Emotionally Charged

By Randall MellAugust 13, 2010, 4:34 am

2010 PGA ChampionshipSHEBOYGAN, Wis. – Bubba Watson couldn’t believe all the toys he discovered at the house he’s renting near Whistling Straits.

Just ask his new pal Rickie Fowler.

Watson invited Fowler over Tuesday night to check out all the cool stuff he found in the garage.

“There are three kids that live there,” Watson told Fowler.

There were Razor scooters, skateboards and road bikes.

Watson said he and Fowler were trying out the scooters when five kids came riding by.

“Are you the neighborhood gang?” Watson asked the kids. “Can we join you?”

They did. Watson said they cruised the neighborhood as the two newest and biggest members of the gang.

Bubba Watson
Bubba Watson owns a share of the Day 1 lead at the PGA Championship (Getty Images).
“Then we had an ice cream afterwards,” Watson said.

Watson, 31, took the fun inside the ropes jumping into contention in Thursday’s start of the PGA Championship. He says it’s probably the reason he broke through to win his first PGA Tour event this year and why he’s playing better. He’s playing the game instead of working it.

Six weeks ago, on the Tuesday before the Travelers Championship, Watson said he hit about 10 balls at the start of a practice session when he turned to Teddy Scott, his regular caddie.

“You want to go to the water park?” he asked Scott.

So Watson and Scott made like kids playing hookie and bolted to the park.

“The win just showed me that we're onto something, the right thing,” Watson said. “Let's have fun with our lives, and let's have fun with golf. And that whole week I just never thought about winning.”

Anyone who’s followed Watson knows how quirky he can be, how he can run with a new idea. They know the highs and lows he navigates his life and his game through. He can laugh and cry in the same sentence, just as he did after running atop the leaderboard with a 4-under-par 68 in the first round.

Watson wept in front of media explaining why he was so emotional winning the Travelers. He could barely get out the story, choking back tears as he explained the scare his wife, Angie, went through last winter. He told how he was visiting his father, who’s battling throat cancer, when a doctor told his wife that she may have a brain tumor.

Angie, it turns out, was incorrectly diagnosed. Watson said doctors at Duke University determined she merely had an enlarged pituitary gland, but the memory of the scare Thursday brought back the emotions.

“Hopefully, you don’t all think I’m a sissy,” Watson said as he wiped his eyes. “I do hit the ball a long way.”

Watson, one of the longest hitters on the PGA Tour, laughed at the crack with everyone else.

The highs and lows Watson took the media through telling that story sums up the emotional nature of the man himself, but Watson says he’s working to change that.

Watson’s regular caddie, Teddy Scott, threatened to quit if Watson didn’t get better control of the anger in his game.

“My mental game just went away, went somewhere,” Watson said. “I don't know where it went. Luckily, I found it. But I was mad at every shot. I wasn't happy.

“My big sin in life is that on the golf course I was miserable. My wife was telling me this all the time, but my caddie, my good friend, came to me and said, `You're miserable, you need to find something else to do, or caddie for a little bit and see how hard it really is when your player is this mad.’

“And so it was a slap in the face. When one of your best friends tells that you you're going at life all wrong, it's obvious that you're doing something wrong.”

Watson had fun making six birdies and two bogeys in Thursday’s first round.

Not bad considering he barely got any sleep the night before. His inner child kept him up playing the Angry Birds video games on his iPhone. He said he was too excited about Thursday's start of the PGA Championship to sleep.

“My wife was yelling at me to go to bed,” Watson said. “This morning she knew I was tired. She knew I was, what's the nice word to say? Angry. I wasn't myself this morning when I woke up. So she told me just to eat something and make sure you have enough energy.”

Energy? Ask Spaniard Alvaro Quiros about Watson’s energy.

Paired with Quiros, Watson put on a show. At the 15th, Quiros hit one of those rockets that make him the longest hitter on the European Tour. Watson, though, bombed his drive 5 yards past Quiros.

