Notes Defending The Players The name game

By Doug FergusonApril 20, 2011, 1:39 am

PGA Tour (75x100)JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Tim Clark will be at the TPC Sawgrass next month for The Players Championship, where last year he captured his first PGA Tour victory with the greatest 36-hole comeback in tournament history.

Whether he plays golf remains the question.

Clark is coping with an elbow injury so severe that he went three months without playing and only teed it up at the Masters because he was stubborn. He had rounds of 73-73 and missed the cut.

“I have had lots of treatment done, everything I can do to get better,” Clark said Tuesday. “It’s been a slow process. I’m hoping I’m able to tee it up at The Players Championship right now. I’m still pretty unsure how it’s going to be by then. Play or not, I’ll be at Sawgrass for the week. I just hope I’ll be able to play.”

Only two other players have failed to defend at The Players – Jerry Pate in 1983 because of a neck injury and Steve Elkington in 1998 because of sinus surgery.

Clark started his season with a tie for 17th at Kapalua and a runner-up finish at the Sony Open. After flying home to North Carolina, he started experiencing pain in his left elbow. The South African tried a cortisone shot, even blood spinning, without much progress. One therapist at Augusta suggested the source might be a pinched nerve.

He hopes that’s the case, although he concedes that diagnosis is “a bit of a question mark.” In some respects, it was an achievement for Clark to finish two rounds at the Masters.

“At no point did I feel very good there,” Clark said. “After Thursday, I really didn’t think I’d be able to play Friday. An hour-and-a-half before the round, we got my arm moving, and it was kind of OK to play. It was more of a case of me being stubborn, not really wanting to withdraw. I was encouraged by the fact that I could finish two rounds, even though I was still in quite a bit of pain, and encouraged that I didn’t shoot a couple of 80s.”

The Players Championship begins May 12, giving Clark three full weeks to try to get ready.

“I think that I have to go in with the same mindset into The Players,” he said. “Even though I’m not at 100 percent right now, I have to plan on playing and probably go through the same process. Even if it’s little sore, get work done and try get to where I can at least compete.”

One shred of good news for Clark is that his wife gave birth to their first child – a boy, Jack, on April 1. Clark’s plan was to compete in the Masters, then take a chunk of time off to be with his family. He’s had plenty of time at home lately.

“Once I get back to health, I’ll be back to playing a lot more,” he said. “Hopefully, I’ll get better soon. But it’s been nice to spend time at home with the newborn. He’s been great.”

GOING PUBLIC: Royal & Ancient chief executive Peter Dawson believes the PGA and European Tours should start going public with their discipline of players.

The PGA Tour does not disclose when a player is fined, and the European Tour typically keeps such matters quiet. It made an exception when Tiger Woods was shown on TV spitting on the green in Dubai because of the enormous publicity. Woods later apologized on Twitter.

“I would not want to give the impression in any way that the standards of behavior in golf are poor,” Dawson told the Press Association on Tuesday at Royal St. George’s. “I think they are very high, and golf is still held up as a model for many other sports. These particular incidents that we see do get a great deal of publicity and rightly so.

“As regards what the tours’ disciplinary policy should be in terms of whether it should be made public, I think if you look at the wider world of sport, that has become the norm,” he said. “There are many good reasons for keeping it quiet, but I think it’s possibly something that the tours who do that should look at changing, because I think putting these things in the public domain has a lot of benefits – especially now that golf is an Olympic sport.”

NAME GAME: Engraving the name of Louis Oosthuizen on the claret jug has proven far easier than pronouncing it, even in the nine months since the South African won the British Open at St. Andrews.

First came a reporter’s bungled attempt to mention his name during a press conference at the Masters, only for Charl Schwartzel to smile and correct the pronunciation.

Then came this nugget from The Daily Mail.

According to the British newspaper, Oosthuizen was at a PGA Tour event recently when he gave the starter a crash course on how to pronounce his name. Sure enough, the starter nailed it, introducing him as “Loo-ee WEST-high-zen.”

If only he had stopped there.

The starter then saw the initials RSA next to his name – Republic of South Africa – and added, ” … from Russia.”

