The Week In Golf News 1231 - 105
PGA Championship winner Lionel Herbert dies at 72
Lionel Herbert, who won the 1957 PGA Championship, died early Saturday at his home in Lafayette, La. He was 72.
Herbert won six PGA Tour titles, highlighted by his 2-and-1 victory over Dow Finsterwald in the '57 PGA Championship at Miami Valley in Dayton, Ohio.
Lionel and his late brother Jay, who captured the 1960 PGA Championship, were the most successful brother duo in Tour history.
Upon retiring, Herbert worked as a golf instructor. He served twice as national vice president of the PGA and as chairman of its Tournament Committee in 1962-63 and 1972-73.
The family has requested contributions in Herbert's name be made to the Kidney Foundation of Louisiana and the American Diabetes Association.
Tuesday - Jan. 2, 2001
Sutton Threatened by Back Injury
Hal Sutton is on the verge of retiring from competition at the Match Play Championship after injuring his back. The mishap occurred a week ago when he was getting out of his car.
Sutton played just five holes of practice at the Melbourne, Australia, course after arriving from a 33-hour journey from home. If he is unable to compete, he will be replaced by Peter O'Malley, who would assume his position as No. 2 man in the 64-player draw.
'I don't think I would be doing the tournament any good if I couldn't compete,' said Sutton.
Webb to Play Four of the Men
Karrie Webb will take on four of the world's best-known male golfers one-by-one in a 'Battle of the Sexes' series.
Nick Faldo, Stuart Appleby, Michael Campbell and John Daly are in negotiations for the matches set on courses around the world in the million-dollar series. The contests are being promoted by Greg Norman's manager, Frank Williams. Webb would hit off the men's tees while the men would play off the champions' tees.
Williams approached Faldo and Appleby at the Australian Open and both indicated a high degree of interest. Faldo could play Webb in Europe in August, Appleby in the Hope Islands around Christmas and Campbell in New Zealand at a similar time. No time was mentioned for the Daly match.
Ian Baker-Finch is pro-Webb if she plays off a forward tee. 'I think that Karrie can beat the men,' he said. 'She is that good. I think a lot of people would be very interested to see her take the men on.'
Kiwi Becomes First to Complete a Round in New Millennium
A New Zealand doctor, Ant Gear, teed off at midnight for the second year in a row to become the first person to compete a round in the new millennium.
'I wanted to make sure I had (both years) covered, in case someone gets picky about which is the true millennium,' said Gear.
Gear, who played with a 3-iron, a luminous golf ball, and a light strapped to his head, played the North Island Manawatu Golf Club in 114 strokes. His wife, Rosemary, stood in the middle of each fairway with a torch to give Gear a target.
Dickey Chosen for Dey Award
Bill Dickey, the man credited with starting the National Minority Junior Golf Scholarship Association, has been chosen by the United States Golf Association to receive its 2001 Joseph C. Dey Award.
The 72-year-old Dickey, a resident of Phoenix, Az., has been a leader in southwest golf for more than 30 years. The Dey Award is given in recognition of meritorious service to the game as a volunteer. It will be presented Feb. 3 at the association's annual meeting in New York.
Dale Reid Awarded O.B.E. Honor
Scotland's Dale Reid has been awarded Officer of the British Empire in the Queen of England's New Year's Honors list.
Reid was given the honor in recognition of her success as captain of last year's European Solheim Cup squad. Europe defeated the United States at Loch Lomond in Scotland.
Reid has been reappointed captain for the 2002 defense of the trophy at Interlachen near Minneapolis, Minn.
Wednesday - Jan. 3, 2001
Westwood Wins European Writers' Award
England's Lee Westwood has won the Association of Golf Writers - a European group of golf journalists - award for 2000.
Westwood dethroned Colin Montgomerie at the top of the European Tour's money list. He defeated the European Solheim Cup for the honor.
LPGA Founders to Receive Commissioner's Award
The 13 founding members of the LPGA will be given the Commissioner's Award Jan. 8th in ceremonies in Orlando, Fl.
Alice Bauer, Patty Berg, Bettye Danoff, Marlene Hagge, Betty Jameson, Marilynn Smith, Shirley Spork and Louise Suggs will represent the 13 at the ceremony. Others include deceased members Helen Dettweiler, Helen Hicks, Opal Smith, Sally Sessions and Babe Zaharias.
'The LPGA is a phenomenal success story, but one that would never have been written if not for the pioneering spirit of our founders,' said LPGA commissioner Ty Votaw.
The Hooters Tour Sees Number of Events and Purses Grow
The Hooters Tour plans to increase its 2001 schedule to 25 events and its total purse to $3.2 million.
Formally known as the National Golf Association's Professional Golf Tour, presented by Naturally Fresh Foods and Hooters Restaurants, the Tour presents four major tournaments worth at least $140,000 - the Tour Championship in Fayetteville, Ga., the Kandy Waters Memorial Classic in North Augusta, S.C., a tournament in Decatur, Ala., and one in Lakeland, Fla.
