Between caddie tryouts Villegas gets one of best

By Doug FergusonJune 9, 2009, 4:00 pm
Bookmark and Share
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.

Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - St. Jude Classic
  • Golf Channel Airtimes

  • Getty Images

    Winning on Kerr's mind this week and beyond

    By Randall MellMarch 24, 2018, 2:11 am

    Cristie Kerr moved into position Friday to do more than win the 21st LPGA title of her career.

    She moved into position to claim an LPGA Hall of Fame point this week.

    Yes, winning is foremost on her mind at the Kia Classic, where she took the lead with an 8-under-par 64 in the second round, she’s on a larger quest, too.

    After turning 40 last fall, Kerr was asked what her goals are.

    “The Hall of Fame is attainable, if I stick with it,” she said.

    Kerr is five shots ahead of Lizette Salas (67), In-Kyung Kim (69), Hee Young Park (70) and Caroline Hedwall (70).

    It’s a good time for Kerr to get on a hot streak, with the year’s first major championship, the ANA Inspiration, next week. She has long been one of the best putters in the women’s game, but her ball-striking is impressive this week. She hit 17 greens in regulation Thursday, and she hit 16 on Friday.

    “I like winning,” Kerr said. “I like challenging myself. Definitely doesn't get any easier as you get older, with the travel and recovery time. I got up this morning and I'm like, `Man, why does my hamstring hurt?’ From working around this hilly golf course.”

    Kerr acknowledged Friday that her body is more vulnerable to time’s realities, but her mind isn’t.

    Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

    “The golf ball doesn't know an age,” Kerr said. “I've always said that. As long as I stay hungry, going to just keep playing.”

    Kerr won two weeks after her 40th birthday last fall, boosting her LPGA Hall of Fame point total to 22. She is five points short of eligibility for induction. A player earns one point for an LPGA victory and two points for a major championship title. So there’s a lot of Hall of Fame ground to gain this week and next.

    It’s a long-term goal that motivates Kerr to take care of her body.

    “I don't think the golf changes,” Kerr said. “I think, physically, it gets harder as you get older. Like I said, I've got tape on my hamstring. I strained it, just a little bit yesterday, walking around this golf course. It's tough as you get older, just being fresh and rested. I put more focus into that as I've gotten older. I still practice, but off the course I try to get more rest.”

    Getty Images

    Big names chasing Kerr into the weekend at Kia Classic

    By Associated PressMarch 24, 2018, 1:55 am

    CARLSBAD, Calif. - Cristie Kerr shot an 8-under 64 on Friday in the Kia Classic to take a five-stroke lead into the weekend.

    The 40-year-old Kerr had eight birdies in her second straight bogey-free round to reach 13-under 131 at rain-softened Aviara.

    ''I like winning. I like challenging myself,'' Kerr said. ''Definitely doesn't get any easier as you get older with the travel and recovery time. I got up this morning and I'm like, 'Man, why does my hamstring hurt?' From working around this hilly golf course. The golf ball doesn't know an age. I've always said that. As long as I stay hungry, going to just keep playing.''

    She has 20 LPGA victories, winning at Aviara in 2015. She won twice last year and helped the U.S. beat Europe in her ninth Solheim Cup appearance.

    ''It's tough as you get older just being fresh and rested,'' Kerr said. ''I put more focus into that as I've gotten older. I still practice, but off the course I try to get more rest.''

    Lizette Salas, In-Kyung Kim, Hee Young Park and Caroline Hedwall were tied for second. Salas shot 67, Kim 69, and Park and Hedwall 70.

    ''I really like this golf course. I really like the environment,'' said Salas, the former University of Southern California player from Azusa. ''My family gets to come out. So much confidence at the beginning of the week, and definitely showed the first two days.

    Jeong Eun Lee was 7 under after a 69, and defending ANA champion So Yeon Ryu had a 70 to get to 6 under.

    Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

    Ariya Jutanugarn (72), Brooke Henderson (70) and 2016 winner Lydia Ko (71) were 5 under. Shanshan Feng (68) was another stroke back, and Singapore winner Michelle Wie (72) was 1 under.

    Lexi Thompson was 2 over after a 74, making the cut on the number in the final event before the major ANA Inspiration next week at Mission Hills.