'At the fifth hole, Bubba hit a sand wedge 135 yards,” said Mark Carens, who stepped in to caddie for Watson this week. “A sand wedge.”

Carens, like everyone else in golf, knew Watson was long, but he marveled seeing it close up. Carens, who regularly caddies for James Driscoll, stepped in this week to replace Scott with Scott taking time off to be with his wife and their newborn baby boy.

At 11th hole, Carens said Watson hit a 380-yard drive that would have gone farther if it hadn’t run into a bunker. Still, Watson, a man of many conflicting qualities, takes pride in that he can play with so much finesse. He loves to shape shots as much as he loves to bomb drives.

At the 16th hole, standing on a downhill lie in stamped down fescue, hit a delicate flop shot from 40 yards to 2 feet to set up his last birdie. It elicited howls from the gallery as loud as any accompanying his monster drives.

At the 17th, Watson hacked out of a gnarly lie on the cliff above Lake Michigan to save par.

Watson’s finesse was there, too, in the nine one-putts that distinguished this round more than any of his big drives.

“This job is fun to me,” Watson said. “If I would have shot 82 today, I wouldn’t have gone home to pout.”

Reporters who have seen Watson wave off interview requests while stomping away after a bad round will wonder about that, but Watson says he’s more determined to leave his bad shots behind.

Why go home and brood when there’s a neighborhood gang waiting for you with scooters, skateboards or bikes.

Major championships aren't supposed to be fun, but Watson will be aiming to change that this week.

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Lesson with Woods fetches $210K for Harvey relief

By Will GrayDecember 13, 2017, 2:51 pm

A charity event featuring more than two dozen pro golfers raised more than $1 million for Hurricane Harvey relief, thanks in large part to a hefty price paid for a private lesson with Tiger Woods.

The pro-am fundraiser was organized by Chris Stroud, winner of the Barracuda Championship this summer, and fellow pro and Houston resident Bobby Gates. It was held at Bluejack National in Montgomery, Texas, about an hour outside Houston and the first Woods-designed course to open in the U.S.

The big-ticket item on the auction block was a private, two-person lesson with Woods at Bluejack National that sold for a whopping $210,000.

Other participants included local residents like Stacy Lewis, Patrick Reed and Steve Elkington as well as local celebrities like NBA All-Star Clyde Drexler, Houston Texans quarterback T.J. Yates and Houston Astros owner Jim Crane.

Stroud was vocal in his efforts to help Houston rebuild in the immediate aftermath of the storm that ravaged the city in August, and he told the Houston Chronicle that he plans to continue fundraising efforts even after eclipsing the event's $1 million goal.

"This is the best event I have ever been a part of, and this is just a start," Stroud said. "We have a long way to go for recovery to this city, and we want to keep going with this and raise as much as we can and help as many victims as we can."

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LPGA schedule features 34 events, record purse

By Randall MellDecember 13, 2017, 2:02 pm

The LPGA schedule will once again feature 34 events next year with a record $68.75 million in total purses, the tour announced on Wednesday.

While three events are gone from the 2018 schedule, three new events have been added, with two of those on the West Coast and one in mainland China.

The season will again start with the Pure Silk Bahamas Classic on Paradise Island (Jan. 25-28) and end with the CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, Fla., (Nov. 15-18).

The LPGA played for $65 million in total prize money in 2017.

An expanded West Coast swing in the front half of the schedule will now include the HUGEL-JTBC Championship in the Los Angeles area April 19-22. The site will be announced at a later date.

The tour will then make a return to San Francisco’s Lake Merced Golf Club the following week, in a new event sponsored by L&P Cosmetics, a Korean skincare company. Both new West Coast tournaments will be full-field events.

The tour’s third new event will be played in Shanghai Oct. 18-21 as part of the fall Asian swing. The title sponsor and golf course will be announced at a later date.

