Keeping Something in the Cupboard

By Mercer BaggsNovember 18, 2004, 5:00 pm
2004 UBS CupKIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. -- It was a planned event, but it caught most onlookers by surprise. It even startled some of the players.
As the sun ascended over the Atlantic Ocean on a chilly Wednesday morning, fireworks decorated the sky over the Kiawah Island marshlands. It was a brilliant display ' more visually amazing than any high-priced 4th of July production, and it was loud ' really loud. It almost seemed out of place for such a low-key event.
The explosions concluded the Opening Ceremony of the fourth-annual UBS Cup. Afterwards, players for each team posed for pictures, chatted with one another, signed some autographs and joked around with members of the Citadels Summerall Guard, who led the precession, before heading off for a pro-am.
This is not the Ryder Cup, said recent Hall of Fame inductee Tom Kite.

And no one really wants it to be such.
The UBS Cup is two teams of 12, men in their 40s and beyond ' many of whom have Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup experience, competing against one another for the sake of competition. There wont be any gamesmanship, no second-guessing of captains, no negative residuals. The tension will be minimal, the smiles at a premium.
This competition will be played in the true spirit of the game, with respect, pride and camaraderie, said Gary Player.
Player is the captain of the Rest of the World team. He was the ROW foreman the first two years and gave way to Tony Jacklin a year ago so that he could focus on captaining the International team in the Presidents Cup, which was contested in his native South Africa.
His counterpart on the American side is once again Arnold Palmer.
Palmer has led the U.S. side in each of the first three editions. He was victorious in the first two and retained the Cup with a 12-12 tie a year ago at Sea Island. In fact, Palmer is undefeated as a team captain, having gone 2-0-0 as a Ryder Cup captain and 1-0-0 as the Presidents Cup leader.
Thats puts a bit of pressure on us, said Jay Haas, who is making his first UBS appearance. We want to keep the Cup in American hands, and keep (Palmers) winning streak alive.
More than that is on the line this week. Should the U.S. lose, their Cupboard will be almost bare.
The Europeans hold the Ryder Cup and the Solheim Cup ' and even the Palmer Cup; Great Britain & Ireland has the Walker Cup; and the U.S. and International teams currently share the Presidents Cup.
On paper, the U.S. is the heavily favored team ' sound familiar? Playing captain Palmer will trot out Fred Couples, Fred Funk, Curtis Strange, Scott Hoch, Hal Sutton, Raymond Floyd, Jay Haas, Hale Irwin, Kite, Tom Watson and Craig Stadler.
Their 12 men have accounted for a staggering 333 victories on the PGA and Champions tours, including 28 regular tour majors.
Of course, that doesnt really bother ROW team member Bernhard Langer, who captained the Europeans to an upset win on American soil at the most recent Ryder Cup.
They are looking strong on paper again, but the good thing is we dont play on paper, he said. We still have a chance out there.
The ROW team is not comprised of a bunch of slouches. They have combined to win 14 major championships and nearly 400 times around the world.
Their team consists of playing captain Player, Colin Montgomerie, Bernhard Langer, Barry Lane, Ian Woosnam, Sandy Lyle, John Chillas, Rodger Davis, Carl Mason, Mark McNulty, Peter Senior and Sam Torrance.
This is a wonderful event, said Langer. You have the age group and the people playing that spectators can really relate to. A lot of the spectators on TV, I would guess, would be between the age of 40 and 70, and thats the age group we have out here. They have been following these players for 20 to 40 years and they can really relate to them.
The UBS Cup features six players ages 40-49 and six 50 and over. The U.S., however, has seven players this year in the latter age division. Thats because Watson replaced Mark OMeara last week when OMeara pulled out with a wrist injury.
Watson is a fitting replacement. Not only has he competed in each of the first three competitions, he designed this weeks host venue, the Cassique Course.
Watson was originally on the team, but told tournament organizers that he would be unable to compete due to off-season surgery on his arthritic shoulder and hip. But when he opted against surgery, he asked for a reprieve, which was granted when OMeara had to back out.
As for his health, Watson said he is feeling about as good as a 55-year-old man with a bad body parts can feel.
I tried (cortisone shots) for about two weeks and now the hip is back to normal again, he said. Advil works and Vioxx really worked ' but I dont take Vioxx anymore.
The shoulder is another issue as far as the mechanical part of my shoulder. I had other issues this summer with a nerve problem in my neck which caused a weakening of my right arm. Thats gone away. Who knows, that might return. Its just like a car that has a couple hundred-thousand miles on it. Theres parts that are going to be breaking down all the time.
This is the second time that Kiawah Island has hosted the tournament. It first did so in 2001 on the Ocean Course.
This time the spotlight shines on Cassique, a 6,960-yard, par-72 links-style design. Inaugurated in 2000, the venue is replete with undulating dune land terrain, stacked sod pot bunkers, and large, rolling greens, as well as patches of live oak trees and tidal marshes.
The low dunes along Captain Sams Inlet separate the course from the Atlantic, meaning the players will have to navigate the wind to be successful ' if Mother Nature makes a prominent presence.
With the weather the way it is right now, with the way its projected to be with very little wind, youre going to see a lot of birdies made and there will be a lot of people under par. Its going to be a real sprint, you might say, out there, Watson predicted.
The format is match play. There will be six foursomes (alternate shot) matches Friday and six four-ball (better ball) matches Saturday, with 12 singles matches on Sunday.
The U.S. needs 12 points to retain the Cup, while the ROW needs 12 points to win for the first time.
The purse is $3,000,000. Each player on the winning team will pocket $150,000 per player. The losing side will net $100,000.
The U.S. won the inaugural UBS Cup, 12 -11 , on the Ocean Course in 2001. They repeated, 14 -9 , at Sea Island in 2002. And last year ended in a 12-12 tie, with the Americans keeping the Cup.
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    Mickelson grouped with Z. Johnson at CareerBuilder

