Strange Pak Inducted into Hall of Fame

By Associated PressNovember 12, 2007, 5:00 pm
ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- Curtis Strange and Hubert Green could be crusty and surly on the golf course, a fighting spirit that carried Strange to consecutive U.S. Open titles and Green to major victories in the U.S. Open and PGA Championship.
 
They turned somber and reflective Monday night when they were inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.
 
'I have been extremely lucky and blessed to play golf,' Strange said. 'I love this game, and sometimes I hate it. It frustrates us and excites us at the same time. I've gone to bed many nights questioning my ability and you wake up the next morning and can't wait to play.'
 
Joining them in the Class of 2007 was Se Ri Pak, at 30 the youngest player inducted into the Hall of Fame.
 
Beyond her five majors and 24 career victories on the LPGA Tour, Pak became a pioneer for young players from South Korea. She was one of only three South Koreans on the LPGA during her sensational rookie season, when she won two majors, and the tour now has 45 players from her country.
 
Kel Nagle of Australia, whose 76 victories around the world included the 1960 British Open at St. Andrews, was elected through the Veteran's Category. Nagle could not travel to Florida for the induction.
 
Inducted posthumously were golf course architect Charles Blair Macdonald and three-time British Amateur champion Joe Carr, both through the Lifetime Achievement Category. Macdonald helped build the first 18-hole course in America, won the first U.S. Amateur in 1895 and was the driving force in getting five golf clubs to form what became the U.S. Golf Association.
 
The induction at the World Golf Village brought membership in the Hall of Fame to 120.
 
Strange was only player who received at least 65 percent of the vote on the PGA TOUR ballot. He won 17 times on the PGA TOUR, but was most famous for becoming the first player since Ben Hogan in 1950-51 to win the U.S. Open in consecutive years. First came a playoff victory over Nick Faldo at The Country Club in 1988, then a one-shot victory at Oak Hill in 1989.
 
He was the dominant American for a decade, winning the PGA TOUR money title three times and becoming the first to surpass $1 million for a year in 1988. This year, 99 players topped the $1 million mark.
 
Strange was presented by his twin brother, Allan, who also played on tour in the early '90s. Their father, Tom, the head pro at Bow Creek Country Club in Virginia Beach, Va., pulled them aside when they were 12 and told them, 'Whatever you do in life, strive to be the greatest you can be.'
 
Their father died of cancer two years later.
 
Strange won an NCAA title at Wake Forest, hitting a 1-iron to 12 feet for eagle on the final hole, then went on to dominance, particularly in the U.S. Open. He is the only player to finish under par in three straight U.S. Opens.
 
He prepared for that as a teenager, playing four balls late in the afternoon at Bow Creek -- one belonging to Ben Hogan or Byron Nelson, one representing Sam Snead, one for Jack Nicklaus and the other his.
 
'This is my finest day and my greatest honor,' Strange said. 'I understand that you will never confuse my record with Hogan, Nelson, Snead or Nicklaus. I understand I won't be in the starting rotation on this team, but I will be on the team. That's enough for me. And trust me, it's a privilege to be on the team.'
 
Green was recruited to Florida State by the basketball coach, Hugh Durham, and was PGA TOUR rookie of the year in 1971. He wound up with 19 career victories and two majors, one that showed determination, stubbornness and supreme concentration. Playing the final round of the 1977 U.S. Open at Southern Hills, he was told someone had threatened to kill him on the back nine.
 
Given the choice to clear the course of fans or return the following day, Green played on and captured his first major. He also won the 1985 PGA Championship at Cherry Hills over Lee Trevino.
 
Green, who overcame oral cancer four years ago, had 73 guests come to the induction, including his three sons. They played golf together Sunday for the first time.
 
Pak hardly spoke any English when she joined the tour, and learned the language mostly through her press conferences. She was nervous before a crowd of some 3,000 on a chilly night, but got through it with laughter, her larger-than-life smile and heartfelt emotion.
 
'My parents said when you make dreams, make them big,' she said. 'This night was always the one I dreamed about.'
 
Pak had as much influence as anyone since Nancy Lopez, who presented her. She was relatively unknown as a rookie in 1998 until she won the LPGA Championship, then the U.S. Women's Open in a 20-hole playoff, and later shot 61 to set what then was the scoring record on the LPGA Tour. More than that, she inspired a nation of South Korean golfers to bring their games to America.
 
