Money on Sucher's Mind

By Bailey MosierFebruary 16, 2011, 12:00 am

Editor's note: will be following four mini-tour players – Tim Hegarty, Zack Sucher, Benoit Beisser and Jack Newman – over the course of 2011 in our new feature, 'The Minors.' Check in each week for the players' progress, updates, photos and more.

Even when Zack Sucher was 5 years old, he made it a point to make money from golf.

He would go to the course with his dad, Randy, play a few holes but soon turn his attention elsewhere. He spent most of his time off in the woods and ponds gathering wayward golf balls.

It didn’t take long before Zack had collected enough balls to sell and turn a profit. Sucher recalls selling 400 golf balls for $20 – a fortune to a 5-year-old – to any person kind enough to throw a few bucks his way.

Today, nearly 20 years later, Sucher still makes it his business to make money from golf, but his sights are set at earning a few more Andrew Jacksons than he did as a kid.

One thing that hasn’t changed since his childhood is the way he marks his golf balls. If professional golf doesn’t pan out, Sucher may want to try his hand at artistry.

Zack doesn’t sketch two red dots or a line or write his name on his golf balls. Instead, he draws elaborate depictions of Bart Simpson, the Ninja Turtles or whichever other animated childhood icon he feels inspired to pen.

“I probably just have too much time on my hands,” Sucher said. “I don’t know why. I’ve always marked my golf balls up way more than most people do. I spend 15 to 30 minutes on each golf ball.”

Zack Sucher balls

An easy thing to do, Sucher said, with so much time alone in hotel rooms – a tune all too familiar to mini-tour golfers.

Sucher grew up in Mobile, Ala. and is the youngest of three. Randy Sucher passed the golfing gene to his son, whose swing is as homegrown as the cotton and corn on which Alabama’s economy thrives.

Zack worked mostly with his father and his own self-analysis to groove a swing about which he feels good, a swing he says is anything but prototypical:

“I wouldn’t describe it textbook at all. It’s not a very mechanical swing. I want to be more a feel player, but I usually know what I’m doing when I get it going crooked.”

Some crooked and some straight, his golf shots landed him a four-year scholarship to the University of Alabama at Birmingham where he penned quite the resume.

Sucher was individual medalist four times in college, was a two-time All-American who was named to the U.S. team for the U.S.-Japan International Cup and was at one point ranked the third best amateur in the country.

Sucher, 24, defines his game by the risks he takes.

“I’m probably too aggressive if anything.' he said. 'I’d rather hit it in the water going for something, trying to make a birdie than playing it safe and thinking a few holes later, ‘I wish I could have birdied that hole.’

“I don’t think I’d enjoy golf if I played most of the shots safe. I wouldn’t enjoy it as much, I know.'

While risk-taking has its rewards, Sucher said it’s also provided him some big numbers, recalling making a 12 on a hole in college. He certainly doesn’t seem to be afraid of the big numbers, however, because he doesn’t have any plans of taming anytime soon.

“I think it’s paid off more than it’s hurt me. There’ve been a couple times when I probably shouldn’t have hit a shot,” Sucher said. “I’ve either gotten lucky or pulled it off and it’s worked out great.”

Zack turned professional in the fall of 2009 and has been pleased with his progress over the past year and a half, mostly playing Hooters Tour events and Nationwide and PGA Tour Monday qualifiers.

Sucher made it to the third stage of PGA Tour Q-School this past winter where he missed earning full Nationwide status by three shots. He said he averaged six fairways per round that week because he just couldn’t quite get into a groove.

Zack Sucher“If I’d have just gotten my driver straightened out that week, I probably would have made it,” said the 6-foot, 225-pound southerner.

A narrow defeat at Q-School isn’t the only story to headline his golfing career lately. Sucher was part of the group which included LPGA golfer Brittany Lincicome at a Hooters Tour event in January.

“That was so interesting. I had no idea she was playing in the tournament. I went down the pairings sheet, saw her name and thought ‘No way! She wouldn’t play in this event,’” Zack recalled.

He said it was a great day and he marveled at how sharp her short game was. Her long game didn’t go unnoticed either, as he begrudgingly admitted she out drove him on the 18th hole.

“It made me feel really bad. She got me by five or 10 yards,” Sucher said.

Many texts from friends poured in, ridiculing him for being out driven by a girl.

But the one girl in his life he receives no ridicule over is his wife, Courtney.

Zack and Courtney met the weekend before classes started at UAB their freshman year, immediately hit it off, dated throughout college and got married immediately after graduating.

A fairytale story with a slightly less than happily-ever-after honeymoon – a honeymoon Zack said he still owes to Courtney.

“To be honest, my coach probably wouldn’t want me telling this but I’m going to tell on him anyway,” Sucher said, referring to his former college coach’s scheduling mishap.

When Zack and Courtney got engaged at the beginning of their senior year, Zack went to his coach, Alan Kaufman, and asked for the date of the NCAA Regionals in the spring. The newly engaged couple knew they wanted a spring wedding but knew it was a goal and a reality that Zack would be making the trip to the NCAA Regional tournament.

Coach Kaufman gave Zack the incorrect date (in Kaufman’s defense, the NCAA changed the date that year for the first time in six years) and when Kaufman learned of his error five months before the wedding and Regionals, it was too late to do damage control.

Luckily, Zack and Courtney were able to marry according to plan, but ended up “honeymooning” in Orlando, Fla. – the site of the Southeast Regionals that year.

Sucher’s 27th-place finish at Regionals ended his collegiate career but segued into a summer of playing the big amateur events before turning pro in the fall.

Sucher’s 2011 will consist of playing a full Hooters Tour tournament schedule and Nationwide Tour Monday qualifiers. He says his short-term goal is to play well this year and position himself and his game in a place to play the PGA or Nationwide tour full-time in 2012.

So far this year he has played five Hooters Tour Winter Series events and placed in three.

That's $2,906, if you're counting. And we know Zack is.

Next Tuesday, 'The Minors' will feature former U.S. Public Links champion and Masters participant Jack Newman.

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

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 12:30 pm
Getty Images

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.

Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.