Hamiltons Reign Nearing an End

By Mercer BaggsJuly 5, 2005, 4:00 pm
Todd Hamiltons reign as British Open champion may be coming to a close quite soon. And in talking with the 2004 winner, he doesnt really seem to mind.
 
Hopefully after the tournament, if something crazy doesnt happen again, it will really die down, Hamilton said of the attention he has received, and they will go bug the guy that won this year.
 
Todd Hamilton
Todd Hamilton's life changed after this putt earned him the Claret Jug.
Hamilton didnt mean for this to come off in a derogatory manner. He loves being known as the Open champion ' and travels extensively with the Claret Jug, but hes never been overly comfortable with all that comes along with that distinction.
 
Hamilton is as regular a guy as a regular guy can be. Hes a Southwest guy with a stereotypical Midwest personality. Hes a guy who was born in Texas and went to school in Oklahoma. Hes a guy who was literally a touring professional; one who spent the better part of two decades traversing the globe in order to play golf for money, before finally earning his PGA Tour card for the 2004 season. At the age of 38.
 
Hes a guy with a bushel of talent who surprised most casual observers when he knocked off Davis Love III to win his first tour title at last years Honda Classic.
 
Hes a guy with critical focus and unyielding determination who shocked the entire golfing population with his playoff victory over Ernie Els at last year British Open.
 
Hamilton referred to his triumph at Royal Troon as something crazy. What was even more looney was his whirlwind existence thereafter.
 
The first two-to-three months right after were obviously hectic, he said. A little bit after that I traveled around the world, playing different events ' tournaments I normally watched on TV.
 
It was kind of neat doing that, but I didnt really have much down time at the end of the year. I think thats carried over and really influenced how Ive played this year.
 
Hamilton is no longer that obscure touring professional. Hes no longer a guy struggling to salvage a tour card.
 
But he is not without burden ' or burnout.
 
In winning the most global of all golf events, there comes a great measure of responsibility, obligation and expectation.
 
All seem to have taken their toll on him over the last year. But what bothers him the most is how they have combined to adversely affect his performance.
 
Even though he might not love the attention and the interview requests; he can handle it all as long as hes playing well. What he cant put up with is not playing well.
 
I dont feel Ive played terribly, but I havent gotten anything out of (my game), he said.
 
I think that Im the same guy as I was before I won. Ive always expected a lot of myself, whether Im playing with my friends ' nine holes in the evening, or playing the Open Championship, he added. If I go out and shoot 65 one day, and if were playing the same course the next day, I want to shoot 64.
 
I think sometimes that has hurt my career; that has kind of been a hindrance. I get streaky, I get in my own way. I remember some guy telling me, Let the game come to you. Dont try and force it. Im trying to do that.
 
Hamilton has played 20 tour events this season. He has 14 cuts made, but no top-10s. Those are the kind of numbers one might have expected last year ' when he was a tour rookie, and before he was a two-time winner and a major champion.
 
This year things are different. And Hamilton knows it.
 
'It's great to have your name announced as the reigning Open Champion or whatever, and there are days when I've felt, 'Man, why don't you start playing like the Open Champion instead of a first year or second year player on the tour,'' he said.
 
'Sometimes that's hard. I've always expected a lot out of myself. Maybe that's why I haven't done as well since the Open Championship last year.'
 
Hamiltons next stop is Scotland. He didn't made the early trip to acclimatize himself by competing in the Barclay's Scottish Open. Instead, he signed up for the John Deere Classic.
 
He played in this tournament a year ago. And that, combined with a delay in his flight, meant he didnt get to Troon until Tuesday morning, where he only got in seven practice holes upon his arrival. He played a full 18 on Wednesday, but it hardly seemed the ideal preparation for a major championship.
 
I didnt play terribly, he said of his 25 holes of preparation. I took good notes, kind of formed a game plan from those two days. And, lo and behold, I end up winning.
 
Hamilton is not a man of superstition; hes just one who feels an obligation to his loved ones. Thats why he repeated his John Deere-to-Open Championship routine again this year.
 
Ive got a lot of friends and family around the Quad Cities, who if I didnt play might not get a chance to see me play golf, he explained. Having spent five years on the Asian Tour and 12 years in Japan, not too many of my family and friends got to see me play.
 
Jetlag should have no effect on Hamilton once he again arrives in Scotland: Having played 12 years in Japan, I could sleep on the benches behind the range, he joked.
 
But he knows this years tournament will be a far cry from its predecessor. This time hes the defending champion. And there will be plenty of demands on his time.
 
