Notes Scott Longer Than Lefty as a Lefty

By Associated PressMarch 25, 2008, 4:00 pm
Tiger Woods holed a birdie putt from 50 feet across the 12th green at Cog Hill. He twice nearly lost in the early rounds of Match Play, making 90 feet of putts against J.B. Holmes, and getting a second chance when Aaron Baddeley missed a 12-foot eagle putt on the 19th hole.
 
And dont forget Bay Hill, where Woods made a 25-foot putt on the final hole that his caddie said had a 1-in-15 chance of going in.
 
Even greatness in golf requires good fortune, and Woods had plenty during his latest winning streak.
 
That ran out at Doral, and so did a streak that began in September. Woods didnt make anything on Saturday, when he fell five shots behind Geoff Ogilvy, and he didnt make enough on Sunday and Monday, finishing two shots behind.
 
People dont really understand you need to have something happen, a positive thing happen to you out there in order to win tournaments, Woods said. I heard Geoff bladed one in the hole for par. Thats what you need to have happen. Those are the things that have happened to me, and things werent going that way this week.
 
Even with the streak over, it is no less amazing how much Woods wins relative to his peers.
 
Among active players, Woods, Vijay Singh and David Duval are the only ones to have strung together at least three straight victories.
 
Duval closed out his 1997 season with three straight wins. Singh won three straight during his nine-win season in 2004. Woods has done it five times'two streaks ended at three wins, one at five, one at six, one at seven.
 
It was going to end at some point, Ogilvy said after stopping the latest PGA TOUR streak at five.
 
Ogilvys only frustration was players being labeled as failures at the expense of Woods winning so much.
 
Its fun to watch the streak and its fun to watch the fans get so excited about stuff, Ogilvy said. The frustrating thing is that people think that were not trying and were flying the white flag. I dont think thats true in any case, really.
 

TRIVIA TIME:
There have been seven winning streaks of at least three PGA TOUR events since 1997. Name the only player who has ended those streaks more than once. Answer below.
 

SWITCH-HITTING SCOTT:
Adam Scott impressed many observers by playing a shot left-handed out of the bushes at Doral on the 17th hole of the second round. He isnt the only player to attempt a shot from the other side, but this was a full swing, and a beautiful one. Scott took the inverted club all the way back to parallel, and advanced it some 50 yards.
 
Apparently, hes quite good with a driver, too.
 
Swing coach Butch Harmon tells the story of Scott playing a practice round with Phil Mickelson at East Lake, asking to try Leftys driver on the 14th. He striped it, leaving him only 20 or so yards behind Mickelson.
 
Harmon was out in the fairway, and kicked Scotts ball forward so that it was nearly 10 yards ahead of Mickelson.
 
Suffice to say, Mickelson was surprised that Scott put it past him.
 
Even better, Harmon waited about four months before he told Mickelson what had happened. No doubt, Lefty was relieved.
 

CUTTING BACK:
Jim Furyk already has played eight times, and he now embarks on the busiest time of his year. Furyk said he will have no more than one week off at a time through the end of the TOUR Championship the last weekend in September, which has made him determined to cut back.
 
But where?
 
The issue we have now is theres a lot of good events, and when theyre crammed together, Ive really struggled making my schedule, Furyk said. It used to be easy. All those events in the fall, I only played one on the schedule (Las Vegas). Those other events were sprinkled in, and those were my weeks off. From now, I dont have a two-week break in the schedule unless I get hurt.
 
He is playing New Orleans because he does not want a two-week break before the Masters. His favorite tracks are Hilton Head, Colonial, Memorial and the Buick Open, and there are cant-miss events like Wachovia, The Players Championship and AT&T National.
 
The British Open is the first of four straight weeks because he is the defending champion at the Canadian Open.
 
Ive got to cut somewhere, but I dont know where, Furyk said. Im playing a lot at events that I think are OK for my game, but Im trying to not be worn out for the events I really love in summer. Next year, Ill do a better job. It should have taken me six months to figure it out, and its taken my two years.
 

CANADIAN SKINS:
Fred Couples and Greg Norman will square off long before the Presidents Cup next year. Both have agreed to play June 16-17 in the Telus World Skins Game, to be held at Predator Ridge Golf Resort in western Canada.
 
Theyve always had tremendous fields for this event, and Im looking forward to going up against the other players, including Greg, Couples said. The event will be held the Monday and Tuesday after the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines.
 
Couples has played the Canadian skins event eight times and earned $1.11 million, more than anyone. Norman won in 1997 by capturing 13 skins worth $275,000.
 
Other players are still to be announced, although defending champion John Daly will not be playing.
 

TRIVIA ANSWER:
Phil Mickelson.
 
He ended Woods six-tournament streak in 2000 at the Buick Invitational, and Duvals three-tournament streak at the Mercedes Championships in 1998 when it was played at La Costa.
 
