Trevor Tiger and Taxes

By Dena DavisApril 16, 2008, 4:00 pm
Editor's note: As a part of the creative braintrust in the GOLF CHANNEL news department, Dena Davis thrives on uncovering compelling stories in golf for our shows, and finding unique, fresh ways to give viewers their golf news. These are her weekly thoughts, some random musings, and even a few programming notes. And she would like you to remember: It's all said in good fun.
 
Feeling Green:
Its highly possible that the self-professed sports fanatic Trevor Immelman was a tad disappointed, and perhaps even bored, by the lack of player star-power and intrigue at the sporting event the other day. No, not at Augusta on Sunday. (That was me.) Im talking about Tuesday nights Boston/New York match-up at Madison Square Garden. I doubt Immelman envisioned taking in an NBA game to watch the magnificent hoop stylings of one Tony Allen ' rather than Ray Allen. Nor was he itching to see Kendrick Perkins, James Posey and Leon Powe play, I imagine. Doc Rivers had benched the Big Three (no, not Palmer, Player and Nicklaus) for the entire game while the freshly-minted, newly-cloaked Masters champ sat on his own bench, the celebrity court-side one, watching the makeshift Celtics team beat a beleaguered lame-duck Knicks club 99-93. The South African was making the requisite and well-deserved victory rounds in the Big Apple, with this particular stop as the special guest of his Lake Nona, Fla., neighbor Coach Rivers. And keeping with the prevalent coaching trend of having random celebrities give half-time speeches (Im thinking Rich Rodriguez will NOT be asking Russell Crowe back to Ann Arbor this fall.), the green-jacketed hero apparently energized the green jerseyed Cs scrub squad in the lockerroom with his champion-like feel, whatever that means.
 
It was great, Rivers said. Half the guys didnt know him. It was really cool. (This is where I lose him. How is his anonymity cool?) They all gave him a nice standing ovation and shook his hand. We wanted everyone to touch what a champion felt like.
 
Yeah, because we all know Larry Bird is not walking through that door! Kevin McKale is not walking through that door! Robert Parrish is not walking through that door!
 
Chalk it up to Karma:
Maybe it was too much to ask from the sports gods to be blessed with a crazy, improbable Super Bowl, an incredible NCAA Championship title game (even if was all-chalk), AND a compelling Masters all within the first few months 2008. As sports fans, inherently, we really are a greedy, gluttonous breed. We want theatre. We want unpredictability. We want astonishing feats, last-second heroics, sexy story-lines, records broken. All of it. If our favorite players or teams cant win, at the very least, we want the game or event to hold our attention. Make it interesting, we say, We want a close one. So going into this week, I was praying for a half-dozen of the world's top golfers all tied for the lead with a few holes on a late Sunday afternoon. I was holding out for some Mario Chalmers-like antics on the back-nine sending the action into overrrrrr-time. (Especially in this, the only major with a sudden-death play-off system!) But as it turned out, Billy Packer could have called this one early on Sunday. Shoot, maybe we all could have predicted it on Saturday when Immlemans third shot somehow stopped on the bank of the 15th green, in what would turn out as the ONLY really memorable shot of the entire tournament. But despite the dearth of drama, despite all the missing elements we lust and long for in our championships -- because these supposedly define THE BEST -- and separate the rest -- what we had left standing on Sunday was a hero in every sense of the word. And we didnt need an on the-edge-of-your-seat, nail-biting ending to enhance or validate this victory. Because in the end, there stood a true, courageous, humble champion in Trevor Immelman and that was more than enough. (And who, apropos of nothing, could probably fall back on acting or modeling if this golf gig doesnt pan out. Can we start running that FedEx commercial again with him and Vijay where hes talking into his brush in the mirror? People will recognize him now!)
 
I heard the news today, oh boy:
Why is it that upon hearing the news of Tiger Woods knee surgery and his subsequent 4-6 week stint on the DL, my thoughts immediately jumped to two South Africans, but for two different reasons: Trevor Immelman and Ernie Els. Id like to not be a cynic here, but does Tiger realize how the timing of this news looks, only two days after he back-doored a second-place finish at Augusta, thanks in part to some choking newbies in front of him on the leaderboard. And does he realize it might be a slight slap in the face to the newly-crowned Immelman?
 
