Notes Tiger Phil recall Seves artistry

By Doug FergusonMay 11, 2011, 4:14 am
The Players ChampionshipPONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Seve Ballesteros was considered a genius for inventing shots, usually after he found himself in trouble off the fairway. On the eve of the great Spaniard’s funeral, he was remembered by two players who could at times relate.

“You’ve never seen a person compete from the places he played from,” Tiger Woods said Tuesday.

Phil Mickelson, who also has a remarkable ability to escape from anywhere, recalled the time he played a practice round with Ballesteros at Torrey Pines when Lefty was still an amateur.

“I enjoyed that time with him because I saw his artistry,” Mickelson said.

Ballesteros, who died Saturday of a cancerous brain tumor, is to be buried Wednesday in his hometown of Pedrena, Spain.

Woods, who was born seven months before Ballesteros was the 54-hole leader at the 1976 British Open as a 19-year-old, never competed against the Spaniard during his prime.

“He would have been so much fun to watch and compete against that,” Woods said.

He did recall a few practice rounds, none more memorable than one year at the Masters with Ballesteros and Jose Maria Olazabal.

“Just to hear him explain how to hit shots around the Augusta … it was just artful,” Woods said. “Just the spin, and how much spin you need to put it here and where you need to land it, where it needs to kick, and the way he explained it, and what he needs to do with the body to do that with the hands.

“He looked like he didn’t try and do anything mechanical, but he had a few thoughts about what he needed to do. He just understood it.”

Mickelson specifically remembers the way Ballesteros played the par-3 11th on the South Course at Torrey Pines, when the pin was cut back and to the right. That’s typically a 5-iron or a 6-iron.

“He would take a 3-iron … a big 30- to 50-yard rounded slice that would land in the middle of the green and then side spin over to the hole,” Mickelson said. “It just opened my eyes how many different ways you can get to the some of these pins. And I loved watching that because it showed me that it’s possible, that it doesn’t have to be this robotic way of fairways, middle of the green and so forth.”


SOCCER AND GOLF: The competition got under way at The Players Championship before the golf did.

A group of European caddies and a few players have organized a soccer team called “Airmail Rovers AC” – no one can explain where that name came from – and they played a local pub team in Jacksonville on Monday night.

According to Golfweek magazine, the match ended in a 3-3 tie with a late goal. Among the top players for the golf team was Sergio Garcia, as was to be expected. And according to Alvaro Quiros, his fellow Spaniard, Garcia loves to control the action.

“Next time we play we need two balls,” Quiros said Tuesday in recounting the action. “One for Sergio, one for the rest of the team. We kept saying, ‘Pass it Sergio.’ I think I can see now why he plays golf.”

A week ago at the Wells Fargo Championship, Martin Kaymer and Rory McIlroy played against a Charlotte soccer club.


HOGAN PREDICTION: Upon his induction into the World Golf Hall of Fame on Monday night, former Masters and PGA champion Doug Ford shared some golf history that might apply today.

When he turned pro, Ford said Ben Hogan was chairman of the players’ board and didn’t like that the top 15 players in a 150-man field were getting paid. Hogan suggested that only the top 10 get paid.

“I’m a rookie, 1950, and I’m saying, ‘Boy, that’s one tough cookie,”’ Ford said. “But they voted against him, and they made 15 money places. And Hogan said, ‘What you’re going to do is create a bunch of players that will stay out here and be exempt and never win.”’

That was more than 60 years ago.

The PGA Tour went to an all-exempt tour in 1983, and it’s probably become worse than what Hogan imagined. Three players have earned more than $10 million without ever having won on the PGA Tour.

“The more I look at the list now, he was as true as could be,” Ford said. “These guys can stay out there forever and never win, as long as they made the money cut.”


HAIR-RAISING DEVELOPMENT: Geoff Ogilvy was in a drug store last month when he saw a product designed to grow hair. Ogilvy has been losing so much from the top that he had about given up.

As a joke, he bought a can of the organic hair growth.

When he arrived at The Players Championship, his hair had grown enough for people to notice. It looked the way it did when he won the U.S. Open at Winged Foot five years ago.

“I wasn’t buying it to grow hair, I was buying it for a giggle,” Ogilvy said. “It’s organic. It can’t hurt me. At least, I don’t think it can hurt me.”


MAY OR MARCH: This is the fifth year The Players Championship has been played in early May, after behind held at the end of March just before the Masters. There was bent grass on the greens, and the rye overseed from the winter had not died.

It was a different golf course.

Some players are split on whether they’d like it better if it were still played in March.

“In my personal opinion, I don’t think they’ve got the setup quite right yet for the May date,” said Adam Scott, who won The Players in 2004 when it was in March. “With the different grass, I’d like to see them set it up a little differently. I’d like to see the rough cut down a lot more with the different grass here, get the ball running through. And we could do away with the thick rough.”

