Failure at First Thought

By Mercer BaggsFebruary 19, 2006, 5:00 pm
Lindsey Jacobellis. Name ring a bell? If not, then you probably havent been watching much of the Winter Olympics.
Truthfully, neither have I. Im from Georgia. Skiing, skating and snowboarding are as appealing to me as sitting through a Ben Crenshaw acceptance speech.
But when I saw an image Friday of Jacobellis sprawled out in the snow, looking as if she had been competing in the biathlon with Dick Cheney, I had to at least read about what happened.
If you dont know the story, Jacobellis was competing in something called womens snowboardcross (Seriously, snowboardcross? What the hell?). She was easily leading her race with just two mounds between her and the gold medal. On her penultimate jump, however, she got a little too cute, hot-dogged it a little, and slipped on the mustard. She landed awkwardly, crashed hard, watched helplessly as a Swiss competitor sped past her, and ultimately settled for silver.
Greg Norman
Despite all of his accomplishments, Greg Norman will forever be remembered for his 1996 Masters collapse.
In one brief moment, on one grand stage, Jacobellis became a member of the most dubious club in all of sports: Failure at First Thought.
FaFT. Doesnt have much of a ring to it. Like H.I. McDonough said in 'Raising Arizona': Thats one bonehead name.
That it is. And its an organization of which no one wants to be a part. Except that athletes dont have much of a choice as to their inclusion. We put them in.
Because it is we ' fans, media ' who forever attached this stigma to them.
FaFT is reserved for athletes who will forever be remembered for one inglorious incident or act, despite whatever their glorious accomplishments may have been.
Golf has ample representation in this group.
The president of the Golf chapter in FaFT is Greg Norman. The man was the greatest player of his generation, the greatest in the game for over a decade, and yet the mere mention of his name instantly revives ' above all other major mishaps ' memories of one single, solitary Sunday in Augusta, Ga.
Had there never been a Bob Tway or a Larry Mize, or even a Fuzzy Zoeller or a Paul Azinger, there would still be this day trumping all others in our minds. When you picture Norman, is it in some triumphant pose, perhaps holding a claret jug, or is it his body collapsing off the 15th green at Augusta National, his putter like a sword in the act of hari-kari, April 14, 1996?
Major championships are the great inductor of golfers into this ignoble society.
We dont really remember players for their failures in regular tournaments, unless their achievements are so minimal that there is nothing else by which to really remember them. Plus, there are just too many tournaments, too many collapses, too many mistakes to remember them all.
Its unlikely that years from now we will see Becky Iverson and immediately recall her making triple bogey on the 15th hole en route to losing this past weeks SBS Open.
But the majors are different. The majors are only four times a year. The majors are when we all pay attention. The majors are where we never forget the winners and never allow the losers to forget they lost.
Scott Hoch won 11 times on the PGA Tour, finished in the top 40 on the money list 20 times in a 21-year stretch, and was ' in a great oxymoron ' highly regarded as golfs most underrated performer.
And yet theres that 30 putt at Augusta in 89.
For Doug Sanders, theres that 30 putt at St. Andrews in 70.
That one would have made him a British Open champion. But he pushed it, and then tried to drag it back like he had just dropped a $100 bill into a charity box when he thought it was a dollar.
Thomas Bjorn
Thomas Bjorn's double bogey on the 16th in the 2003 British Open bought him inclusion into FaFT.
For Thomas Bjorn, theres Royal St. Georges 2003. Bjorn beat Tiger Woods head-to-head over four days in Dubai in 2001; they should have given him two trophies and Tigers appearance money for doing that. But this we dont remember. This we do: leaving two in the bunker on 16 and handing the claret jug to a guy who had done nothing prior and has done nothing since.
The guys in this group dont even need an explanation as to why they are members. You need only hear or read their name and it becomes immediately evident.
Roberto De Vicenzo. Jean Van de Velde. Ed Snead.
And Im sure there are more.
Many others could easily be among these unfortunate men, for they have had their unfortunate moments. Yet, for various reasons, though we may remember these failures, they are not the first things that come to our minds.
At first thought, Arnold Palmer is The King, the fans man. Hes not the man who doubled 18 to lose the 61 Masters or the man who blew a seven-stroke lead with nine holes to play in the 66 U.S. Open.
At first thought, Sam Snead is not the man who made an eight on the final hole to blow the 39 U.S. Open or the man who missed a 30 putt on the final hole to lose the 47 U.S. Open. Hes Slammin Sammy, the man with the sweet swing and the colorful tales. Hes a legend.
Just like Ben Hogan, who is a survivor, a perfectionist and a champion. He is all of these things before he is the man who 3-putted the 18th hole in both the 46 Masters and U.S. Open, losing by one in the former and missing out on a playoff in the latter.
Even a guy like Retief Goosen. Hes a two-time U.S. Open champion, the Quiet Man in the shadows of golfs modern-day Big 4. At first thought, hes not the man who shot 81 in the final round of last years U.S. Open, having begun the day with a three-stroke lead.
He could have forever been the man who missed a 3-foot putt to win the 2001 U.S. Open. But he got a reprieve, won in a playoff, and now that miss is more of a footnote than it is the main headline in his career review.
Its a shame that certain athletes will forever be remembered first and foremost for a single moment of failure. But thats the way it is; thats the way we think ' not all of us, but the majority of us, me included.
But in concern to these players, if their accomplishments dont supersede their biggest failure at first thought, at least try to remember the positives at some point down the line.
Remember that De Vicenzo won the 1967 British Open and was a gentleman of the game. Remember that Sanders won 20 times on the PGA Tour and was a character of the game.
Remember Normans many wins, in addition to his many losses.
Remember that Van de Velde well, theres really only one reason to remember Jean Van de Velde.
Email your thoughts to Mercer Baggs
American Junior Golf Association