The other players who won tournaments to end Woods winning streaks were Duffy Waldorf (00 Disney), Robert Damron (01 Byron Nelson), Henrik Stenson (07 Match Play) and Geoff Ogilvy at Doral.
 
Ryan Palmer ended Singhs streak in 2004 when he won at Disney.
 

STAT OF THE WEEK:
Tiger Woods has nine consecutive top-five finishes on the PGA TOUR, the longest streak of his career.
 

FINAL WORD:
Some people walk away thinking, Geez, that course must be great because the pros cant make any birdies on it. Other people walk away saying, Well, that course must be boring to play because the pros cant make any birdies on it. Everyone seems to be pretty split on the idea whether hard is good.'Geoff Ogilvy.
 
Copyright 2008 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Getty Images

Inside Attica: Interviewing Valentino Dixon

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 20, 2018, 2:00 am

By RYAN GRIFFITHS

Some stories stick with you longer than others. First time you get to do a feature. First time you meet a sports legend (it was Allen Iverson for me). Seeing a championship isn’t bad, either. Been there, done that. Lawnmower museum on the east coast of England, tsunami survivors in California, re-connecting Al Geiberger with his lost 59 tape, all good, but no story or environment has stuck with me like going to Attica Correctional Facility in 2013 to tell the story of Valentino Dixon.

For starters, I’d never been searched before setting up for an interview. Not just me, everyone - all three cameramen, Jimmy Roberts, the guy escorting us in who worked there. Everyone. Attica trusts no one. Can’t blame them after 1971, when inmates protesting living conditions took members of the prison staff hostage. The ensuing police response left 29 inmates and 10 hostages dead.

Attica has a "shank wall," a collection of homemade weapons seized from inmates and displayed like baseball cards in a plastic case on the wall outside the guards' lunchroom. Prison interior decorating at its finest. Nice touch.

We went to do a story on an inmate who was introduced to the world in a Golf Digest article by Max Adler in 2012. "The golf artist who had never stepped foot on a golf course - Valentino Dixon.: He was in for murder. Second degree. You know, your standard golf story.


Wrongfully imprisoned man freed after nearly three decades


Dixon, a former aspiring artist before getting caught up in the Buffalo drug-dealing scene, started sketching photos from Golf Digest for the warden. I’ve never been to prison, but from what I have gathered from watching The Shawshank Redemption some 8,000 times, getting in the warden’s good graces is a smart habit to pick up if you’re doing serious time.

Dixon's art was insanely good. Even more so because he did it all with colored pencils. No paintbrushes allowed (see shank wall above). Jimmy, the crew and I stopped for a good 10-15 minutes to marvel at his creations before continuing with the interview.

We spent a solid 40 minutes talking to the man who supposedly killed a man 20-something years prior. In that time, he pleaded his innocence to us over and over again. He spoke like a man who had rehearsed every angle of his story over and over and over again. I give him credit - there were no holes in his story. I consider myself a pretty good judge of character, and he didn’t look like a killer, didn’t sound like one. either. But what did I know? I’d never met one - that I know of. And if you were stuck in prison for 20-plus years and all of a sudden had a camera in front of you and a platform to plead your innocence, wouldn’t you do your best to try to get out of there?

Since the guards wouldn’t allow any food, the crew and I stopped at the first deli we saw on the ride back into Buffalo. After we were done eating, we all looked at each other, knowing what we all were thinking: "Do you think he did it?”

Didn’t matter what we thought, we were just there to tell the story. On Wednesday, however, people whose opinions mattered made a decision and allowed someone who loves the game of golf, but has never stepped foot on a golf course, to do just that if he so chooses. That's a story that will stick with him for the rest of his life.

Getty Images

Wrongfully convicted inmate who turned to golf artistry freed

By Associated PressSeptember 20, 2018, 12:35 am

BUFFALO, N.Y. – A New York prison artist who never played golf but became known for drawings of lush courses he could only imagine was set free Wednesday after authorities agreed that another man committed the murder that put him behind bars for nearly three decades.

Valentino Dixon walked out of Erie County Court into bright sunshine and hugs from his mother, daughter and a crowd of other relatives and friends, ready for a meal at Red Lobster and vowing to fight on behalf of others who are wrongly convicted.

"I love y'all," Dixon shouted after trading the green prison uniform he wore in court for jeans and a T-shirt. "It feels great."

Earlier Wednesday, a judge agreed to set aside Dixon's conviction in the 1991 shooting death of 17-year-old Torriano Jackson on a Buffalo street corner and accepted a guilty plea from another man who had confessed to the killing two days after it happened.

