Catching up with Chi Chi Rodriguez

By Travel ArticlesMarch 12, 2012, 7:04 pm

COCO BEACH, Puerto Rico -- Chi Chi Rodriguez, now 75, still steals the show in Puerto Rico during tournament week. Since the event debuted on the PGA Tour schedule in 2008, it has made the most of its place on the schedule opposite a World Golf Championship event. In 2012, Ryo Ishikawa highlighted a strong field of tour pros that also included Angel Cabrera and Ryder Cuppers Jeff Overton and Boo Weekley.

Prior to his 'Farewell Round' on Sunday at the Puerto Rico Open, we caught up with Chi Chi in the Triple-S hospitality tent on the 18th hole at Trump International Golf Club.

Brandon Tucker: Chi Chi, how often are you playing golf these days?

Chi Chi Rodriguez: I play two or three times a week. I play a lot at Dorado and Trump International. I play from 6,300 yards, and I break my age every time I play!

BT: What are your thoughts on the Puerto Rico Open since it came to the PGA Tour in 2008 (and is financially committed for the next two years)?

CR: I'm impressed. Not only is it great from tourism, and the people around the world can see where I was born and where raised, but also the behavior of the young pros. I think (golfers) are the best behaved athletes, and our kids can come and watch who the real role models in this world are.

BT: Are there any players in particular that you think are especially good for the future of the game?

CR: I think Ricky Fowler, if he starts winning, is going to be very, very good for the tour. But they're all well behaved, and the kids can look at all of them and say, 'You know what? I want to be like him.'

BT: Is there anything about the professional tours today that you'd like to see change?

CR: The only thing I don't care about is that the foreign tours have quotas against the Americans. Only four of us can play in their countries. You have almost every Australian playing the PGA Tour, but their tour has quotas. Our boys should be able to go and play their tour and get in the rankings and come back and play the PGA Tour.

Also, the colleges are taking foreign players, and the foreign players get 100 percent aid while Americans only get 80 percent. I wouldn't give a college a penny that does that. It's hard for Americans to get into college, how hard do you think it is for Puerto Ricans?

BT: Do junior golfers have access to affordable golf and good instruction on Puerto Rico?

CR: This particular course, Trump International, is giving the chance to poor kids. They can play here for nothing. When I opened in my golf course in Guayama (El Legado Golf Resort), I made about six kids members, and that way, nobody could pick on them. They all became good players. None of them want to be on tour, most of them want to be doctors, but they have game. My intention was that they don't have to be touring pros. They can be doctors, lawyers or engineers. They can get an education.

BT: The Dorado Resort, where you're the ambassador, appears to have a lot going on with the renovation of the East Course and a new hotel.

CR: What's so good about Dorado is that the new Ritz-Carlton Reserve will be the first six-star hotel (in the Caribbean). The sky is the limit. That's going to be a beautiful hotel, and you can see what they've done to the golf course, too; it's beautiful.

BT: Are there any places you would recommend first-timers to Puerto Rico visit?

CR: There's a town called Camuy. I'd like people to go see the caves there (Rio Camuy Cave Park) underground. It gets very cold down there. It's a great experience. I've been a couple times. I'd also recommend visitors to go to our rain forest, our beaches, to go to old San Juan. There's always something to see.

BT: Today there are an estimated 4 million iguanas in Puerto Rico, but that wasn't always the case, was it?

CR: I was the pro at Rio Mar for 12 years and never saw an iguana. Then I went back to Dorado, and my brother stayed as the pro. One day, I called him from the tour and he said, 'Chi Chi, I saw the strangest thing: a 3- or 4-foot iguana swimming in the lake!'

I said, 'Thank you, little brother,' and I hung up the phone and called a psychiatrist friend of mine and said, 'You know, something is wrong with my brother. You go and see him because he says he said he saw a giant iguana and I'm worried about him.'

So he went down to see him and called me back and said, 'There's not one iguana but two of them,'

So I told him, 'Now you need help, too!'

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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.