Singh Nelson Inducted into World Golf Hall of Fame

By Associated PressOctober 31, 2006, 5:00 pm
World Golf Hall of FameST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- Never mind that his name falls between Byron Nelson and Jack Nicklaus in an alphabetical list of the 114 members in the World Golf Hall of Fame. As Larry Nelson wrapped up his induction speech, he was quick to point out that he will never be considered one of the greats in golf.
But there may never be another like him.
Nelson had never touched a golf club in his life when he was drafted at age 19 for the Vietnam War, where he spent two years, enough time to learn the difference between a water leech and a land leech as he bounced from jungles to rice paddies. Only when he returned home from the war did he pick up the game, studying Ben Hogan's famous book on the five basic fundamentals.
Vijay Singh
Vijay Singh has won three majors and 29 PGA TOUR titles.
Nearly four years later, he earned his PGA TOUR card. And when his career ended, Nelson had three majors among his 10 victories, and he remains the only American to go 5-0 in a Ryder Cup.
Nelson and Vijay Singh, who toiled in the rain forest of Borneo as a club pro and rose to No. 1 in the world, took part in a blue-collar celebration of success Monday night when they were among five players inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.
'This is one of the biggest achievements in my life,' Singh said.
They were inducted along with former Masters and PGA champion Henry Picard; Marilynn Smith, one of the 13 founders of the LPGA Tour who won 21 times and two majors; and Mark McCormack, who founded IMG and reshaped sports management with clients ranging from Arnold Palmer to Tiger Woods.
Nelson and Singh were elected on the PGA TOUR ballot. Nelson received 65 percent of the vote, the minimum required.
Singh was elected last year with 56 percent of the vote, but deferred his induction because of a commitment to play overseas last year. He still got in because of a clause in the criteria that if no one received 65 percent the vote that year, the player with the most votes would be elected as long he got more than 50 percent.
No one can dispute his record.
Singh, who was born in Fiji and had to run across an airport runway to get to the golf course, won 17 of his 29 tour titles after turning 40, tying the PGA TOUR record set by Sam Snead. He won the PGA Championship at Sahalee in 1998 and at Whistling Straits in 2004, with a coveted Masters title in 2000. And there was no secret to success. Singh is legendary for spending hours upon hours on the practice range, leaving rows of 5-foot long trenches from digging the ball out of the dirt.
The one cloud on his credentials was an accusation that he doctored his scorecard in the '83 Indonesian, which led to Singh being expelled from the Asian Tour. But he never quit. He gave lessons in Borneo for $10 and spent every free minute pounding balls, never losing hope of being the best.
'I owe everything to golf,' Singh said.
Nelson's story is simply remarkable, and unlikely to ever be matched in an era when players are given top instruction at an early age. He was a baseball player who thought golf was a sissy sport, but while in the Army, Nelson met a soldier who played golf in Florida, and he promised himself he would try it one day.
'I was sitting in a foxhole, looking out on a Vietnam night,' Nelson recalled about the end of his tour. 'What was I going to do when I got home? I thought, 'This is my opportunity. Maybe I'll start golf.''
He picked up the game at Pine Tree Country Club in Kennesaw, Ga., where Nelson was going to junior college. The pro gave him Ben Hogan's book, 'Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf,' and Nelson studied each step. Before long, he was an assistant pro who did well enough that members encouraged him to try the mini-tours.
'I was able to get as good as I did as quick as I did because I didn't have any other option,' Nelson said. 'Either I had to get better at the level I was, or I was gone.'
Nelson finished his career with 10 victories, three of them majors.
Picard, elected through the veteran's category, was as accomplished as a teacher as he was a player. Born in 1906, he won 20 times between 1935 and 1939, including six times in 1939 when he led the PGA TOUR money list. Picard won the 1938 Masters, the 1939 PGA Championship and played in two Ryder Cups.
He encouraged Snead to join the tour, and gave Hogan unconditional support at the start of his career. Picard later became a teacher, and his clients included Hall of Famer Beth Daniel, who presented him at the World Golf Village.
Smith and McCormack were selected through the Lifetime Achievement category.
Along with helping to found the LPGA Tour, Smith has conducted more than 4,000 clinics since 1949 involving more than 250,000 young golfers. She was recognized during the LPGA's 50th anniversary of one of its top 50 players and teachers.
McCormack qualified for the 1958 U.S. Open at Southern Hills, but he made his mark with a famous handshake deal with Palmer. That led to the creation of IMG, and it was McCormack who recognized golfers' earning potentials through endorsements and appearance fees.
'I've shaken hands with thousands, maybe millions of people around the world, from the common man to some very famous people,' Palmer said. 'But none meant as much as that one handshake with Mark. He was the right man at the right time in the world of sports management.'
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Aggressiveness pays off for Spieth vs. Schwartzel

By Rex HoggardMarch 21, 2018, 9:32 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – On Tuesday, Jordan Spieth said he hoped this week’s format would free him up and allow him to play more aggressively.

