Notes A Return to Oak Tree Gilder Recovers

By Sports NetworkMay 28, 2006, 4:00 pm
2006 Senior PGA ChampionshipEDMOND, Okla. -- PGA of America officials said Sunday they will consider future bids by Oak Tree Golf Club to host major championships, something the club hopes to do on a regular basis.
 
Oak Tree's first major in 18 years, the Senior PGA Championship, ended Sunday, with Jay Haas the winner. Final attendance figures won't be available for a few days, but PGA chief executive officer Joe Steranka said that it looked to him as though the tournament set records for both fan and corporate support.
 
That bodes well for future Oak Tree bids to host major PGA events, he said.
 
'What we look for for major championships, first and foremost, is a course to test the greatest players, and Oak Tree certainly does that,' Steranka said. 'You also look at the infrastructure in a community ... and you look at what sort of support you'll get from the entire community.
 
'The way this [club] has performed, we would certainly take another look at events' at Oak Tree, Steranka said.
 
PGA President Roger Warren also praised Oak Tree, saying the tournament 'has definitely exceeded our expectations,' but stopped short of promising a future major for the club.
 
'It would be unfair for me to speculate about future sites, other than to say that we look at the partnerships we have with venues when we come there and how they perform ... Oak Tree has demonstrated that they can do that [well],' Warren said.
 
'We will continue to look, as we go forward, to great venues, and I think that Oak Tree will be under consideration.'
 
Oak Tree owner Don Mathis said the club isn't interested in a yearly PGA tour stop but would like to host a tournament _ preferably a major -- every three to six years. The club's vice president, A.G. Meyers, is even more direct: 'My job here is to bring major championships to the golf club.'
 
The soonest Oak Tree could realistically host another major on either the PGA Tour or Champions Tour would be 2010. That's the first open date on the U.S. Golf Association's calendar for the U.S. Senior Open, which will be played this year at Prairie Dunes Country Club in Hutchinson, Kan.
 
RECOVERING GILDER
When Bob Gilder said he would've been happy just being able to play Sunday, believe him.
 
The 55-year-old Gilder ended up in a hospital Saturday night to undergo what he called 'a kidney stone operation' during which he said a stent was put in. So naturally, he went out the next day and matched the tournament's best round with a 5-under 66 -- 12 shots better than his Saturday round.
 
His score Sunday could have been better but he bogeyed the par-4 18th.
 
'It was just pretty much a battle out there,' said Gilder, who tied for 11th at 5 over. 'I was just trying not to over swing and I hit some really good shots out there, and I only had a chance for bogey a couple of times.
 
'I don't know how to understand it. I mean, you know, you play great one day and nothing goes right the other day and it's just one of those days that went right. I needed it.'
 
The only other player to shoot a 66 in the tournament was Gil Morgan, who did so in the first round.
 
KEEPING HIS COOL
Brad Bryant wanted to maintain his composure during the tournament's final round and he said doing that was easier while playing with a group including Morgan.
 
'One of the things I do when I play with Gil is I watch Gil,' said Bryant, who finished second after losing a three-hole playoff with Jay Haas. 'I try to mimic his composure. He stays so level. He's just wonderful to watch on the golf course and a great man to know off the golf course.'
 
Coming off consecutive bogeys, Morgan 'skied a 3-wood' on the fifth hole, Bryant said.
 
'He hit that shot and he went, 'Goodness gracious!' That was his reaction. And I thought, you know, I haven't heard that in a long time, but that was really good. He walked up there and knocked it down the fairway, on the green and made a birdie, and I said, 'That's what I want to be.' I want to be like that guy. I want to be like Gil, because he really had it going badly and just turned it around.'
 
After a bogey-bogey-double bogey stretch on holes 5-7 dropped Bryant to 2 under for the tournament, he rebounded with a birdie on No. 8 and eventually worked his way into the playoff with Haas.
 
'Along about the 7th hole,' Bryant said, 'I said, 'You know, Gil's done it, maybe I can do it.' It worked out OK.'
 
REMEMBRANCE
Asked what the headlines should read Monday morning, Bryant started his answer not talking about golf.
 
'The first headline ought to be, 'Thank You,' with tomorrow being Memorial Day,' he said. 'Let's not forget that. A lot of people died and fought and a lot of people are walking around with one arm and one leg so that we can go out there today and we can play golf.
 
'We do not want to forget those men and women who have given us our freedom and fought for it. So if there's a headline, that ought to be the first one. It ought to be, 'Thank You.''
 
OAK TREE GANG
Of the four golfers in the tournament who play out of Oak Tree, three finished in the top 15.
 
Morgan led after the first and third rounds and ended up third at 3-under 281, one of only five golfers to shoot under par for the tournament. Meanwhile, Doug Tewell -- who's struggling with a balky elbow -- closed with a 1-under 70 and finished at 3-over, in ninth place.
 
'I would have rather [the course] been a little bit tamer and where we could tuck the pins a little bit more,' Tewell said. 'But I'm pleased. This is the best I've gotten out of myself in a year. So maybe we can build on this now and ... if I can play some shorter courses, maybe I can contend.'
 
