Notes Caseys Collapse Oberholser Out

By Associated PressApril 13, 2008, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Steve Flesch was doing just what he needed to do in brutal conditions. Plod along, make a bunch of pars and hope it would be enough to win.
 
Then he got to Amen Corner. After dunking his ball in Raes Creek, Flesch didnt have a prayer.
 
The left-hander took a double-bogey 5 at the picturesque 12th hole, where he knocked his tee shot into the water. Flesch went from just two strokes out of the lead to four, and it all fell apart from there. He played the last seven holes at 6 over, ruining any shot at his first major.
 
Flesch finished in a tie for fifth after closing with a 78, leaving him six strokes behind winner Trevor Immelman.
 
I was playing all right, Flesch said. The wind just got really tricky on the back nine and we just pulled the wrong club on the 12th hole and it went straight up and went in the water.
 
It didnt get much better from there. After making par at the par-5 13th' one of the best shots at birdie on the course'he made four bogeys in a row.
 
I was just kind of trying to make some putts, trying to make some birdies, trying to be aggressive, and got a little too aggressive on a couple shots, he said. Its a little disheartening and very disappointing, but thats all right. Its still my best finish in a major, and hopefully if I get in the situation again, itll turn out differently.
 
Flesch went with an 8-iron at the pivotal 12th, believing it would be enough to clear the water on a 154-yard hole thats tucked away in a far corner of the course.
 
He was wrong.
 
When I was over it, there wasnt much wind at all and I was aiming it left of the bunker and I hit it solid, Flesch said. But halfway through the flight, it just stood straight up into the wind and I could tell halfway there that it wasnt going to make it.
 
After taking a drop and a one-shot penalty, Flesch pitched his ball over the water. But he missed a short bogey putt and walked off knowing his chances of winning were probably gone. In the pressure-packed environment of a Sunday at Augusta, his putter deserted him.
 
As good as I putted the first three days, I just didnt putt very well on the back nine, he said. And thats just how it goes. The back nine on Sunday out here, they get a little more difficult.
 
EASY DOES IT:
While everyone else was getting blown around Augusta National, Miguel Angel Jimenezs day was a breeze.
 
The Spaniard shot a 4-under 68 Sunday, the best score of the day and only one of four below par. Not bad for a guy who was so close to the cut line he was playing with a marker Saturday.
 
That was the goal, no? Just to make the cut on Friday and then hope to jump up as much as possible, said Jimenez, who shot a 77 on Thursday but rebounded with a 70 on Friday to make the cut on the number. After starting Sunday in a tie for 35th, Jimenez moved all the way up to a tie for eighth.
 
Jimenez holed a 7-iron on the par-4 No. 7 for an eagle, but even more impressive were his three birdies on the back nine when the wind was really beginning to blow. He finished with a flourish, chipping in for a final birdie on 18.
 
Make no mistake, though. Despite his red numbers, this round was far from easy.
 
It was a tough day today there. And with under par, I believe its going to be tough to do, Jimenez said. You have to take care of too many things that are going on on the golf course to play with the wind, no? But I was hitting the ball very solid.
 
CASEYS COLLAPSE:
A gust of wind blew away Paul Caseys chances of contending for his first major title.
 
The Englishman, who started the final round four shots off the lead, was standing over a par putt at the sixth hole when his ball moved every so slightly. He called a one-stroke penalty on himself, then putted out for a bogey that should have been a par.
 
He followed with two more bogeys, made the turn with a 5-over 41 and was no longer a factor.
 
That took the wind out of my sails, because it was so difficult out there today, Casey said. That kind of threw me for a couple of holes and that was it. Going into the back nine, Im too far back, simple as that.
 
Casey finished with a 7-over 79, dropping him all the way back to even par for the tournament and into a tie for 11th.
 
As they say, what doesnt kill you makes you stronger, he said. I still had a great week. Its very disappointing today and Ill go away and think about this, but I have got to take the positives out of it as I always try to do. There was some very, very good golf that I played this week.
 
