Rich Lerner QA Billy at His Best

By Rich LernerJanuary 20, 2010, 7:37 am
LA QUINTA, Calif. – Rich Lerner caught up with one of Golf Channel’s latest additions, PGA Tour veteran Billy Andrade. The four-time winner will take to the links with a microphone in hand this week for Golf Channel as hole announcer at the Bob Hope Classic. Here is a smattering of their Tuesday afternoon discussion:

Rich: You first played the Hope in 1989. What do you remember?

Billy: I had a blistering 82 at El Dorado, I remember that.

Rich: Amazing how those rounds tend to linger.

Billy: This one was special. I had Gypsy Joe Grillo on my bag. First tee ball of a brand new season went OB, into someone’s swimming pool. By the 12th my drive was stuck in a palm tree. It got so bad in that first round that one of my amateur partners tipped Gypsy Joe $100 and said, “You’re really going to need this because your man’s got no chance.”

Rich: How long did it take Gypsy to spend the hundo?

Billy: Probably already had it spent. He was a legend. Caddied for Curtis (Strange) at the Masters when he almost won it after shooting 80 in the first round. Also caddied for Elk (Steve Elkington).

Rich: Needless to say you weren’t sniffing the lead after 82.

Billy: I was last after the first day. Arnold Palmer shot 81.

Rich: Anything to keep the Wake Forest connection.

Billy: Yeah, I was actually thinking when I read the paper here I am trying to be a PGA pro and successful and Arnie at age 59 is beating me so I have a lot of work to do.

Rich: This used to be the first event of the year, right?

Billy: Exactly. You knew even if you missed the cut you were going to play four rounds of competitive golf. The desert was a great place to come to work on your game and get the kinks out from the winter break and get the year started.

Rich: They had some great fields, too.

Billy: I remember some years the winner of the Q-School didn’t even get in because so many of the top players were here.

Rich: Did you have a favorite celebrity through the years?

Billy: Joe Pesci was the best.  

Rich: Was he like his character in ‘Good Fellas?’

Billy: I knew he wasn’t going to shoot me, but not far off. We actually became really good friends playing here and at Pebble. You wouldn’t believe how we met.

Rich: Try me.

Billy: We met at the ’91 Shark Shootout at Sherwood. Friend of mine was going to drive me to LAX after the tournament and came to my hotel room. I was in the bathroom.  Little did I know he’d set up the surprise of my life. The next thing I know my door comes flying open and standing there looking at me is Joe Pesci. And I kid you not he looks at me with a stogie in his mouth and a black leather coat and says, “So I hear you been looking for me kid. Well here I am.” I’m sitting on the thrown and he throws me a cigar. Unreal.

Rich: I remember him smoking giant stogies, bigger than a Callaway driver.

Billy: Cohibas. Never without ‘em. Hit half his shots with the Cohiba in his mouth.

Rich: Always loved a guy who could play really well with a heater hanging from his mouth.

Billy: I’m not saying he played really well. If I took a puff I probably wouldn’t be able to play I’d be so dizzy.  He’d smoke four or five a round and be fine.

Rich: I’ll bet dinners were fun.

Billy: The best. No matter where we went for dinner it was usually Italian and it was always very good.  

Rich: Nice to see Yogi Berra as the tournament ambassador this year.

Billy: I had a memorable round in ’04 with Yogi at the Palmer Course. We were paired and I needed a good round to make the cut. I shot 30 on the front, 63 for the day to make the cut and more. And after every birdie Yogi would give me a hug. He reminded me so much of my grandfather that he was like family to me. Every time I see him I get that hug and I think of that time at PGA West.

Rich: What would bring this event back to its glory days?

Billy: Having three courses at PGA West is a good start and a nice convenience for the players. Maybe going from five rounds to four would help. Look, it’s difficult. It’s a numbers game. With the amount of tournaments we play and the amount of money we play for, the top players are going to skip somewhere and that’s too bad for tournaments like this one. When you see the tradition – this is the 51st year – and you see the pictures from the old days, the fun and excitement they were having, that would be great if that could continue.

Rich: How important is it for pros to play once or twice a year in this kind of format with celebrities and amateurs?

Billy: It’s important especially in these economic times that we’re supportive of all the sponsors and the amateurs that are footing the bill.

Rich: Do players get it?

Billy: I think most do, or they wouldn’t be here.

Rich: But a lot of the top guys are not here.

Billy: There wasn’t an Abu Dhabi 20 years ago. There are just more opportunities than ever from around the world.

Rich: Interesting, Joe Ogilve thought Freddy Couples would be an ideal host. Who’s going to say no to Freddy?

Billy: Not me. I think that’s a great idea. That would be fabulous. He’s won here, been a big supporter of the tournament.  Freddy should have his own tournament.  

