Henry honors victims of Connecticut shooting

By Doug FergusonJanuary 4, 2013, 6:29 pm

KAPALUA, Hawaii – J.J. Henry slipped on a white golf cap that prompted questions because of the four letters stretched across the front. That was the whole idea.

S.H.E.S.

Perhaps it was only fitting that Henry wore the cap during the pro-am round Thursday at the Tournament of Champions, for it was the same day some 400 students who survived the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School returned to classes at a different school building in a neighboring Connecticut town.

''A couple people have asked what the letters stand for, and a few others have figured it out,'' Henry said after stepping out of the rain at Kapalua. ''It's a way to help remember and think about the families.''

And what better PGA Tour winner to wear the cap than Henry.

He grew up in Fairfield, Conn., about 20 miles south of Newtown. His aunt lived for years around the corner from Sandy Hook Elementary. Henry remembers when his middle school basketball team played games at Chalk Hill, where the Sandy Hook students now go to school.

Henry doesn't know any of the families in Newtown, but he considers them neighbors. He carries the Connecticut flag on the PGA Tour, and the connection is strong.

''This is just a way to honor those families. And growing up there ... to have something happen like it did, you're almost at a loss for words,'' said Henry, a three-time Connecticut State Amateur champion. ''Being the first tournament of the year, in a beautiful place like Hawaii, a lot of those people are cooped up in their houses in freezing cold or snow. If they happen to be a golf fan and see it, maybe that could say that all PGA Tour players are thinking about them.''

It's a small gesture that Henry hopes can grow into something much bigger.

Henry is wearing ''S.H.E.S'' in bold, black letters across the front of his cap only for the PGA Tour season-opener, which began Friday and will be broadcast on Golf Channel. On Sunday, there's a three-hour broadcast window on NBC Sports.

He'd planning another recognition and remembrance, which he expects it will involve more people. Already this week, he received an email from Nathan Grube, the tournament director of the Travelers Championship in Hartford, Conn., about what they can do.

The PGA Tour also is waiting for plans to unfold, with Travelers taking the lead as the Tour's only stop in Connecticut. Henry, who went to school at TCU and lives in Fort Worth, Texas, already has the ''Henry House Foundation'' that targets children, and he has a special skybox at the Colonial. He is thinking about another skybox specifically for the families of Sandy Hook this summer at the Travelers Championship.

Perhaps they can raise enough money to one day rebuild Sandy Hook.

''It's a small state, but they love their golf,'' Henry said.

Henry's first PGA Tour win was in Hartford in 2006, and he qualified for the Tournament of Champions by winning the Reno-Tahoe Open last year. He is starting his 13th year on the PGA Tour, a career that includes one Ryder Cup appearance in 2006.

''People know who I am in Connecticut,'' Henry said. ''If I happen to get on TV and hit some good shots, and if Golf Channel talks about it ... it's not about me,'' he said. ''I just wanted to do something as someone who grew up there and went to those schools. If Golf Channel can talk about the whole PGA Tour family, we all feel the same way. I think that's what we're all after.''

Henry did not want the week to go by without raising awareness that 20 first-grade students, along with six educators, were slain Dec. 14 by a gunman on a day that shook the country.

Henry was home in Texas when he heard the news. The shootings happened so close to where he grew up and where his parents still live, it reached a point where he had a hard time turning on the news.

''It's almost hard to talk about,'' he said.

Henry has an endorsement deal with TaylorMade, though that doesn't include the front of his hat, one of the most visible billboards among golfers. He is completing a corporate deal for that space, but in the meantime, he thought it would be appropriate to do something - anything - so that Sandy Hook would not be forgotten.


SNEDEKER BONUS: Brandt Snedeker has earned just over $10 million in his last three years on the PGA Tour, and he collected a $10 million bonus last September when he captured the FedEx Cup. He lives modestly in Nashville, Tenn., and is not one who gets too wrapped up in money.

The FedEx Cup was an exception, but only for a second. He received $9 million up front, with $1 million deferred.

''Put it this way,'' Snedeker said. ''I never check my bank account statements, and that was the first time I've checked it.''

But whatever he spends isn't for him. Snedeker has created the Brandt and Mandy Snedeker Foundation geared toward helping children in the Nashville area. He already has made a couple of donations, and is looking for ways to use the foundation to channel more of his money.

As for himself?

still drives the same car and doesn't plan to get another one. He doesn't plan to do much of anything with his big windfall, except to donate to charities.

''The way I look at it is I play golf for a living,'' he said. ''I'm not smart enough to play golf and manage my own money. There's a bunch of people out there a lot smarter than I am, who can do a lot better than I can. So why not find them and make sure they know what they're doing.''


MUSINGS: Hyundai clients had the first two choices for the Thursday pro-am at the Tournament of Champions at Kapalua. The first pick was Rickie Fowler, not surprising given his popularity. The second choice of a player was John Huh, the South Korean who was the only rookie last year to reach the Tour Championship. ... Steve Stricker would not lose much by playing no more than 10 tournaments this year. Even though the PGA Tour requires a minimum of 15 events for its members, if Stricker were to fall short of that he would only lose his voting rights for the 2014 season, meaning he would not be able to vote for Player of the Year, as an example. Stricker also said some of the deferred income from his FedEx Cup bonuses would kick in if he doesn't play the minimum 15 events. He didn't seem overly bothered. Asked if there were any negatives on his plan to go into semi-retirement, Stricker said, ''I can't think of any.''

