Austins Career Gets a Boost

By Associated PressJanuary 5, 2008, 5:00 pm
2007 Mercedes Benz ChampionshipKAPALUA, Hawaii -- Woody Austin figures he would be in paradise this week no matter what the location.
 
He is in sporty company at the winners-only Mercedes-Benz Championship after a summer that gave him a tiny taste of celebrity. He won in Memphis with a final-round 62, put up a valiant fight with his clubs and his mouth against Tiger Woods in the PGA Championship, then stole the show at the Presidents Cup by falling face-first into the water trying to play out of a hazard.
 
That was the highlight of a career that has been anything but smooth.
 
'Not everybody has things go their way,' Austin said.
 
Austin wonders how good he could have been if he had joined the PGA TOUR out of college at Miami. But he tore up his knee, and it was struggle for a guy who had more resolve than money. He had to work as a bank teller, as a bartender, in the supplies department of a drug store, and he almost ran out of money before he could prove himself.
 
And he needed help from a friend.
 
No telling how his career would have turned out if not for a tiny gift from Doug Dunakey when Austin was down to his last dime.
 
Dunakey, best known for three-putting for 59 on the Nationwide Tour, first met Austin at a mini-tour event in Florida, and they soon became traveling companions on the road to uncertainty. It was Dunakey who suggested he play the Dakotas Tour in the summer of '93, and Austin had to take out a loan to pay the entry fees up front.
 
'I won a tournament in Orlando. It was called the Florida Coast Golf Tour, and I got $1,200 for that,' Austin recalled. 'That was my spending money for those eight weeks on the road.'
 
He and Dunakey got in the car and began their journey to the Dakotas, making two detours. One was to try to Monday qualify in a Nike Tour event, and the other was the Waterloo Open in Iowa.
 
Austin almost didn't make it past the first stop.
 
'My wife called me up and said, 'We've got problems,'' Austin said. 'That tour (in Florida) went under, so that check bounced and I had no money. Like I said, I had borrowed the money from the bank, so I had nothing. That was my last gasp. I borrowed the $300 from the guy there to get in the Waterloo Open that next week, and if I didn't make any money, I was done.'
 
That's where Dunakey entered the picture.
 
He lived in Iowa and had been runner-up in the Waterloo Open the last two years. So when Austin fell on hard times, Dunakey offered to pay the entry fee. They stayed with Dunakey's parents. One of Dunakey's brother caddied for Austin to save even more money, and Austin milked this opportunity for all he could.
 
'Woody shot 60 the first day,' Dunakey said. 'He ended up winning $10,000. That was the most money he'd ever seen in a long time.'
 
Austin still has the cardboard check from the Waterloo Open, perhaps as important as any golf memento in a collection that includes PGA TOUR rookie of the year in 1995, three trophies and a spot on the Presidents Cup team under captain Jack Nicklaus.
 
Then came the Dakotas Tour, with the first stop in Sioux Falls, S.D.
 
'The tournament was Friday through Sunday,' Dunakey said. 'Monday was practice, Tuesday was the Junior Pro-Am, Wednesday was the Ladies Pro-Am. He took every dime. He made as much as one guy possibly could.'
 
The money wasn't anything like the seven figures for winning on the PGA TOUR, or even last place money of $51,000 this week at Kapalua. But it was enough for Austin to go home and pay his entry fee for Q-school.
 
'If I don't do well at Waterloo, I'm done, period,' Austin said. 'Because I've got no money to even keep going to the Dakotas to play.'
 
Where would he be now? Hard to say. Austin only knows he would not have been at Q-school in 1993, where he did well enough to earn full status on the Nike Tour and stop working at the bank and tending bar in Tampa.
 
He won Q-school the following year when it was held in Florida, then he broke through as a PGA TOUR rookie by winning the Buick Open in a playoff and qualifying for the Tour Championship, where he tied for fourth.
 
In between, he repaid a favor.
 
Having qualified for the PGA TOUR for the first time, Austin and a group of other Americans decided to travel to South America to play a couple of tournaments. Austin asked Dunakey if he wanted to tag along. The cost was $3,000.
 
'I told him, 'Woody, I don't have any money,'' Dunakey recalled. 'He said, 'I'll give you the money.' I told him I didn't know if I could pay him back and he said, 'Don't worry. You'll do fine.''
 
Dunakey did better than that. He won the first tournament they played and earned $15,000.
 
