Between caddie tryouts Villegas gets one of best

By Doug FergusonJune 9, 2009, 4:00 pm
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. ' Camilo Villegas, who has emerged as one of the top players in golf, found himself without a regular caddie after his looper decided to leave him to work part-time for Sergio Garcia.
Just dont get the idea he will be at a disadvantage at the U.S. Open.
Villegas played in a charity event the Monday after The Players Championship with Fred Couples, who will not be at Bethpage and thus offered the services of his caddie ' Joe LaCava, one of the best in the business.
LaCava also works with Davis Love III and walked 36 holes at a U.S. Open qualifier Monday. Now he gets two straight weeks, the St. Jude Classic and U.S. Open, with the 27-year-old Colombian. Why not just take a week off?
Let me ask you a question, LaCava replied. Would you want a week off when you could work for this kid?
Villegas closed out last year with victories in the BMW Championship and Tour Championship, earned $4.4 million and picked up a $3 million bonus for finishing second in the FedEx Cup.
That begs another question ' why would anyone want out of a bag that lucrative?
Villegas said Gary Matthews, a steady voice during his success last year, is about to start a family and wanted to work less. Garcia has been employing two caddies the past couple of years, and half the job opened up when Billy Foster departed.
When you split with your caddie, you can look at it positively or negatively, Villegas said. Im looking at it positively. This is a chance for me to try different guys.
His brother, Manny, who is trying to qualify for Nationwide Tour events, caddied for him at the Memorial. Villegas said he is getting a lot of phone calls from caddies offering to take the job, which should come as no surprise. He did not say whom he might use the rest of the year, but does not seem to be in a big hurry.
I believe I treat caddies well, and we get along great, Villegas said. If I play well, they make a lot of money. Its all good.
Strangely enough, Matthews worked the last two weeks for Michelle Wie, who needed a temporary caddie. Villegas said that was facilitated by Clarke Jones, the agent at IMG for Garcia, Villegas and Wie.
PLAYOFF POP: The U.S. Open remains the only major that has an 18-hole playoff, and USGA executive director David Fay said thats not about to change.
We are doggedly determined to go 18 holes, he said.
It was worth it last year at Torrey Pines, one of the most compelling rounds of the year. Tiger Woods, on a wounded knee, built a lead, blew a lead, had to birdie the 18th to force overtime and won on the 19th hole over Rocco Mediate. Some ticket gates were not manned, leading to some 30,000 fans trying to follow two players. The atmosphere was over the top.
Just dont get the idea that the USGA makes a mint out of the extra day. Quite the opposite.
Fay said the USGA had to spend nearly $120,000 for an extra day of buses, $45,000 for the smaller buses, $30,000 for parking, $60,000 for security to stay an extra night and day. Throw in lunches for bus drivers, media, volunteers, parking for the media and travel costs for the USGA staff.
When you round it up, and throw in the ever popular miscellaneous, it came out to $513,000, he said. Sure, we hope to see a few more hot dogs and beers and shirts. But the answer is, you dont earn that money back.
Fay found it peculiar that what appeared to be a mismatch (Woods was No. 1, Mediate at No. 157) turned out to be a terrific playoff. That hasnt always been the case. Jack Nicklaus won easily in a highly anticipated playoff against Arnold Palmer at Oakmont in 1962, just as Lee Trevino won handily over Nicklaus at Merion in 1971.
Some years, you feel that this deserves to go another 18 or more, Fay said. On paper, the ones you look forward to the most, dont always go that way.
ROUGH EXHIBIT: On Tuesday of the Memorial, Steve Rintoul, the PGA Tour official in charge of setting up Muirfield Village, said that because the 3 1/2 -inch rough was less dense than the previous year, it could make it play even tougher.
Sitting in his cart along the trees left of the ninth fairway in the second round, he was proven correct.
Geoff Ogilvy was in the right rough, with the pin on the left part of a green protected by water. He studied his shot with three dozen fans standing behind him.
Lets see what Geoff does here, Rintoul said. This is exactly what we were talking about in my office. See all those people behind him? Think theyd like to see Geoff pull out a wedge and punch out to the fairway? He still might, but hes got a choice.
Ogilvy settled over his ball, taking a wide stance. As soon as he made contact, Rintoul said, Uh-oh. He got a flyer.
Fore left! came a cry from the gallery.
Ogilvy went long and left, leaving him little hope of getting it close. He did well to chip 20 feet past the hole. If he had punched out, he likely would have been no more than 10 feet away.
Later in the round, Vijay Singh caught a flyer on the 18th. Needing par to make the cut, his ball hit a path over the green and landed next to the clubhouse, leading to double bogey.
DIVOTS: Instead of flying home after the Memorial, six players headed to Liberty National in New Jersey on short notice to take part in the Commissioners Cup, a pro-am event with the PGA Tours corporate partners. The players were Steve Stricker, Rod Pampling, Stewart Cink, John Merrick, D.J. Trahan and Nick Watney. Joining them was Carl Pettersson, who already had gone home to North Carolina after missing the cut, and Arron Oberholser, who flew across the country from Arizona. Davis Love III took the long way home after missing The Players Championship, taking part in Kyle Pettys Ride Across America on motorcycles. Love started in Idaho, and put 3,286 miles on his Harley-Davidson before arriving home in Sea Island, Ga. The worst part of the trip was parking it at home. I asked Kyle, Can we turn around and go back?
STAT OF THE WEEK: For the second straight year, Kevin Silva and Charlie Beljan made it to the U.S. Open by going through 18-hole local and 36-hole sectional qualifying.
FINAL WORD: I think that everybody has got something to lose because hes got so much to gain. Thats the way I look at it. ' Jack Nicklaus, talking about challengers to Tiger Woods.

