In Support of Compton

By Brian HewittNovember 21, 2008, 5:00 pm
The Comebacker begins this edition with a sampling of the heavy dose of Erik Compton e-mails. Compton, in case youve been ice-fishing outside of Reykjavik, last Saturday missed advancing to Q-Schools final stage by one agonizing shot.
He has had two heart transplants but, at the moment, has no status on the PGA or Nationwide Tours. He isnt even sure if he will be able to find health insurance for all of 2008. And the medical bills are mounting, not to mention that his wife is pregnant with their first child.
So, without further ado:
Ray writes: Our hearts are clenching for him. Is there nothing that we can do to help some kind of fund? He needs his medicine, and his health insurance, both for himself and his pregnant wife. We are praying. But is there anything else we can do?
The Comebacker
Keep praying. And maybe a benefactor will get word of Comptons plight. Its interesting to note that there is concern that Tour players might not get courtesy cars at every stop next year while Erik Compton might not get the anti-rejection heart meds he needs to keep himself alive.

Lynn writes: Someone needs to get out there and help him. Give him exemptions to play and somehow help pay his insurance. I would watch someone like him over all of the egos that are out there now. There are enough players out there making a lot of money and instead of spending it on big houses and cars they can help one of (their) fellow players.
The Comebacker
There is no shortage of worthwhile causes in the world, especially in this economy. But if the Tour players want to take care of one of their own kind, they could do worse than starting with Compton.

Terry writes: As we each go through our own life challenges, and Erik Compton's makes most of ours seem like small potatoes, there are two quotes on my office wall that help guide me. The first is a card with the following quote: A bend in the road is not the end of the road, unless you fail to make the turn. Erik Compton has made the turn in a big way. I trust he will win at every stage of life; he has already qualified. The second quote is the classic from Sir Winston Churchill: Never, Never, Never give up. Erik Compton is a winner no matter what criteria you are using; he just happens to be one stoke short on this opportunity.
The Comebacker
Of all the stories The Comebacker rooted for this year, Compton was at the top of the list.

Dave writes: It should be no surprise to anyone about the withdrawal of the (courtesy) cars. This is the first of more to come. Nobody and I do mean nobody in the paying audience of the golf tournament wants to hear one peep of complaint from the players. I would hope that many of the Tour players are at times a bit embarrassed by the treatment they get. If they aren't, then shame on them. Many perks I'm sure are way over the top. The once revered Wachovia Championship appears to be headed for something closer to the John Deere Classic after 2010 when the contract is up. Snap back to reality boys ' it will not and should not be the same. It's time to start worrying about the health of the (T)our and WAY less about each player. If the prize money is there, then the players should play. If they don't play or complain about the perks, then as a player, be prepared to duck! And while they're at it, maybe they could take a few pointers from what the LPGA is doing to improve their (t)our. The objects in the mirror are closer than they appear.
The Comebacker
There will be a reckoning in 2009. The only question is how big it will be. But, meanwhile, the biggest adjustment will be made by the big stars under the age of 30. Those are the guys who have never known it any other way: Courtesy cars; on-site dry cleaning etc. etc. Dave is right. Nobody is going to want to hear a peep.

Roger writes: Phil, It was great to see you in Singapore last week at the Barclays Singapore Open. I suspect you were well treated, and didnt hear any idiots shouting in the hole. Im sure you will agree that the courses too are as good as others anywhere in the USA or Europe. So whats my point? Why was it only you here representing the USA? Ok, so I know you are sponsored by Barclays, but surely some of your friends on the PGA Tour must be at least a little bit intrigued by what its like over here? Why dont you ask a few of your fellow PGA Tour stars to join you next time you come, or even suggest they make their own way here? We watch the PGA Tour on the Golf Channel, and enjoy the golf, but we never get to see you live in action, and you never get to see the other side of the world, which in all probability is where the future of the game lies. Or is it all just about the money?
The Comebacker
Roger, I still dont get your point. How is it Phil Mickelsons fault that other golfers didnt play in Singapore? And, sorry pal, but the golf courses in Asia are not as good as others anywhere in the USA or Europe.

Gerry writes: The sweetest sound I remember, if regretfully gone forever, was the sound of a squarely struck persimmon driver on a wound balata ball. That was true feedback. The oversized, high MOI titanium tennis rackets we play with today make the same annoying metallic bplink (and produce consistent results) regardless of where on the face contact is made.
The Comebacker
How do I pronounce bplink?

Emmitt writes: In terms of Tiger not playing much in Texas, I was always of the opinion that the PGA Tour insists these guys play a 'regular' tour event at least once in five years (see LPGA). With the situation with the economy on a roller-coaster ride, which will not slow down for awhile and will reverberate throughout the world of sport, including golf, studs like Tiger, Phil, Sergio and Anthony Kim should be asked (forced) to support some of the lesser-known tournaments which may not survive this latest crash.
The Comebacker
This mandatory rotation rule is an idea whose time may come very soon on the PGA Tour.

