The Succulence of Success

By Jerry FoltzAugust 6, 2002, 4:00 pm
If I win tomorrow, it will feel like Ive risen from the dead. Friends and fans of golf were happy to hear those words from Chip Beck Saturday evening in Omaha, Neb., because they signified a rebirth of sorts for a beloved former star whose game has taken him on a trip to golfing purgatory. Fortunately, and hopefully, Sundays third-place finish can give Beck at least the boarding pass on the return portion of his trip.
While the significance of his finish is subjective, the fact is that Chip Beck played in the final pairing of the premiere Tour tournament, with a chance to win. At one point seven shots off the lead early in the round, Beck rallied to within one through 16 holes. The details of his ultimate third-place finish arent nearly as significant as the type of golf he played on the back nine, and the confidence he displayed in doing so.

I had the opportunity to watch Beck play the final 13 holes of his round, and it was difficult for me to notice any difference between the Chip Beck of last week, and the Chip Beck of three Ryder Cups and four PGA Tour victories. He was undoubtedly the fan favorite as there were shouts of support from all corners of the Champions Club on Sunday. But the most poignant moment of the day was when he tapped in on the final hole in front of the most impressive gallery on the tour.
After just narrowly missing a putt to tie for the lead (at the time), he tapped in to a standing ovation. His fellow-competitors Tommy Biershenk and Jay Delsing stopped in their tracks as well, and joined in the gallerys applause. It would be nearly impossible to duplicate the collective emotion of everyone in attendance. And the effect if had on Chip was evident. One look in his ever-optimistic eyes and you could see no trace of a man who once missed 47 consecutive cuts on the PGA Tour. After spending most of his career as a threat to win any tournament, he registered no official earnings on the PGA Tour in 2001. His best finish on this years Buy.Com Tour was a tie for 55th; one of only two cuts he had made leading up to Omaha. At least for now, however, it looks as though Chip is back, and hopefully for good.
I cant tell you how good that was to see, said Jay Delsing. Ive seen Chip play as good as anyone in the world, and Ive witnessed Chip play as bad as any professional golfer could ever play. It just great to see him playing good again.
Delsings and Becks path to the wasnt all that dissimilar.
Delsing began a long and relatively successful PGA Tour career in 1985 as a highly-touted player from UCLA. His best season came in 1992 when he finished 52nd on the money list. After losing his exempt status, he, like Beck, accepted the challenge of working his way back to the Tour through the Buy.Com Tour. Not an easy thing to do according to Curt Byrum, our analyst for the week. I give them both a lot of credit for swallowing their pride and playing the Buy.Com Tour, Curt said. And his point was that players on the PGA Tour refer to playing on the Buy.Com Tour as going to play back down on the Buy.Com Tour.
Jay earned his first-ever PGA Tour-sanctioned victory last year at the Buy.Com Ft. Smith Classic. It was an emotional win for Jay and he was very open about it at the time. Just think what it must be like to play your whole career, lose your status on Tour, and have to wonder in your own heart if you have what it takes to win. And imagine the feeling of relief the instant all those doubts and demons are exorcised.
Although chasing the second victory probably cant compare to the first, in this case it might have been pretty close.
All week long, Jay had a tribute to a good friend on his hat in the form of his initials - JFB. Although the entire city of St Louis, not to mention the entire baseball community have paid tribute to Jack Buck, it was a little more significant for Jay.
Jays father has also been ill. In fact, Jim Delsing was in the same hospital with Buck before he passed. And to see Buck, a good friend of the Delsing family, die while watching his fathers condition deteriorate has taken an emotional toll on Jay. The tribute to Buck was on display for all to see, but the tribute to his father required a closer look.
Jay marks his golf balls with the number 24, the number his father wore during his Major League Baseball career. Jay does many things to remind him that golf is only a game while hes in the heat of the battle. Hes carries a ball marker that reminds him of his three daughters, as well as a few other trinkets. But its that 24 on his Titliest that provided some much needed inspiration on Sunday.
After bogeying the tough par-4 15th, Delsing missed a 7-foot par putt on the 16th. Delsing followed that by hitting what he called a real stinker of a putt for birdie on 17 that would have given him a one stroke lead over Anthony Painter who had just finished at 20-under-par. Delsing now seemed to be feeling the heat. After playing so smart and so good for the entire tournament, that putt on 17 looked very nervous. And now he had to play the 18th with shaken nerves and without the lead.
The 18th hole is a perfect finishing hole. With its amphitheater setting and huge galleries, its always ready for great drama. A relatively long uphill par-4 with a choice of two fairways from the tee, the 18th is perfect because its definitely birdieable, but it doesnt take much of a slip to make bogey either. So the scene was set for another exciting conclusion in Omaha.
Jay hit one of his best drives of the week, long and straight, leaving him with just 142 yards to the hole and a pitching wedge in his hands. From the fairway its tough for the players to see just how close the ball is to the hole, but in Omaha thats not a problem. When Jays ball checked-up about six feet left of the hole, they roared, and Jay knew he had a putt to win from roughly the same distance he had missed on the previous two holes.
After the ovation for Beck, and Biershenk was finished, it came down to Jay Delsing, his nerves, his putter, and a six-footer. But Jay wasnt alone. As he remarked his ball and lined up his putt, there was a myriad of thoughts crossing his mind. However, they all seemed to settle when he noticed that number 24 on his ball. His thoughts went to his ailing dad, and he said to himself, I really want to make this one for you, Dad.
Jay Delsing conquered his nerves and won the 2002 Omaha Classic. Chip Beck conquered his demons and finished third. And Jim Delsing got to watch on TV as his son found the selfless perspective to win one for dear ol dad. Congratulations all.
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Reed: 'Back still hurts' from carrying Spieth at Ryder Cup

