Am Tour: With ailing dad on bag, Campbell reels in a title

By Brandon TuckerSeptember 17, 2016, 2:09 am

PALM HARBOR, Fla. -- When the competition heats up on the golf course, Cory Campbell and his father/caddie Kevin get into a mindset.

"Grind every shot, every hole," said Kevin.

"Reel 'em in."

So when Cory, 14, playing in the final group in the final round of the Snead flight in the Golf Channel Amateur Tour, made birdie on the 10th hole, he looked to his father and made the motion with his hands of a fisherman reeling in line.

A back-nine 38 on the North Course at Innisbrook Resort in front of his cheering family, including his mother, Mindy, vaulted Cory from as many as eight shots down on the front nine into a national champion.

For the Campbells, from Westminster, Maryland, the Am Tour National Championship was the backdrop for a family reunion. It was a chance not just to watch Cory, but to also be with Kevin, who was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, sometimes known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, in June. Kevin, who lost his mother to the disease, continued to compete on the Am Tour this summer, and is a multiple major champion on the tour himself. But he put the clubs down in order walk all four rounds as Cory's caddie. Down the stretch, Kevin looked on as Cory hit clutch shot after clutch shot on the narrow finishing holes.

Cory was in position thanks to what he describes as "the round of my life," a third-round 84 on Fox Hollow Golf Club, following opening rounds of 103 and 91. The 84 vaulted him up the standings into the final group with Po Lehman and Ralph Justiz. The secret for the low round may have been a seed planted by his father the night before.

When looking at the course details, they realized it was designed by the same architect, Robert Trent Jones Jr., who designed a course on which Cory had won a local event earlier in the year by a large margin. They brimmed with confidence as they plotted a game plan.

"We stuck to the script and he was on," said Kevin. "Good putting and everything."

Entering the final round, Cory was trailing Justiz by three shots. He trailed by as much as eight shots through the eighth hole. But Justiz struggled on the ninth, and Cory's birdie on the 10th put him squarely in the mix, and he ultimately prevailed by five shots.

Cory's resilience doesn't seem all that surprising considering his father's current display of courage and the fact his own health has had its ups and downs as well in 2016: a broken wrist playing football kept him in a cast and out of golf until early June.

But he stayed on the grind, managing a third-place finish at New York's Turning Stone Resort major championship in late July. Kevin, a former area director for the tour in Baltimore and multiple major champion, including last year's Tour Championship at Landsdowne Resort, credits the "reel 'em in" phrase he and his son use to good friend and past Am Tour national champion Jeff Couch.

Cory picked up the game swinging sawed-down clubs in his grandfather's yard and playing with the family on vacations. After a few years on an area Baltimore junior tour, Kevin decided Cory was ready to join Dad on the Golf Channel Am Tour. The Snead flight, handicaps 20 and above, is normally a stomping ground for middle-agers getting a late start in the game, but the 2016 Nationals brought a handful of teenagers with a growing itch for competition into the mix.

This summer, Kevin admits Cory, who made the high school golf team this fall as a freshman, has beaten him two out of their last three outings. He proudly declared Cory's nationals win as "a passing of the torch."

The Campbells are rolling deep this week at Innsibrook, with extended family coming down from Pennsylvania and Kentucky, as well as the Tampa area for a family reunion of sorts. They're all staying close by and will stay through the weekend to celebrate Cory and Kevin's breakthrough win.

"I wanted to play well when they were watching," said Cory. "I was a little nervous, hoping I wouldn't blow it."

But with help from his father's game plan and an insistence that Cory continue to play aggressively with the mindset they were still reeling 'em in, a jubilant family cheered them on, and on the 18th green, with little doubt Cory had put the field away, his father gave him a big hug.

"I couldn't have done it without him," Cory said. 