Although that wasn’t the case early in his Day 1 match against Charl Schwartzel, Spieth was able to get his week off to a solid start with a 2-and-1 victory.

After playing his first nine holes in even par, Spieth moved ahead in the match when Schwartzel made bogey at the par-5 12th hole and the American hit his approach at the par-4 13th hole to 3 feet, a shot he said was “pivotal,” and he added another birdie at the 14th hole to pull away.

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“I had a couple of iffy numbers and some swirly winds. I did not play aggressively,” Spieth said of his opening nine. “Once I got a couple numbers where I could put really nice, solid swings on, zeroed in at the target with no worry about anything else around, I did just that and it led to three or four birdies from the eighth hole on. You have to go at flagsticks to make birdies here.”

The early victory puts Spieth on a collision course with Patrick Reed, who also won his first-day match against HaoTong Li, 3 and 2. Spieth and Reed, who are a combined 7-2-2 when teamed together in the Ryder and Presidents Cup, will play each other in the final day of round-robin play on Friday.

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List takes Thomas to 18 putting with a wedge

By Rex HoggardMarch 21, 2018, 7:57 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – As he walked off the sixth tee on Wednesday at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, Luke List “swiped” his putter into what he thought was a bush. It was a wall.

List’s putter bent slightly, which meant he wasn’t allowed to employ it the rest of the round. Using a wedge to putt, he lost his opening-day match to Justin Thomas, 2 down.

“Stupid on my part,” List said. “I'll get the club fixed and go on to my next two matches.”

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Despite his putting disadvantage, List pushed Thomas to the 18th hole thanks to birdies at Nos. 13, 15 and 16, which included a chip-in from 18 feet at 15. Thomas was 3 up with four holes to play and managed to birdie the last, but it was far from stress-free.

“I was thinking about it, how bad that would hurt if I couldn't get it done,” Thomas said. “He hit some great putts and he made some good ones when he needed to.”

The situation also prompted Thomas to change his strategy on the greens, with not nearly as many conceded putts as normal.

“He putted probably two or three putts I wouldn't have made him putt with a putter,” Thomas said. “[No. 13] was a short putt he's probably going to make. It had a lot of break. But 12, that putt was 2 feet straight uphill. But I was like he's got a wedge, so I'm going to make him putt it.”

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Group standings at WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 21, 2018, 7:45 pm

Here are the group standings for pool play at the 2018 WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play Championship in Austin, Texas. The player with the most points in each pool advanced to Saturday's Round of 16 in Austin, Texas. Click here for scoring and click here for the bracket.

Group 1 Group 2 Group 3 Group 4
(1) D. Johnson: 0-1-0 (2) J. Thomas: 1-0-0 (3) J. Rahm:  (4) J. Spieth: 1-0-0
(32) K. Kisner: 0-0-1 (21) F. Molinari: 1-0-0 (28) K. Aphibarnrat (19) P. Reed: 1-0-0
(38) A. Hadwin: 0-0-1
(48) P. Kizzire: 0-1-0 (43) C. Reavie (34) H. Li: 0-1-0
(52) B. Wiesberger: 1-0-0
(60) L. List: 0-1-0 (63) K. Bradley (49) C. Schwartzel: 0-1-0
Group 5 Group 6 Group 7 Group 8
(5) H. Matsuyama: 1-0-0 (6) R. McIlroy: 0-1-0 (7) S. Garcia (8) J. Day: 1-0-0
(30) P. Cantlay: 0-1-0
(18) B. Harman (20) X. Schauffele (25) L. Oosthuizen: 1-0-0
(46) C. Smith: 1-0-0 (44) J. Vegas (41) D. Frittelli (42) J. Dufner: 0-1-0
(53) Y. Miyazato: 0-1-0 (51) P. Uihlein: 1-0-0 (62) S. Sharma (56) J. Hahn: 0-1-0
Group 9 Group 10 Group 11 Group 12
(9) T. Fleetwood: 0-1-0 (10) P. Casey (11) M. Leishman: 0-1-0 (12) T. Hatton: 1-0-0
(26) D. Berger: 0-1-0 (31) M. Fitzpatrick (23) B. Grace: 0-1-0 (22) C. Hoffman: 0-1-0
(33) K. Chappell: 1-0-0 (45) K. Stanley (35) B. Watson: 1-0-0 (36) B. Steele: 1-0-0
(58) I. Poulter: 1-0-0 (51) R. Henley (64) J. Suri: 1-0-0 (55) A. Levy: 0-1-0
Group 13 Group 14 Group 15 Group 16
(13) A. Noren: 1-0-0 (14) P. Mickelson: 0-1-0 (15) P. Perez: 0-1-0 (16) M. Kuchar: 0-0-1
(29) T. Finau: 1-0-0 (17) R. Cabrera Bello (24) G. Woodland: 0-1-0 (27) R. Fisher: 0-1-0
(39) T. Pieters: 0-1-0 (40) S. Kodaira (37) W. Simpson: 0-1-0 (47) Y. Ikeda: 1-0-0
(61) K. Na: 0-1-0 (59) C. Howell III: 1-0-0 (50) S.W. Kim: 0-1-0 (54) Z. Johnson: 0-0-1
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Hot Seat: The driver is burning Tiger

