New York Stories
The Father-Son tournaments will, for some, forever be tearful times of reminiscence. Fathers without sons, sons without fathers. This has, so sadly, always been an unbearable cost of war.
Husbands without wives, wives without husbands, too many left with the beauty of a setting sun but no late afternoon golf partner with whom to share it.
That great connector of people, that connector of generations, this sport called golf, is for many surviving family members the good in the good times remembered.
Susan McDermott honeymooned at Pebble Beach with husband Matt, a 34-year-old equity trader lost with hundreds of others from the Cantor Fitzgerald family. It was incredible, recalls Susan of their days at Pebble. Matt grew up as a caddie on Long Island, played New Jersey National to a four handicap and leaves behind two small children.
Sally Alameno laughs when asked if she was familiar with The Golf Channel. Are you kidding? Channel 69. Andrew watched it all the time! Thirty-seven years old, Andrew worked as a trader at Cantor Fitzgerald. A recent New York Times article on fallen fathers who were at-home heroes said of Andrew that he brushed the hair of his two year old daughters Barbie doll, played endless rounds of Monopoly Junior with his five year old son and skipped dinners with clients to hurry home to Westfield, NJ by six oclock. Andrew Alameno was also an amateur clubmaker, a hobby he pursued from the basement of his home. Hed just finished making a first set of clubs for his son. He loved golf, Sally said. And he was loved by all.
On September 11, Ken Eichele was an early starter in the qualifier for the USGA Mid-Amateur Championship at Bedford Country Club outside the city. He was even-par through 14 holes when he learned of the full weight of the attacks, which hit home particularly hard for him. Ken Eichle is a New York City fire chief. He was told of the news by a fellow New York City firefighter whod yet to tee off.
All the bridges into the city closed, there was no way at that moment that Ken could get to ground zero, though he badly wanted to be there to do his job. He finished his round in confusion, his mind racing and with no idea what hed ultimately scored. He rushed home, then to his station house in Manhattan on 85th between Lexington and Third. Nine of the 12 men from his house called to the site of the attacks perished. Ken got to ground zero later that night, some 12 hours after the attack. He worked 48 straight hours, pulling out just one live body. So exhausted was Ken that he admits to falling asleep behind the wheel of his car on the way home from a shift, luckily without serious injury.
Hes been to seven funerals, with three more in the next several days. There were scores of others, for friends hed met in his 28 years with the New York City Fire Department, that he could not attend.
As for that Mid-Am qualifier, it was scrapped early on September 11, the few completed rounds wiped off the books. It would be replayed in its entirety the next week. Eichele did not play. Obviously, there was much work to be done at ground zero, and too many friends and colleagues to bury. There was just no way I could play, he said.
The USGA learned of the situation. And happily, they extended a special invitation to Ken to participate in the national Mid-Amateur Championship either this year or next. Ken, grateful for the USGAs gesture, has decided that hell play next year.
He says that had he not been on a golf course he might have been among the legion of his brethren who were lost. Golf, he says, saved my life.
Bruce Schaulk was a New York City fireman. That was until he got trapped in a burning building. With severe injuries, Bruce was, in the parlance of the profession, put out of the job in 1987. He was 40, in the prime of his life. Now 54 and married with two children, Bruce Schalk is a golf professional in Brooklyn. He gives upwards of 60 lessons a week at Marine Park, a Robert Trent Jones course built in the early 1960s. If youre a resident, you can play for $21 weekdays, $24 on the weekend. In good years, they handle up to 90,000 rounds. I love teaching, says Schaulk. Thats why I got into it. Schaulk was giving a lesson when The World Trade Center, visible from the golf course, was attacked. Today, he admits that its been hard on us.
Were mourning the deaths of loved ones, of people we ate with, slept with, fought fires with, he says in a low tone, the hurt palpable. Part of your hearts been torn away and it will never be replaced. And along with the heartache comes anger. Its a very difficult time.
Some foursomes will never be whole again. Some fathers will never play golf with their sons again.
Some sons will never have that chance.
Perhaps this sport, which has always been such a powerful connector of people and generations, can also help to heal in the days and years ahead.
McCoy earns medalist honors at Web.com Q-School
One year after his budding career was derailed by a car accident, Lee McCoy got back on track by earning medalist honors at the final stage of Web.com Tour Q-School.