Tom Watson Says He Will Only Play 15 Senior Tour Events
Tom Watson told PGATour.com that he will play only about 15 events the upcoming year.
Watson played in only 13 Senior events in 2000 despite saying he would play 20 prior to the season. But the death of his father and a cracked bone in his foot curtailed those plans.
'I'll play one or two more. That will be about it,' he said.
Tom Lehman Has One Caddie Too Many
Tom Lehman found himself first with no caddie, then with one caddie, and finally two caddies prior to the first round of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship.
Two days before he was to leave for the tournament, Lehman's caddie for a number of years, Andy Martinez, announced he was unable to go to Australia. So Lehman, desperate for a replacement, left a message offering employment to Graham Courts. Courts is an Australian who caddies for American Kevin Wentworth.
Courts didn't get the message right away and didn't call Lehman. So Lehman frantically placed another call, this time to Australian touring pro Glenn Joyner at the advice of Aussie Stuart Appleby. Joyner agreed to carry the bag for Lehman.
Lehman had made the call at Appleby's New Year's Eve party, but when he returned to his hotel, Courts had returned his call and agreed to caddie. Lehman was in a real dilemma, but finally decided his first obligation was to Courts. He told Joyner of his snafu, then played the first round with Courts on his bag.
Jack Nicklaus May Not Play in 2001 Masters
There is a possibility that Jack Nicklaus may miss the Masters. The six-time winner said his performance prior to the tournament will be the deciding factor.
'I'll play in a couple of tournaments before the Masters,' he said. 'If I get to the Masters and think I can compete, I'll play. If I don't, I won't play.'
The Masters is scheduled April 5-8.
A Blond-Haired Woods in Bahamas with A-Rod, Michael Jordan
While much of the golf world is focused on the match play tournament in Australia, Tiger Woods was recently seen with baseball star Alex Rodriguez at the Orange Bowl in Miami, Fla. In any other circumstance, not much talk would be stirred of the occurrence, yet it certainly did this time, as Wood's hair was dyed blond.
Prior to this, the now-golden-haired celebrity was seen in Paradise Island in The Bahamas with Rodriguez and Michael Jordan. The trio was spotted in the Atlantis Resort New Year's Eve, Woods having just dyed his hair. He played a few rounds at the Ocean Club golf course with Jordan, Rodriguez and Ahmad Rashad, where Jordan will have his Celebrity Invitational tourney Jan. 11-14.
The blond-haired Woods has been scuba-diving, and he attended a New Year's Day party on movie producer Ted Fields' yacht. He also gave an impromptu golf clinic to approximately 50 people.
Thursday - Jan. 4, 2001
Allenby and Solheim Honored by GWAA
Robert Allenby and the late Karsten Solheim were both recipients of awards this year from the Golf Writers Association of America.
Allenby was awarded the Ben Hogan Award, which is given annually to a player who has continued to play golf despite a physical handicap or illness. Allenby won twice on the 2000 PGA Tour, coming back in great style from a serious car accident which had hampered his play in 1996.
Solheim, a now-legendary pioneer in golfing technology, was awarded the William D. Richardson Award for contributions to golf. Founding the Karsten Manufacturing Corp. and Ping Golf early in his career, Solheim was the first to develop perimeter-weighting in clubs, a design that has become a standard in today's golf industry.
Unfortunately, Solheim passed away earlier this year, in February, due to Parkinson's disease.
Costner to Play in Tucson Pro-Am
Actor Kevin Costner will play in next week's Bank of America Celebrity Pro-Am as part of the Touchstone Energy Tucson Open.
Coster's appearance in Tucson coincides with the 'Field of Dreams,' a new Little League complex built to accommodate children with disabilities. Coster played a starring role in the movie of the same name.
Also appearing at the Touchstone event will be Casey Martin, who has been given a special sponsor's exemption by the tournament.
Friday - Jan. 5, 2001
'99 U.S. Open Signs to be Auctioned
Due to a great demand, the state of North Carolina has decided it will auction 50 highway signs remaining from the 1999 U.S. Open held at Pinehurst. The signs will be auctioned off to the highest bidder through the Surplus Property Agency, starting on Jan. 23, and spanning out over nine weeks.
The venue was the site of what many people believe to be one of the greatest U.S. Open Championships in the event's history, certainly the best in recent years. Furthermore, it was the late Payne Stewart who won the event. A most popular champion, Stewart claimed the title with a dramatic birdie on the 72nd hole. Tragically, he passed several months later in a plane accident.
Sacramento man Convicted in Woods Case
Anthony Taylor was convicted Thursday in the Sacramento Superior Court of stealing professional golfer Tiger Woods' identity and using his name to apply for credit cards, charging some $17,000 in unpaid expenses.
Taylor has prior robbery convictions from 1992 and will likely be sentenced on Monday following final arguments.
Upon discovery of the incidents, Tiger Woods had testified in mid-December that he had not been responsible for the charges, which included the purchases of televisions, a used luxury car and the rental of a truck in the Sacramento area.
South African Masters Gets Fresh Start
Mark McNulty and Retief Goosen top off a quality field for the return of next week's venerable South African Masters at the Wild Coast Sun Country Club.