    Kerr opened with birdies on the par-5 10th and par-3 11th, added birdies on the par-4 16th, 18th and second, and ran off three in a row on the par-3 sixth, par-4 seventh and par-5 eighth.

    ''I don't think you can fall asleep on one shot,'' Kerr said. ''It's a really good golf course. I think I play better on courses that demand the focus, so I think that's why I've played well here in the past. ... I'm trying not to put limits on myself right now. I've got some good things going on with my swing.''

    She has long been one best putters and green-readers in the world.

    ''I can see the subtleties that a lot of people can't,'' Kerr said. ''It's a gift from God being able to do that. I've always had that, so I'm lucky.''

    Laura Davies withdrew after an opening 82. The 54-year-old Davies tied for second last week in the Founders Cup in Phoenix, playing through painful left Achilles and calf problems.

    Getty Images

    DJ hits 489-yard drive, but it doesn't count for history

    By Rex HoggardMarch 24, 2018, 12:22 am

    AUSTIN, Texas – Dustin Johnson is no stranger to big drives, but even for DJ this one was impressive.

    Trailing in his Day 3 match at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, Johnson launched a drive at the par-5 12th hole that traveled 489 yards, but that number comes with an asterisk.

    “He got lucky it hit the road,” smiled Kevin Kisner, who was leading the world No. 1, 3 up, at the time. “I thought he would make an eagle for sure, he only had 80 yards [to the hole]. He didn’t hit a very good putt.”

    WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Full bracket | Scoring | Group standings

    WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Articles, photos and videos

    Johnson’s drive, which was 139 yards past Kisner’s tee shot, is the longest recorded on the PGA Tour in the ShotLink era, surpassing Davis Love III’s drive of 476 yards in 2004 at the Tournament of Champions.

    The drive will not go into the record books, however, because the Tour doesn’t count statistics from the Match Play.

    It should also be noted, Kisner halved the 12th hole with a birdie and won the match, 4 and 3, to advance to the round of 16.

    Getty Images

    Durant leads Champions event in Mississippi

    By Associated PressMarch 24, 2018, 12:21 am

    BILOXI, Miss. - Joe Durant had three straight birdies in a back-nine burst and a shot 6-under 66 on Friday to take the first-round lead in the PGA Tour Champions' Rapiscan Systems Classic.

    Durant birdied the par-4 11th and 12th and par-5 13th in the bogey-free round at breezy and rain-softened Fallen Oak. Because of the wet conditions, players were allowed to lift, clean and place their golf balls in the fairway.

    ''It just sets up nice to my eye,'' Durant said. ''It's a beautiful golf course and it's very challenging. The tee shots seem to set up well for me, but the greens are maybe as quick as I've ever seen them here. You really have to put the ball in the right spots. I played very nice today. With the wind swirling like it was, I'm really happy.''

    He won the Chubb Classic last month in Naples, Florida, for his third victory on the 50-and-over tour.

    Full-field scores from the Rapiscan Systems Classic

    ''Done this long enough, Friday's just one day,'' Durant said. ''Especially in a three-day tournament, you've got to go out and shoot three good numbers. Fortunate to put one on the board, but I know I have to back it up with a couple of good days because you can get passed very quickly out here.''

    Mark Calcavecchia was a stroke back. He won last month in Boca Raton, Florida

    ''It's probably my best round I've ever had here and it was a tough day to play,'' Calcavecchia said. ''The greens are just lightning fast. They're pretty slopey greens, so very difficult to putt.''

    Steve Stricker was third at 68. He took the Tucson, Arizona, event three weeks ago for his first senior victory.

    ''Just getting it around and managing my game I think like I always do,'' Stricker said. ''You get in the wrong position here with the greens being so fast and you're going to be in trouble. I did that a couple times today.''

    Billy Mayfair, Billy Andrade and David McKenzie shot 69. Jerry Kelly, the winner of the season-opening event in Hawaii, was at 70 with Wes Short Jr., Glen Day, Gene Sauers and Jesper Parnevik.

    Bernhard Langer opened with a 71, and two-time defending champion Miguel Angel Jimenez had a 72.

    Vijay Singh, coming off his first senior victory two weeks ago in Newport Beach, California, had a 73.