Favorite moments from the past year

By Randall MellDecember 29, 2011, 3:30 pm


Call me a sentimental old fool, but I get a little weepy anytime someone hoists a Guinness and proposes a toast to prosperity. With that in mind, the tears of wistfulness were flowing nearly as much as the dark suds following this year’s Open Championship.

I don’t need to remind you what happened that week – but I will anyway. At the age of 42, Darren Clarke improbably romped through Royal St. George’s Golf Club, claiming the claret jug by three strokes, prompting a Ryder Cup-like celebration amongst his European Tour cronies. 

The fact that so many Guinness toasts were made in the afterglow of Clarke’s victory certainly doesn’t diminish the occasion’s likability in my eyes, but it was my favorite moment of the year for much more than the frothy beverages. 

This triumph was one for all the old pros who have spent a lifetime traversing the globe in the pursuit of perfection. It was one for every golfer who has struggled with his form and worked to regain it. It was one for the fans who have stuck with an old favorite through thick and thin. 

More than anything, though, this was a victory for anyone who has dealt with terrible grief in life. Yes, dealt with it, not overcome it.  

Five years ago, Clarke’s wife Heather passed away after a much-publicized bout with breast cancer. Darren was left to raise their two boys as a single parent and his golf took an expected downturn. Though he helped Europe to a Ryder Cup victory later that year, he was largely an afterthought when it came to individual events, especially major championships.  

Finally, though, he persevered and reached the pinnacle of his career. Anyone who knows the back story couldn’t have helped but smile at his good fortune that week. 

OK, so maybe those Guinness toast tears were the result of a different kind of sentimentality.

Erik Compton


A heartbeat.

It’s a wondrous phenomenon, a marvel of physical science that repeats itself an average of 60 to 90 times a minute in our chests.

Nobody’s more attuned to the miracle that’s so common to our lives than Erik Compton.

He made us all stop in wonder in June when we heard he won the Mexico Open on the Nationwide Tour.

What better moment did the year in golf offer than that?

If you weren’t moved by that news, maybe you should check your own heartbeat. You might not have one.

Tour pros everywhere should have been inspired.

Actually, we all should have been inspired.

If Compton can come back from two heart transplants to win a professional tournament, what is not possible in our own lives? What setbacks can't we overcome?

Compton connected us all to the wonder of a heartbeat and all the amazing possibilities it creates.

That’s one hell of a moment he gave us this past year.

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It was no easy task picking a preferred moment out of a year filled with memorable happenings. There was the traffic citation we couldn’t dodge at the Presidents Cup (who knew talking on a cell phone while driving in Australia is a federal offense?) and political unrest in Northern Ireland that we were able to sidestep.

The highlight of the year, however, was waiting behind the bar at Holywood Golf Club in early July. “Welcome,” Gerry McIlroy smiled widely as if we’d been invited.

McIlroy was less than a month removed from that emotional Sunday when he watched his only son, Rory, finish off a historic U.S. Open victory. Yet even with the brighter spotlight the older McIlroy relished the role of host, particularly at Holywood GC where he’d worked for years as a bartender.

McIlroy gave an impromptu tour of the clubhouse, introduced the interlopers to “Gabby,” the man who runs the club’s restaurant, and fondly recalled his days behind the bar at Holywood.

In fact, tending bar at Holywood was one of three jobs Gerry McIlroy juggled while Rory worked his way through the amateur ranks. When asked why he would subject himself to such a rigorous work schedule, McIlroy shrugged, “As long as he was making the effort why wouldn’t I?”

It was everything one needed to know about both McIlroys, and a moment you never forget.

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Johnson, Moore co-lead Valero Texas Open through 36

By Associated PressApril 20, 2018, 11:32 pm

SAN ANTONIO - Zach Johnson was going nowhere in the Valero Texas Open when it all changed with one putt.

He made an 8-foot par putt on the 13th hole of the opening round to stay at 2 under. He followed with a big drive, a hybrid into 12 feet and an eagle. Johnson was on his way, and he kept right on going Friday to a 7-under 65 and a share of the early 36-hole lead with Ryan Moore.

''You just never know. That's the beauty of this game,'' Johnson said. ''I felt like I was hitting some solid shots and wasn't getting rewarded, and you've just got to stay in it. You've got to persevere, grind it out, fight for pars. You just never know.''

Moore had three birdies over his last five holes for a 67 and joined Johnson at 9-under 135.

Ben Crane (66), Martin Laird (65) and David Hearn (68) were three shots out of the lead among those who played Friday morning. Billy Horschel and Keegan Bradley shot 71 and were four shots behind at 5-under 139.

Sergio Garcia, who consulted Greg Norman on the design of the AT&T Oaks Course at the TPC San Antonio, might have a long stay in his first time at the Texas Open since 2010. Garcia shot an even-par 72, and at one point became so frustrated he threw his driver into the shrubs.

Full-field scores from the Valero Texas Open

Valero Texas Open: Articles, photos and videos

Garcia finished at 2-over 146 and was outside the cut. He was in jeopardy of missing his second straight cut, depending on afternoon scoring.

Johnson, a two-time winner of the Texas Open, appeared to be headed to a short week until the key par save on the 13th hole, followed by his eagle, par and three straight birdies. He began the second round Friday with five birdies in a six-hole stretch on the back nine, a sixth birdie on the par-4 first hole, and then an eagle on the short par-4 fifth when he holed out from a greenside bunker.