Luke Donald thought the course was harder in March. Then again, he first came to America to play at Northwestern and lived in the Chicago area until moving to South Florida. He said while the course can be firmer in May, the greens aren’t quite as fast.

“I kind of preferred it in March,” he said.

Ultimately, Scott said it really doesn’t matter.

“I think this is one of the best tournament courses in the world,” Scott said.


DIVOTS: Among players who attended the World Golf Hall of Fame ceremony was Chris Riley, who also brought his father. Riley wanted to see Ernie Els get inducted. … It has been five years since the 54-hole leader at The Players Championship went on to win. … The flag of the defending champion—South Africa for Tim Clark—usually flies in the circle of champions. Out of respect to Seve Ballesteros, Clark asked that the Spanish flag take its place. … Among the items Ernie Els put in his glass locker at the Hall of Fame was a notebook in which his wife, Leizl, used to chart the shot of Els and his playing partners at every major.


STAT OF THE WEEK: When Davis Love III won in 2003, 25 of the first 30 winners of The Players Championship had also won majors. In the last seven years, Phil Mickelson is the only major champion to win at Sawgrass.


FINAL WORD: “The golf course is too hard for me.”—Bubba Watson, on the TPC Sawgrass.

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Hataoka leads Minjee Lee by one at LPGA Volvik

By Associated PressMay 26, 2018, 12:54 am

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - After losing in a playoff last weekend, Nasa Hataoka is making another bid for her first LPGA Tour victory.

Hataoka shot a 4-under 68 on Friday, and the Japanese teenager led by one stroke over Minjee Lee after the second round of the Volvik Championship. Hataoka, who is coming off the first two top-10 finishes of her LPGA career, made seven birdies at Travis Pointe Country Club. She began her round on No. 10, and her best stretch came toward the end, when she birdied Nos. 4, 5 and 6.

''I'm really comfortable playing the LPGA,'' the 19-year-old Hataoka said through a translator. ''I've really got confidence now.''

Hataoka made the cut nine times in 17 starts as a rookie in 2017, and she has made significant strides of late. She tied for seventh at last month's MEDIHEAL Championship and nearly won a week ago at the Kingsmill Championship in Virginia.

Hataoka finished the second round in Michigan at 9 under. Lee (69) was also solid Friday. Gaby Lopez (68), Jodi Ewart Shadoff (70) and Lindy Duncan (70) were a stroke behind Lee in a tie for third.

Hataoka did not make a single bogey in last week's three-round tournament, and she didn't have any in the first round in Michigan. She finally made a few Friday, but that didn't stop her from taking sole possession of the lead.

''I kind of feel like not really perfect, but I just kind of try to (be) aggressive,'' she said.

Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship

Lee, who lost by one stroke on this course last year, is in contention again.

''I guess the fairways are pretty generous and I think the greens are a little bit on the trickier side to read,'' Lee said. ''As long as your iron shots are pretty solid, I think you're going to be in good position around this golf course.''

Lee birdied the first two holes, and the only blemish on her scorecard Friday came on the par-5 14th. After missing the fairway to the right, she hit an aggressive shot out of the rough that went straight toward a water hazard well in front of the green. She settled for a bogey after taking a drop.

''I thought the ball was sitting OK in the rough, but it must have been a bit funny, or underneath it,'' she said. ''I made a mistake. I thought it was good enough to hit 3-wood there.''

Lee lost last year in Michigan to Shanshan Feng, but Feng will have some ground to make up in her attempt to repeat. She shot 69 on Friday but is still eight strokes behind the leader.

Ariya Jutanugarn was 6 under after a second consecutive 69.

Lopez made only six pars in the second round, tied for the fewest of the day, but her eight birdies and four bogeys put her near the top of the leaderboard.

''It was a little bit of an up and down,'' she said. ''There's so many opportunities out here to make birdie, that the most important thing to do is just to be patient, to be in the moment and not to get ahead of yourself. I think I came back from a couple mistakes that I did.''

In contrast to Lopez, Brittany Lincicome parred all 18 holes Friday and made the cut at 1 under. Paula Creamer (71) triple bogeyed the par-4 13th. She followed that with an eagle on the very next hole but missed the cut by a stroke.

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Childhood rivals share Sr. PGA lead

By Associated PressMay 26, 2018, 12:00 am

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. - Kevin Sutherland and Scott McCarron have been rivals since their junior golf days around Sacramento, California. The two old friends were back at it Friday at the top of the Senior PGA Championship leaderboard.

''It's honestly, nothing new for us,'' said Sutherland who played in the third-to-last group and birdied his last two holes for a 5-under 66 to match McCarron at 8 under.