'They paid me in cash, in $100 bills,' Dunakey recalled. 'We're staying in this resort where they've got guards with machine guns. I was paid in the back room of the pro shop, thinking I was going to get my throat slit. I was a nervous wreck. I paid him $3,000 right there, stayed one more week and went back a week early. He never let me live that down.
 
Dunakey could not help but notice the coincidence of friends helping each other out. He gave Austin $300 with no strings attached, and Austin won his next two tournaments to jump-start his career.
 
'When he had a chance to help me, he did,' Dunakey said. 'It took me a couple of more years to get on TOUR, but that was the start.'
 
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    Chamblee: Like Tiger in '13, Mickelson should've DQ'd self

    By Golf Channel DigitalJune 19, 2018, 2:46 pm

    Two days after Brooks Koepka left Long Island with the U.S. Open trophy, the third-round antics of Phil Mickelson are still garnering plenty of discussion.

    Mickelson became a lightning rod of opinion after he intentionally hit a moving ball on the 13th green Saturday at Shinnecock Hills, incurring a two-shot penalty but not a disqualification. In the aftermath, he explained that he made a conscious choice to take the penalty to avoid playing back and forth across the crispy putting surface, and he tied for 48th after a final-round 66.

    Speaking Tuesday on "Morning Drive," Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee shared his view that Mickelson would have been well-served to disqualify himself ahead of the final round. He also compared it to Tiger Woods' incident at the 2013 Masters, when he took an incorrect drop and, like Mickelson, received a two-shot penalty but not a disqualification.



    "I think Tiger, at least it's my opinion that his year would have been less distracting if he had done so," Chamblee said. "And I think the same of Phil Mickelson. If he had withdrawn from the championship and said, 'Look. This is a little sketchy. It didn't play out the way I thought. I've given it some thought and it's in the best interest of the championship that I withdraw.'"

    Chamblee added that Mickelson's antics were "really distracting" on a day filled with drama as the USGA lost control of course conditions, noting that Mickelson and playing partner Andrew "Beef" Johnston were the only tee time where both players failed to break 80 despite the difficult conditions.

    But having had time to review the situation and having surveyed a number of peers, Chamblee is as convinced as ever that Mickelson made a mistake by showing up for his final-round tee time.

    "What Phil did, I haven't run into a single person that hasn't said he deserved to be disqualified," Chamblee said. "Under any interpretation, a serious breach - if gaining an advantage is not a serious breach, I don't know what is. And he clearly said he was gaining an advantage and doing it for strategic reasons."

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    Norman to pose in ESPN's 'Body Issue'

    By Grill Room TeamJune 19, 2018, 2:05 pm

    Professional golfers have, from time to time, appeared in ESPN's "Body Issue," which features athletes strategically posed in the nude. The list includes: Belen Mozo, Carly Booth, Gary Player, Camilo Villegas, Sandra Gal, Christina Kim, Anna Grzebien, Suzann Pettersen and Sadena Parks.

    And now, Greg Norman.

    Modesty has never been an issue for Norman, who has an affinity for posing without a shirt (and sometimes without pants) on his Instagram account.

    He joins a list of athletes, in this year's edition, ranging from professional wrestlers (Charlotte Flair) to Olympians (Adam Rippon) to WNBA stars (Sue Bird). Click here for a full list of the athletes to appear.

     

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    DJ listed as betting favorite for The Open

    By Will GrayJune 19, 2018, 2:00 pm

    With the U.S. Open officially in the books, oddsmakers quickly turned their attention to the season's third major.

    Minutes after Brooks Koepka holed the winning putt to successfully defend his title at Shinnecock Hills, the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook published its first set of odds for The Open. Jordan Spieth, who opened at 14/1, will defend his title as the tournament shifts to Carnoustie in Scotland for the first time since 2007, when Padraig Harrington defeated Sergio Garcia in a playoff.

    Joining Spieth at 14/1 is 2014 Open champion Rory McIlroy, but they're both listed behind world No. 1 Dustin Johnson. Johnson, who was a runner-up at the 2011 Open at Royal St. George's and just finished third at the U.S. Open, opened as a 12/1 betting favorite. Koepka, now a two-time major winner, is listed at 20/1 alongside U.S. Open runner-up Tommy Fleetwood.

