Taking on the World and a Tiger

By Associated PressAugust 17, 2005, 4:00 pm
AKRON, Ohio -- The World Golf Championships often include players from faraway outposts who are only recognized by the name on their bag. Marc Cayeux doesn't even have that going for him.
``I've never heard of him,'' Tiger Woods said. ``No offense or disrespect at all. I just didn't know who he was.''
Mark Cayeux
Mark Cayeux is the 242nd-ranked player in the world.
Woods only noticed his name because they are playing together the first two rounds of the NEC Invitational, which starts Thursday on the South course at Firestone.
To Woods, it will be just another face at another tournament.
It will be anything but that for Cayeux.
He has spent the last two years trying to support his parents, who both lost their jobs because of the political and economic climate in Zimbabwe. His mother returned to Britain to find work as a caretaker, then had to return home last fall when his father suffered a heart attack from the stress of unemployment.
``It sounds weird, but I can't wait to go back,'' Cayeux said. ``Home is home, no matter how bad it is.''
Cayeux was in Austria last week when he burned the inside of his left hand while lighting a barbecue grill, leaving an open wound the size of a nickel in the spot where he grips the club. He shouldn't be playing, but how many more chances will he get to play a World Golf Championship with its $7.5 million purse?
He was excited about making his first trip to the United States.
Then he learned he was playing with the world's No. 1 player.
``I couldn't believe it at first,'' said Cayeux, a burly 27-year-old with an easy smile. ``It's the biggest honor and the scariest thing at the same time. It's good in a way. But it's a pity my hand is the way it is. If I can't play my best, at least I want to enjoy the moment.''
But it can be intimidating at times.
Even at a tournament featuring 72 players from 22 countries -- from Jyoti Randhawa of India to Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand to Stephen Dodds of Wales -- Cayeux felt like an outsider in the locker room. He knows some of the South Africans, like Trevor Immelman. He met Adam Scott and Mark Hensby while paired with them at the Scandinavian Masters last month.
He is a star Cayeux has only seen on television, draped in a green jacket or holding a claret jug.
``I don't know what he's like,'' Cayeux said. ``Is he the type that you can walk up to in the fairway and have a chat, or does he like to be left alone? I admire him a lot. He's the youngest legend playing the game.''
Asked the most nervous he has ever been, Cayeux smiled and said, ``Tomorrow.''
``It's my debut in the United States, and I'm playing the world No. 1,'' he said. ``It's going to be tough to play with an injured hand, but all I can do is try.''
He already got part of the nerves out of the way Wednesday morning.
Cayeux put a small helping of eggs and bacon on his plate, then found an empty seat at a table occupied by Woods, Hensby and Sid Wilson, the tour's vice president of player relations. Woods and Hensby traded stories about players getting heckled by fans; Cayeux hung on every word and doubled over in laughter.
Wilson broke the ice by introducing himself, and the rest of the table followed suit.
``Nice to meet you, Marc,'' Woods said. ``Good to have you here, bud.''
Cayeux says ball-striking is the strength of his game. He describes his power as better than average, and his putting can be streaky, which might explain the 61 he shot in Johannesburg to win the Vodacom Tour Championship in South Africa to qualify for the NEC Invitational.
But it has taken some time to adjust to golf outside South Africa.
He missed 11 consecutive cuts in 2002 while playing Europe's minor leagues, then returned to the Challenge Tour two years later and won twice to earn his European tour card.
``I was more prepared the second time around,'' he said.
His dream is to make it to the PGA Tour, which he believes has the best courses, the best players, the most world ranking points, the greatest chance to succeed.
And success matters to someone when a paycheck affects his family.
He said his mother managed a BP gas station until the owner was told he had to give his business to the indigenous people, putting her out of work. His father was an electrician, but when the economy went sour, several companies closed and left him without a job.
Cayeux said foreign currency is outlawed in Zimbabwe, so the only way to help his parents is through a series of bank transfers in South Africa. The fuel shortage is so severe that his parents go 11 hours a day without power.
``It's pretty messed up,'' he said. ``I'm trying to look after my mom and dad.''
A good week at Firestone would go a long way, although Cayeux realizes he doesn't have the experience to contend against Woods, Vijay Singh, PGA champion Phil Mickelson or Retief Goosen. And it doesn't help that he can barely grip a golf club and swing it properly.
Hensby took one look and cringed.
``Man, you can't play with that,'' he said.
Cayeux shrugged.
He probably wouldn't play if it were any other week than a World Golf Championship, where last-place money is $30,000, and where he will spend the next two days with Woods.
``This is the biggest tournament of my life,'' Cayeux said. ``I've never played in a major championship before. This is like a major to me.''
Related links:
  • Photo Gallery
  • Full Coverage - WGC-NEC Invitational

    Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
    Getty Images

    Masters champ Reed: 'I definitely had a chance'

    By Will GrayJune 17, 2018, 11:55 pm

    SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – Patrick Reed’s Grand Slam bid made it all the way to the closing stretch of the final round at the U.S. Open.

    Reed had never cracked the top 10 in a major championship before a runner-up finish at last year’s PGA Championship, and he followed that with a convincing victory at the Masters in April. In the U.S. Open, despite starting the final round three shots behind a quartet of co-leaders, he made a concerted effort to add a second major title.

    With Shinnecock Hills declawed in response to third-round conditions that bordered on unplayable, Reed birdied each of his first three holes and five of his first seven to move to 1 over and within a shot of Brooks Koepka’s lead. He could get no closer, though, as three bogeys in a four-hole stretch on Nos. 9-12 effectively ended his title bid.

    Reed finished alone in fourth place at 4 over, three shots behind Koepka after closing with a 2-under 68.

    U.S. Open: Tee times | Full coverage

    “Of course, Grand Slam would have been nice. But you know, I mean honestly, to me, that was really the last thing on my mind,” Reed said. “It was go out, play some solid golf, try to post a number and see if you can get the job done. I had a chance. I definitely had a chance.”

    It’s the third top-15 finish at the U.S. Open in the last four years for Reed, who tied for 13th at Chambers Bay and finished T-14 last year at Erin Hills.

    Reed was bidding to erase a nine-shot deficit after 36 holes, which would have been the second-largest comeback in tournament history. He was also looking to join Craig Wood, Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth on the short list of players to capture the Masters and U.S. Open in the same year.

    “Of course it’s disappointing,” Reed said. “But at the same time … To finish in the top 10 my last three majors, and to have a chance to really win all three of them and to close one off, it means a lot.”

    Getty Images

    Watching Koepka, Fleetwood knew he was one shot short

    By Will GrayJune 17, 2018, 11:33 pm

    SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – In the end, even a record-tying performance wasn’t enough for Tommy Fleetwood at the U.S. Open.

    Fleetwood started the final round at Shinnecock Hills six shots off the pace, but he quickly moved up the board with a run of four birdies over his first seven holes. He added four more in a row on Nos. 12-15, and he had a 9-footer for birdie on No. 18 to become the first player to ever shoot a 62 in the U.S. Open.

    He missed, and that proved to be the difference – for both the record and the tournament.

    Fleetwood waited around in player hospitality for the next three hours while the leaders finished, alternating between watching the golf (with sandwich in hand) and playing with his newborn son, Frankie. He was on the chipping green when Brooks Koepka completed play at 1-over 281, successfully defending his title and finishing one shot ahead of Fleetwood.

    “Brooks kept giving me like a little bit of hope, and then he’d hole a putt just to stab you in the stomach a little bit,” Fleetwood said. “I always just had that feeling that I was one shy, so I never really got massively, massively excited.”

    U.S. Open: Scores | Live blog | Full coverage

    This was the first year the U.S. Open would have gone to a two-hole, aggregate playoff, so Fleetwood needed to stay loose for a possible overtime that in previous years would have instead been an 18-hole playoff on Monday. He emerged from the locker room and headed to the range to warm up after Koepka birdied No. 16 to take a two-shot lead with two holes to play.

    “I just thought, 'I should really go up, because you never know,'” Fleetwood said. “I mean, the worst thing that could happen is if something did happen and I wasn’t really ready, so it’s better warming up with that intention.”

    The solo runner-up is a career-best major finish for Fleetwood, who also finished fourth last year at Erin Hills. He now shares a piece of tournament history, becoming just the sixth player to shoot a 63, joining a list that includes Jack Nicklaus, Tom Weiskopf, Johnny Miller, Vijay Singh and Justin Thomas.

