Quick Round with Tom Weiskopf
Weiskopf, 67, won the first PGA Tour event staged at Torrey Pines. During the Andy Williams-San Diego Open back in 1968, he showed what terrific drama the stage that is the 18th hole could offer. He made eagle at the par-5 closing hole to beat Al Geiberger and Raymond Floyd for his first PGA Tour victory.
At 6-foot-3, Weiskopf came out of Ohio State with giant expectations. He had a majestic swing and fierce competitive spirit. Inevitable comparisons to another long-hitting Buckeye, though, would prove onerous.
Weiskopf had an impressive career, winning 16 times, including a major championship, the 1973 British Open, but he wandered through the Golden Bear's formidable presence his entire career.
Nobody expected more of himself than Weiskopf. He was so demanding, so intense, and it could make him a storm of a player, frustration rolling like dark clouds over his game when he failed to meet enormous expectations. Bold, intelligent and outspoken, he was called a “Towering Inferno” by one national publication. He was dubbed “Terrible Tom” by another.
Weiskopf was hard on himself all the way to the end of his PGA Tour career.
“If I were asked to look back at myself as a player, I think I would be remembered for having a beautiful swing, for being a complete player, a shot maker, but the negative was that I never reached my potential,” he said eight years ago.
In 1973, Weiskopf came closest, winning seven times around the world, with that British Open victory among his five PGA Tour titles that year.
Today, Weiskopf is enjoying his second career as a golf course architect with more than 40 golf course designs on his résumé around the world. His creation Loch Lomond, home to the Scottish Open, is a master work that’s received considerable acclaim over the years.
As a golf course architect, he’s a different man, more at peace with his place in the game. After his first marriage of 32 years ended in divorce in 1999, he remarried four years ago. With his new wife, Laurie, he enjoys homes in Scottsdale, Ariz., and Montana. He’s excited about the fact that he’s going to become a grandfather with his daughter, Heidi, expecting in May.
With the PGA Tour returning to Torrey Pines this week, I caught up with Weiskopf for a Quick Round:
Take us back in time. In 1968, four years after you turned pro, you broke through for your first PGA Tour victory at the Andy Williams-San Diego Open. What stands out about the victory?
When it’s the week of that tournament, or when someone asks about it, I remember it. I haven’t had any nightmares about it. I’ve certainly had nightmares about other tournaments. All kidding aside, we played at Torrey Pines, on the same 36 holes they compete on today. I’m sure it’s a much different golf course.
I remember the last hole, Raymond Floyd was in the clubhouse, I was tied with him. I was paired with Al Geiberger. I drove the ball perfectly down the fairway, and I hit a 2-iron for a second shot. The pin was in the back right corner of the green. There was no pond there at the time. There was a bunker. I hit it up about 30 feet short of the hole. I knew I had a tremendous advantage before the hole started because I knew I could reach the green in two if I hit a good drive. I knew Al Geiberger couldn’t. Raymond was finished, so I knew the tournament was pretty much in my hands, or I thought it was. It favored the advantage I had on that hole.
I had a lot of opportunities previous to that and had never won. The last putt, I was just thinking about, honestly, trying to get the ball close without doing something stupid, give myself an easy 4. If Geiberger made his, we would eliminate Floyd and be in a playoff. This putt had about a three or four foot break in it, a very difficult putt to try to make, and it went in. So that was it.
Four years after turning pro, was there relief or frustration in winning?
I’m sure I jumped about 46 or 48 inches, probably set a vertical high jump record. There was just tremendous excitement and relief. I never expected to make that putt. I felt all my past frustration of trying to win go away. I remember it well. It was one of my best accomplishments in golf. The first one is the hardest one to win.
Do you have special affection for Torrey Pines?
Yes, it was a great course. I always played well there.
How much do you play golf today, and what do you play for now?
My goal is not to lose a golf ball. If I can play a round and finish with the same golf ball, I’ve probably had a good day.
So do you usually reach that lofty goal?
Pretty much. I have my days where I hit a lot of bad shots. My goals? I do try to shoot my age. That’s always a goal.
How many times have you done that?
It’s a good a question. I didn’t do it last year. I do play all the way back. I did it when I was 65. I did not shoot any 64s. I thought about it when I got to age 63 or 64. The goal is 67 this year. I don’t play very often. I will go in spurts where I play three to five days a week, or I might go without playing for three or five weeks.
You had that Terrible Tom moniker in your prime. When’s the last time that guy made an appearance on a golf course?
Oh, I don’t know, I’d have to think about that.
But it’s been awhile, right? You’ve really mellowed.
It’s interesting, we all have labels. The media labels everyone. At one time, I was labeled Terrible Tom. In ’73, I was Tom Terrific. My former wife, when someone said Towering Inferno, she said, `Who is this person I’m reading about?’ I think there are players out there who could easily take that torch from me. Tiger Woods might be Terrible Tiger this year.