    Here's a look at the first edition of odds, with The Open just five weeks away:

    12/1: Dustin Johnson

    14/1: Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy

    16/1: Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Justin Thomas

    20/1: Brooks Koepka, Tommy Fleetwood, Jon Rahm

    25/1: Jason Day, Henrik Stenson, Tiger Woods

    30/1: Sergio Garcia, Patrick Reed, Hideki Matsuyama

    40/1: Phil Mickelson, Branden Grace, Paul Casey, Alex Noren, Marc Leishman

    50/1: Adam Scott, Louis Oosthuizen, Tyrrell Hatton

    60/1: Matt Kuchar, Patrick Cantlay, Bryson DeChambeau, Ian Poulter, Francesco Molinari, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Matthew Fitzpatrick

    80/1: Tony Finau, Zach Johnson, Thomas Pieters, Daniel Berger, Xander Schauffele, Bubba Watson, Shane Lowry

    100/1: Charl Schwartzel, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker

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    Golf Channel, Loch Lomond Partner on Claret Jug Tour Ahead of 147TH Open

    By Golf Channel Public RelationsJune 18, 2018, 9:35 pm

    Award-Winning Independent Scotcb Whisky Sponsoring Tour to Select U.S. Cities; Will Include Special Tastings and Opportunities for Fans to Engage with Golf’s Most Storied Trophy

    Golf Channel and Loch Lomond Group are partnering on a promotional tour with the Claret Jug – golf’s most iconic trophy, first awarded in 1873 to the winner of The Open – to select U.S. cities in advance of the 147TH Open at Carnoustie Golf Links in Scotland. Loch Lomond Whisky’s sponsorship of the tour further enhances the brand’s existing five-year partnership with the R&A as the official spirit of The Open, initially announced in February.

    “We are proud to partner with Golf Channel to support this tour of golf’s most iconic trophy,” said Colin Matthews, CEO of Loch Lomond Group. “Whisky and golf are two of Scotland’s greatest gifts to the world, and following the news of our recent partnership with the R&A for The Open, being a part of the Claret Jug tour was a perfect fit for Loch Lomond Group to further showcase our commitment to the game.”

    “The Loch Lomond Group could not be a more natural fit to sponsor the Claret Jug tour,” said Tom Knapp, senior vice president of golf sponsorship, NBC Sports Group. “Much like the storied history that accompanies the Claret Jug, Loch Lomond’s Scottish roots trace back centuries ago, and their aspirations to align with golf’s most celebrated traditions will resonate with a broad range of consumers in addition to golf fans and whisky enthusiasts.”

    The tour kicks off today in Austin, Texas, and will culminate on Wednesday, July 11 at the American Century Championship in Lake Tahoe one week prior to The Open. Those wishing to engage with the Claret Jug will have an opportunity at one of several tour stops being staged at Topgolf locations in select cities. The tour will feature a custom, authentic Scottish pub where consumers (of age) can sample Loch Lomond’s portfolio of whiskies in the spirit of golf’s original championship and the Claret Jug. The Claret Jug also will make special pop-up visits to select GolfNow course partners located within some of the designated tour markets.

    (All Times Local)

    Monday, June 18                    Austin, Texas              (Topgolf, 5:30-8:30 p.m.)

    Tuesday, June 19                    Houston                      (Topgolf, 5-8 p.m.)

    Wednesday, June 20               Jacksonville, Fla.        (Topgolf, 6-9 p.m.)

    Monday, June 25                    Orlando, Fla.               (Topgolf, 6-9 p.m.)

    Wednesday, July 4                 Washington D.C.        (Topgolf, 5:30-8:30 p.m. – Ashburn, Va.)

    Monday, July 9                       Edison, N.J.                (Topgolf, Time TBA)

    Wednesday, July 11               Lake Tahoe, Nev.       American Century Championship (On Course)

    Fans interacting with the Claret Jug and Loch Lomond during the course of the tour are encouraged to share their experience using the hashtag, #ClaretJug on social media, and tag @TheOpen and @LochLomondMalts on Twitter and Instagram.

    NBC Sports Group is the exclusive U.S. television home of the 147TH Open from Carnoustie, with nearly 50 live hours of tournament coverage, Thursday-Sunday, July 19-22. The Claret Jug is presented each July to the winner of The Open, with the winner also being given the title of “Champion Golfer of the Year” until the following year’s event is staged. The Claret Jug is one of the most storied trophies in all of sports; first presented to the 1873 winner of The Open, Tom Kidd. Each year, the winner’s name is engraved on to the trophy, forever etched into the history of golf’s original championship. It is customary for the Champion Golfer of the Year to drink a favorite alcoholic beverage from the Claret Jug in celebration of the victory.