Nelson Knows the Emotions of Being a Father
Nelson, of course, did survive, and he did become a father. That fact certainly is not lost on him as he plays the Office Depot Father/Son Challenge. He raised two of them, Drew, 24, and Josh, 22. He plays this weekend with Drew, and you can tell from his voice that this weekend is special.
'For most of us, we have had our sons travel with us for 35 to 40 years and they have been involved in our games - but not the competitive game,' he said. 'To be able to actually compete with your son in a tournament for a prize is just a dream come true.'
Golfers, I believe, want their sons to follow them in their careers. Overwhelmingly, sons try but don't measure up, and mostly because golf is such a demanding sport that that special talent is given to only very few. Fortune just doesn't smile on the same family that often. Jack Nicklaus has seen his sons struggle with the game. Gary has been on the PGA Tour the past year, and so in the past has Wayne Player, Dave Stockton, Jr., Guy Boros, Brent Geiberger and others. All had varying degrees of aptitude, but none was so blessed as their dads once were.
All, though, could definitely play. The Father-Son is a chance to play as a team, try to be competitive, but mostly to have fun in a place as beautiful as the Bahamas.
'There are so few people who reach the level that these fathers have,' said Nelson. 'I told my sons, both of them, that you are trying to go into one of the hardest professions that there is. There are so few people that reach that level and so many people trying.
'So, I am very honest with them. You may be really good, but you may never be good enough.'
It is such a cold slap when youngsters realize that for the first time. All their lives have been spent around professional athletes. As a child, they probably decided, yeah, this is what they want to do.
But it's not the same as someone whose dad sells insurance or paints cars. The number
who make it to the top is so miniscule. There might 100 in one town who sell insurance, but hardly 100 in the world who can make their mark in golf. A fellow might be very good, even the best in his city or state, but he still isn't assured of making it the way his dad made it.
'When he steps onto the golf course, he is just another person. He is not a professional golfer's son. He is just another person who has worked hard and tried to get his game to a certain level,' said Nelson.
'People say, `He's around golf all the time, he ought to be a really good player.' That puts a lot of pressure on the son because that is not the way it is.'
Drew has one advantage over father Larry. Larry was grown up, a Vietnam veteran, before he ever played. Drew had the advantage of starting as a boy.
'I told Drew that I did not start playing until 21 and I did not get on Tour until I was almost 26. So I tell him not to give up, because he is so far ahead of where I was.'
Larry has seen his son's emotions progress, his competitive spirit play a larger and larger role in his personality. Maybe he has seen more than most parents, he believes.
'To go through the same emotions if he blows it in the water or he hits it in a bunker, to know what the feeling is . we, as professional golfers, when we look at our children playing, we can empathize with them like no other person can. And once they get in a competitive place, they can empathize with us in knowing what we've gone through for all these years.'
Meanwhile, Larry has just about finished the role of playing father, teaching Drew and Josh what they need to know to become adults.
'It is really difficult,' Larry says. 'It was hard teaching my sons to drive. Parents have a hard time teaching their children. I think children learn from their parents by seeing, not by the parents telling them.
'I have tried, and they do listen to me. I think they respect me enough to know that I know what I am talking about, but sometimes it's easier for them to listen to someone else.'
Larry Nelson is a father whom any son would be proud to call 'dad.' Regardless if you are a golfer or just wish you were one, every son should be so fortunate.
Five-time Open champ Thomson passes at 88
Hailed as a hero to some and as golf royalty to others, Peter Thomson, a five-time winner of The Open and the only player in the 20th century to win the championship for three straight years, died 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, Golf Australia said.
The first Australian to win The Open, Thomson went on to secure the title five times between 1954 and 1965, a record equaled only by American Tom Watson.
The Australian's wins came in 1954, '55, '56, again in 1958 and lastly in 1965 against a field that included Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus.
Only Harry Vardon, with six titles between 1896 and 1914, won more.
