Hawks Nest: Money, motive and manners

By John HawkinsNovember 4, 2013, 3:00 pm

It’s always nice to see a mega-talent like Dustin Johnson win a real golf tournament, even if it is a WGC with some big names MIA or AWOL, depending on your POV. It’s not Johnson’s fault that Tiger Woods traveled 8,169 miles to China for a $3 million game of pattycake with Rory McIlroy, then couldn’t schlep it 902 miles north to Shanghai and join a decent field three days later.

Conventional wisdom tells me Tiger needed the time off to prepare for this week’s Turkish Airlines Open. I’m gonna be dead honest with you – I didn't even know Turkey had its own airline. Now it has its own European Tour event, although it should be pointed out that Turkey is one of those rare countries that is part of two continents: Europe and Asia.

I know, I know. You couldn’t care less. All anyone wants to know is, how much free money is Woods getting to show up in Antalya with a clean red shirt and a golf swing? Again, $3 million seems to be the magic number – roughly the same amount Eldrick split with McIlriches last Monday at Mission Hills.

Does the $3 million come with a complimentary tank of jet fuel from the title sponsor? It’s a long way back to Jupiter, be it the town in Florida or the planet next to Saturn, and the last thing anyone wants is a 14-time major champion leaving town unhappy. With that in mind, I suggest that a local caterer handle the clubhouse spread. You know what they say about airline food.

YOU’LL BE SADDENED to hear that Englishman Simon Dyson has withdrawn from the TAO after he was accused of cheating at the BMW Masters, which necessitated his appearing before an independent disciplinary panel to address the charge last week. Multiple published reports refer to Dyson’s illicit action as “tapping down a spike mark,” which, at least technically, wasn’t really the case.

Dyson obviously broke a rule by flattening the ground a few inches in front of his mark – the defendant himself admitted as much. As is often the case in these situations, however, things get more complicated from there. What I find particularly appalling is Dyson’s description of the infraction as an “accidental mistake,” a term he used in a statement on the matter last week.

Rarely could a pro golfer’s intent appear more obvious. Dyson’s use of the ball as a “flattening tool” is so unusual that any denial of a motive will be hard to justify and harder to believe. As a golf fan who doesn’t always believe the crime fits the punishment, I’m certainly hoping level-headed justice is served here.

WHILE PLAYING IN an inter-club match a couple weekends ago, I was asked the question a veteran golf writer hears more than any other. “Who are the nicest guys on the Tour?” one of our opponents inquired, which usually precedes a request to identify the biggest jerks. Only in safe company will I bother responding to the follow-up, but my nicest-guy answer has been the same for a decade or so.

Kenny Perry.

There are more than a dozen worthy candidates, and though I may not be the world’s fairest judge of character, I didn’t get this space by being wishy-washy, either. Perry is an exceptionally kind-hearted human being without a phony nerve in his body. He is the ultimate family man, a giver and a pleaser, and though every tour pro I’ve ever met has at least a little ego, Perry is a Kentucky boy with tremendous balance and clear perspective in his soul.

Now that he’s won the 2013 Charles Schwab Cup as the best player on the Champions Tour, I feel compelled to share a few Kenny Perry stories. My favorite actually emerged from the lone dust-up we’ve had – I wrote a column for Golf World in the summer of 2008 criticizing Perry’s decision to skip the British Open and play in the John Deere Classic.

“Hawkins and those guys have said some pretty rude things about me,” Perry quipped at the Deere, which didn’t bother me because it wasn’t exactly true. Having won the Memorial and Buick Open that June, KP was the hottest golfer on the planet, and I simply thought it was a shame that he wasn’t heading over to Royal Birkdale in search of that elusive first major title.

Anyway, it wasn’t until late August at The Barclays that I finally caught up to Perry. I had tried to contact him by phone through my longtime colleague, Tim Rosaforte, but KP was on a houseboat at the time and told Rosaforte he didn’t want to talk to me. So I drove down to New Jersey not knowing what to expect. I just knew I had to do whatever it took to work things out.

