Twitter may help Gore get sponsor exemption

By Jason SobelJanuary 12, 2012, 1:08 pm

This is a story about what happens when kindness intersects with social media, when a relationship forged on the golf course extends to the outer reaches of cyberspace.

The roots of this story can be traced back to last September. As part of his comeback from shoulder surgery, Jason Gore was competing in the Nationwide Tour’s Boise Open. Once called the “Prince of Pinehurst” for his three-day contention at the 2005 U.S. Open, the burly Gore earned legions of supporters not only for that unlikely jaunt through the venerable links, but for his ensuing three victories on the developmental circuit and one more once joining the PGA Tour for good.

Maybe that’s why Eric Magidson was drawn to him at the driving range that week. A golf fan from Bend, Ore., Magidson initiated a conversation with Gore early on and – being the gregarious, outgoing sort that he is – Gore was more than happy to engage in what became an ongoing discussion throughout the week.

After the tournament was over, Magidson and Gore kept in touch through Twitter, with the former – a computer science instructor at Central Oregon Community College who is aspiring to compete in this year’s Monday qualifier for the Boise Open – often seeking advice from the latter.

Gore has plenty of it to offer, from a lifetime of experience. After failing to earn his PGA Tour card for the 2012 season by a single stroke at Q-School, he now owns status only as a past champion, which he expects will be enough to get him into only about a half-dozen events this year. He understands and appreciates the predicament, but as a Southern California native and longtime fan of Riviera Country Club, there’s one tournament that means more to him than all others.

All of which was the impetus for the following tweet on Sunday:

@JasonGore59: Just signed up for the @ntrustopen qualifier, but you have NO IDEA how stoked I'd be to get a sponsors invitation! #myhometown #mymajor

Gore considered the post simply a public attempt at levity. Magidson considered it an opportunity to take action.

Since the pro had never disappointed his new fan, Magidson took it upon himself to lend a hand – or at least a couple of thumbs. He almost immediately started a grassroots campaign to support the cause, asking anyone he could find to re-tweet their advocacy.

“I’m simply attempting to pay back his kindness,” Magidson says. “Kindness earns kindness. It is who he is.”

Apparently he’s not the only one who believes that. Within days, Magidson had generated hundreds of re-tweets of support from the masses, including from NASCAR driver Kevin Harvick and fellow professional golfers such as Pat Perez, Geoff Ogilvy, D.A. Points and Christina Kim.

“People love Jason. He’s a good man and it’s his backyard,” Kim says. “Getting an invite will show just how much of an impact the world of Twitter has in everyday life. The world has shrunk to the size of a golf ball on Twitter. It’s the American dream, what Jason is trying to achieve.”

A dream that began as one innocent tweet, but has since turned into a viral campaign for a cause.

“I was just going to throw out a hint-hint kind of thing and it just blew up,” Gore explains with a laugh. “It’s crazy. I had no intention of doing this.”

Actually, he hasn’t done anything. While some players have been known to get creative with requests for sponsor exemptions, Gore went the old-fashioned route, simply writing a letter to Northern Trust officials prior to his tweet heard ‘round the world.

What has transpired is the power of social media at its best. To the uninitiated, Twitter can be a vast wasteland of faceless handles all arguing politics or divulging what was on today’s lunch menu. When used more efficiently, though, the medium can be used for good more than evil – from generating donations for cancer research to aiding in kidnapping cases and other crimes.

By comparison, an effort to get one player into one golf tournament should be viewed as trivial, but it may be a groundbreaking campaign within the industry.

As the Twitterverse sounds off about the movement, their 140-character voices are being heard by Northern Trust Open officials. The tournament’s own Twitter account recently posted a response on Tuesday:

@NTrustOpen: Hey @JasonGore59 fans...we do hear you! Exemptions decisions are coming soon. Stay tuned...

In fact, exemptions will be issued by the tournament committee sometime next week, with Gore eligible for one of two spots. The groundswell of support through social media can only help his cause.

“I would be surprised if it hurt him. I don’t see how it could hurt him,” says Mike Bone, general manager for the tournament. “We have such an incredibly strong field that we’re in a position of possibly being able to give the people what they want.

“There are a few hundred tweets from what I can see. If half of them buy a ticket, I think that would be pretty cool.”

Therein lies the biggest benefit for tournament title sponsors. One of the main priorities for such corporations is pleasing the consumer base. If a large percentage of that base is requesting a specific decision, isn’t it simply good business to acquiesce to the masses?

This could be a new frontier in the way sponsor exemptions are administered. Instead of silently offering a spot in the field to whomever tournament officials deemed worthy, such cases could go to a popular vote, with the leading candidate being issued the free pass.

As for Gore, he remains both baffled and humbled by the social media reaction to his cause.

“I did not mean for this to happen,” he says. “It just kept snowballing and snowballing.”

The result is that he now has more than a snowball’s chance in Southern California of receiving a Northern Trust Open exemption. It would be a fitting conclusion to this story, one which is about kindness and the power of social media – and what happens when those two forces work in conjunction.

