Overachiever or Overrated

By Associated PressApril 4, 2006, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Chris DiMarco lost a chipping contest, or he might be the Masters champion.
 
That's one way to look at it, anyway.
 
DiMarco is still trying to figure out what he did wrong last year on a Sunday at Augusta National ablaze with drama. Was it his fault Tiger Woods chipped in for birdie on the 16th hole with a shot that nearly stopped twice, once at the top of the slope, the other on the edge of the cup? Why did DiMarco's chip from the front of the 18th green rattle the pin and stay out?
 
'I did everything I could to win the tournament,' DiMarco said. 'I just got outchipped, so to speak.'
 
Then again, DiMarco swears he didn't hit a bad shot on his way to a 41 on the back nine that morning, which turned his four-shot lead into a three-shot deficit. He still remembers a twist of fate Saturday night when the round was suspended.
 
'Tiger was in the 10th fairway with three-quarters of his ball covered in mud, and I was on the 10th tee,' he said. 'The next morning, he got to put a brand new, clean ball down. And they didn't cut the fairways. If he would have hit his second shot, I don't think he would have hit the green with that much mud. And I would have hit my 3-wood down to the bottom of the hill.
 
'I made double (bogey), he made birdie. That's three shots right there.'
 
It's always something with DiMarco.
 
Maybe that explains why he has only three PGA Tour trophies, two from tournaments that no longer exist.
 
He closed with a 2-under 68 in the final round at Firestone last year, tied for the lead, until Woods holed a slick, bending birdie on the 16th hole and finished with two pars to win. He reached the finals of the Match Play Championship and ran into a buzz saw named David Toms, who was unstoppable at La Costa.
 
He momentarily forgot New Orleans, where he blew a two-shot lead on the back nine and went from a chance to win to missing out on a playoff with a three-putt bogey on the final hole.
 
DiMarco squandered a huge lead in the International two years ago, failing to make enough birdies on the weekend. His psychologist told him that he simply peaked too early. A week later at Whistling Straits, DiMarco played beautifully on the back nine of the PGA Championship and had an 18-foot birdie putt to win, but left it short -- no doubt, the putt peaked too early -- and lost in a playoff.
 
There are so many close calls. There are so few trophies.
 
All of which begs a question that is difficult to answer. Is he an overachiever or overrated?
 
Given his raw talent and minimal length compared with peers such as Woods, Phil Mickelson or Ernie Els, the 37-year-old DiMarco has squeezed everything out of his game. He nearly quit professional golf when he couldn't putt early in his career, switched to the 'Claw' putting style and has earned $17 million.
 
He has played in the Ryder Cup once, the Presidents Cup twice and is No. 10 in the world. But his last victory on the PGA Tour was in Phoenix four years ago.
 
Overachiever or underachiever?
 
'Chris has been there in a bunch of tournaments,' Woods said. 'And, unfortunately, guys have come up with the goods at the wrong time for him. That's not saying Chris has played poorly. It's just that he's been there enough times when guys have played better. That's just the way it goes.'
 
Woods makes it sound as though it's only a matter of time for DiMarco.
 
'He's a wonderful iron player, putts really well, and he grinds it out,' Woods continued. 'That's one of the things that we all admire about Chris. He gives you everything he's got, every day.'
 
DiMarco couldn't agree more.
 
He was asked if he liked his chances at the Match Play Championship after getting through the first two rounds.
 
'There might be guys that are better than me, but as far as competitiveness and never giving up and always fighting and clawing, I don't think there's too many guys that have that,' he said.
 
Half of the 16 players remaining that day were major champions, from Woods and Vijay Singh to Toms and Retief Goosen, all of them plenty tough, even if they don't show it on TV. DiMarco is full of passion when he plays, especially in match play, although for some reason, that doesn't translate to the back nine when he's trying to win a major, or any tournament.
 
Which raises another question.
 
Does he have what it takes? Or is he a victim of bad luck?
 
If his performance last year in the Masters isn't enough -- he and Woods were seven shots better than anyone else -- perhaps DiMarco can lean on praise from Jack Nicklaus.
 
DiMarco was the star of Captain Jack's team in the Presidents Cup late last year, teaming well with Mickelson, then earning the decisive point with a splendid bunker shot to 15 feet on the final hole, and a birdie putt that was the biggest of his career. He ran off the green and into the arms of Nicklaus as his teammates piled on.
 
'He keeps chipping away at that next level,' Nicklaus said. 'I would be very, very surprised if he doesn't go right to that next level the next time he's out.'
 
The next level is a major. The next chance is this week, at the Masters.
 
DiMarco has played in the final group the last two years, and maybe fate is on his side. The last time Nicklaus predicted great things for one of his Presidents Cup players was in South Africa at the end of the 2003 season.
 
Five months later, Mickelson was wearing a green jacket.
 
Related Links:
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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.