The Heart Grows Fonder

By Rex HoggardFebruary 11, 2009, 5:00 pm
When Lucas Glover talks, his points are delivered in quick, to-the-point bursts. Like his golf swing, there is no wasted energy, just rapid-fire reality without a hint of ambiguity or hyperbole.
Its a matter-of-fact style a young Glover gleaned from his grandfather, former Pittsburgh Steeler Dick Hendley, and a double-edged blessing/occupational hazard for anyone whose day job can often include unhealthy amounts of inner dialogue and constant self-evaluation.
Lucas Glover at the Buick Invitational
Lucas Glover is off to the best start of his career. (Getty Images)
Its what drove Glover out of the scoring trailer at last years BMW Championship and into the longest self-imposed hiatus of his competitive career.
I get down on myself. I wasnt playing any good, wasnt having any fun. I always said if it wasnt fun theres no use in being out here, Glover reasons. I was playing bad and I took the job home with me. I always said I wouldnt do that, so when I started to I packed it in.
When Glover put his golf clubs away after last falls BMW, the closing chapter of his worst statistical year on Tour since his 2004 rookie campaign, hed already set his offseason agenda. Fishing, lunches with his grandparents and time with his wife would replace countless repetitions on some lonely practice tee.
From Sept. 8, the day after his final round in St. Louis, Mo., until mid-November, Glover played just twice and only because hed already agreed to participate in a pair of outings. He skipped all of the Fall Series events including the Childrens Miracle Network Classic, which he won in 2005. The game, Glover reasoned, could wait.
Usually, eight, 10 days (without playing) is a long time, he says. My attitude stunk. Wasnt hitting it good, wasnt putting it good. It all snowballed, I guess.
Instead, Glover reset his competitive clock by walking away, however temporarily, from the game that has defined him since Hendley put a club in grandsons hands.
In a spreadsheet, 2008 could hardly be counted a disaster. Glover missed just six cuts in 26 events, recorded two top 10s and managed to advance to the third round of the FedEx Cup playoffs. Good enough maybe to keep a Tour card and pay the bills, but when youve been conditioned to measure success on the hardware collecting dust on your mantel, good enough is a three-putt from five feet.
There were no shortage of competitive culprits. At 29, Glover admits his 6-foot-2 frame doesnt recover like it used to. Hed also endured two of the toughest psychological cycles of his career.
In February 2006, Glovers long-time swing coach Dick Harmon died. It was a blow that was compounded when Glover narrowly missed earning a spot on that years U.S. Ryder Cup team. Glover would earn a spot on the 07 Presidents Cup team, but it wasnt easy. All total, when he began his 08 season the physical exhaustion was evident.
Part of his frustration was that hed played so well, then you just hit the wall, says Randy Myers, the director of fitness at Sea Island (Ga.) Resort and Glovers trainer. No one should play golf because they have to, it should be because they want to.
Slowly, the batteries recharged and in mid-December the competitive epiphany arrived.
Jennifer (Glovers wife) asked what I missed most and I said all my buddies are (on Tour), Glover recalls. She asked if I missed playing yet? And I said, Yeah. It was about the first time I was ready to get back out there. It gets to be an itch.
Glover returned to the practice tee, but more importantly he hit the gym with Myers with a clear mission. His weight had climbed above 200 pounds and he realized he wasnt producing on Sundays like he had in the past.
Glovers final-round scoring average had soared to 71.21 strokes, dropping him to 98th on Tour in what many concede is one of the more important statistical categories. That was more than stroke higher than his 2005 average (70.13).
You look back at my first few years I played really good on Sunday, Glover says. In (2004, 05 and 06) I was good on Sunday. In (2007 and 08) I wasnt. Im not much of a stat guy but it had to be something. Maybe I was just tired.
Glover made three trips to Sea Island for what Myers calls physical boot camps. For seven to 10 days, the two focused on Glovers flexibility and core strength with a mixture of boxing and lateral shuffle drills.
He was easier to coach this year. He was a little more refreshed and committed to the plan, Myers says. Him taking off last fall was the mature thing to do.
The payoff came on Sunday at the Bob Hope Classic, the longest week of the Tour year, when Glover closed with rounds of 67-68 on the weekend to tie for 19th. A week later he rallied with a Sunday 69 to finish 42nd at the FBR Open and was nearly flawless at Torrey Pines to finish tied for third.
With one more event on his dance card, the Northern Trust Open, Glover has already recorded the best West Coast swing of his career.
But Glover is far too grounded to let a hot West Coast lull him into competitive complacency, and hes reluctant to dub his 08 hiatus an unquantifiable success. He is, however, quick to point out the perks of his first professional lapse.
I took my grandparents to lunch three days a week, he smiles. My grandpa is my best friend.
It is signature moment of instant clarity, and suddenly it all makes sense.