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With baby on the way, Piller WDs from Zurich

By Ryan LavnerApril 26, 2018, 2:45 pm

AVONDALE, La. – With wife Gerina set to give birth to their first child, Martin Piller figured he’d need to check his phone every few holes at the Zurich Classic.

He didn’t even make it that far.

Piller withdrew before the start of the first round Thursday.

Piller’s partner, Joel Dahmen, who only got into the field because of Piller’s status as the team’s A player, was allowed to remain in the event.

Piller was replaced in the field by Denny McCarthy. The new team of McCarthy-Dahmen will tee off at 2:36 p.m. ET.

The format change at the Zurich should make things easier for the new teammates. The first round is now best ball, not alternate shot.

The only event that Gerina, a three-time U.S. Solheim Cupper, has played this season was the Diamond Resorts Invitational in January. The couple’s baby was due May 3, and she said that she plans to take off the entire year.

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China's Jin (64) leads by one in Beijing

By Associated PressApril 26, 2018, 12:28 pm

BEIJING – Daxing Jin took a one-stroke lead at the China Open after shooting an 8-under 64 Thursday in the first round.

Jin's bogey-free round at the Topwin Golf and Country Club included six birdies and an eagle on the par-5 eighth. The 25-year-old Jin is playing in only his eighth European Tour event and has made the cut only once.

Matt Wallace (65) had an eagle-birdie finish to move into a tie for second with Nino Bertasio, who also produced a bogey-free round. Alexander Bjork and Scott Vincent (66) were a further stroke back.

Defending champion Alexander Levy, who won last week's Trophee Hassan II in Morocco, is in a large group five shots off the lead at 3 under.

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Putting prepared Park's path back to No. 1

By Randall MellApril 26, 2018, 12:13 am

Inbee Park brings more than her unshakably tranquil demeanor back to the top of the Rolex Women’s World Rankings this week.

She brings more than her Olympic gold medal and seven major championships to the Mediheal Championship on the outskirts of San Francisco.

She brings a jarring combination of gentleness and ruthlessness back to the top of the rankings.

Park may look as if she could play the role of Mother Teresa on some goodwill tour, but that isn’t what her opponents see when she’s wielding her Odyssey White Hot 2-Ball mallet.

She’s like Mother Teresa with Lizzy Borden’s axe.

When Park gets on one of her rolls with the putter, she scares the hell out of the rest of the tour.

At her best, Park is the most intimidating player in women’s golf today.

“Inbee makes more 20- and 30-footers on a regular basis than anyone I know,” seven-time major championship winner Karrie Webb said.

All those long putts Park can hole give her an aura more formidable than any power player in the women’s game.

“A good putter is more intimidating than someone who knocks it out there 280 yards,” Webb said “Even if Inbee misses a green, you know she can hole a putt from anywhere. It puts more pressure on your putter knowing you’re playing with someone who is probably going to make them all.”

Park, by the way, said Webb and Ai Miyazato were huge influences on her putting. She studied them when she was coming up on tour.

Webb, though, believes there’s something internal separating Park. It isn’t just Park’s ability to hole putts that makes her so intimidating. It’s the way she carries herself on the greens.

“She never gets ruffled,” Webb said. “She says she gets nervous, but you never see a change in her. If you’re going toe to toe with her, that’s what is intimidating. Even if you’re rolling in putts on top of her, it doesn’t seem to bother her. She’s definitely a player you have to try not to pay attention to when you’re paired with her, because you can get caught up in that.”


Full-field scores from the LPGA Mediheal Championship


Park has led the LPGA in putts per greens in regulation five of the last 10 years.

Brad Beecher has been on Park’s bag for more than a decade, back before she won her first major, the 2008 U.S. Women’s Open. He has witnessed the effect Park can have on players when she starts rolling in one long putt after another.

“You have those times when she’ll hole a couple long putts early, and you just know, it’s going to be one of those days,” Beecher said. “Players look at me like, `Does she ever miss?’ or `How am I going to beat this?’ You see players in awe of it sometimes.”

Park, 29, won in her second start of 2018, after taking seven months off with a back injury. In six starts this year, she has a victory, two ties for second-place and a tie for third. She ended Shanshan Feng’s 23-week run at No. 1 with a tie for second at the Hugel-JTBC LA Open last weekend.

What ought to disturb fellow tour pros is that Park believes her ball striking has been carrying her this year. She’s still waiting for her putter to heat up. She is frustrated with her flat stick, even though she ranks second in putts per greens in regulation this season.

“Inbee Park is one of the best putters ever,” said LPGA Hall of Famer Sandra Haynie, a 42-time LPGA winner. “She’s dangerous on the greens.”

Haynie said she would rank Park with Kathy Whitworth, Mickey Wright and Nancy Lopez as the best putters she ever saw.

Hall of Famer Joanne Carner says Park is the best putter she has seen since Lopez.

“I thought Nancy was a great putter,” Carner said. “Inbee is even better.”

Park uses a left-hand low grip, with a mostly shoulder move and quiet hands.

Lopez used a conventional grip, interlocking, with her right index finger down the shaft. She had a more handsy stroke than Park.