'Now everybody calls me the leader of Korean ladies golfers,' she said earlier Monday. 'Leader is always hard, really difficult. There's a lot of pressure. All I can do is just make them go the right way, to show them what's the best way, how to believe in themselves, how to make them as players. Things like that, it makes me really more stronger.'
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Like a tattoo: Ko shares early Mediheal lead

By Randall MellApril 26, 2018, 10:45 pm

Lydia Ko put herself in early position Thursday to try to extend her birthday celebration through Sunday at the LPGA Mediheal Championship.

Ko, who turned 21 on Tuesday, is off to a strong start at Lake Merced Golf Club, where she has a lot of good memories to draw upon as she seeks to regain the winning form that made her the greatest teen phenom in the history of the women’s game.

With a 4-under-par 68, Ko moved into a four-way tie for the lead among the morning wave in the first round. I.K. Kim, Jessica Korda and Caroline Hedwall also opened with 68s.

All Ko has to do is look at her right wrist to feel good about returning to San Francisco. That’s where she tattooed the date April 27, 2014, in Roman numerals. That’s how she commemorated her Swinging Skirts victory at Lake Merced, her first title as an LPGA member. She won there again the following year.

“This is a golf course where I've played well,” Ko said. “The fans have been amazing. They’ve been super supportive every single time I've come here, even since I played the U.S. Juniors here.”


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Ko made it to the semifinals of the U.S. Girls’ Junior at Lake Merced in 2012.

“It just brings back a lot of great memories,” she said.

Ko got this week off to a good start with friends from South Korea and New Zealand flying to California to surprise her on her birthday. She was born in South Korea and grew up in New Zealand.

“Turning 21 is a huge thing in the United States,” Ko cracked. “I’m legal now, and I can do some fun things.”

Ko is looking to claim her 15th LPGA title and end a 21-month winless spell. Her ball striking was sharp Thursday, as she continues to work on improvements under her swing coach, Ted Oh. She hit 11 of 14 fairways and 16 of 18 greens in regulation.

“My ball striking's been getting better these last few weeks, which has been really nice,” Ko said at week’s start. “But then I've been struggling with putting, which was the aspect of the game that was going really well. I feel like the pieces are there, and just, sometimes, the hardest thing is to kind of put all those pieces together. Just have to stay patient, I know there are a lot of good things happening.”

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Watch: Rose drops trou despite gator danger

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 26, 2018, 10:12 pm

We all know how fashion-conscious pro golfers are, and sometimes that even trumps modesty.

Take Justin Rose, whose tee shot on the par-3 third hole in Thursday's opening round of the Zurich Classic found the water. But the ball was close enough to shore for Rose to try to play it. Not wanting to get his light-colored pants dirty - what is up with all the white pants on Tour these days, anyway? - he took them off to play the shot.

If there were any gators in the water hazard - and this being Louisiana, there almost certainly were - they showed no interest in the Englishman.

It was only appropriate that Rose should strip down for a shot, as his partner, Henrik Stenson, famously did the same thing (to an even greater degree) at Doral in 2009.

Finally, just to provide some closure, Rose failed to get up and down.

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Like father like son: Bring Your Child to Work Day

By Jay CoffinApril 26, 2018, 7:51 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. – Today is Take Our Sons and Daughters to Work Day at Golf Channel, where everything is fun and games until your child promptly says something that embarrasses you beyond belief. It’s only happened six times today. So far.

My daughter, 12, is in middle school and feels like she’s too big for this sort of shindig. But my son Brady, 11, was all in. The deal was that he could spend the day with me, I’d take him to McDonald’s for lunch, but he had to write a golf story of some sort for GolfChannel.com.

Here is his unedited work, in all its glory:

By BRADY COFFIN

My name is Brady Coffin and I play golf. I started at the age of 4 years old. My two favorite golfers are Jordan Spieth and Tiger Woods. They are really good golfers and every time I watch them they always give me tips.

My dad Jay Coffin is the best editor of Golf Channel and always gave me tips when I first put the golf club in my hand. I had my very first par in Hilton Head when I was 7 years old. I am on the Drive, Chip and Putt commercial and I was in a movie where I played a young Ben Hogan. My favorite golf course is Royal Blue in the Bahamas.

