll hear from him.

“We’ll take it and move on to Torrey Pines,” Landry said before exiting Palm Springs. “It’s obviously a great course for me. I’m driving the ball really well and I’m doing everything really good, so we’ll try again next week.”



GREAT(S) DEBATES: Chris Como may not be Tiger Woods’ teacher anymore, but he was recently appointed director of instruction at Dallas National, one of the plush practice environments in golf. He is also architect of an interesting forum on the mental game and the philosophy of instruction Tuesday at the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, Fla., which features Claude Harmon III, David Leadbetter, Jim McLean, Mike Adams, Fran Pirozzolo, Hal Sutton, Brad Faxon and Brandel Chamblee.

“It’s an event that invited open dialog and debate about all the topics of golf instruction,” Como said in a text message. “The goal is to put a bunch of smart people in the same room together to move our industry forward in a positive direction.”

This should be entertaining dialog, especially coming two days before Tiger makes his comeback at the Farmers.


Stacy Lewis at the 2017 LPGA Cambia Portland Classic


STACY'S SPARK: On the week when she was named winner of the Ben Hogan Award for overcoming scoliosis, Stacy Lewis did what Hogan epitomized – she doggedly continued to work on her game.

Heading into her 10th season on the LPGA tour and facing her 33rd birthday on Feb. 16, Lewis flew from Houston to Florida, on her way to the Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic, for checkups with instructor Joe Hallett and performance coach Dave Donatucci.

After workouts and an evaluation at his gym, Donatucci noted the veteran’s vertical leap was 2 inches higher than she’s ever jumped before. “Physically, she’s in a great place,” Donatucci said. Mentally, she is in a great place as well, breaking a 39-month winless streak in September with a victory in the Cambia Portland Classic. After playing lessons at Old Palm and The Floridian, Hallet told me, “There’s an energy there that she’s always had.”

Other than Cristie Kerr, who is 40, the top 10 players in the Race to the CME Globe were all in their 20s. Lewis, who was 13th, told the Houston Chronicle she played some of her best golf the last six to seven tournaments of 2017. “Honestly it doesn’t feel like that start to a new year,” she said. “It just feels like a little bit of a break and I’m starting up again.”



KOEPKA'S HEALING TIME: Claude Harmon III had an interesting take on the torn wrist tendon that will sidelineU.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka until the Masters. “To be honest, the time off for the injury part of it doesn’t worry me,” Harmon said, using last year as his point of reference.

Looking back to the start of 2017, Koepka missed cuts at the Farmers Insurance Open, was T-42 as defending champion of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, missed cuts at the Genesis Open and the Honda Classic, finished T-48 in the no-cut WGC Mexico Championship, and didn’t play on the weekend at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Three months later, Koepka overpowered Erin Hills and tied Rory McIlroy’s U.S. Open scoring record of 16 under par. Harmon used McIlroy’s third-place finish at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship in his return “as something to look at and emulate.”

The hard part is that Koepka closed out the 2017 season with a second-place finish in the WGC-HSBC Champions in China and a nine-stroke win over Xander Schauffele in the Dunlop Phoenix, rising to a career high seventh in the world. But between cardio at Joey D’s gym and putting practice (once he gets doctor’s clearance), Harmon doesn’t think Koepka will look at the next three months as down time.



BIG-TIME PERFORMER: Thomas Pieters was back in the top-five of a premier tournament again, finishing T-5 in Abu Dhabi after a run of nine events at the end of 2017 that did not match the first eight months of his rookie year.

Coming off a Ryder Cup performance in 2016 that set European records for most points (4) and wins (4) by a rookie, Pieters was T-2 at the Genesis Open, T-5 at the WGC-Mexico Championship, T-4 at the Masters and solo fourth at the Bridgestone Invitational.

In a news conference after his opening-round 67, Pieters admitted it was nice having fun again and attributed the lack of enjoyment to some struggles he was having off the golf course.

“With a lot of players these days, it’s more off the course than on the course; life in general sometimes causes problems,” swing instructor Pete Cowen told me Monday morning from Dubai, without getting into specifics. “Pieters is looking a lot better. I think he’s now in a great frame of mind.”

