Bonds Jordan and the Presidents Cup

By Associated PressOctober 9, 2009, 4:15 am
Presidents Cup

SAN FRANCISCO – Barry Bonds was inside the ropes following Tiger Woods, which was alternately causing both great amusement and great consternation to the fans at the Presidents Cup.

They couldn’t stop talking about how slimmed down Bonds seems now that he’s out of baseball. But he was still big enough that he kept blocking their view of the man they had really come to see – Tiger Woods – and a few weren’t shy about letting him know it.

Michael Jordan didn’t have that problem. Wearing an official windbreaker befitting his role as an assistant captain for the home team, he scooted around in a golf cart from hole to hole and no one was about to complain if he occasionally got in the way.

Barry Bonds Presidents Cup
Barry Bonds watches the action during the Thursday Foursomes at Harding Park. (Getty Images)

Besides, Jordan had a job. He was there to motivate, even if it cost him an afternoon without the company of even one lit cigar.

Jordan had talked to the young players on the U.S. team about believing in themselves while joining them in a practice round earlier in the week, an experience that left Sean O’Hair so in awe that he said he would someday tell his grandkids about it. No need to use the old trick of trotting out an aging president or two to give the team a spark when the greatest basketball player ever was so eager to please.

Not that there wasn’t some presidential star power on hand Thursday. Former President George H.W. Bush was sitting in the front row of the VIP section on the first tee at Harding Park when another former basketball great walked by.

“Jerry, do you know President Bush?” the woman next to Bush asked Jerry West.

It was that kind of day in the opening session of the Presidents Cup, a competition that every two years desperately tries to rise to the level of its older sibling, the Ryder Cup. It never does, but that doesn’t stop the PGA Tour from bringing in all the big names it can to schmooze with all the big sponsors it can find a way to round up.

Call it Ryder Cup Light because it seems to inspire more polite applause than fervent fandom. Maybe that’s because it takes some thinking to figure out that the U.S. versus the International team is basically the best American players against the best players who are from somewhere other than Europe.

But Jordan takes it seriously, perhaps too seriously. He’s so involved that he spent Monday playing the course with members of the U.S. team, nearly creating an incident when city officials were informed that he was smoking cigars on a municipal course where smoking is not allowed.

Some of the U.S. players were so awed by his presence that they would have gladly taken the rap for him. Jordan was about all they could talk about after the practice round, making it even more difficult for the PGA Tour to sell the idea that the late season event is all about players giving it their all for a patriotic cause.

That was why Jordan wasn’t on stage for the opening ceremonies Wednesday, which so upset the caddies for the U.S. players that most of them wrote red No. 23s on their caps for the opening round. But it didn’t keep him from the opening alternate-shot matches, where he went from hole to hole in his golf cart to confer with players and offer them advice.

“It’s not over yet,” he assured Lucas Glover on the eighth green after Glover and Stewart Cink fell two holes behind Ernie Els and Adam Scott.

That’s like telling Dennis Rodman not to stop rebounding midway through the first quarter of a Bulls game, but excuse Jordan because maybe he has just never been an assistant golf captain before. Indeed, the first round of matches mean little in the grand scheme of things, though on this day the Americans were good enough to win three and split one out of the six.

The large crowd at Harding Park seemed to enjoy it all, though they were relatively subdued. There were no “USA! USA!” chants like you hear in a Ryder Cup, perhaps because they’re so used to seeing players from both sides competing against each week after week on the regular tour.

Bonds seemed to enjoy himself, too. It took him a few holes to figure out that he had to get down on one knee so people could see over him, but after that he managed to be relatively unobtrusive. He even signed a hat for one fan as he walked between holes following Woods and Stricker as they won by a lopsided margin over Geoff Ogilvy and Ryo Ishikawa.

Then again, he might have had reason to be nice to the people of San Francisco, including those who kept remarking that his head looked two sizes smaller than a few years back.

Some of them might end up on his jury when the perjury case against him goes to trial.

Getty Images

Five-time Open champ Thomson passes at 88

By Associated PressJune 20, 2018, 1:35 am

MELBOURNE, Australia – Five-time Open Championship winner Peter Thomson has died, his family said Wednesday. He was 88.

Thomson had been suffering from Parkinson's disease for more than four years and died at his Melbourne home surrounded by family members on Wednesday morning.

Born on Aug, 23, 1929, Thomson was two months short of his 89th birthday.

The first Australian to win The Open Championship, Thomson went on to secure the title five times between 1954 and 1965, a record equaled only by Tom Watson.

On the American senior circuit he won nine times in 1985.