Junior golfer's amazing run: ace, albatross, birdie

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 11:03 pm

While most of the golf world had its attention focused on Scotland and The Open Championship at Carnoustie on Thursday, the REALLY remarkable performance of the day was taking place in Halifax, Mass.

There, in an American Junior Golf Association tournament, a 16-year-old Thai player made a hole-in-one and an albatross on consecutive holes.

According to the AJGA, Conor Kelly holed a 5-iron shot on the 198-yard, par-3 eighth hole. It was his first hole-in-one. He then holed a 4-iron second shot from 220 yards on the 480-yard ninth holer for the albatross. (We're gonna go out on a limb and say it was his first albatross.)

Certainly a nice way to make the turn - but Kelly wasn't finished. He birdied the par-4 10th for a 1-2-3 sequence on his scorecard. For the day, he shot a 5-under 67 in the AJGA Junior Golf Hub Championship at the Country Club of Halifax.

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McIlroy, Rahm betting co-favorites after Open Round 1

By Will GrayJuly 19, 2018, 10:10 pm

They're both three shots off the lead, but after starting The Open with rounds in the 60s Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm are now betting co-favorites to lift the claret jug at Carnoustie.

McIlroy is four years removed from his Open triumph at Royal Liverpool, while Rahm remains in search of his first major title. Both carded rounds of 2-under 69 in Scotland to sit three shots off the lead of Kevin Kisner. While McIlroy started the tournament at 16/1 and Rahm at 20/1, they're now dead even at 10/1 in updated odds at the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook.

Kisner started the week at 200/1, but after an opening-round 66 he's quickly been trimmed to 25/1. Tony Finau sits one shot behind Kisner and is now listed behind only McIlroy and Rahm at 12/1 after starting the tournament at 60/1.

On the other side of the coin, consensus pre-tournament betting favorite Dustin Johnson fell from 12/1 to 100/1 following an opening 76 while Masters champ Patrick Reed shot a 4-over 75 to plummet from 30/1 to 200/1. Trailing by five shots following an opening-round 71, Tiger Woods' odds remained unchanged at 25/1 as he seeks a 15th career major title.

Here's a look at the revised betting odds heading into the second round at Carnoustie:

10/1: Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm

12/1: Tony Finau

14/1: Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler

20/1: Francesco Molinari

25/1: Tiger Woods, Alex Noren, Henrik Stenson, Kevin Kisner

30/1: Jordan Spieth, Zach Johnson, Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka

40/1: Ryan Moore, Jason Day

50/1: Erik Van Rooyen, Brandon Stone, Matt Kuchar

60/1: Danny Willett, Thomas Pieters, Marc Leishman, Thorbjorn Olesen, Russell Henley, Matthew Southgate

80/1: Webb Simpson, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Brendan Steele, Kevin Na

100/1: Dustin Johnson, Zander Lombard, Sung Kang, Paul Casey, Louis Oosthuizen, Xander Schauffele, Chris Wood, Pat Perez, Luke List, Charley Hoffman

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Despite 78, Lincicome savors PGA Tour experience

By Randall MellJuly 19, 2018, 9:41 pm

Two bad holes derailed Brittany Lincicome in her historic start Thursday at the Barbasol Championship, but they couldn’t wipe the smile off her face afterward.

It might have been the most fun she ever had shooting a 78.

