Quick Round with Arron Oberholser

By Randall MellFebruary 11, 2010, 11:44 pm

You can’t surgically re-attach a dream.

That’s the injury that hurts Arron Oberholser the most this week.

To his dismay, he hasn’t been back to the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-am since breaking through to win his first and only PGA Tour event there four years ago.

arron oberholser pebbleArron Oberholser won the 2006 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am by five shots. (Getty Images)
Three years ago, hand and back injuries started derailing a promising young career that once saw him climb as high as No. 22 in the Official World Golf Ranking. He has played just 14 events over the last 28 months. Now there’s a new injury testing his resolve and determination.

Oberholser celebrated his 35th birthday in the oddest fashion on Feb. 2. He had surgery to repair a torn labrum and microfracture in his right hip. It’s the fourth surgery of Oberholser’s career. He’s also had multiple hand surgeries.

This week is the toughest of all weeks on the PGA Tour schedule for Oberholser. He loves Pebble Beach, but the former top Northern California amateur and San Jose State standout is on crutches doing two months of rehab in Vail, Colo. That’s where Dr, Marc Philipon surgically repaired his ailing hip. Oberholser grew up playing big events at Pebble Beach, Spyglass Hills and other venues in the Monterey Peninsula.

Oberholser will be watching the action from Pebble on TV this week, but there’s a double whammy to that. There will be lots of talk of the U.S. Open returning to the venue in June. Oberholser knows he will also miss the year’s second major when it comes back to Pebble Beach. He won’t begin hitting golf balls again until sometime around the start of June.

I caught up with Oberholser by telephone in Vail where he’s with his wife, Angie, and their 6½-month old son, Ethan, while he rehabs.

How difficult is it knowing you will miss Pebble Beach twice this season?

Very frustrating because the U.S. Open only comes to Pebble every 10 years. Unfortunately, I’m in the prime of my career and I’m not going to get a chance to play the U.S. Open there. I tried to qualify when it was at Pebble in 2000 and missed it and that was very disappointing. To miss it again, because of an injury, and to know it’s going to be another 10 years before the U.S. Open returns to Pebble, that’s pretty sad. I’ll be 45 when it comes back and who knows if I’ll even be in the game.

How are you coping with that?

It makes me sad. I love Pebble. It’s my favorite golf course in all the world. I have a special place in my heart for the course. I would give up every other Open I’ve ever played in or will ever play in just to play in one Open at Pebble Beach. I seriously would.

With the tournament this week, what memory will come back strongest about your victory at Pebble Beach?

Just that walk up the 18th hole. I remember that vividly, knowing I had a five-shot lead, knowing I’d won the tournament. That was one of the most enjoyable walks I’ve ever had on a golf course. There aren’t a lot of people who get to experience winning a golf tournament at Pebble Beach. I don’t think there’s a better walk.

Your name is among some impressive champions at Pebble Beach. Jack Nicklaus, Ben Hogan, Sam Snead and Tom Watson are among the greats who have won there. You must be proud, but is there mixed emotions knowing you haven’t had a chance to build on the promise you showed there?

A few people, very few, were talking about my being able to tie Mark O’Meara’s record of five AT&T Pebble Beach titles because of my knowledge of that golf course and of the conditions and weather there. I always played it down, like it’s something to think about way down the road, but in all honesty, who knows? It was a goal of mine to win as many as Mark O’Meara did. It was such an unbelievable feat to win five AT&Ts, but I believed I could have beaten that, if I had stayed healthy. Who knows? I might still have a chance, but I will have to play well into my 40s to have a crack at it.

It’s where I cut my teeth in competition growing up, and it helped propel me to where I am as a golfer. I played a lot of golf at Spyglass Hills and Poppy Hills and around there. Not too many golf courses require as much shot making as those golf courses in that one little area. You have to have every shot in the bag because every day is different. One day it’s blowing 20 mph, the next day it isn’t blowing. One day it’s dumping rain. The conditions and the terrain are so varied. It’s just a phenomenal place to learn how to play because it puts you in so many different conditions you have to be good at.

When can you get back to hitting golf balls?

First week of June. There’s four months of rehabilitation for this. If I wanted to come back quicker, I could do it in three months, but the doctors don’t recommend it. Since I’m already on a medical exemption from the Tour, I am going to take the most time I can to do this right, to get as strong as I possibly can. It’s going to take a couple months to test things out. That’s if my hand gets well. If my hand does well and my hip does well, hopefully I’m going to play all of the Fall Finish events. That’s my goal, to play all of the Fall Finish Events.

Does the frustration of being away make you want to break things? What’s getting you through this?

