Calcavecchia to end PGA Tour career at Memorial
Calcavecchia turns 50 on June 12, and he was thrilled – as thrilled as he ever gets – to get an exemption to the Memorial in what likely will be his final time playing a regular PGA Tour event.
“I started thinking about turning 50 when I was 47,” Calcavecchia said Tuesday.
The Memorial is an appropriate send-off.
He moved from Nebraska to south Florida when he was a teenager and immediately got involved in the junior golf scene. Calcavecchia competed throughout high school against Jack Nicklaus II, whose father often came out to their junior events.
“We lived about two miles from each other,” he said.
Calcavecchia first played Muirfield Village in 1987, the year after his first PGA Tour victory, and this will be his 24th consecutive year at the Memorial. The closest he came to winning was in 1995, when he tied for second behind Greg Norman.
But there’s more.
His wife, Brenda, grew up in Columbus, and her brother plans a party on Saturday. A few weeks ago, she wasn’t even sure if they would have reason to be in Ohio.
“I’m not sure if they gave the exemption to me or to Brenda,” Calcavecchia said with his typical sarcasm. “It will be the last Memorial for me, though, and it was nice of them.”
What to expect on the Champions Tour? Calcavecchia might not look like the model athlete, although his hand-eye coordination is superb. It was no fluke that he won 13 times, including the 1989 British Open, or that he was runner-up 27 times.
He plans to play 11 of the 12 events on the Champions Tour, starting with the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open in upstate New York. He must be feeling good to want to play that many tournaments, right?
“No, I’m feeling horrible,” he said. “But I’ve got to find a way to make money or the house is going up for sale.”
As for his chances against the 50-and-older set?
“Someone asked me if I was excited to be going out there to the Champions Tour,” Calcavecchia said. “I said I would be excited if the hole was bigger. But I think it’s the same size out there, so I’m not that excited. I can miss ‘em out there same as I can miss ‘em out here.”
It won’t be the last time Calcavecchia tees it up against Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson. He plans to go to St. Andrews for the British Open, where he is exempt for another 10 years.
FOREIGN FLAVOR: The PGA Tour has gone four consecutive weeks without an American winner, the longest stretch since international players won seven straight events in 2008. That’s an entire month without an American winner.
And that’s nothing compared with the LPGA.
Michelle Wie of Hawaii is the only American winner on the LPGA over the last year, which covers 26 official tournaments (and does not include the U.S. victory in the Solheim Cup).
Angela Stanford had a chance to become the LPGA’s first American winner this year until losing in the final of the Match Play Championship in New Jersey to Sun Young Yoo.
What to make of it?
“I don’t make anything of it,” Stanford said. “I think you guys make a lot out of it. We’re a global tour, and I wasn’t trying any less out there. If anything, I was trying harder because I know that it just kind of keeps coming up.”
PERNICE PLAN: Without any fanfare, Tom Pernice Jr. is going about business the way he always has.
He fell out of the top 125 on the money list last year for the first time in nearly a decade. He had turned 50 two months earlier, and won in his Champions Tour debut, so he had a comfortable alternative.
Instead, Pernice headed off to Q-school, where a double bogey on the final hole cost him his card by one shot. Just like anyone else in that predicament, he wrote for sponsors’ exemptions and tried to get into the tournaments he could.
He has played four Champions Tour events this year, mostly to keep his game sharp, and he is 18th in the Schwab Cup standings. But his heart is on the regular tour, and Pernice surely felt some vindication last week when he tied for seventh in the Byron Nelson Championship, then earned one of eight spots in a 36-hole qualifier for the British Open.
“I feel like I’ve kept myself in shape and my game is good,” Pernice said Tuesday. “I enjoy the competition. It’s a different feeling when you’ve got the cut on the line. It’s a totally different animal.”
He said Peter Jacobsen told him that as long as he could stay competitive, the PGA Tour is the place to be.
Pernice could not have agreed more.
“I’m just going about my business, working hard on my game, trying to get there,” he said. “I’m trying to play my way back in and be part of the FedEx Cup. When you get in contention, why would I not want to be here?”
He is at No. 122 in the standings, hurt mostly by his Sunday scoring. His final-round average is 72.8, with only one final round under par. Pernice is hopeful of taking some momentum from Dallas into an important stretch in his season.