I know theres a champions dinner that I have to go to. Im sure there will be a number of media requests. And Ill probably have to wake up a little bit earlier than Id like to, to get my practice in, he said.
 
I might sit down and ask Mr. Curtis ' Ben Curtis ' a few questions and see what he has to say that he had to deal with.
 
Curtiss advice: Just enjoy it. Have fun. You may never get this chance again.
 
Soon, Todd Hamilton may well be referred to as former Open champion. And if that happens, its cool. But if not, if something crazy happens again, Hamilton, a globetrotter-turned-Champion Golfer of the Year, will welcome it as well.
 
Ive told everyone: I hate the interviews and things like that, he said. But Id love to deal with that junk all over again.
 
Email your thoughts to Mercer Baggs
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Open Championship
  • Battling mono, Kaufman tied for lead at CME

    By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 2:05 am

    NAPLES, Fla. – Kim Kaufman’s bout with mononucleosis might leave fellow tour pros wanting to catch the fever, too.

    A couple months after Anna Nordqvist battled her way into contention at the Women’s British Open playing with mono, and then thrived at the Solheim Cup with it, Kaufman is following suit.

    In her first start since being diagnosed, Kaufman posted an 8-under-par 64 Saturday to move into a four-way tie for the lead at the CME Group Tour Championship. It was the low round of the day. She’s bidding to win her first LPGA title.

    “I’ve been resting at home for two weeks,” Kaufman said. “Didn’t do anything.”

    Well, she did slip on a flight of stairs while recuperating, hurting her left wrist. She had it wrapped Saturday but said that’s mostly precautionary. It didn’t bother her during the round.


    CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship


    “I’m the only person who can take two weeks off and get injured,” Kaufman joked.

    Kaufman, 26, left the Asian swing after playing the Sime Darby Malaysia, returning to her home in South Dakota, to see her doctor there. She is from Clark. She was told bed rest was the best thing for her, but she felt good enough to make the trip to Florida for the season-ending event.

    “We had some really cold days,” Kaufman said. “We had some snow. I was done with it. I was coming down here.”

    How does she feel?

    “I feel great,” she said. “I’m a little bit shaky, which isn’t great out there, but it’s great to be here doing something. I was going a little bit stir crazy [at home], just kind of fighting through it.”

    Kaufman made eight birdies in her bogey-free round.

    New-look Wie eyes CME Group Tour Championship title

    By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 1:32 am

    NAPLES, Fla. – Michelle Wie is sporting a new look that even has fellow players doing double takes.

    Bored during her six-week recovery from an emergency appendectomy late this summer, Wie decided to cut and die her hair.

    She went for golden locks, and a shorter style.

    “I kind of went crazy after being in bed that long,” Wie said. “I just told my mom to grab the kitchen scissors and just cut all my hair off.”

    Wie will get to sport her new look on a big stage Sunday after playing herself into a four-way tie for the lead at the CME Group Tour Championship. With a 6-under-par 66, she is in contention to win her fifth LPGA title, her first since winning the U.S. Women’s Open three years ago.


    CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship


    Wie, 28, fought her way back this year after two of the most disappointing years of her career. Her rebound, however, was derailed in late August, when she withdrew from the final round of the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open to undergo an emergency appendectomy. She was out for six weeks.

    Before the surgery, Wie enjoyed getting back into contention regularly, with six finishes of T-4 or better this season. She returned to the tour on the Asian swing in October.

    Fellow tour pros were surprised when she came back with the new look.

    “Definitely, walk by people and they didn’t recognize me,” Wie said.

    Wie is looking to continue to build on her resurgence.

    “I gained a lot of confidence this year,” she said. “I had a really tough year last year, the last couple years. Just really feeling like my old self. Really feeling comfortable out there and having fun, and that's when I play my best.”

    You Oughta Know: LPGA's Sunday scenarios

    By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 1:17 am

    NAPLES, Fla. – The CME Group Tour Championship is loaded with pressure-packed subplots Sunday at Tiburon Golf Club.

    Here’s what You Oughta Know about the prizes at stake:

    Race to the CME Globe

    Lexi Thompson and Sung Hyun Park are 1-2 in CME Globe points. They are best positioned Sunday to take home the $1 million jackpot in the season-long competition.

    Thompson and Park are tied for fifth in the tournament, one shot off the lead. If either of them wins, she will take home the jackpot.

    The way it’s unfolding Thompson is a good bet to take home the jackpot by merely finishing ahead of Park, unless they both stumble badly on Sunday.

