Sterling Advice From a Football Great

By Mercer BaggsMarch 8, 2011, 7:08 pm

Sterling Sharpe sees it. The man knows talent, be it on a football field or a golf course.

For two days in Hilton Head Island, S.C., Sharpe, a former wide receiver for the Green Bay Packers, played alongside Tim Hegarty in an eGolf Professional Tour event.

Both players missed the cut, but Sharpe, now an analyst for the NFL Network, saw enough over 36 holes to be convinced Hegarty has the talent to play this game at a high level.

“I’ve been around a lot of professional golfers, and he can play with those guys, he has that kind of game,” Sharpe said. “He definitely has the length, long and straight, can move the ball both ways.

“But if there is one thing I noticed, from a competitor’s standpoint, he’s too hard on himself. Go lighter on yourself, man.”

When told of Sharpe’s assessment, Hegarty paused and said, “Yeah, that pretty much sounds about right.”

During the second round of the event in Hilton Head, Hegarty was even par for the day until an errant shot led to double bogey on the par-5 11th. That begat bogey on 12, which begat bogey on 13, which begat bogey on 14.

“Obviously, I have to get better in that area,” Hegarty said of the emotional aspect of the game. “I once heard, I believe it was (former PGA Tour professional) Cliff Kresge say, ‘The guys who make it out here are the guys who don’t beat themselves up.’

“I just know what I’m capable of doing – that’s the frustrating part. It would be one thing if I didn’t think I could win a tournament at this level or at least put myself into contention, but I know I can. My expectations are high.”

Sharpe understands. His competitive drive led to five Pro Bowl appearances in seven years, 65 career touchdowns and the receiving Triple Crown in 1992 (league leader in receptions, yards and touchdowns).

He was blazing a path to Canton, Ohio before a neck injury prematurely ended his career in 1994. Nowadays, he uses golf to fill that competitive void. While other retired athletes are playing the sport with buddies for beer money (or slightly more), Sharpe is a regular in pro-ams and occasionally tees it up in mini-tour events.

“I want to know if everything I’m working on, on the range, translates during competition, under the gun,” said Sharpe, a University of South Carolina football legend who currently works with former Georgia Tech and South Carolina golf coach Puggy Blackmon.

“I want to learn how to play golf inside the ropes. It can’t do anything but make me a better player.”

Sharpe retains his amateur status. This allows him to play in the pro-am portion of the Bob Hope Classic each year, as well as the Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am on the Champions Tour and the BMW Charity Pro-Am on the Nationwide Tour. And, as he said with a hearty laugh, “Man, I don’t need that kind of stress (playing for money). I’ve got a job. Let them worry with that stuff.”

For the record, Sharpe shot 86-75 in his home state event.

“I’ve been going through some swing changes. In the first round I wasn’t really sure where things were going, but I got more comfortable with it (in Round 2),” Sharpe said. “That was more like it.”

It’s not unusual to play alongside someone with a well credentialed past on the mini-tour trail – perhaps a recent All-American; maybe a former PGA Tour member, even a past winner.

But legitimate Hall of Fame candidates – whether for golf or another sport – are rarer than red diamonds.

Hegarty, a New York Jets fan to the nth degree, delighted in the luck of the draw. He and the third member of their group, Tim Cantwell, spent two days talking shop with Sharpe, while Sharpe did the same.

“We had a great time,” Sharpe said. “I kept asking them questions about golf and they wanted to talk to me about football.”

“We talked about everything, from (current Green Bay quarterback Aaron) Rodgers vs. (former Green Bay quarterback Brett) Favre to his chances of making the Hall of Fame,” Hegarty said.

“I also congratulated him on an awesome week. The tournament was right after the Packers had won the Super Bowl and his brother (former tight end Shannon Sharpe) had just been inducted into the Hall of Fame. You could tell by his reaction that he was really appreciative that someone took notice of such a big week for his family.”

The same can be said of Hegarty when it was relayed to him that Sharpe learned something from their grouping.

“The one thing I picked up, is that they (Hegarty and Cantwell) are very committed when they get over a shot. They may talk and have fun in between shots, but it’s all business when it’s time to hit. That’s something I need to be able to do,” Sharpe said.

Responded Hegarty, with great sincerity:  “ That’s pretty cool.”

“You know,” he added, “this is something that I’ll have for the rest of my life (playing alongside Sharpe). It was a great opportunity. I mean, it’s Sterling Sharpe – my best friend used to have his jersey.”

Up next for Hegarty is a pre-qualifier for the PGA Tour’s Transitions Championship in Tampa, Fla. For those not in the know, some players have to qualify just to get into a Tour’s Monday qualifier.

If that doesn’t work out, he’ll compete in the Ocala Open, in Ocala, Fla., March 16-18, and then some Moonlight tour events before picking back up with the eGolf Tour at the end of April.

Hegarty played a one-day Moonlight event last week and shot 69. After his $100 entry fee, his net profit was 15 bucks.

“You’re not going to make much money doing those things, but it’s a good way to make a little bit of extra cash, if you play well, and play competitively,” he said. “I want the practice. I want to be able to work on my problem areas.”

“This is a big summer for me. I’ve got some Tarheel (former name of the eGolf Professional Tour) events, some qualifiers in New York (such as for the U.S. Open). I have to practice harder, prepare the best I can,” Hegarty said.

“I've got to stop doing the things I've been doing and play the way I'm capable of playing.”

Fitzpatrick one back in 2018 Euro Tour opener

By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 1:37 pm

HONG KONG – S.S.P. Chawrasia had six birdies and a bogey Thursday for a 5-under 65 and a one-stroke lead at the Hong Kong Open, the first event of the 2018 European Tour season.