He received his first exemptions of the year to the Colonial and Memorial the next two weeks, and he will play the St. Jude Championship, with a stop in Ohio along the way to try to qualify for the U.S. Open.
In a perfect world, he would stay in Scotland for two weeks to play the British Open at St. Andrews and the Senior British Open at Carnoustie. Depending on his FedEx Cup position, he might skip Carnoustie for the Canadian Open.
So many options, only one goal.
“My main focus is to get back there for the FedEx Cup (playoffs) and even get to Atlanta,” he said. “I’m off to a late start.”
But it’s a noble effort.
DIVOTS: Katie Detlefsen of Central Florida is the recipient of the Dinah Shore Trophy, awarded to a female college player who mains a 3.2 GPA and a scoring average of 78 or under. Detlefsen not only had a 4.0, she graduated in two years. … J.J. Henry tied for 32nd last week at the Byron Nelson Championship, earned $35,317 and became the 100th player in PGA Tour history to top the $10 million mark in career earnings. … A Texas native has not won the Colonial in 20 years, dating to Ben Crenshaw in 1990.
STAT OF THE WEEK: Jordan Spieth, 16, spent the final two rounds of the Byron Nelson Championship paired with players – Tom Pernice Jr. and Corey Pavin – who are a combined 100 years old.
FINAL WORD: “We have a full field of mostly millionaires, I think, and they’re all great golfers. I don’t think anybody in this room can compete with them, so I’m pleased with the people that we have here.” – Peggy Nelson on the lack of highly ranked players at her late husband’s tournament, the Byron Nelson Championship.
Twitter spat turns into fundraising opportunity
Country music star Jake Owen, along with Brandt Snedeker, has turned a spat on Twitter into a fundraising campaign that will support Snedeker’s foundation.
On Thursday, Owen was criticized during the opening round of the Web.com Tour’s Nashville Golf Open, which benefits the Snedeker Foundation, for his poor play after opening with an 86.
In response, Snedeker and country singer Chris Young pledged $5,000 for every birdie that Owen makes on Friday in a campaign called NGO Birdies for Kids.
Although Owen, who is playing the event on a sponsor exemption, doesn’t tee off for Round 2 in Nashville until 2 p.m. (CT), the campaign has already generated interest, with NBC Sports/Golf Channel analyst Peter Jacobsen along with Web.com Tour player Zac Blair both pledging $100 for every birdie Owen makes.
Noren so impressed by Rory: 'I'm about to quit golf'
Alex Noren won the BMW PGA Championship last year, one of his nine career European Tour victories.
He opened his title defense at Wentworth Club in 68-69 and is tied for fourth through two rounds. Unfortunately, he's five back of leader Rory McIlroy. And after playing the first two days alongside McIlroy, Noren, currently ranked 19th in the world, doesn't seem to like his chances of back-to-back wins.
McIlroy opened in 67 and then shot a bogey-free 65 in second round, which included pars on the pair of par-5 finishing holes. Noren walked away left in awe.
"That's the best round I've ever seen," Noren said. "I'm about to quit golf, I think."
Check out the full interview below:
Bubba gets to drive dream car: K.I.T.T. from 'Knight Rider'
Bubba Watson is a known car aficionado.
He purchased the original General Lee from the 1980’s TV show “Dukes of Hazzard” – later saying he was going to paint over the Confederate flag on the vehicle’s roof.
He also auctioned off his 1939 Cadillac LaSalle C-Hawk custom roadster and raised $410,000 for Birdies for the Brave.
He showed off images of his off-road Jeep two years ago.
And he even bought a car dealership near his hometown of Milton, Fla.
While recently appearing on the TV show “Jay Leno’s Garage,” the former “Tonight Show” host surprised Watson with another one of his dream cars: K.I.T.T.
The 1982 Pontiac Trans Am was made famous in the ‘80s action show “Knight Rider.”
Though, Bubba didn’t get to keep this one, he did get to drive it.
Cut Line: USGA readies for Shinnecock 'mulligan'
In this week’s Memorial weekend edition, the European team adheres to the Ryder Cup secret formula, the USGA readies for the ultimate mulligan at next month’s U.S. Open and a bizarre finish at the Florida Mid-Am mystifies the Rules of Golf.
Cart golf. When the U.S. side announced the creation of a Ryder Cup task force following the American loss at Gleneagles in 2014, some Europeans privately – and publicly – snickered.
