Right Score Wrong Guy
Often, when I get a spare moment, I log on to thegolfchannel.com discussion boards to see what people are saying, or thinking, or just to steal a good line or two. About six months ago I saw a thread title that I thought was interesting. What I Like About The Game, was started by a poster with the screen name Holuta. I loved his first post. It was a list which included the sound of spikes on a cart path, and the smell of fresh cut grass. Holuta seemed like my kind of guy. His list went right to the heart of the game and made me think of all the things I loved about it.
After we exchanged a few posts I found out that Holuta was a freshman in High School named Brad Holuta. I liked his attitude so much I invited him to play at Shinnecock with me. I told him to bring his dad and a fourth and wed set a date in the spring, which turned out to be the Wednesday after Bethpage, when U.S. Open drama was fresh in our memories.
I met the Holutas at the airport when they arrived Tuesday night. Brad brought his dad and uncle Chris to play. His mom, Cindy and little brother, Brent were there just to have fun. They were all nice, gracious and happy. I saw immediately that the young man had inherited wonderful genes.
We got underway at 8:10 the next morning. Three balls in the first fairway, Brad and Frank were on the green in regulation. Three pars and a bogey had our group feeling good headed towards the second tee. I didnt have the heart to tell them that wed just played the easiest hole on the course.
The second hole is a long par-3. We made a couple of bogeys and some unmentionables and Brad turned to me and said, Wouldnt it be great if one of us made a hole-in-one and got on leaderboard report? I wanted the kid to get an ace at Shinnecock to cap off his trip.
The weather was perfect, we were cheering our pars, and ignoring the blemishes on the card. Brad was being introduced to the fescue grass and lightning greens from the U.S. Open tees (his idea, not mine). He was also introduced to a birdie at No. 5. That number will be sought after 100 weeks from now, for sure. The next hole is the most difficult on the course and Brad fully realized how nice that birdie was, after his travails at No. 6.
Legend has it that Ben Hogan called the 11th at Shinnecock the shortest par-5 in golf, though Trevino usually gets the credit. Its actually a par-3 with a wicked green surrounded by trouble. Hit it long left and youll pray for a five. The hole was 160 yards, uphill without any wind. The air was a bit muggy and heavy. The pin was cut back left near the drop-off to treachery.
I was first on the tee, and took a 5-iron, intending to find the fat part of the green (note, thats like looking for the fat part of Calista Flockhart). Id flushed a 4-iron on the last hole so I went back to the bag and pulled a six. I made good contact but pulled it just a hair. A big bounce and Im long left. Double. If it landed short on a narrow runway, Id have an uphill birdie putt, 20 feet or so. The green would feed naturally toward the hole, so I stood still. It took a bounce and began tracking. It was a good shot, but theres one heartbreaking spot on the green which gathers balls and hides them from the tee, making it look like youve holed out. My ball moved towards the pin and disappeared right at the bottom of the stick, near that hollow in the green.
My caddy, Anthony, said, I think its over. The other caddy, Arthur, has been at Shinnecock for six decades. He climbed on to a bench on the tee for a better vantage point. He was silent. My playing companions were excited, theyd never seen one and were having a lot of fun imagining that they just had. I assured them I was short and the ball was hidden.
They all hit their tee shots, quickly I might add. As we walked from the tee we were all silent. Halfway to the green I said, I feel like the guy whos throwing a perfect game and no one will talk to me! They laughed. I said it was short, in the hollow, but Frank got to the green and said he didnt see anything. I told them that it must have gone over. Anthony quickened his stride towards the hole and yelled, Its in when he got there. We let out hoots and hollers and hugged and high fived and took pictures and laughed. I repaired the ball mark which had made the green by six inches. I had wanted Brad to make one on that day, but was happy with my first.
I put the ball away and walked to the next hole thinking I would have that card for a while, I needed to post a score I could be proud of. I knew that if I made two pars, I could bogey in for a 79. Chris said, Who has the tee? and we all broke out laughing again.
When I birdied 18 to shoot 76 the Holuta family became my official good luck charm. High fives and hugs and back slaps continued all the way up to the veranda for lunch. Chris turned to me and said, Sometimes good deeds bear fruit quickly. I told him that without Frank and Cindy raising such a fine son, I would never have read the post, wouldnt have been playing that day, and still wouldnt have a hole-in-one. Again I was thankful for Brad and his take on golf.
Such is the serendipitous nature of our game. Sometimes, through a combination of errors, good intentions and destiny a person can experience wonderful moments and people can bond in the blink of an eye. I experienced one of those moments on June 19, 2002 on the 11th hole at Shinnecock with a family of people I now count among my friends.
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Storms halt Barbasol before Lincicome tees off
NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - Brittany Lincicome will have to wait until the weekend to resume her bid to make the cut in a PGA Tour event.
Overnight storms delayed the start of the second round Friday in the Barbasol Championship, and an afternoon thunderstorm suspended competition for good. The round will resume Saturday morning with much of the field still to play.
The second stoppage at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came 20 minutes before Lincicome's scheduled tee time.
Lincicome was near the bottom of the field after opening with a 6-over 78 on Thursday. The first LPGA player since Michelle Wie in 2008 to start a PGA Tour event, she needs a huge rebound to join Babe Zaharias (1945) as the only female players to make the cut.
Troy Merritt had the clubhouse lead at 15 under, following an opening 62 with a 67.
Third-round tee times for the 147th Open
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Eighteen major champions made the cut at The Open and will be playing the weekend at Carnoustie, including 60-year-old ageless wonder Bernhard Langer, and both major champs so far this year, Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka.
