Let the hype begin: Tiger, Romo and Pebble

By Doug FergusonJanuary 17, 2012, 9:26 pm

HONOLULU - Ollie Nutt can’t recall how long it has been since there was so much interest and speculation in the field for the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am - and that was after Tiger Woods announced he was playing.

Woods is set to play with Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, although the pro-am pairings aren’t set until Feb. 7, the Tuesday of tournament week. Nutt, president and CEO of the Monterey Peninsula Foundation, said the tournament has been in touch with Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow, and hopes to hear by the end of the week if he will accept an invitation to play.

Also expected to play is Tom Brady, who hopes to get New England back into the Super Bowl, which would be played the Sunday before the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

Nutt can more easily measure the interest in ticket sales than phone calls.

“This last week, after Tiger committed, we’re up 35 percent,” Nutt said Tuesday after hosting the tournament’s media day. “I think Saturday could be a sellout. We’ve been hitting 34,000, 35,000. We’ve set the maximum at 37,500, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we sold out. We won’t go more than that. We still want the spectators to have a good experience. And with the rotation of three courses, we know we can handle that number.”

Pebble regular and “Caddyshack” star Bill Murray stole the spotlight last year when he teamed with D.A. Points, who captured his first PGA Tour event. For now, the focus has shifted to Tiger and the quarterbacks.

Nutt said Romo and Woods have said they were interested in playing as partners. As for the speculation that Tebow would join the foursome if he played, Nutt said, “I don’t see that as likely.”


NAME GAME: You’ve heard stories about players who take time off and move up in the world ranking. How about the case of Michael Thompson, who moved up 52 spots after not playing one week?

It’s a true story - although it’s the product of confusion over his middle initial.

Thompson was coming off a rookie season on the PGA Tour in which he finished 98th on the money list to easily retain his card. He played in the inaugural Thailand Golf Championship at the end of the year and finished third behind Lee Westwood and Charl Schwartzel. When he looked at the world ranking, he actually dropped two spots to No. 183.

“I got back from Thailand and saw that I got no points,” Thompson said.

He called his agent, and before long the Tour and world ranking board were involved.

Thompson played his first PGA Tour-sanctioned event at the 2008 Masters, the year after he was runner-up in the U.S. Amateur. Because there already was a Michael Thompson in the ranking archives, he was assigned “X” as his middle initial. This is a common practice. He played the Masters, U.S. Open and Traveler’s Championship in 2008 as an amateur, and he tied for 28th in his pro debut that fall in the Texas Open.

When he earned his card, the tour entered him in the system using his proper initial - “H” for Hayes.

But the Michael X. Thompson remained in the system and was awarded the 12.8 points for a third-place finish at Thailand that should have gone to Michael H. Thompson.

There was no golf played the following week, but in the final world ranking of 2011, the points were restored, and Michael H. Thompson had gone from No. 183 to No. 131.


CITIZEN CARL: Carl Pettersson started his 10th season on the PGA Tour with a minor change: He’s now an American citizen.

He moved from Sweden to England when he was 10, then to North Carolina while still in high school. His father was an executive for Volvo. Pettersson never left, however. He played golf at North Carolina State, married a local girl, and settled in Raleigh to raise a family.

“I’ve been here for 20 years. My kids were born here. My wife is American,” Pettersson said. “I haven’t lived in Sweden since I was 10. I just wanted to do it because of my kids. And I feel American. It’s hard to say that because I know I was born in Sweden. But I played junior golf here, went to high school here.”

Pettersson said the process included fingerprints, a background check and a history test.

“And I got 100 on that, which I was proud of,” he said. “They had questions like when the Declaration of Independence was written, and some questions about the Constitution. I crammed it all in the night before, memorized it and then forgot it.”


POLICY BOARD: Ben Crane, Harrison Frazar and Scott Verplank are the nominees to be chairman of the Players Advisory Council. Voting lasts for about a month. The chairman eventually joins the policy board.