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    Watch: Tiger 'drops mic' in long drive contest

    By Golf Channel DigitalMay 20, 2018, 12:44 am

    Tiger Woods is in Las Vegas this weekend for the 20th annual Tiger Jam charity event that benefits his foundation.

    During the tournament on Saturday afternoon, Woods challenged World Long Drive competitor Troy Mullins to a long drive contest.


    A post shared by TROY MULLINS (@trojangoddess) on May 19, 2018 at 1:25pm PDT

    Safe to say it looks like Tiger won.

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    Sunday showdown for Wise, Leishman at Nelson

    By Will GrayMay 19, 2018, 11:40 pm

    DALLAS – While the swirling Texas winds may still have their say, the AT&T Byron Nelson is shaping up to be a two-horse race.

    With a four-shot gulf between them and their closest pursuers, co-leaders Marc Leishman and Aaron Wise both stepped up to the microphone and insisted the tournament was far from over. That it wouldn’t revert to a match-play situation, even though the two men didn’t face much pressure from the pack down the stretch of the third round and have clearly distanced themselves as the best in the field through 54 holes.

    But outside of an outlier scenario or a rogue tornado sweeping across Trinity Forest Golf Club, one of the two will leave with trophy in hand tomorrow night.

    That’s in part because of their stellar play to this point, but it’s also a byproduct of the tournament’s new and unconventional layout: at Trinity Forest, big numbers are hard to find.

    Even with the winds picking up during the third round and providing the sternest challenge yet, the field combined for only 16 scores of double bogey, and nothing worse than that.

    Full-field scores from the AT&T Byron Nelson

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    There’s irony in a course called Trinity Forest offering a tree-less test, sure, but there are also no water hazards in play here. For the most part, players have been maxing out with bogey – and Leishman and Wise have combined for only six of those so far this week.

    If someone from the chase pack is going to catch them, the two sharing the pole position aren’t going to do them any favors.

    “I don’t really want to give them a chance,” Leishman said. “I’d love to go out and shoot a low one and make Aaron have to shoot a good score tomorrow to beat me, which, I fully expect him to shoot a good score.”

