Ames beats Leonard McNeill in Disney playoff

By Associated PressNovember 16, 2009, 3:18 am

PGA TourLAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Stephen Ames was munching on sliders and drinking a few beers at his coach’s house Saturday night when he realized that he needed all the help he could get to make his final round of the year a special one.

So at the place where the entrance gates declare “Where Dreams Come True,” Ames figured he should give it a shot.

“I wished for 64,” Ames said, “and I got that 64.”

Ames won his second title in three years at the Children’s Miracle Network Classic on Sunday, edging George McNeill and Justin Leonard in a playoff to become the oldest winner in the tournament’s history.

The 45-year-old Ames was calm and cool on greens that were too slick for most of the field on a sun-baked day at Disney World. The Canadian finished with an 8-under 64 for the clubhouse lead, watching as McNeill (67) and Leonard (67) failed to pass him.

It was the first win of the year and fourth career victory for Ames, including The Players Championship in 2006. This time, he had a few extra people in the gallery.

Among those who followed him on the back nine was his 10-year-old son, Ryan, who provided a little extra motivation walking up to the 18th tee needing a birdie.

“He said, ‘Dad, you need to hole this,”’ Ames recalled. “I said, ‘All right, I’ll try my best.’ It was a very casual round. It’s Mickey Mouse, come on.”

Ames got some help.

Leonard rimmed out a 16-foot putt for the win in regulation, even beginning to pump his fist in celebration only to watch the ball spin away. He twice left putts short when he was eliminated on the first playoff hole – also the 18th.

“To be this close and not be able to pull it out is disappointing,” Leonard said. “Obviously, I thought I made it by my reaction. I was surprised it didn’t go in.”

Ames also caught another break.

After McNeill saved par on the first playoff hole despite landing his tee shot between the trees, he had a 6-foot putt on the 15th to force a third playoff hole. McNeill struck the ball right on the line, but it trickled around the edge and popped off to give Ames the win and the $828,000 first-place prize.

“It made a full 360,” McNeill said. “It went down in the hole, and then it spit back out.”

There were other rallies that didn’t end up on the leaderboard.

Sunday was the last day for players to secure a tour card for next year. Only those who finished the year in the top 125 on the money list are guaranteed full status. The next 25 will at least get conditional status and be able to enter more than a dozen tournaments.

For as much back and forth as there was throughout the week, in the end, there wasn’t a lot of movement.

Former world No. 1 David Duval already had lost his full status by missing the cut. Robert Garrigus also missed the cut and was knocked out of full status for next year.

Jimmy Walker and Nicholas Thompson were the only two players to move inside the top 125 after beginning the week outside. Walker finished at No. 125.

“It’s tough. You can’t do anything,” Walker said. “You just have to sit back and relax. Not relax, you can’t relax. But I did all I could do.”

There were plenty others who cut it close.

Rich Beem shot a 68 to finish at 10 under for the tournament. The 2002 PGA Championship winner finished at No. 122 for the season.

He admitted the pressure to perform this weekend got to him in the first two rounds. He talked to his coach Friday night and said that helped him find his swing.

“I must say it was about as odd as I’ve ever felt thinking about it. I never expected myself to feel the way that I did,” Beem said. “When somebody tells you that you can’t do your job next year when you know you’re so close, that’s not such a good feeling.”

After turning in his scorecard, Beem stood behind the 18th green watching a monitor with the projected money list. His name flip-flopped twice, and he had to walk away. He later walked into the media center to check the minute-by-minute standings.

“I’m sweating,” he said. “But things look good.”

Ames is going to have to rework his schedule now, too.

He wasn’t planning to try to play at the next year’s first event in Maui. That just happens to be the place the Ames family vacations every winter, and they were planning to leave a few days before the tournament.

Looks like they’ll need a new itinerary.

“I always tell Gary Player golf always gets in the way,” Ames said. “I don’t want to play golf. I want to sit on the beach and relax.”

Now he’ll get to do both.

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Expired visa, helicopter, odd clubs all part of Vegas' journey

By Ryan LavnerJuly 19, 2018, 3:48 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Jhonattan Vegas thought someone was playing a practical joke on him.