By Randall MellMarch 21, 2018, 6:51 pm

The men’s first major championship of the year is two weeks away, the women’s just a week away.

Here’s our Hot Seat lineup with the approach of the Masters and the ANA Inspiration in mind:

Smoking carbon composites – Tiger Woods

Woods is the betting favorite to win the Masters in most sportsbooks, and while his game is coming together quickly, he won’t be the experts’ pick without getting his driver under control.

The driver looks like the last piece Woods needs to once more become the favorite wherever he goes.

Right now, though, there’s an open wound that needs to be cauterized before he heads to Augusta National.

That double-cross Woods blew into someone’s backyard along the 16th hole Sunday at the Arnold Palmer Invitational came from a reservoir of uncertainty that his driver continues to create. 

Woods has come a long way with his driver. When he pulls it out of the bag, it isn’t like he’s ripping a bandage off anymore, not the way it was three and four years ago. Still, he doesn’t pull that club with the same relish Rory McIlroy does, or Dustin Johnson and Jason Day, for that matter. Physically and psychologically, they’ve got an advantage on him until he does. 

Woods did not qualify for this week’s WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play Championship, so he’s got extra time to address his biggest shortcoming.

“Project No. 1 over the next two weeks is going to be the driver,” Golf Channel’s Notah Begay said earlier this week. “Tiger has to focus in on trying to find some way to navigate Augusta National with the driver, because it’s a course that’s going to force you to hit driver.”

Dustin Johnson at the 2018 WGC-Mexico Championship.

Smoldering Tex Mex Tango – Dustin Johnson

The world No. 1 is playing just fine enough since his victory at the Sentry Tournament of Champions at year’s start. He’s just been overshadowed by the brilliance of a lot of fellow stars.

With McIlroy, Phil Mickelson and Justin Thomas all winning in the last month, with Woods stepping up his game, Johnson has been quietly toiling toward the Masters.

Johnson has won 10 times since Woods' last victory, and yet Woods is the 8-to-1 favorite to win the Masters.

Johnson, McIlroy and Thomas are listed at 10-to-1 by the Westgate Las Vegas SportsBook.

It doesn’t rankle Johnson.

“It’s fine with me,” he said Tuesday. “He’s playing pretty well.”

Even as the defending champ this week at the WGC Dell Technologies Match Play in Austin, Texas, Johnson isn’t center stage, not with McIlroy marching into town off his dominant finish at the API.

Flying relatively under the radar might seem like a comfortable position for a world No. 1, but he won’t stay atop the world rankings for long flying under the radar.

Shanshan Feng during Round 2 at the 2017 Japan Classic.

Rolex Ranking Roast – Shanshan Feng

The women’s Rolex world No. 1 enters the week at the Kia Classic trying to hold off a strong field with the ANA Inspiration looming next week.

The top seven players in the world rankings, and 11 of the top 12, are at Aviara Golf Club in Carlsbad, California.

Feng has quietly reigned atop the world rankings for 19 consecutive weeks, holding off bids to overtake her by No. 2 Lexi Thompson, No. 3 So Yeon Ryu and No. 4 Sung Hyun Park.

They’ve all been close enough in world ranking average this year to take the top spot, but Feng isn’t backing down. She’s winless so far this this year, but she has finished fifth or better in two of her three starts.