McCoy shot a final-round 65 at Whirlwind Golf Club in Chandler, Ariz., to finish the 72-hole event at 28 under. That total left him two shots ahead of Sung-Jae Im and guaranteed him fully-exempt status on the developmental circuit in 2018.
It's an impressive turnaround for the former University of Georgia standout who finished fourth at the 2016 Valspar Championship as an amateur while playing alongside Jordan Spieth in the final round. But he broke his wrist in a car accident the day before second stage of Q-School last year, leaving him without status on any major tour to begin the year.
McCoy was not the only player who left Arizona smiling. Everyone in the top 10 and ties will be exempt through the first 12 events of the new Web.com Tour season, a group that includes former amateur standouts Curtis Luck (T-3), Sam Burns (T-10) and Maverick McNealy (T-10).
Players who finished outside the top 10 but inside the top 45 and ties earned exemptions into the first eight events of 2018. That group includes Cameron Champ (T-16), who led the field in driving at this year's U.S. Open as an amateur, and Wyndham Clark (T-23).
Everyone who advanced to the final stage of Q-School will have at least conditional Web.com Tour status in 2018. Among those who failed to secure guaranteed starts this week were Robby Shelton, Rico Hoey, Jordan Niebrugge, Joaquin Niemann and Kevin Hall.
Els honored with Heisman Humanitarian Award
The annual Heisman Trophy award ceremony is one of the biggest moments in any football season, but there was a touching non-football moment as well on Saturday night as Ernie Els received the Heisman Humanitarian Award.
The award, which had been announced in August, recognized Els' ongoing efforts on behalf of his Els for Autism foundation. Els received the award at Manhattan's PlayStation Theater, where Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy.
Els, 47, founded Els for Autism in 2009 with his wife after their son, Ben, was diagnosed with autism. Their efforts have since flourished into a 26-acre campus in Jupiter, Fla., and the creation of the Els Center for Excellence in 2015.
The Heisman Humanitarian Award has been given out since 2006. Past recipients include NBA center David Robinson, NFL running back Warrick Dunn, soccer star Mia Hamm and NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon.
A native of South Africa, Els won the U.S. Open in 1994 and 1997 and The Open in 2002 and 2012. He has won 19 times on the PGA Tour and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011.
Monday finish for Joburg Open; Sharma leads by 4
Rain, lightning and hail pushed the Joburg Open to a Monday finish, with India’s Shubhankar Sharma holding a four-stroke lead with 11 holes to play in Johannesburg.
Play is scheduled to resume at 7:30 a.m. local time.
South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen will have a 3-foot putt for birdie to move within three shots of Sharma wen play resumes at the Randpark Golf Club. Sarma is at 22 under par.
Tapio Pulkkanen of Finland and James Morrison of England are tied for third at 14 under. Pulkkanen has 10 holes remaining, Morrison 11.
The top three finishers who are not already exempt, will get spots in next year’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.
Stricker, O'Hair team to win QBE Shootout
It may not count in the official tally, but Steve Stricker is once again in the winner's circle on the PGA Tour.
Stricker teamed with Sean O'Hair to win the two-person QBE Shootout, as the duo combined for a better-ball 64 in the final round to finish two shots clear of Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry. It's the second win in this event for both men; Stricker won with Jerry Kelly back in 2009 while O'Hair lifted the trophy with Kenny Perry in 2012.
Stricker and O'Hair led wire-to-wire in the 54-hole, unofficial event after posting a 15-under 57 during the opening-round scramble.
"We just really gelled well together," Stricker said. "With his length the first day, getting some clubs into the greens, some short irons for me, we just fed off that first day quite a bit. We felt comfortable with one another."
Stricker won 12 times during his PGA Tour career, most recently at the 2012 Tournament of Champions. More recently the 50-year-old has been splitting his time on the PGA Tour Champions and captained the U.S. to a victory at the Presidents Cup in October. O'Hair has four official Tour wins, most recently at the 2011 RBC Canadian Open.
Pat Perez and Brian Harman finished alone in third, four shots behind Stricker and O'Hair. Lexi Thompson and Tony Finau, the lone co-ed pairing in the 12-team event, finished among a tie for fourth.