Casey wasnt the only one to impose a penalty on himself for the ball moving after it was addressed. Bernhard Langer took away a stroke in the first round, and amateur Michael Thompson called the same penalty on Friday. Both missed the cut.
 
OUTTA HERE:
Arron Oberholsers bogey on the 18th hole might be the last anyone sees of him for a while.
 
Oberholser has been struggling all year with hand and shoulder injuries, and had already said he will take at least the next two months off. He had talked at one point about playing a few events at the end of the season, but said Sunday hes not even sure about that.
 
Hes already received a medical exemption for next year.
 
I dont know that youll be hearing from me the rest of the year, he said. I might just scratch the whole thing and call it a mental health year because Im tired of it. Im sick of it. I didnt enjoy one shot out here today and I enjoyed very few shots this week. Im just burnt out.
 
Oberholser had surgery last October to correct a recurring problem in his left hand. But he thinks he might have come back too soon because the area' right where he grips the golf club'still hurts with every swing. He doesnt plan to even touch a club for two months, and hopes that will help because more surgery is not an option.
 
Ill quit golf before Ill have another surgery, he said. Ill quit competitive golf. Mark my words. Its not worth it to me.
 
Despite his struggles, Oberholser played solidly and began Sunday in good shape for a top-16 finish, which would have earned him an invitation back for next year. But he straggled home with a 5-over 77, including a double bogey on the par-5 15th.
 
He finished the tournament at 4-over 292, tying for 25th.
 
I dont care about the top 50 anymore. I dont care about coming back to the Masters. I dont care about making the majors. I just want to be healthy, Oberholser said. Ill take healthy and the Nationwide Tour vs. playing out here constantly hurt.
 
HAND IT OVER:
At least Zach Johnson gets to keep his spot in the champions locker room.
 
Any chance Johnson had of winning another green jacket ended early Sunday. After a birdie on No. 2, he finished the front nine with three bogeys in the last five holes. He finished with a 5-over 77, and wound up in a tie for 20th.
 
Johnson was there for the green jacket presentation, but only to give it to the newest winner, Trevor Immelman.
 
Having the green jacket on my back for a year has been fantastic, Johnson said. Its one of those things you dont want to give up. But, you know, thats why we play it every year.
 
Johnsons victory at last years Masters was considered by many to be little more than a fluke of the weather. The blustery cold prevented others from going low and allowed him to play it safe'he didnt go for a single par 5 all week' and his 1-over 289, tied for highest winning scorer in Masters history.
 
But he showed this week that he can play a little at Augusta National. After shooting a 76 on Friday, he came back with a 68 Saturday that tied for low round of the day. He finished the tournament at 3-over 291.
 
The more you play it the better off you become. Its just experience, Johnson said. You cant put a price on playing it year in and year out. Thats just, the more I play it, the better off Im going to become.
 
DIVOTS:
Tiger Woods finished second for a second straight year. The scoring average in cool, blustery conditions Sunday was 74.66, highest of the week. No one in the final 11 groups broke par Sunday. Trevor Immelman joins Gary Player as the only South Africans to win the Masters. Immelman is the first foreign champion since Canadas Mike Weir in 2003.
 
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    RIP Lou King and his history-making hats

    By Al TaysOctober 23, 2018, 1:50 pm

    A moment of silence, please, for Lou King, who died Saturday in Iowa City at age 93. If you’re wearing a hat, do NOT take it off, especially if it bears some company’s name or logo. Lou used to get mad when professional golfers would take off their hats – at least the professional golfers he was paying to wear said hats. His company’s hats.

    Amana.

    Every golfer who gets paid to wear some non-golf company’s name or logo on his hat – we’ll expand it to anywhere on his clothing – owes Lou King a debt of gratitude. We’re talking to you, Phil Mickelson, with your KPMG visors. And you, Bernhard Langer, with that Mercedes logo on your shirts. And you, John Daly, with – well, with seemingly everything, everywhere.

