A little prank on the British Open-winning caddie

By Doug FergusonDecember 23, 2009, 12:08 am

Frank Williams, the caddie for British Open champion Stewart Cink, went from celebrating a major victory to stewing about it – at least until he realized he was the victim of a prank within the caddie ranks.

For whatever reason, Williams has never liked going to the British Open, and he was going to try to sit this one out. Before getting Cink’s permission, he checked on the availability of longtime looper Dave Musgrove, who told Williams he didn’t have work for the week but would be at Turnberry to watch and could fill in if necessary.

It wasn’t necessary.

“He was having a hard time getting travel and finding a place to stay,” Cink said. “He said, ‘Would it be OK if Dave Musgrove worked for you?’ I said, ‘I’d really rather you work for me.’ So I helped him with travel, and I got my agent’s office involved to find places to stay.”

Needless to say, it worked out quite well. Cink closed with a 69 to get into a playoff with Tom Watson, then won his first major with a guy on the bag who didn’t want to be there in the first place.

But that’s not the end of the story.

Scott Gneiser (caddie for David Toms) and Steve Williams (Tiger Woods) caught wind of this and decided to play a prank. Steve Williams’ wife was visiting her parents in Scotland at the time, so he wrote a letter pretending to be from Musgrove, and had his wife mail the letter from Scotland so it would look authentic with the postmark.

“There was no reason for him to believe it was not from Dave Musgrove,” Steve Williams said.

The letter said Musgrove had paid for a room deposit and airfare, both nonrefundable, then spent an entire week at Turnberry without work. He demanded that Frank Williams reimburse him, and it would only be fair to give him half of the caddie’s earnings from the Open.

It was delivered to Cink’s caddie at the Tour Championship.

“I got mad,” Frank Williams said. “I knew I didn’t tell him for sure he would be working. Boy, I was hot, knowing this guy wanted money. I didn’t say anything about it. Scotty and Stevie came up and said, ‘Did you get a letter?’ I said, ‘No, I didn’t get one.’ I was so mad I didn’t want to say anything about it.”

He spent the rest of the week wondering what he would say to Musgrove. The next week, he started wondering if Musgrove could have misunderstood him.

“I was laying in bed at night worrying about this,” Frank Williams said.

Steve Williams asked him again about the letter at the Presidents Cup, and Cink’s caddie finally broke his silence and began ranting about what Musgrove wanted and what he should do about it. Steve Williams’ laughter was the first sign it was a prank.

“That’s probably the best anyone has ever gotten me,” Frank Williams said. “That was good.”

Winning didn’t change one thing. The British Open is at St. Andrews next year, and Williams isn’t looking forward to it.

“Every year, I say I’m not going, and I always go because it’s my job,” he said. “Someone came up to me the other day and said, ‘Guess it’s your favorite tournament?’ I said, ‘No, I probably won’t go next year.’ Everybody knows how I feel.”


 

MASTERS INVITATIONS: Ben Curtis finished his season after the Hong Kong Open and was No. 43 in the world. He figured he was safe to finish in the top 50 and get into the Masters.

Then, his agent called last week to tell him he was at No. 49 going into the last tournament of the year. Curtis, the former British Open champion, wound up at No. 50 by one-thousandth of a point.

“Feels good,” Curtis said from the indoor practice facility at Kent State. “It’s a major, and it’s nice to be in. All it takes is one good week for everything to change.”

It’s not like he was on pins and needles waiting for the final world ranking to come out, however. Curtis has played Augusta National six times, missing four cuts. His best finish was this year, a tie for 35th.

Going into next year, 91 players already have qualified for the Masters. Sixteen players will be competing for the first time, a list that includes Brian Gay, Jason Dufner and Steve Marino.

The only other way to qualify is to win a PGA Tour event that offers full FedEx Cup points, or finish in the top 50 in the world ranking published a week before the Masters.

Among those still not in: Stephen Ames, Justin Rose and Davis Love III.


 

YAHOO HITS: At the start of the month, Tiger Woods ranked No. 18 among the most searched athletes on Yahoo! in 2009. Three weeks later, Woods was at the top of the list, bumping LeBron James out of the top 10.

When the search combines athletes and teams, Woods still is No. 1 over the Dallas Cowboys.

Perhaps the most telling aspect to the Yahoo! Top 10 list for most searched athletes? Natalie Gulbis is No. 8.


 

WELCOME TO THE 60s: Either these guys are good, or they tend to play the easier courses.

The PGA Tour released a statistic last month showing David Toms led the tour with 51 rounds in the 60s this year. Upon closer inspection, Toms also led the tour in a more dubious category. He had five tournaments in which he broke 70 every round and failed to win. Toms did that at the Sony Open, FBR Open, St. Jude Classic, Travelers Championship and Wyndham Championship.

He wasn’t alone. There were 120 players who had at least one tournament with every round in the 60s without winning, and 55 players did it multiple times. PGA Tour rookie Jeff Klauk did it four times, and the 12 players who had three such tournaments included Justin Leonard, Ryan Moore, Chad Campbell and Zach Johnson.