Of the other Oak Tree Gang members, David Edwards finished tied for 14th at 290 and Mark Hayes did not make the cut.
 
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - Senior PGA Championship
  • Full Coverage - Senior PGA Championship
  • Open Qualifying Series kicks off with Aussie Open

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 4:24 pm

    The 147th Open is nearly eight months away, but there are still major championship berths on the line this week in Australia.

    The Open Qualifying Series kicks off this week, a global stretch of 15 event across 10 different countries that will be responsible for filling 46 spots in next year's field at Carnoustie. The Emirates Australian Open is the first event in the series, and the top three players among the top 10 who are not otherwise exempt will punch their tickets to Scotland.

    In addition to tournament qualifying opportunities, the R&A will also conduct four final qualifying events across Great Britain and Ireland on July 3, where three spots will be available at each site.

    Here's a look at the full roster of tournaments where Open berths will be awarded:

    Emirates Australian Open (Nov. 23-26): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    Joburg Open (Dec. 7-10): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    SMBC Singapore Open (Jan. 18-21): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

    Mizuno Open (May 24-27): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

    HNA Open de France (June 28-July 1): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    The National (June 28-July 1): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

    Dubai Duty Free Irish Open (July 5-8): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    The Greenbrier Classic (July 5-8): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open (July 12-15): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    John Deere Classic (July 12-15): Top player (not otherwise exempt) among top five and ties

    Stock Watch: Lexi, Justin rose or fall this week?

    By Ryan LavnerNovember 21, 2017, 2:36 pm

    Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.

    RISING

    Jon Rahm (+9%): Just imagine how good he’ll be in the next few years, when he isn’t playing all of these courses for the first time. With no weaknesses in his game, he’s poised for an even bigger 2018.

    Austin Cook (+7%): From Monday qualifiers to Q-School to close calls on the Web.com, it hasn’t been an easy road to the big leagues. Well, he would have fooled us, because it looked awfully easy as the rookie cruised to a win in just his 14th Tour start.

    Ariya (+6%): Her physical tools are as impressive as any on the LPGA, and if she can shore up her mental game – she crumbled upon reaching world No. 1 – then she’ll become the world-beater we always believed she could be.  

    Tommy Fleetwood (+4%): He ran out of gas in Dubai, but no one played better on the European Tour this year than Fleetwood, Europe’s new No. 1, who has risen from 99th to 18th in the world.   

    Lexi (+1%): She has one million reasons to be pleased with her performance this year … but golf fans are more likely to remember the six runners-up and two careless mistakes (sloppy marking at the ANA and then a yippy 2-footer in the season finale) that cost her a truly spectacular season.


    FALLING

    J-Rose (-1%): Another high finish in Dubai, but his back-nine 38, after surging into the lead, was shocking. It cost him not just the tournament title, but also the season-long race.  

    Hideki (-2%): After getting blown out at the Dunlop Phoenix, he made headlines by saying there’s a “huge gap” between he and winner Brooks Koepka. Maybe something was lost in translation, but Matsuyama being too hard on himself has been a familiar storyline the second half of the year. For his sake, here’s hoping he loosens up.

    Golf-ball showdown (-3%): Recent comments by big-name stars and Mike Davis’ latest salvo about the need for a reduced-flight ball could set up a nasty battle between golf’s governing bodies and manufacturers.

    DL3 (-4%): Boy, the 53-year-old is getting a little too good at rehab – in recent years, he has overcome a neck fusion, foot injury, broken collarbone and displaced thumb. Up next is hip-replacement surgery.

    LPGA Player of the Year (-5%): Sung Hyun Park and So Yeon Ryu tied for the LPGA’s biggest prize, with 162 points. How is there not a tiebreaker in place, whether it’s scoring average or best major performance? Talk about a buzzkill.

    Titleist's Uihlein fires back at Davis over distance

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 12:59 am

    Consider Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein unmoved by Mike Davis' comments about the evolution of the golf ball – and unhappy.

    In a letter to the Wall Street Journal, the outlet which first published Davis' comments on Sunday, Uihlein took aim at the idea that golf ball distance gains are hurting the sport by providing an additional financial burden to courses.

    "Is there any evidence to support this canard … the trickle-down cost argument?” he wrote (via Golf.com). “Where is the evidence to support the argument that golf course operating costs nationwide are being escalated due to advances in equipment technology?"

    Pointing the blame elsewhere, Uihlein criticized the choices and motivations of modern architects.

    "The only people that seem to be grappling with advances in technology and physical fitness are the short-sighted golf course developers and the supporting golf course architectural community who built too many golf courses where the notion of a 'championship golf course' was brought on line primarily to sell real estate," he wrote.

    The Titleist CEO even went as far as to suggest that Tiger Woods' recent comments that "we need to do something about the golf ball" were motivated by the business interersts of Woods' ball sponsor, Bridgestone.

    "Given Bridgestone’s very small worldwide market share and paltry presence in professional golf, it would seem logical they would have a commercial motive making the case for a reduced distance golf ball," he added.

    Acushnet Holdings, Titleist's parent company, announced in September that Uihlein would be stepping down as the company's CEO at the end of this year but that he will remain on the company's board of directors.