Thomson also tied for fourth at the 1956 U.S. Open and placed fifth in the 1957 Masters. He never played the PGA Championship.
In 1998, he captained the International side to its only win over the United States at the Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne.
Asked by The Associated Press in 2011 how he'd like to be remembered, Thomson replied: ''A guy who always said what he thought.''
Veteran Australian golfer Karrie Webb was among the first to tweet her condolences, saying she was ''saddened to hear of the passing of our Aussie legend and true gentleman of the game .... so honored to have been able to call Peter my friend. RIP Peter.''
Former PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said Thomson was ''a champion in every sense of the word, both on the course and in life.''
''Many know him as a five-time champion golfer of the year or as a three-time captain of the Presidents Cup International team.'' Finchem added. ''But he was also a great friend, father, grandfather and husband. He was golfing royalty, and our sport is a better one because of his presence.''
Former golfer and now broadcaster Ian Baker-Finch, the 1991 Open champion, called Thomson his ''hero'' - ''Peter - my friend and mentor R.I.P. Australian golf thanks you for your iconic presence and valuable guidance over the years.''
From Britain, R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers praised Thomson's plans for the game's future.
''Peter gave me a number of very interesting and valuable thoughts on the game, how it has developed and where it is going, which demonstrated his genuine interest and love of golf,'' Slumbers said. ''He was one of the most decorated and celebrated champion golfers in the history of The Open.''
Born in the Melbourne inner-city suburb of Brunswick on Aug. 23, 1929, Thomson was a promising cricketer. He scored an unbeaten 150 runs for the Carlton club against a men's side as a 15-year-old.
But golf became his passion, and he turned professional in 1947.
He won the national championships of 10 countries, including the New Zealand Open nine times and Australian Open three times. He first played on the PGA Tour in the U.S. in 1953 and 1954, finishing 44th and 25th on the money list, respectively. He won the Texas International in 1956.
Thomson won nine times on the Senior PGA tour in the U.S. in 1985, topping the money list. His last tournament victory came at the 1988 British PGA Seniors Championship, the same year he was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.
Overall, he won 26 European Tour events, 34 times on the Australasian PGA tour and 11 on the seniors tour in the U.S, as well as once in Japan.
In later years, Thomson wrote articles for many publications and daily newspapers, was club professional at Royal Melbourne and designed more than 100 golf courses. In the 2011 Presidents Cup program, Thomson provided an insightful hole-by-hole analysis of the composite course at Royal Melbourne.
Thomson was always reluctant to compare his wins with anyone else's.
''All records are qualified in that they were made at a certain time in history,'' Thomson told golf historian and author Brendan Moloney for a story on his 80th birthday.
''The circumstances change so much, and so do the players' attitudes. In golf, only in the last 30 years or so has there been a professional attitude to playing for money. The professionals in the USA and Britain and anywhere else all had club jobs as a backstop to their income.
''When they did play and make records, you have to understand that they were taking time off from the pro shop,'' he said. ''So the records that were set were pretty remarkable.''
Thomson always had stories to tell, and told them well. With a full head of hair and a lineless face that belied his age, the Australian wasn't afraid to let everyone know his feelings on any subject.
That was true as far back as 1966. As president of the Australian PGA, Thomson was indignant that Arnold Palmer's prize for winning the Australian Open was only $1,600, out of a total purse of $6,000, one of the smallest in golf.
''Golf Stars Play for Peanuts,'' blared the headline of a story he wrote. ''Never before has such a field of top golfers played for what $6,000 is worth today. Canada offers 19 times that. I know 19 other countries who give more.''
But he was always happy on the golf course.
''I've had a very joyful life, playing a game that I loved to play for the sheer pleasure of it,'' Thomson said. ''I don't think I did a real day's work in the whole of my life.''
Thomson served as president of the Australian PGA for 32 years and worked behind the scenes for the Odyssey House drug rehabilitation organization where he was chairman for five years.
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.
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.