    In Lou King’s long, illustrious career in golf, his employers included the Ben Hogan Company, MacGregor Golf and the PGA of America (for which he served as executive director). But it was during his tenure at the Iowa-based appliance maker Amana that he had the most lasting impact on the game. His idea was simplicity itself: Give Amana exposure in person, on television and in newspapers and magazines by paying pros to wear hats with the company’s logo.

    Amana paid pros $50 per tournament – “dirt cheap,” King told me when I profiled him in The Palm Beach (Fla.) Post in 1999. And it was well targeted advertising, too, aimed at affluent people who play golf. “Those are the people who buy major appliances,” King said.

    Many of golf’s powers-that-be were less than amused, however. Tournament winners were frequently directed to doff their headgear for post-round television interviews. That made King see red. “If you’re going to take your hat off,” he would complain to any of his client pros who did, “why am I paying you?”

    It was practically a moot point, though, as TV directors schemed to keep the controversial caps out of the camera’s frame.

    Legendary CBS golf producer Frank Chirkinian was particularly galled by King’s hat strategy. Burned into his memory was the first pro he saw wearing an Amana hat on one of his broadcasts: Larry Ziegler, in a late-1960s Masters.

    When I interviewed him for my 1999 article on King, Chirkinian, who died in 2011, said he refused to show Ziegler because “I was all of a sudden quite incensed that he was wearing this identification representing Amana, and I felt that I had to do something to protect the integrity of our sponsorship.”

    By 1999, however, most of those involved in network broadcasts of golf tournaments had ceased trying to stem the tide of corporate logos. “You really don’t think about it anymore,” said Jack Graham, current Golf Channel and former ABC Sports producer. “It’s become so much an accepted practice.”

    Still standing guard on the wall, however, was NBC’s golf producer, Tommy Roy. “We do think about it still,” Roy said at the time. But last week, when I asked Roy the same question I had asked him in 1999, he chuckled. “No,” he said, “we haven’t worried about that in years.”

    The networks’ vigilance during the 1960s sometimes bordered on the absurd. Graham told me in 1999 that former ABC Sports president Dennis Swanson insisted on wiping out hat logos on still pictures of players that were used on ABC’s golf broadcasts. “I understood what Dennis was saying,” Graham said, “but at the end of the day I said ‘Look, you see them eight gazillion times on the golf course with their logos on. I think we make them look foolish with a hat that has nothing on it.’”

    There was concern in some quarters that the Amana logos would spawn competitors, with players starting to look like NASCAR drivers. Some would say that has already come to pass. A photo of Daly, who admittedly is an extreme case, taken at this year’s Constellation Senior Players Championship reveals no fewer than six sponsor logos on his golf shirt – one on each side of his collar, one on each sleeve and one on each breast.

    King would not have approved. “If it gets to be bad taste to where they start to look like some of these race cars, I think it’s bad,” he told me. “I personally don’t think it’s right for a player to have three or four different logos on their golf shirt.”

    Times change, though. The PGA Tour’s regulations on logos read in part: “As a guideline, no more than four different sponsor logos should appear on a player’s clothing and headwear.”

    King spread the Amana hat gospel to more than just professional golfers. A former starting quarterback for the University of Iowa, he later became friends with legendary Alabama football coach Paul “Bear” Bryant. King and Bryant would occasionally play together in golf outings and charity tournaments, and King would always make sure to give Bryant a pristine white golf hat with the Amana logo.

    King was also friends with former Minnesota Vikings coach Jerry Burns, and provided Amana stocking caps for the team to use when the temperatures plummeted. “For three years we had terrific logo recognition in pro football,” King said.

