Sindelar still awaiting breakthrough seniors win

By Associated PressJune 23, 2011, 3:38 pm

ENDICOTT, N.Y. – When Joey Sindelar celebrated his 50th birthday in March 2008, he hit the ground running on the Champions Tour.

After carding three top-5s in his first eight starts, including a tie for third in the Senior PGA Championship at Oak Hill, it seemed a matter of time before he would notch that first victory.

Well, the clock’s still ticking. Sindelar is preparing for Friday’s opening round of the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open.

“I’m not going to say I’m surprised, but I will say disappointed and anxious to get it over with,” said Sindelar, who’s healthy again. “But you look at the kind of golf that’s getting played out here – you’ve got to play golf. This is no gift. Every month we get another guy who’s very, very equipped to win.

“When that win finally comes – and I hope it does – it’ll be very emotional I’m sure. I just try to keep honing my game and doing better. I feel like I’m getting better.”

In more ways than one.

The one top-10 in eight starts this year is OK. Not limping around a golf course is much better.

In April, Sindelar was forced to withdraw from the Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf because of a bad back. An MRI and X-rays revealed a “vicious” case of arthritis, and Sindelar has begun an exercise regimen to strengthen his core and keep it strong.

“If we don’t pay attention, this will continue to annoy me, I think,” he said.

And he won’t soon forget that pulmonary embolism he suffered during the third round of the Charles Schwab Cup Championships in October 2009.

“When it was happening, they kept checking all my cardiovascular stuff and I kept saying, ‘But I already know I’m fine.’ I didn’t have any pain,” he said. “That was what was odd. If I’d have had pain in my lungs or in my legs where the clot came from, they would have figured it out.”

A CAT scan found evidence of a problem behind Sindelar’s left knee, and he counts himself a lucky man. Doctors told him his right lung had completely shut down and the left lung was close, too.

“They said if I’d played another hole, it would not have been a good story,” Sindelar said.

The closest the 53-year-old Sindelar has come to winning on the Champions Tour has been three seconds and three thirds in 73 events.

Sindelar beat Arron Oberholser on the second hole of a playoff to win the 2004 Wachovia Championship, snapping a 370-tournament winless streak on the PGA Tour that had stretched over 14 years.

It was the second-longest winless streak on tour – Ed Fiori went 409 starts between victories – and it serves as motivation today.

“I will use that for inspiration, I promise you,” he said. “From a competitive sense, I feel like I’m good enough to do this. Yes, there’s a certain frustration level, but it’s not like I’m shaking on the first tee, going, ‘This has got to be the week.’ “

There would be no better place for that breakthrough victory than the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open. It’s played at En-Joie Golf Club, a short drive from Sindelar’s home in Horseheads, N.Y. Sindelar won the B.C. Open twice (1985 and 1987) at En-Joie when it was part of the PGA Tour.

“I feel like it’s time to win,” he said. “I don’t want to go shooting my mouth off, but it’s time. While we’re young.”

Tom Watson, now 61, just won the Senior PGA Championship, 60-year-old Bob Gilder took the Principal Charity Classic. All four winners of the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open have been over age 53 at the time of their victories.

Watson returns to En-Joie for the first time since he finished in a tie for 21st at the 1976 B.C. Open.

“Well, it’s just time to come back. The people are just so generous up here it’s really a pleasure to be back,” said Watson, ranked third with 850 points in the race for the Charles Schwab Cup. The two players ahead of him – Tom Lehman at 1,494 and Nick Price at 899 – also are in the field this week.

“I’m probably at somewhat of a disadvantage because I haven’t played this course,” Watson said. “I don’t remember it. I hope to get to know it a little bit better and at the end of Sunday have a chance to win.”

Loren Roberts will celebrate his 56th birthday on Friday, and try to accomplish something unprecedented at this tournament – defend his title.

“Last year, I kind of got my season going here,” Roberts said. “Hopefully, I’m going down the same path this year.”

Divots: Hal Sutton comes into the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open with a string of 86 consecutive holes without a bogey. Sutton’s last bogey came at the fourth hole on the second round of the Principal Charity Classic. The record is 98 holes by Morris Hatalsky in 2003. … With 202 career top-10 finishes, Hale Irwin is just one shy of tying Bob Charles for the lead in that category in Champions Tour history.

Getty Images

Tiger Tracker: 42nd Ryder Cup

By Tiger TrackerSeptember 25, 2018, 1:15 pm

Fresh off his 80th PGA Tour victory at the Tour Championship, Tiger Woods is competing in his first Ryder Cup since 2012. We're tracking him.

