Compton, Pfeifer inspire each other, impact many more

By Jason SobelJanuary 26, 2015, 1:48 pm

It was just after 10 a.m. on Saturday when the Army veteran amputee sidled up to the two-time heart transplant recipient. A chilly breeze floating through the air, the sun yet to fully warm up the Nicklaus Private Course at PGA West, this seemed as good a time as any for a moment of truth between the two.

“I appreciate what you’ve done,” the amputee said. “Hearing your story and stories like yours are inspiring for me. You’re an inspiration for me and an example for me to set my goals.”

“Thank you,” the transplant recipient replied, considering their separate journeys to this point. “I had time to heal. You didn’t.”

If the fourth green during a pro-am doesn’t sound like a fitting place for a meeting of this mutual inspiration society, then you don’t know Chad Pfeifer and Erik Compton.

The 35-year-old Compton underwent his first heart transplant when he was 12 years old; his second came 16 years later. Though his story has been widely told, it never fails to amaze. Compton was on his deathbed – twice. He’s not only lived, he’s thrived, working his way up through the developmental tours to become a top-level player. Last year he finished in a share of second place at the U.S. Open, the best result of his career.

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Pfeifer, 33, is seeking a similar endgame. On April 12, 2007, while serving in the Army during the Iraq War, a buried explosive was triggered beneath the ground’s surface. His left leg would soon be amputated. While in a Texas hospital, a friend suggested he take up golf as part of the recovery process. He’d never played before. That was seven years ago. He’s now a professional, with an eye toward someday becoming a PGA Tour regular.

And so when the amputee found himself standing beside the transplant recipient during a brief moment of downtime in the Humana Challenge’s third round, he felt the need to point out their connection.

“I don’t know if it took him by surprise a little bit or he wasn’t expecting it,” Pfeifer recalls. “But I could tell he was thankful that I would say something like that.”

They don’t keep records for things like this, but it’s difficult to believe there have ever been two more inspirational golfers in the same foursome.

When he’s not playing or practicing, Pfeifer’s work often includes encouraging fellow wounded veterans. His words, though, are as much an advertisement for golf as motivational monologue.

“Golf saved my life,” he says. “I was introduced to golf when I was going through therapy. There were a lot of days before I was introduced to golf that most of the guys go through – depression and darker days, when you’re not sure how life is going to be. Golf was the one thing at the time that just kept me looking forward to the next day and kept me positive. I could always look forward to my next time playing. In all honesty, golf itself was my biggest form of therapy.”

Compton similarly understands inspiring others through the game. Two days after that U.S. Open runner-up finish, he found himself at Hartford Hospital, speaking with patients awaiting transplants.

This wasn’t some photo op on the heels of his impressive week. It was just another in a long line of hospital visits that he’s been doing for years. When one woman bemoaned having a window in her room because it was a constant reminder of an outside world she couldn’t experience, the room fell silent. Only Compton knew the right words to say, pointing to that window as encouragement toward returning to full health.

If anyone knows about inspiration, it’s him – but standing on that fourth green, he was the one being inspired.

Just after Pfeifer lipped out for a natural eagle, settling for birdie to quickly move to 2 under for the day, Compton joked about whether he was a tournament competitor rather than just part of the pro-am portion.

“I [was] kind of speechless, because I see him with a huge adversity that he's gone through and it speaks volumes,” says Compton.

“I’ve never been in a group where you have two players who have been through so much,” adds John Rollins, who was Pfeifer’s partner this day. “Just enjoying the game and everything that they have.”

If any golfer ever gets too angry about a wayward tee shot or a missed putt, he can simply look at these respective stories to help alter that attitude.

“My big deal is trying to inspire wounded veterans and people with disabilities,” says Pfeifer, “but if I can impact PGA Tour players to have some perspective and have a little fun with it, that would be great. I would like for my story and Erik’s story to have an impact on these guys, as well.”