Like Lopez, Park prefers a mallet-style putter, and she doesn’t switch putters much. She is currently playing with an Odyssey White Hot 2-Ball putter. She won the gold medal with it two years ago. She used an Oddysey White Ice Sabertooth winged mallet when she won three majors in a row in 2013.

Lopez hit the LPGA as a rookie in 1978 with a Ray Cook M1 mallet putter and used it for 20 years. It’s in the World Golf Hall of Fame today.

“I watch Inbee, and I think, `Wow, that’s how I used to putt,’” Lopez said. “You can see she’s not mechanical at all. So many players today are mechanical. They forget if you just look at the hole and stroke it, you’re going to make more putts.”

Notably, Park has never had a putting coach, not really. Her husband and swing coach, Gi Hyeob Nam, will look at her stroke when she asks for help.

“When I’m putting, I’m concentrating on the read and mostly my speed,” Park said. “I don’t think mechanically about my stroke at all, unless I think there’s something wrong with it, and then I’ll have my husband take a look. But, really, I rely on my feel. I don’t think about my stroke when I’m out there playing.”

Hall of Famer Judy Rankin says Park’s remarkably consistent speed is a key to her putting.

“Inbee is definitely a feel putter, and her speed is so consistent, all the time,” Rankin said. “You have to assume she’s a great green reader.”

Beecher says Park’s ability to read greens is a gift. She doesn’t rely on him for that. She reads greens herself.

“I think what impresses me most is Inbee has a natural stroke,” Beecher said. “There’s nothing too technical. It’s more straight through and straight back, but I think the key element of the stroke is that she keeps the putter so close to the ground, all the time, on the takeaway and the follow-through. It helps with the roll and with consistency.”

Park said that’s one of her fundamentals.

“I keep it low, almost like I’m hitting the ground,” Park said. “When I don’t do that, I miss more putts.”

Beecher believes the real reason Park putts so well is that the putter brought her into the game. It’s how she got started, with her father, Gun Gyu Park, putting the club in her hands as a child. She loved putting on her own.

“That’s how she fell in love with the game,” Beecher said. “Getting started that way, it’s played a huge role in her career.”

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Teams announced for NCAA DI women's regionals

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 25, 2018, 10:50 pm

Seventy-two teams and an additional 24 individuals were announced Wednesday as being selected to compete in the NCAA Division I women's regionals, May 7-9.

Each of the four regional sites will consist of 18 teams and an extra six individual players, whose teams were not selected. The low six teams and low three individuals will advance to the NCAA Championship, May 18-23, hosted by Oklahoma State at Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla.

The four regional sites include Don Veller Seminole Golf Course & Club in Tallahassee, Fla., hosted by Florida State; UT Golf Club in Austin, Texas, hosted by the University of Texas; University Ridge Golf Course in Madison, Wis., hosted by the University of Wisconsin; TPC Harding Park in San Francisco, Calif., hosted by Stanford University.

Arkansas, Duke, UCLA and Alabama are the top seeds in their respective regionals. Arizona State, the third seed in the Madison regional, is the women's defending champion. Here's a look at the regional breakdown, along with teams and players:

Austin Regional Madison Regional San Francisco Regional Tallahassee Regional
Arkansas Duke UCLA Alabama
Texas USC Stanford Furman
Michigan State Arizona State South Carolina Arizona
Florida Northwestern Kent State Washington
Auburn Illinois Oklahoma State Wake Forest
Oklahoma Purdue North Carolina Vanderbilt
Houston Iowa State Colorado Florida State
Miami (Fla.) Virginia Louisville Clemson
Baylor Wisconsin N.C. State Georgia
Texas A&M Campbell Mississippi Tennessee
BYU Ohio State Cal UNLV
East Carolina Notre Dame San Diego State Kennesaw State
Texas Tech Old Dominion Pepperdine Denver
Virginia Tech Oregon State Oregon Coastal Carolina
UTSA Idaho Long Beach State Missouri
Georgetown Murray State Grand Canyon Charleston
Houston Baptist North Dakota State Princeton Richmond
Missouri State IUPUI Farleigh Dickinson Albany
       
Brigitte Dunne (SMU) Connie Jaffrey (Kansas State) Alivia Brown (Washington State) Hee Ying Loy (E. Tennessee State)
Xiaolin Tian (Maryland) Pinyada Kuvanun (Toledo) Samantha Hutchinson (Cal-Davis) Claudia De Antonio (LSU)
Greta Bruner (TCU) Pun Chanachai (New Mexico State) Ingrid Gutierrez (New Mexico) Fernanda Lira (Central Arkansas)
Katrina Prendergast (Colorado State) Elsa Moberly (Eastern Kentucky) Abegail Arevalo (San Jose State) Emma Svensson (Central Arkansas)
Ellen Secor (Colorado State) Erin Harper (Indiana) Darian Zachek (New Mexico) Valentina Giraldo (Jacksonville State)
Faith Summers (SMU) Cara Basso (Penn State) Christine Danielsson (Cal-Davis) Kaeli Jones (UCF)