DIVOTS: Although the Masters said it would look hard at its criteria to keep the field from getting too large, officials says any changes to current qualifications would be announced before it effects the 2012 invitations. In other words, Brendan Steele can count on a trip to Augusta National next year. … The British Open returns this year to Royal St. George’s, an all-male club in England. R&A chief executive Peter Dawson says such clubs in Britain are small in number, are older clubs and it’s up to them how to operate within the law. He told the Press Association: “We don’t use The Open for what I might call social engineering.” … Brendan Steele became the 10th winner of a PGA Tour event this year to be ranked outside the top 100 in the world. … Erik Compton is now 10th on the Nationwide Tour money list. The top 25 at the end of the year earn PGA Tour cards. … David Duval made 17 birdies at the Texas Open, the same as winner Brendan Steele. Duval also had seven double bogeys, which explains why he finished 19 shots out of the lead. … The 10 semifinalists for the Ben Hogan Award as the top college player include three from Oklahoma State – Kevin Tway, Peter Uihlein and Morgan Hoffman.

STAT OF THE WEEK: Of the 17 winners on the PGA Tour this year, only four have ever played in a Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup.

FINAL WORD: “The color of the hair.” – Kenny Perry, asked the difference between galleries on the PGA Tour and Champions Tour.

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Goat visor propels Na to Colonial lead

By Will GrayMay 25, 2018, 1:29 am

Jason Dufner officially has some company in the headwear free agency wing of the PGA Tour.

Like Dufner, Kevin Na is now open to wear whatever he wants on his head at tournaments, as his visor sponsorship with Titleist ended earlier this month. He finished T-6 at the AT&T Byron Nelson in his second tournament as a free agent, and this week at the Fort Worth Invitational he's once again wearing a simple white visor with a picture of a goat.

"I bought it at The Players Championship for $22 with the 30 percent discount that they give the Tour players," Na told reporters. "It's very nice."

Perhaps a change in headwear was just what Na needed to jumpstart his game. Last week's result in Dallas was his first top-35 finish in his last six events dating back to February, and he built upon that momentum with an 8-under 62 to take a one-shot lead over Charley Hoffman after the first round at Colonial Country Club.

While many sports fans know the "GOAT" acronym to stand for "Greatest Of All Time," it's a definition that the veteran Na only learned about earlier this year.

"I do social media, but they kept calling Tiger the GOAT. I go, 'Man, why do they keep calling Tiger the GOAT? That's just mean,'" Na said. "Then I realized it meant greatest of all time. Thinking of getting it signed by Jack (Nicklaus) next week (at the Memorial)."

Marc Dull (Florida State Golf Association)

Golden: Dull rude, caddie 'inebriated' at Florida Mid-Am

By Ryan LavnerMay 25, 2018, 1:03 am

Jeff Golden has offered more detail on what transpired at the Florida Mid-Amateur Championship, writing in a long statement on Twitter that Marc Dull’s caddie was “inebriated” before he allegedly sucker-punched Golden in the face.

In a story first reported by, Charlotte County Police responded to a call May 13 after Golden claimed that he’d been assaulted by his opponent’s caddie in the parking lot of Coral Creek Club, where he was competing in the Mid-Am finals. Golden told police that the caddie, Brandon Hibbs, struck him because of a rules dispute earlier in the round. Hibbs denied any involvement, and police found no evidence of an attack.

Golden posted a 910-word statement on the alleged incident on his Twitter account on Thursday night. He said that he wanted to provide more detail because “others have posed some valid questions about the series of events that led to me withdrawing” from what was an all-square match with two holes to play.

Golden wrote that both Dull and Hibbs were rude and disruptive during the match, and that “alcohol appeared to be influencing [Hibbs’] behavior.”

Dull, who caddies at Streamsong Resort in Florida, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“I’ve never seen an opposing caddie engage in so much conversation with a competitor,” Golden wrote. “On the eighth hole I had become extremely frustrated when my opponent and caddie were talking and moving. I expressed my disappointment with their etiquette to the rules official in our group.”

On the ninth hole, Golden informed the official that he believed Hibbs had broken the rules by offering advice on his putt. Golden won the hole by concession to move 2 up at the turn, and Hibbs removed himself from the match and returned to the clubhouse.

Golden wrote that after the penalty, the match “turned even nastier, with more negative comments from my opponent on the 10th tee.” He added that he conceded Dull’s 15-foot birdie putt on No. 10 because he was “sick of the abuse from my opponent, and I wanted the match to resemble what you would expect of a FSGA final.”

Though there were no witnesses to the alleged attack and police found little evidence, save for “some redness on the inside of [Golden’s] lip,” Golden wrote that the inside of his mouth was bleeding, his face was “throbbing” and his hand was also injured from bracing his fall. X-rays and CT scans over the past week all came back negative, he said.

Golden reiterated that he was disappointed with the FSGA’s decision to accept his concession in the final match. He had recommended that they suspend the event and resume it “at a later time.”

“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.”