In all, there were 192 times this year when a player broke 70 in every round and did not win.

Strangely enough, neither Tiger Woods nor Phil Mickelson were on the list.


 

DIVOTS: Bernhard Langer was voted by his peers as the Champions Tour player of the year for the second straight season. … Nigel Edwards has been appointed Great Britain & Ireland captain for the Walker Cup in 2011 to be held at Royal Aberdeen in Scotland. Edwards played in four Walker Cups with a record of 4-5-3. … The Presidents Cup raised $4.2 million for charity. The PGA Tour also donated $500,000 to The First Tee of San Francisco as part of its agreement to host the matches at Harding Park.


 

STAT OF THE WEEK: David Duval and Todd Hamilton, who failed to make it through Q-school, are eligible to play in the Masters.


 

FINAL WORD: “It was a good year inside the ropes.” – PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem.

USGA/Chris Keane

Even with broken driver, Salinda beats Hagestad at U.S. Am

By Ryan LavnerAugust 17, 2018, 2:52 am

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – With a trip to the U.S. Amateur quarterfinals on the line, and with the Pacific Ocean staring him in the face, Isaiah Salinda piped a 330-yard drive down Pebble Beach’s 18th hole.

Not a bad poke with a replacement driver.

Salinda’s Round of 16 match against Stewart Hagestad got off to a rocky start Thursday afternoon with an awkward tee shot on the second hole.

“The ball came out weird, with no spin,” said Salinda’s caddie and former Stanford teammate, Bradley Knox. “He said, ‘Yeah, that felt weird.’”

Salinda looked at the bottom of his Callaway Epic driver and noticed a crack.

Worried that they'd have to play the rest of the round with only a 3-wood, Knox called a Callaway equipment rep, told him the issue, and was relieved to hear he'd meet them at the back of the third tee. Salinda teed off the next hole with a 3-wood – he’d taken driver there all week – and wound up in a tricky spot, on the side of a mound, leading to a bogey.

“Then they came over and cranked the driver,” Knox said. “It was like a NASCAR pit crew.”

The replacement driver was nearly identical – same head, same loft, same weighting – except for the lie angle. The new one was a degree flatter than his gamer, which led to a few more pulled shots than usual.

“It took a little while to recover the mindset that we’d had the rest of the week,” Knox said.


Match scoring from U.S. Amateur

U.S. Amateur: Articles, photos and videos


Salinda downplayed the equipment malfunction – “I just had to adjust, and it wasn’t really a problem” – but he didn’t play well early. After trailing for just one hole during his first two matches, he was 4 over par and 2 down through 10 holes against Hagestad, the 2017 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion who’d finally made match play after eight previous failed attempts.

On 11, Salinda finally got going, stuffing a wedge shot to 10 feet and recording his first birdie. He followed with three clutch pars before another good approach on 15, leading to a conceded birdie to square the match.

On the home hole, Salinda bombed his drive about 30 yards past Hagestad and had 220 yards to the flag. It was a perfect 4-iron distance, and he sent a rocket into a blinding sunset.

“I never saw it,” Salinda said. “I told my caddie: ‘Where is that? I have no idea.’ But it felt good.”

A lone voice shrieked as the ball landed on the green. They knew the shot had to be tight. Years ago, Stanford senior Chris Meyers had made an albatross on 18 for a walkoff victory with Lee Janzen at the PGA Tour Champions’ First Tee Open. Knox thought they’d come close to duplicating the feat.

“Probably almost had a Chris Meyers,” Knox said, chuckling, as they walked up the fairway.

The shot never had a chance to drop – turns out the spectator was well-lubricated – but it still was only 35 feet away, for eagle. Salinda cozied his putt to a few feet and could only watch as Hagestad’s last-ditch 25-footer stopped a rotation short of the cup.

The Round of 16 victory continued a breakout summer for Salinda. His 15th-place showing at the NCAA Championship kick-started a three-month stretch in which he’s finally taken his game to the next level.

“He’s shown flashes of brilliance before,” Knox said, “and he’s had the game. But now he has the consistency and the confidence that it’ll come back time and time again.”

Salinda shot 62 in the third round and won the Pacific Coast Amateur, which boasts one of the strongest fields of the summer. Then he finished third in stroke play at the Western Amateur before a quarterfinal loss in match play.

Now he’s one step closer to his biggest victory yet – even with a backup driver.

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Salas (62) leads LPGA's Indy Women in Tech

By Associated PressAugust 17, 2018, 12:50 am

INDIANAPOLIS - Lizette Salas' waited 77 minutes to line up her 4-foot putt to take the lead Thursday at the Indy Women in Tech Championship.

She refused to let the weather delay get to her.

When the 29-year-old California player returned to the course, she quickly rolled in the birdie putt, finished her round with another birdie at No. 18 and took a two-shot lead over Angel Yin and Nasa Hataoka with a course record-tying 10-under 62.

''I didn't even think about it the entire time,'' Salas said. ''I was hanging out with Danielle (Kang) and she was giving me her silly dad jokes. So it definitely kept my mind off of it. I was really excited to be back and to finish off with a birdie, from off the green, was the icing on the cake.''

