Make It or Miss It Fuzzy Just Loves Golf

By George WhiteJanuary 27, 2004, 5:00 pm
Fuzzy Zoeller was ecstatic. Oh, on the outside, he stayed under marvelous control. But on the inside, you could tell the emotions were just about to bubble up and explode.
He last won a full-field Champions Tour event in 2002 ' in fact, that was the only Champions Tour event he ever had won. But here he was again, talking to the Golf Channels Tom Nettles while holding the crystal trophy at the MasterCard Championship.
Nettles made a big mistake. He noted that Fuzz didnt win last year. Zoeller hurriedly cut him short, reminding Nettles that anyone who has three back surgeries and yet plays professional golf ' that person cant even think about complaining.
Wait a minute! Fuzzy yelped. I won last year! I win every time Im out there playing golf!
Listen, he told Nettles, I dont have to win to keep myself happy. Every day I wake up and have the opportunity to play the great game of golf ' Im winning. I may not have won any hardware (trophies), but Im winning just the same.
That is the essence of Zoeller. He has a back that by now is the consistency of Swiss cheese. Because of it, he cant practice putting ' the stance is much too upright to allow him the repetitive motion of stroking putt and putt after putt. In fact, he cant practice hitting any shot for very long. But after all the knife fights that his back has been through, just the fact that he can tee it up and make a decent living leaves Zoeller overjoyed.
Fuzzy is 52 now, living what so often is called lifes greatest mulligan. Ten years ago, long after the first surgery, it looked like he had finally beaten the pain and stiffness. He finished fifth on the regular tour in money earned, setting a record for the most cash won without a victory. He finished second a remarkable five times without getting to the victory ceremony.
But the next year, the old back bugaboo had him in its grasp again. Zoeller finished 110th and never seriously threatened the young gents thereafter He joined the elders in 2002, managed to win the Senior PGA Championship, and finally got another last week. Mr. Bubbly is on a roll!
Its a crazy game, he said with a shake of the head. When things go like that (as it did last week), all you can do is sit back and enjoy the ride. And sometimes you come out with hardware like this.
Fuzzy was locked in a duel Sunday with his playing partner, Dana Quigley. And yet they chattered incessantly, both truly enjoying the beautiful Hawaii scenery, the marvelous condition of the course ' and their good fortune in playing at such a high level.
Walking off 17, he (Quigley) said, Lets go show em you can have fun and enjoy this game of golf, Fuzz recalled. We were laughing all the way around there.
Quigley, himself a pretty loose guy, agreed that it was about the most relaxed hes ever felt in the cauldron of a golf tournament.
'Fuzzy is the loosest guy in the history of golf,' Quigley said. 'He misses it, he makes it, he still roots for you to knock it in there.
Zoeller has his quiet moments, times when he is deadly serious. And he really isnt that much of a comedian. He is simply in love with life. Give him a golf club and any ol kind of a swing, and stand back and enjoy the man.
And the best part of it is, he never takes himself too seriously. Hes just thrilled to be playing golf.
Having an opportunity to play in the same forum as a Nicklaus, the Palmers, the Players, the Caspers I cant ask for anymore, he said. Theyre a great, tremendous bunch, Ive been with them ' what? ' 31 years now, I think. I cant say enough about them ' theyre just champions.
A lot of people would say that about Fuzzy, too. He cant practice his putting, he cant run five yards ' but he sure enjoys this game.
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Ciganda, S.Y. Kim share lead in Shanghai

By Associated PressOctober 20, 2018, 9:28 am

SHANGHAI - Carlota Ciganda of Spain fired a 5-under 67 Saturday to share the lead with Sei Young Kim after the third round of the LPGA Shanghai.

Ciganda carded her fifth birdie of the day on the par-4 18th to finish tied with overnight leader Kim at 11-under 205. Kim shot a 71 with four bogeys and five birdies.

Angel Yin also birdied the final hole for a 68 and was a further stroke back with Brittany Altomare (69), Danielle Kang (71) and Ariya Jutanugarn (71).

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Local favorite Yu Liu was in sole possession of seventh place after offsetting a lone bogey with four birdies for a 69.

Paula Creamer also shot a 69 and shared eighth at 8 under with Minjee Lee (70) and Bronte Law (71).

The tournament is the second of five being played in South Korea, Japan, China and Taiwan in the LPGA's annual Asian swing.

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Koepka's pursuers have no illusions about catching him

By Nick MentaOctober 20, 2018, 8:50 am

Ahead by four, wielding his driver like Thor's hammer, Brooks Koepka is 18 holes from his third victory in five months and his first ascent to the top of the Official World Golf Ranking.

The tournament isn't over. No one is handing him the trophy and updating the OWGR website just yet. But it will likely take some combination of a meltdown and low round from someone in the chase pack to prevent a Koepka coronation Sunday in South Korea.

Thirteen under for the week, the three-time major champion will start the final round four shots ahead of his playing partners, Ian Poulter and Scott Piercy, and five ahead of six more players at minus-8.

As is his nature, Poulter figures to be undaunted. The 42-year-old is fresh off a Sunday singles victory over Dustin Johnson at the Ryder Cup and in the midst of a career renaissance, having broken a five-year winless drought earlier this year. In one sense, it's Europe vs. the United States again, but this isn't match play, and Koepka, a guy who doesn't need a head start, has spotted himself a four-shot advantage.