    The question of which pro was the first to be paid to wear an Amana hat is somewhat muddled. King paid eventual winner Bob Goalby to wear an Amana hat in the 1968 Masters (that featured the infamous Roberto De Vicenzo scorecard gaffe), but Amana’s official program of paying pros didn’t begin until later that year, when King saw Julius Boros put on an Amana hat (that he had gotten when he played in the company’s yearly pro-am) in the Texas heat of the 1968 PGA Championship in San Antonio. That convinced King that a widespread program would be worth the investment, and the rest is hat history, logo lore.

    So tip your hat – just don’t take it off – to Lou King, a man ahead of his time.

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    Golf Channel adds Matt Farrell as GM of Alternative Golf & Exec. Director of World Long Drive Association

    By Golf Channel Public RelationsOctober 23, 2018, 1:20 pm

    Farrell’s New Role Follows Past Decade Spent as CMO of USA Swimming

    Matt Farrell, CMO of USA Swimming, has joined Golf Channel as General Manager of Alternative Golf and Executive Director for the World Long Drive Association. Farrell is a 20-year veteran of sports and entertainment marketing spanning roles with USA Swimming, the U.S. Olympic Committee and Warner Brothers. The announcement was made today by Tom Knapp, Golf Channel executive vice president, partnerships and programming.

    “Golf Channel is committed to the growth of the game by engaging new and different fans in our coverage of all aspects of the game,” said Knapp. “Alternative competitions like World Long Drive expand golf’s reach, and Matt’s proven track record of elevating sports, both through grassroots efforts, digital extensions and high-profile media opportunities will further fuel our efforts. Matt has a terrific reputation within the Olympic community, where he is known as an effective and strategic partner amongst colleagues across sport governing bodies and sponsors.”

    “From the first time I experienced a WLD event, I immediately saw the progressive vision and promising future of long drive as a sport and unique avenue for golf to connect with younger, athletic-minded sports fans,” Farrell said. “And thanks to the investments of NBC Sports, the competitors, sponsors, and event hosts the past few years, we have an incredible foundation to expand upon with a global, long-term strategic plan. For me personally, I look forward to combining my background in commercial development, organizational leadership and digital content at USA Swimming and the U.S. Olympic Committee with Golf Channel’s entrepreneurial enthusiasm to grow the sport of golf in non-traditional ways.”

    In the newly created role, Farrell will lead all domestic and international business elements for Golf Channel’s owned and operated alternative golf franchises, led by the World Long Drive Association, which has aired on Golf Channel since 2013. For these franchises, Farrell will oversee event sponsorships, marketing, communications, operations, player relations and TV/digital media extensions. Farrell will lead teams focused on further development of additional alternative golf competitions, events and franchises. Farrell will report to Knapp and his official start date is December 3.

    Since making a commitment to add World Long Drive to its business portfolio in 2015, Golf Channel has elevated the sport to feature five televised live competitions in 2018, culminating in the Volvik World Long Drive Championship in primetime, and adding the women’s division to televised events for the past two years. Previously, World Long Drive’s exposure was limited to a single, tape-delayed presentation of the men’s world championship on ESPN2. Despite a history as a sport dating back to 1976, Golf Channel’s support drove World Long Drive to be named a 2018 finalist for a “Breakthrough Sports League of the Year” by the annual Cynopsis Sports industry awards. The broader sports industry also has taken notice, including ESPN proclaiming that long drive has “recently started to enter the mainstream of golf;” Men’s Journal noting “with the sport’s ascendant profile and ever-growing prestige,” fans should “buckle up for more high-octane action;” Golf Digest saying the WLD atmosphere is “on the upswing, gaining traction;” and Golf.com claiming it is “an eye-opening experience”.