The Masters champ barely had 48 hours to soak in the glorious rays of triumph and heres Tiger taking the spotlight away. Oh, yeah, you won Trevor, but let me throw out a subtle disclaimer that I had a bum knee all along, not exactly full-speed, partner. Did Tiger REALLY need to release this information THIS week. Curiously, his swing coach Hank Haney didnt even know about it until we did, when it hit the wires. On another note, Ernie Els had to be rejoicing -- and licking his chops -- with the possibility of a few imminent non-Tiger tournaments he can win now with his buddy side-lined. Just the other night, I told my dad that Els would never win another major as long as Tiger was in the field, because the Big Easy was just too much of a head-case at this point -- and far from being a closer on a big stage. HOWEVA, if he could pull it off (without Tiger in the field), THE PLAYERS could now be a huge confidence-breeding win for Ernie before heading to San Diego for the U.S. Open. By that time, Tiger will have just returned from rehabbing the knee, and Butch Harmon will have had time to work his magic (still skeptical) with his newest pupil. Might be perfect timing for Els to win his first major in over five years! Naw, what am I saying? The last time Woods had knee surgery, he came back and won three of his first four tournaments, starting with the Buick Invitational at Torrey Pines, just one of the six times hes one at that venue in the last four years.
 
What I learned this week:
  • Nothing is certain but death, Tigers inability to come from behind to win a major, and taxes.
     
  • I would rather Billy Payne televise the Masters Champions dinner than the Par-3 tournament. That has GOT to be more riveting, entertaining, and enlightening. Toddlers in cute caddy outfits pal-ing around with their dads is indeed awfully precious, but THREE HOURS gets old real fast. On the other hand, imagine being a fly on the wall at the Champions dinner! It would be golfs version of Big Brother for CBS. That might grow the game.The kids sure seem to be fond of that show for some reason.
     
  • As I turns out, doo-rags and denim are acceptable attire at Augusta National. However, I did notice that the universe WILL punish you for these flagrant style fouls. Yes, were looking at you, Mrs. Sabbatini with the biker bandana in your hair at the Par-3 tournament and Mr. Justin black jeans Rose. Just because the course played unreasonably rough, doesnt give you permission to dress that way.
     
  • As heard on the Masters broadcasts nat. sound (TV term), the most vociferous, garrulous birds in the world, apparently, all reside in Augusta, Ga.
     
  • Never underestimate an adult dogs (with behavioral problems) uncanny ability to find -- among a haystack of papers in a bookbag, no less -- a single W-2 form and proceed to chew it to pieces. (Is there a dog eating homework category as a reason for filing an extension?)
     
  • Talking about how freakin sweet it was that I managed to snag Johnny Cueto and Evan Longoria for my fantasy baseball team before anyone else, is probably not the best conversation topic on a first date. (Editors note: No, he hasnt called yet.)
     
  • Jim Nantz must be off his game, as of late. First, in the National Championship title game he used this weak line: Rock Chalk Championship as Kansas captured the title in San Antonio. And then on Sunday at Augusta, after waxing poetic about Tiger all week and droning on about circles of life, he chose the no-call silence for Trevors tap-in at the 72nd hole for the green jacket. We were looking for something like: from one Player to an Immel-MAN or some reference to the 30-year anniversary of Gary winning and the passing of the South African torch. We would have also accepted a Gus Johnson-like excitable stream of incoherent audio. Really, anything to have woken us up from our slumber would have been appreciated, so we knew it was over. Hello? Hello friends? Is this thing on?
     
  • The spicy chicken sandwich from Wendys is neither spicy nor chicken. Make of that what you will.
     
  • It was rather premature and pointless this past week for us to chatter so much about the surprising demise of the Detroit Tigers, the curious success of the Royals, and the foregone conclusion of a Tiger Woods calendar Grand Slam. With baseball only completing around 10-12 of their 162 games at the time and with Woods not yet even teeing it up in the first major of the season, it was all silly and unfounded speculation. The truth of the matter is, this far out, for both the Tigers and the Royals the World Series is still within reason and the only verifiable slam within reason in the golf world involves Lorena Ochoa, who, after her most recent win now has enough points earned for the LPGA Hall of Fame at age 25. In what Im dubbing as the Senorita Slam (you cant go wrong with alliteration, folks), Ochoas impressive domination (see her 8.5-shot average margin of victory in her four 2008 wins) will continue this summer in Maryland and then at Interlachen, and finally in Berkshire, England. Now, THAT'S a potential grand salami home run to talk about.
     
