Woods closing in on Snead's PGA Tour wins mark

By Doug FergusonJune 26, 2012, 10:35 pm

BETHESDA, Md. – Halfway through the season, Tiger Woods has made it clear that he is hitting his stride in pursuit of a major record.

Just not the majors record.

Not yet, anyway.

Woods has been stuck on 14 majors for the past four years, and he hasn't even cracked the top 20 in the past three he played.

Before he can think about Jack Nicklaus and his benchmark of 18 professional majors, the percentages suggest that Woods has a better shot at first getting to a record that is no less impressive, even if it doesn't get nearly enough attention - Sam Snead and his 82 wins on the PGA Tour.

Woods won by five shots at Bay Hill and rallied from four shots behind to win the Memorial, pushing his career total to 73 wins, tied with Nicklaus for second place. He has nine more chances this year to move closer to Snead, compared with two more majors to end his drought and make some headway on Nicklaus.

All anyone talks about - all Woods really has thought about since the 1997 Masters - is Nicklaus and the majors.

As for Snead's record?

''I was aware of it, but at the time, everyone focused on Jack's record,'' Woods said Tuesday. ''But as I delved more into the game and was probably in high school, I started understanding Sam's contributions to the game of golf and his consistency. The fact that he won at age 52, when he won Greensboro, and to do it for that long is amazing. Truly amazing.''

Nicklaus won 14 times in the first 58 majors he played as a pro, same as Woods. Snead compiled 82 wins over 30 years. Woods has 73 wins in 16 years.

An argument can be made that Woods' 73 wins are more impressive than his 14 majors in relation to the record book.

''I don't think Snead gets his due on that record,'' two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange said. ''It speaks to longevity and talent. I think Sam could be the best player of all time. There's a hell of an argument for that. Certainly, Jack is the greatest champion of all time. But Sam's record doesn't get his due. In the Nicklaus era and forward, we give the majors so much PR. When we talk about majors, we discount the other wins. We talk about how much harder the majors are to win.

''Sometimes, that's not necessarily true.''

Golf now revolves around the majors. Those are the championships everyone remembers. That's where history is made. That's how greatness is measured.

But total wins should not be looked upon any less importantly. Remember, it took Nicklaus only 11 years to break Walter Hagen's record of 11 professional majors. In four decades, he could only get within nine Tour wins of Snead's record.

Still, most everyone would agree that majors are what matter.

Even if the courses for the odd major might be easier, the pressure of playing for history takes a toll between the ears.

''Majors are continuous in the modern era, which I guess would be 1934,'' said former British Open champion Stewart Cink, referring to the first year of the Masters.

''We have a lot of tournaments that have come and gone, just a lot of different setups on the PGA Tour since the 1960s.''

Justin Leonard, another British Open champion, said there are Tour events that present a more difficult test than some majors, but that doesn't make them harder to win than the majors.

''You get four majors a year,'' Leonard said. ''It's hard to time yourself to play your best those four times. And it's hard to pick those four weeks to play your best when everyone else picks those four weeks.''

The numbers favor Woods getting to Snead before he gets to Nicklaus.

He has won 27 percent of his Tour events. Throw out the majors, and he has won 29 percent of the time. And then consider that on average, his chances at winning tournaments compared with winning majors are about 18 to 4.

''Looking strictly at the math, you would think Tiger has a better chance to get to 82 wins than to 18 majors because he plays more tournaments,'' Cink said.

For Woods, this year is starting to resemble 2009, when he won all four of his pre-major tournaments but failed to win a major. He is playing this week in the AT&T National, which he won the last time it was held at Congressional.

Next week is The Greenbrier Classic, the final start before the British Open. He will play at Firestone, where he has won seven times, before playing the final major of the year at the PGA Championship.

Woods, when asked why there is more attention on Nicklaus than Snead, compared it with tennis. Fans could more easily identify with Pete Sampras or Roger Federer and their Grand Slam titles than the fact Jimmy Connors won more tournaments than anyone in the modern era.

''I believe it's over 100,'' Woods said. He was close - 109 titles for Connors.

''I think that the majors certainly have more importance, and we put so much more on it, especially now,'' he said. ''There's so much more media coverage and more attention on major championships. Certainly, that's something that wasn't exactly in Jack's day and obviously prior to him. Our big events are big, and they're bigger than any other events that we play.''

Perhaps there's another reason why the Nicklaus record gets more attention: He's still around to talk about it.

Nicklaus and Woods were paired together in the 2000 PGA Championship, which Woods won for his fifth major. Nicklaus rarely has an interview without someone asking about whether Woods can break his record in the majors.

Snead won for the 82nd and final time in 1965. At the time, only two other players had more than 50 wins - Ben Hogan (64) and Byron Nelson (52).

When Snead died in 2002, Woods only had 30 wins. He wasn't even close.

He is now.

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Five-time Open champ Thomson passes at 88

By Associated PressJune 20, 2018, 1:35 am

MELBOURNE, Australia – Five-time Open Championship winner Peter Thomson has died, his family said Wednesday. He was 88.