As someone who loves the game, what’s your take on Tiger’s saga and the impact it has on the game?
It has a tremendous impact on all of sports, especially golf. Obviously, he has some problems. That’s all I’ll say. I don’t know him at all. I played one round of golf with him. It was a great day, a practice round at Troon about six years ago. I’m a Tiger Woods fan. That won’t change. I want to see him back out there competing like everyone else.
You made a limited return to TV the last couple years with ESPN-ABC. Will we see more of you describing action this year?
I was invited last summer to be involved in the telecast at the Open Championship in Turnberry and the Senior Open at Sunningdale. It was fun, I enjoyed it. I don’t know what they thought of what I did. There might be more this year. I don’t know, we’ve been talking a little (with ESPN) about it, but there’s nothing concrete.
So what do you think of the new rules governing grooves? Will the new rules have any significant effect?
I don’t know if the V-groove definition today is identical to the V grooves I played with in the 60s, 70s and 80s. But it is a copout, in my estimation. They aren’t addressing the problem. It is a way for the USGA to get around the ball issue. They lost that groove ruling (to Ping) in court. The USGA and the R&A have a responsibility to protect the skills of the game that the players possess. It’s in their rule book. Consequently, they are definitely afraid of another lawsuit. The major issue is the golf ball. It goes too far. They won’t address that because if they go to court they’ll lose it.
Do you think the USGA and R&A are living up to their responsibilities?
No, I don’t think so. What happened was their technology wasn’t as good as the manufacturers. So the manufacturers turned the definition of rules concerning equipment to the finest line they could. It got away from the USGA and R&A. The ball got away from them. I could go on and talk about this, which I have.
The ball is still the issue. It’s the No. 1 component and element of the game that’s transformed scoring since the feathery golf ball. Go through time, it’s been the golf ball. This (new grooves rule) isn’t going to wipe the mustard off their red, white and blue ties or brush the dandruff off their navy blue sport coats. They are not living up to their responsibility. They are afraid of a lawsuit.
Let’s get a tournament ball, every manufacturer can make it and let’s go on with life. Then we won’t have to build these golf courses that are 7,500 or 7,600 yards where nobody but the best who play the game can play them. They’ve eliminated so many classic golf courses from competition.
You were so hard on yourself as a player, more than once saying you didn’t live up to your potential. Do you still feel that way?
No, I’ve gotten older. I understand what life is all about. I understand myself better. I can’t change the past. Nobody can. I don’t dwell on it like I used to. I have a new lease on life, which is design. I don’t live in the rearview mirror.
Are you a better and happier architect than you were a player?
I don’t know, I get frustrated. I’m a perfectionist. I can’t stand mediocrity, never could when I played, and as well in my design aspects. I just enjoy what I do, I love what I do. It’s different, you can’t compare the two.
How would you like to be remembered as a player and architect?
I was a very fortunate player to have played in an era with Jack Nicklaus and the other Hall of Famers that he competed against. That group of individuals may go down as the greatest group of players of all time. I could have accomplished more, anybody but Nicklaus could say that. It is what it is. It’s over and done with. I made a choice to leave it. I wasn’t happy with it. It’s why I retired very early in life. I went on to pursue something else. I didn’t know whether I would like it or not. I do. I’ve been successful with that. I will continue to be involved in golf course design until I lose interest. I don’t think that’s going to happen, though.
Is the guy once tabbed Terrible Tom happy, peaceful and content in his life now?
I’m very happy, very content. I quit drinking Jan. 2, 2000. Still haven’t had a drop. That’s something I wish I could have done 20 years previous, but I didn’t. Every day is exciting to me. I have a lot of great friendships and I spend time with those people. I remarried and I’m very happy in that regard.
I’m going to become a grandfather for the first time this May. I’m very excited about that. I have a great life. I was blessed to be in golf, to have traveled the world and had a chance to meet people I never would have met. I have a terrific life.
Lesson with Woods fetches $210K for Harvey relief
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."
LPGA schedule features 34 events, record purse
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
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.
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.
Masters Tournament: Return to the 12th; faltering on Sunday (T-11)
U.S. Open: 1 over usually good ... not at Erin Hills (T-35)
The Open: Unforgettable finish leads to major win No. 3 (1st)
PGA Championship: Career Grand Slam bid comes up well short (T-28)
TWO REGULAR TOUR WINS
AT&T Pebble Beach
FUN OUTSIDE OF TOUR LIFE
Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017
GolfChannel.com is counting down the top 10 Newsmakers of the Year as voted on by Golf Channel’s writers, editors, reporters and producers. Check out the list below, including future release dates:
No. 3: Dec. 14
No. 2: Dec. 15
No. 1: Dec. 18