After winning the NCAA Championship as a sophomore for Illinois in 2012, the now 25-year-old Belgian is 34th in the world, 33 spots behind his goal.

“Tom Pieters doesn’t want to be a superstar, he just wants to be the best player,” Cowen said. “That’s what drives him … what I like about him. He wants to be the best, and will do whatever it takes to be the best.”



GIFT OF LOVE: What do you give a man that has everything for his 78th birthday? For Barbara Nicklaus it was classified in a text message with a smiley face emoji as a “Very boring!!!!!” gift of two pairs of pants and a shirt.

As you can see from the above photo, just being together with his family and bride of 57 years at The Bears Club was enough.

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Golf Channel to Deliver Worldwide Coverage of the 2018 PGA Merchandise Show, "The Major of Golf Business," Tueday-Friday, Jan. 23-26

By Golf Channel Public RelationsJanuary 22, 2018, 2:45 pm

Morning Drive, Golf Central to Give Viewers Insider Access to the PGA Show with Nearly 20 Hours of Live Coverage; Golf Channel’s School of Golf Instruction Program to Originate From On-Site

Golf Channel’s Portfolio of Lifestyle Brands – GolfNow, Golf Channel Academy, Revolution Golf and World Long Drive On-Site at the PGA Show Contributing to the Network’s Comprehensive Coverage

 

ORLANDO, Fla. (Jan. 18, 2018) – Golf Channel announced plans for its comprehensive coverage of the 2018 PGA Merchandise Show – the largest golf convention and business gathering in the world – with nearly 20 hours of news and instruction coverage Tuesday, Jan. 23 – Friday, Jan. 26. Golf Channel’s coverage will span across the four days, beginning Tuesday with the “PGA Show Demo Day” from the Orange County National Golf Center & Lodge driving range in Winter Garden, Fla., and continuing Wednesday-Friday at the PGA Merchandise Show from the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando.

With an insider look at the PGA Merchandise Show – a golf industry event that is not open to the public – Golf Channel’s coverage via Morning Drive and Golf Central will be delivered to a worldwide audience in more than 36 countries. Coverage will provide viewers live interviews with industry leaders, professional golfers from the world’s major tours, PGA of America members and a comprehensive overview of the latest products and trends for 2018 from some of the nearly 1,100 golf brands exhibiting on-site.

PGA Merchandise Show Week Programming Schedule: Jan. 23-26 (All Times Eastern)

Tuesday

Morning Drive

7-11 a.m. (Live)

 

Tuesday

Golf Central

5-6 p.m. (Live)

 

Tuesday

School of Golf

8-9 p.m.

 

Wednesday

Morning Drive

7-11:30 a.m. (Live)

 

Wednesday

Golf Central

5-6 p.m. (Live)

 

Thursday

Morning Drive

8:30-11:30 a.m. (Live)

 

Thursday

Golf Central

7-8 p.m. (Live)

 

Friday

Morning Drive

8:30-11:30 a.m. (Live)

 

Friday

Golf Central

7-8 p.m. (Live)

 

 

BROADCAST TEAM

Golf Channel’s expansive coverage of the PGA Merchandise Show will utilize several on-air personalities from the network’s news division, beginning with Charlie Rymer and Lauren Thompson offering coverage of the PGA Show Outdoor Demo Day on Tuesday. In addition to Rymer and Thompson, Wednesday-Friday coverage from the PGA Show Floor will include Matt Adams, Cara Banks, Lisa Cornwell, Matt Ginella, Damon Hack, Bailey Mosier and Gary Williams.

DIGITAL & STREAMING COVERAGE

Golf Channel’s PGA Merchandise Show on-air coverage will be available to stream via Golf Channel Digital Tuesday-Friday. Comprehensive online editorial coverage also will be available throughout the week, with contributions from writers Jay Coffin and Will Gray. Golf Channel’s social media platforms will keep viewers engaged in the conversation about what’s generating buzz at the #PGASHOW throughout the week via the network’s social media channels – @GolfChannel and @GCMorningDrive on Twitter, @GolfChannel and @GCMorningDrive on Instagram and GolfChannel and GCMorningDrive on Facebook. Golf Channel social media host Alexandra O’Laughlin will host Golf Channel’s digital and social media coverage throughout the week.