The only sour taste to his second round was a three-putt bogey from about 30 feet on his final hole. Even so, the view was much better than it was Thursday afternoon.

Moore thought he had wasted a good birdie opportunity on the par-5 14th hole when he left his 50-foot eagle putt about 6 feet short. But he made that, and then holed a similar putt from 8 feet for birdie on the next hole and capped his good finish with a 15-foot putt on the 17th.

''That was a huge momentum putt there,'' Moore said of the 14th. ''It was a tough putt from down there with a lot of wind. That green is pretty exposed and ... yeah, really short and committed to that second putt really well and knocked it right in the middle.''

The birdies on the 14th and 15th were important to Moore because he missed a pair of 10-foot birdie tries to start the back nine.

''So it was nice to get those and get going in the right direction on the back,'' he said.

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Daly-Allen team grabs Legends of Golf lead on Day 2

By Associated PressApril 20, 2018, 11:14 pm

RIDGEDALE, Mo. - John Daly and Michael Allen took the second-round lead Friday in the cool and breezy Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf.

Daly and Allen shot an 8-under 46 on the Top of the Rock par-3 course with wind gusting to 15 mph and the temperature only in the high-50s at Big Cedar Lodge. They had three birdies on the front nine in alternate-shot play and added five more on the back in better-ball play to get to 13 under.

''Michael and I go back to the South African days in the late 80s and playing that tour,'' Daly said. ''We've been buddies since. He's just fun to play with. We feed off each other pretty good. And if he's not comfortable guinea-pigging on one hole, I'll go first.''

On Thursday, they opened with a 66 on the regulation Buffalo Ridge course. They will rotate to the 13-hole Mountain Top par-3 course on Saturday, and return to Top of the Rock for the final round Sunday.

''I went to high school in Jeff City, so it's cool to have the fans behind us,'' Daly said.

Allen won the PGA Tour Champions team event with David Frost in 2012 and Woody Austin in 2016.

''I'm just here to free up John,'' Allen said. ''It was fun. Luckily, I started making good putts today. We just want to keep the good times rolling.''

Full-field scores from the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf

Defending champions Vijay Singh and Carlos Franco were a stroke back along with Bernhard Langer-Tom Lehman and Paul Broadhurst-Kirk Triplett. Singh and Franco had a 7-under 32 in best-ball play at Mountain Top, and Lehman-Langer and Broadhurst-Tripplet each shot 6-under 48 at Top of the Rock.

''Part of the issue here is all the tees are elevated, so you're up high hitting to a green that's down below and the wind is blowing, and there is more time for that wind to affect it,'' Lehman said. ''If you guess wrong on the wind, you can hit a really good shot and kind of look stupid.''

Former UCLA teammates Scott McCarron and Brandt Jobe were two strokes back at 11 under with Steve Flesch and David Toms and the Spanish side of Jose Maria Olazabal and Miguel Angel Jimenez. McCarron-Jobe had a 47, and Jimenez-Olazabal a 48 at Top of the Rock, and Tom Flesch shot 34 at Mountain Top.

First-round leaders Jeff Maggert and Jesper Parnevik had a 52 at Top of the Rock to fall three shots back at 10 under. Madison, Wisconsin, friends Steve Stricker and Jerry Kelly also were 10 under after a 32 at Mountain Top. Jay Haas aced the 131-yard seventh hole at Mountain Top with a gap wedge. Haas and fellow 64-year-old Peter Jacobsen were 8 under after a 32.

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Football coach hates golf: Don't need practice swearing

By Jason CrookApril 20, 2018, 10:15 pm

Some football coaches are a little more talkative than others. On one side of the spectrum, there's Bill Belichick. On the other sits Washington State football coach Mike Leach.

Leach always delivers the goods, and when asked recently if he liked golf, he didn't hold back:

As wrong as the 57-year-old is on the topic (golf is awesome), the man makes some hilarious points:

• “It’s boring. I don’t care where that ball goes.”

• "Golfers are always practicing their swing. But you know what I never did? I never practice fishing in my living room.”

• "They'll line up over the ball and they'll say they're going to do something that you can't do with a sniper rifle and a scope, but they're going to do it with a stick and a ball."

• “Golf’s pretty much for people that don’t swear effectively enough or need practice. And so there are people that need golf, and I don’t think I do.”

So in conclusion, it's confirmed: Mike Leach - not a golf guy.

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Quiros takes 1-shot lead in Morocco

By Associated PressApril 20, 2018, 8:22 pm

RABAT, Morocco - Alvaro Quiros shot a solid 2-under 70 in windy conditions to push into a one-shot lead after two rounds of the Trophee Hassan II in Morocco on Friday.

Quiros fought the elements, carding seven birdies and five bogeys to move to 7 under overall and take the outright lead at the halfway point of the European Tour event.

The Spaniard was one clear of Andrew Dodt, who moved into contention with a 4-under 68 at the Royal Golf Dar Es Salam course. Dodt dropped two shots in his first six holes but the Australian recovered from that shaky start to collect four birdies and an eagle.

Full-field scores from the Trophee Hassan II

Erik van Rooyen of South Africa was another shot back in third on 5 under after his 71.

Bradley Dredge of Wales, who shared the first-round lead with Quiros, slipped off the pace with a 1-over 73. He's tied for fourth with Austin Connelly of Canada (71), 4 under par and three shots behind Quiros.