I just try to occupy my mind with bigger things. I occupy my mind with my family. The most important thing to me is making sure my son is safe and happy and my wife is safe and happy. Then there’s golf. If I don’t get to play another round of golf because of these injuries – and I don’t think that’s the case by the way – it will be sad, but I have a great support system at home and I’m sure there are other things in this world I could be successful at.

So what are you doing with all the time you used to spend on golf?

This has allowed me to watch way too much SportsCenter, and, unfortunately, it’s allowed me to watch way too much Golf Channel because that depresses me even more, watching the guys playing and having a good time, especially watching the guys on the West Coast.

It’s also given me more time to read. I’m not the most voracious reader the world’s ever know, but I’ve started getting into reading some different kinds of books. I’m expanding what I call my worthless base of useless knowledge. I’ve read some fun books. My new son keeps me very, very busy.

Ethan’s birth last summer must have provided some joy in the middle of all that physical pain.

I was so excited about his birth, the fact that I wasn’ t playing really didn’t bother me. It didn’t bother me in the least. It bothered me at the beginning of last year, but as Angie got further into her pregnancy, I got really excited. Golf started to take a back seat. I said to myself. `Whenever I get better, I’ll get better, but something way more important is about to happen in my life.’ I just looked at it that way. I have zero regrets about not being able to play golf because I’ve had six-and-a-half months of being in front of my son almost every day. That’s something most professional golfers don’t get. I don’t think I would give those back for anything. The time’s been invaluable.

So tell us how you like being a dad?

My son’s into everything. He loves to laugh. He’s the happiest kid I’ve ever seen at six-and-a-half months. He’s always got a smile on his face. He’s a people person at six-and-a-half months. He’s such a social baby. He’s not scared of anybody. It’s the neatest thing to see.

So what about those books you’re reading?

I just read this book called “Spark” about exercise and training and how exercise can boost your mind and make you smarter. It shows how the more cardio you do, the more the chemicals in your brain react. They’ve done all these tests on school children and college kids that prove their theory. It was very interesting. Now I’m reading James Dodson’s book about Ben Hogan, which is very inspirational.

You were a broadcast journalism major. How about weighing in on some of today’s big topics in golf? What’s your take on the grooves’ controversy and Phil Mickelson’s use of the Ping Eye 2 a couple weeks ago?

I wish what Phil wishes, that they would close this loophole and get on with it. I wouldn’t play (Ping Eye 2s), but I don’t fault another player for playing them and would never say anything against a player who did because they are approved for play. I just wish the loophole was closed.

Ben Crane didn’t know he won the Farmers Insurance Open because he doesn’t watch leaderboards. What did you think of that?

Ben has done that before. I’ve known Ben since college. He went to Oregon and so did my wife. He is not a leaderboard watcher. He plays his own game. It’s whatever you like to do. I watch leaderboards. I’m a hawk. I really don’t have a problem looking at leaderboards and focusing on my game. Ben found a way to get it done, and it works for him.

What about Tiger Woods? What’s your take on what he’s gone through and how it’s affecting the game?

It’s definitely affected the game. From all I’ve read now that I have a lot of time on my hands, he’s taking a pretty good hit himself and for his family and for the game at large. I hope he comes out of this well. The game misses him. I know the Tour misses him. The game is not as exciting without him. Hopefully, he comes back soon.

Getty Images

Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys

By Rex HoggardDecember 14, 2017, 7:00 pm

After careful consideration and an exhaustive review of 2017 we present The Rexys, a wildly incomplete and arbitrary line up following one of the most eventful years in golf.

 There will be omissions – just keep your calls, concerns and even e-mails to yourself. We appreciate your patronage, but not your feedback.

It’s Not You, It’s Me Award. You know the deal: You can’t be a part of two until you’re a better one; but on this front it’s really just a desire to find a better two.

It was a tough year for caddies, and not just any caddies. In June, Phil Mickelson split with longtime bagman Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both player and caddie cited the need for “change,” but the move reverberated throughout the game.

“The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.

In the wake of the Lefty/Bones break, Rory McIlroy split with his caddie J.P Fitzgerald, and Jason Day replaced looper/swing coach Colin Swatton on his bag. It all proves yet again that there are only two kinds of caddies, those who have been fired and those who are about to be fired.

Run for the Rose Cup. Sergio Garcia got the green jacket, a lifetime exemption to the game’s most coveted member-member and a long-awaited major, but Justin Rose took home the slightly less prestigious “Rose Cup.”

Following a frenzied afternoon at Augusta National in April, Rose lost to Garcia on the first playoff hole, but he won so much more with his honesty and class.

