The weird, wild and wacky in golf this year

By Jason SobelNovember 29, 2013, 1:00 pm

With respect and homage to the good folks at Esquire and their annual Dubious Achievement Awards, allow us to present some out-of-the-ordinary moments in the golf world in 2013.

Maybe he meant to say ‘dentally’

After walking off the course while playing the ninth hole of his second round in the Honda Classic, Rory McIlroy told reporters, “I’m not in a good place mentally.” He later listed his reason for withdrawal as a sore wisdom tooth.

He thought he’d heard it takes big tentacles to win the U.S. Open

In contention at Merion, Billy Horschel showed up for the final round wearing navy trousers with large white octopi plastered all over them.

He must be nuts

During the first day of the Presidents Cup, assistant captain Davis Love III befriended a squirrel later named Sammy, keeping him in his pocket throughout the day.

She must be really nuts

Later that day, Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn placed Sammy on the unknowing shoulder of her boyfriend Tiger Woods, much to his immediate displeasure.

Hey, at least Sammy didn’t bite

Daniela Holmqvist used a tee to squeeze out venom from a spider bite during the Women’sustralian Open. “It wasn’t the prettiest thing I’ve ever done,” she confessed, “but I had to get as much of it out of me as possible.”

DufnersThat makes two of you

After hitting his tee shot on the final hole of the PGA Championship into a fan’s back pocket, Jonas Blixt said, “I’m just glad it didn’t plug.”

‘I don’t know what to do with my hands!’

The act of “Dufnering” became an Internet sensation when Jason Dufner was photographed sitting on his hands with a glazed-over look in his eyes while working with students in a Texas classroom.

Now this is ‘Dufnering’

When shock-jock radio host Howard Stern asked Jason Dufner about his post-PGA victory celebration with wife Amanda, the laid-back champion casually replied, “Yeah, I grabbed her butt.”

Or roughly the equivalent of two-and-a-half butts

In the same interview, Dufner revealed that the Wanamaker Trophy can hold exactly 43 beers.

Sheesh. Didn’t he learn anything as a kid?

Asked about his ‘Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ handshake with partner Tiger Woods at the Presidents Cup, Matt Kuchar explained, “This guy was the perfect Carlton.” Great quote – except Woods was actually playing the part of DJ Jazzy Jeff in this celebration.

Blixt and FowlerSo … last night then?

Ye Wocheng, a 12-year-old who qualified for the China Open, said, “I’ve dreamed of this since I was a boy.”

In his defense, autocorrect changed it from, ‘Don’t you linger out in the grass’

After Tiger Woods won the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Rory McIlroy sent him a congratulatory text message. In response, Woods texted that it was his turn to win, telling McIlroy, “Get your finger out of your a--.”

On the bright side, the locusts held off

Twenty-two different PGA Tour events were marred by weather delays during the 2013 season, including wind at Kapalua, snow in Tucson and flash-flooding at Bay Hill.

The figurative definition of grabbing a bite at the turn

Midway through her third round of the U.S. Women’s Open, Jessica Korda fired caddie Jason Gilroyed. “I knew I needed a switch,” she said. “It just wasn’t working out.”

Orange you glad you don’t have to wear it again?

Blixt playfully dressed like playing partner Rickie Fowler for the final round of The Barclays, but the joke was on him. Blixt shot an 81 in the all-orange, too-tight get-up, then revealed his plans for the clothes afterward: “I was going to burn them.”

Gary PlayerAnd the rest of us immediately felt terrible about ourselves

At the age of 77, Gary Player posed nude for the cover of ESPN The Magazine.

He also recommends lots of naked sit-ups

Player offered some unsolicited advice for McIlroy on his love life and potential choice of spouse. “If he finds the right wife, if he practices and if he’s dedicated,” Player promised, “he could be the man.”

But they were both looking at him funny

Henrik Stenson destroyed his driver on the course at the BMW Championship, and then took out his frustrations on a Conway Farms locker.

And they love to eat asparagus, just like Robert Garrigus

The band Golf Boys – comprised of Ben Crane, Bubba Watson, Hunter Mahan and Fowler – released a second single called “2.Oh,” which includes lyrics such as, “I got a drippy faucet on my Stewie Stewie Cink” and “I took a vacay at Sang-Moon Bae.”

