Hooks & Cuts: Cypress, Pebble and legends

By Rich LernerFebruary 6, 2014, 4:05 pm

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. - Legends abound on the Monterey Peninsula. From Pebble to Cypress to tales of old, here are some some Hooks & Cuts hovering around the Pacific.

• John Daly is paired with Kid Rock this week.  Rock’s put out a few songs that fit JD to a tee: “Rebel Soul,” “Devil Without a Cause,” and “Wasting Time.”

• If the weather gets nasty, I like Aaron Rogers and Tom Brady over Peyton Manning. 

• Old shtick never gets old if it’s good shtick.  This is good and old: Jack Lemmon putting for 10 on the final hole asks his caddie which way the putt breaks and the looper says, “Who cares?”

• You know you’re playing at a really cool spot when the caddie says to you, “This was Hogan’s favorite shot on the golf course.”  The course was Cypress Point and the shot was the second to 12, a 6-iron from 155 with the Pacific wind pushing back.

• Promising young pro Justin Thomas had a nice Wednesday.  His Alabama Crimson Tide landed the No. 1 recruiting class in college football, and he played Pebble for the first time in his life. 

• Davis Love III, asked to name a couple of celebrities with swing action he liked through the years, gave me Orel Hershiser and Indy racer Danny Sullivan.

• Jim Furyk loves football and described the Denver Broncos’ super bust this way: “To have such a great year end this way is like leading the Masters for 71 holes only to lose on the last. It’s an empty feeling.”

AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am: Articles, videos and photos

• David Gill, a 3-handicap member at Tehema near Pebble, won the pro-am with Skip Kendall in 2000.  Asked to describe the accomplishment, he said, “It’s the holy grail.” Does he remember any specific shots?  “I hit my second shot on No. 8 to 9 feet and made birdie.” You never forget that stuff, do you?

• Playing partner Joe Don Rooney of the band Rascal Flats is writing a new song about my experience at Cypress’ fabled par-3 16th, 238 yards over the ocean (pictured above). It’s called, “I’m not man enough.”  I wrecked a nice round with two snipes that are washing up in Tahiti right about now.

• Furyk’s fondness for Pebble goes beyond the golf.  He and Tabitha were engaged in Carmel in 2000.

• Tip of the Hogan cap to four great college coaches inducted into the Northern California Golf Association Hall of Fame on Tuesday night at Spanish Bay: Steve Desimone from powerhouse Cal; Mark Gale, who saw Juli Inkster, Pat Hurst and Patty Sheehan come through the San Jose State women’s program; Wally Goodwin, who looked after Tiger Woods and Notah Begay at Stanford; and, his successor, Conrad Ray, Tiger’s former teammate.

• A bogey at Pebble’s tiny seventh takes some of your soul. It robs you of your manhood.  But the focus shouldn’t be the score.  At No. 7, it’s just you and the Lord and the game you’re blessed to play.

• Desimone’s seen a lot in his 35 years at Cal. He said it was plain to see 20 years ago that Tiger and Phil Mickelson, as collegians, were both lead-pipe cinches for all-time greatness.  I asked him if he’s had that feeling about any recent players. “(Jordan) Spieth has superstar written all over him,” he responded. “He’s long, he putts and he’s fearless.”

• Lost in conversation walking off the 17th, I looked up as we arrived at the 18th tee at Pebble. My knees just about buckled.

• From one of Pebble’s owners, Dick Ferris: “People ask me what it’s like to own Pebble and I always tell them that we’re just stewards of a national treasure.”

• Beyond Spieth, Desimone pointed to Alabama’s Cory Whitsitt, Justin Thomas and Bobby Wyatt as “can’t-miss kids,” along with Patrick Rodgers of Stanford.  And naturally he’s high on his own charges: Michael Weaver, Max Homa, Michael Kim and Brandon Hagy.

• Stories come at you like Pacific waves this week.  The artist and historian Jim Fitzpatrick related a good one. The late Ken Venturi caddied at Cypress as a kid, sitting on the bench behind 16 tee at day’s end waiting for his pop to pick him up after he’d sold netting to the fishermen down at Monterey’s wharf. The old-time bag men took care of the kid, fed him fried chicken. Kenny always vowed that someday he’d win the U.S. Open and then return to treat the caddies. Sure enough, after the courageous victory at Congressional, Kenny showed up one day and popped open the trunk of his Cadillac. Inside was Kentucky Fried Chicken and champagne. Kenny and the caddies celebrated.

• Heady Joe Ogilvie says Pebble’s 14th is the hardest par 5 in golf, that if you played just the 14th 72 times in a stroke-play event, into a 10-mile-per-hour wind, the winning score would be 10 over.

• Desimone reminisced about Cypress’ beloved pro Jim Langley, who passed away last year at 75.  Langley not only played golf at Cal, but basketball as well. He was part of the 1959 team that beat Oscar Robertson and Cincinnati in the semis and then Jerry West and West Virginia in the final on the way to winning the NCAA title.

• The celebrity field is not light on legends with Wayne Gretzky, Brady and Manning at the top of the list. But the best of them all may well be surfing giant Kelly Slater. The 11-time world champion flew to Pebble late Wednesday after earlier that day winning the Volcom Pipe Pro in Hawaii at almost 42 years of age. Slater’s also a 3-handicap.

• Geoff Ogilvy, as reasonable and thoughtful as any Tour pro I know, said he felt like some of the fans in Scottsdale were getting a little too rambunctious, at times even a bit ugly. He thinks the tenor’s changed in the last couple of years, and not for the better.

• Eighty-five years ago on the Monterey Peninsula, a talented woman and a Nebraska caddie unknowingly had a hand in the creation of Augusta National. The woman was Marion Hollins, the 1921 U.S. Women's Amateur champion who brought in Alister MacKenzie to design Cypress Point and Pasatiempo, two courses she helped to develop. The caddie was Johnny Goodman, who upset Bobby Jones in the first round of the 1929 U.S. Amateur at Pebble Beach. With time on his hands after his defeat, Jones explored the other golfing treasures on the peninsula and was subsequently introduced to MacKenzie by Hollins. Impressed with what he saw, Jones hired MacKenzie. The rest is history.

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 Web.com 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 Web.com 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.''