PGA SHOW DEMO DAY COVERAGE

Golf Channel’s coverage of “Demo Day” will begin Tuesday, Jan. 23 at 7 a.m. ET with Morning Drive airing live and on-site to highlight the latest in golf equipment from the expansive driving range at Orange County National. Rymer and Thompson will host Morning Drive on-site, featuring interviews and product demonstrations.

PGA MERCHANDISE SHOW FLOOR COVERAGE

Coverage of the PGA Show will transition indoors to the Orange County Convention Center, Wednesday-Friday, Jan. 24-26 to give viewers an all-access tour of the PGA Show. Morning Drive and Golf Central will provide on-site reports throughout the week, with featured interviews and segments originating from the PGA Show Floor. Coverage from the Convention Center will originate from a large, multi-purpose space elevated above the PGA Show Floor, with three set configurations for interviews, along with a putting green and a golf simulator for product demonstrations. Golf Channel also will feature a “Fly Cam,” a unique camera technology made popular in televising football and other sports. Suspended above the PGA Show Floor, the Fly Cam will span more than 700 feet, giving viewers an aerial viewpoint of the vast floor and the exhibitors. New for 2018 will be a “Jib Cart,” a mobile cart with a camera jib affixed allowing high shots of the booths throughout the Show Floor.

SCHOOL OF GOLF KICKS OFF EIGHTH SEASON WITH ONE-HOUR SPECIAL FROM DEMO DAY

School of Golf, Golf Channel’s signature instruction program that airs on Tuesday nights, will kick off its eighth season with a one-hour special at Demo Day on Tuesday, Jan. 23, airing in primetime from 8-9 p.m. ET. Originating from the Cleveland Golf/Srixon/XXIO booth on the Orange County National driving range and hosted by Martin Hall and Blair O’Neal, the show will include special guests and interactions with a live audience.

GOLF CHANNEL’S PORTFOLIO OF LIFESTYLE BRANDS ON-SITE AT PGA SHOW

In addition to Golf Channel’s on-air and digital coverage, the network’s lifestyle brands – GolfNow, World Long Drive, Golf Channel Academy and Revolution Golf will showcase their services at the PGA Show with special clinics, product demonstrations and on-site activations.

GOLFNOW EXHIBITING AT BOOTH #2173

GolfNow, the industry’s leader in golf-related technology and services, will be exhibiting Wednesday-Friday from Booth #2173. In addition to showcasing advanced technologies that have created the largest tee-time marketplace in golf, GolfNow also will be educating course owners and operators about innovations and services designed to help them run their businesses more efficiently and successfully. GolfNow Business experts will be on hand at GolfNow’s 2,400-square-foot booth, offering its course partners technology demonstrations, as well as consultation on any of the GolfNow Services: Plus, a top-line focused consultative performance system for golf courses, including marketing, sales and automated pricing; Answers, a call center for golf courses, answering customer calls day and night; and Ride, a no-cost purchasing program that saves course operators from 6-35 percent on items they buy day-to-day, such as food, office supplies and agricultural products.

WORLD LONG DRIVE BRACKET CHALLENGE

Thursday at 2 p.m. ET, World Long Drive competitors will be at the PGA Show to compete in a World Long Drive Bracket Challenge. Hosted by Golf Channel’s social media host Alexandra O’Laughlin and airing live via Golf Channel’s Facebook Live, the competition will take place at Golf Channel’s simulator on the Show Floor featuring eight men and four women, including World No. 2 Ryan Reisbeck, No. 3 Maurice Allen, No. 5 Trent Scruggs and 2017 Volvik World Long Drive Women’s Champion Sandra Carlborg.

GOLF CHANNEL ACADEMY INSTRUCTION

Wednesday-Friday, Golf Channel Academy coaches will provide on-site instruction clinics at Golf Channel’s simulator set on the Show Floor. Wednesday’s clinics will feature driving, full swing, wedge play and putting clinics. Thursday’s clinic will include the full swing and Friday’s clinic will feature the short game, all streamed live via Golf Channel Academy’s Facebook page.