    While Leishman has been somewhat of a late bloomer on the PGA Tour, with only one win across his first eight seasons, he now has a golden opportunity to add a third trophy in the last 14 months. He has felt right at home on a sprawling layout that reminds him of a few back in his native Australia, and he’s part of a Down Under invasion on a leaderboard that also includes Matt Jones (-13) and Adam Scott (-9).

    While Wise briefly held sole possession of the lead, Leishman has seemingly held an iron grip on the top spot since opening his week with a blistering 61.

    “Before last year, I was a pretty slow starter. I always got off to a slow start Thursday, or I’d be fighting to make the cut and have a good weekend to slide into the top 10,” Leishman said. “Getting into that round straight away on the first tee rather than the ninth green or something, which sounds like a really basic thing, but it’s something I didn’t do very well until last year.”

    But as Leishman acknowledged, he likely can’t count on a stumble from Wise to help finish off a wire-to-wire victory. As the youngest player to make the cut this week, Wise is facing a challenge of taking down a top-ranked Aussie for the second time in as many starts.

    While he came up short at the Wells Fargo Championship, tying for second behind Jason Day, he remains supremely confident that he can put those hard-earned lessons to use this time around.

    “I feel like it’s a great opportunity,” Wise said. “It will obviously be a huge day for me. I feel like having one go at it already, I’m a little more confident going into it this time.”

    Even among the landscape of the Tour’s promising next wave, Wise stands out as a particularly young gun. Still only 21, he could feasibly be heading to Karsten Creek next week with his Oregon Duck teammates to close out his senior season with another NCAA championship appearance.

    But Wise turned pro after winning the NCAA individual title as a sophomore, and he steadily worked his way through the professional ranks: first a win on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada, then one last summer on the Tour.

    Now he’s poised to turn what he described as a “lackluster” season before his Quail Hollow runner-up into one that defies even his own expectations.

    “Absolutely, I am way ahead of the curve. It’s pretty hard to do what I’ve done at such a young age. Only a few have done it,” Wise said. “I feel like I’m getting some great experience for a kid this young. It’s only going to serve me well down the road.”

    An unpredictable Coore-Crenshaw layout will have one more day to star, and outside of Wise the top six names on the leaderboard have at least one Tour win to their credit. But after the two men traded punches on a firm and fast afternoon, it sure feels like the final round is shaping up to offer more of the same.

    For Leishman, it’s a chance to add another notch to some quickly expanding credentials; for Wise, it’s an opportunity to win on the one level he has yet to do so.

    “It’s golf, at the end of the day. If you play better than everyone else, you’re going to win,” Wise said. “That’s why I play it. That’s why I love this sport, and tomorrow is nothing different.”

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    5 thoughts from NCAA Women's Championship Day 2

    By Ryan LavnerMay 19, 2018, 11:35 pm

    The field is almost halfway through stroke-play qualifying at the NCAA Women’s Championship. Here are some thoughts on the first two days at Karsten Creek:

    1. UCLA is on a mission. Just a year ago, the Bruins were headed home from regionals after becoming the first No. 1 seed that failed to advance out of the qualifying tournament. This year, with the core of the team still mostly intact, the Bruins have opened up a five-shot lead on top-ranked Alabama and a comfortable 16-shot cushion over Southern Cal in third place. On one of the most difficult college courses in the country, UCLA has received contributions from all four of its usual counters – standout Lilia Vu shot 68 on Saturday, while Mariel Galdiano posted a 69. Freshman Patty Tavatanakit and junior Bethany Wu also broke par. This is a strong, deep lineup that will pose issues for teams not just in stroke-play qualifying, but also the head-to-head, match-play bracket.

    2. What happened to Arkansas? Riding high off their first SEC Championship and a dominant regional performance, the Razorbacks were considered one of the top threats to win the national title. But entering Sunday’s third round of stroke play, they need to hold it together just to ensure they make the top-15 cut. Arkansas is 32 over par through two rounds. The Razorbacks had shot in the 300s just once this season in the play-five, count-four format. Here at Karsten Creek, they’ve now done so in consecutive rounds.

