Notes No More Tuesday Pro-Ams Freddie on Augusta
That won't be the case next year for the Memorial of Nicklaus or Palmer's Bay Hill Invitational. PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem had said it would be best for all pro-ams to be held on the same day, and both tournaments confirmed they will move theirs to Wednesdays.
'I'm not objectionable to it,' Palmer said. 'In the beginning, we tried to do some extra stuff to make it attractive to the players, but now the indication is the guys want to come in on Tuesday night and play Wednesday in the pro-am as their practice round.'
Memorial tournament director Dan Sullivan said a move to Wednesday was in the works long before the tour got involved. He was concerned about players who had been with their families over the Memorial Day weekend and might have to rush to get to Ohio for a Tuesday pro-am.
The PGA Tour has a policy that players must take part in the pro-am if they want to compete in a tournament. Phil Mickelson missed the Memorial last year, saying he wanted to spend three days at Pinehurst to prepare for the U.S. Open and couldn't get back for the pro-am.
Sullivan said the Memorial, which honors star players each year, would move that ceremony to 3 p.m. on Tuesdays. The pro-am is for only 18 players and features a shotgun start on 12 holes. That will take place at 12:30 p.m. Wednesdays, allowing others to practice in the morning.
The Tour Championship also has a Tuesday pro-am, and Mickelson used that as an excuse not to play this year. That pro-am also will move to Wednesday.
'There will be no Tuesday pro-ams next year,' said Andy Pazder, the tour's vice president of competition. 'That helps some players who have an obligation Monday and Tuesday, whether it's an outing or a commitment to sponsors.'
Former Masters champion Fred Couples already has played Augusta National five times in two trips since the course opened after more changes to lengthen six holes.
He shot a 64 a few weeks ago but kept that nugget from players who came by his locker two weeks ago at Sherwood Country Club and milked him for information.
The first hole is 20 yards longer and now plays 455 yards, making it difficult to get up the hill.
'The last day, I hit 3-wood into No. 1,' Couples said, neglecting to tell them it was 8 a.m. and not quite 50 degrees, so the ball wasn't traveling all that far.
He was asked what he hit on No. 7, which was lengthened 40 yards. It played as a 2-iron and a wedge when Couples won in 1992. He told them he killed a drive and had a 5-iron left.
David Toms walked by.
'It's perfect for you, the way you hit your 5-wood,' Couples told him.
After they all left wide-eyed, Couples winked and said, 'I've got them all scared now. It's not that bad.'
Heather Daly-Donofrio has received the William and Mousie Powell Award for behavior and deeds that best exemplify the spirit, ideals and values of the LPGA Tour.
A Yale graduate who returned to coach at her alma mater while keeping a full schedule, Daly-Donofrio has won twice and averaged 22 stars a year. She balanced her time inside the ropes this year with serving as president of the LPGA Tour and co-chair of the search committee for a new commissioner.
Amy Read was honored with the Heather Farr Player Award, given to the LPGA player who shows determination, perseverance and spirit in fulfilling her goals. Farr died in 1993 after a 4 1/2 -year battle with cancer.
Read has fought through injuries to her ankle, wrist, shoulder and knees, and has had eight knee surgeries since 1995. That was followed by two shoulder surgeries earlier this year, and doctors discovered she had Lupus, a chronic inflammatory disease.
Read is on the course nearly every day with hopes of playing Monday qualifiers to get back on tour.
Royal Birkdale is the latest British Open venue to strengthen its links by adding 154 yards, 16 fairway bunkers and redoing the 17th green.
The Open returns to Birkdale in 2008 for the first time since Mark O'Meara beat Brian Watts in a playoff.
'Royal Birkdale has always been a strong Open venue, and we feel that by introducing these changes, that challenge can be maintained,' Royal & Ancient chief executive Peter Dawson said.
The most significant change is likely to be No. 6, a par-4 that will play 499 yards. A bunker will be added at the left corner of the dogleg right, 280 yards from the tee. Another bunker will be added left of the green.
In 1998, the sixth hole was the toughest at Birkdale, yielding only 16 birdies and playing to an average of 4.62.
CHANGE OF LUCK
Tiger Woods has his red shirt for Sunday. Michael Campbell once wore red socks for luck.
But not anymore.
'That was about 10 years ago,' the U.S. Open champion said with a smile. 'I did for a while, yeah. At the (1995) British Open, I wore red socks. And then I started missing cuts, so I changed back. They're black and gray now.'
The last time anyone remembered Campbell and his red socks was in the first round of the Accenture Match Play Championship at La Costa, were Woods beat him, 5 and 4.
Tour officials had been leaning toward taking the World Cup to China in 2006, but instead it will be moving to the Sandy Lane Resort in Barbados, site of Tiger Woods' wedding last year. ... Vijay Singh will be playing next month in the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, to be held opposite the Bob Hope Classic. Also playing Abu Dhabi are Colin Montgomerie, Sergio Garcia and John Daly. ... The 2007 Senior British Open will be held at Muirfield to coincide with the 50th birthday of Nick Faldo, who won two of his three claret jugs there.
STAT OF THE WEEK
Ever since Augusta National changed its qualifications in 2000, only five Americans have had to rely on top 50 in the world ranking to get into the Masters.
'Daytime television is pretty depressing.' -- Ernie Els, on the low point of a year in which he spent four months recovering from knee surgery.
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Five-time Open champ Thomson passes at 88
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.
Gaston leaves USC to become head coach at Texas A&M
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.
Spieth 'blacked out' after Travelers holeout
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.
“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.”
Pregnant Lewis playing final events before break
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.