“Perhaps the most important aspect of our schedule is the consistency — continuing to deliver strong playing opportunities both in North America and around the world, while growing overall purse levels every year,” LPGA commissioner Mike Whan said in a statement. “There is simply no better [women’s] tour opportunity in the world, when it comes to purses, global TV coverage or strength of field. It’s an exciting time in women’s golf, with the best players from every corner of the globe competing against each other in virtually every event.”

While the Evian Championship will again be played in September next year, the tour confirmed its plans to move its fifth major to the summer in 2019, to be part of a European swing, with the Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open and the Ricoh Women’s British Open.

The Manulife LPGA Classic and the Lorena Ochoa Invitational are not returning to the schedule next year. Also, the McKayson New Zealand Women’s Open will not be played next year as it prepares to move to the front of the 2019 schedule, to be paired with the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open.

The U.S. Women’s Open will make its new place earlier in the summer, a permanent move in the tour’s scheduling. It will be played May 31-June 3 at Shoal Creek Golf Club outside Birmingham, Ala. The KPMG Women’s PGA Championship (June 28-July 1) will be played at Kemper Lakes Golf Club on the north side of Chicago and the Ricoh Women’s British Open (Aug. 2-5) will be played at Royal Lytham & St. Annes in England.

For the first time since its inception in 2014, the UL International Crown team event is going overseas, with the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club in Incheon, South Korea, scheduled to host the event Oct. 4-7. The KEB Hana Bank Championship will be played in South Korean the following week.

Here is the LPGA's schedule for 2018:

Jan. 25-28: Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic; Paradise Island, Bahamas; Purse: $1.4 million

Feb. 15-18: ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open; Adelaide, Australia; Purse: $1.3 million

Feb. 21-24: Honda LPGA Thailand; Chonburi, Thailand; Purse: $1.6 million

March 1-4: HSBC Women's World Championship; Singapore; Purse: $1.5 million

March 15-18: Bank of Hope Founders Cup; Phoenix, Arizona; Purse: $1.5 million

March 22-25: Kia Classic; Carlsbad, California; Purse: $1.8 million

March 29 - April 1: ANA Inspiration; Rancho Mirage, California; Purse: $2.8 million

April 11-14: LOTTE Championship; Kapolei, Oahu, Hawaii; Purse: $2 million

April 19-22: HUGEL-JTBC Championship; Greater Los Angeles, California; Purse: $1.5 million

April 26-29: Name to be Announced; San Francisco, California; Purse: $1.5 million

May 3-6: Volunteers of America LPGA Texas Classic; The Colony, Texas; Purse: $1.3 million

May 17-20: Kingsmill Championship; Williamsburg, Virginia; Purse: $1.3 million

May 24-27: LPGA Volvik Championship; Ann Arbor, Michigan; Purse: $1.3 million

May 31 - June 3: U.S. Women's Open Championship; Shoal Creek, Alabama; Purse: $5 million

June 8-10: ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer; Galloway, New Jersey; Purse: $1.75 million

June 14-17: Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give; Grand Rapids, Michigan; Purse: $2 million

June 22-24: Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G; Rogers, Arkansas; Purse: $2 million

June 28 - July 1: KPMG Women's PGA Championship; Kildeer, Illinois; Purse: $3.65 million

July 5-8: Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic; Oneida, Wisconsin; Purse: $2 million

July 12-15: Marathon Classic presented by Owens-Corning and O-I; Sylvania, Ohio; Purse: $1.6 million

July 26-29: Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open; East Lothian, Scotland; Purse: $1.5 million

Aug. 2-5: Ricoh Women's British Open; Lancashire, England; Purse: $3.25 million

Aug. 16-19: Indy Women in Tech Championship presented by Guggenheim; Indianapolis, Indiana; Purse: $2 million

Aug. 23-26: CP Women's Open; Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada; Purse: $2.25 million

Aug. 30 - Sept. 2: Cambia Portland Classic; Portland, Oregon; Purse: $1.3 million