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If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

You don’t believe it, though.

She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

“In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.

CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship

There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

“I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

“She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

“She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

“Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

“It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

“No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.

National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 11:10 pm

The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.

Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.

These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon:

Rookie Cook (66-62) credits prior Tour experience

By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 10:36 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook is a rookie only on paper. At least, that’s the way he’s played since joining the circuit this season.

This week’s RSM Classic is Cook’s fourth start on Tour, and rounds of 66-62 secured his fourth made cut of the young season. More importantly, his 14-under total moved him into the lead at Sea Island Resort.

“I really think that a couple years ago, the experience that I have had, I think I've played maybe 10 events, nine events before this season,” Cook said. “Being in contention a few times and making cuts, having my card has really prepared me for this.”

RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the RSM Classic

Cook has been perfect this week at the RSM Classic and moved into contention with four consecutive birdies starting at No. 13 (he began his round on the 10th hole of the Seaside course). A 6-footer for birdie at the last moved him one stroke clear of Brian Gay.

In fact, Cook hasn’t come close to making a bogey this week thanks to an equally flawless ball-striking round that moved him to first in the field in strokes gained: tee to green.

If Cook has played like a veteran this week, a portion of that credit goes to long-time Tour caddie Kip Henley, who began working for Cook during this year’s Tour finals.

“He’s got a great golf brain,” Henley said. “That’s the most flawless round of golf I’ve ever seen.”

Cook fires 62 for one-shot lead at RSM Classic

By Associated PressNovember 17, 2017, 10:26 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook made a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at the RSM Classic.

Cook has gone 36 holes without a bogey on the Plantation and Seaside courses at Sea Island Golf Club. He played Seaside - the site of the final two rounds in the last PGA Tour event of the calendar year - on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.

''We've just been able to it hit the ball really well,'' Cook said. ''Speed on greens has been really good and getting up-and-down has been great. I've been able to hit it pretty close to the hole to make some pretty stress-free putts. But the couple putts that I have had of some length for par, I've been able to roll them in. Everything's going well.''

The 26-year-old former Arkansas player was at 14-under 128 and had a one-stroke lead over Brian Gay, who shot 64 on Seaside. No one else was closer than five shots going into the final two rounds.

The 45-year-old Gay won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2013.

RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the RSM Classic

''I've hit a lot of greens and fairways,'' Gay said. ''I've hit the ball, kept it in front of me. There's a lot of trouble out here, especially with the wind blowing, so I haven't had to make too many saves the first couple days and I putted well.''

Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. He earned his PGA Tour card through the Tour, and has hired Gay's former caddie, Kip Henley.

''With him being out here so long, he knows everybody, so it's not like I'm completely the new kid on the block,'' Cook said. ''He's introduced me to a lot of people, so it's just making me feel comfortable out here. He knows his way around these golf courses. We're working really well together.''

First-round leader Chris Kirk followed his opening 63 on the Plantation with a 70 on the Seaside to drop into a tie for third at 9 under with C.T. Pan (65) and Vaughn Taylor (66).

Brandt Snedeker is looking strong in his first start in some five months because of a sternum injury. Snedeker shot a 67 on the Plantation course and was six shots back at 8 under.

''I was hitting the ball really well coming down here,'' Snedeker said. ''I was anxious to see how I would hold up under pressure. I haven't played a tournament in five months, so it's held up better than I thought it would. Ball-striking's been really good, mental capacity's been unbelievable.

''I think being so fresh, excited to be out there and thinking clearly. My short game, which has always been a strength of mine, I didn't know how sharp it was going to be. It's been really good so far.''