Golf Channel Am Tour National Championships: Leaderboard | Full Coverage

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Dunlap, in 'excruciating pain,' shares early Dominion lead

By Associated PressOctober 19, 2018, 10:29 pm

RICHMOND, Va. – Scott Dunlap and Fran Quinn shot 5-under 67 on Friday to share the first-round lead in the PGA Tour Champions' playoff-opening Dominion Energy Charity Classic.

Fighting a left wrist injury that will require surgery, Dunlap matched Quinn with a closing birdie on the par-5 18th on The Country Club of Virginia's James River Course.

''Maybe excruciating pain is the key to playing good golf because I'm not getting nervous on a shot, you're just trying to get through it,'' Dunlap said. ''The worst parts are gripping it and getting the club started ... that's when that bone hits that bone.''

The top 72 players qualified for the Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs opener. The top 54 on Sunday will get spots next week in the Invesco QQQ Championship in Thousand Oaks, Calif., and the top 36 after that will advance to the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship in Phoenix.

Full-field scores from the Dominion Energy Charity Classic

The 55-year-old Dunlap entered the week 29th in the standings. Playing through the wrist injury, he's coming off ties for ninth and seventh in his last two starts.

''I think I finally taped it the right way,'' Dunlap said. ''Or maybe it's the pain meds kicking in. I don't know, one of the two.''

Quinn is 64th in the standings.

''I finished up strong last year, too, kind of secured my privileges for the following year making eagle on 18,'' Quinn said. ''I played solid all day. I had a lot of opportunities. A couple hiccups.''

Jay Haas was a stroke back with Kent Jones, Stephen Ames, Woody Austin and Tim Petrovic. The 64-year-old Haas won the last of his 18 senior titles in 2016.

Vijay Singh and Miguel Angel Jimenez, second in the standings, were at 69 with Joey Sindelar, Tom Gillis, Billy MayfairLee Janzen, Glen Day and Gene Sauers.

Defending champion Bernhard Langer opened with a 70. The 61-year-old German star won the SAS Championship last week in North Carolina to take the points lead. He has two victories this year and 38 overall on the 50-and-over tour.

Defending Charles Schwab Cup champion Kevin Sutherland had a 71. He's 14th in the standings. No. 3 Jerry Kelly shot 72. No. 4 Scott McCarron, the 2016 tournament winner, had a 74.

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Weather continues to plague Valderrama Masters

By Associated PressOctober 19, 2018, 7:55 pm

SOTOGRANDE, Spain  -- Marc Warren helped his chances of retaining his European Tour card by moving into a tie for second place behind Englishman Ashley Chesters at the rain-hit Andalucia Valderrama Masters on Friday.

Bad weather interrupted play for a second straight day at the Real Club Valderrama in southern Spain before darkness caused the second round to be suspended until Saturday, with overnight Chesters still ahead at 5-under.

Weather delays on Thursday, including a threat of lightning, had kept 60 golfers from finishing their opening round. They included Scottish player Warren, who went out on Friday and finished his first round with a 2-under 69.

He then made three birdies to go with one bogey on the first nine holes of the second round before play was halted. He joined Frenchman Gregory Bourdy one shot behind Chesters.

Full-field scores from the Andalucia Valderrama Masters

''I'm hitting the ball as well as I have in a long time,'' Warren said. ''Hitting fairways and greens is the most important thing around here, so hopefully I wake up tomorrow with the same swing.''

Chesters and Bourdy were among several golfers unable to play a single hole in the second round on Friday.

Warren, a three-time European Tour winner, has struggled this season and needs a strong performance to keep his playing privileges for next year.

Currently ranked 144th, Warren needs to break into the top 116 to keep his card.

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Watch: Is this the up-and-down of the year?

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 19, 2018, 3:30 pm

Play away from the pin? Just because there's a tree in your way? Not Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano. Watch him channel some Arnie (or, more appropriately, some Seve) with this shot in the Valderrama Masters:

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Cut Line: Johnny's exit, Tiger's fatigue

By Rex HoggardOctober 19, 2018, 2:06 pm

In this week’s edition we bid farewell to the most outspoken and insightful analyst of his generation and examine a curious new interpretation that will require players to start paying attention to the small print.