REVOLUTION GOLF TO SHOOT DIGITAL INSTRUCTION SEGMENTS ON-SITE AT PGA SHOW

Revolution Golf, the industry’s largest direct-to-consumer digital platform delivering high-quality video-based instruction, travel content and integrated e-commerce will have a significant presence at the PGA Show. Golf Channel’s newest digital acquisition, Revolution Golf will be shooting digital segments at Demo Day and throughout the PGA Show Floor, including segments with its team of instructors.

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CareerBuilder purse payouts: Rahm wins $1.062 million

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 12:50 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry on the fourth hole of sudden death to win the CareerBuilder Challenger. Here's a look at how the purse was paid out in La Quinta, Calif.:

1 Jon Rahm -22 $1,062,000
2 Andrew Landry -22 $637,200
T3 Adam Hadwin -20 $306,800
T3 John Huh -20 $306,800
T3 Martin Piller -20 $306,800
T6 Kevin Chappell -19 $205,025
T6 Scott Piercy -19 $205,025
T8 Brandon Harkins -18 $171,100
T8 Jason Kokrak -18 $171,100
T8 Sam Saunders -18 $171,100
T11 Harris English -17 $135,700
T11 Seamus Power -17 $135,700
T11 Jhonattan Vegas -17 $135,700
T14 Bud Cauley -16 $106,200
T14 Austin Cook -16 $106,200
T14 Grayson Murray -16 $106,200
T17 Andrew Putnam -15 $88,500
T17 Peter Uihlein -15 $88,500
T17 Aaron Wise -15 $88,500
T20 Ricky Barnes -14 $57,754
T20 Stewart Cink -14 $57,754
T20 Brian Harman -14 $57,754
T20 Beau Hossler -14 $57,754
T20 Charles Howell III -14 $57,754
T20 Zach Johnson -14 $57,754
T20 Ryan Palmer -14 $57,754
T20 Brendan Steele -14 $57,754
T20 Nick Taylor -14 $57,754
T29 Lucas Glover -13 $36,706
T29 Russell Knox -13 $36,706
T29 Nate Lashley -13 $36,706
T29 Tom Lovelady -13 $36,706
T29 Kevin Streelman -13 $36,706
T29 Hudson Swafford -13 $36,706
T29 Richy Werenski -13 $36,706
T36 Jason Dufner -12 $27,189
T36 Derek Fathauer -12 $27,189
T36 James Hahn -12 $27,189
T36 Chez Reavie -12 $27,189
T36 Webb Simpson -12 $27,189
T36 Tyrone Van Aswegen -12 $27,189
T42 Bronson Burgoon -11 $18,983
T42 Ben Crane -11 $18,983
T42 Brian Gay -11 $18,983
T42 Chesson Hadley -11 $18,983
T42 Patton Kizzire -11 $18,983
T42 Hunter Mahan -11 $18,983
T42 Kevin Na -11 $18,983
T42 Rob Oppenheim -11 $18,983
T50 Alex Cejka -10 $14,025
T50 Corey Conners -10 $14,025
T50 Michael Kim -10 $14,025
T50 Kevin Kisner -10 $14,025
T50 Sean O'Hair -10 $14,025
T50 Sam Ryder -10 $14,025
T50 Nick Watney -10 $14,025
T57 Robert Garrigus -9 $13,039
T57 Tom Hoge -9 $13,039
T57 David Lingmerth -9 $13,039
T57 Ben Martin -9 $13,039
T57 Trey Mullinax -9 $13,039
T57 Brett Stegmaier -9 $13,039
T63 Scott Brown -8 $12,449
T63 Wesley Bryan -8 $12,449
T63 Brice Garnett -8 $12,449
T63 Sung Kang -8 $12,449
T67 Talor Gooch -7 $12,095
T67 Tom Whitney -7 $12,095
T69 Matt Every -6 $11,623
T69 Billy Hurley III -6 $11,623
T69 Smylie Kaufman -6 $11,623
T69 Keith Mitchell -6 $11,623
T69 Rory Sabbatini -6 $11,623
T69 Chris Stroud -6 $11,623
75 John Peterson -5 $11,210
76 Abraham Ancer -4 $11,092
77 Ben Silverman 4 $10,974