    Course of Life:
    I am a lifetime member of Kountryside Golf Course in Cope, S.C. This may not mean anything to anyone else, but to me, it means more than I could have ever imagined. Its value cannot be measured with a paycheck. And Augusta National couldnt begin to come close to matching the special nature of Kountryside. A pocket-sized laminated card bearing my name and this honor given to me by two of the most unique, honest, hard-working people I have ever come across, hangs in my office proudly on display. And I look forward to using it one day soon. You see, I have never even set foot in Cope, S.C. I have yet to play a single hole on the charming track there. But I cannot wait for the day I get to do just that. Moreover, I am most eager to meet the owners, Bobby and Len Kilgus, in person. Because it was their remarkable story that I found last fall while searching the Internet ' a tale of making something out of nothing in pursuit of a dream ' which ended up touching me and inspiring me in ways I had not expected. Not only did we get to cover their course for 'Golf Central,' everyone involved in the shoot, Rich Lerner on down to the camera man there, to the producer and editor back in Orlando, we all got to know the Kilguses and the lovely people of Cope. And we all became better for it. Bobby and Lens story reminds me every day at work how blessed I am to do what I do -- and how fun and rewarding my job is when I get to meet folks like them. You just never know when you might have the chance to strike up a friendship of a lifetime.
     
    Rich Lerners 3-part feature on Kountryside Golf Course airs this weekend on 'Golf Central' Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
     
    Email your thoughts to Dena Davis
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    Snedeker still in front on Day 3 of suspended Wyndham

    By Associated PressAugust 18, 2018, 11:21 pm

    GREENSBORO, N.C. - Brandt Snedeker held a three-stroke lead Saturday in the Wyndham Championship when the third round was suspended because of severe weather.

    Snedeker was 16 under for the tournament with 11 holes left in the round at the final event of the PGA Tour's regular season.

    Brian Gay was 13 under through 12 holes, and Trey Mullinax, Keith Mitchell, C.T. Pan and D.A. Points were another stroke back at varying stages of their rounds.

    Thirty players were still on the course when play was halted during the mid-afternoon with thunder booming and a threat of lightning. After a 3-hour, 23-minute delay, organizers chose to hold things up overnight and resume the round at 8 a.m. Sunday.

    When things resume, Snedeker - who opened with a 59 to become the first Tour player this year and just the 10th ever to break 60 - will look to keep himself in position to contend for his ninth victory on Tour and his first since the 2016 Farmers Insurance Open.


    Wyndham Championship: Full-field scores | Full coverage

    Current FedExCup points list


    The 2012 FedEx Cup champion won the tournament in 2007, the year before it moved across town to par-70 Sedgefield Country Club.

    Snedeker's final 11 holes of the round could wind up being telling: In seven of the 10 previous years since the tournament's move to this course, the third-round leader or co-leader has gone on to win.

    And every leader who finished the third round here at 16 under or better has wound up winning, including Henrik Stenson (16 under) last year and Si Woo Kim (18 under) in 2016.

    Snedeker started the day off strong, rolling in a 60-foot chip for birdie on the par-4 second hole, then pushed his lead to three strokes with a birdie on No. 5 that moved him to 16 under. But after he sank a short par putt on the seventh, thunder boomed and the horn sounded to stop play.

    Gay was 12 holes into a second consecutive strong round when the delay struck. After shooting a 63 in the second round, he had four birdies and an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole. He placed his 200-yard second shot 10 feet from the flagstick and sank the putt.

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    Lexi charges with 64 despite another penalty

    By Randall MellAugust 18, 2018, 11:07 pm

    Lexi Thompson ran into another awkward rules issue while making a bold charge at the leaders Saturday at the Indy Women in Tech Championship.

    She hit a speed bump at Brickyard Crossing Golf Course when she was assessed a penalty for violating a preferred-lies local rule.

    Five shots off the lead at day’s start, Thompson birdied six of the first nine holes, making the turn in 30 to move two off the lead, but that’s where she got her second education this season on the implementation of local rules.

    At the 10th tee, Thompson blew her tee shot right, into the sixth fairway. With preferred lies in effect, Thompson picked up her ball, cleaned it and replaced it within a club length before preparing to hit her second shot at the par 5.