The idea that the secret sauce could be found in a meeting room did stretch the bounds of reason, yet two years later the U.S. team emerged as winners at Hazeltine National and suddenly the idea of a task force, which is now called a committee, didn’t seem so silly.
To Europe’s credit, they’ve always accomplished this cohesion organically, pulling together their collective knowledge with surprising ease, like this week when European captain Thomas Bjorn rounded out his vice captain crew.
Lee Westwood, Graeme McDowell, Padraig Harrington and Luke Donald (a group that has a combined 47-40-13 record in the matches) were all given golf cart keys and will join Robert Karlsson as vice captains this year in Paris.
Perhaps it took the Americans a little longer to figure out, but Bjorn knows it’s continuity that wins Ryder Cups.
Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)
The USGA’s mulligan. The U.S. Open is less than a month away and with it one of the most anticipated returns in recent major championship history.
The last time the national championship was played at Shinnecock Hills was in 2004 and things didn’t go well, particularly on Sunday when play had to be stopped to water some greens that officials deemed had become unplayable. This week USGA executive director Mike Davis was asked about the association’s last trip to the Hamptons and, to his credit, he didn’t attempt to reinvent history.
“Looking back at 2004, and at parts of that magnificent day with Retief (Goosen) and Phil Mickelson coming down to the end, there are parts that we learned from,” Davis said. “I’m happy we got a mulligan this time. We probably made a bogey last time, maybe a double bogey.”
Put another way, players headed to next month’s championship should look forward to what promises to be a Bounce Back Open.
Tweet of the week:
If u get friend zoned on live tv after winning a tourney, u pretty much need to do some not appropriate for all viewers type stuff after ur next W to get rid of that stigma #JustSaying— max homa (@maxhoma23) May 21, 2018
Homa joined a chorus of comments following Aaron Wise’s victory on Sunday at the AT&T Byron Nelson, which included an awkward moment when his girlfriend, Reagan Trussell, backed away as Wise was going in for a kiss.
“No hard feelings at all,” Wise clarified this week. “We love each other a ton and we're great. It was a funny moment that I think we'll always be able to look back at, but that's all it really was.”
Strength of field. The European Tour gathers this week in England for the circuit’s flagship event, the BMW PGA Championship, and like the PGA Tour’s marquee stop, The Players, the event appears headed for a new spot on the calendar next year.
As the PGA Tour inches closer to announcing the 2018-19 schedule, which will feature countless new twists and turns including the PGA Championship’s move to May and The Players shift back to March, it also seems likely the makeover will impact the European Tour schedule.
Although the BMW PGA currently draws a solid field, with this week’s event sporting a higher strength of field than the Fort Worth Invitational on the PGA Tour, it’s likely officials won’t want to play the event a week after the PGA Championship (which is scheduled for May 16-19 next year).
In fact, it’s been rumored that the European Tour could move all eight of its Rolex Series events, which are billed as “unmissable sporting occasions,” out of the FedExCup season window, which will end on Aug. 25 next year.
Although the focus has been on how the new PGA Tour schedule will impact the U.S. sports calendar, the impact of the dramatic makeover stretches will beyond the Lower 48.
Rules of engagement. For a game that at times seems to struggle with too much small print and antiquated rules, it’s hard to understand how things played out earlier this month at the Florida Mid-Amateur Championship.
In a story first reported by GolfChannel.com, Jeff Golden claimed he was assaulted on May 13 by Brandon Hibbs – the caddie for his opponent, Marc Dull, in the championship’s final match. Golden told police that Hibbs struck him because of a rules dispute earlier in the round. Hibbs denied any involvement, and police found no evidence of an attack.
The incident occurred during a weather delay and Golden conceded the match to Dull after the altercation, although he wrote in a post on Twitter this week that he was disappointed with the Florida State Golf Association’s decision to accept his concession.
“The FSGA has one job, and that’s to follow the Rules of Golf,” Golden wrote. “Unfortunately, there’s no rule for an inebriated ‘ex-caddie’ punching a player in a match-play rain delay with no witnesses.”
Because of the conflicting statements, it’s still not clear what exactly happened that day at Coral Creek Club, but the No. 1 rule in golf – protecting the competition and the competitors – seems to have fallen well short.