Disney Event Fun for Some

By Associated PressOctober 19, 2004, 4:00 pm
04 Funai Classic @ Disney WorldLAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Chris Smith now wishes he had brought his family to the Funai Classic at Disney, where they could have spent the week at the Magic Kingdom, Typhoon Lagoon or other amusement parks.
 
He just didn't realize there would be time for him -- or them -- to relax.
 
'We thought I'd be on the range for eight hours every day, and they didn't want to get in my way,' Smith said Tuesday. 'The last month has been like a Tour school atmosphere for me. That all changed on Sunday.'
 
Just a few days ago, Smith figured he was headed back to Q-school.
 
He was outside the top 150 on the money list. He had just made back-to-back bogeys early on the back nine in the final round at the Chrysler Classic of Greensboro. But it all turned so suddenly when Smith made an eagle, followed that with three straight birdies and wound up in third place.
 
He earned $312,800 for his best finish of the season, enough money to secure his PGA Tour card for next year.
 
Goodbye, worries.
 
Hello, Space Mountain.
 
'I went from one of the guys who wasn't going to enjoy this week to one of the guys coming out here to have some fun,' Smith said. 'The last five months have been really stressful. And this is a hard place to play when you're under a lot of stress.'
 
Disney and the Chrysler Championship next week in Tampa are the last two tournaments for players to earn enough money to finish in the top 125 and keep their cards for next season. Others are grinding to get into the top 30 to qualify for the Tour Championship, or the top 40 to get an invitation to the Masters.
 
Because of its location -- you can hear the train whistle from the Magic Kingdom across the street -- Disney best illustrates the difference between those on a working vacation and those trying to keep their jobs.
 
David Duval, who returned to full-time golf in August, is exempt for two more years because he won the 2001 British Open. After finishing nine holes of practice Tuesday morning, he grabbed a rod from his cart, inspected the reel and started casting into the creek behind the 18th green.
 
Beyond the creek, Peter Lonard was in his cart heading for the first tee. The Aussie is 114th on the money list and is leaving nothing to chance the next two weeks.
 
Some players are walking on pins and needles this week.
 
Others are standing in line at Mr. Toad's Wild Ride.
 
Vijay Singh is trying for a 10-10 season -- 10 victories, $10 million in earnings -- and brings the star power to Disney as the No. 1 player in the world.
 
But most of the focus this week shifts to the bottom, where all but two players from No. 114 through No. 143 on the money list are playing. The exceptions are Notah Begay (No. 125) and Mark O'Meara (No. 131), both of whom are injured and done for the season.
 
Brendan Pappas is 136th on the money list. He has two weeks to earn about $100,000 and keep his card.
 
'Once I'm off the course, I think about it constantly,' Pappas said. 'Once I get out on the golf course, it's the shot at hand that matters. It's always there in the back of your mind, but how sharp your focus is depends on whether you think about it or not.'
 
That's what they all say.
 
Don't believe them.
 
It takes five hours to play a typical round on the PGA Tour. Guys spend no more than an hour of that time selecting a club, taking aim and hitting the shot. They can't help but think about their position on the money list.
 
'I was playing behind Richard Johnson and Ben Crane on Sunday. I had a lot of time to think about it,' Smith said, referring to two notoriously slow players. 'Everybody from 110 to 150 is thinking about it.'
 
Smith now has $692,785, and it looks like anything around $600,000 should be enough to finish in the top 125.
 
But after last week, even Smith still has a smidgen of doubt.
 
Mark Calcavecchia was 125th on the money list, tied for 35th at Greensboro, earned $20,825 -- and he dropped four spots to No. 129. That's because Brent Geiberger won, Michael Allen finished second, and Smith came in third, all of them moving from nowhere to job security.
 
Cameron Beckman tied for 16th and won $73,600, enough to move him to No. 123 and squarely on the bubble.
 
Smith and Beckman have been close friends since their days on the Nationwide Tour. They played a practice round Tuesday, and will play the first two rounds together in the pro-am format at Disney.
 
Beckman, who once made it through Q-school three years in a row, has only one top 10 this year at the Buick Classic in June. He has shown promise over the last month, with a tie for 13th in the 84 Lumber Classic and a tie for 16th last week in Greensboro.
 
'He's been pulling me along the last two months,' Smith said. 'Now, all of a sudden I'm pulling him along.'
 
Beckman and a slew of others all want what Smith got at Greensboro -- an opportunity to end the suspense so they can relax the final two months of the year, even after they leave Disney.
 
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    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.

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    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.  

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    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.”

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    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.