Bunker Shots

By Randall MellApril 20, 2009, 4:00 pm
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Now thats how you close
A week after watching the worlds greatest players take turns botching their endings to the Masters, Brian Gay put on a clinic on how to close with his 7-under-par 64 at the PGA Tours Verizon Heritage. No ricochets off trees at the end, no skulled chip shots racing across greens, no wayward short irons from point blank range. Of course, closing out a regular PGA Tour event isnt the same as closing out a major championship, but Gays tidy finish at Harbour Town was still impressive because theres typically more choking than winning on any given PGA Tour Sunday.
The Tours heading to the Zurich Classic of New Orleans this week, where we saw the biggest choking dog ever a year ago. Thats what Woody Austin called himself after topping a hybrid and then pushing a shot in the water in a nervous ending to the tournament Andres Romero won. Austins colorful language reminded us that while one man may win a PGA Tour event, you can usually bank on more than one counting the ways he blew a chance to win. The rarity of Gays 10-shot victory is that he left no one close enough to choke away a chance.

The Price is finally right
Well, you cant accuse Nick Price of a tidy finish, but it was even more entertaining than Gays. Three times on Sunday Price looked like he was choking away his first Champions Tour victory. Thats how many double bogeys he made in the final round of the Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am before finally claiming his first over-50 title in 39 Champions Tour tries. Price, who made seven final-round birdies and still only shot even par, said he was absolutely dumbfounded by his round. The beauty of the Champions Tour is that if Price never won on the tour his reputation wouldnt be diminished. Before Sunday, you couldnt really call him the best player never to win a Champions Tour event because its a silly title, given the nature of the tour and the fact that the best players have already proven themselves. Still, the silly title belongs to Mark OMeara now, doesnt it? Or possibly Greg Norman, if he starts playing enough to qualify for such silly status.

The Clown Prince of Golf gets his laughs anyway
Gayle DiMaggio paid a higher price than most customers to be entertained by Bill Murray. Shes the woman who got clunked in the temple by Murrays errant tee shot as she watched Saturdays second round of the Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am from her backyard. She ended up needing a trip to the hospital and some stitches, but not before Murray tended to her. She told the Associated Press he made sure she was OK before trying to ease her pain with his trademark funny-man routine. All she wanted for her duress was an autographed copy of Murrays film Caddyshack. The scar she gets to show all her friends is a bonus. So is the story she gets to tell.

Speaking of wounds . . .
Kenny Perry makes his return to golf this week at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans with lots of folks sure to watch for signs of lingering emotional injury from his disappointing Masters loss. It almost seems unfair that Perry should carry another major championship disappointment into the final phase of his PGA Tour career. His stellar play helping the United States win the Ryder Cup at Valhalla in his home state of Kentucky last fall seemed a satisfying conclusion to a career that had been haunted by memories of his PGA Championship failure at the same Valhalla course so many years ago. The Ryder Cup victory made him seem healed and whole, but now theres this other major memory sure to haunt him. At 48, Perry doesnt have a lot of time to trump the Masters memory with something larger again, but it will be a terrific story if he does. His play in New Orleans will tell us a lot about whether hes resigned to fade away or determined to mount one more summer charge with the U.S. Open at Bethpage less than two months away.

Waiting on Tiger and Lefty
With Perry the highest ranked player in the Zurich Classic field at No. 5 in the world rankings, and just one of three players in the top 20, theres a bigger PGA Tour event set to unfold Friday. Thats the commitment deadline for the Quail Hollow Championship (formerly the Wachovia Championship). Will Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson commit to play in the Quail Hollow? Will we get to see a reprise of their Sunday Masters face off in Charlotte, N.C., next week? If Woods and Mickelson dont commit, well have to wait another week to see them both at The Players Championship (May 7-10). After Perry, the only other top-20 players in the Zurich Classic field are Steve Stricker (No. 12) and Mike Weir (No. 20).

New Orleans gets another spicy ingredient
Danny Lee may rank just 148th in the world, but the U.S. Amateur champions professional debut will garner plenty of attention when he tees it up at the Zurich Classic this week. Lee, 18, missed the cut at the Masters last week, but he showed hes more than ready to win as a pro when he claimed the Johnnie Walker Classic in February, becoming the youngest player, and just the second amateur, to win on the European Tour. Lee didnt exactly whip a bunch of nobodies there. He beat a Johnnie Walker field that included Paul Casey and Lee Westwood. Whether Lees ready to contend on the PGA Tour, though, may depend as much on his speech patterns as his ball flight. He told reporters at the Masters that when he gets really nervous, I cant talk properly. Birdies have a way of loosening up the tongue, so look for Lee to try to make a lot of them this week.

