Golf - Make Some Family Memories
So whats there to do? Have you got it figured out yet? How many camps have you signed up your youngster(s) for?
How quickly can we pass them off to someone else so that our lives can remain - for the most part ' uninterrupted? Not so fast. Just hold on.
Heres what crossed my mind today as I, myself, begin to think about what is in store for the kids this summer. Golf. And a good dose of it for each of the three children I call my own.
I have three children. Twins (girl and boy) who will soon be 8 and another girl whos 4 and believes shes 8. The truth of it is that my son enjoys the game immensely and throughout the school year he goes to a golf clinic/camp one day a week at our club here in Windermere, Fla.
His interest actually peaked last summer as he spent three separate weeks attending a junior camp where kids gather from about 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. each day during the week. It started as just one week. But he liked it so much, he kept asking to do it again.
Nothing too intense. Working on the fundamentals, chipping and putting contests and range work, followed by a few holes on the course and some lunch. Time with friends was just as important. The fact that he could 'wedge in' a few chips and Gatorades on my account was a pretty cool feature as well.
I call it 'exposure.'
But while thats all fine and dandy, I can tell you that theres just something different about doing it as a father and a son. Or, for that matter, a father and a daughter (or two.) If your kids are like mine ' they just like being out on the course. Hit a few balls, fill a few divots, ride around in the cart, etc.
My girls arent as involved in camp as my son is. They like gymnastics and cheerleading, ballet and other activities more than they have a passion for golf. But they love the idea of going to the golf course.
And with this as my storyline ' Ive come to believe that theres just something different about this game over any other. Its about camaraderie. Its about relationships. Its about time. Golf is 'quality time' if you do it right.
I remember my grandfather taking an interest in me and the game years ago. I was probably about 10. My Dad wasnt playing back then because of back trouble, so 'Gramps' and I used to play the par-3 course near my house in the Chicago suburbs.
More than anything I loved the individual challenge.
My first official round of 18 holes still sticks in my mind. It came at my grandfathers course in Peachtree City, Ga. I shot 123 playing with his retired buddies.
Today, at 92 years of age and living in Southlake, Texas, hes still with me and we still talk about the game just as we did then. He asks about the tournaments I watch or have been to ' I tell him what I know. He asks about my most recent round of golf ' I tell him where it went right and where it went wrong.
My parents got me a great set of clubs as a college graduation gift. And that took me to another level of interest. My Dad picked up the game again which made things even better for me.
Now that I have my own children, I havent forgotten for a minute what fun I had just being out there. Sure it was about 'the score' and improving. But scoring time with family or friends is whats so great about the game.
So why am I writing this? Good question. But Memorial Day ' if you break it down ' is about memories, and remembering. Its about honoring and treasuring. And golf is the perfect way to create those memories, and find those simple treasures.
To me, as I said, it hit home this week on a day off taking my son to his Wednesday golf camp. I had taken the girls along too, and together we all had fun. We got there early and waited for things to get going. My son 'took me on' in our 'dont 3-putt contest,' while the girls took sand out of the carts and 'filled in' the bare spots around the green. Even the chips and soda in the grillroom passed the time perfectly. Thirty minutes was all that passed on the clock ' but it felt like just the right amount of time to do something together.
Like you Im sure, so often Im left to think about the missed putt that kept me out of the 70s or the bad drive that led to a double. But Wednesday was proof at just how therapeutic this game can be without even playing a hole.
This weekend might leave you with many options to fill the time together. Dont count on me to tell you what to do. But I can say that I might just take 'em out again for an hour on the range and a hole or two in the cart. Just enough to keep 'em understanding that this game is good for more than just a number at the end of the day.
I think it's about whatever you want it to be. And how many games or activities give us that opportunity?
Email your thoughts to Kraig Kann
Kerr blows big lead, heads into Kia Sunday one back
CARLSBAD, Calif. - Cristie Kerr blew a five-stroke lead Saturday in the Kia Classic to set up a final-round showdown at Aviara Golf Club.
A day after shooting an 8-under 64 to open the big lead, Kerr had a 75 to drop a stroke behind playing partner Lizette Salas, Eun-Hee Ji and In-Kyung Kim. Kerr was tied with Caroline Hedwall, Wei-Ling Hsu and Cindy LaCrosse, and four players were another shot back.
The 40-year-old Kerr had a double bogey on the par-4 15th after snap-hooking a drive into the trees. The 2015 winner at Aviara, she also had two bogeys and two birdies.
Ji had a 67 to match Salas (69) and Kim (69) at 11-under 205. Salas had a chance to pull away, but missed birdie putts of 1 1/2 feet on the short par-4 16th and 2 1/2 feet on the par-5 17th.
Anna Nordqvist had a 66 to top the group at 9 under.
Match Play Final Four set to bring the excitement
AUSTIN, Texas – Sunday’s Final Four at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play will include a pair of Georgia Bulldogs, a two-and-done phenom from Alabama and a Swede from Stockholm via Stillwater, that would be Oklahoma.
Just like that other tournament, right?
Actually, for all the volatility in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, it’s not even in the same league as this year’s Match Play, where just a single player who began the week seeded inside the top 10 is still playing.
But what the event may lack in star power it’s certainly made up for with stellar performances, starting with Justin Thomas who is the PGA Tour’s most avid Alabama fan and the tournament’s second-seeded player.
After not losing a match in three days of pool play, Thomas again cruised through his morning Round-of-16 bout with Si Woo Kim, 6 and 5; but found himself in an unfamiliar position early in his quarterfinal match against Kyle Stanley.
