Stories from the Sony

By Rich LernerJanuary 14, 2011, 5:37 am
HONOLULU – The Sony Open marks the first full-field event of the season – whenever it may officially begin. And with the start of a new year come plenty of new stories – not all from new players.


There was a time when the sun was up at the Sony.

It was Tuesday and it was warm and bright, though no brighter than the slacks John Daly sported. They were a yellow and black diamond print, an entire matching ensemble from the shoes right up to the bottle blond hair.

JD was in a good mood, which was nice to see because for so long his demeanor has seemed so flat.
John Daly
John Daly making a splash Tuesday at the Sony Open. (Getty Images)

“Greatest Christmas of my life,” he said. “I got custody of Little John.”  

John and girlfriend Ana Cladakis will homeschool 7-year-old Little John, suddenly conjuring up an unexpected vision of 'Little House on the Prairie.'

Father and teacher, John’s also a businessman and at that moment he was losing money.

“Jason’s killing us,” he said, referring to Jason Duffner, teaming with Roland Thatcher against John and Pat Perez.

And on cue, Duffner jammed home a downhill 30-footer for birdie at Waialae’s short par-4 12th.  

“Really?” asked Daly. “#@%* you, Rolie!” The players, caddies and this reporter lost it.

“I’m (ranked) third in the world on Tuesdays,” cracked Duffner.  

Daly answered by making an 18-footer for a half.

“I’m going back to my old stroke,” he explained. “I keep the right arm on my hip for an inside-out stroke. Everyone told me the opposite. Get over it more with my hands up but I started cutting everything.”

So there’s hope. It rolls in off the Pacific every January. But in golf, hope gets tempered quickly. When storms descended on Oahu, Round 1 was cancelled.

Thursday morning John stood outside a Denny’s on Waikiki smoking a cigarette, wondering what to do with the day ahead.

It was a slick little move, really, executed with Ricky Rubio flair. On the range, the caddie tossed the golf ball behind his back to the pro who nonchalantly caught it, teed it up and fired away.  

The caddie is 15-year-old Taylor Funk, and his boss is his father, Fred Funk, the 54-year-old former Players champion.    

Interestingly, this isn’t a one off, father-son experience. Taylor’s going to caddie upwards of 20 events this year between the PGA Tour and the Champions Tour.

He’s homeschooled and no stranger to tour life. “He already knows everybody because he’s kind of been everyone’s mascot out here since he was born,” said Fred.

Taylor’s not much bigger than the golf bag, but “He helps reads putts and really does it all,” said Fred, whose long-time caddie, Mark Long, determined he didn’t want to work full-time.

A 5 handicap, Taylor believes in his man, as caddies refer to their players. “I still think he can win out here on the right golf course,” Taylor said. “And Waialae’s the right course. The rough’s up and the fairways are tight.”

The boss hasn’t decided how he’s going to pay the caddie. “I know one thing,” said Fred. “The money might be in his account but he won’t see it.”

David Saka is an 18-year-old freshman at the University of Hawaii who qualifyied for the Sony through a local amateur event. His caddie/coach/instructor Kevin Ralbovsky knows Vijay Singh and set up a practice round earlier this week. Jim Furyk joined up.  

So there he was, all of 5’3” and 125 pounds, walking the fairways of Waialae with the 6’3” Hall of Fame member and the FedEx Cup champion.

His assessment of the experience was simple: “They’re very good.”  

He added, “Vijay drives it really far. He’s got me by like 75 yards.”

“Nobody climbs that mountain twice.”  

Paul Goydos, talking about Tiger Woods, is to us media chops what Wes Welker is to Tom Brady: Mr. Reliable.  

He doesn’t own Johnny Miller’s resume, but among current players, he’s most inclined to speak with Miller-like conviction.

On Tiger, while Goydos doesn’t believe he’ll ever be as good as he was 10 years ago, he does think he’ll be the best ever.

“Do I think he’ll be No. 1 again and hold onto it for a while? Yes,' he said. “He’ll win his 100 tournaments and beat Jack’s major record.'

“My goodness, he had a chance to win two majors last year – the Masters and the U.S. Open.'

Dustin Johnson also had a chance to win the U.S. Open until he blew a tire on Sunday.

“He showed me a lot,” Goydos said. “He came back from two heartbreaking losses to win the BMW.

“We’ve never had an athlete like this. He’s got game until the end of the world.”

Like so many, Goydos thinks this is an exciting time for golf with so many confident and capable young players. But he cautions that the Tiger-Phil era is by no means over.

“I wouldn’t be remotely surprised,” he said, “if over the next 10 years they combine to win 10 of the 40 majors played.”

Colleague Jerry Foltz knows the incoming class of PGA Tour rookies off his work on the Nationwide Tour and provided the following thumbnail sketches of a few notable players.

Kevin Chappell: “Has Pat Perez fire with maybe a bit more discipline. Not afraid to go low or occasionally slam a club.”

Daniel Summerhays: “Dynamic, old-school ball striker who likes to work the ball. Wouldn’t be surprised if he won.”

Jhonattan Vegas: “First Tour player from Venezuela. An absolute bomber who can bring a course to its knees.”

Keegan Bradley: “Nephew of LPGA great Pat Bradley. Hits it a country mile and an easy guy to root for.”

Jamie Lovemark: “Doesn’t really have a weakness.”

Tommy “Two Gloves” Gainey: “Been told his whole life he’s never going to succeed. Has the demeanor of a country boy, swing of a lumberjack and the mentality of a boxer.”  

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

Getty Images

Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.

Getty Images

Rose leads Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose completed the final two holes of his second round early Saturday for a 3-under 69 and a one-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, who had a first-round 62, was among a quarter of the field forced off the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course after weather delays on Friday.

The Englishman, who bogeyed his last hole, had a two-round total of 13-under 131.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who completed his 64 on Friday, was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters. He has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.

Playing with the pros

Tiger, DJ and Faxon

Article: Video, images from Tiger, DJ's round with Trump

Article: After DJ and Tiger, Trump plays golf with Jack

Rory faces criticism

Article: Rory: Round with Trump about respect for presidency

Article: Rory: Round with Trump not a 'political statement'

President at the Presidents Cup

Video: President Trump makes the rounds at Liberty National

Article: President Trump presents trophy to U.S. team

Article: Stricker: 'Great thrill' to get trophy from Trump

Purported round of 73 with Lindsey Graham

Article: Senator tweets Trump shot 73 in windy, wet conditions

Article: Graham offers details on Trump's round of 73

Cart on the green

Article: Trump appears to drive cart on Bedminster green

Presence and protests at U.S. Women's Open

Article: Trump makes presidential history at Women's Open

Article: Trump supporters, protesters clash near Women's Open

Article: UltraViolet takes protest inside Trump National

Photo gallery: President Trump at the U.S. Women's Open

Trump golf properties


Article: Environmental group vandalizes Trump golf course

Article: Man accused of vandalizing four Trump courses


Article: Two Trump courses in Scotland losing millions

Article: Eric Trump denies Russia helped fund golf courses

Article: Trump company ordered to pay $5.77M in dues dispute

Reportedly fake TIME covers

Article: Trump clubs display fake Time magazine cover

Trump apologizes for voter-fraud story

Report: Trump's voter fraud claim tied to Langer

Langer: Trump 'apologized' for story mix-up

Pros comment on the president

Article: Players defend Trump at Senior PGA Championship

Article: Trump congratulates Daly; Daly congratulates Trump