Home-field advantage for several at Sea Island

By Will GrayNovember 6, 2013, 11:31 pm

SEA ISLAND, Ga. – Over the past two weeks, PGA Tour players haven’t had much familiarity or routine.

Hours of layovers in airport terminals, jet lag from cross-continental time changes, foreign hotel beds in foreign countries with, you guessed it, foreign languages have all been the name of the game.

While the PGA Tour’s decision to include the CIMB Classic in Malaysia and last week’s WGC-HSBC Champions in China as official events on the 2013-14 schedule may have helped increase golf's global footprint, it also took many players out of their proverbial comfort zone.

For several participants this week, The McGladrey Classic offers the exact opposite: a well-received dose of home cooking.

While a large percentage of players call Florida home – for reasons ranging from weather to taxes – a growing number of Tour players boast ties to Sea Island, a sleepy golf sanctuary off the coast of Southeast Georgia. When this week’s event comes around each year, it brings the added benefits of friendly confines.

“I’m extremely excited about it. I’m sleeping in my own bed, playing a course that I’m very familiar with,” said Zach Johnson, who estimated a walk from the Seaside Course to his home in nearby St. Simons Island would last 15 minutes. “I just love being at home, and when I can work at home, that’s a nice treat.”

Johnson, ranked No. 13 in the world rankings, is the second highest-ranked player in this week’s field. That distinction still leaves him looking up at another local resident, as No. 8 Matt Kuchar, is also set to tee it up Thursday.

McGladrey Classic: Articles, videos and photos

The list of upper-echelon players that have settled in and around the area is impressive, with many opting to play this week in what is as close to a home game as they will find.

“There’s 12 guys that live here that are on Tour, and then there’s 15 more guys that are associated with this island in some degree,” Johnson added. “That’s a fifth of the field that has a connection here.”

While the ranks of PGA Tour winners and major champions comprising the “Sea Island Mafia” continue to grow, the player to whom the transplants attribute their various transitions is clear.

Davis Love III moved to Sea Island more than 30 years ago, and over the years has become the de facto spokesperson for golf in the area. This week, he again shares dual roles as both event participant and tournament host.

“It’s a nice group. You know, they tend to call me Uncle Davis when they need something,” joked Love, referencing the younger crop of Sea Island players that includes the likes of PGA Tour winner Harris English. “We’ve got great guys around to play golf with, to challenge, to push you.”

Like many this week, Love is looking forward to playing on a familiar venue where he nearly won a year ago. At age 48, and months removed from his Ryder Cup captaincy, the former PGA champion played his way into the final group on Sunday, ultimately tying for fourth behind Tommy Gainey after a final-round 71.

In reflecting on his near-miss, Love admitted that the home-field factor of this event can be a mixed blessing.

“You’re comfortable with the golf course, but you’ve also got the pressures of playing at home and expectations,” he said. “You try a little too hard, and I know Jim Furyk and I certainly, the last group last year were trying too hard to win because it would have been neat for either one of us to win this event.”

Those sentiments were echoed by Johnson, whose tie for 12th in 2010 remains his best result in three McGladrey appearances.

“Some people would say pressure, but I would just say there’s just added weight,” explained Johnson, who tied for 49th here a year ago. “I want to perform well here because it’s where I live.”

Johnson, an Iowa native, also circles the John Deere Classic as an annual must-play event. While the former Masters champion isn’t ready to “equate” this week’s event with the Deere, which he won in 2012, he does see certain parallels between both the tournaments and the surroundings.

“You know, it’s everything I grew up accustomed to in Iowa,” Johnson said of Sea Island, “except for we’ve got an ocean instead of a cornfield.”

While a Sea Island resident has yet to hoist the trophy on the Seaside Course, sheer numbers seem to indicate that trend will come to an end sooner rather than later. In the interim, several players will be able to recharge their batteries this week at a familiar venue, all while Love continues his campaign to coax many of the world’s best players to his secluded strip of paradise.

“They see the practice facilities, they see how nice it is. They might come over to my house for a barbecue and then kind of say, ‘Hey, I could live here, too,’” he added. “So we’re sucking them in.”

One thing remains certain: after two weeks of PGA Tour events staged halfway around the world, many players are eager to feel at home.

