Local Survives Katrina Plays Zurich

By Associated PressApril 27, 2006, 4:00 pm
2006 Zurich ClassicNEW ORLEANS -- Excuse Oliver Thomson if his mind isn't completely on golf these days.
Thomson, a local club professional and a Monday qualifier for this week's Zurich Classic, is among tens of thousands of New Orleans residents still trying to get their lives in order nearly eight months after Hurricane Katrina pummeled the city.
Really, to call Thomson a New Orleanian is only partly accurate.
Days before Katrina wrecked his house and the local golf club where he worked, Thomson, his wife, Wendy, their two sons and other relatives evacuated three hours north to Jackson, Miss., where they spent 32 nights living in a hotel room.
He took a job as an assistant pro at a club in Jackson after realizing the golf business was low on the list of priorities in New Orleans -- a city where entire neighborhoods were left in shambles. He found a place to live and put his two sons, 7-year-old Josh and 3-year-old Conner, in local schools.
His wife, meanwhile, returned to New Orleans and her job as a lab technician at a local hospital. Only in the past month did Wendy get a similar job in Jackson, reuniting the family, albeit in a strange city.
'I was Mr. Mom for seven months,' the native of Britain said after shooting a 2-over 74 in Thursday's first round at English Turn Golf and Country Club, eight shots behind the early leaders. 'If I could find four hours in the past few months to get out and play, that was a break for me, a release.'
Thomson's plight in recent months makes his qualifying for a PGA Tour event all the more impressive. He left his job at the Jackson course recently to take a position as a sales and technical adviser for a major equipment manufacturer. Giving equipment demonstrations, taking care of the two boys and overseeing repairs to his New Orleans home has left little time for practice.
Yet two weeks ago, at a Monday qualifier with about 25 other professionals, the 34-year-old shot a 4-under 68 to earn one of two qualifying spots in the field.
'I really haven't practiced that much,' said Thomson, who's now qualified for the New Orleans event four times. 'And I'm certainly not in the same league with most of these guys out here. But I can still swing a club and scrape it around.'
Thomson's play in the opening round mirrored his life in recent months -- lots of ups and downs. After chipping in for an eagle at the par-5 sixth, he finished the front nine with three bogeys for a 1-over 37.
He got it back to even on the back before hitting his tee shot in water on the par-5 15th -- a hole that's reachable in two for big hitters like Thomson. Instead, he made bogey.
He almost chipped in for birdie at the 18th, where several locals recognized the hometown guy and shouted, 'Way to go, Olly!'
Thomson will have to shoot a low round Friday to make the cut and play this weekend, and he says he's certainly capable of such a feat. Even if he doesn't, though, he said he'll walk off the 18th green with a smile.
'Hey, this is fun, to be back in New Orleans and see a lot of people,' he said. 'Believe me, you won't see me breaking any clubs for shooting 74. I'm relaxed.'
Related Links:
  • Golf Chronicles: After Katrina
  • Leaderboard ' Zurich Classic of New Orleans
  • Full Coverage ' Zurich Classic of New Orleans
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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.