One day after they played together, the amputee watched the transplant recipient contend for his first career title. He came close, at one point holding sole possession of the lead, but eventually finishing in 10th place. What he lost in tangible results, though, he might have made up for in inspiration. Not that they keep records for things like this.

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Davies leads Inkster after Day 1 of Senior LPGA Champ.

By Associated PressOctober 16, 2018, 1:10 am

FRENCH LICK, Ind. - Laura Davies opened with a 4-under 68 despite finishing with two bogeys Monday, giving her a one-shot lead over Juli Inkster after Round 1 of the Senior LPGA Championship.

Davies, who earlier this year won the inaugural U.S. Senior Women's Open, had a lost ball on the par-5 18th hole on The Pete Dye Course at French Lick Resort. She still salvaged a bogey in chilly, windy weather that had the 55-year-old from England bundled up in a blanket between shots.

Inkster, runner-up to Davies at the Senior Women's Open, made eagle on the closing hole for a 69.

Jane Crafter was at 70. Defending champion Trish Johnson opened with a 73.

Temperatures were in the high 40s, but the damp air and wind made it feel even colder.

Inkster made a bogey on the 17th hole by missing the green with a 9-iron.

''As old as I am, I still get made and I crushed that drive on 18,'' said Inkster, who followed with a 3-wood to 15 feet to set up her eagle.

The 54-hole event concludes Wednesday.

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Miller to retire from broadcast booth in 2019

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 15, 2018, 9:14 pm

After nearly 30 years in the broadcast booth, Johnny Miller is ready to hang up his microphone.

Following a Hall of Fame playing career that included a pair of major titles, Miller has become one of the most outspoken voices in the game as lead golf analyst for NBC Sports. But at age 71 he has decided to retire from broadcasting following the 2019 Waste Management Phoenix Open.

“The call of being there for my grandkids, to teach them how to fish. I felt it was a higher calling,” Miller told “The parents are trying to make a living, and grandparents can be there like my father was with my four boys. He was there every day for them. I'm a big believer that there is a time and a season for everything.”

Miller was named lead analyst for NBC in 1990, making his broadcast debut at what was then known as the Bob Hope Desert Classic. He still remained competitive, notably winning the 1994 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am at age 46, but made an indelible mark on the next generation of Tour pros with his frank and candid assessment of the action from some of golf’s biggest events.

Miller’s broadcasting career has included 20 U.S. Opens, 14 Ryder Cups, nine Presidents Cups, three Open Championships and the 2016 Olympics. While he has teamed in the booth with Dan Hicks for the past 20 years, Miller’s previous on-air partners included Bryant Gumbel, Charlie Jones, Jim Lampley and Dick Enberg.

His farewell event will be in Phoenix Jan. 31-Feb. 3, at a tournament he won in back-to-back years in 1974-75.

“When it comes to serving golf fans with sharp insight on what is happening inside the ropes, Johnny Miller is the gold standard,” said NBC lead golf producer Tommy Roy. “It has been an honor working with him, and while it might not be Johnny’s personal style, it will be fun to send him off at one of the PGA Tour’s best parties at TPC Scottsdale.”

Miller was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1998 after a playing career that included wins at the 1973 U.S. Open at Oakmont and The Open in 1976 at Royal Birkdale. Before turning pro, he won the 1964 U.S. Junior Amateur and was low amateur at the 1966 U.S. Open at Olympic, where he tied for eighth at age 19.

Born and raised in San Francisco, Miller now lives in Utah with his wife, Linda, and annually serves as tournament host of the PGA Tour’s Safeway Open in Napa, Calif.

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Randall's Rant: Tiger vs. Phil feels like a ripoff

By Randall MellOctober 15, 2018, 7:45 pm

Usually, you have to buy something before you feel like you were ripped off.

The wonder in the marketing of Tiger vs. Phil and “The Match” is how it is making so many people feel as if they are getting ripped off before they’ve shelled out a single penny for the product.