Having not trailed during any point in his matches this week, Thomas bogeyed the second hole to fall behind.
“I was hoping to never trail this whole week. I thought that was unbelievable that [2017 champion Dustin Johnson] did it last year,” Thomas said. “I'm going out there this afternoon, and I was like, ‘Man, I have got a chance of doing this, too.’ Then I missed a 3-footer on 2 and shot that out the window.”
The world’s second-ranked player was nearly perfect the rest of the way, regaining the lead with three birdies in four holes starting at No. 5 and closing Stanley out with a bogey-free finish.
It’s all part of an impressive turnaround for Thomas, who had been slowed in recent weeks by dental surgery followed by a bout with the flu, which nearly prompted him to miss the Match Play.
“I had a pretty serious conversation with my dad on Monday if I was going to play,” said Thomas, who can unseat Johnson atop the Official World Golf Ranking if he advances to the championship match. “I never want to play in a tournament, first off if it's going to hurt my health. If I was sick or really sick, me trying to play this week wasn't going to do me any good.”
His improved health has dovetailed with his increasingly better play at Austin Country Club and he’s now two matches away from winning his first World Golf Championship.
Like the NCAA tournament, however, being one of the last four standing only means more work, and Thomas will have plenty to keep him busy when he sets out early Sunday in a semifinal match against Bubba Watson.
Although Watson hasn’t been as dominant as Thomas, his ability to overpower any course, any time, has been evident this week following victories over Brian Harman, 2 and 1, and Kiradech Aphibarnrat, 5 and 3, on his way to the Final Four.
“When you're hitting an 8-iron and another guy is hitting a 7- or another guy is hitting a 6-iron, obviously that's going to change everything,” said Watson, who played his college golf at Georgia. “It's like LeBron James, when he jumps, he jumps higher than I do, so it's an advantage. When you're hitting the driver good and those guys you're naming, they're known for hitting the driver pretty well, just like Thomas is doing right now, he's been hammering it. Anytime that you're hitting the driver somewhat straight, it's an advantage.”
But if Bubba is a familiar foe for Thomas, he may want to do a quick Google search to fill in the blanks on one of his potential final opponents.
While Alex Noren is still a relatively unknown player to many American fans (and that’s certain to change in September at the Ryder Cup), it’s only because they haven’t been paying attention. The Swede, who attended Oklahoma State, has been dominant this week, sweeping the group stage followed by a 5-and-3 victory over Patrick Reed in the Sweet 16 and a 4-and-2 triumph over Cameron Smith in the quarterfinals.
“I've always liked match play because the outcome is quite direct,” said Noren, who will face Kevin Kisner in the semifinals. “In match play, you've just got to be really focused all the time and anything can happen. And then you have to play good each round. You can't just give up a round and then think you've got three more.”
But if a JT vs. Noren final would be the perfect Ryder Cup primer, the dream match up for Thomas in the championship tilt might be Kisner.
Kisner lost a friendly wager to Thomas earlier this year at the Sony Open when Alabama defeated Georgia in the NCAA National Championship football game and he had to wear an Alabama jersey while he played the 17th hole on Thursday.
Kisner would certainly appreciate the chance at a mulligan. And the way the duo have been rolling in birdie putts this week, it has the potential to be just as entertaining as that other tournament.
Up one, Stricker hunting second Champions title
BILOXI, Miss. - Steve Stricker moved into position for his second straight PGA Tour Champions victory, shooting a 3-under 69 on Saturday to take a one-stroke lead in the Rapiscan Systems Classic.
Stricker won the Cologuard Classic three weeks ago in Tucson, Arizona, for his first victory on the 50-and-over tour. He tied for 12th the following week in the PGA Tour's Valspar Championship.
Stricker had a 7-under 137 total at Fallen Oak, the Tom Fazio-designed layout with big, speedy greens.
The 51-year-old Wisconsin player bogeyed Nos. 2-3, rebounded with birdies on Nos. 6-7, birdied the par-4 12th and eagled the par-5 13th. He has six top-three finishes in eight career senior starts.
First-round leader Joe Durant followed his opening 66 with a 72 to drop into a tie for second with Jeff Sluman (67).
Thomas can take world No. 1 with win over Watson
AUSTIN, Texas – On March 7, Justin Thomas had his wisdom teeth removed, and just when he was recovering from that, he was slowed by a bout with the flu.
In total, he estimates he lost about seven pounds, and he admitted on Saturday at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play that he wasn’t sure he’d be able to play the event.
“I had a pretty serious conversation with my dad on Monday if I was going to play,” Thomas said. “I never want to play in a tournament, first off, if it's going to hurt my health. If I was sick or really sick, me trying to play this week wasn't going to do me any good.”
Thomas went on to explain he was “50/50” whether he’d play the World Golf Championship, but decided to make the start and it’s turned out well for the world’s second-ranked player.
After going undefeated in pool play, Thomas cruised past Si Woo Kim, 6 and 5, in the round of 16 and secured himself a spot in the semifinals with a 2-and-1 victory over Kyle Stanley in the quarterfinals. If Thomas wins his semifinal match against Bubba Watson on Sunday, he’s assured enough points to overtake Dustin Johnson atop the Official World Golf Ranking.
“I don't care when it happens; I just hope it happens and it happens for a while,” Thomas said when asked about the possibility of becoming world No. 1. “I don't know what to say because I've never experienced it. I don't know what's going to come with it. But I just hope it happens tomorrow.”