Presidents Cup Leaving Its Mark

By Associated PressNovember 19, 2003, 5:00 pm
GEORGE, South Africa -- The only black man in the bleachers behind the 15th green scampered down the steps when Vijay Singh passed below. He leaned over the railing and clapped furiously to cheer the Fijian on.
 
A few days earlier, a 21-year-old caddie from the Xhosa tribe talked excitedly about the Presidents Cup, the biggest golf event ever to come to South Africa.
 
'I hear Tiger Woods is already in Cape Town,' said the caddie, Leonard, his smile growing. 'He's the man. I'm telling you, he's the man!'
 
The face of golf, long considered a white, elitist sport, is slowly changing in a country that is only a dozen years removed from apartheid. And having Singh and Woods here for the Presidents Cup could be the catalyst to speed things along.
 
'Young kids sitting in Soweto and villages in South Africa, most of them have got a TV set somehow or another,' said Gary Player, the International team captain and South Africa's greatest player. 'When they can see the No. 1 and No. 2 players in the world are both black, it's an awful big dream. It's a dream that can be fulfilled.'
 
Player believes the Presidents Cup will deliver a powerful message, regardless of the outcome.
 
There are already junior programs in place, and more black men who have advanced into the corporate ranks are playing golf.
 
'History shows that people pick up the game because they follow professional players,' PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said Wednesday. 'When Tiger came on the scene, the percentage of African-American kids' interest in the game went up dramatically. With the amount of focus on this event, to some degree it will have the same impact.'
 
The matches begin Thursday on the Links Course at Fancourt Hotel and Country Club Estate, with Phil Mickelson and David Toms playing the first of six alternate-shot matches against Nick Price and Mike Weir.
 
Singh is paired with Retief Goosen in the second match. Woods and Charles Howell III are in the last match.
 
Ten team matches are scheduled Friday, six on Saturday and 12 singles matches Sunday will decide who wins the cup.
 
The competition is expected to be strong, particularly since the U.S. and International teams feature 15 of the top 20 players in the world ranking.
 
'It's very important that this is closely contested,' Price said. 'Everybody wants to see it come down to one game, one shot on Sunday. If that happens, then there will be a lot of interest in the event.'
 
Interest already is high.
 
The Presidents Cup is a sellout, with crowds of more than 20,000 expected all four days. Former President Nelson Mandela, who spent 27 years in prison for opposing apartheid, was to speak during opening ceremonies Thursday.
 
'We want to really see this be a great example to millions of young people that are watching golf, how it should be played, in the true spirit,' Player said. 'I'm delighted the way things are going.'
 
The real impact might be after the Presidents Cup is over.
 
The Sunshine Tour in South Africa has about a dozen black players at most tournaments. They are largely unknown compared to the country's biggest stars, such as three-time major winner Ernie Els and Goosen, a U.S. Open champion.
 
'Our tour in South Africa is small, so they don't see a lot of golf,' Els said. 'But they know what's happening in the world.'
 
They know Woods has dominated the game, winning 46 times in eight countries. They know Singh won the PGA Tour money list this year, and that he and Woods own green jackets from winning the Masters.
 
And they know there aren't many other stars in golf who look like them.
 
'We're 1 and 2 in the world, but we're the only two out there,' Woods said. 'You would think that there would be more players of color on tour by now, but it's going to take time for the junior golf programs to kick in.'
 
Player remains optimistic.
 
He has seen scores of black youth at Fancourt who are in junior golf programs. Some are working as volunteers, carrying rakes to smooth the bunkers. Others are simply watching, wide-eyed when Woods walks by.
 
'In time to come, I really believe that we will produce our own black Tiger Woods,' Player said. 'That would be fantastic because I want to tell you, we have got some wonderful young athletes in South Africa that are starting to play golf.'
 
Related Links:
  • Meet the Teams
  • Full Coverage - The Presidents Cup
     
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    Snedeker joins 59 club at Wyndham

    By Will GrayAugust 16, 2018, 4:19 pm

    Brandt Snedeker opened the Wyndham Championship with an 11-under 59, becoming just the ninth player in PGA Tour history to card a sub-60 score in a tournament round.

    Snedeker offered an excited fist pump after rolling in a 20-footer for birdie on the ninth hole at Sedgefield Country Club, his 18th hole of the day. It was Snedeker's 10th birdie on the round to go along with a hole-out eagle from 176 yards on No. 6 and gave him the first 59 on Tour since Adam Hadwin at last year's CareerBuilder Challenge.

