Slocum donates $40000 to tournament charities

By Doug FergusonSeptember 24, 2009, 4:14 am
                                                                                                                                                                                              THE TOUR Championship by Coke 2007 LogoATLANTA – Heath Slocum was in danger of losing his PGA Tour card a month ago. Now he has a chance to win $10 million from the FedEx Cup if he were to win the Tour Championship.

His fortunes have changed. But not his priorities.

Slocum donated $40,000 on Wednesday to three charities associated with the Tour Championship. The East Lake Foundation will receive $20,000, while the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and the Chron’s and Colitis Foundation each get $10,000.

“We’re in a good position to help out,” Slocum said. “This is something that we’ve been talking about for a while, and I’m glad that we could do that this week. There are so many great organizations that help so many people. Like I said, I’m just glad that we could even be a small part of it.”

Part of the charity is personal. Slocum has suffered from ulcerative colitis for the last 10 years. Since moving to the Atlanta area from the Florida Panhandle, he has been working with the Georgia chapter of the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation to find a cure.

The tour has been promoting its players individual charity work since launching a campaign in May called, “Together, Anything’s Possible.” Commissioner Tim Finchem said Slocum’s donation was another example.

“Here we have a player who found incredible success this year on tour and is using that success as a platform to positively impact the community in which he lives,” Finchem said.

Slocum had earned $639,815 going into the playoffs, which left him about $200,000 short of the keeping his card for next year. Then he won The Barclays and picked up $1.35 million, making him the No. 5 seed at the Tour Championship.


 

HINDSIGHT: Tiger Woods was jolted at the start of the playoffs to learn he could win all three playoff events, finish second at the Tour Championship and still not win the FedEx Cup.

Wednesday brought another scenario that only made him smile.

Given his five victories before the playoffs began, and a system of cumulative points until the Tour Championship, Woods could have skipped all three playoff events and still been the No. 3 seed at East Lake.

Then, all he would have had to do is win the Tour Championship.

PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem was asked if he was aware that Woods could have stayed home the last month.

“No, and I’m glad he didn’t,” Finchem said. “Tiger is pretty adept at this. Tiger’s view was his best chance of winning was to play them all, and make sure he was the No. 1 seed. I think the No. 1 seed has an advantage this week. Tiger usually plays to have an advantage.”

Woods is not likely to ever miss the Deutsche Bank Championship, which benefits his foundation. He has a long history with the Western Golf Association, which runs the BMW Championship at Cog Hill, where Woods has won five times.

Even so, the idea that having a big regular season allows him to miss a playoff event raises questions about whether he’ll be at The Barclays next year.

 


 

THE GAMBLER: Jim Furyk could find himself standing over a putt worth $11 million Sunday at East Lake. That will be nothing new, except for the amount of money.

Furyk said he rarely plays any golf without something on the line – whether it’s a major championship, a winner’s check, even a soda.

“I gambled a lot as a kid, and even on the Nationwide Tour,” Furyk said. “When I was a kid, I always played for something, whether it was a dollar or a Coke. Not that I would teach kids to gamble, but I think it’s in our blood as professional golfers. You have to put something on the line when you practice. There has to be a consequence at the end.”

The typical game when he was young was a $2, and if he fell behind and pressed, the bet became $4. For a teenager, every dollar counts, and Furyk didn’t want to lose a dime.

“I stood over putts thinking this putt is either to halve or lose $2 or $4,” he said. “And it’s a lot different, obviously, than $11 million.”

 


 

EAST LAKE UPDATE: Despite a wretched forecast, East Lake featured mostly sunny skies and hot weather on Wednesday, and the course was starting to dry.

Woods said the fairways were still soft, with plenty of mud on the ball. What surprised him were the firmness of the greens, courtesy of the sub-air pump system that was whirring away during the practice round.

The combination of spongy fairways and firm greens could make it hard to score.

“Like today, we picked up quite a bit of mud on every tee shot, so you can’t be as specific on where you land the golf ball coming into the greens, so you have to be a little bit more conservative,” he said. “We’ll see how the guys play and how the guys attack it.”

Much depends on whether the tour allows players to lift, clean and place their balls in the fairways. That decision is not expected until before the first round Thursday.

