United we stand

By Rex HoggardSeptember 10, 2011, 2:00 pm

Everyone remembers.

The college student whose simple world had just been complicated to the extreme, the young adult who was haunted by images of passenger planes turned into weapons of mass destruction and especially the businessman who has spent a decade trying to make sense of it all.

Whatever byproduct or baggage that was born from Sept. 11, 2001, the single certainty is that everyone remembers where they were when the world changed.

For Lucas Glover the events of 9/11 crashed into his idyllic college world just after a morning coaching education class during his senior year at Clemson. The future U.S. Open champion was in his room when a friend called.

“My best friend and I would go to lunch at 11:15 (a.m.), that was our deal. So I got back to the room and he called me and said, ‘Put on the TV.’ I had no idea. It was between the two impacts (at the World Trade Center),” Glover recalls.

Glover spent the next eight hours or so in Clemson’s fundraising offices watching the unexplainable. He went out and got everyone in the office lunch, then dinner, because there was nowhere else to go.

“We were amazed and in awe. I’ve said it 100 times, I could have gone and enlisted that day,” he says. “You hit every range of emotion in one day, maybe in an hour for some people.”

An ocean away Trevor Immelman had just sat down to have lunch in a London-area pub with his future wife, Carminita, when the aspiring young European Tour player was shaken by the news.

“It was a nice day and our server came up to us and was like, ‘Man, you won’t believe it … someone just flew into the World Trade Center,’” Immelman remembers.

But the South African didn’t watch the events unfold in horrific HD clarity like most of the world. Instead he gazed out of the window of his apartment and was fixated by a single thought.

“I had an apartment that was on the flight path to Heathrow (airport) and I watched those planes come in and wondered what was going through the people who were on those planes minds,” he says. “It must have been pretty scary for those people.”

For Rich Davies it would be the confluence of two similarly tragic events eight years apart that would set him on a unique path. The native South African learned of the attacks during a meeting in his Charlotte, N.C., offices, and while others spent the next few days shell-shocked and sullen, Davies marveled at how the attacks drew out the best in America.

It was a thought that returned to him eight years later when a close friend’s plane crashed on the way to New York City. That accident occurred on Sept. 11, 2009.

“The message to me was pay attention to that date,” Davies says.

From the second tragedy was born Golf 9/12. Davies, who moved his family from South Africa in 1982, had two objectives for the new organization: honor his lost friend and find a way to rekindle the unity that swept across Americana on Sept. 12, 2001.

“The day after, for me, it was special because the reasons my family came to America were never more evident than on 9/12,” says Davies, a North Carolina developer. “The entire nation displayed the kind of unity that is always under the surface but doesn’t always come out.”

On Monday players across the country will tee off in what is essentially a nationwide event linked by smart phones and powered by a unique scoring application. But the competition is secondary to what Davies and fellow co-founder Johan Immelman, Trevor’s father, hope to accomplish.

The plan, in bullet form, is to rekindle that post-9/11 patriotism one foursome at a time.

“The idea is not to just have a fun day but to remember and reflect on what you felt like on the day after,” Davies says.

Glover remembers Sept. 12 with almost the same clarity as he does 9/11.

“The unity and the passion our people had was impressive,” Glover says. “I don’t think another day or another incident will ever do that to our country again. Especially as divided as we are now.”

As does fellow Golf 9/12 ambassador Trevor Immelman, who can equate the national unity the organization is looking to reawaken to the post-apartheid days in South Africa when then-President Nelson Mandela used the national rugby team to mend a fractured country, a watershed moment that was the basis for the movie “Invictus.”

“(Mandela) always said, sport has the ability to unify a country and a group of people,” Immelman says. “We’re just trying to tap into some of that.”

It’s why Davies decided golf was the perfect medium. Golf courses across the country can be used to bring players together through camaraderie and competition and a universal scoring application was made available to participants through the organization’s website (golf912.org).

Funds raised from Monday’s event, each player makes a $12 donation, have been earmarked for four charities – the Armed Forces Fund, which provides financial assistance to military families; the 9/11, Pentagon and Flight 93 memorials; local first-responder organizations and what Davies calls a global initiative.

“We hope to provide funds to various international organizations on a grass-roots level that will help keep something like 9/11 from happening again,” he says.

But most of all Davies & Co. want Golf 9/12 participants to remember, not the shock and sadness of the initial attacks but the sense of unity and purpose that permeated the American psyche on Sept. 12, 2001.