Getty Images

Euros wearing yellow ribbons to honor slain golfer

By Will GraySeptember 25, 2018, 12:51 pm

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – European Ryder Cup team members will wear yellow ribbons this week to honor Celia Barquin Arozamena, who was murdered last week while playing golf.

Arozamena went to school at Iowa State, but she was a native of Spain and won the European Amateur Championship in July. She was attacked and killed Sept. 17 while playing a round by herself at Coldwater Golf Links in Ames, Iowa.

European captain Thomas Bjorn wore one of the ribbons while addressing media Tuesday at Le Golf National, and he explained that the decision to honor Arozamena came out of a discussion between Ryder Cup Europe and her mother.

Ryder Cup: Articles, photos and videos

“The golfing family extends beyond what we are trying to do this week,” Bjorn said. “It’s nothing about us, but it’s just more about that the golfing family gets touched by these things all over the world. It’s terrible when things like this happen.”

Arozamena considered Ryder Cup stalwart and fellow Spaniard Sergio Garcia one of her idols growing up, and the two met when she was a child. Garcia sent condolences out via social media last week, saying he was “heartbroken” over her death.

“Such a great prospect for the game of golf she was, but also a wonderful person,” Bjorn said. “When you speak to Sergio and [Spaniard] Jon [Rahm] about it, they couldn’t talk highly enough about her. We felt like that was appropriate for the week.”

Getty Images

Spieth, Reed in different groups during Tuesday practice

By Rex HoggardSeptember 25, 2018, 12:38 pm

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – Tuesday’s U.S. groupings at the Ryder Cup may give a glimpse into what potential pairings we will see this week at Le Golf National.

In the day’s first foursome, Tiger Woods, Bryson DeChambeau, Phil Mickelson and Patrick Reed played together. The second group included Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler, Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas; and the anchor group was Bubba Watson, Tony Finau, Brooks Koepka and Webb Simpson.

Whether those groups will make up captain Jim Furyk’s version of the team’s pods, however, remains to be seen. Given that half of his team has never played Le Golf National, Furyk said he tried to match players on Tuesday with those who had some experience on the course.

Ryder Cup: Articles, photos and videos

“Today is really about trying to learn the golf course and hit some solid golf shots,” Furyk said. “There may be some pairings out there and there's some groups there isn't. Just want them concentrating on their own game right now. They are very aware of who they will be playing with this week and they are very aware of some of the options they have.”

Given the success of previous pairings and some relatively obvious choices, it seems there are some likely options for the U.S. Woods and DeChambeau have become regular practice-round partners and at the Tour Championship they experimented with the other player’s golf balls on Tuesday.

It also seems likely that Spieth-Thomas and Fowler-Johnson will be paired in some form this week.

Getty Images

Le Golf National nothing like wide open Hazeltine

By Will GraySeptember 25, 2018, 12:00 pm

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – The layout at Le Golf National has a distinctly European feel, and captain Thomas Bjorn hopes to keep it that way at the Ryder Cup.

Gone are the wide fairways and short rough of Hazeltine, where the Americans bombed and gouged their way to their first team victory in nearly a decade. This week players will encounter one of the tightest and most demanding tracks on the European Tour, where water lurks around nearly every corner.

“Well this is a tough golf course, to start with,” Bjorn said Tuesday. “I like the idea of a golf course that’s set up like a championship golf course. You’ve got to identify guys that are hitting the golf ball well. Identify guys that are playing good golf that week.”

Ryder Cup: Articles, photos and videos

Unlike the other recent Ryder Cup host venues on this side of the Atlantic, Le Golf National is somewhat of a known entity in that it annually hosts the European Tour’s French Open. It’s a tournament that Ryder Cup rookies Tommy Fleetwood and Alex Noren have won each of the last two years, while teammates Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia both cracked the top 10 in June.

That should give the Europeans an advantage when it comes to familiarity, and Bjorn’s plans for course setup included a desire to ensure the experience factor for his players would still be relevant this week amid larger-than-normal grandstands.

“There’s guys on this team that have played a lot of French Opens. I don’t want them to show up and it’s a completely different golf course to what they are used to,” Bjorn said. “This is very similar to what it is normally.”

Despite the similarities in setup, there will still be plenty of adjustments for the American squad. Justin Thomas was the only U.S. player to make the trek for this year’s French Open, and captain Jim Furyk admitted that only six of his 12 players had seen the course at all prior to this week.

“We’re just trying to figure it out,” Furyk said. “Europe knows this golf course well. They have played the French Open here. We’re trying to figure out the setup and what they have in store for the week.”