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Na: I can admit, 'I went through the yips'

By Rex HoggardJuly 17, 2018, 3:35 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Following his victory two weeks ago at A Military Tribute at the Greenbrier, Kevin Na said his second triumph on the PGA Tour was the most rewarding of his career.

Although he declined to go into details as to why the victory was so gratifying at The Greenbrier, as he completed his practice round on Tuesday at the Open Championship, Na shed some light on how difficult the last few years have been.

“I went through the yips. The whole world saw that. I told people, 'I can’t take the club back,'” Na said on Tuesday at Carnoustie. “People talked about it, 'He’s a slow player. Look at his routine.' I was admitting to the yips. I didn’t use the word ‘yip’ at the time. Nobody wants to use that word, but I’m over it now so I can use it. The whole world saw it.”


Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


Na, who made headlines for his struggles to begin his backswing when he found himself in the lead at the 2012 Players Championship, said he asked other players who had gone through similar bouts with the game’s most dreaded ailment how they were able to get through it.

“It took time,” he said. “I forced myself a lot. I tried breathing. I tried a trigger. Some guys will have a forward press or the kick of the right knee. That was hard and the crap I got for it was not easy.”

The payoff, however, has steadily arrived this season. Na said he’d been confident with his game this season following a runner-up showing at the Genesis Open and a fourth-place finish at the Fort Worth Invitational, and he felt he was close to a breakthrough. But being able to finish a tournament like he did at The Greenbrier, where he won by five strokes, was particularly rewarding.

“All good now,” he smiled. “I knew I was good enough to win again, but until you do it sometimes you question yourself. It’s just the honest truth.”

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Koepka still has chip on his chiseled shoulder

By Ryan LavnerJuly 17, 2018, 3:06 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Brooks Koepka prepared more for this Open than last year's.

He picked up his clubs three times.

That’s three more than last summer, when the only shots he hit between the summer Opens was during a commercial shoot for Michelob Ultra at TPC Sawgrass. He still tied for sixth at The Open a month later.

This time, Koepka kept his commitment to play the Travelers, then hit balls three times between the final round in Hartford and this past Sunday, when he first arrived here at Carnoustie.

Not that he was concerned, of course.

Koepka’s been playing golf for nearly 20 years. He wasn’t about to forget to how to swing a club after a few weeks off.

“It was pretty much the same thing,” he said Tuesday, during his pre-tournament news conference. “I shared it with one of my best friends, my family, and it was pretty much the same routine. It was fun. We enjoyed it. But I’m excited to get back inside the ropes and start playing again. I think you need to enjoy it any time you win and really embrace it and think about what you’ve done.”

At Shinnecock Hills, Koepka became the first player in nearly 30 years to repeat as U.S. Open champion – a major title that helped him shed his undeserved reputation as just another 20-something talent who relies solely on his awesome power. In fact, he takes immense pride in his improved short game and putting inside 8 feet.

“I can take advantage of long golf courses,” he said, “but I enjoy plotting my way around probably - more than the bombers’ golf courses - where you’ve got to think, be cautious sometimes, and fire at the center of the greens. You’ve got to be very disciplined, and that’s the kind of golf I enjoy.”

Which is why Koepka once again fancies his chances here on the type of links that helped launch his career.

Koepka was out of options domestically after he failed to reach the final stage of Q-School in 2012. So he packed his bags and headed overseas, going on a tear on the European Challenge Tour (Europe’s equivalent of the Web.com circuit) and earning four titles, including one here in Scotland. That experience was the most fun and beneficial part of his career, when he learned to win, be self-sufficient and play in different conditions.


Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“There’s certain steps, and I embraced it,” Koepka said. “I think that’s where a lot of guys go wrong. You are where you are, and you have to make the best of it instead of just putting your head down and being like, 'Well, I should be on the PGA Tour.' Well, guess what? You’re not. So you’ve got to suck it up wherever you are, make the best of it, and keep plugging away and trying to win everything you can because, eventually, if you’re good enough, you will get out here.”

Koepka has proved that he’s plenty good enough, of course: He’s a combined 20 under in the majors since the beginning of 2017, the best of any player during that span. But he still searches long and hard for a chip to put on his chiseled shoulder.

