A tip from Tiger the lead for OHair

By Associated PressSeptember 25, 2009, 1:41 pm

ATLANTA (AP)—Sean O’Hair first got to know Tiger Woods by showing up at dawnfor practice rounds at the majors.

The friendship grew stronger over the years, and reached a point this springthat O’Hair and Woods were playfully jawing at each other about the NBA playoffsbefore the final round of the Quail Hollow Championship. O’Hair jumped pastWoods and others that day for his biggest PGA Tour victory, and Woods hungaround after it was over to congratulate him.

Their relationship reached another level at East Lake.

They played a practice round on the eve of the Tour Championship, and whenO’Hair had a few questions about putting, Woods was only too happy to impartsome advice and a few tips.

Tiger Woods watches his tee sh…
AP - Sep 24, 6:51 pm EDT

Perhaps it was merely a coincidence, but in the opening round Thursday,O’Hair made enough putts on firm greens for a 4-under 66 that gave him aone-shot lead over a trio of British Open champions—Woods included.

“I’m going to go chew him out right now,” Woods said.

Woods was joking, for it is typical in this sport for players to help eachother even as they’re trying to beat each other. O’Hair is the first to concedethat his putting has held him back in his five years on tour, and he wasn’tafraid to ask for advice.

The tip was technical. O’Hair tends to take the putter back squarely, thenhold onto it through the putt. Woods suggested that he open the face on the wayback, which would allow him to release the putter on the way through.

O’Hair doesn’t have it down pat, at least not yet. It was the idea thatWoods was willing to help that meant so much.

“I believe in what he said, and I think it’s the key for me to kind of takemy putting to another level,” O’Hair said. “Getting advice like that from goodplayers is obviously awesome, but getting it from basically the greatest of alltime is pretty cool.

“I mean, I’m his competition. For him to help me out like he did was veryclassy.”

Woods recovered from a shaky start with three birdies over a four-holestretch on the back nine for a 67, putting him one shot behind with PadraigHarrington and British Open champion Stewart Cink.

Only eight players managed to break par in the final FedEx Cup playoffevent, with a $10 million bonus going to the winner. O’Hair is the No. 7 seed,meaning he would have to win the Tour Championship and have Woods finish in athree-way tie for second or worse.

So far, so good. And so much golf is left to be played.

O’Hair could only imagine what it would be like to try out his putting tipon the 18th green Sunday with a chance to go home with $11.35 million, thecombined earnings of the FedEx Cup and Tour Championship.

“If I do have that opportunity, I hope I have a five-shot lead,” he said.

Woods doesn’t regret giving O’Hair the putting advice.

“It’s very simple,” Woods said. “You always help your friends. Sean is afriend of mine, and like all my friends, you always try to make their lifebetter somehow. Sean has been struggling a bit on the greens this year, and Ithought I could offer a little bit of help and insight to how he could changethat.”

Woods, who is in the best shape to capture the FedEx Cup as the No. 1 seed,could have used some help early in the round. As O’Hair, Harrington and Cinkwere setting an early pace, Woods was headed in the wrong direction by failingto save par from a bunker on the par-3 sixth, and making bogey on the eighthfrom the rough to go 1 over.

He was six shots behind at one point, then closed quickly.

“This golf course, you have to be very patient, especially with greens thisfirm,” Woods said. “It’s really hard to get the ball close unless you drivethe ball in the fairway and have a short iron in.”

U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover had a 68, and only three other playersmanaged to break par—Retief Goosen, Steve Marino and Dustin Johnson, who wereat 69.

Stricker, the No. 2 seed, was among those at 70.

It was hard to believe that a course that was closed Monday and part ofTuesday because of 20 inches of rain over the past week could deliver some ofthe firmest greens on tour this year. Attribute that to a sub-air system on thegreens installed last year, and a hot sun that left players reaching for towelsto wipe sweat off their brow.

“The course was playing fairly long, and then the greens are justincredibly firm, probably the most firm we’ve played all year,” O’Hair said.“Maybe The Players Championship is a close second. Kind of ironic since we gotso much rain.”

O’Hair was sporty from the rough, too. He made his first birdie with a wedgeout of the rough on No. 3 that stopped a foot away, then made another birdie atNo. 12 under similar circumstances, from the right rough with just enough spinto stop 2 feet from the hole.

Cink narrowly made the 30-man field at No. 26 and the scenarios are too manyto count for him to win the FedEx Cup. All he cared about Thursday was breakingpar, like so many others.

“Considering all that rain we had, it’s really dried out, and the greensare like bricks,” Cink said. “You have to be very smart coming into the greensto give yourself any kind of aggressive birdies.”

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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.