Hoch a Throwback to the Button-Down Pro
A personal aside here: Hoch is the only player to invite me to a social gathering in 20 years of covering golf. That may be because of Sally. But it says a lot about the Hochs - that they don't socialize with the stars alone when it comes to making out the Christmas party invitations. I have known several golfers more intimately than him, have worked with a few more closely, but he alone has gone out of his way to make out the invitation list with my name on it.
Hoch won at Greensboro last week. On Tuesday he had made the papers with an observation about the length of the rough, down three inches from what it normally is. 'Hoch's whining again,' became the headlines. He always makes the headlines, you see. Partly, it must be admitted, because he's made another rash-but-honest statement about this or that.
'I'm not real easy to know,' Hoch said. 'I'm not an open book by any means.'
So much of his professional life has been headline stuff. It doesn't have to be the things he says. The things he does tend to be larger than life. He missed a 30-inch putt in overtime at the 1989 Masters when a bullseye would have won it for him. Nick Faldo wriggled off the hook and won on the very next hole.
A year later, Hoch had forgotten it. 'Sometimes, something like this makes you a better person in the long run,' he said, sighing at the thought of it.
'I say, 'Look, golf is not everything in life.' Sure, it was a big tournament, and it might have set me up for life. But then again, it might have made me complacent. I've just got to feel that it happened, in the long run, for the good.
'I've got to feel that it must have been in my best interest that it didn't happen.'
The mind strains to figure what 'the best interest' could be, but at any rate, it helped him through an extremely rough moment. Three weeks later, he won Las Vegas. And in a development that stunned just about every one, he gave $100,000 of his winner's check to the Arnold Palmer children's hospital in Orlando for the work the staff did a couple of year's earlier while treating then 2 ?-year-old Cameron for a bone infection. You just never can tell.
The Hochs were close friends with, of all people, the late Payne Stewart and his wife Tracey. Payne, a free spirit who socially was the exact opposite of Hoch, took the loss to Faldo in the Masters very hard. Forever etched in the memory is Stewart screaming at a television set in the Augusta lockerroom, 'Come on Hawtch! Come on Hawtch!' 'Hawtch' was the bastardization of Hoch, something peculiarly Payne-like.
It was the Hochs who persuaded the Stewarts to make their home in Orlando. And it was Stewart that denied Hoch a chance for at least a couple more victories. Hoch was tied for the lead in 1983 entering the final round at Disney and wound up losing by three to Stewart. And who could forget that disastrous final day in Houston in 1995 when Hoch led by seven with seven holes remaining - and lost to Stewart in a playoff.
His lack of appreciation has gone transcontinental - he called St. Andrews a 'piece of mess' and refused to play in the British Open in the mid-1990s. Even Sally was taken aback by that one - 'He shouldn't have said it,' she said. 'He's off-the-cuff.' But say it Hoch did, explaining later that the cold weather is not to his liking and the course is played opposite the way early golfers intended. Never mind that Lee Westwood said much the same thing a few years later.
Hoch can be extremely likeable, but he can be perplexing when quotes appear with his name attached. He speaks his piece, but then often when the article appears, he disavows saying it. Writers give him plenty of cause for headache, especially the Brit tabloids who take a scrap of truth and twist it into a bible of untruths. But he himself can at times be baffling.
The majority of those incidents, though, occurred 10 or 15 years earlier. Time heals wounds and it heals personalities. Scott Hoch is not who he was 10 years ago when he was 35. His give-and-take with the media at the Greensboro victory was punctuated with laughter. The rough, he kidded after it was over, was perfect. It was an advantage, actually, having rough that was shorter.
'I consider myself a pretty good iron player out of the rough, as long as it is not too thick - even out of the rough this week,' said Hoch.
'Obviously I was barking a little bit earlier, but you know, good play can overcome a lot of things.'
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Scott Hoch comments on his GGCC win
Five-time Open champ Thomson passes at 88
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.
Gaston leaves USC to become head coach at Texas A&M
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.
Spieth 'blacked out' after Travelers holeout
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.
“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.”
Pregnant Lewis playing final events before break
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.