He now believes in crocodiles, too

Amateur golfer Dougie Thomson of Scotland was vacationing in Cancun when he was attacked by a 12-foot crocodile on a golf course. He survived the attack thanks to friends who beat the animal with golf clubs and ran it over with a cart. “It’s only by the grace of God I’m alive,” Thomson said, “and I’m an atheist.”

Miguel Angel JimenezWas that the temperature or a local radio station?

Indiana assistant club pro Michael Bembenick shot a second-round 103 at the Tour’s United Leasing Championship.

Well, he’s no Michael Bembenick

Long-drive competitor Maurice Allen shot a second-round 115 at the PGA Tour LatinoAmerica’s Dominican Republic Open.

Even Miley Cyrus was kind of offended

In contention at the Open Championship, Miguel Angel Jimenez continued his unique stretching routine on the practice range – a strange combination of yoga and twerking, always accompanied by a lit cigar.

And the leader for Most Ignorant Comment of the Year honors is …

Asked about making amends after a tiff with multi-cultural Tiger Woods, Sergio Garcia answered, “We will have him ’round every night. We will serve fried chicken.”

And the new leader for Most Ignorant Comment of the Year honors is …

In defense of Garcia, European Tour executive director George O’Grady said, “Most of Sergio’s friends in the States happen to be colored athletes.”

HovercraftHe then had meatloaf for lunch – and he hates meatloaf

Padraig Harrington started using a belly putter at the Wells Fargo Championship, even though he is fundamentally opposed to the club’s legality. “I don’t support the belly putter,” he said. “I think it’s bad for the game of golf.”

Paramor then lectured about how in his day, he would walk 10 miles uphill in the snow on every hole – and still go faster than him

Tianlang Guan, 14, was assessed a one-stroke penalty for slow play by rules official John Paramor at the Masters.

What happens in Vegas doesn’t always stay in Vegas

In his 2013-14 season debut, Jhonattan Vegas was docked two strokes at the Open for being late to his tee time after making a pit stop at a restroom.

Or as he likes to tell people, ‘I had three 1s on my scorecard’

During the third round of the World Cup of Golf, Stuart Manley posted a hole-in-one on the third hole, and then followed with a septuple-bogey 11 on the fourth.

Which means a green jacket is now only the second-coolest thing that he owns

Watson helped design a Hovercraft golf cart that can easily drive through water hazards.

Arnold Palmer and Kate UptonWhere’s that Hovercraft when you need one?

In contention at The Players Championship, Garcia hit two shots into the water at the 17th hole and another on the 18th to drop six strokes on the final two holes and finish in a share of eighth place.

Meanwhile, Tebow’s list of teams who won’t sign him is just the golfer’s last name

Matt Every competed in the Deutsche Bank Championship with Tim Tebow’s name and number and the New England Patriots logo on his golf bag, days after Tebow was released by the team just a few miles away in Foxborough.

If that was the case, more caddies would try to marry their players

Patrick Reed won the Wyndham Championship with wife Justine on the bag. She later joked that she’d take 100 percent of the winnings for her caddie fee.

It’s a tough job, but somebody’s gotta do it

Arnold Palmer gave supermodel and beginning golfer Kate Upton an introductory swing lesson.

In related news, David Blaine is now the Masters favorite

In November, the USGA announced Decision 18/4, which states that “where enhanced technological evidence (e.g. HDTV, digital recording or online visual media, etc.) shows that a ball has left its position and come to rest in another location, the ball will not be deemed to have moved if that movement was not reasonably discernible to the naked eye at the time.”

Tumbledown TrailsApparently Tumbledown Trails is like school in summer: No class

Wisconsin golf course Tumbledown Trails offered a $9.11 green fee for nine holes to “commemorate” the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.

And that death stare? Total coincidence

Following an errant approach shot into the 12th hole during the third round of the AT&T National, D.H. Lee turned toward the gallery and gestured with his middle finger. “I am sorry,” he later said. “It was just frustration. It was not directed at anyone.”

In response, California complained that Mickelson still can’t win the U.S. Open

During the Humana Challenge, Phil Mickelson complained about the high tax rate in his home state of California.

Just call her ‘million-dollar baby’

Leading the RBC Canadian Open through 36 holes, Hunter Mahan withdrew from the tournament to fly home to Texas and witness the birth of his first child, a girl named Zoe.

Don’t most people play more golf when they retire?

Enjoying what he called “semi-retirement,” Steve Stricker played just 13 times, but had eight top-10s, including four runner-up finishes.