Over the last three years, the Masters has only been contested once, with no play in either 1998 or 2000 due to a lack of sponsorship. However, under the funding from Nashua Nedtel Cellular, the Masters returns full of hope and promise that it will return to the same status that it has held over the last 80 years.
Considered one of the 'majors' of the Sunshine (South African) Tour, the Masters has been home to many a great South African champion over the years. Gary Player won the event a record ten times in his younger days, and other stars from the region have championed here as well, including Nick Price, David Frost, Hugh Baiocchi and Ernie Els.
Likewise, for McNulty, the event holds in its annals many of his fondest golfing memories, as he has captured the title on four separate occasions. In addition, he has won five tournaments in his professional career that have been contested over this same Wild Coast Sun course, making him a serious favorite in this upcoming week.
While Goosen has yet to claim the title in several attempts, another young star from Australia will be playing the event for the first time. Trevor Immelman, who at 19, became the latest of a crop of young stars to win professionally (at December's Vodacom Players' Championship) will be competing here for the first time ever.
USC's Gaston leaves to become head coach at 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.
Just like last year, Spieth in desperate need of a spark
CROMWELL, Conn. – Jordan Spieth has arrived at the Travelers Championship in need of a turnaround. Again.
Spieth’s playoff victory last year over Daniel Berger, complete with a bunker hole-out and raucous celebration, went down as one of the most electrifying moments of 2017. It also propelled Spieth to some more major glory, as he won The Open in his very next start.
So it’s easy to forget the state of Spieth’s game when he first stepped foot on the grounds of TPC River Highlands a year ago. Things were, quite plainly, not going well.
He was struggling on the greens, even going so far as to switch putters at the AT&T Byron Nelson. He then failed to contend at Erin Hills, only netting a T-35 finish thanks to a final-round 69 that came hours before the leaders teed off.
So here we are again, with Spieth in search of a spark after a series of underwhelming performances that included last week’s effort at Shinnecock Hills, where he bogeyed the last two holes of his second round to miss the cut by a shot. Except this time, the climb back to the top may be even steeper than it was a year ago.
“I’m not sure where the state of my game is right now,” Spieth said. “If I strike the ball the way I have been this year, then the results are coming. But the last couple weeks I’ve played Muirfield and then the (U.S.) Open, and I hit the ball really poorly and didn’t give myself that many opportunities to let the putter do the work.”
While many big names play sporadically in the time between the Masters and U.S. Open, Spieth remained as busy as ever thanks to the Tour’s swing through Texas. So even after failing to contend much in the spring outside of a memorable finale in Augusta, and even after struggling for much of his week at TPC Sawgrass, Spieth looked out at his schedule and saw a myriad of possible turning points.
There was the AT&T Byron Nelson, played in his hometown and at a venue on which he was one of only a handful with any experience (T-21). Then a trip across town to Colonial, where he had beaten all but two players in a three-year stretch (T-32).
Throw in the missed cuts at Muirfield Village and Shinnecock Hills, and Spieth has made it to the last leg of a six-event stretch that has included only one off week and, to date, zero chances to contend come Sunday.
“I think here this week, the key for me is just to get out in the first round and try not to do too much,” Spieth said. “I mean, 90-plus percent of the tournaments the last two years I’ve thrown out my chances to win a golf tournament on Thursday. I’ve had too much to do from here on.”
That was certainly the case last week on Long Island, where Spieth’s hopes for a fourth major title evaporated well before course conditions became a focal point over the weekend. He was 4 over through his first two holes and spent much of the next 34 stuck in a fit of frustration. He gave himself a glimmer of hope with four late birdies Friday followed by a pair of bogeys that snuffed it out with equal speed.
Spieth has continued to preach patience throughout the year, but there’s no getting around some eye-popping stats; he's 188th on Tour this year in strokes gained: putting and 93rd in fairways hit. It can foster a pressure to find a cure-all in any given week, especially given how quickly he got a middling summer back on track last year.
“It’s something that you fight, sure,” Spieth said. “It’s been that way just about every tournament except Muirfield, because then you go to the U.S. Open and think you don’t even have to shoot under par to win this golf tournament. So as much as that kind of comes into your head, it’s not bothering me this time. I’m going to try and have fun, and make progress.”
After this week, Spieth will have some down time with family before making the trip overseas to Carnoustie. He plans to have a few private dinners accompanied by the claret jug, one last toast to last year’s success before turning the trophy back over to the R&A.
But even Spieth admitted that as it pertains to his chances to follow in Brooks Koepka’s footsteps by successfully defending a major title, he’ll be greatly aided by working his way into the mix this weekend. It represents the last chance in this early-summer swing to get his name back on the leaderboard, an opportunity to light fire to a pedestrian campaign like he did a year ago.
“It’s your basic stuff that sometimes gets off, that the harder you try to get them back on sometimes, the worse it gets,” Spieth said. “It can be frustrating, or you can just kind of wait for it to come to you. I think I’m OK with where things are, whether it’s the rest of this year or next year. I feel like there are good scores coming.”