Tiger wins for first time in Australia

By Associated PressNovember 15, 2009, 10:04 pm

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP)—Tiger Woods gave the record crowds at the AustralianMasters everything they could have wanted with his victory Sunday, except adefinitive answer when he would return.

“I promise it won’t be as long,” Woods said to yet another warm ovation.

Woods took the lead for good with a 7-iron to within four feet for birdie onthe fifth hole, and he hardly missed a shot the rest of the way for a 4-under 68and a two-shot win over Australia’s Greg Chalmers .

He won for the seventh time this year, and the 82nd time worldwide in hiscareer. Woods now has a trophy from every continent where golf is played.Australia, the 13th country where he has won an individual event, had been themissing link.

“I’ve never won down here, so now I have won on every continent, except forAntarctica,” Woods said. “I haven’t played the Antarctica Four-Ball yet. Butto have won on every playable continent, it’s something I’ve always wanted todo. And now I’ve done that.”

It had been 11 years since Woods last competed in Australia, at the 1998Presidents Cup. Since then, he has won 13 majors and 72 times around the world,becoming the face of golf and one of the most famous athletes in the world.

More than 100,000 fans who passed through the gates of Kingston Heath gavehim rock-star treatment.

Woods put on quite a show.

One day after he lost his swing and nearly fell out of contention, Woods hitevery fairway and only ran into trouble when a photographer standing too closeclicked twice in the middle of his swing, leading to his lone bogey.

Starting the day in a three-way tie for the lead, Woods began his finalround with a 3-wood to the par-5 first hole that landed next to the hole androlled 30 feet away, producing the first of many roars from thousands of fanssurrounding the green, some of them perched in trees.

After his birdie on the fifth, he followed with his most exquisite shot ofthe day—from 82 yards away to a firm green just over a ridge, the pin on aslope feeding toward a deep bunker. Playing a 56-degree wedge for a flattershot, it bounced 30 feet from the flag, checked slightly and trickled down theslope to 2 feet.

“It came off perfect,” he said.

Chalmers, who hasn’t won on his native soil since 1998, found consolation inhis runner-up finish. It was one of the biggest weeks of golf in Australia,energy not felt since the glory days of Greg Norman .

He stayed within range of Woods on the back nine, but failed to convert acouple of good birdie chances and shot 70.

“It was like a football crowd brought to the golf, and for us as players, Ihave only experienced that a handful of times, and I’ve never experienced it inAustralia at all,” Chalmers said. “That was special. It really was veryexciting, and it made you play better. Even though I finished second, I’mthrilled that he’s here. I wish he would come every couple of years. I’m sure weall do.”

Asked on live television, the closing ceremony and in his press conferenceabout returning, Woods only said, “I would love to.”

“I want to come back, no doubt,” Woods said.

He said he would go over his 2010 schedule during the holidays, althoughAustralians are assured of at least seeing him in two years at Royal Melbournefor the Presidents Cup.

Woods received a $3 million appearance fee to play in the AustralianMasters. Half of that fee was paid by the Victorian government, which estimatedthe economic return at $20 million.

“He over-delivered,” said Ian Baker-Finch , the former British Openchampion helping out with local TV analysis.

Woods wasn’t too shabby on the golf course, either.

One week after he fell apart in the final round at the HSBC Champions inShanghai, Woods sorted out his swing problems overnight and was precise as everaround Kingston Heath. He saved par with a 10-foot putt on the ninth, and hereached the 574-yard 12th hole into the wind with a 3-wood for a key birdie.

The only mishap came on the 13th, with a sand wedge in his hand.

“I thought I was in control of the tournament after I made that birdie on12,” Woods said, “and then a photographer took the control right away fromme.”

The photographer, standing unusually close, took two pictures in the middleof his swing, and the ball sailed right of the green. Still fuming on the par-514th, he failed to make birdie and left himself open to Chalmers cutting intothe lead.

On the next hole, however, Woods hit an 8-iron that had the crowd buzzingduring its entire flight, the cheers getting louder as it covered the flag androlled 6 feet beyond the hole. He made the last birdie he needed.

The result was Woods slipping into a jacket after winning the Masters—thisone Australian gold, not Augusta green, but it will do. He finished at 14-under274 and earned about $250,000 from a purse that was half the size of hisappearance fee.

American Jason Dufner , who received an exemption between tournaments inAsia, shot 70 and tied for third with Frenchman Francois Delamontagne (69).James Nitties , part of that three-way tie for the lead going into the lastround, shot 73 to finish fifth, while fellow Australian Adam Scott recorded hissecond straight top 10 finish with a 69 to tie for sixth.