"There was a fight. Shots were fired. I grabbed the gun from under the bench, switched it to automatic, all the bullets shot out. Unfortunately, Torriano ended up dying," Lamarr Scott, who has been in prison for 25 years for an unrelated attempted murder, told the court. "I dropped the gun and ran and it was over and done with."

Scott said he had gotten the gun, a Tec-9 semi-automatic, from Dixon and the two men had driven together to the crowded corner where the fighting broke out. Scott was given a sentence of 8 1/3 to 25 years in prison, concurrent with his current term.

Judge Susan Eagan let stand a count of criminal possession of a weapon against Dixon, and its 5- to 15-year sentence, which she said he had satisfied.


Inside Attica: Interviewing Valentino Dixon


"You are eligible for release today," the judge said, igniting applause and shouts from courtroom supporters.

"Mr. Dixon is not an innocent man. Don't be misguided in that at all," Erie County District Attorney John Flynn told reporters after the hearing. He described Dixon as "an up-and-coming drug dealer in the city of Buffalo" at the time of the shooting and said Scott was Dixon's bodyguard.

"Mr. Dixon is innocent of the shooting and of the murder for what he was found guilty of," he said, "but Mr. Dixon brought the gun to the fight. It was Mr. Dixon's gun."

While behind bars, Dixon rekindled his childhood passion for drawing, often spending 10 hours a day creating vivid colored pencil landscapes, including of golf courses, while imagining freedom. Articles in Golf Digest and elsewhere have drawn public attention to Dixon's case. NBC Sports' Jimmy Roberts spotlighted Dixon in a 2013 segment for his "In Play" series on Golf Channel.

“I’ve worked in this business for close to 40 years, and this is the most consequential thing I’ve ever been a part of," Roberts said after learning of Dixon's release. "I’m a sports reporter, but we helped get a man out of prison. I’m humbled and dumbstruck.”

Georgetown University students made a documentary as part of a prison reform course last spring. The class worked with Dixon's attorney, Donald Thompson, to have the conviction overturned.

"It went so far beyond reasonable doubt that it's pretty outrageous that he would have been convicted and it would have been upheld," said Marc Howard, director of the university's Prisons and Justice Initiative. Howard taught the course with childhood friend, Marty Tankleff, who also spent years wrongfully imprisoned.

Dixon said he will keep drawing, while working on behalf of other prisoners.

"If you don't have any money in this system, it's hard to get justice because the system is not equipped or designed to give a poor person a fair trial," he said. "So we have a lot of work ahead of us."

His daughter, Valentina Dixon, was a baby when her father went to prison. She brought her 14-month-old twins, Ava and Levi, to court from their Columbus, Ohio, home.

"We're definitely going to go shopping and go explore life," she said. "I can't wait to get him a cellphone and teach him how to Snapchat."

Dixon's mother, Barbara Dixon, said she was in shock after relying on her faith while fighting for his release.

"We're going to Red Lobster," she said when asked what was next. "And everybody's invited."

Getty Images

Thomas donating to hurricane relief at East Lake

By Jason CrookSeptember 19, 2018, 9:20 pm

Much like in years past, Justin Thomas is using his golf game to help with relief of a natural disaster.

The world No. 4 announced on Twitter Wednesday that he’d be donating $1,000 per birdie and $5,000 per eagle at the Tour Championship to a charity benefiting the victims of Hurricane Florence, which ravaged the Carolinas last week.

At a fan's suggestion, Thomas, who has averaged 4.35 birdies per round this season, also pledged to donate $10,000 for a hole-in-one.

Hurricane Florence made landfall on Friday just south of Wrightsville Beach, N.C., and has left much of the area flooded and without power. At least 37 people have died in storm-related incidents.

Getty Images

Rose realizes his No. 1 ranking is precarious

By Rex HoggardSeptember 19, 2018, 8:18 pm

ATLANTA – Asked how he would like to be identified when he was finished playing golf, Justin Rose didn’t hesitate – “major champion, Olympic gold medalist, world No. 1.”

He’s had only a week to enjoy the last accomplishment, but the Englishman is aware of what it means to his career to have finally moved into the top spot in the Official World Golf Ranking.

“It's a moment in your career that you always remember and cherish,” said Rose, who overtook Dustin Johnson with his runner-up finish two weeks ago at the BMW Championship.


Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos


Rose said he took some time last weekend with family and friends to relish the accomplishment and will play his first event this week at the Tour Championship as the world’s best, but he also understands how tenuous his position atop the ranking is at the moment.

“I accept it's really tight up top. It could easily switch this week,” he said. “I just feel that if I go to [No.] 2 or 3 this week, if Dustin and Brooks [Koepka] both play well, I have an opportunity the week after and British Masters, and going to China and Turkey, there's going to be opportunities to get back there.”

Johnson, Koepka and Justin Thomas could unseat Rose atop the ranking this week depending on their finishes at the Tour Championship.