    Matt Farrell Professional Background:

    • USA Swimming, Chief Marketing Officer since 2008, previously Managing Director of Business Development since 2005.
      • USA Swimming is a National Governing Body with 400,000 members and the No. 1 Olympic swimming country in the world.
      • Under his leadership, delivered highest corporate partner revenue in organization’s history, including corporate partners such as BMW, Marriott, MilkPEP, Arena, TYR, Blue Diamond and Chobani, in addition to long-term partnership renewals with Speedo and Phillips 66.
      • Farrell developed partnerships with Disney and Discovery Education, as well as a diversity and inclusion partnership with Sigma Gamma Rho, an African-American sorority.
      • Signature programs created by Farrell include USA Swimming Productions digital video department, SwimToday youth participation campaign, USA Swimming House VIP hospitality experience, and annual SwimBiz conference focused on elevating the swimming industry’s business potential, sponsorship opportunities and social media influence.
      • Previous professional experience includes serving as Associate Director, Internet Marketing at the U.S. Olympic Committee from 2000-2005, and Director of Internet Marketing, Warner Home Video for Warner Bros. from 1999-2000. Additionally, Farrell served previously at the U.S. Olympic Committee as Manager of Online Projects from 1997-1999 and Communications Coordinator at USA Swimming 1993-1997, after starting his career in the Purdue University’s Sports Information Office from 1992-1993.
      • Farrell additionally has served on the boards for Adaptive Adventures (2013-16) and USA Ultimate (2010-12).
      • Farrell graduated from the University of Arkansas with a BA in Broadcast Journalism.
      • Farrell, a life-long golfer, will be relocating to Golf Channel’s World Headquarters in Orlando, Fla.
      • Farrell is married to Michelle Dusserre, 1984 Olympic silver medalist in gymnastics, who currently works in international sports consulting. They have two daughters – Abby and Zoe. Abby is currently at the University of Illinois and competes on the wheelchair basketball team; while Zoe competes in soccer, swimming and playing in the marching band.
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    Randall's Rant: Tales of the lost and found

    By Randall MellOctober 23, 2018, 12:28 pm

    Give me a player who lost his way.

    Give me a player who lost his motivation, or his confidence, or maybe just his hard-fought momentum, or, better yet, a player who lost all of the above.

    Give me a man or woman like that as a winner on a tour Sunday, because there’s inspiration for all of us in those kind of stories.

    This wicked, mysterious game comes with the dreary certainty that eventually we’re all going to have to make our way out of some deep patch of woods.

    That’s what made this past week so special.

    We hit the trifecta.

    We didn’t just get one winner who came out triumphant after feeling lost this year. We got three of them.

    We got Brooks Koepka winning the CJ Cup @Nine Bridges in South Korea, Danielle Kang winning the Buick LPGA Shanghai and Sergio Garcia winning the Andalucia Valderrama Masters in Spain.

    If you’re a golf fan needing an offseason as much as the players do, maybe you were tempted to take the week off and just gorge on high school, college and NFL football. Koepka, Kang and Garcia made that hard to do. They had compelling stories to tell, or to keep telling.

    Koepka, 28, ascended to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking for the first time with Sunday’s victory. Yes, it comes after he won his second and third majors this year and after he was named PGA Tour player of the year, but it also comes in a year that began with such a troubling start.

    Koepka’s success is more remarkable when you remember he missed the Masters with a wrist injury. You can’t fully appreciate where he is now without reminding yourself he missed four months early in the year with a torn tendon in his left wrist, and that he spent two months in a soft cast and didn’t touch a club for 91 days.

    “You go from playing some of the best golf I’ve probably ever played to being at the lowest point professionally that I’ve been,” Koepka said on the eve of the U.S. Open back in June. “It wasn’t anything I’d wish upon anyone.”

    Six months ago, who would have believed he would seize the No. 1 ranking by fall? Six years ago, who would have believed it possible with Koepka beginning his pro career in Europe’s minor leagues? He’s the first European Challenge Tour player to win three majors.

    “It’s unbelievable,” Koepka said. “Look where I started. My first pro start was in Switzerland. I don’t think I could have said six years later I’d be No. 1.”

    And then there’s Kang.

