'You never forget'

By Jason SobelSeptember 9, 2011, 2:38 pm

Tucked into the south shore of Long Island, built on a broad swath of marshland more than a century ago, Inwood Country Club is a golf course steeped in tradition. Walter Hagen won his first of four PGA Championship titles at this spot in 1921; Bobby Jones claimed his first of four U.S. Open victories here two years later. To this day, both men remain immortalized on plaques commemorating their achievements that can be found nestled into the course’s terrain.

As with most real estate in the metropolitan New York area, one of Inwood's greatest assets has always been its location. On numerous holes, golfers can spend time in between shots gazing at the silvery jumbo jets taking off from nearby JFK Airport or admiring the Manhattan skyline across Jamaica Bay on a clear morning.

There’s never been a clearer morning than that of Sept. 11, 2001.

As part of that year's Met PGA Championship, longtime club professionals Darrell Kestner, Rick Hartmann and Frank Bensel teed off Inwood's first hole at precisely 8:48 a.m. The opener is a dogleg par-4 that begins in the cool shade of adjacent trees, then winds around to the right, leaving that unmistakable view of the city completely visible as players approach their second shots.

It's an image every man in the group had witnessed many times in the past – which is exactly why each knew something was seriously wrong that morning. Looking out across the bay, they realized the World Trade Center was on fire.

“We saw the smoke coming from the buildings,” Hartmann recalls, “and we said, ‘My God…’”

Still without knowledge of the terrorist attack that had crashed a plane into the North Tower minutes earlier, the golfers continued playing the first hole. Hartmann was standing over his par putt as the others watched the scene unfolding in the background.

“It was so crystal clear of a day, you could not only see the buildings, it looked like you could reach out and touch them,” Kestner remembers. “I just happened to be staring at the buildings and saw the blast come out our side of them.”

They heard it, too, the cacophonous explosion piercing through the air. It was the result of a second plane being flown into the South Tower.

Bob Regan was caddying for Hartmann that day. An off-duty firefighter who worked at a station on Tillary St. in Brooklyn, he understood immediately how grave the situation was becoming and knew he could help. While mass amounts of people were fleeing from Manhattan any way possible, Regan left the golf bag next to the first green and excused himself.

He needed to be there.

“It’s just one of those things that’s part of the job,” Regan explains. “You swear to do your job, you take an oath. It’s like if you go into the military. Once you’re in there, you’re there to protect each other.”

Regan raced to the firehouse in Brooklyn, where he gathered up supplies and equipment that would be necessary at the scene. Using an old Suburban that had been parked nearby, he and some fellow off-duty firefighters drove toward Ground Zero. Once there, they unhesitatingly went to work, saving lives and putting out fires in the midst of the most critical act of terrorism the U.S. has ever witnessed.

The contrast was especially stark for Regan, who in the span of just over two hours had caddied for one hole of a professional golf tournament, then dropped the bag and headed for the disaster.

“It was surreal to me,” he says, “but you go through so much training that you just do it.”

As if that wasn’t enough, Regan’s wife, Elizabeth, was a flight attendant, working the shuttle from Washington D.C. to New York that morning. He didn’t find out she was safe until his journey toward the destructed buildings was near completion. And he didn’t see her again for three days, when he returned home for the first time after arriving on the scene that morning.

“It really hit me when I came home,” he recalls. “I hadn’t been home for three days. I just grabbed my wife and started crying. I couldn’t do it while I was working, but when I left work, all that I had experienced and gone through – you’re a person like anyone else. It was sad. A lot of people I knew died…”

Regan’s voice trails off and when he tries to speak again, he gets choked up.

“It’s always kind of like, ‘Where were you when 9/11 happened?’” he says. “You never forget. I’ll always remember where I was.”

Inwood Country Club remains known mostly for the two major championships it held nearly a century ago. Those plaques honoring Hagen and Jones are still visible, but they have been joined by a more recent, more impactful memorial.

Planted to the left of the 13th green and right of the 14th fairway is a lone tree. Underneath lies a small plaque with a simple inscription: “IN REMEMBRANCE OF THOSE WHO LOST THEIR LIVES ON SEPTEMBER 11, 2001.” In the distance, the Manhattan skyline can be seen across Jamaica Bay on a clear morning. The view was irrevocably altered that day. It will never look the same.

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Kang 'going with the flow,' one back of A. Jutanugarn

By Associated PressOctober 18, 2018, 9:43 am

SHANGHAI – Ariya Jutanugarn shot a 6-under 66 to take a one-stroke lead after the first round of the Buick LPGA Shanghai tournament on Thursday.

The Thai player had six birdies in a bogey-free round, including three straight on Nos. 4, 5, and 6.

''I always have so much fun when I play in Asia,'' said Jutanugarm, who added her key was ''just not to expect anything. Just go out have fun and enjoy everything.''

Sei Young Kim and Danielle Kang (both 67) were one shot back, with six other players only two shots off the lead.

Full-field scores from the Buick LPGA Shanghai

The tournament is the second of five being played in South Korea, Japan, China and Taiwan in the LPGA's annual Asian swing.

Kang credited her improved play to new coach Butch Harmon.

''We just kind of simplify the game a lot,'' the American said. ''Just trying to calm it down and get back to how I used to play. Just more feel golf. Thinking less mechanics and going with the flow.''