James HahnHe then added, ‘But that was before he couldn’t find a fairway with a compass’

Speaking at the global G8 summit in Northern Ireland in June, President Obama said, “I did meet Rory McIlroy last year and Rory offered to get my swing sorted.”

Unlike most political issues, this one crosses party lines

Former president George W. Bush voiced support for President Obama playing more rounds of golf while in office. “I know what it’s like to be in the bubble,” he said. “It does give you an outlet.”

But she’s definitely not giving up her 11-wood

D.A. Points won the Shell Houston Open while using a Ping Anser putter that he stole out of his mother Mary Jo’s golf bag when he was 11 years old. He said after the victory, “I think Mom is just fine with me having it.”

And for an encore? The entire ‘Thriller’ video

After making birdie during the final round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open at the overpopulated and over-served 16th hole, James Hahn celebrated in front of the gallery by doing the Gangnam Style dance. “Every time that song comes on, my friends want me to do the dance,” he later said. “It’s like, ‘James, it’s your song. You have to dance.’ And I seriously don’t know how to do the dance. So I was like, I think this is what he does. I’ve seen it a couple of times. It’s all fun. Even if I didn’t do it correctly, I was committed to putting on a show.”

Even Johnny Manziel wouldn’t sign that card

Texas A&M was assessed a one-stroke penalty for slow play in the final round of qualifying prior to the match-play portion of the NCAA Championship. The team was later prevented from advancing when it lost a four-for-three playoff for the final spots.

Lindsey Vonn and Tiger WoodsHere’s an idea: Don’t read the entire title while standing on the first tee

The USGA hosted a symposium in November titled, “While We’re Young: Golf’s Pursuit of a New Paradigm for Pace of Play.”

Now that’s how you curb slow play

With host site Ocean Club Golf Course saturated from flooding, the LPGA’s Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic was shortened to three 12-hole rounds.

It was the best 42 of her life

Ilhee Lee won the Pure Silk-Bahamas tournament by posting a final-round score of 5-under 42.

That wouldn’t even have won the Pure Silk Classic

In the third round of the Memorial Tournament, Woods posted a front-nine score of 44 – the worst nine-hole total of his professional career.

Hey, it beats being grumpy, dopey or … wipey

In a television interview, Lindsey Vonn referred to boyfriend Woods’ personality as “dorky goofy.”

Bubba WatsonSooo, you’re saying you don’t like it?

When asked for his thoughts on the course setup at Merion during the U.S. Open, Zach Johnson replied, “I would describe the whole golf course as manipulated. It just enhances my disdain for the USGA and how it manipulates golf courses.”

Actually, you don’t

Watson posted a septuple-bogey 10 on the par-3 12th hole during the final round of the Masters. “If you’re not going to win,” he explained, “you’ve got to get into the record books somehow.”

Whoa. Hold on, dude. We’re still looking up ‘bifurcation’

In speaking of the impending joint anchoring ban from the USGA and R&A in January, PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem explained, “Our objective always has been to try our best to follow the rules as promulgated by the USGA and R&A.”

Sounds like Tiger is confusing Jack with a member of the media

Debunking the widely held notion that the game’s two leading career major championship winners have a close relationship, Jack Nicklaus said of Woods, “I never really had a conversation with Tiger that lasted more than a minute or two. Ever.”

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Mickelson: 'Not my finest moment ... 'I'm sorry'

By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 2:41 pm

Days after his putter swipe ignited a controversy that threatened to overshadow the U.S. Open, Phil Mickelson offered an apology.

Mickelson received a two-shot penalty for purposely hitting his ball while it was still in motion on the 13th green during the third round at Shinnecock Hills. In the eyes of the USGA, his actions fell short of a disqualification for a “serious breach” of the rules, and the 48-year-old ultimately matched his age with a T-48 finish after returning to play the final round.

Mickelson declined to speak to reporters after a Sunday 66, but Wednesday he sent a note to a select group of media members that included Golf Channel’s Tim Rosaforte in which the five-time major champ offered some contrition.

“I know this should’ve come sooner, but it’s taken me a few days to calm down. My anger and frustration got the best of me last weekend,” Mickelson wrote. “I’m embarrassed and disappointed by my actions. It was clearly not my finest moment and I’m sorry.”

Mickelson’s actions drew ire from both media members and his fellow competitors, with members of both groups implying that his actions merited disqualification. His most recent remarks seem to indicate that the decision to run up and stop his ball from tumbling back across the 13th green was more of an impulse than the calculated use of the rule book he described after the third round at Shinnecock.

