Lewis brings star power to rain-shortened LPGA Bahamas

By Doug FergusonMay 22, 2013, 11:22 pm

PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas – Stacy Lewis brings more value to the LPGA Tour that just her golf.

Along with becoming the first American in 18 years to win LPGA player of the year, and then rising to No. 1 in the world for four weeks, Lewis had a direct hand in bringing two tournaments to the LPGA Tour. One of them is this week, the Bahamas LPGA Classic, which grew out of her partnership with Ohio-based title sponsor Pure Silk.

She also aced what amounted to a pop quiz by the chief executive of Marathon Oil, which now sponsors a tournament in July.

That's what led LPGA Tour Commissioner Mike Whan to jokingly say Wednesday, ''She's better at sales than me.''

''Your stars drive your sport,'' Whan said. ''Your athletes generate the momentum, and your job is to turn that momentum into business.''

Lewis, however, is not good enough to dictate weather.

A storm the locals haven't seen in some 20 years pounded Paradise Island through the night, dumping about a foot of rain in an eight-hour span that flooded the Ocean Club. There was so much water on the course – the entire 18th fairway was covered – that the tournament was reduced to 54 holes.

The first round is to start Friday with a Sunday finish, leaving some flexibility in case more showers cause problems.

''I'm happy I got 18 holes of practice in yesterday,'' Suzann Pettersen said. ''We'll play whenever we can.''

The rain wiped out the pro-am, so the LPGA Tour hastily arranged for players to meet at a restaurant at The Atlantis for question-and-answer sessions with the amateurs. The group of players included the top three in the world ranking – Inbee Park, Lewis and Pettersen, along with Brittany Lincicome and Natalie Gulbis.

It was an example of how the LPGA players try to do a little more, and it goes back to the pop quiz for Lewis.

She had a marketing sponsorship with Marathon, and the company was thinking about sponsoring a tournament. Lewis was playing in a pro-am with the CEO when he turned to her and said, ''Why should I sponsor an LPGA event?''

''It caught me off guard,'' Lewis said. ''I said it was a different experience than the PGA Tour and your customers will love it. I think that's more why they did. They do a big customer outing. You get your name out there, but mostly they take care of their customers. And our pro-ams are better than any out there.''

The LPGA stars all turned out for a pro-am party Tuesday night at The Atlantis, with its massive aquarium as the backdrop.

As for the golf? No chance.

The rain fell so hard and for so long that on Wednesday morning, the tip of a red hazard stake down the right side of the 18th fairway was barely visible. The entire hole was a water hazard except for the tee and the green. On the adjacent ninth hole, water covered a deep bunker on the left side of the green – two turtles were swimming in what had been a bunker – and it was nearly coming onto the green.

Whan asked some officials from The Bahamas if they should have considered an earlier date. The advance staff had not seen much of a cloud of the last week.

''They said they had never seen a storm like this, so we're probably in a good spot,'' Whan said.

Lewis is trying to get back to the top spot after winning the LPGA Founders Cup in Phoenix in March to reach No. 1 in the world. Not since Beth Daniel in 1994 had an American won LPGA player of the year, and Lewis was on an upward trend by winning the HSBC Champions in Singapore the following week in Phoenix.

Park won the Kraft Nabisco Championship and replaced Lewis at No. 1. There now is a three-way battle - and it could grow – as the LPGA Tour heads into the heart of its major championship season, including a return to St. Andrews.

Lewis is concerned with the careless mistakes leading to bogeys, though the real struggle is finding a balance with her recent star power. She is one of the more remarkable stories in women's golf, having spent most of her childhood in a back brace because of scoliosis, and then having to go through surgery after high school to install a rod and metal screws. None of that kept her from reaching the top.

As for the attention? She is getting recognized more often. She gets some of the largest galleries, even when playing early in the morning.

''The hardest for me is the extra stuff, being the only American up there,'' she said. ''That adds to the media requirements, sponsor requirements, doing extra things at tournaments. Managing my schedule has been the hardest thing.''

In her first tournament after getting to No. 1, Lewis had interviews in the morning, went to practice, another session of interviews in the afternoon, followed by a video interview, a photo shoot and the pro-am party.

''It was exhausting,'' she said

After a morning practice Tuesday this week, she headed over to Atlantis for a promotional spot – she swam with dolphins. That was fun. And after getting out of the water, it started to rain. If nothing else, Wednesday brought a day of rest.

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Actor/Comedian Kevin Nealon Joins "Feherty," Monday, Aug. 20 at 9 p.m. ET

By Golf Channel Public RelationsAugust 16, 2018, 1:15 pm

Actor/comedian Kevin Nealon (Saturday Night Live) will join David Feherty on his self-titled, Emmy-nominated series Feherty presented by Farmers Insurance®, Monday at 9 p.m. ET on Golf Channel.

Filmed at the Laugh Factory in Los Angeles last month, the episode will focus on numerous topics, including:

  • Nealon discussing his start in comedy in Los Angeles, where he worked as a bartender and filled in for comics who failed to show up for their act.
  • Reminiscing about his appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson in 1984.
  • Reflecting on his nine-year run as a cast member on Saturday Night Live.
  • Recounting the time when his golf ball struck Adam Sandler during a round they were playing with filming Happy Gilmore.
  • Recalling time spent with Arnold Palmer during the filming of a commercial a few years ago.