Lincicome joined Babe Zaharias, Shirley Spork, Annika Sorenstam, Suzy Whaley and Michelle Wie as the only women to tee it up in a PGA Tour event when she striped her opening tee shot down the middle Thursday at Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville, Ky.

A double bogey at her ninth hole and a triple at her 16th might have spoiled her chances at joining Zaharias as the only women to make a 36-hole cut in a PGA Tour event, but it didn’t spoil her experience.

“I did what I wanted to do, with having fun,” Lincicome said. “I think I nailed that part pretty well.

“I love playing with the guys. It's so much fun, being inside the ropes with them. Hopefully, I can get a good one tomorrow.”

Lincicome, 32, held her own for 16 holes, playing them in 1 over par, but those two big numbers left her tied for last place when she signed her scorecard, though other players remained on the course.

At 6 over, Lincicome is 13 shots behind the leader, probably seven or eight shots off the projected cut line, but she savored the experience. She arrived wanting to inspire young girls to dream big, and to bring some extra attention to a title sponsor who means so much to her. She represents Pure Silk, part of the Barbasol family.

Sam Ryder, who joined Conrad Shindler playing alongside Lincicome, was impressed with the way Lincicome carried herself.

“I would play with her every day if she wanted to,” said Ryder, who opened with a 68. “She's just a great person.

“Even though I know she's probably a little disappointed with her final score, she had a smile on her face all day.”

Lincicome, an eight-time LPGA winner, made her first birdie at her 12th hole, dropping a 30-foot putt, but she wasn’t happy with her putter much of the day. She missed three other good birdie chances, a 4-footer at her eighth hole, an 8-footer at her 10th and a 12-footer at the last.

“Pretty happy with my game overall,” Lincicome said. “I had two bad holes, but I drove it well. I did all the things I said I needed to do, but my putter let me down today.”

After piping her first drive, Lincicome opened with three consecutive pars.

“I was actually calmer than I thought I was going to be,” she said. “I thought I was going to be a nervous wreck. After the first tee shot, I was pretty happy that I found the fairway.”

Lincicome said Ryder and Shindler made her feel welcome. So did the crowds.

“It was great,” she said. “I could feel the energy of the crowd support me. Every time I hit a good driver or good shot, they would cheer for me, which was great.

“Conrad and Sam were so nice. I couldn't have asked for a better pairing. They were very welcoming, and we were interacting, they were asking me questions, and it was great.”

On Tuesday, Lincicome said a key to her play would be hitting fairways. She did that, hitting 10 of 14, but she was taking in longer clubs than she does in LPGA events, with Keene Trace set up at 7,168 yards. That’s 600 yards longer than she played last week at the LPGA’s Marathon Classic, where she finished second. She hit just 8 greens in regulation in this PGA Tour start.

Lincicome is nicknamed “Bam Bam.” She is one of the LPGA’s longest drivers, but she was typically 30 to 40 yards behind Ryder and Shindler after hitting her driver. She averaged 259 yards per drive, Ryder 289 yards.

“She had a couple birdie putts that she could have made,” Ryder said. “If she made a couple of those, might've been a little bit different, just to get a little bit of momentum. Who knows?”

Lincicome’s biggest challenges were the par 3s.

At the 18th, playing 195 yards, she mis-hit her tee shot, knocking it in the water, short of the green. She took a penalty, moved up to a forward tee, dropped and hit into a right greenside bunker. She got up and down from there for a 5.

At the seventh, playing 198 yards, she missed wild right and deep. From a tough spot in the rough, she left her pitch short of the green. She chipped her third past the hole and to the fringe, where she took three putts from 20 feet.

Afterward, Lincicome wasn’t dwelling on the bad shots. She was focused on going to sign autographs for all the fans waiting for her, including all the little girls who came out to see her.

“I need to go back over there and sign,” she said. “Any time I can influence a child, especially a girl, obviously I want to get them involved with the LPGA, as much as possible.”

Her overall assessment of her day?

“It was a great experience,” she said.

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Watch: Full replays of The Open coverage

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 8:55 pm

NBC Sports and Golf Channel are showcasing nearly 50 hours of live coverage of the 147th Open. Missed anything? Well, you can catch up right here. Click on the links below for replays from Carnoustie, broken down into daily segments:

Thursday, Day 1 (Times ET)

Noon-4PM (Watch): Tiger Woods was up and down in the afternoon, as winds picked up a little and no one could catch Kevin Kisner. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Woods, Russell Knox and Hideki Matsuyama.

1:30-8:25AM (Watch): Defending champion Jordan Spieth got off to a good start, while Kevin Kisner (66) set the early pace. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm and Chris Wood.