“It’s certainly not meant (to show disrespect). It’s meant to take advantage of the rules as best you can,” Mickelson said Saturday. “In that situation I was just, I was just going back and forth. I’ll gladly take the two shots over continuing that display.”

Mickelson is not in the field this week at the Travelers Championship and is expected to make his next start in two weeks at The Greenbrier.

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Hubert Green, Hall of Famer, dies at 71

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 20, 2018, 2:06 pm

Hubert Green, a World Golf Hall of Famer who won 19 times on the PGA Tour, including the 1977 U.S. Open and 1985 PGA Championship, died Tuesday from complications following a lengthy battle with throat cancer. He was 71.

A remarkably consistent player, Green used his distinctive swing to finish in the top 25 in a third of the PGA Tour events he entered. He also played on three Ryder Cup teams (1977, 1979, and 1985) and was undefeated in singles play.

A native of Birmingham, Ala., Green graduated from Florida State University in 1968. While at FSU, he won the Cape Coral Intercollegiate tournament by eight strokes and the Miami Invitational, the nation’s largest collegiate tournament, by five strokes. He turned pro in 1969, earned his Tour card in 1970 and was named PGA Rookie of the Year in 1971.

Green's first PGA Tour win was the 1971 Houston Champions International, in which he beat Don January in a playoff. Between 1973 and 1976 he won 10 more times, including a three-week stretch in 1976 when he won at Doral, Jacksonville and Hilton Head.

Green won the 1977 U.S. Open at Southern Hills in Tulsa, Okla., despite being informed of a death threat against him that had been anonymously telephoned to the course. He received the news after putting out on the 14th hole of the final round. He decided to keep playing, and wound up winning  by one stroke over Lou Graham.

A seldom-remembered fact about Green: he finished third behind Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus in their 1977 "Duel in the Sun" Open Championship at Turnberry. He was 11 strokes behind winner Watson.

Green won his second major championship in 1985, taking the PGA Championship at Cherry Hills. By a margin of two strokes, he denied Lee Trevino's bid to win back-to-back PGAs. It would be Green's last win on the PGA Tour. Afterward, Trevino praised his opponent, saying “He’s a great sand player and probably the best chipper we’ve got. Every time he got into trouble, he chipped it close to the hole.”

Green joined what is now known as the PGA Tour Champions in 1997 and went on to win four times, the first win coming in 1998 in his hometown of Birmingham.

Green was also involved in golf course design, including courses such as TPC Southwind,  Reynolds Plantation in Greensboro, Ga.; and Greystone Golf & Country Club in Birmingham.

Green was diagnosed with stage-four throat cancer in 2003. Treated with chemotherapy and radiation, he continued playing golf. In 2005, he was named the Champions Tour's Comeback Player of the Year. He also received the Ben Hogan Award at the Masters that year. In 2007 he was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.

Green is also remembered for his philanthropic efforts. Over the years he participated in hundreds of charity tournaments and community fund-raising events that supported a wide range of causes including childhood cancer, united cerebral palsy, and other illnesses.

Green is survived by his wife Becky Blair, of Birmingham; three sons, Hubert Myatt Green Jr. of Hurricane, Utah; Patrick Myatt Green; and James Thomas Green (Adrienne) of Panama City, Fla.; sisters Melinda Green Powers and Carolyn Green Satterfield and brother Maurice O. V. Green, all of Birmingham, step-sons Richard O’Brien of New Orleans and Atticus O’Brien of Dallas, Texas, and several grandchildren.

A memorial service is being planned at Highlands United Methodist Church in Birmingham, and details are pending. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to Highlands United Methodist Church Community Ministry or to a charity of your choice.

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Five-time Open champ Thomson passes at 88

By Associated PressJune 20, 2018, 1:35 am

Hailed as a hero to some and as golf royalty to others, Peter Thomson, a five-time winner of The Open and the only player in the 20th century to win the championship for three straight years, died Wednesday. He was 88.

Thomson had been suffering from Parkinson's disease for more than four years and died at his Melbourne home surrounded by family members, Golf Australia said.

The first Australian to win The Open, Thomson went on to secure the title five times between 1954 and 1965, a record equaled only by American Tom Watson.

The Australian's wins came in 1954, '55, '56, again in 1958 and lastly in 1965 against a field that included Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus.