In his presser after winning at Shinnecock, Koepka said that he sometimes feels disrespected and forgotten, at least compared to his more-ballyhooed peers. It didn’t necessarily bother him – he prefers to stay out of the spotlight anyway, eschewing a media tour after each of his Open titles – but it clearly tweaked him enough for him to admit it publicly.

That feeling didn’t subside after he went back to back at the Open, either. On U.S. Open Sunday, ESPN’s Instagram page didn’t showcase a victorious Koepka, but rather a video of New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. dunking a basketball.

“He’s like 6-foot-2. He’s got hops – we all know that – and he’s got hands. So what’s impressive about that?” Koepka said. “But I always try to find something where I feel like I’m the underdog and put that little chip on my shoulder. Even if you’re No. 1, you’ve got to find a way to keep going and keep that little chip on.

“I think I’ve done a good job of that. I need to continue doing that, because once you’re satisfied, you’re only going to go downhill. You try to find something to get better and better, and that’s what I’m trying to do.”

Now 28, Koepka has a goal of how many majors he’d like to win before his career is over, but he wasn’t about to share it.

Still, he was adamant about one thing: “Right now I’m focused on winning. That’s the only thing I’ve got in my mind. Second place just isn’t good enough. I finished second a lot, and I’m just tired of it. Once you win, it kind of propels you. You have this mindset where you just want to keep winning. It breeds confidence, but you want to have that feeling of gratification: I finally did this. How cool is this?”

So cool that Koepka can’t wait to win another one.

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Despite results, Thomas loves links golf

By Jay CoffinJuly 17, 2018, 2:48 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Despite poor results in two previous Open Championships, Justin Thomas contends that he has what it takes to be a good links player. In fact, he believes that he is a good links player.

Two years ago at Royal Troon, Thomas shot 77 in the second round to tie for 53rd place. He was on the wrong side of the draw that week that essentially eliminated anyone from contention who played late Friday afternoon.

Last year at Royal Birkdale, Thomas made a quintuple-bogey 9 on the par-4 sixth hole in the second round and missed the cut by two shots.


Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“I feel like I’ve played more than two Opens, but I haven’t had any success here,” Thomas said Tuesday at Carnoustie. “I feel like I am a good links player, although I don’t really have the results to show.”

Although he didn’t mention it as a reason for success this week, Thomas is a much different player now than he was two years ago, having ascended to the No. 1 position in the world for a few weeks and now resting comfortably in the second spot.

He also believes a high golf IQ, and the ability to shape different shots into and with the wind are something that will help him in The Open over the next 20 years.

“I truly enjoy the creativity,” Thomas said. “It presents a lot of different strategies, how you want to play it, if you want to be aggressive, if you want to be conservative, if you want to attack some holes, wait on certain winds, whatever it might be. It definitely causes you to think.

“With it being as firm as it is, it definitely adds a whole other variable to it.”

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Reed's major record now a highlight, not hindrance

By Ryan LavnerJuly 17, 2018, 2:46 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The narrative surrounding Patrick Reed used to be that he could play well in the Ryder Cup but not the majors.

So much for that.

Reed didn’t record a top-10 in his first 15 starts in a major, but he took the next step in his career by tying for second at the 2017 PGA Championship. He followed that up with a breakthrough victory at the Masters, then finished fourth at the U.S. Open after a closing 68.

He’s the only player with three consecutive top-4s in the majors.

What’s the difference now?


Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“The biggest thing is I treat them like they’re normal events,” he said Tuesday at Carnoustie. “I’ve always gone into majors and put too much pressure on myself, having to go play well, having to do this or that. Now I go in there and try to play golf and keep in the mindset of, Hey, it’s just another day on the golf course. Let’s just go play.

“I’ve been able to stay in that mindset the past three, and I’ve played pretty well in all three of them.”

Reed’s record in the year’s third major has been hit or miss – a pair of top-20s and two missed cuts – but he says he’s a better links player now than when he began his career. It took the native Texan a while to embrace the creativity required here and also to comprehend the absurd distances he can hit the ball with the proper wind, conditions and bounce.

“I’m sort of accepting it,” he said. “I’ve gotten a little more comfortable with doing it. It’s come a little bit easier, especially down the stretch in tournament play.”