Hard to Fathom

By Randall MellJuly 9, 2010, 4:46 am

2010 U.S. WomenOAKMONT, Pa. – It was all so hard to believe.

Like Kelli Shean was walking through a mirage in this U.S. Women’s Open.

“Just out of our dreams,” Stephen Shean said Thursday with his daughter’s name atop the leaderboard as she set up to play her final tee shot.

Amateurs playing their first round in their first major championship don’t do this.

They don’t march onto mighty Oakmont Country Club with less than two full practice rounds under their belt and have as much fun as Shean was having.

The story would grow even harder to fathom as the University of Arkansas senior closed out her round.

As Stephen walked up to the final green watching his daughter play her final shots, Oakmont head professional Bob Ford tapped him on his shoulder.

Ford introduced himself, then pulled out his cell phone.

Ford had a text message to deliver the family from three-time major championship winner Ernie Els.

Like Stephen and his daughter, Els is from South Africa. Kelli grew up playing golf in Els’ Fancourt Foundation for junior golfers. She is a product of his vision. She is among the talented young South Africans his foundation aims to help realize their dreams.

Kelli Shean
The amateur Shean shot an opening round 70 in the U.S. Women's Open. (Getty Images)
Els, who is in Glasgow playing The Barclays Scottish Open, wanted Kelli to know he was watching on television.

The fact that Shean was excelling at Oakmont doubly touched Els. It’s where he won his first U.S. Open in 1994.

“I just told the family that Ernie wanted them to know how proud he was of them and that he was rooting for them,” Ford said. “The message really touched them.”

Ford never met the Sheans before, but he said it wasn’t hard finding them.

“They had South African flags in their hats,” Ford said.

When Shean, 22, signed her scorecard, she led the championship at 1-under-par 70. By day’s end, she would be tied for second, a shot back. It didn’t diminish a moment of the thrill of this day.

Kelli choked up when she heard Els had reached out to her.

“That’s kind of unbelievable,” said Kelli, who didn’t start playing golf until she was 14. “The foundation got me around. They got me everywhere. Ernie taught me all the things I needed to know. Being able to interact with him and have any kind of relationship with Ernie Els is unbelievable.

“I just hope that he’ll be happy that everything that he pushed me into actually helped get me here.”

The foundation means so much to Els, he has the juniors in his program over to his home for functions.

“He treats people in the program like they’re his brothers, sons and daughters,” Stephen said.

Stephen, a steel salesman in Cape Town, can’t believe how far his daughter’s come because he wondered what hardships she might endure growing up with what’s turned out to be more a challenge than a handicap.

Kelli was born with a hearing disorder.

“She was diagnosed with a deterioration of the bones of the inner ear,” Stephen said. “We didn’t know when she was born. We didn’t know until she was 2 or 3 that something was wrong.”

Today, Kelli wears hearing aids, with the disorder slightly affecting her speech.

“Without her hearing aids, Kelli can’t hear anything,” said Shauna Estes-Taylor, Shean’s coach at Arkansas.

Estes-Taylor and her assistant, Mike Adams, have grown to adore the way Shean overcomes. They learned what media quickly discovered after the round. Shean can light up a room with her attitude and energy.

Shean made the fans at Oakmont marvel, too. Despite the heat and the tough conditions, she played like navigating the course's tough challenges was more joy than work.

“She’s just the most lovable person,” Estes-Taylor said.

Shean was a second-team All-American last season. Estes-Taylor discovered her at an American Junior Golf Association’s Thunderbird tournament. Though Shean’s talented, she’s won just once collegiately.

Asked what the key to Thursday’s round was, Shean didn’t speak of mechanics or technique.

“My attitude and just keeping calm, having a good time out there,” she said. “This course is hard. If you’re going to get mad over a couple of three-putts or a bad bounce or something, then I don’t think you’re going to enjoy it as much.”

With her boyfriend, Chandler Rackley, on her bag as caddie, Shean had an eager partner to help relish the moments.

“He’s made me love life so much more,” she said. “I have the best time of my life out there, so he’s really important to me.”

Anyone watching her couldn’t help feeling her joy.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

Getty Images

Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.

Getty Images

Rose leads Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose completed the final two holes of his second round early Saturday for a 3-under 69 and a one-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, who had a first-round 62, was among a quarter of the field forced off the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course after weather delays on Friday.

The Englishman, who bogeyed his last hole, had a two-round total of 13-under 131.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who completed his 64 on Friday, was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters. He has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.

Playing with the pros

Tiger, DJ and Faxon

Article: Video, images from Tiger, DJ's round with Trump

Article: After DJ and Tiger, Trump plays golf with Jack

Rory faces criticism

Article: Rory: Round with Trump about respect for presidency

Article: Rory: Round with Trump not a 'political statement'

President at the Presidents Cup

Video: President Trump makes the rounds at Liberty National

Article: President Trump presents trophy to U.S. team

Article: Stricker: 'Great thrill' to get trophy from Trump

Purported round of 73 with Lindsey Graham

Article: Senator tweets Trump shot 73 in windy, wet conditions

Article: Graham offers details on Trump's round of 73

Cart on the green

Article: Trump appears to drive cart on Bedminster green

Presence and protests at U.S. Women's Open

Article: Trump makes presidential history at Women's Open

Article: Trump supporters, protesters clash near Women's Open

Article: UltraViolet takes protest inside Trump National

Photo gallery: President Trump at the U.S. Women's Open

Trump golf properties


Article: Environmental group vandalizes Trump golf course

Article: Man accused of vandalizing four Trump courses


Article: Two Trump courses in Scotland losing millions

Article: Eric Trump denies Russia helped fund golf courses

Article: Trump company ordered to pay $5.77M in dues dispute

Reportedly fake TIME covers

Article: Trump clubs display fake Time magazine cover

Trump apologizes for voter-fraud story

Report: Trump's voter fraud claim tied to Langer

Langer: Trump 'apologized' for story mix-up

Pros comment on the president

Article: Players defend Trump at Senior PGA Championship

Article: Trump congratulates Daly; Daly congratulates Trump