I have won many golf tournaments and I am going to play in another tournament next month. I have made a couple of birdies. I am going to play in the PGA Junior League this summer.

At the Golf Channel I get to meet new people and play many games. One of the amazing people I met was Mr. Damon Hack. He is on the Morning Drive show and was very nice to me. Damon has been playing golf for 25 years and his favorite golfer growing up was Tiger Woods.

He loves working at Golf Channel.

“It gives me the opportunity to talk and write about the sport that I love. It’s a sport that I can play with my boys. It’s a sport that I can watch on television. It’s a sport that teaches great life lessons. I couldn’t ask for a better job,” Damon said to me.

(P.S. I will be better than Jordan Spieth.)

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Not the 'prettiest' 65, but Duval, Furyk will take it

By Ryan LavnerApril 26, 2018, 7:44 pm

AVONDALE, La. – Wearing a polo instead of a dress shirt, working with a caddie and not a producer, David Duval exited the scoring tent, walked toward the group of reporters waiting for him after their 65 and grumbled to teammate Jim Furyk, “The damn media.”

Duval was joking – we think – since he now is one of us on the dark side, a successful and respected TV analyst, after an injury-shortened career in which he battled Tiger Woods, rose to world No. 1, won a major and then experienced such a miserable slump that it drove him into an entirely new line of work.

Now 46, Duval doesn’t play much anymore, only 11 events in the past four years. His last made cut was in July 2015. Earlier this year, he teed it up at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, but only because he and his wife, Susie, enjoy the vibe there. Competitively, he knew he didn’t stand a chance. He had moved back to Colorado, worked two out of the three weeks, and then couldn’t practice the other week because the weather didn’t cooperate. Not surprisingly, he shot three consecutive rounds of 76 or worse.

And that could have been the extent of his season (save for his annual appearance at The Open), but he was drawn to the idea of the team format at the Zurich, to the idea of playing with Jim Furyk, with whom he’s been friends for the past 32 years, dating to their days in junior golf. So Duval reached out, asking the U.S. Ryder Cup captain if he wanted to team up, for old times’ sake.

“This was about being with a friend, reuniting, having our wives together for a few days,” said Duval, who estimated that he’s played more than 100 practice rounds with Furyk over the years. “Expectation-wise, I don’t know what they are for me. I don’t get to participate out here and compete.”


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But Duval took this start seriously. He almost never travels with his clubs, but he brought them to the Masters, working with his old coach, Puggy Blackmon, between TV appearances and bouncing between Augusta Country Club and Augusta University’s practice facility.

Without any on-camera work since then, he’s spent the past two weeks grinding, even bringing Blackmon to New Orleans for a range session, just like most of the other pros in the field.

“It’s like a normal preparation,” he said. “Maybe not as much as it would be for a typical player, but a lot more than I’ve been able to do in the past.”

Duval has no intentions of diving back into competitive golf full-time, but working as an analyst has given him a new perspective on the game he loves.

“When you don’t play a lot and you don’t have that opportunity, you feel like you have to play perfectly,” he said. “Being on the other side of the desk, you see how many crappy golf shots really, truly get hit, and it’s like, look, you don’t have to be perfect. You just have to hit more good ones than bad ones and go from there.”

That also sums up his and Furyk’s opening round here at the Zurich.

Furyk joked before the event that they’re the rustiest team in the field, but playing best ball, they remained steady in a driving rainstorm, then ran off seven birdies to shoot 65 and sit in the top 10 when they finished their round.

“It wasn’t necessarily the prettiest,” Duval said, “but it was solid. It wasn’t like we had 36 looks at birdie.”

“We ham-and-egged it really good today,” Furyk added. “We got pretty much one of the best scores we could have out of the round.”

The second round could be a different story, of course, with alternate shot. It’s a more nerve-wracking format – especially for two aging warriors without many competitive reps this year – and they figure to find some unusual parts of TPC Louisiana.

But that’s a worry for Friday, because Duval was in the mood to savor his four birdies, his team score of 65 and his ideal start to a work week with his longtime friend.

“I think it was good,” he said, breaking into a wry smile, “especially for me.”