Phil Mickelson gets credit for this miscue.

Apparently, the smartest guy in the room isn’t the smartest marketing guy.

He was a little bit like that telemarketer who teases you into thinking you’ve won a free weekend getaway, only to lead you into the discovery that there’s a shady catch, with fine print and a price tag.

There was something as slippery as snake oil in the original pitch.

In Mickelson’s eagerness to create some excitement, he hinted back during The Players in May about the possibility of a big-money, head-to-head match with Woods. A couple months later, he leaked more details, before it was ready to be fully announced.

So while there was an initial buzz over news of the Thanksgiving weekend matchup, the original pitch set up a real buzzkill when it was later announced that you were only going to get to see it live on pay-per-view.

The news landed with a thud but no price tag. We’re still waiting to see what it’s going to cost when these two meet at Shadow Creek in Las Vegas, but anything that feels even slightly inflated now is going to further dampen the original enthusiasm Mickelson created.

Without Woods or Mickelson putting up their own money, this $9 million winner-take-all event was always going to feel more like a money grab than real competition.

When we were expecting to see it on network or cable TV, we didn’t care so much. Tiger's and Phil’s hands would have felt as if they were reaching into corporate America’s pockets. Now, it feels as if they’re digging into ours.

Last week, there was more disappointing news, with the Las Vegas Review-Journal reporting that tickets won’t be sold to the public, that the match at Shadow Creek will only be open to select sponsors and VIPs.

Now there’s a larger insult to the common fan, who can’t help but feel he isn’t worthy or important enough to gain admittance.

Sorry, but that’s how news of a closed gate landed on the heels of the pay-per-view news.

“The Match” was never going to be meaningful golf in any historical sense.

This matchup was never going to rekindle the magic Tiger vs. Phil brought in their epic Duel at Doral in ’05.

The $9 million was never going to buy the legitimacy a major championship or PGA Tour Sunday clash could bring.

It was never going to be more than an exhibition, with no lingering historical significance, but that was OK as quasi silly-season fare on TV on Thanksgiving weekend (Nov. 23), the traditional weekend of the old Skins Game.

“The Match” still has a chance to be meaningful, but first and foremost as entertainment, not real competition. That’s what this was always going to be about, but now the bar is raised.

Pay per view does that.

“You get what you pay for” is an adage that doesn’t apply to free (or already-paid for) TV. It does to pay per view. Expectations go way up when you aren’t just channel surfing to a telecast. So the higher the price tag they end up putting on this showdown, the more entertaining this has to be.

If Phil brings his “A-Game” to his trash talking, and if Tiger can bring some clever repartee, this can still be fun. If the prerecorded segments wedged between shots are insightful, even meaningful in their ability to make us understand these players in ways we didn’t before, this will be worthwhile.

Ultimately, “The Match” is a success if it leaves folks who paid to see it feeling as if they weren’t as ripped off as the people who refused to pay for it. That’s the handicap a history of free golf on TV brings. Welcome to pay-per-view, Tiger and Phil.

Celia Barquin Arozamena Iowa State University athletics

Trial date set for drifter charged with killing Barquin Arozamena

By Associated PressOctober 15, 2018, 7:28 pm

AMES, Iowa – A judge has scheduled a January trial for a 22-year-old Iowa drifter charged with killing a top amateur golfer from Spain.

District Judge Bethany Currie ruled Monday that Collin Richards will stand trial Jan. 15 for first-degree murder in the death of Iowa State University student Celia Barquin Arozamena.

Richards entered a written not guilty plea Monday morning and waived his right to a speedy trial. The filing canceled an in-person arraignment hearing that had been scheduled for later Monday.

Investigators say Richards attacked Barquin on Sept. 17 while she was playing a round at a public course in Ames, near the university campus. Her body was found in a pond on the course riddled with stab wounds.

Richards faces life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted.