Notes Home-Course Advantage Cambos Back

By Associated PressJune 12, 2006, 4:00 pm
U.S. OpenMAMARONECK, N.Y. -- If home-course advantage in golf meant as much as home-court advantage does in basketball, Andy Svoboda would be feeling pretty good heading into the week.
 
He is, after all, the only player entered in the U.S. Open who has logged 2,000 rounds at Winged Foot, the course where the toughest test in golf begins Thursday.
 
'The best experience I've ever had,' Svoboda said Monday of the support he got during an early practice round.
 
Svoboda is one of 77 players who made it to the U.S. Open via qualifying. He was one of 18 to qualify at the sectional in Summit, N.J., the same place where Michelle Wie missed out.
 
But while most of those qualifiers will come and go quietly, Svoboda will certainly draw his share of support this week. The 26-year-old estimates he's played 150 rounds a year at Winged Foot since he was 12. He has won the club championship four times.
 
He made it to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Amateur on the course two years ago, then turned pro and has come up short at Q-school the last two years. He is on the Hooters Tour, where he ranks 84th on the money list, with earnings this year of only $4,600.
 
The USGA, as usual, is setting up the U.S. Open course to be a bear. Svoboda, who has seen it on good days and bad, isn't intimidated at the site of his course in a less-forgiving state.
 
'As far as how it normally plays for the members, they usually don't have rough anywhere near this height,' he said of the grass that's growing between 5 and 10 inches high. 'But for a lot of the club championships ... the course plays really hard.'
 
Last year, journeyman qualifier Jason Gore -- ranked 818th in the world -- took Pinehurst by storm, playing his way into the final pairing on Sunday before flaming out.
 
Maybe with home-course advantage, Svoboda could be that guy this year.
 
'I'm not going to let myself get ahead like that,' Svoboda said. 'I'm just going to go about my business out there and whatever happens, happens. It's going to be great.'
 
IN DEFENSE
Michael Campbell enters this year's U.S. Open as a defending champion, a much different status than last year when he was making a decent living, but hardly making himself a star, on the European Tour.
 
How does he feel about his chances this year, as compared to last?
 
'It's the same,' Campbell said. 'Last year, I thought I was hitting the ball pretty well and giving myself chances. I feel the same this year.'
 
Because of last year, it wouldn't come as a shock if Campbell won this year, even though he hasn't been doing much winning of late. His best finish this year is a tie for fifth last month at the British Masters. Besides that, he hasn't finished higher than 12th.
 
Coming into last year's Open at Pinehurst, he had three top-10 finishes.
 
'The results haven't shown it, but I can tell how I'm hitting the ball,' Campbell said. 'I'm feeling a lot better. I feel like if I can keep the ball in play, get it down the middle, I'm going to have a chance.'
 
LEFT BEHIND
Because of the U.S. Open's limited field of exemptions and large number of qualifiers, many familiar names and some PGA TOUR regulars won't be at Winged Foot this week.
 
Among those who failed to qualify are: John Daly, Joe Ogilvie, Jeff Maggert, Justin Rose, Kirk Triplett, Jonathan Kaye, Craig Parry, Joe Durant, Jesper Parnevik, Kevin Sutherland and Jason Gore.
 
Rose played well enough to get into a playoff at sectional qualifying, but he didn't think his score would be good enough when he finished and left town before the playoff began.
 
SLUMAN'S ASSESSMENT
Jeff Sluman heard plenty of horror stories about Winged Foot, typical any time the U.S. Open comes to this man-sized course. But his first look at the course Monday, even playing in a group of big-hitters like Tiger Woods, didn't make him feel like he couldn't handle it.
 
'I thought it was perfect. The width of the fairways ... were very fair and almost generous,' he said.
 
Then he thought about what he said.
 
'Hopefully, I won't live to regret those words when I air it out,' he said.
 
Sluman was the first to hit from every fairway Monday while playing with Woods, Charles Howell III and Bo Van Pelt. But all of them were tested on the par-3 third hole, which they played from the back tee.
 
There are two tees for the U.S. Open, one at 243 yards on the card, the other at 216 yards. Asked if he played from the back tee -- Sluman said it was 234 yards to the front -- he replied, 'I hope there's not another tee behind there.'
 
DIVOTS
Fans stood three-deep down both sides of the par-3 10th hole at Winged Foot after it was posted that Tiger Woods had signed up for a 1:14 p.m. practice round at No. 10 with John Cook, Tommy Armour III and Madalitso Muthiya of Zambia.
 
Before long, people were asking, 'Where's Tiger?' He wound up playing the front side a half-hour later. ... Vijay Singh's victory moved him up to No. 3 in the world ranking, while Ernie Els slipped to No. 7. ... Els withdrew from the Barclays Classic last week and went home to London to relax with his kids. Only his wife, Liezl, joined him at Winged Foot, and she sat alone in the grass surrounding the practice green, watching him work.
 
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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.