Taming Tumult

By Randall MellFebruary 11, 2011, 6:52 pm

BOCA RATON, Fla. – When asked the secret to his long success, Bernhard Langer surprises you with his answer.

Yes, he lists reasons you would suspect – good health, hard work and loving support – but he turns hard in a direction you didn’t see coming.

Langer, 53, tells you the lack of major emotional upheaval in his life, the lack of any enduring personal strife, helped keep his path clear to the 83 professional titles and trophies he’s won over 30-plus years.

Bernhard Langer swings golf club
A stable home life has helped Bernhard Langer be successful on the course. (Getty Images)
“It’s not one element,” Langer said on the eve of his title defense at the Allianz Championship at The Old Course at Broken Sound. “It’s a whole mosaic. I haven’t had marital problems, or a divorce. I’ve had the same coach for 35 years. I’ve had the same manager for 35 years. I’ve had the same wife for 27 years. Obviously, I’ve had to work hard on my game, but I think if other areas of your life are not right, you will have a hard time concentrating and performing.”

Langer is evidence that stability in one’s personal life can be as helpful to a golf swing as proper alignment and a sound swing plane.

“I like harmony in my life,” says Langer, the two-time Masters champ seeking to win the Champions Tour’s Jack Nicklaus Player of the Year Award for a fourth consecutive season. “I don’t like strife or conflict.”

When Mark Calcavecchia sees Langer, he sees an advantage every player craves.

“Bernhard shows up every single day with such a clear mind,” Calcavecchia says.

Marital woes.

Dying parents.

Rebellious teenagers at home.

Financial woes.

Those are the unseen hazards that can rob shots and titles from the toughest pros.

In a sport where the mind wanders on long walks between shots, the most skilled eye can’t always see why shots sail off course.

While tour pros will tell you they can’t relate to the monumental tumult Tiger Woods has battled in a bid to find his winning form, they understand how turmoil challenges performance. Nobody’s focus is immune from that.

“We’ve all seen it in the last 15 months, how when there’s drama outside, it’s difficult, very difficult,” said John Cook, an 11-time PGA Tour winner and friend of Woods. “Golf is so mental, at the professional level, where if you don’t have that peace, it’s tough.”

Larry Nelson, a three-time major champion, says tour pros are remarkably skilled at blocking out problems in their lives when they step inside the ropes. But he says it’s prolonged emotional upheaval that erodes defenses and makes the game harder.

“You can be mentally tough golf wise,” Nelson said. “But if you’re mentally exhausted, it’s hard. I think that does play a big role in how a guy’s career goes. If you have a lot of emotional stuff over a long time, it wears you out.”

At the U.S. Senior Open at Inverness in 2003, Nelson arrived after burying his father. He spent 21 days at his father’s side before the death.

“I was fine going to play, I was excited about getting to play, I was ready to play, but I was just mentally exhausted,” Nelson said. “When you’re worrying about something for three or four months, you don’t have the mentally energy you need.”

Cook married his high-school sweetheart, Jan. They’ve been married 31 years and have raised three children. He says he understands exactly what Langer’s saying about how important stability’s been to a good golf game.

“Home’s always my comfort zone,” Cook said. “Whenever things have gone bad out here, I go home knowing I can re-group, that there’s peace at home.”

While Cook says he’s enjoyed a strong family life, he says the drama that came with raising teenagers tested his focus from time to time over the years.

“There have been issues, kids growing up, that throw you off,” Cook said.

Cook said even ordinary family drama can “zap confidence” when you’re away from loved ones.

So next time you see a tour pro hitting it sideways, be careful what you assume. Sometimes, it’s the heart that’s temporarily misaligned, not the feet.

 

 

Follow Randall Mell on Twitter @RandallMell

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Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

“I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”


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The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

“The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.

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Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook hit a hybrid into the fairway bunker on the par-4 18th on a breezy Saturday afternoon at La Quinta Country Club, then chunked a wedge and raced a chip 20 feet past the hole.

Kip Henley, the longtime PGA Tour caddie who guided Cook to a breakthrough victory at Sea Island in November, stepped in to give the 26-year-old former Arkansas star a quick pep talk.

''Kip said, 'Let's finish this like we did on the first day at the Nicklaus Course.' We made a big par putt on 18 there and he said, 'Let's just do the same thing. Let's get this line right and if you get the line right it's going in.'''

It did, giving Cook an 8-under 64 and a one-stroke lead in the CareerBuilder Challenge going into the final round on the Stadium Course at PGA West. Fellow former Razorback Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were tied for second, and Jon Rahm and Scott Piercy were a another stroke back after a tricky day in wind that didn't get close to the predicted gusts of 40 mph.


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''I know that I wouldn't have wanted to play the Stadium today,'' Cook said. ''I think we got a great draw with the courses that we got to play on the days that we got to play them.''

Cook played the final six holes on the front nine in 6 under with an eagle and four birdies.

''Starting on my fourth hole, I was able to make a birdie and kind of get the ball rolling and it never really stopped rolling,'' Cook said. ''Kip and I were doing really good at seeing the line on the greens.''

After a bogey on 10, he birdied 11, 12 and 15 and parred the final three to get to 19-under 197.

''I think that tonight the nerves, the butterflies, all that will kind of be a little less,'' Cook said. ''I've been in the situation before and I was able to finish the job on Sunday. I think it would be a little different if I didn't play like I did on Sunday at Sea Island.''

He's making his first start in the event.

''I came in from Hawaii on Monday, so I only had two days to prepare for three courses,'' Cook said.

Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 at the Stadium. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. Winless on the PGA Tour, they will join Cook in the final threesome.

''Piller's a good guy and we have played a lot together and same with Cookie,'' said Landry, the only player without a bogey after 54 holes. ''Hope the Hogs are going to come out on top.''

Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium to reach 17 under. The third-ranked Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.

''A little bit of a survival day,'' Rahm said.

The wind was more of a factor on the more exposed and tighter Stadium Course.

''The course is firming up,'' Rahm said. ''I know if we have similar wind to today, if we shoot something under par, you'll be way up there contesting it over the last few holes.''

Piercy had a 66 at the Stadium.

''I controlled my ball really well today,'' he said.

Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on the Nicklaus Course, and Harkins shot 68 at the Stadium.

Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.

Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. He had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over.

John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine - and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.

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Phil misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 am

Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.

He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.

How rare is his missing the cut there?

The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.


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The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.

The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.

Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.

Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.

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Defending champ Gana co-leads Latin America Amateur

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 11:20 pm

Toto Gana moved into early position to try to win a return trip to the Masters Saturday by grabbing a share of the first-round lead at the Latin America Amateur Championship.

The defending champ posted a 3-under-par 68 at Prince of Wales Country Club in his native Chile, equaling the rounds of Argentina’s Mark Montenegro and Colombia’s Pablo Torres.

They are one shot ahead of Mexico’s Alvaro Ortiz and Mario Carmona, Argentina’s Horacio Carbonetti and Jaime Lopez Rivarola and the Dominican Republic’s Rhadames Pena.

It’s a bunched leaderboard, with 19 players within three shots of each at the top of the board in the 72-hole event.

“I think I have my game under control,” said Gana, 20, a freshman at Lynn University. “I hit the ball very well, and I also putted very well. So, I am confident about tomorrow.”

The LAAC’s champion will get more than a Masters invitation. He also will be exempt into the The Amateur, the U.S. Amateur and any other USGA event he is eligible to play this year. The champion and players who finish runner-up are also exempt into the final stages of qualifying for The Open and the U.S. Open.

The LAAC was founded by the Masters, the R&A and the USGA, with the purpose of further developing amateur golf in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.