Trump playing 'quickly' with Tiger, DJ

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 24, 2017, 1:33 pm

Updated at 11:14 a.m. ET

An Instagram user known as hwalks posted photos to her account that included images of Tiger Woods, President Trump and Dustin Johnson Friday at Trump National, as well as video of Woods' swing.

Original story:

Tiger Woods is scheduled to make his return to competition next week at his Hero World Challenge. But first, a (quick) round with the President.

President Donald Trump tweeted on Friday that he was going to play at Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Fla., alongside Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Woods and President Trump previously played last December. Trump, who, according to trumpgolfcount.com has played 75 rounds since taking over the presidency, has also played over the last year with Rory McIlroy, Ernie Els and Hideki Matsuyama.

Chawrasia leads major champs in Hong Kong

By Associated PressNovember 24, 2017, 1:19 pm

HONG KONG – S.S.P. Chawrasia extended his lead at the Hong Kong Open to two strokes Friday after a 4-under 66 in the second round.

Chawrasia, who had led by one at the Hong Kong Golf Club, is at 9-under 131 overall and took as much as a five-stroke lead at one point.

''Yesterday I was putting very well, and today, also I make some up and downs. I saved a couple of short putts. That's why I think I'm leading by two shots most probably,'' the Indian said. ''The next two days, I'm just looking forward.''

Full-field scores from the UBS Hong Kong Open

Thomas Aiken (64) is second, followed by Alexander Bjork (66), Joakim Lagergren (66), Poom Saksansin (68) and Julian Suri (67) at 5 under 135.

Aiken's round was the lowest of the tournament.

''It is tough out there. The greens are really firm. You've got to hit the fairway,'' Aiken said. ''If you get above the holes, putts can get away from you.''

Justin Rose (69) had six birdies, but three bogeys and a double-bogey at the par 3 12th kept him at 3 under for the tournament.

Masters champion Sergio Garcia (71), playing for the first time in Hong Kong, was at even par, as was defending champion Sam Brazel (71) and 2014 champion Scott Hend (67).

''I have to play better,'' Garcia said. ''The way I felt like I played, it's difficult. This kind of course, you need to play well to shoot a good score.''

Day (68) just one back at Australian Open

By Nick MentaNovember 24, 2017, 6:40 am

Jason Day posted a second-round 68 to move himself just one off the lead held by Lucas Herbert through two rounds at the Emirates Australian Open. Here’s where things stand after 36 holes in Sydney.

Leaderboard: Herbert (-9), Day (-8), Cameron Davis (-7), Anthony Quayle (-6), Matt Jones (-4), Cameron Smith (-4), Nick Cullen (-4), Richard Green (-4)

What it means: Day is in search of his first worldwide victory of 2017. The former world No. 1 last visited the winner’s circle in May 2016, when he won The Players at TPC Sawgrass. A win this week would close out a difficult year for the Aussie who struggled with his game while also helping his mother in her battle with cancer. Day’s last victory on his native soil came in 2013, when he partnered with Adam Scott to win the World Cup of Golf for Australia at Royal Melbourne.

Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open

Round of the day: Herbert followed an opening 67 with a round of 66 to vault himself into the lead at The Australian Golf Club. He made six birdies, including four on his second nine, against a lone bogey to take the outright lead. The 22-year-old, who held the lead at this event last year and captured low-amateur honors in 2014, is coming off a runner-up finish at the NSW Open Championship, which boosted him from 714th to 429th in the Official World Golf Ranking. His 5-under score was matched by Dale Brandt-Richards and Josh Cabban.

Best of the rest: Matt Jones, who won this event over Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott two years ago, turned in 4-under 67. Jones is best known to American audiences for his playoff victory at the 2014 Shell Houston Open and for holding the 36-hole lead at the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, which was eventually won by Day. Jones will start the weekend five shots off the lead, at 4 under par.

Biggest disappointment: Spieth has a lot of work to do this weekend if he expects to be in the title picture for the fourth year in a row. Rounds of 70-71 have him eight shots behind the lead held by Herbert. Spieth made a birdie and a bogey on each side Friday to turn in level par. The reigning champion golfer of the year has finished first, second and first at this event over the last three years.

Storyline to watch this weekend: The Australian Open is the first event of the 2018 Open Qualifying Series. The leading three players who finish in the top 10 and who are not otherwise exempt will receive invites into next summer’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.

Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

"It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’

Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open

Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

“Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

“That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.