McCarron had a 68 in the morning wave to emerge from a championship record group of six tied for the first-round lead.

Sutherland was last year's Charles Schwab Cup winner with his only senior win coming in the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship, while McCarron has six PGA Tour Champions wins, including a major at the 2017 Senior Players Championship.

''We are both (Northern California) guys, played in high school, junior golf, on tour and it seems like a lot on the Champions Tour,'' Sutherland said. ''We were in the last group on Sundays a lot last year. Scott played so well and had an incredible year, and I had a great year, too.''

Sutherland's lone PGA Tour victory came at McCarron's expense in 2002 at La Costa in the Accenture Match Play Championship, when he beat McCarron 1 up in the 36-hole final. As youngsters they played on opposing high school teams located about an hour apart and met often in state tournaments as well as on the California junior circuit.

''It's been happening for 30 years, wait 35 years now, I guess,'' Sutherland said. ''Playing together on a Saturday is a little different. We're both still trying to get in position to win.''

Jerry Kelly shot a 65 to join Tim Petrovic (69), Chris Williams (68) and Joe Durant (67) at 7 under. Durant tied for second last week in the Regions Tradition, also a major championship.

Full-field scores from the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship

McCarron feels like he is just starting to warm to the task this year. He had to replace his clubs, including a favored putter damaged beyond repair in air transit two months ago.

''I've been putting with a back-up putter I had, but it just didn't feel quite right,'' he said. ''I changed last Sunday at the Regions Tradition and started putting better on Sunday. So I'm using this one again this week and seem to be putting pretty good with it.''

McCarron said the Harbor Shores course played a little tougher in light winds in the second round. He made six birdies and three bogeys.

''I would just like to have a couple of those bogeys back,'' he said. ''But we're in a good position going into the weekend.''

McCarron came to the press center after his round and walked in on a press conference where course-designer Jack and Barbara Nicklaus were being honored by sponsoring KitchenAid with the establishment of a local college scholarship program in their name.

McCarron, who said he has idolized Nicklaus since his youth, played media and asked Nicklaus what he ate when he was near the lead going into the weekend of a major championship.

Nicklaus said if you play well one day, eat the same thing the next day.

''But no hamburgers, or you will play like hamburger,'' he said.

Stuart Smith, the Reno, Neveda, club pro who was tied for the lead after the first round, missed the 36-hole cut with a second-round 83.

''I'll take the 66, 83 and enjoy the 66 yesterday,'' he said. ''You put this one down to just plain old golf. It's a nasty game we play sometimes. Glad I have a day job.''

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Wise, Simpson both miss cut at Colonial

By Nick MentaMay 25, 2018, 11:34 pm

The two most recent winners on the PGA Tour, Aaron Wise and Webb Simpson, missed the cut at the Fort Worth Invitational on Friday.

Wise and Simpson both came up short of the 2-over total by a shot following rounds of 70-73.

Wise was safely inside the number before playing his last four holes in 4 over par with two bogeys and a closing double following a trip into the water at the par-4 ninth.

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

Simpson, making his first start following his Players triumph, similarly struggled coming home, bogeying three of his final six holes.

Other notables who won't be around for the weekend at Colonial include Xander Schauffele (+4), Jason Dufner (+5), Patrick Cantlay (+6), Smylie Kaufman (+13), and Sam Burns (+13).

This is Kaufman's 11th consecutive MC and his 15th in his last 16 starts.

Jason Seaman and Kristi Hubly Seaman

Sr. PGA caddie learns of nephew's heroism in school shooting

By Tim RosaforteMay 25, 2018, 10:33 pm

Tracy Hubly caddied for her husband, club pro Chris Starkjohann, on Friday at the KitchenAid Senior PGA and learned after their round that her nephew was credited with helping stop the school shooting at Noblesville West Middle School in Indiana.

Jason Seaman, a 29-year-old science instructor and seventh grade football coach at the school, took three bullets but survived as what his aunt called a hero.

“You hear the stories about these shootings and I think about Parkland and the officer that was trained but didn’t go into the school,” Hubly said. “It’s really shocking to think it comes close to your family, but it does."

It’s not unusual for Hubly to caddie for her husband, a teacher at Carlsbad Golf Center and coach of a PGA Junior League program in Southern California. Hubly, who works in the pro shop at Emerald Island Golf Course in Oceanside, Calif., was on the bag when he was low golf professional at the 2009 Senior PGA Championship held at Canterbury GC. 

Starkjohann, 61, missed the cut at Harbor Shores with rounds of 76-79—155 and was heading to the Colorado State Open.

 “I didn’t hear about it until after my round was done,” Starkjohann said. “Everything happened after I got in.”