Golf School Trains Teens in Swings Life

By Associated PressNovember 8, 2005, 5:00 pm
One by one, they file off the bus with their backpacks and school books, smiling and pushing each other like any group of high schoolers finished with class for the day.
 
However, these teens have hours of course work left this afternoon - along with sand shots, drives and reading putts.
 
They are enrolled in the International Junior Golf Academy, a facility that blends college preparatory courses with intensive, high-level golf instruction from former pro golfers. Not that there's much choice but to practice and train; the mainland is a half-hour ferry ride away through the Calibogue Sound.
 
'It might sound like Alcatraz, but it's not that,' said Charlie Hoyle, a 17-year-old student from England in his second year at the academy.
 
The school was founded in 1995 by Brooklynite Ray Travaglione, who grew up playing and caddying on city courses such as Dyker Beach. He had a successful career on Wall Street before sinking much of his savings into the longheld dream of a golf school. How much did he have to invest? 'Let's just say it took everything I had at one point,' he said.
 
Travaglione modeled the school after the success of tennis academies, such as Nick Bollettieri's, which has developed Grand Slam winners including Andre Agassi and Maria Sharapova.
 
Travaglione liked nearby Hilton Head Island, one of the country's top golf locations and home of the PGA Tour's MCI Classic at Harbour Town Golf Links. So began the slow, time-consuming process of convincing parents to send their children to an island off the coast of South Carolina to become scratch golfers.
 
'At the time it was fairly innovative, fairly risky,' Travaglione said.
 
He says he started with a handful of teens whose parents 'believed the story.' By the school's fifth year, the academy had earned a viable reputation of combining academics with golf - not necessarily to scorch the PGA or LPGA tours, but to earn golf scholarships to college.
 
A year ago, Gary Gilchrist, a former professional who taught rising stars Michelle Wie and Paula Creamer at the David Leadbetter Golf Academy, became the IJGA's golf director.
 
Gilchrist liked the focus on the total person: helping to train a student's mind as well as their swings. 'The thing is it's so exciting to do this,' he says.
 
There are about 125 students from 24 states and 16 countries. Full-time students are housed in guest cottages along Daufuskie Island's shore. They attend class at the Heritage Academy, then work on their golf for three hours each afternoon.
 
Along with stance and grip, come lessons on health and life.
 
Sports psychologist Stephen Russo helps the teens on mental issues such as blocking out distractions and making smart choices. 'Some of you have been here two or three years,' he tells about three dozen students, 'and you've gotten tremendously better.'
 
That's been the case for Hoyle, who has lowered his handicap from an 11 to a 3 during his time at the academy. 'It's just a really good sort of atmosphere,' said Hoyle, who hopes to earn a golf scholarship to college.
 
All the tools to improve are on the island. The teaching staff includes former pros, including Hugh Royer III, who spent several years on the PGA Tour. Royer says if someplace like the academy existed when he was a teen, 'I wouldn't be here, I would be a multimillionaire playing on tour.'
 
The students disperse to two island courses after classes. There are instruction weeks to work on technique and style and competition weeks as students prepare for events on the International Junior Golf Tour, in which academy students play tournaments at Harbour Town and the Tournament Players Club at Sawgrass.
 
Gilchrist showed one group the proper backswing, while Royer worked with another group by the putting green. 'Come on, concentrate people,' he called as teenage minds wandered.
 
Ana Johnson, 17, of Oconomowoc, Wis., is in her second year at IJGA. She says she would like to design courses or take part in the industry some other way.
 
Her game, though, might force her to think again. Shooting over 100 on her high school golf team, Johnson has brought that down to the high 70s here.
 
She likes the secluded spot to train and study but admits the academy 'was a lot of sacrifice because I gave up a normal life.'
 
There are supervised outings to malls and movies. 'We do things like paintball,' Hoyle said.
 
Ben Lasso, 16, of Falls Church, Va., thinks the students mesh well since they share same goal of improvement. Lasso has brought his high handicap down to a 3 in his two years at the school. 'This is a great place to be since golf is everything I do or want to do,' he said.
 
The academy is not for everyone. A full-year's tuition is $34,000, and the seclusion does not suit everyone, Gilchrist says.
 
'I think personally, it has been a sacrifice,' Lasso said. 'But to me it's worth it.'
 
Students have accepted scholarships from college powers such as Georgia, Purdue and Clemson. Johnson, a senior, says she's discussed scholarships with golf coaches at Virginia, North Carolina and William & Mary.
 