Playing in sunny but breezy conditions at the Hong Kong Golf Club, the greens had the players struggling to gauge the approach.

''Very tough conditions today,'' Chawrasia said. ''It's very firm greens, to be honest. I'm just trying to hit the second shot on the green and trying to make it like a two-putt.''

Full-field scores from the UBS Hong Kong Open

Shubhankar Sharma and Matthew Fitzpatrick (both 66) were one shot behind, while seven others were tied for fourth a further stroke behind.

''Hit it great tee to green,'' Fitzpatrick said. ''I think I had like seven or eight chances inside 15 feet, and on a day like today when it's so windy and such a tough golf course, with how tight it is, yeah, it was a good day.''

Justin Rose, who won the title in 2015, shot was 2 under with five birdies and three bogeys.

''I think the course played a couple shots harder than it typically does,'' Rose said. ''I like this course. I think it offers plenty of birdie opportunities.''

Masters champion Sergio GarciaRafa Cabrera Bello and defending champion Sam Brazel (69) were in a group of 16 at 1 under.

Day, Spieth chasing Davis after Day 1 of Aussie Open

By Jason CrookNovember 23, 2017, 6:50 am

The PGA Tour is off this week but a couple of the circuit’s biggest stars – Jordan Spieth and Jason Day – are headlining the Emirates Australian Open, the first event in The Open Qualifying Series for the 2018 Open at Carnoustie. Here's how things look after the opening round, where Cameron Davis has opened up a two-shot lead:

Leaderboard: Davis (-8), Taylor MacDonald (-6), Nick Cullen (-5), Day (-5), Brian Campbell (-4), Lucas Herbert (-4), Stephen Leaney (-4), Anthony Quayle (-4)

What it means: Spieth has won this event three of the last four years, including last year, but he got off to a rocky start on Thursday. Playing in the windy afternoon wave, the world No. 2 bogeyed his first two holes but rebounded with birdies on Nos. 4 and 5. It was more of the same the rest of the way as the 24-year-old carded three more bogeys and four birdies, getting into the clubhouse with a 1-under 70. While it certainly wasn't the start he was hoping for, Spieth didn't shoot himself out of the tournament with 54 holes left to play, he has plenty of time to claw his way up the leaderboard.

Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open

Round of the day: With Round 1 in the books, the solo leader, Davis, is the easy pick here. The 22-year-old Aussie who turned pro last year, came out of the gates on fire, birdieing six of his first seven holes, including four in a row on Nos. 4 through 7. He did drop a shot on the ninth hole to go out in 30 but rebounded with three more birdies on the back to card a 8-under 63. Davis, who was born in Sydney and played this year on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada. He will attempt to get his Tour card next month during qualifying in Arizona.

Best of the rest: Making his first start in his home country in four years, Day started on the 10th hole at The Australian Golf Club and made four birdies to one bogey on the back side before adding four more circles after making the turn. Unfortunately for the 30-year-old, he also added an ugly double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole and had to settle for a 5-under 66, good enough to sit T-3. Day, who has dropped to No. 12 in the world rankings, is looking for his first win on any tour since the 2016 Players Championship.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Can the upstart 22-year-old Davis hold off the star power chasing him or will he fold to the pressure of major champions in his rearview mirror? Day (afternoon) and Spieth (morning) are once again on opposite ends of the draw on Friday as they try to improve their position before the weekend.

Shot of the day: It’s tough to beat an ace in this category, and we had one of those on Thursday from Australian Brad Shilton. Shilton’s hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole came with a special prize, a $16k watch.

Quote of the day: “Just two bad holes. Pretty much just two bad swings for the day,” – Day, after his 66 on Thursday. 

Watch: Shilton wins $16k timepiece with hole-in-one

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 2:50 am

Australian Brad Shilton made a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole during the first round of the Australian Open, and he was rewarded handsomely for his efforts - with a Tag Heuer watch worth $16k.

Day gets in early mix with 66 in return to Australia

By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 2:32 am

SYDNEY - Jason Day's first tournament round in Australia in four years was a 5-under 66 to put him among the leaders early Thursday at the Australian Open.

Day's round came unhinged late with a double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole, his second-last of the day. He hit his tee shot into the trees on the left, hit back out to the fairway, missed his approach to the green and then couldn't get up and down.

''That was brutal,'' Day said of the 481-yard hole that played into gusting winds.

But Day recovered quickly to birdie his last to sit three strokes behind fellow Australian and early leader Cameron Davis, who started on the first, had six front-nine birdies and shot 63 at The Australian Golf Club.

In between the two was Australian Taylor MacDonald, who shot 65.

''It was a pretty solid round, I didn't miss many fairways, I didn't miss many greens,'' Day said. ''I'd give myself a seven or eight out of 10.''

Defending champion Jordan Spieth, attempting to win the Australian Open for the third time in four years, was off to a poor start among the afternoon players, bogeying his first two holes.

The Sydney-born Davis played most of this season on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada and will attempt to secure his card in the final round of qualifying from Dec. 7-10 in Chandler, Arizona.

''Everything went to plan,'' Davis said. ''I got off to a great start. I was hitting my spots and was able to keep it together on the back nine.''

NOTES: Australian Brad Shilton had the first ace of the tournament, using a 5-iron for a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole, his second hole of the day. Australian veteran Geoff Ogilvy, the 2006 U.S. Open winner, shot 69. He and Rod Pampling (68) played the first round with Day.