American serviceman plays with Woods in Dubai

By Associated PressFebruary 9, 2011, 8:20 pm

2009 European Tour

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – When the call came to the home of Lt. Col. Michael Rowells, his wife Molly assumed it was a joke. Why else would someone insist her husband had won a chance to play a round of golf with Tiger Woods?

On Wednesday, the American serviceman teed up alongside the 14-time major winner at the Dubai Desert Classic pro-am. The 47-year-old Mississippi native had flown to Dubai from Afghanistan, where he is deployed with the 401st Army Field Support Brigade.

“It’s amazing to watch how these guys hit the ball,” said the self-described golf fanatic. “It makes me want to go back and practice, but I have to wait until October.”

Rowells beat out 16,000 other amateur golfers in a draw before the tournament at the Emirates Golf Club. In the middle of his first combat tour in Afghanistan, where his unit is charged with logistics, the father of four scrambled to get a passport for his trip to Dubai. He used a set of clubs borrowed from the golf course.

However, Rowells brought his own caddie. Huey Hughes of Charleston, S.C., is a fellow serviceman on their Bagram Air Field military base. He said he’d been working 14-hour days for eight months.

“Here we are fighting these wars and deployed and all of sudden he wins this tournament and you are hand-selected to be caddy with a guy,” he said. “To come out and do this is an opportunity of a lifetime.”

Rowells hadn’t played in four months, and it showed when he hit several balls into the water. He shanked others from the deep rough despite his 9 handicap. It probably didn’t help that one of the world’s greatest golfers was looking on along with a gallery of several dozen.

“I was nervous, absolutely, for not playing for so long and everything else,” said Rowells, wearing an Army golf hat over his crew cut.

“It’s not so much intimidating as much as you see someone hit the ball so pure, so often, and you think, ‘Can I get anywhere near that?”’ he said. “They tell you, ‘Get off the first tee. Get off the first tee.’ It’s more than that. It’s almost every shot when you see a pro hit it so pure.”

Still, Rowells sank several par putts that elicited praise from Woods, and some approach shots earned a “great shot” from the third-ranked golfer. He also exhibited a healthy sense of humor throughout, at one point noting how enjoyable it was to be playing in the rough since there is no grass in Afghanistan.

“I came in wanting to play decent and I really didn’t,” Rowells said. “But it didn’t matter. The experience was so far beyond what my score would have been. The time with Tiger, and the time here at Emirates Golf Club, has just been tremendous regardless of how many balls I put in the water.”

Rowells met Woods on the putting green before they started and had a chance to chat throughout the day. Much of their conversation, Rowells said, revolved around his time in the military, including postings around the United States and helping with the recovery effort after the earthquake in Haiti.

Woods’ father Earl did two tours during the Vietnam War as a member of the U.S. Army Special Forces, rising to the rank of lieutenant colonel. He named his son after a South Vietnamese army colleague whom he fought alongside.

“He understands the services, and that is always a plus,” Rowells said. “A lot of people don’t quite understand what we do. I think he has decent respect for the military and that is always nice. We spoke a little about his dad, some of the places he had been, like Fort Bragg, where I’ll be ending up in the next year-and-a-half or so.”

As he walked off the 18th green, Woods said he had “a great time today” playing with someone whose career path was reminiscent of his dad.

“He understands, obviously, what my dad went through,” Woods said. “He was working with a reserve unit of (special forces) guys in the early days. We have a little bit of a connection, no doubt.”

For his part, Rowells called Woods a “class act.” He said nothing – not even the golfer’s personal troubles that made headlines last year – would change his opinion about a man who remains his golf idol along with Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Phil Mickelson.

“I played with a Tiger that struck the ball very well, was a complete gentleman, a class act, easy going and put me at ease,” he said. “One of the larger-than-life figures was very down to earth and very accommodating to somebody that came in to do this.”

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Four top finishers in Japan qualify for The Open

By Associated PressMay 27, 2018, 10:19 am

IBARAKI, Japan – Shota Akiyoshi of Japan shot a 2-under-par 70 on Sunday to win the Mizuno Open and qualify for The 147th Open.

Akiyoshi offset three bogeys with five birdies at the Royal Golf Club in Ibaraki, Japan, to finish 1 under overall and secure his first ever tournament win on the Japan Golf Tour.

Michael Hendry of New Zealand and Japanese golfers Masahiro Kawamura and Masanori Kobayashi were tied for second one stroke off the pace to also qualify for The Open at Carnoustie, Scotland, from July 19-22.

Hendry, who led the tournament coming into the final round, came close to forcing a playoff with Akiyoshi but dropped a shot with a bogey on the final hole when he needed a par to draw level.

Hendry will make his second appearance at The Open after qualifying at the Mizuno Open for the second year in a row.