Kang tied for third last week at the KEB Hana Bank championship in Incheon, South Korea.

''Today's round went very smooth,'' Kang said. ''Coming off very good momentum after last week, and I've been hitting the ball really well, playing great. I've just been trusting my game and just keep giving myself birdie chances. They kept rolling in.''

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Sharpshooting Reavie (68) leads tough CJ Cup

By Associated PressOctober 18, 2018, 9:34 am

JEJU ISLAND, South Korea – Chez Reavie overcame cool, windy conditions for a 4-under 68 and a one-stroke lead after the first round of the CJ Cup at Nine Bridges on Thursday.

In the breezy conditions, the back nine of the course posed the most difficulty, but the 36-year-old American made two birdies and negotiated it in 35 after starting on the 10th tee, and then picked up three shots on his final nine.

Danny Willett and Si Woo Kim shot 69 while the large group at 70, and tied for fourth, included Ian PoulterNick Watney and Michael Kim.

Brooks Koepka, playing in his first tournament since being voted PGA Tour Player of the Year, shot 71 and was in a group three strokes behind and tied for 11th, which included Paul Casey and Hideki Matsuyama.

Jason Dufner and Brandt Snedeker shot 72. Defending champion Justin Thomas had a 73, as did Jason Day, Ernie Els and J.B. Holmes.

Full-field scores from the CJ Cup

CJ Cup: Articles, photos and videos

Marc Leishman, who won last week's CIMB Classic in Malaysia, and Adam Scott had 75s.

Reavie's only PGA Tour win came at the 2008 Canadian Open, and he finished second in back-to-back starts last year in Phoenix and Pebble Beach, losing at Phoenix in a playoff.

''It was a great day, I hit the ball really well,'' Reavie said of Thursday's round. ''The wind was blowing really hard all day long so you had to really start the ball well and keep it out of the wind. Luckily, I was able to do that.''

Despite the windy conditions, Reavie found all 14 fairways off the tee and hit 15 out of 18 greens in regulation, which he felt was the key to a good score.

''It's tough because once you get above the hole with this wind, it's really hard to chip it close,'' he said. ''The more greens you can hit, the better and that was key to my game.''

Willett, who has struggled with injuries and form since winning the 2016 Masters and has dropped to No. 342 in the world, made five birdies and two bogeys in his 69. Willett has just one top-five finish since finishing second in the Italian Open in September 2016.

Having committed to play on the PGA Tour by taking up membership this season, Willet said it was important to make a quick start to the season.

''I've done two tours for a couple of years, and it's very difficult,'' Willett said. ''We committed to play on the PGA Tour, to play predominantly over here this year and next. It's nice to kind of get in and get some points early if you can.''

The second of three PGA Tour events in three weeks in Asia has a 78-player field and no cut. Only 19 players broke par on Thursday.

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Koepka takes edge over Thomas in race for world No. 1

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 18, 2018, 5:50 am

Brooks Koepka got the inside track against Justin Thomas in their head-to-head battle this week for world No. 1.

Koepka shot 1-under 71 on Thursday at the CJ Cup, while Thomas shot 1-over 73.

Chez Reavie leads after 18 holes at Nine Bridges in Juju Island, South Korea, following a 4-under 68.

Koepka, currently world No. 3, needs to win this week or finish solo second [without Thomas winning] in order to reach the top spot in the rankings for the first time in his career. Thomas, currently No. 4, must win to reclaim the position he surrendered in June.

One week after 26 under par proved victorious in Malaysia, birdies weren’t as aplenty to begin the second leg of the PGA Tour’s Asian swing.

Full-field scores from the CJ Cup

CJ Cup: Articles, photos and videos

In chilly, windy conditions, Koepka and Thomas set out alongside one another – with Sungjae Im (73) as the third – on the 10th hole. Koepka bogeyed his first hole of the day on his way to turning in even-par 36. Thomas was one worse, with two bogeys and a birdie.

On their second nine, Koepka was steady with two birdies and a bogey to reach red figures for the day.

"I felt like I played good. I hit some good shots, missed a couple putts early and kind put myself in a little bit of trouble on the back nine, my front, but rallied pretty nicely," Koepka said. "I felt like I found a bit of rhythm. But it's a difficult day, anything under par, level par is a good score out there today. I'm pleased with it."

Thomas, however, had two birdies and a double bogey on his inward half. The double came at the par-4 fourth, where he four-putted. He nearly made up those two strokes on his final hole, the par-5 ninth, when a wild approach shot [as you can see below] traversed the contours of the green and settled 6 feet from the hole. But Thomas missed the short eagle putt and settled for birdie.

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Watch: Thomas' approach takes wild ride on CJ Cup green

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 18, 2018, 5:17 am

Two over par with one hole to play in Round 1 of the CJ Cup, Justin Thomas eyed an eagle at the par-5 ninth [his 18th].

And he nearly got it, thanks to his ball beautifully navigating the curves of the green.

Thomas hit a big draw for his second shot and his ball raced up the green's surface, towards the back, where it caught the top of ridge and funneled down to within 6 feet of the hole.

Unfortunately for Thomas, the defending champion, he missed the eagle putt and settled for birdie and a 1-over 73.