    According to Kay Cockerill, reporting for Golf Channel’s early live streaming coverage, LPGA rules official Marty Robinson saw Thompson pick up her ball and intervened. He informed her she was in violation of the preferred lies rule, that she was allowed to lift, clean and place only when in the fairway of the hole she was currently playing. She was assessed a one-shot penalty and returned her ball to its original spot, with Robinson’s help. The local rule was distributed to players earlier in the week.

    Cockerill said Thompson handled the penalty well, shaking her head when realizing her mistake, and chuckling at her gaffe. She then crushed a fairway wood, from 215 yards, up onto the green. She two-putted from 50 feet and walked away with a par.


    Full-field scores from Indy Women in Tech Championship


    “Thankfully, Marty intervened before she hit her next shot,” Cockerill reported. “Otherwise, she would have been hitting from the wrong spot, and it would have been a two-shot penalty. So, in a sense, it saved her a shot.”

    Thompson is making a return to golf this week after taking a month-long “mental break.” A year ago, she endured heartache on and off the golf course, with her competitive frustration having much to do with being hit with a controversial four-shot penalty in the final round of the ANA Inspiration. She appeared to be running away with a victory there but ended up losing in a playoff.

    Earlier this year, Thompson got another education in local rules. She was penalized in the second round at the Honda Thailand after hitting her ball next to an advertising sign. She moved the sign, believing it was a moveable object, but the local rules sheet that week identified signs on the course as temporary immovable obstructions. She was penalized two shots.

    In her pretournament news conference this week, Thompson shared how difficult the ANA controversy, her mother’s fight with cancer and the death of a grandmother was on her emotionally. She also was candid about the challenge of growing up as a prodigy and feeling the need to build a life about more than golf.

    Saturday’s penalty didn’t slow Thompson for long.

    She made back-to-back birdies at the 13th and 14th holes to post a 64, giving her a Sunday chance to win in her return.

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    U.S. Amateur final comes down to Devon vs. Goliath

    By Ryan LavnerAugust 18, 2018, 9:45 pm

    PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – On his family’s happiest day in years, Nick Bling stood off to the side of the 18th green, trying to collect himself.

    His oldest son, Devon, had just advanced to the U.S. Amateur final, and he surely knew that, at some point, the question was coming. Of the many members in the family’s boisterous cheering section that came here to Pebble Beach – a clan that includes Nick’s brothers and sisters, his in-laws and the teaching professionals of his hometown club – one person was conspicuously absent.

    So for 22 seconds, Nick couldn’t utter a word.

    “She’s watching,” he said, finally, wiping under his sunglasses.

    His wife, Sara, died in February 2013 after suffering a sudden blood clot that went to her brain. She was only 45, the mother of two young boys.

    The news took everyone by surprise – that day Nick and Devon were together at a junior tournament in southwest California, while Sara was at home with her youngest son, Dillon.

    “That was bad. Unexpected,” said Dillon, now 16. “I don’t even want to think about that. That was a rough year.”

    Sara was a fixture at all of the boys’ junior tournaments. She organized their schedules, packed their lunches and frequently shuttled them to and from China Lake, the only course in their small hometown of Ridgecrest, about two hours north of Los Angeles, where they’ve lived since 1990.

    An engineer at the Naval Air Weapons Station, Nick picked up the game at age 27, and though he had no formal training (at his best he was a high-80s shooter), he was the boys’ primary swing coach until high school, when Devon was passed off to PGA instructor Chris Mason.

    “Devon has world-class raw talent, and there’s a lot of things you can’t teach, and he’s got a lot of that,” said UCLA assistant coach Andrew Larkin. “But his dad looked at the game very analytically. He was able to break down the golf swing from a technical standpoint, and I think that has helped him. His dad is a brilliant man.”

    Devon watched his dad hit balls in the garage and, at 18 months, began taking full swings with a plastic club, whacking shots against the back of the couch. Once his son was bigger, Nick put down a mat and built a hole in the dirt on the family’s property.


    U.S. Amateur: Articles, photos and videos


    Once it was time for the next step, there was only one option in town. China Lake is more than 300 miles from Pebble Beach, but in many ways they’re worlds apart. The course is dead in the winter, picked over by the birds in the spring and baked out in the summer, with 110-degree temperatures and winds that occasionally gust to 60 mph. Devon still blossomed into a well-known prospect.

    “Growing up in Ridgecrest,” Devon said, “some could say that it’s a disadvantage. But I could use the course and take a shag bag and go out and practice. So I used it to my advantage, and if it weren’t for that golf course, I wouldn’t be here today.” 