Ochoa back on her turf
Mexicos Lorena Ochoa will be looking to re-establish her dominance and win for the third time in her homeland as an LPGA player when the tour returns to action this week at the Corona Championship at Tres Marias Residential Country Club in Morelia, Mexico. After two weeks off, the LPGA features a good field with Brittany Lincicome teeing it up after winning the Kraft Nabisco Championship, her first major. Cristie Kerr and Kristy McPherson, who got beat by a shot when Lincicome made eagle at the 72nd hole, also are playing, as is Paula Creamer, Suzann Pettersen, Morgan Pressel, Juli Inkster and Michelle Wie. American golfs on the upswing, Kerr said after the 1-2-3 American finish at the Kraft Nabisco. Look for Lincicome and McPherson to build on what theyve started this year with both highly motivated to make the U.S. Solheim Cup team.

Wies globe-trotting disappointment
Michelle Wie has gone halfway around the world and back this month in search of her lost form. She finished tied for 36th at the Korea LPGAs Lotte Mart Womens Open last week, posting rounds of 77, 75 and 71 to finish 7 over. It wasnt much of a rebound from her struggles at the Kraft Nabisco, where her rounds included a pair of 81s while tying for 67th. Wie made some news before the Korean event even began, withdrawing from the pro-am after she was informed she couldnt use her own caddie. According to foreign news reports, its KLPGA custom to exclude regular caddies from the pro-am so as to encourage better interaction between pros and amateur partners. Wie offered a no comment to the Korea Times when asked about the withdrawal. Whatever Wies rationale, its hard to imagine a scenario where passing up a pro-am doesnt, at minimum, disappoint sponsors and fans, the lifeblood of an event.

Wadkins waits for official elevation to legend
Greg Norman is scheduled to team with Keith Fergus in his first Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf appearance at the Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort & Spa in Georgia this week, but he wont be the biggest news there. The PGA Tour is expected to announce on Thursday that Lanny Wadkins will be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame, according to Golfweek. Jose Maria Olazabal is expected to be announced later, possibly at The Players Championship, as joining Wadkins for the November induction. Wadkins will team with his brother, Bobby, in the Legends two-man team event. At 59, the Wadkins induction is a welcomed case of better-late-than-never news. The 1970 U.S. Amateur champion and 77 PGA Championship winner won 21 PGA Tour events, more than current Hall of Famers Ben Crenshaw, Hale Irwin, Hubert Green and Tom Kite.

Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017

By Grill Room TeamNovember 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.

Tributes pour in for legendary caddie Sheridan

By Randall MellNovember 23, 2017, 2:54 pm

Tributes are pouring in as golf celebrates the life of Greg Sheridan after receiving news of his passing.

Sheridan, a long-time LPGA caddie who worked for some of the game’s all-time greats, including Kathy Whitworth and Beth Daniel, died Wednesday in Indian Rocks Beach, Fla., at 63. He was diagnosed in July 2016 with brain and lung cancer.

Sheridan worked the last dozen years or so with Natalie Gulbis, who expressed her grief in an Instagram post on Wednesday:

“Greg…I miss you so much already and it hasn’t even been a day. 15+ seasons traveling the world you carried me & my bag through the highs and lows of golf and life. You were so much more than my teammate on the course…Thank you.”

Sheridan was on Whitworth’s bag for the last of her LPGA-record 88 titles.

“When I first came on tour, I would try to find out how many times Greg won,” Gulbis told Golfweek. “It’s a crazy number, like 50.”

Matthew Galloway, a caddie and friend to Sheridan, summed up Sheridan’s impressive reach after caddying with him one year at the LPGA Founders Cup, where the game’s pioneers are honored.

“Best Greg story,” Galloway tweeted on Thanksgiving morning, “coming up 18 at PHX all the founders were in their chairs. Greg goes, `Yep, caddied for her, her and her.’ Legend.”

In a first-person column for Golf Magazine last year, Gulbis focused on Sheridan while writing about the special bond between players and caddies. She wrote that she won the “looper lottery” when she first hired Sheridan in ’04.

“Greg and I have traveled the world, and today he is like family,” Gulbis wrote. “Sometimes, he’s a psychologist. Last year, my mom got sick and it was a distraction, but he was great. When I used to have boyfriend issues and breakup issues, he was my confidant. In a world where caddies sometimes spill secrets, Greg has kept a respectful silence, and I can’t thank him enough for that. He’s an extension of me.”

Four months after Gulbis wrote the column, Sheridan was diagnosed with cancer.

