New hope alive to save Furman golf program

By Ryan LavnerFebruary 20, 2014, 5:59 pm

After two weeks of anger, sadness and uncertainty, the Furman men’s golf program finally has reasons for optimism.

This week, six Furman alumni, including 1983 graduate and eight-time PGA Tour winner Brad Faxon, sent an email to fellow alums, family and friends detailing how the men’s team could be saved not just in the short term, but indefinitely as well.

The proposal, which would need final approval from the Board of Trustees, calls for the group to raise $285,000 in the next few months (likely by July 1), which would cover the operating expenses for the next two years.

Additionally, by the end of the calendar year 2015, they would need to fund an endowment with “no less” than $2 million that would keep the program afloat for the foreseeable future. As part of the plan, the university would need to cover all costs associated with scholarships.

“As a result of the outpouring of support and the hard work of many, Furman University is willing to consider a strategic plan to save the men’s golf program,” the former players wrote in the email, which was obtained by GolfChannel.com.

“At this point, there is no assurance that Furman will reverse its course; however, the Board of Trustees has assured us that a unified, well-supported plan for addressing the financial needs of the men’s golf program will result in the program being continued.”

If the proposal is approved, the men’s team is still unlikely to operate at full capacity – a few scholarships would be reduced, and they’d have to pinch pennies. Of course, that scenario is nothing new to 18-year head coach Todd Satterfield – he has won conference championships with an operating budget that was in the bottom third of the Southern Conference.

“Just having a chance to compete,” he said by phone Thursday morning, “that’s all we really want.”

On Feb. 6, Satterfield was blindsided when he learned that his men’s team – which has 13 conference titles, more than any other school, but has slipped to No. 127 in Golfstat’s team rankings – would be discontinued following the spring semester. The school was in a dire financial situation, estimated to lose about $6.3 million in the fiscal 2014-15 year, and there would need to be substantial cuts across campus, including in athletics.

What surprised many, including Satterfield, was that the university had singled out men’s golf, which has a budget – including salaries, travel and scholarships – of about $400,000, among the smallest of the sports at Furman.

“That’s like an eyedropper in a bucket full of water,” Satterfield said in an interview last week.

In announcing the move, the school’s interim president said that it had conducted an “extensive evaluation of criteria, including public visibility, attendance, competitiveness and overall costs.”

It didn’t take long for the devastating news to spread to some of the team’s most vocal supporters. T.J. Blandford, who played for Satterfield and graduated in 2006, started an online petition that, as of this writing, has 2,450 signees. He is one of the six names on the proposal, along with Faxon, Frank Ford (1974), Cordes Ford (1998), Jeff DeLoach (1999) and Rob Langley (2005). Those interested in helping can email savefurmangolf@gmail.com.

When reached last week, Satterfield said that he held out hope that the decision would be reversed but, he admitted, “I’m not totally optimistic.”

Six days later, he struck a decidedly more upbeat tone about the program’s future.

“At this point, I am very optimistic that, at least in the short run, it’s going to happen,” he said. “Of the people I’ve talked to, they feel very confident the initial funds ($285,000) can be raised.”

Obviously, the earlier that the funds roll in, the better. That would show the school its level of commitment in keeping the program running, and it would send a strong signal to both current players and fall signees who might be unsure whether to remain with the private, liberal-arts school in Greenville, S.C.

When asked what he has learned during this emotional, two-week ordeal, Satterfield paused and said: “That there is a lot of people supporting us, and that’s a testament to the kind of guys who have come through here and the quality of people we have. Our results have been a little mixed, certainly recently, but it does give you hope that there’s a lot of support behind you.”

At the end of our call, Satterfield was about to sit down and write his players an email. Everyone has heard the bits and pieces, the rumors, the speculation. He wanted to set the record straight, to make sure everyone was on the same page.

After all, this weekend, the Paladins are heading to Jacksonville for their spring opener.

Suddenly, incredibly, it appears as though it won’t be their last. 

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Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook played a six-hole stretch in 6 under and shot an 8-under 64 in breezy conditions Saturday to take the lead at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Cook began the run at La Quinta Country Club with birdies on Nos. 4-5, eagled the sixth and added birdies on No. 7 and 9 to make the turn in 6-under 30.

After a bogey on the 10th, he birdied Nos. 11, 12 and 15 and saved par on the 18th with a 20-footer to take a 19-under 197 total into the final round on PGA West's Stadium Course. The 26-year-old former Arkansas player is making his first start in the event. He won at Sea Island in November for his first PGA Tour title.

Fellow former Razorbacks star Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were a stroke back. Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 on the Stadium Course. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. They are both winless on the PGA Tour.


Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


Jon Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium Course to reach 17 under. The top-ranked player in the field at No. 3, Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.

Scott Piercy also was two strokes back after a 66 at the Stadium.

Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on PGA West's Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course, and Harkins shot 68 on the Stadium Course.

Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium Course to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time.

The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.

Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. The Southern California recruit had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over for the week.

John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine – and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.

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Mickelson misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 am

Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.

He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.

How rare is his missing the cut there?

The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.


Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.

The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.

Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.

Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.

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Defending champ Gana co-leads Latin America Amateur

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 11:20 pm

Toto Gana moved into early position to try to win a return trip to the Masters Saturday by grabbing a share of the first-round lead at the Latin America Amateur Championship.

The defending champ posted a 3-under-par 68 at Prince of Wales Country Club in his native Chile, equaling the rounds of Argentina’s Mark Montenegro and Colombia’s Pablo Torres.

They are one shot ahead of Mexico’s Alvaro Ortiz and Mario Carmona, Argentina’s Horacio Carbonetti and Jaime Lopez Rivarola and the Dominican Republic’s Rhadames Pena.

It’s a bunched leaderboard, with 19 players within three shots of each at the top of the board in the 72-hole event.

“I think I have my game under control,” said Gana, 20, a freshman at Lynn University. “I hit the ball very well, and I also putted very well. So, I am confident about tomorrow.”

The LAAC’s champion will get more than a Masters invitation. He also will be exempt into the The Amateur, the U.S. Amateur and any other USGA event he is eligible to play this year. The champion and players who finish runner-up are also exempt into the final stages of qualifying for The Open and the U.S. Open.

The LAAC was founded by the Masters, the R&A and the USGA, with the purpose of further developing amateur golf in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.

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LAAC returning to Casa de Campo in 2019

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 8:23 pm

The Latin America Amateur Championship will return to Casa de Campo in the Dominican Republic in 2019 (Jan. 17-20), event organizers announced Saturday in Chile, where this year’s championship is underway.

The LAAC champion receives an invitation to play the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club every spring.

The champion is also exempt into The Amateur, the U.S. Amateur and any other USGA event for which he is eligible to compete. The champion and players who finish runner-up are also exempt into the final stages of qualifying for The Open and the U.S. Open.

The LAAC was founded by the Masters, the R&A and the USGA, with the purpose of further developing amateur golf in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.

The championship got its start in 2015 with Chile’s Matias Dominguez winning at Pilar Golf in Argentina. In 2016, Casa de Campo hosted, with Costa Rica’s Paul Chaplet winning. At 16, he became the first player from Central America to compete in the Masters. In 2017, Chile’s Toto Gana won the title at  Club de Golf de Panama.