Asked last week about his organization’s alcohol policy during events, FSGA executive director Jim Demick said that excessive consumption is “highly discouraged, but it falls more broadly under the rules of etiquette and player behavior.”

Dull, 32, was back in the news Wednesday, after he and partner Chip Brooke reached the finals of the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship. They lost to high schoolers Cole Hammer and Garrett Barber, 4 and 3.

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D. Kang, M. Jutanugarn in four-way tie at Volvik

By Associated PressMay 25, 2018, 12:50 am

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Amy Olson crossed paths with her coach, Ron Stockton, on her walk to the 18th tee at the Volvik Championship.

''Make it another even $20,'' Stockton said.

The coach was already prepared to give his client $35 for making seven birdies - $5 each - and wanted to take her mind off the bogey she just had at 17.

Olson closed the first round with a 6-under 66, putting her into the lead she ended up sharing later Thursday with Moriya Jutanugarn , Caroline Masson and Danielle Kang.

Do small, cash incentives really help a professional golfer?

''Absolutely,'' said Olson, who graduated from North Dakota State with an accounting degree. ''He'll tell you I'm a little bit of a hustler there.''

Olson will have to keep making birdies - and petty cash - to hold her position at Travis Pointe Country Club.

Jessica Korda, Minjee Lee, Nasa Hataoka, Lindy Duncan, Morgan Pressel, Megan Khang and Jodi Ewart Shadoff were a stroke back at 67 and six others were to shots back.

Ariya Jutanugarn, the Kingsmill Championship winner last week in Virginia, opened with a 69.

The Jutanugarn sisters are Korda are among six players with a chance to become the LPGA Tour's first two-time winner this year.

Moriya Jutanugarn won for the first time in six years on the circuit last month in Los Angeles.

''What I feel is more relaxed now,'' she said. ''And, of course I like looking forward for my next one.''

Olson, meanwhile, is hoping to extend the LPGA Tour's streak of having a new winner in each of its 12 tournaments this year.

Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship

She knows how to win. It just has been a while since it has happened.

Olson set an NCAA record with 20 wins, breaking the mark set by LPGA Hall of Famer Juli Inkster, but has struggled to have much success since turning pro in 2013.

She has not finished best finish was a tie for seventh and that was four years ago. She was in contention to win the ANA Inspiration two months ago, but an even-par 72 dropped her into a tie for ninth place.

If the North Dakota player wins the Volvik Championship, she will earn a spot in the U.S. Open at Shoal Creek in Alabama. If Olson finishes second or lower in the 144-player field, she will enjoy an off week with her husband, Grant, who coaches linebackers at Indiana State.

''I'll make the best of it either way,'' she said.

Olson was at her best in the opening round on the front nine, closing it with four birdies in a six-hole stretch. Her ball rolled just enough to slowly drop in the cup for birdie on the par-3, 184-yard 13th. She had three birdies in five-hole stretch on the back, nearly making her second hole-in-one of the year at the par-3, 180-yard 16th. A short putt gave her a two-stroke lead, but it was cut to one after pulling and misreading a 6-foot putt to bogey the 17th.

Even if she doesn't hold on to win the tournament, Olson is on pace to have her best year on the LPGA Tour. She is No. 39 on the money list after finishing 97th, 119th, 81st and 80th in her first four years.

''Two years ago, I started working with Ron Stockton and whenever you make a change, it doesn't show up right away,'' Olson said. ''That first year was tough, but we've turned a corner and I've just found a lot of consistency in the last year. And, it's a lot of fun to go out there and play golf a little more stress free.''

Stockton helped her stay relaxed, walking along the ropes during her morning round.

''Maybe some people feel a little more pressure when their coach is there,'' she said. ''I'm like, 'Great. If he sees the mistake, he knows what can go wrong and we can go fix it.' So, I like having his eyes on me.''

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Club pro part of 6-way tie atop Sr. PGA

By Associated PressMay 25, 2018, 12:04 am

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. - Nevada club professional Stuart Smith shot a 5-under 66 on Thursday for a share of the first-round lead in the Senior PGA Championship.

Smith closed his morning round with a double bogey on the par-4 18th, and Scott McCarron, Tim Petrovic, Wes Short Jr., Barry Lane and Peter Lonard matched the 66 in the afternoon.

One of 41 club pros in the field at Harbor Shores for the senior major, Smith is the director of golf at Somersett Country Club in Reno.

Full-field scores from the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship

McCarron won the Senior Players Championship last year for his first senior major.

Defending champion Bernhard Langer is skipping the event to attend son Jason's high school graduation, and Steve Stricker is playing the PGA Tour event in Texas.