'That's certainly part of our mission,' Travaglione said.
 
Its scope could be growing. The academy is building a practice facility and dorm space for 200 students on the island. Travaglione says he's in negotiations on a West Coast satellite school and to bring other instruction in baseball or soccer to his campus.
Getty Images

Schauffele just fine being the underdog

By Rex HoggardJuly 21, 2018, 8:06 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Following a breakthough season during which he won twice and collected the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Award, Xander Schauffele concedes his sophomore campaign has been less than stellar, but that could all change on Sunday at The Open.

Schauffele followed a second-round 66 with a 67 on Saturday to take a share of the 9-under-par lead with Jordan Spieth and Kevin Kisner.

Although he hasn’t won in 2018, he did finish runner-up at The Players and tied for sixth at the U.S. Open, two of the year’s toughest tests.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“Growing up, I always hit it well and played well in tough conditions,” Schauffele said. “I wasn't the guy to shoot 61. I was the guy to shoot like 70 when it was playing really hard.”

Sunday’s pairing could make things even more challenging when he’ll head out in the day’s final tee time with Spieth, the defending champion. But being the underdog in a pairing, like he was on Saturday alongside Rory McIlroy, is not a problem.

“All the guys I've talked to said, 'Live it up while you can, fly under the radar,'” he said. “Today I played in front of what you call Rory's crowd and guys were just yelling all the time, even while he's trying to putt, and he had to step off a few times. No one was yelling at me while I was putting. So I kind of enjoy just hanging back and relaxing.”

Getty Images

Open odds: Spieth 7/1 to win; Tiger, Rory 14/1

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 21, 2018, 7:54 pm

Only 18 holes remain in the 147th Open Championship at Carnoustie, and the man tied atop the leaderboard is the same man who captured the claret jug last year at Royal Birkdale.

So it’s little surprise that Jordan Spieth is the odds-on favorite (7/4) to win his fourth major entering Sunday’s final round.

Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner, both tied with Spieth at 9 under par, are next in line at 5/1 and 11/2 respectively. Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, both four shots behind the leaders, are listed at 14/1.

Click here for the leaderboard and take a look below at the odds, courtesy Jeff Sherman at golfodds.com.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


Jordan Spieth: 7/4

Xander Schauffele: 5/1

Kevin Kisner: 11/2

Tiger Woods: 14/1

Francesco Molinari: 14/1

Rory McIlroy: 14/1

Kevin Chappell: 20/1

Tommy Fleetwood: 20/1

Alex Noren: 25/1

Zach Johnson: 30/1

Justin Rose: 30/1

Matt Kuchar: 40/1

Webb Simpson: 50/1

Adam Scott: 80/1

Tony Finau: 80/1

Charley Hoffman: 100/1

Austin Cook: 100/1

Getty Images

Spieth stands on brink of Open repeat

By Rex HoggardJuly 21, 2018, 7:49 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Jordan Spieth described Monday’s “ceremony” to return the claret jug to the keepers of the game’s oldest championship as anything but enjoyable.

For the last 12 months the silver chalice has been a ready reminder of what he was able to overcome and accomplish in 2017 at Royal Birkdale, a beacon of hope during a year that’s been infinitely forgettable.

By comparison, the relative pillow fight this week at Carnoustie has been a welcome distraction, a happy-go-lucky stroll through a wispy field. Unlike last year’s edition, when Spieth traveled from the depths of defeat to the heights of victory within a 30-minute window, the defending champion has made this Open seem stress-free, easy even, by comparison.

But then those who remain at Carnoustie know it’s little more than a temporary sleight of hand.

As carefree as things appeared on Saturday when 13 players, including Spieth, posted rounds of 67 or lower, as tame as Carnoustie, which stands alone as The Open’s undisputed bully, has been through 54 holes there was a foreboding tension among the rank and file as they readied for a final trip around Royal Brown & Bouncy.

“This kind of southeast or east/southeast wind we had is probably the easiest wind this golf course can have, but when it goes off the left side, which I think is forecasted, that's when you start getting more into the wind versus that kind of cross downwind,” said Spieth, who is tied for the lead with Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner at 9 under par after a 6-under 65. “It won't be the case tomorrow. It's going to be a meaty start, not to mention, obviously, the last few holes to finish.”

Carnoustie only gives so much and with winds predicted to gust to 25 mph there was a distinct feeling that playtime was over.