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Lewis hopes to win at Volvik with baby on the way

By Randall MellMay 27, 2018, 12:55 am

Stacy Lewis was listening to more than her caddie on her march up the leaderboard Saturday at the Volvik Championship.

Pregnant with her first child, she is listening to her body in a new way these days.

And she could hear a message coming through loud and clear toward the end of her round at Travis Point Country Club in Ann Arbor, Mich.

“The little one was telling me it’s dinnertime,” Lewis said.

Lewis birdied five of the last six holes to shoot 5-under-par 67 and move into position to make a Sunday run at winning her 13th LPGA title. She is two shots behind the leader, Minjee Lee, whose 68 moved her to 12 under overall.

Sunday has the makings of a free for all with 10 players within three shots of the lead.


Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship


Lewis, 33, is four months pregnant, with her due date Nov. 3. She’s expecting to play just a few more times before putting the clubs away to get ready for the birth. She said she’s likely to make the Marathon Classic in mid-July her last start of the season before returning next year.

Of course, Lewis would relish winning with child.

“I don’t care what limitations I have or what is going on with my body, I want to give myself a chance to win,” she told LPGA.com at the Kingsmill Championship last week.

Lewis claimed an emotional victory with her last title, taking the Cambia Portland Classic late last summer after announcing earlier in the week that she would donate her entire winnings to the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts in her Houston hometown.

A victory Sunday would also come with a lot of emotion.

It’s been an interesting year for Lewis.

There’s been the joy of learning she’s ready to begin the family she has been yearning for, and the struggle to play well after bouncing back from injury.

Lewis missed three cuts in a row before making it into the weekend at the Kingsmill Championship last week. That’s one more cut than she missed cumulatively in the previous six years. In six starts this year, Lewis hasn’t finished among the top 50 yet, but she hasn’t felt right, either.

The former world No. 1 didn’t make her second start of 2018 until April, at the year’s first major, the ANA Inspiration. She withdrew from the HSBC Women’s World Championship in late February with a strained right oblique muscle and didn’t play again for a month.

Still, Lewis is finding plenty to get excited about with the baby on the way.

“I kind of had my first Mother’s Day,” Lewis told LPGA.com last week. “It puts golf into perspective. It makes those bad days not seem so bad. It helps me sleep better at night. We are just really excited.”

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Rose hasn't visited restroom at Colonial - here's why

By Nick MentaMay 27, 2018, 12:20 am

In case you're unaware, it's pretty hot in Texas.

Temperatures at Colonial Country Club have approached 100 degrees this week, leaving players to battle both the golf course and potential dehydration.

With the help of his caddie Mark Fulcher, Fort Worth Invitational leader Justin Rose has been plenty hot himself, staking himself to a four-shot lead.


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


"Yeah, Fulch has done a great job of just literally handing me water bottle after water bottle. It seems relentless, to be honest with you," Rose said Saturday.

So just how much are players sweating the heat at Colonial? Well, it doesn't sound like all that water is making it all the way through Rose.

"I haven't even seen the inside of a restroom yet, so you can't even drink quick enough out there," he shared.

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Up four, Rose knows a lead can slip away

By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 11:21 pm

Up four shots heading into Sunday at the Fort Worth Invitational, Justin Rose has tied the largest 54-hole lead of his PGA Tour career.

On the previous two occasions he took a 54-hole Tour lead into the final round, he closed.

And yet, Rose knows just how quickly a lead can slip away. After all, it was Rose who erased a six-shot deficit earlier this season to overtake Dustin Johnson and win the WGC-HSBC Championship. 

"I think I was in the lead going into the final round in Turkey when I won, and I had a four-shot lead going into the final round in Indonesia in December and managed to put that one away," Rose said Saturday, thinking back to his two other victories late last year.

"I was five, six back maybe of DJ, so I've got experience the other way. ... So you can see how things can go both ways real quick. That's why there is no point in getting too far ahead of myself."


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


Up one to start the third round Saturday, Rose extended his lead to as much as five when he birdied four of his first six holes.

He leads the field in strokes gained: tee-to-green (+12.853) and strokes gained: approach-the-green (+7.931).

Rose has won five times worldwide, including at the 2016 Rio Olympics, since his last victory in the United States, at the 2015 Zurich Classic.

With a win Sunday, he'd tie Nick Faldo for the most PGA Tour wins by an Englishman post-World War II, with nine.

But he isn't celebrating just yet.

"It is a big lead, but it's not big enough to be counting the holes away. You've got to go out and play good, you've got to go out positive, you've got to continue to make birdies and keep going forward.

"So my mindset is to not really focus on the lead, it's to focus on my game tomorrow and my performance. You know, just keep executing the way I have been. That's going to be my challenge tomorrow. Going to look forward to that mindset."