By Rex HoggardMarch 22, 2018, 10:48 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – Friday’s marquee match at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play between Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed, who are both undefeated in pool play, just keeps getting better and better.

Following his 1-up victory over Charl Schwartzel on Thursday, Reed was asked what makes Spieth, who defeated HaoTong Li, 4 and 2, so good at match play.

“I don't know, my back still hurts from the last Ryder Cup,” smiled Reed, who teamed with Spieth at Hazeltine National.

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The duo did go 2-1-1 at the 2016 Ryder Cup and have a combined 7-2-2 record in Ryder and Presidents Cup play. Reed went on to explain why Spieth can be such a challenging opponent in match play.

“The biggest thing is he's very consistent. He hits the ball well. He chips the ball well. And he putts it really well,” Reed said. “He's not going to give you holes. You have to go and play some good golf.”

The winner of Friday’s match between Spieth and Reed will advance to the knockout stage.

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Reed vs. Spieth: Someone has to go

By Rex HoggardMarch 22, 2018, 10:11 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – The introduction of round-robin play to the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play was a necessary evil. It was needed to stem the tide of early exits by high-profile players, but three days of pool play has also dulled the urgency inherent to match play.

There are exceptions, like Friday’s marquee match between Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed, which is now a knockout duel with both players going 2-0-0 to begin the week in the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.

That the stars aligned so perfectly to have America’s most dominant pairing in team play the last few years square off in a winner-take-all match will only add to what promises to be must-see TV.

Sport doesn’t always follow the script, but the pre-match subtext on this one is too good to dismiss. In one corner, professional golf’s “Golden Child” who has used the Match Play to wrest himself out of the early season doldrums, and in the other there’s the game’s lovable bad boy.

Where Spieth is thoughtful and humble to the extreme, Reed can irritate and entertain with equal abandon. Perhaps that’s why they’ve paired so well together for the U.S. side at the Ryder and Presidents Cup, where they are a combined 7-2-2 as a team, although Spieth had another explanation.

“We're so competitive with each other within our own pairing at the Ryder Cup, we want to outdo each other. That's what makes us successful,” Spieth said. “Tiger says it's a phenomenon, it's something that he's not used to seeing in those team events. Normally you're working together, but we want to beat each other every time.”

But if that makes the duo a good team each year for the United States, what makes Friday’s showdown so compelling is a little more nuanced.

The duo has a shared history that stretches all the way back to their junior golf days in Texas and into college, when Reed actually committed to play for Texas as a freshman in high school only to change his mind a year later and commit to Georgia.

That rivalry has spilled over to the professional ranks, with the twosome splitting a pair of playoff bouts with Reed winning the 2013 Wyndham Championship in overtime and Spieth winning in extra holes at the 2015 Valspar Championship.

Consider Friday a rubber match with plenty of intrigue.