As melancholy as Spieth was about giving back the claret jug, and make no mistake, he wasn’t happy, not even his status among the leading contenders with a lap remaining was enough for him to ignore the sleeping giant.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


But then he’s come by his anxiousness honestly. Spieth has spent far too much time answering questions about an inexplicably balky putter the last few weeks and he hasn’t finished better than 21st since his “show” finish in April at the Masters.

After a refreshingly solid start to his week on Thursday imploded with a double bogey-bogey-par-bogey finish he appeared closer to an early ride home on Friday than he did another victory lap, but he slowly clawed his way back into the conversation as only he can with one clutch putt after the next.

“I'm playing golf for me now. I've kind of got a cleared mind. I've made a lot of progress over the year that's been kind of an off year, a building year,” said Spieth, who is bogey-free over his last 36 holes. “And I've got an opportunity to make it a very memorable one with a round, but it's not necessary for me to prove anything for any reason.”

But if an awakened Carnoustie has Spieth’s attention, the collection of would-be champions assembled around and behind him adds another layer of intrigue.

Kisner, Spieth’s housemate this week on Angus coast, has led or shared the lead after each round this week and hasn’t shown any signs of fading like he did at last year’s PGA Championship, when he started the final round with a one-stroke lead only to close with a 74 to tie for seventh place.

“I haven't played it in that much wind. So I think it's going to be a true test, and we'll get to see really who's hitting it the best and playing the best tomorrow,” said Kisner, who added a 68 to his total on Day 3.

There’s no shortage of potential party crashers, from Justin Rose at 4 under after a round-of-the-week 64 to 2015 champion Zach Johnson, who also made himself at home with Spieth and Kisner in the annual Open frat house and is at 5 under.

Rory McIlroy, who is four years removed from winning his last major championship, looked like a player poised to get off the Grand Slam schneid for much of the day, moving to 7 under with a birdie at the 15th hole, but he played the last three holes in 2 over par and is tied with Johnson at 5 under par. 

And then there’s Tiger Woods. For three magical hours the three-time Open champion played like he’d never drifted into the dark competitive hole that’s defined his last few years. Like he’d never been sidelined by an endless collection of injuries and eventually sought relief under the surgeon’s knife.

As quietly as Woods can do anything, he turned in 3 under par for the day and added two more birdies at Nos. 10 and 11. His birdie putt at the 14th hole lifted him temporarily into a share of the lead at 6 under par.

“We knew there were going to be 10, 12 guys with a chance to win on Sunday, and it's turning out to be that,” said Woods, who is four strokes off the lead. “I didn't want to be too far back if the guys got to 10 [under] today. Five [shots back] is certainly doable, and especially if we get the forecast tomorrow.”

Woods held his round of 66 together with a gritty par save at the 18th hole after hitting what he said was his only clunker of the day off the final tee.

Even that episode seemed like foreshadowing.

The 18th hole has rough, bunkers, out of bounds and a burn named Barry that weaves its way through the hole like a drunken soccer fan. It’s the Grand Slam of hazardous living and appears certain to play a leading role in Sunday’s outcome.

Perhaps none of the leading men will go full Jean Van de Velde, the star-crossed Frenchman who could still be standing in that burn if not for a rising tide back at the 1999 championship, but if the 499 yards of dusty turf is an uninvited guest, it’s a guest nonetheless.

It may not create the same joyless feelings that he had when he returned the claret jug, but given the hole’s history and Spieth’s penchant for late-inning histrionics (see Open Championship, 2017), the 18th hole is certain to produce more than a few uncomfortable moments.

Getty Images

Wandering photographer costs McIlroy on 16

By Ryan LavnerJuly 21, 2018, 7:44 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy bogeyed two of his last four holes Saturday to fall four shots off the lead at The Open.

One of those mistakes might not have entirely been his fault.

McIlroy missed a short putt on the par-3 16th after a photographer was “in a world all his own,” wandering around near the green, taking photos of the crowd and not paying attention to the action on the green.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“It’s fine,” McIlroy said after a third-round 70 put him at 5-under 208, four shots off the lead. “It’s one of those things that happens. There’s a lot of people out there, and it is what it is. It’s probably my fault, but I just didn’t regroup well after it happened.”

McIlroy also bogeyed the home hole, after driving into a fairway bunker, sending his second shot right of the green and failing to get up and down.

“I putted well,” he said. “I holed out when I needed to. I just need to make the birdies and try to limit the damage tomorrow.”