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Five-time Open champ Thomson passes at 88

By Associated PressJune 20, 2018, 1:35 am

MELBOURNE, Australia – Five-time Open Championship winner Peter Thomson has died, his family said Wednesday. He was 88.

Thomson had been suffering from Parkinson's disease for more than four years and died at his Melbourne home surrounded by family members on Wednesday morning.

Born on Aug, 23, 1929, Thomson was two months short of his 89th birthday.

The first Australian to win The Open Championship, Thomson went on to secure the title five times between 1954 and 1965, a record equaled only by Tom Watson.

On the American senior circuit he won nine times in 1985.

Thomson also served as president of the Australian PGA for 32 years, designing and building courses in Australia and around the world, helping establish the Asian Tour and working behind the scenes for the Odyssey House drug rehabilitation organization where he was chairman for five years.

He also wrote for newspapers and magazines for more than 60 years and was patron of the Australian Golf Writers Association.

In 1979 he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his service to golf and in 2001 became an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for his contributions as a player and administrator and for community service.

Thomson is survived by his wife Mary, son Andrew and daughters Deirdre Baker, Pan Prendergast and Fiona Stanway, their spouses, 11 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Funeral arrangements were to be announced over the next few days.

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Gaston leaves USC to become head coach at Texas A&M

By Ryan LavnerJune 19, 2018, 11:00 pm

In a major shakeup in the women’s college golf world, USC coach Andrea Gaston has accepted an offer to become the new head coach at Texas A&M.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Gaston, who informed her players of her decision Monday night, has been one of the most successful coaches over the past two decades, leading the Trojans to three NCAA titles and producing five NCAA individual champions during her 22-year reign. They have finished in the top 5 at nationals in an NCAA-record 13 consecutive seasons.

This year was arguably Gaston’s most impressive coaching job. She returned last fall after undergoing treatment for uterine cancer, but a promising season was seemingly derailed after losing two stars to the pro ranks at the halfway point. Instead, she guided a team with four freshmen and a sophomore to the third seed in stroke play and a NCAA semifinals appearance. Of the four years that match play has been used in the women’s game, USC has advanced to the semifinals three times.  

Texas A&M could use a coach with Gaston’s track record.

Last month the Aggies fired coach Trelle McCombs after 11 seasons following a third consecutive NCAA regional exit. A&M had won conference titles as recently as 2010 (Big 10) and 2015 (SEC), but this year the team finished 13th at SECs.

The head-coaching job at Southern Cal is one of the most sought-after in the country and will have no shortage of outside interest. If the Trojans look to promote internally, men’s assistant Justin Silverstein spent four years under Gaston and helped the team win the 2013 NCAA title.  

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Spieth 'blacked out' after Travelers holeout

By Will GrayJune 19, 2018, 9:44 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – It was perhaps the most-replayed shot (and celebration) of the year.

Jordan Spieth’s bunker holeout to win the Travelers Championship last year in a playoff over Daniel Berger nearly broke the Internet, as fans relived that raucous chest bump between Spieth and caddie Michael Greller after Spieth threw his wedge and Greller threw his rake.

Back in Connecticut to defend his title, Spieth admitted that he has watched replays of the scene dozens of times – even if, in the heat of the moment, he wasn’t exactly choreographing every move.


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“Just that celebration in general, I blacked out,” Spieth said. “It drops and you just react. For me, I’ve had a few instances where I’ve been able to celebrate or react on a 72nd, 73rd hole, 74th hole, whatever it may be, and it just shows how much it means to us.”

Spieth and Greller’s celebration was so memorable that tournament officials later shipped the rake to Greller as a keepsake. It’s a memory that still draws a smile from the defending champ, whose split-second decision to go for a chest bump over another form of celebration provided an appropriate cap to a high-energy sequence of events.

“There’s been a lot of pretty bad celebrations on the PGA Tour. There’s been a lot of missed high-fives,” Spieth said. “I’ve been part of plenty of them. Pretty hard to miss when I’m going into Michael for a chest bump.”

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Pregnant Lewis playing final events before break

By Randall MellJune 19, 2018, 9:27 pm

Stacy Lewis will be looking to make the most of her last three starts of 2018 in her annual return to her collegiate roots this week.

Lewis, due to give birth to her first child on Nov. 3, will tee it up in Friday’s start to the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers, Arkansas. She won the NCAA individual women’s national title in 2007 while playing at the University of Arkansas. She is planning to play the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship next week and then the Marathon Classic two weeks after that before taking the rest of the year off to get ready for her baby’s arrival.

Lewis, 33, said she is beginning to feel the effects of being with child.

“Things have definitely gotten harder, I would say, over the last week or so, the heat of the summer and all that,” Lewis said Tuesday. “I'm actually excited. I'm looking forward to the break and being able to decorate the baby's room and do all that kind of stuff and to be a mom - just super excited.”

Lewis says she is managing her energy levels, but she is eager to compete.

“Taking a few more naps and resting a little bit more,” she said. “Other than that, the game's been pretty good.”

Lewis won the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship in 2014, and she was credited with an unofficial title in ’07, while still a senior at Arkansas. That event was reduced to 18 holes because of multiple rain delays. Lewis is a popular alumni still actively involved with the university.