Asked what legacy he would leave behind, Woods smiled and said, “I got a W.That was the goal this week.”

No matter the country, the time zone or the size of the gallery, that’s onething that doesn’t change.

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Five-time Open champ Thomson passes at 88

By Associated PressJune 20, 2018, 1:35 am

Hailed as a hero to some and as golf royalty to others, Peter Thomson, a five-time winner of The Open and the only player in the 20th century to win the championship for three straight years, died Wednesday. He was 88.

Thomson had been suffering from Parkinson's disease for more than four years and died at his Melbourne home surrounded by family members, Golf Australia said.

The first Australian to win The Open, Thomson went on to secure the title five times between 1954 and 1965, a record equaled only by American Tom Watson.

The Australian's wins came in 1954, '55, '56, again in 1958 and lastly in 1965 against a field that included Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus.

Only Harry Vardon, with six titles between 1896 and 1914, won more.

Thomson also tied for fourth at the 1956 U.S. Open and placed fifth in the 1957 Masters. He never played the PGA Championship.

In 1998, he captained the International side to its only win over the United States at the Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne.

Asked by The Associated Press in 2011 how he'd like to be remembered, Thomson replied: ''A guy who always said what he thought.''

Veteran Australian golfer Karrie Webb was among the first to tweet her condolences, saying she was ''saddened to hear of the passing of our Aussie legend and true gentleman of the game .... so honored to have been able to call Peter my friend. RIP Peter.''

Former PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said Thomson was ''a champion in every sense of the word, both on the course and in life.''

''Many know him as a five-time champion golfer of the year or as a three-time captain of the Presidents Cup International team.'' Finchem added. ''But he was also a great friend, father, grandfather and husband. He was golfing royalty, and our sport is a better one because of his presence.''



Former golfer and now broadcaster Ian Baker-Finch, the 1991 Open champion, called Thomson his ''hero'' - ''Peter - my friend and mentor R.I.P. Australian golf thanks you for your iconic presence and valuable guidance over the years.''

From Britain, R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers praised Thomson's plans for the game's future.

''Peter gave me a number of very interesting and valuable thoughts on the game, how it has developed and where it is going, which demonstrated his genuine interest and love of golf,'' Slumbers said. ''He was one of the most decorated and celebrated champion golfers in the history of The Open.''

Born in the Melbourne inner-city suburb of Brunswick on Aug. 23, 1929, Thomson was a promising cricketer. He scored an unbeaten 150 runs for the Carlton club against a men's side as a 15-year-old.

But golf became his passion, and he turned professional in 1947.

He won the national championships of 10 countries, including the New Zealand Open nine times and Australian Open three times. He first played on the PGA Tour in the U.S. in 1953 and 1954, finishing 44th and 25th on the money list, respectively. He won the Texas International in 1956.

Thomson won nine times on the Senior PGA tour in the U.S. in 1985, topping the money list. His last tournament victory came at the 1988 British PGA Seniors Championship, the same year he was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.

Overall, he won 26 European Tour events, 34 times on the Australasian PGA tour and 11 on the seniors tour in the U.S, as well as once in Japan.

In later years, Thomson wrote articles for many publications and daily newspapers, was club professional at Royal Melbourne and designed more than 100 golf courses. In the 2011 Presidents Cup program, Thomson provided an insightful hole-by-hole analysis of the composite course at Royal Melbourne.

Thomson was always reluctant to compare his wins with anyone else's.

''All records are qualified in that they were made at a certain time in history,'' Thomson told golf historian and author Brendan Moloney for a story on his 80th birthday.

''The circumstances change so much, and so do the players' attitudes. In golf, only in the last 30 years or so has there been a professional attitude to playing for money. The professionals in the USA and Britain and anywhere else all had club jobs as a backstop to their income.

''When they did play and make records, you have to understand that they were taking time off from the pro shop,'' he said. ''So the records that were set were pretty remarkable.''

Thomson always had stories to tell, and told them well. With a full head of hair and a lineless face that belied his age, the Australian wasn't afraid to let everyone know his feelings on any subject.

That was true as far back as 1966. As president of the Australian PGA, Thomson was indignant that Arnold Palmer's prize for winning the Australian Open was only $1,600, out of a total purse of $6,000, one of the smallest in golf.

''Golf Stars Play for Peanuts,'' blared the headline of a story he wrote. ''Never before has such a field of top golfers played for what $6,000 is worth today. Canada offers 19 times that. I know 19 other countries who give more.''

But he was always happy on the golf course.