    Nor would he be here without the support of his family.

    Asked how they survived the tragedy of losing Sara so suddenly, Nick Bling said: “Brothers. Kids. Friends. Half of Ridgecrest. The town. They all came together. What do they say, that it takes a village to raise a boy? It did. Two boys.”

    Devon carried a 4.2 GPA in high school and played well enough to draw interest from UCLA. He played on the team last season as a freshman, winning a tournament and posting three other top-10s. The consistency in his game has been lacking, but the time spent around the Bruins’ coaches is starting to pay off, as he’s developed into more than just a swashbuckling power hitter. He has refined his aggression, though he’s offered more than a few reminders of his firepower. Last fall, the team held a Red Tee Challenge at TPC Valencia, where they all teed off from the red markers. Bling shot 28 on the back nine.

    In addition to his awesome game, Larkin said that Bling was one of the team’s most mature players – even after arriving on campus as a 17-year-old freshman.

    “I think his mannerisms and his charisma really come from his mom,” Larkin said. “It was a super hard time in his life, but I think it helped him grow and mature at an early age. He’s such a good big brother, and he took a lot of that responsibility.

    “There’s a blessing in everything that happens, and I think it made him grow a little young. I think he’s the man he is today because of her.”

    In his player profile, Bling wrote that his mom always wanted him to play in USGA championships, because of their prestige, and she would have loved to watch him maneuver his way through his first U.S. Amateur appearance.

    After earning the No. 41 seed in stroke play, Bling knocked off two of the top amateurs in the country (Shintaro Ban and Noah Goodwin), edged one of the nation’s most sought-after prospects (Davis Riley) and on Saturday traded birdies with Pacific Coast Amateur champion Isaiah Salinda.

    In one of the most well-played matches of the week, Bling made six birdies in a seven-hole span around the turn and shot the stroke-play equivalent of a 65 to Salinda’s 66.

    The match came down to 18, where Bling bludgeoned a drive over the tree in the middle of the fairway, knocked it on the green in two shots and forced Salinda to make birdie from the greenside bunker, which he couldn’t.

    Bling was a 1-up winner, clinching his spot in the finals (and the 2019 Masters and U.S. Open), and setting off a raucous celebration behind the rope line.

    “He played as good as I’ve ever seen,” Larkin said. “The talent has always been there, and I’m glad it’s coming out this week.”

    Another difficult opponent awaits in the championship match. It’s a mismatch on paper, a 36-hole final between Oklahoma State junior Viktor Hovland, ranked fifth in the world, and the No. 302-ranked Bling. Hovland had won each of his previous two matches by a 7-and-6 margin – the first time that’s happened since 1978 – and then dropped eight birdies on Cole Hammer on Saturday afternoon.

    But he’s likely never faced a player with Bling’s resolve – or a cheering section as supportive as his family’s.

    “This means a lot to us,” Dillon said. “It was finally Devon’s time, and I knew one day it’d come down to the finals. He’s been playing awesome. Mom is probably really happy right now.”

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    Report: Fan hit by broken club at Web.com event

    By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 18, 2018, 9:12 pm

    A fan was hit by a broken club and required stiches Friday at the Web.com Tour's WinCo Foods Portland Open.

    According to ESPN.com, Kevin Stadler slammed his club in frustration causing his clubhead to break and it struck a fan in the head.

    The fan required six stiches and was released from the hospital.

    Orlando Pope, a Web.com Tour rules official, spoke with ESPN.com:

    "It was a very freakish accident. Kevin is devastated. He had trouble trying to finish the round. He was quite worried and felt so bad.''

    Former PGA champion Shaun Micheel was in Stadler's group and posted this message on Facebook:

    "One of my playing partners played a poor shot with a 7 iron on the par 3 fifteenth hole this morning. In a fit of anger he slammed his club against the ground and the side of his foot which caused the club to break about 6” from the bottom. I had my head down but the clubhead flew behind me and hit a spectator to my right. It’s been a while since I’ve seen so much blood. We stayed with him for about 15 minutes before the EMT’s arrived. The last I heard was that he had a possible skull fracture but that he was doing ok otherwise. [Stadler] was absolutely shattered and we did our best to keep his spirits up. This was not done on purpose and we were astounded at the way the club was directed but it shows you just how dangerous it is to throw or break clubs. Each of us in the group learned something today!"