Thomson also served as president of the Australian PGA for 32 years, designing and building courses in Australia and around the world, helping establish the Asian Tour and working behind the scenes for the Odyssey House drug rehabilitation organization where he was chairman for five years.

He also wrote for newspapers and magazines for more than 60 years and was patron of the Australian Golf Writers Association.

In 1979 he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his service to golf and in 2001 became an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for his contributions as a player and administrator and for community service.

Thomson is survived by his wife Mary, son Andrew and daughters Deirdre Baker, Pan Prendergast and Fiona Stanway, their spouses, 11 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Funeral arrangements were to be announced over the next few days.

Getty Images

Gaston leaves USC to become head coach at Texas A&M

By Ryan LavnerJune 19, 2018, 11:00 pm

In a major shakeup in the women’s college golf world, USC coach Andrea Gaston has accepted an offer to become the new head coach at Texas A&M.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Gaston, who informed her players of her decision Monday night, has been one of the most successful coaches over the past two decades, leading the Trojans to three NCAA titles and producing five NCAA individual champions during her 22-year reign. They have finished in the top 5 at nationals in an NCAA-record 13 consecutive seasons.

This year was arguably Gaston’s most impressive coaching job. She returned last fall after undergoing treatment for uterine cancer, but a promising season was seemingly derailed after losing two stars to the pro ranks at the halfway point. Instead, she guided a team with four freshmen and a sophomore to the third seed in stroke play and a NCAA semifinals appearance. Of the four years that match play has been used in the women’s game, USC has advanced to the semifinals three times.  

Texas A&M could use a coach with Gaston’s track record.

Last month the Aggies fired coach Trelle McCombs after 11 seasons following a third consecutive NCAA regional exit. A&M had won conference titles as recently as 2010 (Big 10) and 2015 (SEC), but this year the team finished 13th at SECs.

The head-coaching job at Southern Cal is one of the most sought-after in the country and will have no shortage of outside interest. If the Trojans look to promote internally, men’s assistant Justin Silverstein spent four years under Gaston and helped the team win the 2013 NCAA title.  

Getty Images

Spieth 'blacked out' after Travelers holeout

By Will GrayJune 19, 2018, 9:44 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – It was perhaps the most-replayed shot (and celebration) of the year.

Jordan Spieth’s bunker holeout to win the Travelers Championship last year in a playoff over Daniel Berger nearly broke the Internet, as fans relived that raucous chest bump between Spieth and caddie Michael Greller after Spieth threw his wedge and Greller threw his rake.

Back in Connecticut to defend his title, Spieth admitted that he has watched replays of the scene dozens of times – even if, in the heat of the moment, he wasn’t exactly choreographing every move.

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

“Just that celebration in general, I blacked out,” Spieth said. “It drops and you just react. For me, I’ve had a few instances where I’ve been able to celebrate or react on a 72nd, 73rd hole, 74th hole, whatever it may be, and it just shows how much it means to us.”

Spieth and Greller’s celebration was so memorable that tournament officials later shipped the rake to Greller as a keepsake. It’s a memory that still draws a smile from the defending champ, whose split-second decision to go for a chest bump over another form of celebration provided an appropriate cap to a high-energy sequence of events.

“There’s been a lot of pretty bad celebrations on the PGA Tour. There’s been a lot of missed high-fives,” Spieth said. “I’ve been part of plenty of them. Pretty hard to miss when I’m going into Michael for a chest bump.”

Getty Images

Pregnant Lewis playing final events before break

By Randall MellJune 19, 2018, 9:27 pm

Stacy Lewis will be looking to make the most of her last three starts of 2018 in her annual return to her collegiate roots this week.

Lewis, due to give birth to her first child on Nov. 3, will tee it up in Friday’s start to the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers, Arkansas. She won the NCAA individual women’s national title in 2007 while playing at the University of Arkansas. She is planning to play the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship next week and then the Marathon Classic two weeks after that before taking the rest of the year off to get ready for her baby’s arrival.

Lewis, 33, said she is beginning to feel the effects of being with child.

“Things have definitely gotten harder, I would say, over the last week or so, the heat of the summer and all that,” Lewis said Tuesday. “I'm actually excited. I'm looking forward to the break and being able to decorate the baby's room and do all that kind of stuff and to be a mom - just super excited.”

Lewis says she is managing her energy levels, but she is eager to compete.

“Taking a few more naps and resting a little bit more,” she said. “Other than that, the game's been pretty good.”

Lewis won the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship in 2014, and she was credited with an unofficial title in ’07, while still a senior at Arkansas. That event was reduced to 18 holes because of multiple rain delays. Lewis is a popular alumni still actively involved with the university.