    By Will GrayJanuary 16, 2018, 8:28 pm

    He's not the highest-ranked player in this week's field, but Phil Mickelson will likely draw the biggest crowd at the CareerBuilder Challenge as he makes his first start of 2018. Here are a few early-round, marquee groupings to watch as players battle the three-course rotation in the Californian desert (all times ET):

    12:10 p.m. Thursday, 11:40 a.m. Friday, 1:20 p.m. Saturday: Phil Mickelson, Zach Johnson

    Mickelson is making his fourth straight trip to Palm Springs, having cracked the top 25 each of the last three times. In addition to their respective amateur partners, he'll play the first three rounds alongside a fellow Masters champ in Johnson, who tied for 14th last week in Hawaii and finished third in this event in 2014.

    11:40 a.m. Thursday, 1:20 p.m. Friday, 12:50 p.m. Saturday: Jon Rahm, Bubba Watson

    At No. 3 in the world, Rahm is the highest-ranked player teeing it up this week and the Spaniard returns to an event where he finished T-34 last year in his tournament debut. He'll play the first two rounds alongside Watson, who is looking to bounce back from a difficult 2016-17 season and failed to crack the top 50 in two starts in the fall.

    11:40 a.m. Thursday, 1:20 p.m. Friday, 12:50 p.m. Saturday: Patrick Reed, Brandt Snedeker

    Reed made the first big splash of his career at this event in 2014, shooting three straight rounds of 63 en route to his maiden victory. He'll be joined by Snedeker, whose bid for a Masters bid via the top 50 of the world rankings came up short last month and who hasn't played this event since a missed cut in 2015.

    1:10 p.m. Thursday, 12:40 p.m. Friday, 12:10 p.m. Saturday: Patton Kizzire, Bill Haas

    Kizzire heads east after a whirlwind Sunday ended with his second win of the season in a six-hole playoff over James Hahn in Honolulu. He'll play alongside Haas, who won this event in both 2010 and 2015 to go with a runner-up finish in 2011 and remains the tournament's all-time leading money winner.

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    Mackay still a caddie at heart, even with a microphone

    By Doug FergusonJanuary 16, 2018, 7:34 pm

    HONOLULU – All it took was one week back on the bag to remind Jim ''Bones'' Mackay what he always loved about being a caddie.

    It just wasn't enough for this to be the ultimate mic drop.

    Mackay traded in his TV microphone at the Sony Open for the 40-pound bag belonging to Justin Thomas.

    It was his first time caddying since he split with Phil Mickelson six months ago. Mackay was only a temporary replacement at Waialae for Jimmy Johnson, a good friend and Thomas' regular caddie who has a nasty case of plantar fasciitis that will keep him in a walking boot for the next month.

    ''The toughest thing about not caddying is missing the competition, not having a dog in the fight,'' Mackay said before the final round. ''There's nothing more rewarding as a caddie, in general terms, when you say, 'I don't like 6-iron, I like 7,' and being right. I miss that part of it.''

    The reward now?

    ''Not stumbling over my words,'' he said. ''And being better than I was the previous week.''

    He has done remarkably well since he started his new job at the British Open last summer, except for that time he momentarily forgot his role. Parts of that famous caddie adage – ''Show up, keep up, shut up'' – apparently can apply to golf analysts on the ground.

    During the early hours of the telecast, before Johnny Miller came on, Justin Leonard was in the booth.