''I've had a very joyful life, playing a game that I loved to play for the sheer pleasure of it,'' Thomson said. ''I don't think I did a real day's work in the whole of my life.''

Thomson served as president of the Australian PGA for 32 years and worked behind the scenes for the Odyssey House drug rehabilitation organization where he was chairman for five years.

In 1979, he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his service to golf, and in 2001 became an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for his contributions as a player and administrator and for community service.

Thomson is survived by his wife Mary, son Andrew and daughters Deirdre Baker, Pan Prendergast and Fiona Stanway, their spouses, 11 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

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Gaston leaves USC to become head coach at Texas A&M

By Ryan LavnerJune 19, 2018, 11:00 pm

In a major shakeup in the women’s college golf world, USC coach Andrea Gaston has accepted an offer to become the new head coach at Texas A&M.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Gaston, who informed her players of her decision Monday night, has been one of the most successful coaches over the past two decades, leading the Trojans to three NCAA titles and producing five NCAA individual champions during her 22-year reign. They have finished in the top 5 at nationals in an NCAA-record 13 consecutive seasons.

This year was arguably Gaston’s most impressive coaching job. She returned last fall after undergoing treatment for uterine cancer, but a promising season was seemingly derailed after losing two stars to the pro ranks at the halfway point. Instead, she guided a team with four freshmen and a sophomore to the third seed in stroke play and a NCAA semifinals appearance. Of the four years that match play has been used in the women’s game, USC has advanced to the semifinals three times.  

Texas A&M could use a coach with Gaston’s track record.

Last month the Aggies fired coach Trelle McCombs after 11 seasons following a third consecutive NCAA regional exit. A&M had won conference titles as recently as 2010 (Big 10) and 2015 (SEC), but this year the team finished 13th at SECs.

The head-coaching job at Southern Cal is one of the most sought-after in the country and will have no shortage of outside interest. If the Trojans look to promote internally, men’s assistant Justin Silverstein spent four years under Gaston and helped the team win the 2013 NCAA title.  

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Spieth 'blacked out' after Travelers holeout

By Will GrayJune 19, 2018, 9:44 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – It was perhaps the most-replayed shot (and celebration) of the year.

Jordan Spieth’s bunker holeout to win the Travelers Championship last year in a playoff over Daniel Berger nearly broke the Internet, as fans relived that raucous chest bump between Spieth and caddie Michael Greller after Spieth threw his wedge and Greller threw his rake.

Back in Connecticut to defend his title, Spieth admitted that he has watched replays of the scene dozens of times – even if, in the heat of the moment, he wasn’t exactly choreographing every move.


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“Just that celebration in general, I blacked out,” Spieth said. “It drops and you just react. For me, I’ve had a few instances where I’ve been able to celebrate or react on a 72nd, 73rd hole, 74th hole, whatever it may be, and it just shows how much it means to us.”

Spieth and Greller’s celebration was so memorable that tournament officials later shipped the rake to Greller as a keepsake. It’s a memory that still draws a smile from the defending champ, whose split-second decision to go for a chest bump over another form of celebration provided an appropriate cap to a high-energy sequence of events.

“There’s been a lot of pretty bad celebrations on the PGA Tour. There’s been a lot of missed high-fives,” Spieth said. “I’ve been part of plenty of them. Pretty hard to miss when I’m going into Michael for a chest bump.”

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Pregnant Lewis playing final events before break

By Randall MellJune 19, 2018, 9:27 pm

Stacy Lewis will be looking to make the most of her last three starts of 2018 in her annual return to her collegiate roots this week.

Lewis, due to give birth to her first child on Nov. 3, will tee it up in Friday’s start to the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers, Arkansas. She won the NCAA individual women’s national title in 2007 while playing at the University of Arkansas. She is planning to play the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship next week and then the Marathon Classic two weeks after that before taking the rest of the year off to get ready for her baby’s arrival.

Lewis, 33, said she is beginning to feel the effects of being with child.

“Things have definitely gotten harder, I would say, over the last week or so, the heat of the summer and all that,” Lewis said Tuesday. “I'm actually excited. I'm looking forward to the break and being able to decorate the baby's room and do all that kind of stuff and to be a mom - just super excited.”

Lewis says she is managing her energy levels, but she is eager to compete.

“Taking a few more naps and resting a little bit more,” she said. “Other than that, the game's been pretty good.”

Lewis won the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship in 2014, and she was credited with an unofficial title in ’07, while still a senior at Arkansas. That event was reduced to 18 holes because of multiple rain delays. Lewis is a popular alumni still actively involved with the university.