Twenty-four-year-old Gavin Green will be first off solo Saturday at 4:15 a.m. ET. Reed and Rhys Enoch will follow along 10 minutes later.
Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, both at even par for the tournament, six shots behind leaders Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner, are in consecutive groups. Mickelson is playing with Austin Cook at 8:05 a.m. and Woods is with South Africa’s Shaun Norris at 8:15 a.m.
Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, both three shots off the lead, are also in consecutive groups. Fowler is at 10 a.m. with Thorbjorn Olesen and Spieth is 10 minutes later with Kevin Chappell. Rory McIlroy, looking to win his first major since the 2014 PGA Championship, is at 10:40 a.m. with Xander Schauffele. McIlroy is two shots behind.
Johnson and Kisner are last off at 11 a.m.
4:15AM ET: Gavin Green
4:25AM ET: Rhys Enoch, Patrick Reed
4:35AM ET: Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Justin Rose
4:45AM ET: Yusaku Miyazato, Tyrrell Hatton
4:55AM ET: Ross Fisher, Keegan Bradley
5:05AM ET: Ryan Fox, Jason Dufner
5:15AM ET: Bryson DeChambeau, Henrik Stenson
5:25AM ET: Tom Lewis, Sam Locke (a)
5:35AM ET: Paul Casey, Chris Wood
5:45AM ET: Bernhard Langer, Rafa Cabrera Bello
6:00AM ET: Paul Dunne, Brett Rumford
6:10AM ET: Masahiro Kawamura, Shubhankar Sharma
6:20AM ET: Cameron Smith, Brendan Steele
6:30AM ET: Marc Leishman, Lee Westwood
6:40AM ET: Byeong Hun An, Kevin Na
6:50AM ET: Julian Suri, Adam Hadwin
7:00AM ET: Gary Woodland, Si-Woo Kim
7:10AM ET: Yuta Ikeda, Satoshi Kodaira
7:20AM ET: Marcus Kinhult, Thomas Pieters
7:30AM ET: Beau Hossler, Haotong Li
7:45AM ET: Cameron Davis, Sean Crocker
7:55AM ET: Louis Oosthuizen, Stewart Cink
8:05AM ET: Phil Mickeslon, Austin Cook
8:15AM ET: Tiger Woods, Shaun Norris
8:25AM ET: Lucas Herbert, Michael Kim
8:35AM ET: Jason Day, Francesco Molinari
8:45AM ET: Sung Kang, Webb Simpson
8:55AM ET: Patrick Cantlay, Eddie Pepperell
9:05AM ET: Matthew Southgate, Brooks Koepka
9:15AM ET: Kyle Stanley, Adam Scott
9:30AM ET: Charley Hoffman, Alex Noren
9:40AM ET: Ryan Moore, Brandon Stone
9:50AM ET: Luke List, Danny Willett
10:00AM ET: Thorbjorn Olesen, Rickie Fowler
10:10AM ET: Jordan Spieth, Kevin Chappell
10:20AM ET: Zander Lombard, Tony Finau
10:30AM ET: Matt Kuchar, Erik Van Rooyen
10:40AM ET: Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele
10:50AM ET: Pat Perez, Tommy Fleetwood
11:00AM ET: Kevin Kisner, Zach Johnson
Facial hair Fowler's new good-luck charm
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Before, during and after the Fourth of July, Rickie Fowler missed a few appointments with his razor.
He arrived in the United Kingdom for last week’s Scottish Open still unshaved and he tied for sixth place. Fowler, like most golfers, can give in to superstition, so he's decided to keep the caveman look going for this week’s Open Championship.
“There could be some variations,” he smiled following his round on Friday at Carnoustie.
At this rate, he may never shave again. Fowler followed an opening 70 with a 69 on Friday to move into a tie for 11th place, just three strokes off the lead.
Fowler also has some friendly competition in the beard department, with his roommate this week Justin Thomas also going for the rugged look.
“I think he kind of followed my lead in a way. I think he ended up at home, and he had a little bit of scruff going. It's just fun,” Fowler said. “We mess around with it. Obviously, not taking it too seriously. But like I said, ended up playing halfway decent last week, so I couldn't really shave it off going into this week.”
Spieth (67) rebounds from tough Round 1 finish
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Guess whose putter is starting to heat up again at a major?
Even with a few wayward shots Friday at Carnoustie, Jordan Spieth made a significant climb up the leaderboard in the second round, firing a 4-under 67 to move just three shots off the lead.
Spieth showed his trademark grit in bouncing back from a rough finish Thursday, when he mis-clubbed on the 15th hole, leading to a double bogey, and ended up playing the last four holes in 4 over.
“I don’t know if I actually regrouped,” he said. “It more kind of fires me up a little.”
Spieth missed more than half of his fairways in the second round, but he was able to play his approach shots from the proper side of the hole. Sure, he “stole a few,” particularly with unlikely birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 after errant drives, but he took advantage and put himself in position to defend his claret jug.
Spieth needed only 25 putts in the second round, and he credited a post-round adjustment Thursday for the improvement. The tweak allows his arms to do more of the work in his stroke, and he said he felt more confident on the greens.
“It’s come a long way in the last few months, no doubt,” he said.
More than anything, Spieth was relieved not to have to play “cut-line golf” on Friday, like he’s done each start since his spirited run at the Masters.
“I know that my swing isn’t exactly where I want it to be; it’s nowhere near where it was at Birkdale,” he said. “But the short game is on point, and the swing is working in the right direction to get the confidence back.”