    Snedeker's round eclipsed the tournament and course record of 60 at Sedgefield, most recently shot by Si Woo Kim en route to victory two years ago. Amazingly, the round could have been even better: he opened with a bogey on No. 10 and missed a 6-footer for birdie on his 17th hole of the day.


    Full-field scores from Wyndham Championship

    Wyndham Championship: Articles, photos and videos


    Snedeker was still 1 over on the round before reeling off four straight birdies on Nos. 13-16, but he truly caught fire on the front nine where he shot an 8-under 27 that included five birdie putts from inside 6 feet.

    Jim Furyk, who also shot 59, holds the 18-hole scoring record on Tour with a 58 in the final round of the 2016 Travelers Championship.

    Snedeker told reporters this week that he was suffering from "kind of paralysis by analysis" at last week's PGA Championship, but he began to simplify things over the weekend when he shot 69-69 at Bellerive to tie for 42nd. Those changes paid off even moreso Thursday in Greensboro, where Snedeker earned his first career Tour win back in 2007 at nearby Forest Oaks.

    "Felt like I kind of found something there for a few days and was able to put the ball where I wanted to and make some putts," Snedeker said. "And all of a sudden everything starts feeling a little bit better. So excited about that this week because the greens are so good."

    Snedeker was hampered by injury at the end of 2017 and got off to a slow start this season. But his form has started to pick up over the summer, as he has recorded three top-10 finishes over his last seven starts highlighted by a T-3 finish last month at The Greenbrier. He entered the week 80th in the season-long points race and is in search of his first win since the 2016 Farmers Insurance Open.

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    Woods' caddie paid heckler $25 to go away

    By Will GrayAugust 16, 2018, 4:05 pm

    Tiger Woods is known for his ability to tune out hecklers while in the midst of a competitive round, but every now and then a fan is able to get under his skin - or, at least, his caddie's.

    Joe LaCava has been on the bag for Woods since 2011, and on a recent appearance on ESPN's "Golic and Wingo" he shared a story of personally dispatching of an especially persistent heckler after dipping into his wallet earlier this month at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

    According to LaCava, the fan was vocal throughout Woods' final round at Firestone Country Club, where he eventually tied for 31st. On the 14th hole, LaCava asked him to go watch another group, and the man agreed - under the condition that LaCava pony up with some cash.

    "So he calls me a couple of names, and I go back and forth with the guy. And I said, 'Why don't you just leave?'" LaCava said. "And he goes, 'Well, if you give me $25 for the ticket that I bought today, I'll leave.' And I said, 'Here you go, here's $25.'"

    But the apparent resolution was brief, as the heckler pocketed the cash but remained near the rope line. At that point, the exchange between LaCava and the fan became a bit more heated.

    "I said, 'Look, pal, $25 is $25. You've got to head the other way,'" LaCava said. "So he starts to head the other way, goes 20 yards down the line, and he calls me a certain other swear word. So I run 20 yards back the other way. We’re going face-to-face with this guy and all of a sudden Tiger is looking for a yardage and I’m in it with this guy 20 yards down the line.”

    Eventually an on-course police officer intervened, and the cash-grabbing fan was ultimately ejected. According to LaCava, Woods remained unaffected by the situation that played out a few yards away from him.

    "He didn't have a problem," LaCava said. "And actually, I got a standing ovation for kicking the guy out of there."

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    Highlights: Snedeker's closing blitz to 59

    By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 16, 2018, 3:45 pm

    Brandt Snedeker's first round at the Wyndham Championship began with a bogey and ended with a birdie for an 11-under 59.

    Snedeker made four consecutive birdies on his opening nine holes and then raced home in 27 strokes to become the ninth different player in PGA Tour history to break the 60 barrier.

    A very good round turned historic beginning when he holed a 7-iron from 176 yards, on the fly, for an eagle-2 at the par-4 sixth. Playing his 15th hole of the day, Snedeker vaulted to 9 under par for the tournament.



    With Sedgefield being a par 70, Snedeker needed two birdies over his final three holes to shoot 59 and he got one of them at the par-3 seventh, where he hit his tee shot on the 224-yard hole to 2 feet.