There he was on the practice range, one of three or four guys hitting balls late Tuesday afternoon. Perry saw me coming, put down his club and broke into a million-dollar smile. “Ancient history,” he would call our difference of opinion, and for the next 15 minutes, we chatted like a couple of guys creeping up on our 50th birthdays.

A few years earlier, I’d flown into Nashville and driven about 45 minutes north to meet Perry at his pride and joy: Country Creek GC, a cute little public track in his hometown of Franklin, Ky. I found it rather funny that it was snowing when I landed in Tennessee, knowing how much Perry dislikes cold weather, and made it a point to let him know about it when I arrived in Franklin.

We spent the day filling microcassettes and hanging out with 14-handicaps in denim overalls. When you write a lengthy feature on someone, you don’t always like them as much as when you started the project. When I turned in the Kenny Perry piece, I liked him about 10 times more.

Fast-forward to the 2009 Masters, where Perry bogeyed the final two holes and lost in a playoff to Angel Cabrera. As the twilight turned to darkness, there was KP explaining himself in front of maybe 15 television cameras just outside the Augusta National media center. Both of his daughters, who were 20 and 24 at the time, were crying, as was Perry’s daughter in-law.

Justin Perry, Kenny’s lone son, had this blank, faraway look on his face that I’ll never forget, listening to his dad beat himself up and second-guess crucial decisions down the stretch. The whole scene was agonizing to watch but impossible to walk away from – a painful family portrait no journalist could adequately capture with syllables.

Maybe I would have felt differently if it had been somebody else, but it wasn’t. Nice guys hardly ever finish last. Sometimes, they finish second and shatter the hearts of all the good people around them.

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Storms halt Barbasol before Lincicome tees off

By Associated PressJuly 20, 2018, 11:29 pm

NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - Brittany Lincicome will have to wait until the weekend to resume her bid to make the cut in a PGA Tour event.

Overnight storms delayed the start of the second round Friday in the Barbasol Championship, and an afternoon thunderstorm suspended competition for good. The round will resume Saturday morning with much of the field still to play.

The second stoppage at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came 20 minutes before Lincicome's scheduled tee time.

Lincicome was near the bottom of the field after opening with a 6-over 78 on Thursday. The first LPGA player since Michelle Wie in 2008 to start a PGA Tour event, she needs a huge rebound to join Babe Zaharias (1945) as the only female players to make the cut.

Troy Merritt had the clubhouse lead at 15 under, following an opening 62 with a 67.

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Third-round tee times for the 147th Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 9:05 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Eighteen major champions made the cut at The Open and will be playing the weekend at Carnoustie, including 60-year-old ageless wonder Bernhard Langer, and both major champs so far this year, Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka.

Twenty-four-year-old Gavin Green will be first off solo Saturday at 4:15 a.m. ET. Reed and Rhys Enoch will follow along 10 minutes later.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, both at even par for the tournament, six shots behind leaders Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner, are in consecutive groups. Mickelson is playing with Austin Cook at 8:05 a.m. and Woods is with South Africa’s Shaun Norris at 8:15 a.m.

Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, both three shots off the lead, are also in consecutive groups. Fowler is at 10 a.m. with Thorbjorn Olesen and Spieth is 10 minutes later with Kevin Chappell. Rory McIlroy, looking to win his first major since the 2014 PGA Championship, is at 10:40 a.m. with Xander Schauffele. McIlroy is two shots behind.

Johnson and Kisner are last off at 11 a.m.

4:15AM ET: Gavin Green

4:25AM ET: Rhys Enoch, Patrick Reed

4:35AM ET: Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Justin Rose

4:45AM ET: Yusaku Miyazato, Tyrrell Hatton

4:55AM ET: Ross Fisher, Keegan Bradley

5:05AM ET: Ryan Fox, Jason Dufner

5:15AM ET: Bryson DeChambeau, Henrik Stenson

5:25AM ET: Tom Lewis, Sam Locke (a)

