Tim Rosaforte - September 17, 2012

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Maria Floyd, the wife of Raymond Floyd, passed away last week and a celebration of her life was held at Shinnecock Hills last weekend. Weather wise, it was an unbelievable evening outside in Southampton, New York and it was exactly how Maria would have wanted it. There were a number of friends who travelled to New York to attend and some of the 300 people there spoke. Jack Nicklaus, Phil Mickelson, Jerry Pate, Jim Furyk, and Jay Sigel were some of the players in attendance with their wives and others included Augusta National Golf Club Chairman Billy Payne and Golf Channel on NBC’s Jimmy Roberts and Dan Hicks.

It was poignant and powerful to have Maria and Raymond’s children in attendance as they had the chance to hear from so many friends how much they loved and respected Maria. Son Robert Floyd said that Maria was the foundation of Raymond’s career as well as for the entire family. As recently as The Masters, Maria was cancer-free so it is shocking that the cancer returned and that she is gone. Phil Mickelson talked about how close he got to Raymond Floyd during the 2008 Ryder Cup when he was one of Paul Azinger’s Assistant Captains. The Ryder Cup is truly a bonding experience at the atmosphere at Shinnecock Hills at times had the feel of a Ryder Cup team room except for the fact that Maria was not there.

In his second visit to Monday’s Morning Drive, Rosaforte began by discussing 4-time U.S. Mid-Amateur Champion Nathan Smith. After winning this big event, he drove back to Pennsylvania with his parents and the trophy. He is one of the best of a shrinking group of career amateurs and it will be very special when he returns to Augusta National and The Masters for a fourth time with his father as his caddie. Not many amateurs can say that they have earned four invitations to The Masters.

In 2004 when he was at Augusta National the week before The Masters, Phil Mickelson asked Smith to join him for a practice round and for lunch. Mickelson and Smith also played together during the Par 3 Contest that year and Smith hopes there is some connection between playing together and Phil winning the Green Jacket. Smith simply wants to make the cut for the first time in The Masters.

Luke Guthrie’s brother is an Assistant Men’s Golf Coach at the University of Illinois where Luke played on the golf team and where he still attends classes to earn his business degree. He wants to finish strong as an honor student at the University of Illinois just as much as he wants to earn a PGA TOUR card for 2013. Now that he has secured his place in The 25 on the Web.com Tour Money List, he can now return to his studies and look forward to his debut as a PGA TOUR member in 2013.