    Snedeker actually had 58 in his crosshairs, but missed an 6-foot slider for birdie at the par-4 eighth.



    Still, 59 was on the table and he needed this 20-foot putt to shoot it.


    At 11 under par, Snedeker led the tournament by five strokes.

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    Rosaforte Report: A tale of two comebacks

    By Tim RosaforteAugust 16, 2018, 2:15 pm

    Comeback (noun): A return by a well-known person, especially an entertainer or sports player, to the activity in which they have formerly been successful.

    Even by definition, the word comeback is subjective.

    There is no question that Brooks Koepka has completed his comeback. With two major championship victories that encompassed wins over Dustin Johnson and Tiger Woods, Player of the Year honors have all but been locked up for the 2017-18 season.

    But knowing Koepka, he wants more. A No. 1 ranking, topping his boy D.J., is a possibility and a goal. A Ryder Cup is awaiting. By all rights, Koepka could be Comeback Player of the Year and Player of the Year all in one, except the PGA Tour discontinued its Comeback honor in 2012. Even without an official award, the conversation comes down to the two athletes that hugged it out after finishing 1-2 at Bellerive.

    What Woods has recovered from is remarkable, but not complete. He hasn’t won yet. With triumphs in the U.S. Open and PGA Championship, Koepka has completed his comeback from a pair of wrist injuries that could have been equally as career-ending as the physical issues that Woods had to overcome just to contend in the last two majors.

    “There was a question on whether or not I’d ever be the same,” Koepka said Sunday night in the media center at Bellerive, following his third major championship victory in six tries. “Whether I could do it pain-free, we had no idea.”



    The wrist traumas occured five months apart, with the initial issue, which occured at the Hero World Challenge in December (in which he finished last in the limited field), putting him in a soft cast with a partially torn tendon. That cost the reigning U.S. Open champion 15 weeks on the shelf (and couch), including a start in the Masters.

    His treatment included injecting bone marrow and platelet-rich plasma. When he returned at the Zurich Classic in April, Koepka revealed the ligaments that hold the tendon in place were gone – thus a dislocation – and that every time he went to his doctor, “it seemed like it got worse and worse.”

    Koepka’s second wrist injury of the season occurred on the practice grounds at The Players, when a cart pulled in front of Koepka just as he was accelerating into the ball with his 120-plus mph club-head speed. Abruptly stopping his swing, Koepka’s left wrist popped out. His physio, Marc Wahl, relayed a story to PGA Tour radio in which he advised Koepka before he reset the wrist: “Sit on your hand and bite this towel, otherwise you’re going to punch me.”

    Koepka admitted that he never dreamed such a scenario would threaten his career. He called it, “probably the most painful thing I’ve ever gone through, setting that bone back.” But, testament to Koepka's fortitude, four days later he made an albatross and tied a TPC Sawgrass course record, shooting 63.

    Woods’ physical – and mental – recovery from back surgery and prescription drug abuse was painful and career threatening in its own way. As he said in his return to Augusta, “Those are some really, really dark times. I’m a walking miracle.”

    As miraculous as it has been, Woods, by definition, still hasn’t fully completed his comeback. While he’s threatened four times in 2018, he hasn’t won a tournament.

    Yes, it’s a miracle that he’s gotten this far, swinging the club that fast, without any relapse in his back. As electric and high-energy as his second-place finish to Koepka was at the PGA, Woods has made this winning moment something to anticipate. As story lines go, it may be better this way.

    Coming off a flat weekend at the WGC-Bridgestone, Woods was starting to sound like an old 42-year-old. But instead of ice baths and recovery time, the conversation was charged by what he did on Saturday and Sunday in the 100th PGA.

    A day later, there was more good news. With Woods committing to three straight weeks of FedExCup Playoff golf, potentially followed by a week off and then the Tour Championship, that moment of victory may not be far away.

    Scheduling – and certainly anticipating – four tournaments in five weeks, potentially followed by a playing role at the Ryder Cup, would indicate that Woods has returned to the activity in which he was formally successful.

    There were times post-scandal and post-back issues, that Woods stuck by the lines made famous by LL Cool J:

    Don’t call it a comeback
    I’ve been here for years
    I’m rocking my peers

    Not this time. As he said Sunday before his walk-off 64 in St, Louis, “Oh, God. I didn’t even know if I was going to play again.”