“The LPGA family is saddened to hear of the loss of long-time tour caddie, Greg Sheridan,” the LPGA tweeted. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and players he walked with down the fairways. #RIP.”

Dean Herden was among the legion of caddies saddened by the news.

“Greg was a great guy who I respected a lot and taught me some great things over the years,” Herden texted to GolfChannel.com.

Here are some of heartfelt messages that are rolling across Twitter:

Retired LPGA great Annika Sorenstam:

LPGA commissioner Mike Whan in a retweet of Gulbis:

Golf Channel reporter and former tour player Jerry Foltz:

Christina Kim:

LPGA caddie Shaun Clews:

LPGA caddie Jonny Scott:

LPGA caddie Kevin Casas:

LPGA pro Jennie Lee:

Fitzpatrick one back in 2018 Euro Tour opener

By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 1:37 pm

HONG KONG – S.S.P. Chawrasia had six birdies and a bogey Thursday for a 5-under 65 and a one-stroke lead at the Hong Kong Open, the first event of the 2018 European Tour season.

Playing in sunny but breezy conditions at the Hong Kong Golf Club, the greens had the players struggling to gauge the approach.

''Very tough conditions today,'' Chawrasia said. ''It's very firm greens, to be honest. I'm just trying to hit the second shot on the green and trying to make it like a two-putt.''

Full-field scores from the UBS Hong Kong Open

Shubhankar Sharma and Matthew Fitzpatrick (both 66) were one shot behind, while seven others were tied for fourth a further stroke behind.

''Hit it great tee to green,'' Fitzpatrick said. ''I think I had like seven or eight chances inside 15 feet, and on a day like today when it's so windy and such a tough golf course, with how tight it is, yeah, it was a good day.''

Justin Rose, who won the title in 2015, shot was 2 under with five birdies and three bogeys.

''I think the course played a couple shots harder than it typically does,'' Rose said. ''I like this course. I think it offers plenty of birdie opportunities.''

Masters champion Sergio GarciaRafa Cabrera Bello and defending champion Sam Brazel (69) were in a group of 16 at 1 under.

Day, Spieth chasing Davis after Day 1 of Aussie Open

By Jason CrookNovember 23, 2017, 6:50 am

The PGA Tour is off this week but a couple of the circuit’s biggest stars – Jordan Spieth and Jason Day – are headlining the Emirates Australian Open, the first event in The Open Qualifying Series for the 2018 Open at Carnoustie. Here's how things look after the opening round, where Cameron Davis has opened up a two-shot lead:

Leaderboard: Davis (-8), Taylor MacDonald (-6), Nick Cullen (-5), Day (-5), Brian Campbell (-4), Lucas Herbert (-4), Stephen Leaney (-4), Anthony Quayle (-4)

What it means: Spieth has won this event three of the last four years, including last year, but he got off to a rocky start on Thursday. Playing in the windy afternoon wave, the world No. 2 bogeyed his first two holes but rebounded with birdies on Nos. 4 and 5. It was more of the same the rest of the way as the 24-year-old carded three more bogeys and four birdies, getting into the clubhouse with a 1-under 70. While it certainly wasn't the start he was hoping for, Spieth didn't shoot himself out of the tournament with 54 holes left to play, he has plenty of time to claw his way up the leaderboard.

Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open

Round of the day: With Round 1 in the books, the solo leader, Davis, is the easy pick here. The 22-year-old Aussie who turned pro last year, came out of the gates on fire, birdieing six of his first seven holes, including four in a row on Nos. 4 through 7. He did drop a shot on the ninth hole to go out in 30 but rebounded with three more birdies on the back to card a 8-under 63. Davis, who was born in Sydney and played this year on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada. He will attempt to get his Web.com Tour card next month during qualifying in Arizona.

Best of the rest: Making his first start in his home country in four years, Day started on the 10th hole at The Australian Golf Club and made four birdies to one bogey on the back side before adding four more circles after making the turn. Unfortunately for the 30-year-old, he also added an ugly double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole and had to settle for a 5-under 66, good enough to sit T-3. Day, who has dropped to No. 12 in the world rankings, is looking for his first win on any tour since the 2016 Players Championship.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Can the upstart 22-year-old Davis hold off the star power chasing him or will he fold to the pressure of major champions in his rearview mirror? Day (afternoon) and Spieth (morning) are once again on opposite ends of the draw on Friday as they try to improve their position before the weekend.

Shot of the day: It’s tough to beat an ace in this category, and we had one of those on Thursday from Australian Brad Shilton. Shilton’s hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole came with a special prize, a $16k watch.

Quote of the day: “Just two bad holes. Pretty much just two bad swings for the day,” – Day, after his 66 on Thursday.