    3. The Player of the Year race is heating up. With a decent showing at nationals, Arkansas’ Maria Fassi should have been able to wrap up the Annika Award, given annually to the top player in the country. She has six individual titles, plays a difficult schedule and is well-liked among her peers. But through two rounds she’s a whopping 15 over par while spraying it all over the map. If the Razorbacks don’t survive the 54-hole cut, neither will Fassi. That’d open the door for another player to steal the votes, whether it’s UCLA’s Vu or Wake Forest’s Jennifer Kupcho. There’s a lot still to be decided.

    4. Stanford has steadied itself. One of the biggest surprises on Day 1 was the horrendous start by the Cardinal, one of just two teams to advance to match play each of the three years it’s been used to determine a national champion. They were 19 over for their first nine holes Friday, but instead of a blowup round that cost them a shot at the title, they’ve found a way to hang tough. Stanford has been just 4 over par over its last 27 holes. Andrea Lee made only one bogey during her second-round 69, Albane Valenzuela eagled the 18th hole for a 73 and senior leader Shannon Aubert – who has been a part of each postseason push – carded a 74. And so, even with its early struggles, coach Anne Walker once again has Stanford in position to reach match play.

    5. Karsten Creek is identifying the best teams. The top teams in the country want a difficult host venue for NCAAs – it helps separate the field and draws an unmistakable line between the contenders and pretenders. Only one team (UCLA) is under par after 36 holes. Fewer than a dozen players are under par individually. The dearth of low scores might not be the greatest advertisement for how talented these players are, but the cream has still risen to the top so far: Five top-10 teams currently sit inside the top 7 on the leaderboard (and that doesn’t even include last year’s NCAA runner-up Northwestern). This is all any coach wants, even if the scores aren’t pretty.

    Quick hits: Cheyenne Knight, part of Alabama’s vaunted 1-2-3 punch along with Lauren Stephenson and Kristen Gillman, shot rounds of 70-69 to figure in the mix for individual honors. The junior will turn pro after nationals. …  Arizona’s Bianca Pagdanganan made a hole-in-one on the 11th hole Saturday en route to a 68 that tied the low round of the day. She’s at 5-under 139, same as Knight. ... Defending champion Arizona State, which lost star Linnea Strom to the pro ranks at the halfway point of the season, is 35 over par after two rounds. … Play was delayed for nearly an hour and a half Saturday because of inclement weather.

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    Wise (21) makes Leishman (34) feel a little old

    By Will GrayMay 19, 2018, 10:55 pm

    DALLAS – With the final round of the AT&T Byron Nelson likely to take on a match-play feel, Marc Leishman likes his chances to close out another win – even if his opponent makes him feel a little old.

    Leishman, 34, shares the lead at Trinity Forest Golf Club with 21-year-old Aaron Wise, who was the youngest player to make the cut at the tournament’s new venue. The two men will start the final round at 17 under, four shots clear of their next-closest pursuers.

    Leishman played the third round alongside Wise and Brian Gay, and he originally didn’t realize just how fresh-faced his fellow co-leader is.

    Full-field scores from the AT&T Byron Nelson

    AT&T Byron Nelson: Articles, photos and videos

    “He’s a solid player for, I heard this morning he’s only 21. I didn’t realize that,” Leishman said. “I guess I was in high school before he was born, so that’s – I don’t know. You hear guys talk about that all the time but I’ve never said that, I think. Yeah, he’s a good player.”

    Wise won the 2016 NCAA individual title while at Oregon, and he opted to turn pro after his sophomore season. While he could have been capping his senior season with a return to the NCAAs next week, Wise is pleased with the career choice and remains eager for a chance to close out his first career PGA Tour win against a seasoned veteran.

    “I feel like I’m in a great spot for tomorrow,” Wise said. “I feel like I’m getting some great experience for a kid this young. It’s only going to serve me well down the road.”