They are part of a 16-man PAC that was announced Tuesday. The other players are Stewart Cink, Jason Day, Ken Duke, Charley Hoffman, Matt Kuchar, Joe Ogilvie, Carl Pettersson, Justin Rose, Patrick Sheehan, Webb Simpson, Chris Stroud, Bo Van Pelt and Mark Wilson.


DIVOTS: The minor changes the world ranking board approved in 2010 now are complete. The new season began with 52 being the maximum tournaments that count as the divisor. … Johnson Wagner and Harrison Frazar were the only players to start the season with top 10s in the two Hawaii tournaments. … Only five winners of the Sony Open did not play at Kapalua the previous week in the 14 years since the Tournament of Champions moved to Maui. … Tom Pernice Jr. played the final round at Waialae with Kevin Chappell, who wasn’t even born when Pernice first played the Sony Open in 1986.


STAT OF THE WEEK: Steve Stricker has played the week after winning a PGA Tour event eight times in his career. His only finish in the top 10 was a tie for ninth in 2007 Deutsche Bank Championship.


FINAL WORD: “The PGA Tour, I mean, it’s the Nationwide on steroids.” - Jhonattan Vegas.

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Lewis hopes to win at Volvik with baby on the way

By Randall MellMay 27, 2018, 12:55 am

Stacy Lewis was listening to more than her caddie on her march up the leaderboard Saturday at the Volvik Championship.

Pregnant with her first child, she is listening to her body in a new way these days.

And she could hear a message coming through loud and clear toward the end of her round at Travis Point Country Club in Ann Arbor, Mich.

“The little one was telling me it’s dinnertime,” Lewis said.

Lewis birdied five of the last six holes to shoot 5-under-par 67 and move into position to make a Sunday run at winning her 13th LPGA title. She is two shots behind the leader, Minjee Lee, whose 68 moved her to 12 under overall.

Sunday has the makings of a free for all with 10 players within three shots of the lead.


Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship


Lewis, 33, is four months pregnant, with her due date Nov. 3. She’s expecting to play just a few more times before putting the clubs away to get ready for the birth. She said she’s likely to make the Marathon Classic in mid-July her last start of the season before returning next year.

Of course, Lewis would relish winning with child.

“I don’t care what limitations I have or what is going on with my body, I want to give myself a chance to win,” she told LPGA.com at the Kingsmill Championship last week.

Lewis claimed an emotional victory with her last title, taking the Cambia Portland Classic late last summer after announcing earlier in the week that she would donate her entire winnings to the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts in her Houston hometown.

A victory Sunday would also come with a lot of emotion.

It’s been an interesting year for Lewis.

There’s been the joy of learning she’s ready to begin the family she has been yearning for, and the struggle to play well after bouncing back from injury.

Lewis missed three cuts in a row before making it into the weekend at the Kingsmill Championship last week. That’s one more cut than she missed cumulatively in the previous six years. In six starts this year, Lewis hasn’t finished among the top 50 yet, but she hasn’t felt right, either.

The former world No. 1 didn’t make her second start of 2018 until April, at the year’s first major, the ANA Inspiration. She withdrew from the HSBC Women’s World Championship in late February with a strained right oblique muscle and didn’t play again for a month.

Still, Lewis is finding plenty to get excited about with the baby on the way.

“I kind of had my first Mother’s Day,” Lewis told LPGA.com last week. “It puts golf into perspective. It makes those bad days not seem so bad. It helps me sleep better at night. We are just really excited.”

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Rose hasn't visited restroom at Colonial - here's why

By Nick MentaMay 27, 2018, 12:20 am

In case you're unaware, it's pretty hot in Texas.

Temperatures at Colonial Country Club have approached 100 degrees this week, leaving players to battle both the golf course and potential dehydration.

With the help of his caddie Mark Fulcher, Fort Worth Invitational leader Justin Rose has been plenty hot himself, staking himself to a four-shot lead.