    ''It's my job to report on what I see. It's not my job to ask questions,'' Mackay said. ''I forgot that for a minute.''

    Leonard was part of a booth discussion on how a comfortable pairing can help players trying to win a major. That prompted Mackay to ask Leonard if he found it helpful at the 1997 British Open when he was trying to win his first major and was paired with Fred Couples in the final round at Royal Troon.

    ''What I didn't know is we were going to commercial in six seconds,'' Mackay said. ''I would have no way of knowing that, but I completely hung Justin out to dry. He's now got four seconds to answer my long-winded question.''

    During the commercial break, the next voice Mackay heard belonged to Tommy Roy, the executive golf producer at NBC.

    ''Bones, don't ever do that again.''

    It was Roy who recognized the value experienced caddies could bring to a telecast. That's why he invited Mackay and John Wood, the caddie for Matt Kuchar, into the control room at the 2015 Houston Open so they could see how it all worked and how uncomfortable it can be to hear directions coming through an earpiece.

    Both worked as on-course reporters at Sea Island that fall.

    And when Mickelson and Mackay parted ways after 25 years, Roy scooped up the longtime caddie for TV.

    It's common for players to move into broadcasting. Far more unusual is for a caddie to be part of the mix. Mackay loves his new job. Mostly, he loves how it has helped elevate his profession after so many years of caddies being looked upon more unfavorably than they are now.

    ''I want to be a caddie that's doing TV,'' he said. ''That's what I hope to come across as. The guys think this is good for caddies. And if it's good for caddies, that makes me happy. Because I'm a caddie. I'll always be a caddie.''

    Not next week at Torrey Pines, where Mickelson won three times. Not a week later in Phoenix, where Mackay lives. Both events belong to CBS.

    And not the Masters.

    He hasn't missed Augusta since 1994, when Mickelson broke his leg skiing that winter.

    ''That killed me,'' he said, ''but not nearly as much as it's going to kill me this year. I'll wake up on Thursday of the Masters and I'll be really grumpy. I'll probably avoid television at all costs until the 10th tee Sunday. And I'll watch. But it will be, within reason, the hardest day of my life.''

    There are too many memories, dating to when he was in the gallery right of the 11th green in 1987 when Larry Mize chipped in to beat Greg Norman. He caddied for Mize for two years, and then Scott Simpson in 1992, and Mickelson the rest of the way. He was on the bag for Lefty's three green jackets.

    Mackay still doesn't talk much about what led them to part ways, except to say that a player-caddie relationship runs its course.

    ''If you lose that positive dynamic, there's no point in continuing,'' he said. ''It can be gone in six months or a year or five years. In our case, it took 25 years.''

    He says a dozen or so players called when they split up, and the phone call most intriguing was from Roy at NBC.

    ''I thought I'd caddie until I dropped,'' Mackay said.

    He never imagined getting yardages and lining up putts for anyone except the golfer whose bag he was carrying. Now it's for an audience that measures in the millions. Mackay doesn't look at it as a second career. And he won't rule out caddying again.

    ''It will always be tempting,'' he said. ''I'll always consider myself a caddie. Right now, I'm very lucky and grateful to have the job I do.''

    Except for that first week in April.

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    The Social: The end was nigh, then it wasn't

    By Jason CrookJanuary 16, 2018, 7:00 pm

    The star power at the Sony Open may have been overshadowed by a missile scare, but there were plenty of other social media stories that kept the golf world on its toes this week, including some insight on Tiger Woods from a round with President Obama and some failed trick shots.

    All that and more in this week's edition of The Social.

    By now you've undoubtedly heard about the false alarm in Hawaii on Saturday, where just about everyone, including most Sony Open participants, woke up to an emergency cell phone alert that there was a ballistic missile heading toward the islands.

    Hawaiian emergency management officials eventually admitted the original message was mistakenly sent out, but before they did, people (understandably) freaked out.

    As the situation unfolded, some Tour pros took to social media to express their confusion and to let the Twittersphere know how they planned on riding out this threat:

    While I would've been in that bathtub under the mattress with John Peterson, his wife, baby and in-laws (wait, how big is this tub?), here's how Justin Thomas reacted to the threat of impending doom:

    Yeah, you heard that right.

    “I was like ‘there’s nothing I can do,'” Thomas said. ”I sat on my couch and opened up the sliding door and watched TV and listened to music. I was like, if it’s my time, it’s my time.”

    Hmmm ... can we just go ahead and award him all the 2018 majors right now? Because if Thomas is staring down death in mid-January, you gotta like the kid's chances on the back nine Sunday at Augusta and beyond.

    Before the Hawaiian Missile Crisis of 2018, things were going about as well as they could at Waialae Country Club, starting with the Wednesday pro-am.