“So many people had forgotten what we thought was important,” he says. “This is a chance to remind everyone of what we’re capable of doing.”

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Langer not playing to pass Irwin, but he just might

By Tim RosaforteJanuary 16, 2018, 1:40 pm

Bernhard Langer goes back out on tour this week to chase down more than Hale Irwin’s PGA Tour Champions record of 45 career victories. His chase is against himself.

“I’m not playing to beat Hale Irwin’s record,” Langer told me before heading to Hawaii to defend his title at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai. “I play golf to play the best I can, to be a good role model, and to enjoy a few more years that are left.”

Langer turned 60 on Aug. 27 and was presented a massage chair by his family as a birthday gift. Instead of reclining (which he does to watch golf and football), he won three more times to close out a seven-win campaign that included three major championships. A year prior, coming off a four-victory season, Langer told me after winning his fourth Charles Schwab Cup that surpassing Irwin’s record was possible but not probable. With 36 career victories and 11 in his last two years, he has changed his tone to making up the nine-tournament difference as “probable.”

“If I could continue a few more years on that ratio, I could get close or pass him,” Langer told me from his home in Boca Raton, Fla. “It will get harder. I’m 60 now. It’s a big challenge but I don’t shy away from challenges.”

Bernhard Langer, Hale Irwin at the 1991 Ryder Cup (Getty Images)

Langer spent his off-season playing the PNC Father/Son, taking his family on a ski vacation at Big Sky in Yellowstone, Montana, and to New York for New Year’s. He ranks himself as a scratch skier, having skied since he was four years old in Germany. The risk of injury is worth it, considering how much he loves “the scenery, the gravity and the speed.”

Since returning from New York, Langer has immersed himself into preparing for the 2018 season. Swing coach Willy Hoffman, who he has worked with since his boyhood days as an as assistant pro in Germany, flew to Florida for their 43rd year of training.

“He’s a straight shooter,” Hoffman told me. “He says, 'Willy, every hour is an hour off my life and we have 24 hours every day.'"

As for Irwin, they have maintained a respectful relationship that goes back to their deciding singles match in the 1991 Ryder Cup. Last year they were brought back to Kiawah Island for a corporate appearance where they reminisced and shared the thought that nobody should ever have to bear what Langer went through, missing a 6-footer on the 18th green. That was 27 years ago. Both are in the Hall of Fame.

"I enjoy hanging out with Hale," Langer says.

Langer’s chase of Irwin’s record is not going to change their legacies. As Hoffman pointed out, “Yes, (Bernhard) is a rich man compared to his younger days. He had no money, no nothing. But today you don’t feel a difference when you talk to him. He’s always on the ground.”

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McIlroy: Ryder Cup won't be as easy as USA thinks

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 16, 2018, 1:18 pm

The Americans have won their past two international team competitions by a combined score of 38-22, but Rory McIlroy isn’t expecting another pushover at the Ryder Cup in September.

McIlroy admitted that the U.S. team will be strong, and that its core of young players (including Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler) will be a force for the next decade. But he told reporters Tuesday at the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship that course setup will play a significant role.

“If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said, referring to the Americans’ 17-11 victory in 2016. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”

At every Ryder Cup, the home team has the final say on course setup. Justin Rose was the most outspoken about the setup at Hazeltine, saying afterward that it was “incredibly weak” and had a “pro-am feel.” 

And so this year’s French Open figures to be a popular stop for European Tour players – it’s being held once again at Le Golf National, site of the matches in September. Tommy Fleetwood won last year’s event at 12 under.

“I’m confident,” McIlroy said. “Everything being all well and good, I’ll be on that team and I feel like we’ll have a really good chance.

“The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that. The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.” 

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Floodlights may be used at Dubai Desert Classic

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 16, 2018, 12:44 pm

No round at next week’s Dubai Desert Classic will be suspended because of darkness.

Tournament officials have installed state-of-the-art floodlighting around the ninth and 18th greens to ensure that all 132 players can finish their round.

With the event being moved up a week in the schedule, the European Tour was initially concerned about the amount of daylight and trimmed the field to 126 players. Playing under the lights fixed that dilemma.

“This is a wonderful idea and fits perfectly with our desire to bring innovation to our sport,” European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley said. “No professional golfer ever wants to come back the following morning to complete a round due to lack of daylight, and this intervention, should it be required, will rule out that necessity.”

Next week’s headliners include Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson. 

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Ortiz takes Web.com Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

Former Web.com Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Web.com Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Web.com Tour Player of the Year.

McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.