    And after torching a demanding layout to the tune of eight birdies, he insisted he won’t dwell much on the final putt that got away – even though Koepka’s closing bogey meant that it ultimately made the difference.

    “The putt on 18, I actually wanted more for the 62 at the time, and then it became a thing for the tournament,” Fleetwood said. “Obviously, that’s the putt that will play on your mind because that was the last shot you hit and that was your chance. But I missed some putts in the week, and I made some putts. I think everybody did. And your score is your score. And for me, just getting that close to winning a major again, I think that is the ultimate thing I’ll take from it.”

    Getty Images

    DJ and more congratulate Koepka on social media

    By Golf Channel DigitalJune 17, 2018, 11:31 pm

    Brooks Koepka won his second consecutive U.S. Open title at Shinnecock Hills. Dustin Johnson, his friend and playing competitor on Sunday, was quick to congratulate Koepka. And he wasn't alone.

    Getty Images

    Firefighter Parziale ties for low am with dad on bag

    By Associated PressJune 17, 2018, 11:07 pm

    SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – Leaning on his club, Matt Parziale crossed one leg over the other and placed the free hand on his hip. His caddie mirrored his position and used Parziale's bag as his source of support. The two looked almost identical, just one older than the other.

    Being related will do that.

    Parziale's dad, Vic Parziale, has been with his son throughout his entire U.S. Open journey, starting Monday and ending Father's Day. Matt finished 5 over par Sunday to tie for low amateur at 16 over for the tournament.

    ''We do stand alike out there,'' Vic said. ''It's funny.''

    Said Matt: ''I don't like it, but that's how life goes.''

    He's kidding. The idea of turning into his dad doesn't scare him.

    ''He's the best guy I know,'' Matt said. ''If I can be half that good, I'll be doing all right.''

    U.S. Open: Scores | Live blog | Full coverage

    It's a classic like father, like son relationship.

    Matt, 31, is a full-time firefighter back home in Brockton, Massachusetts. Vic retired from the same station last year after 32 years.

    The two, obviously, also share a love for golf.

    ''He stinks now,'' Matt said. ''I'd have to play pretty bad to let him win. He used to be much better than he is now.''

    Matt says he was 14 the first time he beat his dad. Vic says his son was 15. Either way, once Matt beat Vic's 73 by a stroke as a teenager, it was game over.

    Vic never beat his son again.

    ''Golf skipped a generation for sure,'' Vic said. ''Because I don't play like him.''

    As the first mid-amateur to make a cut at the U.S. Open in 15 years, Matt's second round was his best, carding a 73 with a birdie on No. 18 that guaranteed him a spot in the final rounds.

    On the last day, Matt shot a 75 to end up at 296, the same mark fellow amateur Luis Gagne scored. Will Grimmer was the only other amateur to make the cut, and he finished 23 over at 303. The tournament started with 20 amateurs.

    This was Matt's first U.S. Open. He played at the Masters earlier this year, but did not advance after two rounds. Vic was his caddie there, too.

    ''Mostly, I just carry the bag and keep my mouth shut,'' Vic said.

    His specialty is wind: Matt does go to his dad for advice there. It helped this week.

    ''I don't get paid,'' Vic said. ''I don't want to be, of course. I just love doing it.''

    The two have worked alongside each other for as long as either can remember. After college at Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida, Matt turned pro but called it quits after a couple years when it didn't pay off financially. That's when he became a firefighter.

    But Matt never fully gave up golf, regaining his amateur status and going on to win the U.S. Mid-Amateur championship back in October. Vic caddied, of course.

    ''It's not something that happened over night,'' Vic said. ''He just wasn't lucky getting here. He really worked hard on his game.''

    Being a firefighter actually allows him to practice and compete often. Matt works two 24-hour shifts a week.

    He's not returning straight to his full-time job immediately, though. His upcoming golf schedule is packed. Starting Wednesday, Matt will compete in the Northeast Amateur tournament. Then he'll have the U.S. Amateur - after he gets married on Aug. 3 - and more.

    Wherever and whatever, Vic will be standing nearby.

    ''He's always given me the opportunity to succeed,'' Matt said. ''None of this is possible without his support and his help.''