Rich: Bo Jackson, Emmitt Smith, Greg Maddux and Bruce Jenner are some of the ex-athletes playing this year. Who’s the best athlete golfer you’ve ever played with?

Billy: Mario Lemieux. He Came to Rhode Island and played in our charity event and my mouth was open in amazement. His swing was effortless, with power; he’s just a fabulous player. Two others who could bring it were John Smoltz and Mark McGwire. I played a bunch with Mark at Pebble.

Rich: I know you’re friendly with Mark. What’s your reaction to his recent admission that he’d taken steroids?

Billy: Great. I’m happy that he’s happy. It was a big burden lifted off his chest. Now he can try to be the best hitting coach he can be.

Rich:  Any feelings on McGwire and the Hall of Fame?

Billy: How are they going to judge this whole era? (Roger) Clemens, (Barry) Bonds, those guys don’t get in and that’s a shame. Gaylord Perry’s in the Hall of Fame. End of story. It’ll be interesting to see as time goes on how it plays out.

Rich: What kind of commentator do you hope to be?

Billy:  I hope to bring a young, witty, and creative point of view.

Rich: Based on this conversation, you’re off to a good start.

Billy: Thanks Rich, I’m really looking forward to the opportunity. It’s going to be fun.

Rich: Dinner at Pesci’s favorite joint tonight?

Billy: Which one, there are a dozen of ‘em?  I’ll call him and try to get him to buy.
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Angela hits Sergio in stride on field at Superdome

By Grill Room TeamDecember 18, 2017, 3:22 pm

Sergio and Angela Garcia's super 2017 keeps getting more ... Super ... Dome. (+1 awful blog lede.)

The couple started the year with Sergio's win at the Masters, then embarked on a whirlwind green jacket media tour, then kicked off El Clasico, then attended Wimbledon, then got married, then announced they were expecting their first child ...

2017 Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

And now, they're throwing each other passes on the New Orleans Saints' home turf at the Superdome.

Man, it must be so cool do that at the Silverdome. ... ... ... I'm sorry, it is the Superdome, brothers.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 1, Justin Thomas

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 1:00 pm

He won a major, captured the FedExCup and was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year. It should come as no surprise that Justin Thomas holds the top spot on our Newsmakers list for 2017.

Thomas entered the year ranked outside the top 20, and few might have pegged him for a transcendent campaign. But he kicked off January with a win in Hawaii, added another before leaving the Aloha State and never looked back.

Thomas’ seminal moment came in August when he captured the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow for his breakthrough major title. One month after greeting Jordan Spieth behind the final green at Royal Birkdale, this time it was Thomas’ turn to have friends stick around to snap pictures with the trophy that signaled his arrival among golf’s upper echelon.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

In addition to racking up the hardware – five in total, including the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in his first start of the new wraparound season – Thomas dazzled with style. His runaway win at the Sony Open included an opening-round 59, and his third-round 63 at Erin Hills marked the first time anyone had ever shot 9 under on a U.S. Open venue.

Thomas’ consistency was rewarded at East Lake, when a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship netted him the season-long title and $10 million prize. It was in the subsequent press conference where he shared the goals list he had written into his cell phone in February, having ticked off nearly every one. It showed a dedicated attention to detail as well the tactical approach with which Thomas had steered his rapid ascent.

Heading into a new year, he’s now very clearly entrenched as one of the world’s best. And as his career progresses, it’s likely we’ll look back at 2017 as the point where Thomas first transformed great potential into eye-popping results.

Win No. 1: Title defense at the CIMB Classic

Article: Thomas (64) rallies to defend CIMB title

Win Nos. 2 and 3: The Hawaiian double

Article: Thomas refuses to let disastrous hole derail TOC win

Article: Worst week ever ends with another title at Sony Open

Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open

Article: Thomas becomes youngest player to shoot 59

Take a look: Thomas’ scorecard from his amazing 59

Record Round No. 2: 63 at the U.S. Open

Article: Thomas sets U.S. Open record with 9-under 63

Temporary Slide: Open MC makes it three in a row

Watch: Thomas loses club, makes 9, misses Open cut

Mr. Major (and win No. 4): PGA champ at Quail Hollow

Article: Thomas joins the club – the major club

Win No. 5: Dell Technologies Championship

Article: Thomas wins the battle of buddies over Spieth

The $10 Million Man: FedExCup champ

Biggest Win of All? Player of the Year

And One to Grow On: Wins at CJ Cup in 2017-18 season

Article: Thomas caps torrid 12-month run with CJ Cup win

Photo Galleries: Best of ...

Best of: Justin Thomas and Jillian Wisniewski

Best of: Justin Thomas through the years

Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.