    Jordan Spieth might have been the third-biggest star in his own group, after getting paired with superstar singer/songwriter/actor Nick Jonas and model/actress Kelly Rohrbach.

    You'd be hard-pressed to find a more photogenic group out on the course, and the "Baywatch" star has a gorgeous swing as well, which makes sense, considering she was a former collegiate golfer at Georgetown.

    As impressive as that group was, they were somehow outshined by an amateur in another group, former NFL coach June Jones.

    Jones, who now coaches the CFL's Hamilton Tiger-Cats, played his round in bare feet and putted with his 5-iron, a remedy he came up with to battle the yips.

    Former NFL and current CFL coach June Jones: A master of 5-iron putting?

    A post shared by PGA TOUR (@pgatour) on

    Considering he made back-to-back birdies at one point during the day, it's safe to say he's won that battle.

    With Tiger Woods' return to the PGA Tour about a week away, that sound you hear is the hype train motoring full speed down the tracks.

    First, his ex-girlfriend Lindsey Vonn told Sports Illustrated that she hopes this comeback works out for him.

    “I loved him and we’re still friends. Sometimes, I wish he would have listened to me a little more, but he’s very stubborn and he likes to go his own way," the Olympic skiier said. "I hope this latest comeback sticks. I hope he goes back to winning tournaments.”

    Vonn also mentioned she thinks Woods is very stubborn and that he didn't listen to her enough. That really shouldn't shock anyone who watched him win the 2008 U.S. Open on one leg. Don't think there were a lot of people in his ear telling him that was a great idea at the time.

    We also have this report from Golf Channel Insider Tim Rosaforte, stating that the 14-time major champ recently played a round with former president Barack Obama at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., where he received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon.

    The Farmers Insurance Open is sure to be must-see TV, but until then, I'm here for all of the rampant speculation and guesses as to how things will go. The more takes the better. Make them extra spicy, please and thanks.

    These poor New Orleans Saints fans. Guess the only thing you can do is throw your 65-inch TV off the balcony and get 'em next year.

    Here's two more just for good measure.

    Farts ... will they ever not be funny?

    Perhaps someday, but that day was not early last week, when Tommy Fleetwood let one rip on his European teammates during EurAsia Cup team photos.

    Fleetwood went 3-0-0 in the event, helping Europe to a victory over Asia, perhaps by distracting his opponents with the aid of his secret weapon.

    Also, how about the diabolical question, "Did you get that?"

    Yeah Tommy, we all got that.

    Ahhh ... golf trick shot videos. You were fun while you lasted.

    But now we’ve officially come to the point in their existence where an unsuccessful attempt is much more entertaining than a properly executed shot, and right on cue, a couple of pros delivered some epic fails.

    We start with Sony Open runner-up James Hahn’s preparation for the event, where for some reason he thought he needed to practice a running, jumping, Happy Gilmore-esque shot from the lip of a bunker. It didn’t exactly work out.

    Not to be outdone, Ladies European Tour pro Carly Booth attempted the juggling-drive-it-out-of-midair shot made famous by the Bryan Bros, and from the looks of things she might have caught it a little close to the hosel.

    PSA to trick-shot artists everywhere: For the sake of the viewing public, if you feel a miss coming on, please make sure the camera is rolling.

    Seriously, though, who cares? Definitely not these guys and gals, who took the time to comment, "who cares?" They definitely do not care.

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    Spieth selected by peers to run for PAC chairman

    By Will GrayJanuary 16, 2018, 6:43 pm

    Jordan Spieth may still be relatively young, but he has gained the confidence of some of the PGA Tour's most seasoned voices.

    Spieth is one of two players selected by the current player directors of the Tour's Policy Board to run for Chairman of the Player Advisory Council (PAC). Spieth will face Billy Hurley III in an election that will end Feb. 13, with the leading vote-getter replacing Davis Love III next year on the Policy Board for a three-year term through 2021.

    Last year's PAC chairman, Johnson Wagner, replaces Jason Bohn as a player director on the Policy Board beginning this year and running through 2020. Other existing player directors include Charley Hoffman (2017-19), Kevin Streelman (2017-19) and Love (2016-18).

    The 16-member PAC advises and consults with the Policy Board and Tour commissioner Jay Monahan on "issues affecting the Tour."

    In addition to Spieth and Hurley, other PAC members for 2018 include Daniel Berger, Paul Casey, Stewart Cink, Chesson Hadley, James Hahn, Zach Johnson, Matt Kuchar, Anirban Lahiri, Geoff Ogilvy, Sam Saunders, Chris Stroud, Justin Thomas, Kyle Thompson and Cameron Tringale.