Only Harry Vardon, with six titles between 1896 and 1914, won more.

Thomson also tied for fourth at the 1956 U.S. Open and placed fifth in the 1957 Masters. He never played the PGA Championship.

In 1998, he captained the International side to its only win over the United States at the Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne.

Asked by The Associated Press in 2011 how he'd like to be remembered, Thomson replied: ''A guy who always said what he thought.''

Veteran Australian golfer Karrie Webb was among the first to tweet her condolences, saying she was ''saddened to hear of the passing of our Aussie legend and true gentleman of the game .... so honored to have been able to call Peter my friend. RIP Peter.''

Former PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said Thomson was ''a champion in every sense of the word, both on the course and in life.''

''Many know him as a five-time champion golfer of the year or as a three-time captain of the Presidents Cup International team.'' Finchem added. ''But he was also a great friend, father, grandfather and husband. He was golfing royalty, and our sport is a better one because of his presence.''

Former golfer and now broadcaster Ian Baker-Finch, the 1991 Open champion, called Thomson his ''hero'' - ''Peter - my friend and mentor R.I.P. Australian golf thanks you for your iconic presence and valuable guidance over the years.''

From Britain, R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers praised Thomson's plans for the game's future.

''Peter gave me a number of very interesting and valuable thoughts on the game, how it has developed and where it is going, which demonstrated his genuine interest and love of golf,'' Slumbers said. ''He was one of the most decorated and celebrated champion golfers in the history of The Open.''

Born in the Melbourne inner-city suburb of Brunswick on Aug. 23, 1929, Thomson was a promising cricketer. He scored an unbeaten 150 runs for the Carlton club against a men's side as a 15-year-old.

But golf became his passion, and he turned professional in 1947.

He won the national championships of 10 countries, including the New Zealand Open nine times and Australian Open three times. He first played on the PGA Tour in the U.S. in 1953 and 1954, finishing 44th and 25th on the money list, respectively. He won the Texas International in 1956.

Thomson won nine times on the Senior PGA tour in the U.S. in 1985, topping the money list. His last tournament victory came at the 1988 British PGA Seniors Championship, the same year he was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.

Overall, he won 26 European Tour events, 34 times on the Australasian PGA tour and 11 on the seniors tour in the U.S, as well as once in Japan.

In later years, Thomson wrote articles for many publications and daily newspapers, was club professional at Royal Melbourne and designed more than 100 golf courses. In the 2011 Presidents Cup program, Thomson provided an insightful hole-by-hole analysis of the composite course at Royal Melbourne.

Thomson was always reluctant to compare his wins with anyone else's.

''All records are qualified in that they were made at a certain time in history,'' Thomson told golf historian and author Brendan Moloney for a story on his 80th birthday.

''The circumstances change so much, and so do the players' attitudes. In golf, only in the last 30 years or so has there been a professional attitude to playing for money. The professionals in the USA and Britain and anywhere else all had club jobs as a backstop to their income.

''When they did play and make records, you have to understand that they were taking time off from the pro shop,'' he said. ''So the records that were set were pretty remarkable.''

Thomson always had stories to tell, and told them well. With a full head of hair and a lineless face that belied his age, the Australian wasn't afraid to let everyone know his feelings on any subject.

That was true as far back as 1966. As president of the Australian PGA, Thomson was indignant that Arnold Palmer's prize for winning the Australian Open was only $1,600, out of a total purse of $6,000, one of the smallest in golf.

''Golf Stars Play for Peanuts,'' blared the headline of a story he wrote. ''Never before has such a field of top golfers played for what $6,000 is worth today. Canada offers 19 times that. I know 19 other countries who give more.''

But he was always happy on the golf course.

''I've had a very joyful life, playing a game that I loved to play for the sheer pleasure of it,'' Thomson said. ''I don't think I did a real day's work in the whole of my life.''

Thomson served as president of the Australian PGA for 32 years and worked behind the scenes for the Odyssey House drug rehabilitation organization where he was chairman for five years.

In 1979, he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his service to golf, and in 2001 became an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for his contributions as a player and administrator and for community service.

Thomson is survived by his wife Mary, son Andrew and daughters Deirdre Baker, Pan Prendergast and Fiona Stanway, their spouses, 11 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

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Gaston leaves USC to become head coach at Texas A&M

By Ryan LavnerJune 19, 2018, 11:00 pm

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.