Charles writes: My pet peeve is the guys who will grab the flagstick and stand next to the hole while you are trying to make a 2-3-foot putt. It invariably causes the player putting to hurry the putt. The guys I play with are now all well trained and I have quit being nice and told them to move. Along the same line some players will stand back but still within your vision circle and then will begin to move towards the hole when you begin your back swing. Thanks for letting me vent and I feel better already.
The Comebacker
Comebacker loves those pet peeves.

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USC's Gaston leaves to become head coach at 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.

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

“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.

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Just like last year, Spieth in desperate need of a spark

By Will GrayJune 19, 2018, 8:38 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Jordan Spieth has arrived at the Travelers Championship in need of a turnaround. Again.

Spieth’s playoff victory last year over Daniel Berger, complete with a bunker hole-out and raucous celebration, went down as one of the most electrifying moments of 2017. It also propelled Spieth to some more major glory, as he won The Open in his very next start.

So it’s easy to forget the state of Spieth’s game when he first stepped foot on the grounds of TPC River Highlands a year ago. Things were, quite plainly, not going well.

He was struggling on the greens, even going so far as to switch putters at the AT&T Byron Nelson. He then failed to contend at Erin Hills, only netting a T-35 finish thanks to a final-round 69 that came hours before the leaders teed off.

So here we are again, with Spieth in search of a spark after a series of underwhelming performances that included last week’s effort at Shinnecock Hills, where he bogeyed the last two holes of his second round to miss the cut by a shot. Except this time, the climb back to the top may be even steeper than it was a year ago.

“I’m not sure where the state of my game is right now,” Spieth said. “If I strike the ball the way I have been this year, then the results are coming. But the last couple weeks I’ve played Muirfield and then the (U.S.) Open, and I hit the ball really poorly and didn’t give myself that many opportunities to let the putter do the work.”

While many big names play sporadically in the time between the Masters and U.S. Open, Spieth remained as busy as ever thanks to the Tour’s swing through Texas. So even after failing to contend much in the spring outside of a memorable finale in Augusta, and even after struggling for much of his week at TPC Sawgrass, Spieth looked out at his schedule and saw a myriad of possible turning points.

There was the AT&T Byron Nelson, played in his hometown and at a venue on which he was one of only a handful with any experience (T-21). Then a trip across town to Colonial, where he had beaten all but two players in a three-year stretch (T-32).

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Throw in the missed cuts at Muirfield Village and Shinnecock Hills, and Spieth has made it to the last leg of a six-event stretch that has included only one off week and, to date, zero chances to contend come Sunday.

“I think here this week, the key for me is just to get out in the first round and try not to do too much,” Spieth said. “I mean, 90-plus percent of the tournaments the last two years I’ve thrown out my chances to win a golf tournament on Thursday. I’ve had too much to do from here on.”

That was certainly the case last week on Long Island, where Spieth’s hopes for a fourth major title evaporated well before course conditions became a focal point over the weekend. He was 4 over through his first two holes and spent much of the next 34 stuck in a fit of frustration. He gave himself a glimmer of hope with four late birdies Friday followed by a pair of bogeys that snuffed it out with equal speed.

Spieth has continued to preach patience throughout the year, but there’s no getting around some eye-popping stats; he's 188th on Tour this year in strokes gained: putting and 93rd in fairways hit. It can foster a pressure to find a cure-all in any given week, especially given how quickly he got a middling summer back on track last year.

“It’s something that you fight, sure,” Spieth said. “It’s been that way just about every tournament except Muirfield, because then you go to the U.S. Open and think you don’t even have to shoot under par to win this golf tournament. So as much as that kind of comes into your head, it’s not bothering me this time. I’m going to try and have fun, and make progress.”

After this week, Spieth will have some down time with family before making the trip overseas to Carnoustie. He plans to have a few private dinners accompanied by the claret jug, one last toast to last year’s success before turning the trophy back over to the R&A.

But even Spieth admitted that as it pertains to his chances to follow in Brooks Koepka’s footsteps by successfully defending a major title, he’ll be greatly aided by working his way into the mix this weekend. It represents the last chance in this early-summer swing to get his name back on the leaderboard, an opportunity to light fire to a pedestrian campaign like he did a year ago.

No pressure.

“It’s your basic stuff that sometimes gets off, that the harder you try to get them back on sometimes, the worse it gets,” Spieth said. “It can be frustrating, or you can just kind of wait for it to come to you. I think I’m OK with where things are, whether it’s the rest of this year or next year. I feel like there are good scores coming.”