Sept. 13-16: The Evian Championship; Evian-les-Bains, France; Purse: $3.85 million

Sept. 27-30: Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Purse: $1.8 million

Oct. 4-7: UL International Crown; Incheon, Korea; Purse: $1.6 million

Oct. 11-14: LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship; Incheon, Korea; Purse: $2 million

Oct. 18-21: Name to be Announced; Shanghai, China; Purse: $2.1 million

Oct. 25-28: Swinging Skirts LPGA Taiwan Championship; New Taipei City, Chinese Taipei; Purse: $2.2 million

Nov. 2-4: TOTO Japan Classic; Shiga, Japan; Purse: $1.5 million

Nov. 7-10: Blue Bay LPGA; Hainan Island, China; Purse: $2.1 million

Nov. 15-18: CME Group Tour Championship; Naples, Florida; Purse: $2.5 million

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 4, Jordan Spieth

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 13, 2017, 1:00 pm

Dismissed because he’s supposedly too short off the tee, or not accurate enough with his irons, or just a streaky putter, Jordan Spieth is almost never the answer to the question of which top player, when he’s at his best, would win in a head-to-head match.

And yet here he is, at the age of 24, with 11 career wins and three majors, on a pace that compares favorably with the giants of the game. He might not possess the firepower of Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, but since he burst onto the PGA Tour in 2013 he has all that matters – a better résumé.

Spieth took the next step in his development this year by becoming the Tour’s best iron player – and its most mentally tough.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


Just a great putter? Oh, puhleeze: He won three times despite putting statistics (42nd) that were his worst since his rookie year. Instead, he led the Tour in strokes gained-approach the green and this summer showed the discipline, golf IQ and bounce-back ability that makes him such a unique talent. 

Even with his putter misbehaving, Spieth closed out the Travelers Championship by holing a bunker shot in the playoff, then, in perhaps an even bigger surprise, perfectly executed the player-caddie celebration, chest-bumping caddie Michael Greller. A few weeks later, sublime iron play carried him into the lead at Royal Birkdale, his first in a major since his epic collapse at the 2016 Masters.

Once again his trusty putter betrayed him, and by the time he arrived on the 13th tee, he was tied with Matt Kuchar. What happened next was the stuff of legend – a lengthy ruling, gutsy up-and-down, stuffed tee shot and go-get-that putt – that lifted Spieth to his third major title.

Though he couldn’t complete the career Grand Slam at the PGA, he’ll likely have, oh, another two decades to join golf’s most exclusive club.

In the barroom debate of best vs. best, you can take the guys with the flair, with the booming tee shots and the sky-high irons. Spieth will just take the trophies.

THE MAJORS

Masters Tournament: Return to the 12th; faltering on Sunday (T-11)

Spieth pars 12, but makes quad on 15

Spieth takes another gut punch, but still standing

Article: Spieth splashes to worst Masters finish

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U.S. Open: 1 over usually good ... not at Erin Hills (T-35)

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The Open: Unforgettable finish leads to major win No. 3 (1st)

Spieth survives confusing ordeal on 13

Photos: Spieth's incredible journey on 13

Take it, it's yours: Spieth gets claret jug

Chamblee: Spieth doesn't have 'it' - 'he has it all'

Article: Spieth silences his doubters - even himself

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PGA Championship: Career Grand Slam bid comes up well short (T-28)

Article: Spieth accepts that Grand Slam is off the table


TWO REGULAR TOUR WINS

AT&T Pebble Beach

Article: Spieth rising from 'valley' after Pebble Beach win

Travelers Championship

Spieith wins dramatic Travelers in playoff

Watch: Spieth holes bunker shot, goes nuts


FUN OUTSIDE OF TOUR LIFE


PHOTO GALLERIES

Photos: Jordan Spieth and Annie Verret

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Photos: Jordan Spieth through the years

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 13, 2017, 12:30 pm