    Ariya Jutanugarn is also one shot off the lead. She must win to take home the jackpot, but she would also need Thompson to finish ninth or worse and Park to finish eighth or worse and nobody else among the top 12 in points to make a bold Sunday charge.

    Stacy Lewis is one shot off the lead with a longshot chance at the jackpot. She must win the tournament while Thompson finishes 26th or worse, Park finishes 12th or worse and nobody else among the top 12 in points makes a bold Sunday charge.

    So Yeon Ryu and Shanshan Feng are among others who still have a shot at the $1 million prize, but they have fallen back in the pack and need bold Sunday charges to take home the jackpot.

    Rolex Player of the Year

    The Rolex Player of the Year Award remains a four-player race.

    Ryu (162), Feng (159), Park (157) and Thompson (147) all have a chance to win the award.

    Park and Thompson are best positioned to make Sunday moves to overtake Ryu.

    Park needs to finish sixth or better to win the award outright; Thompson needs to win the tournament to win the award.

    It’s simple math.

    The top 10 in the tournament will be awarded points.

    1st - 30 points

    2nd – 12 points

    3rd – 9 points

    4th – 7 points

    5th – 6 points

    6th – 5 points

    7rd – 4 points

    8th – 3 points

    9th – 2 points

    10th – 1 point

    Vare Trophy

    Thompson took a 69.147 scoring average to Naples. Park needs to finish nine shots ahead of Thompson to have a shot at the trophy.

    Money-winning title

    Park leads the tour in money winnings with $2,262,472. Ryu is the only player who can pass her Sunday, and Ryu must win the tournament to do so. Ryu is tied for 32nd, five shots off the lead. If Ryu wins the tournament, she also needs Park to finish worse than solo second.

    Rolex world No. 1 ranking

    World No. 1 Feng, No. 2 Park and No. 3 Ryu are separated by just three hundredths of a point.

    Because they are so close, the scenarios for overtaking Feng are head spinning.

    At No. 4, Thompson is a full average ranking point behind Feng, but she could become the sixth different player this season to move to No. 1. Thompson, however, has to win Sunday to have a chance to do so, and then it will depend on what Feng, Park and Ryu do. Again, the scenarios are complex.

    Cook leads RSM Classic by three at Sea Island

    By Associated PressNovember 19, 2017, 12:28 am

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. - PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook shot a 4-under 66 on Saturday to increase his lead to three strokes in the RSM Classic.

    Cook, a shot ahead after a second-round 62, had five birdies and a bogey - his first of the week - to reach 18-under 194 with a round left at Sea Island Golf Club's Seaside Course.

    ''Putting is key right now,'' Cook said. ''Been able to make a lot of clutch putts for the pars to save no bogeys. Hitting the ball pretty much where we're looking and giving ourselves good opportunities on every hole.''

    Former University of Georgia player Chris Kirk was second after a 64.

    ''I'm really comfortable here,'' Kirk said. ''I love Sea Island. I lived here for 6 1/2 years, so I played the golf course a lot, SEC Championships and come down here for the RSM Classic. My family and I, we come down here a few other times a year as well.''

    Brian Gay was another stroke back at 14 under after a 69.

    ''I love the course,'' Gay said. ''We keep getting different wind directions so it's keeping us on our toes. Supposed to be another completely different wind direction tomorrow, so we're getting a new course every day.''


    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


    J.J. Spaun had a 62 to get to 13 under.

    ''I just kind of played stress-free golf out there and kept the golf ball in front of me,'' Spaun said. ''I had a lot of looks and scrambled pretty well, even though it was only a handful of times, but pretty overall pleased with how I played today.''

    Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. The 26-year-old former Arkansas player earned his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour.

    ''I think with an extra year on the Web this past year, I really grew mentally and with my game, just kind of more confidence,'' Cook said. ''I was able to put myself in contention on the Web.com more this year than I have in the past. I think I've just, you know, learned from experiences on the Web to help me grow out here.''

    He planned to keep it simple Saturday night.

    ''I've got my parents here and my in-laws are both here as well as my wife,'' Cook said. ''Go home and just have a good home-cooked meal and just kind of enjoy the time and embrace the moment.''

    Kirk won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2015 at Colonial.

    ''It's nice to be back in contention again,'' Kirk said. ''It's been a little while for me. But I felt great out there today, I felt really comfortable, and so hopefully it will be the same way tomorrow and I'll keep my foot on the pedal and stay aggressive, try to make some birdies.''