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"Tomorrow I'm going to need to make a few birdies. Obviously Brooks is in cruise control right now and obviously going to need a shoot a low one," Poulter conceded. "Do what I'm doing, just enjoy [it]. Obviously try and make as many birdies as I can and see how close we get."

Perez, in the group at 8 under par, isn't giving up, but like Poulter, he's aware of the reality of his situation.

"We're chasing Brooks, who of course obviously is playing phenomenally," he said. "A lot of the long hitters now when they get in contention, they hit that driver and they're really hard to catch. I'm not worried about it too much. It's going to be harder for me tomorrow than him, so I'm going to try and go out and just do my thing, hit some shots, hopefully hit some close and make some putts and we'll see. I don't expect him to come backwards, but hopefully I can try to go catch him."

Gary Woodland, also 8 under par, summed up the predicament best when he alluded to Koepka's perhaps advantageously aloof demeanor.

"You obviously want to get off to a good start and put pressure on him as soon as you can," he said. "You know, Brooks doesn't seem like he cares too much, and he's playing so good, so you're going to have to go out and post a number."

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Koepka has his chance 'to earn' his way to No. 1

By Nick MentaOctober 20, 2018, 8:09 am

There won't need to be any wonky math involved. He won't have to settle for finally reaching the the top via some kind of mathematical reset while he's sitting at home on the couch (or more likely working out in the gym).

No, Brooks Koepka on Sunday in South Korea will have a chance to ascend to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking the way every player would most want to - with a victory.

On the strength of a bogey-free round of 5-under 67 Saturday, Koepka will enter the final round of the CJ Cup four clear of Ian Poulter and Scott Piercy, with six more players five behind.

The tournament is Koepka's to lose, and so too is the No. 1 ranking. So long as Justin Thomas doesn't somehow defend his title from 12 shots back, Koepka can supplant Dustin Johnson atop the rankings with a win or a solo second-place finish.

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"It was something I wanted to do. I always wanted to become World No. 1 in a week that I was playing," Koepka said Saturday. "I thought like I could really earn it and not have a week off where it just so happens that you bump up. No, it would be very special, and to do it here would be nice and hopefully get to world No. 1 and cap it off with a win, I don't think there would be much better."

It would be a fitting end to this breakthrough year for Koepka, who successfully defended his U.S. Open title and then added his third major victory at the PGA Championship en route to claiming the PGA Tour's Player of the Year Award. Oddly enough, considering his status a three-time major winner and an impending No. 1, this would be Koepka's fifth Tour victory but only his second in a non-major; his only regular Tour win to date was his first, at the 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open.

"My confidence has always been pretty high," Koepka said. "Anytime you can win three majors you're going to be feeling pretty good about yourself. To do what I've done over the last two years has been special, but I'm looking to build on that."

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Koepka ahead by four, with No. 1 ranking in his grasp

By Nick MentaOctober 20, 2018, 5:48 am

Following a closing birdie and a third-round 67 at Nine Bridges, Brooks Koepka will take a four-shot lead over Ian Poulter and Scott Piercy into final round of the CJ Cup. Here's how Koepka separated himself from the field in South Korea.

Leaderboard: Koepka (-13), Piercy (-9), Poulter (-9), Rafa Cabrera Bello (-8), Cameron Smith (-8), Jaime Lovemark (-8), Pat Perez (-8), Gary Woodland (-8), Chez Reavie (-8)

What it means: Koepka is in search of his fifth PGA Tour victory and – believe it or not – only his second non-major. The three-time major champion’s only other win came all the way back in February 2015, at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. One off the lead to start the day, Koepka opened with eight straight pars and birdied Nos. 9 and 10 to take the outright lead at 10 under par. He added three more circles at 14, 17 and 18 to close out a bogey-free round of 5 under and go ahead by ahead by four. He'll be chased on Sunday by Piercy, a four-time PGA Tour winner who won the Zurich Classic earlier this year alongside Billy Horschel, and by Poulter, who ended a five-year worldwide winless drought back in April and is coming off a 2-2 performance at the Ryder Cup, with a Sunday singles victory over current world No. 1 Dustin Johnson. Speaking of which, unless Justin Thomas finds a way to win this tournament from 12 back, Koepka will for the first time ascend to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking with a win or a solo second-place finish.

Round of the day: After contending last week at the CIMB, Shubankhar Sharma rebounded from opening rounds of 74 and 75 with a nine-birdie, 8-under 64 to move up 45 spots into a tie for 26th through 54 holes.

Best of the rest: Four players – Rafa Cabrera Bello, Ted Potter Jr., Jason Day and Brendan Steele – shot 7-under 65 Saturday. Day played his first four holes in 2 over and his final 14 in 9 under.

Biggest disappointment: The only previous winner of this event, world No. 4 Justin Thomas entered the week with a chance to take back the No. 1 ranking with a successful title defense. But rounds of 73-70-72 have him 1 under for the week. Thomas played his back nine in 1 over Saturday with six pars, a birdie, a quadruple bogey and a closing eagle.

Shot of the day: Koepka flying his tee shot 330 yards to the front edge of the green at the par-4 14th and going on to two-putt for birdie.