Made Cut

Here’s Johnny. After nearly three decades Johnny Miller will hang up his microphone following next year’s Waste Management Phoenix Open.

Miller called his first tournament as NBC Sports/Golf Channel’s lead analyst in 1990 at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic and he told Cut Line this week that at 71 years old he’s ready to relax and spend time with his 24 grandchildren.

“I was the first guy with an open microphone,” Miller said. “That requires a lot of concentration. It’s not that I couldn’t do it but the handwriting was on the wall; it would be more of a challenge.”

Miller will be missed for his insight as much as his often-blunt deliveries, but it’s the latter that made him one of a kind.

A long ride to the right place. After nearly four years of legal wrangling a group of PGA Tour caddies dropped their class-action lawsuit against the circuit this week.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in early 2015 in an attempt by the caddies to secure marketing rights for the bibs they wear during tournaments as a way to create better healthcare and retirement benefits.

The district court largely ruled against the caddies and that ruling was upheld by an appeals court earlier this year, but better healthcare options may still be in the cards for the caddies.

“I told the guys, if we really want a healthy working relationship with the Tour, we need to fix this and open the lines of communication,” said Scott Sajtinac, the president of the Association of Professional Tour Caddies.

Sajtinac told Cut Line that the Tour has offered a potential increase to the longtime stipend they give caddies for healthcare and in a statement the circuit said talks are ongoing.

“The PGA Tour looks forward to continuing to support the caddies in the important role they play in the success of our members,” the statement said.

It’s rare when both sides of a lawsuit walk away feeling good about themselves, but this particular outcome appears to have ended with a favorable outcome for everybody involved.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

A long haul. Tiger Woods acknowledged what many had speculated about, telling a group this week at his annual Tiger Woods Invitational at Pebble Beach that his season-ending push and his first victory in five years took a physical toll at the Ryder Cup.

“It was just a cumulative effect of the entire season,” Woods said on Tuesday. “I was tired because I hadn’t trained for it. I hadn’t trained this entire comeback to play this much golf and on top of that deal with the heat and the fatigue and the loss of weight.”

Woods went 0-4 for the U.S. team in France and appeared particularly tired on Sunday following the European victory at Le Golf National.

For Woods the result was worth the effort with his victory at the Tour Championship ending a five-year drought, but his play and concession that it impacted him at the Ryder Cup does create some interesting questions for U.S. captain Jim Furyk, who sent Woods out for both team sessions on Saturday.

Tweet(s) of the week: @BobEstesPGA (Bob Estes) “I spoke to a past Ryder Cup captain yesterday. We both agreed that there should be a week off before the [Ryder Cup] to adequately rest and prepare.”

Given Woods’ comments this week it seems likely he would agree that a break – which may become the norm with the Tour season ending three weeks earlier – would be helpful, but Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts had a slightly different take in response to Estes’ tweet. “I’m afraid a different schedule wasn’t gonna make the fairways wider. On that particular course with how we played, [the United States] had absolutely no chance. Hasn’t more than half the euros played playoffs too?” Colsaerts tweeted.

It’s never too early to get a jump on the 2020 trash talking.

Missed Cut

By the book. The USGA and R&A’s most recent rulemaking hill involved the use of green-reading materials. On Monday the game’s rule-makers unveiled new interpretations on what will be allowed starting next year.

Out will be the legal-sized reams of information that had become ubiquitous on Tour, replaced by pocket-sized books that will include a limited scale (3/8 inch to 5 yards).

While the majority of those involved were in favor of a scaled-back approach to what to many seemed like information overload, it did seem like a curious line to draw.

Both sides of the distance debate continue to await which way the rule-makers will go on this front and, at least in the United States, participation continues to be a challenge.

Banning the oversized green-reading books may have been a positive step, but it was a micro issue that impacted a wildly small portion of the golf public. Maybe it’s time for the rule-makers to start looking at more macro issues.