Thomson had been suffering from Parkinson's disease for more than four years and died at his Melbourne home surrounded by family members on Wednesday morning.

Born on Aug, 23, 1929, Thomson was two months short of his 89th birthday.

The first Australian to win The Open Championship, Thomson went on to secure the title five times between 1954 and 1965, a record equaled only by Tom Watson.

On the American senior circuit he won nine times in 1985.

Thomson also served as president of the Australian PGA for 32 years, designing and building courses in Australia and around the world, helping establish the Asian Tour and working behind the scenes for the Odyssey House drug rehabilitation organization where he was chairman for five years.

He also wrote for newspapers and magazines for more than 60 years and was patron of the Australian Golf Writers Association.

In 1979 he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his service to golf and in 2001 became an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for his contributions as a player and administrator and for community service.

Thomson is survived by his wife Mary, son Andrew and daughters Deirdre Baker, Pan Prendergast and Fiona Stanway, their spouses, 11 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Funeral arrangements were to be announced over the next few days.

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Gaston leaves USC to become head coach at Texas A&M

By Ryan LavnerJune 19, 2018, 11:00 pm

In a major shakeup in the women’s college golf world, USC coach Andrea Gaston has accepted an offer to become the new head coach at Texas A&M.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Gaston, who informed her players of her decision Monday night, has been one of the most successful coaches over the past two decades, leading the Trojans to three NCAA titles and producing five NCAA individual champions during her 22-year reign. They have finished in the top 5 at nationals in an NCAA-record 13 consecutive seasons.

This year was arguably Gaston’s most impressive coaching job. She returned last fall after undergoing treatment for uterine cancer, but a promising season was seemingly derailed after losing two stars to the pro ranks at the halfway point. Instead, she guided a team with four freshmen and a sophomore to the third seed in stroke play and a NCAA semifinals appearance. Of the four years that match play has been used in the women’s game, USC has advanced to the semifinals three times.  

Texas A&M could use a coach with Gaston’s track record.

Last month the Aggies fired coach Trelle McCombs after 11 seasons following a third consecutive NCAA regional exit. A&M had won conference titles as recently as 2010 (Big 10) and 2015 (SEC), but this year the team finished 13th at SECs.

The head-coaching job at Southern Cal is one of the most sought-after in the country and will have no shortage of outside interest. If the Trojans look to promote internally, men’s assistant Justin Silverstein spent four years under Gaston and helped the team win the 2013 NCAA title.  

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Spieth 'blacked out' after Travelers holeout

By Will GrayJune 19, 2018, 9:44 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – It was perhaps the most-replayed shot (and celebration) of the year.

Jordan Spieth’s bunker holeout to win the Travelers Championship last year in a playoff over Daniel Berger nearly broke the Internet, as fans relived that raucous chest bump between Spieth and caddie Michael Greller after Spieth threw his wedge and Greller threw his rake.

Back in Connecticut to defend his title, Spieth admitted that he has watched replays of the scene dozens of times – even if, in the heat of the moment, he wasn’t exactly choreographing every move.


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“Just that celebration in general, I blacked out,” Spieth said. “It drops and you just react. For me, I’ve had a few instances where I’ve been able to celebrate or react on a 72nd, 73rd hole, 74th hole, whatever it may be, and it just shows how much it means to us.”

Spieth and Greller’s celebration was so memorable that tournament officials later shipped the rake to Greller as a keepsake. It’s a memory that still draws a smile from the defending champ, whose split-second decision to go for a chest bump over another form of celebration provided an appropriate cap to a high-energy sequence of events.

“There’s been a lot of pretty bad celebrations on the PGA Tour. There’s been a lot of missed high-fives,” Spieth said. “I’ve been part of plenty of them. Pretty hard to miss when I’m going into Michael for a chest bump.”

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Pregnant Lewis playing final events before break

By Randall MellJune 19, 2018, 9:27 pm

Stacy Lewis will be looking to make the most of her last three starts of 2018 in her annual return to her collegiate roots this week.

Lewis, due to give birth to her first child on Nov. 3, will tee it up in Friday’s start to the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers, Arkansas. She won the NCAA individual women’s national title in 2007 while playing at the University of Arkansas. She is planning to play the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship next week and then the Marathon Classic two weeks after that before taking the rest of the year off to get ready for her baby’s arrival.

Lewis, 33, said she is beginning to feel the effects of being with child.

“Things have definitely gotten harder, I would say, over the last week or so, the heat of the summer and all that,” Lewis said Tuesday. “I'm actually excited. I'm looking forward to the break and being able to decorate the baby's room and do all that kind of stuff and to be a mom - just super excited.”

Lewis says she is managing her energy levels, but she is eager to compete.

“Taking a few more naps and resting a little bit more,” she said. “Other than that, the game's been pretty good.”

Lewis won the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship in 2014, and she was credited with an unofficial title in ’07, while still a senior at Arkansas. That event was reduced to 18 holes because of multiple rain delays. Lewis is a popular alumni still actively involved with the university.