It's the lowest score by a female player at the Brickyard Crossing.

Defending champion Lexi Thompson opened last year's inaugural tournament with a 63, one shot off of Mike McCullough's 62 in the PGA Champions Tour's 1999 Comfort Classic.

But the way the saturated 6,456-yard course played Thursday, Salas needed virtually every putt of her career-best round to reach the top of the leaderboard.

The morning starters took advantage of overnight rain by shooting right at the pins.

And nobody made a bigger early splash than Yin, the 19-year-old Californian who finished second in last year's rookie of the year race.

She opened with five straight birdies and shot 8-under 28 on the front nine. Only a par on No. 6 prevented her from becoming the sixth LPGA player to shoot 27 on nine holes. South Korea's Mi Hyang Lee did it most recently at the 2016 JTBC Founders Cup.

Yin also tied the third-lowest nine-hole score in relation to par in tour history.

Her only bobble came with a bogey on No. 13 and she closed out her best career round with a birdie on No. 18.


Full-field scores from Indy Women in Tech Championship


''I have never done that before,'' she said. ''I had nine putts, I think, on the front nine, which is incredible. I've never had that many little putts. But it just felt good. Everything was working.''

Last year's runner-up for rookie of the year has never won an LPGA Tour title in her home country though she did win in a playoff at Dubai on the Ladies European Tour.

Everybody seemed to find their groove Thursday.

Eighty-eight of the 143 players shot under par and 54 were 3-under or better.

And with more rain in the forecast Thursday night and Friday, the scores could go even lower as a star-studded cast chases down Salas, Yin and Hataoka.

Four players, including Kang and Jane Park, are three shots behind.

Seven players, including last year's tournament runner-up Lydia Ko, are four shots back. Ko was tied with Yin for the lead - until she knocked her tee shot on the par-4, 16th into the water. She wound up with a double bogey and birdied the final hole to finish with 66.

After taking a monthlong break to recover from physical and mental exhaustion, Thompson looked relaxed and comfortable in her return to the course. She shot 68.

''It was hard for me to take the break because I didn't want to show weakness,'' she said. ''But at the same time, it takes a lot of strength to acknowledge that you need that kind of break and just take time for yourself, especially when you're in the spotlight like this.''

Salas, meanwhile, started fast with an eagle on the par-5 second and finished with a flurry.

She birdied three straight holes on the front side to get to 5-under, added birdies at Nos. 12 and 14 to get to 7-under and then birdied the final three holes - around the approaching storm - to put herself in contention for her first title since the 2014 Kingsmill Championship.

''I have been just striking the ball really well this entire year, and just glad some more putts dropped today,'' she said. ''I was really refreshed. I didn't practice at all last week, and I was just really eager and excited to be back.''

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Sordet opens with 62 to grab lead at Nordea Masters

By Associated PressAugust 16, 2018, 11:23 pm

GOTHENBURG, Sweden - Clement Sordet opened with four straight birdies to shoot 8-under 62 and take the first-round lead of the Nordea Masters on Thursday.

Sordet says ''I wasn't really focusing on the score, I was just enjoying it.''

The Frenchman, who shot his lowest European Tour round, has a two-stroke lead over Scott Jamieson of Scotland and Lee Slattery of England.

Hunter Stewart is the highest-placed American after a 5-under 65 left him on a four-way tie for fourth with Christofer Blomstrand, Tapio Pulkkanen and Richard Green.

Defending champion Renato Paratore's hopes of becoming the first player to successfully retain the title look in doubt after the Italian shot 9-over 79 at Hills Golf Club.

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Peterson confirms plans to play Web.com Finals

By Will GrayAugust 16, 2018, 9:17 pm

After flirting with retirement for much of the summer, John Peterson confirmed that he will give it one more shot in the upcoming Web.com Tour Finals.

Peterson, 29, had planned to walk away from the game and begin a career in real estate in his native Texas if he failed to secure PGA Tour status before his medical extension expired. His T-13 finish last month at The Greenbrier appeared to be enough to net the former NCAA champ at least conditional status, but a closer look at the numbers revealed he missed out by 0.58 points in his last available start.


Full-field scores from Wyndham Championship

Wyndham Championship: Articles, photos and videos


But Peterson was buoyed by the support he received from his peers at The Greenbrier, and when he got into the Barbasol Championship as a late alternate he decided to make the trip to the tournament. He tied for 21st that week in Kentucky, clinching enough non-member FedExCup points to grant him a spot in the four-event Finals.

Last month Peterson hinted that he would consider playing in the Finals, where 25 PGA Tour cards for the 2018-19 season will be up for grabs, and Thursday he confirmed in an Instagram post that he will give his pro career "one last push."

The Finals kick off next week in Ohio with the Nationwide Children's Hospital Championship and will conclude Sept. 20-23 with the Web.com Tour Championship. Peterson will be looking to rekindle his results from 2013, when he finished T-5 or better at each of the four Finals events while earning fully-exempt status as the top money earner.