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


"Yeah, Fulch has done a great job of just literally handing me water bottle after water bottle. It seems relentless, to be honest with you," Rose said Saturday.

So just how much are players sweating the heat at Colonial? Well, it doesn't sound like all that water is making it all the way through Rose.

"I haven't even seen the inside of a restroom yet, so you can't even drink quick enough out there," he shared.

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Up four, Rose knows a lead can slip away

By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 11:21 pm

Up four shots heading into Sunday at the Fort Worth Invitational, Justin Rose has tied the largest 54-hole lead of his PGA Tour career.

On the previous two occasions he took a 54-hole Tour lead into the final round, he closed.

And yet, Rose knows just how quickly a lead can slip away. After all, it was Rose who erased a six-shot deficit earlier this season to overtake Dustin Johnson and win the WGC-HSBC Championship. 

"I think I was in the lead going into the final round in Turkey when I won, and I had a four-shot lead going into the final round in Indonesia in December and managed to put that one away," Rose said Saturday, thinking back to his two other victories late last year.

"I was five, six back maybe of DJ, so I've got experience the other way. ... So you can see how things can go both ways real quick. That's why there is no point in getting too far ahead of myself."


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


Up one to start the third round Saturday, Rose extended his lead to as much as five when he birdied four of his first six holes.

He leads the field in strokes gained: tee-to-green (+12.853) and strokes gained: approach-the-green (+7.931).

Rose has won five times worldwide, including at the 2016 Rio Olympics, since his last victory in the United States, at the 2015 Zurich Classic.

With a win Sunday, he'd tie Nick Faldo for the most PGA Tour wins by an Englishman post-World War II, with nine.

But he isn't celebrating just yet.

"It is a big lead, but it's not big enough to be counting the holes away. You've got to go out and play good, you've got to go out positive, you've got to continue to make birdies and keep going forward.

"So my mindset is to not really focus on the lead, it's to focus on my game tomorrow and my performance. You know, just keep executing the way I have been. That's going to be my challenge tomorrow. Going to look forward to that mindset."

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Grillo still hunting follow-up to debut win

By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 10:53 pm

Following a round of 1-under 69 Saturday, Emiliano Grillo will enter Sunday's final round at Colonial four shots behind leader Justin Rose.

Grillo is hunting his first win since he took the 2015 Safeway Open in his rookie debut as a PGA Tour member. 

The young Argentinian finished 11th in the FedExCup points race that season, contending in big events and finishing runner-up at the 2016 Barclays.

In the process, Grillo had to learn to pace himself and that it can be fruitless to chase after success week to week.

"That was a hot run in there," Grillo said Saturday, referring to his rookie year. "I played, in 2016, I played the majors very well. I played the big tournaments very well. I was in contention after two, three days in most of the big events.


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


"I think, you know, I wanted to do better. I pushed for it. Some of the tournaments I ended up being 50th or 60th just because I wanted to play. I wanted to play well so badly. That played against me, so I learned from that. In that rookie year, I learned that."

Grillo was still plenty successful in his sophomore season, advancing to the BMW Championship last fall.

But now he's beginning to regain some of that form that made him such an immediate success on Tour. Grillo has recorded four top-10 finishes year - a T-9 at Mayakoba, a T-8 at Honda, a T-3 at Houston, and a T-9 at Wells Fargo - and will now look to outduel U.S. Open champs in Rose and Brooks Koepka on Sunday at Colonial.

"Well, he's top 10 in the world, so everything he does he does it pretty well," Grillo said of Rose. "You know, he does his own thing. Like I say, he's top 10 in the world. Nothing wrong with his game. ...

"He's in the lead on a Sunday. Doesn't matter where you're playing, he's got to go out and shoot under par. He's got 50 guys behind him trying to reach him, and I'm one of those. I've just got to go out and do what he did today on those first five or six holes and try to get him in the early holes."