The following Monday (Aug. 27), Feherty will be joined by 20-time LPGA Tour winner Cristie Kerr at 9 p.m. ET, and then on Monday, Sept. 3 (9 p.m. ET), major champion Jimmy Walker will join as a guest for the series’ season finale.

A two-time Emmy-nominated host (Outstanding Sports Personality – Studio Host) Feherty has been described as “golf’s iconoclast,” by Rolling Stone, and “the last unscripted man on TV,” by Men’s Journal. His all-star lineup of golf-enthused and culturally relevant guests feature celebrities from across entertainment, sports and politics. To date, Feherty has sat down with four U.S. Presidents (Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump); sports legends Charles Barkley, Nick Saban, Stephen Curry and Bobby Knight; Hollywood icons Matthew McConaughey, Larry David and Samuel L. Jackson; World Golf of Fame members Nancy Lopez, Jack Nicklaus, Annika Sorenstam, Lee Trevino and Tom Watson; and a host of current golf superstars including Paula Creamer, Jason Day, Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Michelle Wie. Feherty is produced by Golf Channel’s original productions group, which also oversees production for Driver vs. Driver, Golf Films as well as the network’s instruction platforms.

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Thomas talks Tiger, plays 'Facebreakers' on 'Tonight Show'

By Grill Room TeamAugust 16, 2018, 1:14 pm

Justin Thomas didn't successfully defend his title at last week's PGA Championship, but he did get a guest spot on "The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon."

Thomas appeared on the talk show Wednesday night and, of course, a primary topic was Tiger Woods' run at the Wanamaker Trophy.



Thomas also played a game of "Facebreakers" with host Fallon, in which both men tried to break panes of glass emblazoned with the other's face with golf shots. Thomas nearly took out the real Fallon on his first shot, and after several uncessful attempts by both men, massive cheating ensued.

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Bhatia loses U.S. Am match after caddie-cart incident

By Ryan LavnerAugust 16, 2018, 2:21 am

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – One of the hottest players in amateur golf had his U.S. Amateur run end Wednesday under unusual circumstances.

Akshay Bhatia, the 16-year-old left-hander who has been dominating the junior golf circuit over the past year, squandered a late lead in his eventual 19-hole loss to Bradford Tilley in the Round of 64.

Bhatia was all square against Tilley as they played Pebble Beach’s par-5 14th hole. After knocking his second shot onto the green, Bhatia and his caddie, Chris Darnell, stopped to use the restroom. Bhatia walked up to the green afterward, but Darnell asked what he thought was a USGA official for a ride up to the green.

“The gentleman was wearing a USGA pullover,” Darnell explained afterward. “I asked if I could get a ride to the green to keep up pace, and he said yes. So I hopped on the back, got up to the green, hopped off and thought nothing of it.”

Conditions of the competition prohibit players and caddies from riding on any form of transportation during a stipulated round unless authorized.

It turns out that the cart that Darnell rode on was not driven by a USGA official. Rather, it was just a volunteer wearing USGA apparel. A rules official who was in the area spotted the infraction and assessed Bhatia an adjustment penalty, so instead of winning the hole with a birdie-4 to move 1 up, the match remained all square.


U.S. Amateur: Articles, photos and videos


Even more interesting was what Darnell said happened earlier in the match.

“I had already seen the other caddie in our group do it on the ninth hole,” Darnell said. “Same thing – USGA pullover, drove him from the bathroom up to the fairway – so I assumed it was fine. I didn’t point it out at the time because everything seemed kosher. He had the USGA stuff on, and I didn’t think anything of it.”

Bhatia won the 15th hole to go 1 up, but lost the 17th and 19th holes with bogeys to lose the match. He didn’t blame the outcome on the cart incident.  

“What can you do? I’ll have plenty of opportunities to play in this tournament, so I’m not too upset about it,” he said. “It’s just frustrating because I deserved to win that match. That wasn’t the outcome I wanted, but I can’t do anything about it.”

Bhatia, of Wake Forest, N.C., has been a dominant force in the junior ranks, going back-to-back at the Junior PGA (including this dramatic hole-out), capturing the AJGA Polo, taking the Sage Valley Invitational and reaching the finals of the U.S. Junior.

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1, 2, 3 out: Thornberry, Suh, Morikawa lose at U.S. Am

By Ryan LavnerAugust 16, 2018, 1:14 am

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – The top three players in the world had a tough afternoon Wednesday at Pebble Beach.

Braden Thornberry, Justin Suh and Collin Morikawa – Nos. 1-3, respectively, in the World Amateur Golf Ranking – all lost their Round of 64 matches at the U.S. Amateur.

Thornberry lost, 2 and 1, to Jesus Montenegro of Argentina. As the No. 1 amateur in the world, the Ole Miss senior was in line to receive the McCormack Medal, which would exempt him into both summer Opens in 2019, provided he remains amateur. But now he’ll need to wait and see how the rankings shake out.

Suh and Morikawa could have played each other in the Round of 32, but instead they were both heading home early.


U.S. Amateur: Articles, photos and videos


Suh, a junior at USC, never led in his 1-up loss to Harrison Ott, while Cal's Morikawa lost to another Vanderbilt player, John Augenstein, in 19 holes.

Englishman Matthew Jordan is the fourth-ranked player in the world, but he didn’t make the 36-hole stroke-play cut.

The highest-ranked player remaining is Oklahoma State junior Viktor Hovland, who is ranked fifth. With his college coach, Alan Bratton, on the bag, Hovland beat his Cowboys teammate, Hayden Wood, 3 and 2, to reach the Round of 32.