5:35AM ET: Paul Casey, Chris Wood

5:45AM ET: Bernhard Langer, Rafa Cabrera Bello

6:00AM ET: Paul Dunne, Brett Rumford

6:10AM ET: Masahiro Kawamura, Shubhankar Sharma

6:20AM ET: Cameron Smith, Brendan Steele

6:30AM ET: Marc Leishman, Lee Westwood

6:40AM ET: Byeong Hun An, Kevin Na

6:50AM ET: Julian Suri, Adam Hadwin

7:00AM ET: Gary Woodland, Si-Woo Kim

7:10AM ET: Yuta Ikeda, Satoshi Kodaira

7:20AM ET: Marcus Kinhult, Thomas Pieters

7:30AM ET: Beau Hossler, Haotong Li

7:45AM ET: Cameron Davis, Sean Crocker

7:55AM ET: Louis Oosthuizen, Stewart Cink

8:05AM ET: Phil Mickeslon, Austin Cook

8:15AM ET: Tiger Woods, Shaun Norris

8:25AM ET: Lucas Herbert, Michael Kim

8:35AM ET: Jason Day, Francesco Molinari

8:45AM ET: Sung Kang, Webb Simpson

8:55AM ET: Patrick Cantlay, Eddie Pepperell

9:05AM ET: Matthew Southgate, Brooks Koepka

9:15AM ET: Kyle Stanley, Adam Scott

9:30AM ET: Charley Hoffman, Alex Noren

9:40AM ET: Ryan Moore, Brandon Stone

9:50AM ET: Luke List, Danny Willett

10:00AM ET: Thorbjorn Olesen, Rickie Fowler

10:10AM ET: Jordan Spieth, Kevin Chappell

10:20AM ET: Zander Lombard, Tony Finau

10:30AM ET: Matt Kuchar, Erik Van Rooyen

10:40AM ET: Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele

10:50AM ET: Pat Perez, Tommy Fleetwood

11:00AM ET: Kevin Kisner, Zach Johnson

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Facial hair Fowler's new good-luck charm

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 8:12 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Before, during and after the Fourth of July, Rickie Fowler missed a few appointments with his razor.

He arrived in the United Kingdom for last week’s Scottish Open still unshaved and he tied for sixth place. Fowler, like most golfers, can give in to superstition, so he's decided to keep the caveman look going for this week’s Open Championship.

“There could be some variations,” he smiled following his round on Friday at Carnoustie.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

At this rate, he may never shave again. Fowler followed an opening 70 with a 69 on Friday to move into a tie for 11th place, just three strokes off the lead.

Fowler also has some friendly competition in the beard department, with his roommate this week Justin Thomas also going for the rugged look.

“I think he kind of followed my lead in a way. I think he ended up at home, and he had a little bit of scruff going. It's just fun,” Fowler said. “We mess around with it. Obviously, not taking it too seriously. But like I said, ended up playing halfway decent last week, so I couldn't really shave it off going into this week.”

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Spieth (67) rebounds from tough Round 1 finish

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 7:55 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Guess whose putter is starting to heat up again at a major?

Even with a few wayward shots Friday at Carnoustie, Jordan Spieth made a significant climb up the leaderboard in the second round, firing a 4-under 67 to move just three shots off the lead.

Spieth showed his trademark grit in bouncing back from a rough finish Thursday, when he mis-clubbed on the 15th hole, leading to a double bogey, and ended up playing the last four holes in 4 over.

“I don’t know if I actually regrouped,” he said. “It more kind of fires me up a little.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Spieth missed more than half of his fairways in the second round, but he was able to play his approach shots from the proper side of the hole. Sure, he “stole a few,” particularly with unlikely birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 after errant drives, but he took advantage and put himself in position to defend his claret jug.

Spieth needed only 25 putts in the second round, and he credited a post-round adjustment Thursday for the improvement. The tweak allows his arms to do more of the work in his stroke, and he said he felt more confident on the greens.

“It’s come a long way in the last few months, no doubt,” he said.

More than anything, Spieth was relieved not to have to play “cut-line golf” on Friday, like he’s done each start since his spirited run at the Masters.

“I know that my swing isn’t exactly where I want it to be; it’s nowhere near where it was at Birkdale,” he said. “But the short game is on point, and the swing is working in the right direction to get the confidence back.”