Or maybe he was stuck in the middle of a horror movie.

Scheduled to leave for The Open a week ago, he didn’t arrive at Carnoustie until a little more than an hour before his first-round tee time Thursday.

“Even if somebody tried to do that on purpose,” he said, “you couldn’t really do it.”

The problem was an expired visa.

Vegas said that he must have gotten confused by the transposed date on the visa – “Guessing I’ve been living in America too long” – and assumed that he was cleared to travel.

No problem, he was told. He’d have a new visa in 24 hours.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


Except the consulate in New York didn’t respond to his application the next day, keeping him in limbo through the weekend. Then, on Monday, he was told that he’d applied for the wrong visa. UPS got shut down in New York and his visa never left, so Vegas waited in vain for seven hours in front of the consulate in Houston. He finally secured his visa on Wednesday morning, boarded a flight from Houston to Toronto, and then flew to Glasgow, the final leg of a 14-hour journey.

His agent arranged a helicopter ride from Glasgow to Carnoustie to ensure that he could make his 10:31 a.m. (local) tee time.

One more issue? His clubs never made it. They were left back in Toronto.

His caddie, Ruben Yorio, scrambled to put together a new bag, with a mismatched set of woods, irons, wedges and putter.

“Luckily the (equipment) vans are still here,” Vegas said. “Otherwise I probably would have played with members’ clubs today.”

He hit about 20 balls on the range – “Luckily they were going forward” – but Carnoustie is one of the most challenging links in the world, and Vegas was working off of two hours’ sleep and without his own custom-built clubs. He shot 76 but, hey, at least he tried.

“It was fun,” he said, “even though the journey was frustrating.”

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'Brain fart' leads to Spieth's late collapse

By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2018, 2:44 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The closing stretch at Carnoustie has famously ruined many a solid round, so Jordan Spieth’s misadventures on Thursday should not have been a complete surprise, but the truth is the defending champion’s miscues were very much self-inflicted.

Spieth was cruising along at 3 under par, just two shots off the early lead, when he made a combination of errors at the par-4 15th hole. He hit the wrong club off the tee (4-iron) and the wrong club for his approach (6-iron) on his way to a double bogey-6.

“The problem was on the second shot, I should have hit enough club to reach the front of the green, and even if it goes 20 yards over the green, it's an easy up-and-down,” Spieth said. “I just had a brain fart, and I missed it into the location where the only pot bunker where I could actually get in trouble, and it plugged deep into it. It was a really, really poor decision on the second shot, and that cost me.”


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


Spieth continued to compound his problems with a sloppy bogey at the 16th hole, and a drive that sailed left at 18 found the Barry Burn en route to a closing bogey and a 1-over 72.

The miscues were more mental, a lack of execution, than they were an example of how difficult the closing stretch at Carnoustie can be, and that’s not good enough for Spieth.

“That's what I would consider as a significant advantage for me is recognizing where the misses are,” said Spieth, who was tied for 68th when he completed his round. “It felt like a missed opportunity.”

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Perez: R&A does it right, 'not like the USGA'

By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2018, 2:28 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Pat Perez didn’t even attempt to hide his frustration with the USGA at last month’s U.S. Open, and after an opening-round 69 at The Open, he took the opportunity to double down on his displeasure.

“They (the R&A) do it right, not like the USGA,” Perez said of the setup at Carnoustie. “They've got the opposite [philosophy] here. I told them, you guys have it right, let the course get baked, but you've got the greens receptive. They're not going to run and be out of control. They could have easily had the greens just like the fairway, but they didn't. The course is just set up perfect.”


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


Concerns at Shinnecock Hills reached a crescendo on Saturday when the scoring average ballooned to 75.3 and only three players broke the par of 70. Of particular concern for many players, including Perez, were some of the hole locations, given how fast and firm the greens were.

“The U.S. Open could have been like this more if they wanted to. They could have made the greens a bit more receptive,” Perez said. “These greens are really flat compared to Shinnecock. So that was kind of the problem there is they let it get out of control and they made the greens too hard.”