“You're going to win majors and you're going to lose majors, but you've got to be willing to lose them,” Rose figured following the final round. “You've got to put yourself out there. You've got to hit the top of the leaderboard. There's a lot of pressure out there and if you're not willing to enjoy it, then you're not ready to win these tournaments. I loved it out there.”

Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.

Half-Empty Cup. It was the perfect setting, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and the promise of the Tristate masses descending on this fall’s Presidents Cup.

If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.

For the sixth time in the last seven matches, the U.S. team rolled to a victory of at least three points. This particular edition was even in danger of ending on Saturday afternoon thanks to a particularly dominant performance by a young American squad led by Steve Stricker.

Officials spoke of the purity of the competition and the attention the ’17 cup generated, but however you spin the 19-11 rout, this cup is half empty.

Enigma Award. The actual hardware is simply an oversized question mark and was sent directly to Tiger Woods’ South Florida compound following the most curious of seasons.

While it’s become customary in recent years to consider the uncertain path that awaits the 14-time major winner, this most recent calendar brought an entirely new collection of questions following fusion surgery on his lower back in April, his arrest for DUI on Memorial Day and, finally, a glimmer of hope born from his tie for ninth at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.

When will he play again? Can he compete against the current generation of world-beaters? Can his body withstand the rigors of a full PGA Tour schedule? Should Jim Furyk make him a captain’s pick now or wait to see if he should be driving a vice captain’s golf cart instead?

Little is certain when it comes to Woods, and the over-sized question mark goes to ... the guy in red and black.

After Further Review Chalice. In April, Lexi Thompson endured a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, the byproduct of a surreal ruling that arrived a day late via a viewer e-mail and cost the would-be winner a major championship.

The entire event was so unsavory that the USGA and R&A made not one but two alterations to the rules and created a “working group” to avoid similar snafus in the future.

That working group – it turns out the U.S. Ryder Cup team has some sort of copyright on “task force” – initially issued a decision that introduced a “reasonable judgment” and a “naked eye” standard to video reviews, and last week the rule makers kept the changes coming.

The new protocols on video review will now include an official to monitor tournament broadcasts and ended the practice of allowing fans to call in, or in this case e-mail, possible infractions to officials. The USGA and R&A also eliminated the two-stroke penalty for players who sign incorrect scorecards when the player is unaware of the penalty.

While all this might be a step in the right direction, it does nothing to change Thompson’s fate. The AFR Chalice won’t change the harsh reality, but at least it will serve as a reminder of how she helped altered the rulemaking landscape.

Nothing Runs Like a Deere Award. Nothing gets fans fired up like officials turning fields of fescue rough into hay on the eve of a major championship, and the USGA’s decision to do some 11th-hour trimming at Erin Hills in June certainly caught many by surprise.

Officials said the nip/tuck on four holes was in reaction to a particularly foreboding forecast that never materialized, and the maintenance drew the ire of some players.

“We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” Rory McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here; if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”

The record low scoring at the U.S. Open – winner Brooks Koepka finished with a 16-under total – didn’t help ease the fervor and had some questioning whether the softer side of the USGA has gone a bit too far?

Getty Images

Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 5:28 pm

John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.

That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.

Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.

Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 4:22 pm

Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.

Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.

Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters

Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.

World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.

Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.

Nathaniel Crosby at the 1983 Bing Crosby Pro-Am at Pebble Beach. Getty Images

Crosby selected as 2019 U.S. Walker Cup captain

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 3:19 pm

The USGA announced that former U.S. Amateur champ Nathaniel Crosby will serve as the American captain for the 2019 Walker Cup, which will be played at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England.

Crosby, 56, is the son of entertainment icon and golf enthusiast Bing Crosby. He won the 1981 U.S. Amateur at The Olympic Club as a teenager and earned low amateur honors at the 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He also played in the 1983 Walker Cup, coincidentally held at Royal Liverpool, before embarking on a brief career in professional golf, with his amateur status reinstated in 1994.

"I am thrilled and overwhelmed to be chosen captain of the next USA Walker Cup team," Crosby said in a statement. "Many of my closest friends are former captains who will hopefully take the time to share their approaches in an effort to help me with my new responsibilities."

Crosby takes over the captaincy from John "Spider" Miller, who led the U.S. squad both in 2015 and earlier this year, when the Americans cruised to a 19-7 victory at Los Angeles Country Club.

Crosby is a Florida resident and member at Seminole Golf Club, which will host the 2021 matches. While it remains to be seen if he'll be asked back as captain in 2021, each of the last six American captains have led a team on both home and foreign soil.

Started in 1922, the Walker Cup is a 10-man, amateur match play competition pitting the U.S. against Great Britain and Ireland. The U.S. team holds a 37-9 all-time lead in the biennial matches but has not won in Europe since 2007.