    Class of 2011: Who's got next?

    By Rex HoggardNovember 20, 2017, 9:00 pm

    The sprawling legacy of the Class of 2011 can be traced to any number of origins, but for some among what is arguably the most prolific class ever, it all began in June 2009.

    The 99-player field that descended on Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, N.C., for the AJGA’s FootJoy Invitational included Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth and so many others, like Michael Kim, who up to that moment had experienced the weight of the ’11 class only from afar.

    “It was that year that Justin won the FootJoy Invitational and that got him into [the Wyndham Championship]," Kim recalled. "That was my first invitational and I was like 'these guys are so good’ and I was blown away by what they were shooting. I remember being shocked by how good they were at that time.”

    Tom Lovelady, who like former Cal-Berkeley Bear Kim is now on the PGA Tour, remembers that tournament as the moment when he started to realize how special this particular group could be, as well as the genesis of what has become lifetime friendships.

    In the third round, Lovelady was paired with Spieth.

    “We kind of hit it off and became friends after that," Lovelady recalled. "The final round I got paired with Justin Thomas and we became friends. On the 10th hole I asked [Thomas], ‘Where do you want to go to school?’ He said, ‘Here. Here or Alabama.’ My first reaction was, ‘Don’t go to Alabama.’ He’s like, ‘Why?’ I wanted to go there. I knew the class was strong and they only had so many spots, but that’s where I really wanted to go.”

    Both ended up in Tuscaloosa, and both won an NCAA title during their time in college. They also solidified a friendship that endures to this day in South Florida where they live and train together.

    While the exploits of Thomas, Spieth and Daniel Berger are well documented, perhaps the most impressive part of the ’11 class is the depth that continues to develop at the highest level.

    To many, it’s not a question as to whether the class will have another breakout star, it’s when and who?



    There’s a good chance that answer could have been found on the tee sheet for last week’s RSM Classic, a lineup that included Class of ’11 alums Lovelady; Kim; Ollie Schniederjans, a two-time All-American at Georgia Tech; Patrick Rodgers, Stanford's all-time wins leader alongside Tiger Woods; and C.T. Pan, a four-time All-American at the University of Washington.

    Lovelady earned his Tour card this year via the Web.com Tour, while Schniederjans and Rodgers are already well on their way to the competitive tipping point of Next Level.

    Rodgers, who joined the Tour in 2015, dropped a close decision at the John Deere Classic in July, where he finished a stroke behind winner Bryson DeChambeau; and Schniederjans had a similar near-miss at the Wyndham Championship.

    To those who have been conditioned by nearly a decade of play, it’s no surprise that the class has embraced a next-man-up mentality. Nor is it any surprise, at least for those who were forged by such an exceedingly high level of play, that success has seemed to be effortless.

    “First guy I remember competing against at a high level was Justin. We were playing tournaments at 10, 11 years old together,” Rodgers said. “He was really, really good at that age and I wasn’t really good and so he was always my benchmark and motivated me to get better.”

    That symbiotic relationship hasn’t changed. At every level the group has been challenged, and to a larger degree motivated, by the collective success.

    By all accounts, it was Spieth who assumed the role of standard-bearer when he joined the Tour in 2013 and immediately won. For Rodgers, however, the epiphany arrived a year later as he was preparing to play a college event in California and glanced up at a television to see his former rival grinding down the stretch at Augusta National.

    “Jordan’s leading the Masters. A couple years before we’d been paired together battling it out at this exact same college event,” he laughed. “I think I even won the tournament. It was just crazy for me to see someone who is such a peer, someone I was so familiar with up there on the biggest stage.”

    It was a common theme for many among the Class of ’11 as Spieth, Thomas and others emerged, and succeeded, on a world stage. If familiarity can breed contempt, in this case it created a collective confidence.

    Success on Tour has traditionally come slowly for new pros, the commonly held belief being that it took younger players time to evolve into Tour professionals. That’s no longer the case, the byproduct of better coaching, training and tournaments for juniors and top-level amateurs.

    But for the Class of ’11, that learning curve was accelerated by the economies of scale. The quality and quantity of competition for the class has turned out to be a fundamental tenet to the group’s success.

    “Since the mindset of the class has been win, win, win, you don’t know anything other than that, it’s never been just be good enough,” Lovelady said. “You don’t think about being top 125 [on the FedExCup points list], you think about being as high as you can instead of just trying to make the cut, or just keep your card. It’s all you’ve known since you were 14, 15 years old.”

    It’s a unique kind of competitive Darwinism that has allowed the class to separate itself from others, an ever-present reality that continues to drive the group.

    “It was constantly in my head motivating me,” Rodgers said. “Then you see Jordan turn pro and have immediate success and Justin turn pro and have immediate success. It’s kind of the fuel that drives me. What makes it special is these guys have always motivated me, maybe even more so than someone like Tiger [Woods].”

    The domino effect seems obvious, inevitable even, with the only unknown who will be next?

    “That’s a good question; I’d like for it to be myself,” Lovelady said. “But it’s hard to say it’s going to be him, it’s going to be him when it could be him. There are just so many guys.”