    Last year, the two-time U.S. Women’s Amateur winner broke through to win her first LPGA title, making it a major at the KPMG Women’s PGA.

    By late this summer, Kang’s confidence was gone.

    Kang, 26, said she was struggling with the yips over full shots and over putts in a run of missing five cuts in six starts. While she began working out her issues going to Butch Harmon a month ago, she was still wrestling with demons just a week ago. She said she needed “four minutes” to take the club back over a shot at the KEB Hana Bank Championship.

    “I was able to get over a lot of anxiety I was feeling when I was trying to hit a golf ball,” Kang said. “I just kept trusting my golf game.”

    Kang was a bit of a mess early on Sunday in Shanghai, until her caddie handed her a wedge going to the back nine and told her to smash her golf bag with it, to exorcise her demon anger.

    “I thank him for that,” she said.

    And there’s Garcia, who broke through to win the Masters a year ago but looked as if he might not be worthy of a spot on the European Ryder Cup team last month. He missed eight of 11 PGA Tour cuts leading up to the Ryder Cup, including the cuts at all four majors, but he flipped a switch going to Paris. He returned to his former brilliance going 3-1 to help the Euros win.

    Garcia, 38, carried his Ryder Cup momentum to Spain.

    “To be able to win here at Valderrama three times in a row is a dream come true,” Garcia said.

    Yes, but give me players who know what nightmares are. Watching them find their way out makes for terrific golf theater. It makes football’s shadow a little less formidable this time of year.

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    Stock Watch: LPGA raises some Q-uestions

    By Ryan LavnerOctober 23, 2018, 11:42 am

    Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.

    RISING

    Brooks (+9%): Golf’s new king looks built to last, with a powerful game, a rock-solid stroke and a chip on his shoulder the size of his South Florida mansion. As long as Koepka stays healthy, the game’s preeminent big-game hunter will continue to eat.

    Danielle Kang (+7%): Two weeks ago her mind was so cluttered that she needed four minutes to pull the trigger on a shot. Battling chip and full-swing yips, she kept the demons at bay to earn an LPGA title even more satisfying than her major breakthrough.

    Paul Azinger (+5%): Tabbed to replace the inimitable Johnny Miller in the NBC booth, Azinger was the best and the most logical choice for the job. He’s a sharp observer of the game who won’t be afraid to let it rip, when necessary.

    Sergio Garcia (+4%): Whenever the Ryder Cup inevitably returns to Valderrama, even if he’s 65 years old, Garcia deserves at least some consideration for a captain’s pick. His record there is stupid-good: 14 appearances, three wins, seven top-3s, 13 top-10s.

    Gary Woodland (+3%): He’s 37 under par across the first two events of the season, with no wins to show for it. Tough sport!


    FALLING

    Ian Poulter (-1%): Playing in the final group with Koepka in Korea, Poulter threw up a 1-under 71 – the worst score of anyone inside the top 22 – and nearly tumbled out of the top 10.

    Slow-play penalties (-2%): Good thing the PGA Tour Champions rules officials finally cracked down on slow play at the senior level – by picking on Corey Pavin and not notorious slowpoke Bernhard Langer, who just so happens to be No. 2 in the points standings.

    LPGA Q Series (-4%): The LPGA’s new version of Q-School gets underway this week, and the women’s college golf coaches are not happy about it: The top 5 players from last season’s individual rankings (Jennifer Kupcho, Maria Fassi, Patty Tavatanakit, Lilia Vu, Lauren Stephenson) automatically earned a spot in the final stage, guaranteeing at least some Symetra status and likely a full LPGA card, if they finish inside the top 45. The LPGA is cherry-picking the best from the college ranks, even if they’re not yet ready to make the jump.

    World No. 1 parity (-5%): This was just the second time since the world rankings debuted that four players reached No. 1. That trend doesn’t seem like it’ll end in 2019, either – especially with Tiger Woods once again eyeing the top spot.