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Although the friendship between the two is genuine, there is an edge to the relationship, as evidenced by Reed’s comment last week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational when he was denied relief on the 11th hole on Sunday.

“I guess my name needs to be Jordan Spieth, guys,” Reed said.

While the line was clearly a joke, Reed added to Friday’s festivities when he was asked what makes Spieth such a good match play opponent. “I don't know, my back still hurts from the last Ryder Cup,” smiled Reed, a not-so-subtle suggestion that he carried Spieth at Hazeltine.

For his part, Spieth has opted for a slightly higher road. He explained this week that there have been moments in the Ryder Cup when his European opponents attempted some gamesmanship, which only angered Reed and prompted him to play better.

“I've been very nice to [Reed] this week,” Spieth smiled.

But if the light-hearted banter between the duo has fueled the interest in what is often a relatively quiet day at the Match Play, it’s their status as two of the game’s most gritty competitors that will likely lead to the rarest of happenings in sport – an event that exceeds expectations.

Both have been solid this week, with Speith winning his first two matches without playing the 18th hole and Reed surviving a late rally from Charl Schwartzel on Thursday with an approach at the 18th hole that left him a tap-in birdie to remain unbeaten.

They may go about it different ways, but both possess the rare ability to play their best golf on command.

“I’m glad the world gets to see this because it will be special,” said Josh Gregory, Reed’s college coach who still works with the world No. 23. “You have two players who want the ball and they aren’t afraid of anything. Patrick lives for this moment.”

 Where Reed seems to feed off raw emotion and the energy of a head-to-head duel, Spieth appears to take a more analytical approach to match play. Although he admits to not having his best game this week, he’s found a way to win matches, which is no surprise to John Fields, Spieth’s coach at Texas.

“Jordan gave us a tutorial before the NCAA Championship, we picked his brain on his thoughts on match play and how he competed. It’s one of those secret recipes that someone gives you,” Fields said. “When he was a junior golfer he came up with this recipe.”

Whatever the secret sauce, it will be tested on Friday when two of the game’s most fiery competitors will prove why match play can be the most entertaining format when the stars align like they have this week.

It was a sign of how compelling the match promises to be that when asked if he had any interest in the Spieth-Reed bout, Rory McIlroy smiled widely, “I have a lot of interest in that. Hopefully I get done early, I can watch it. Penalty drops everywhere.”

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Watch: Bubba casually hits flop shot over caddie's head

By Grill Room TeamMarch 22, 2018, 9:20 pm

We've seen this go wrong. Really wrong.

But when your end-of-year bonus is a couple of brand new vehicles, you're expected to go above and beyond every now and then.

One of those times came early Thursday at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, where Bubba Watson’s caddie Ted Scott let his boss hit a flop shot over his head.

It wasn’t quite Phil Mickelson over Dave Pelz, but the again, nothing is.

And the unique warm-up session paid off, as Watson went on to defeat Marc Leishman 3 and 2 to move to 2-0-0 in group play.

Hey, whatever works.

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Spieth explains why he won't play in a 'dome'

By Rex HoggardMarch 22, 2018, 9:01 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – No one at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play was as excited about Thursday’s forecast as Jordan Spieth.

Winds blew across Austin Country Club to 20 mph, which is typical for this time of year in Texas, and Spieth put in a typical performance, beating HaoTong Li, 4 and 2, to remain undefeated entering the final day of pool play.

The windy conditions were exactly what Spieth, who never trailed in his match, wanted. In fact, demanding conditions factor into how he sets his schedule.

“I have, and will continue to schedule tournaments away from a dome, because it's just unusual for me. I like having the feel aspect,” said Spieth, who attended the University of Texas and played Austin Country Club in college. “Places with no wind, where it's just driving range shots, it's just never been something I've been used to. So I don't really know what to do on them.”

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Spieth used the CareerBuilder Challenge as an example. The Coachella Valley event rarely has windy conditions, and as a result he’s never played the tournament.

“I played in a dome in Phoenix, and I didn't strike the ball well there. Actually I've had quite a few this year, where we didn't have very windy conditions,” said Spieth, who will face Patrick Reed in his final pool play match on Friday. “I don't go to Palm Springs, never have, because of that. Look at where you can take weeks off and if they match up with places that potentially aren't the best for me, then it works out.”