Blazing the trail

By Bailey MosierJune 14, 2011, 4:54 pm

Zack Sucher has at least one thing in common with defending U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell, but he’d like to have a whole lot more.

They’re both Blazers – products of the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s golf program.

McDowell graduated from UAB three years before Sucher came on as a freshman, so while the two never played on the same team, they belong to the same family.

Zack has never teed it up with the Northern Irishman, but he has met him on McDowell’s return visits to Birmingham to check in with his former coach and the guys on the team.

“Graeme’s such a great guy, he’s really laid back and he’s just a quality guy,” said Sucher.

While their membership to the UAB family is the most obvious similarity that exists between the two, Sucher hopes it’s only a matter of time before their brotherhood has a few more commonalities – namely, victories at the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.

Sucher’s favorite U.S. Open memory was watching McDowell win last year at Pebble, energized by the success of one of his own on the course he cherishes most.

In recalling his first experience playing Pebble Beach his sophomore year in college, Zack gets lost in the romanticism of the venue.

“It’s such a famous golf course, it would truly be amazing to win there.

“The views are incredible out there and once you reach No. 4 and 5 and the rest of the front 9, and then holes coming down the stretch, I mean you just can’t beat how beautiful that place is,” Sucher said.

Zack has yet to play in a U.S. Open, but he has made it to the sectional qualifier twice – in 2009 and 2010 – narrowly missing his opportunity to advance to the main stage. But when that day comes that he does make it front and center, it’s very likely he could come out on top.

Customary with how U.S. Open courses are set up, the winning score traditionally hovers somewhere around par – a range within which Sucher excels most.

“My game definitely would be best for events and venues like [a U.S. Open]. I play harder golf courses much better. My track record where it takes 20 under to win golf tournaments is not great,” said Sucher.

“All the tournaments I’ve won are the ones that take 5 or 8 under for the week.”

And while Zack may not be in the U.S. Open field this week, McDowell and another of his brethren are: a man by the name of Will Wilcox.

Wilcox played at UAB for just the 2004-2005 season before transferring to Clayton State University. He turned pro upon graduating and is currently riding a several-month-success streak, including winning a Hooters Tour event in April, finishing T2 on the Hooters Tour in May, top 25 finishes in the last two Nationwide events and qualifying for this week’s U.S. Open at Congressional.

Sucher says the U.S. Open is his favorite major to watch second to The Masters and that he’ll definitely be glued to the TV at least three days this weekend to catch the action and to cheer on McDowell and Wilcox.

“I love really hard golf courses and I think it’s cool to watch the best players in the world fighting to shoot even par,” Sucher said.

Now that Zack and his wife Courtney have recently moved from Mobile, Ala. to Birmingham, Zack plans on inviting his family – the guys from this year’s UAB squad – over to his house to hang out and watch the Open.

It took McDowell eight years after he left UAB to win the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. Zack, just two years removed, has time on his side if he wants to accomplish a similar feat.

The U.S. Open returns to Pebble Beach in 2019, what will be 10 years after Zack left college. With ample prep time, Zack’s dream of winning the Open at Pebble may come to fruition.

But in the meantime, whether McDowell defends his title this week at Congressional, if Will Wilcox breaks onto the scene or if Zack Sucher ever hoists the U.S. Open trophy remain to be seen. But for Sucher and all the UAB family, McDowell’s win last year certainly paved a trail any Blazer would be proud to follow.

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Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

“I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

“I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.

Masters victory

Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative

Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ

Green jacket tour

Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket

Man of the people

Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief

Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together

Ace at 17th at Sawgrass

Growing family

Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018

Departure from TaylorMade

Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade

Squashed beef with Paddy

Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'

Victory at Valderrama

Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm
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Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf

By Grill Room TeamDecember 11, 2017, 9:47 pm

Well, this is a one new one.

According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:

“No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”

Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.

“If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.

The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.

“I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”

The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.

Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.

Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.