Keeping Something in the Cupboard

By Mercer BaggsNovember 18, 2004, 5:00 pm
2004 UBS CupKIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. -- It was a planned event, but it caught most onlookers by surprise. It even startled some of the players.
 
As the sun ascended over the Atlantic Ocean on a chilly Wednesday morning, fireworks decorated the sky over the Kiawah Island marshlands. It was a brilliant display ' more visually amazing than any high-priced 4th of July production, and it was loud ' really loud. It almost seemed out of place for such a low-key event.
 
The explosions concluded the Opening Ceremony of the fourth-annual UBS Cup. Afterwards, players for each team posed for pictures, chatted with one another, signed some autographs and joked around with members of the Citadels Summerall Guard, who led the precession, before heading off for a pro-am.
 
This is not the Ryder Cup, said recent Hall of Fame inductee Tom Kite.

And no one really wants it to be such.
 
The UBS Cup is two teams of 12, men in their 40s and beyond ' many of whom have Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup experience, competing against one another for the sake of competition. There wont be any gamesmanship, no second-guessing of captains, no negative residuals. The tension will be minimal, the smiles at a premium.
 
This competition will be played in the true spirit of the game, with respect, pride and camaraderie, said Gary Player.
 
Player is the captain of the Rest of the World team. He was the ROW foreman the first two years and gave way to Tony Jacklin a year ago so that he could focus on captaining the International team in the Presidents Cup, which was contested in his native South Africa.
 
His counterpart on the American side is once again Arnold Palmer.
 
Palmer has led the U.S. side in each of the first three editions. He was victorious in the first two and retained the Cup with a 12-12 tie a year ago at Sea Island. In fact, Palmer is undefeated as a team captain, having gone 2-0-0 as a Ryder Cup captain and 1-0-0 as the Presidents Cup leader.
 
Thats puts a bit of pressure on us, said Jay Haas, who is making his first UBS appearance. We want to keep the Cup in American hands, and keep (Palmers) winning streak alive.
 
More than that is on the line this week. Should the U.S. lose, their Cupboard will be almost bare.
 
The Europeans hold the Ryder Cup and the Solheim Cup ' and even the Palmer Cup; Great Britain & Ireland has the Walker Cup; and the U.S. and International teams currently share the Presidents Cup.
 
On paper, the U.S. is the heavily favored team ' sound familiar? Playing captain Palmer will trot out Fred Couples, Fred Funk, Curtis Strange, Scott Hoch, Hal Sutton, Raymond Floyd, Jay Haas, Hale Irwin, Kite, Tom Watson and Craig Stadler.
 
Their 12 men have accounted for a staggering 333 victories on the PGA and Champions tours, including 28 regular tour majors.
 
Of course, that doesnt really bother ROW team member Bernhard Langer, who captained the Europeans to an upset win on American soil at the most recent Ryder Cup.
 
They are looking strong on paper again, but the good thing is we dont play on paper, he said. We still have a chance out there.
 
The ROW team is not comprised of a bunch of slouches. They have combined to win 14 major championships and nearly 400 times around the world.
 
Their team consists of playing captain Player, Colin Montgomerie, Bernhard Langer, Barry Lane, Ian Woosnam, Sandy Lyle, John Chillas, Rodger Davis, Carl Mason, Mark McNulty, Peter Senior and Sam Torrance.
 
This is a wonderful event, said Langer. You have the age group and the people playing that spectators can really relate to. A lot of the spectators on TV, I would guess, would be between the age of 40 and 70, and thats the age group we have out here. They have been following these players for 20 to 40 years and they can really relate to them.
 
The UBS Cup features six players ages 40-49 and six 50 and over. The U.S., however, has seven players this year in the latter age division. Thats because Watson replaced Mark OMeara last week when OMeara pulled out with a wrist injury.
 
Watson is a fitting replacement. Not only has he competed in each of the first three competitions, he designed this weeks host venue, the Cassique Course.
 
Watson was originally on the team, but told tournament organizers that he would be unable to compete due to off-season surgery on his arthritic shoulder and hip. But when he opted against surgery, he asked for a reprieve, which was granted when OMeara had to back out.
 
As for his health, Watson said he is feeling about as good as a 55-year-old man with a bad body parts can feel.
 
I tried (cortisone shots) for about two weeks and now the hip is back to normal again, he said. Advil works and Vioxx really worked ' but I dont take Vioxx anymore.
 
The shoulder is another issue as far as the mechanical part of my shoulder. I had other issues this summer with a nerve problem in my neck which caused a weakening of my right arm. Thats gone away. Who knows, that might return. Its just like a car that has a couple hundred-thousand miles on it. Theres parts that are going to be breaking down all the time.
 
This is the second time that Kiawah Island has hosted the tournament. It first did so in 2001 on the Ocean Course.
 
This time the spotlight shines on Cassique, a 6,960-yard, par-72 links-style design. Inaugurated in 2000, the venue is replete with undulating dune land terrain, stacked sod pot bunkers, and large, rolling greens, as well as patches of live oak trees and tidal marshes.
 
The low dunes along Captain Sams Inlet separate the course from the Atlantic, meaning the players will have to navigate the wind to be successful ' if Mother Nature makes a prominent presence.
 
With the weather the way it is right now, with the way its projected to be with very little wind, youre going to see a lot of birdies made and there will be a lot of people under par. Its going to be a real sprint, you might say, out there, Watson predicted.
 
The format is match play. There will be six foursomes (alternate shot) matches Friday and six four-ball (better ball) matches Saturday, with 12 singles matches on Sunday.
 
The U.S. needs 12 points to retain the Cup, while the ROW needs 12 points to win for the first time.
 
The purse is $3,000,000. Each player on the winning team will pocket $150,000 per player. The losing side will net $100,000.
 
The U.S. won the inaugural UBS Cup, 12 -11 , on the Ocean Course in 2001. They repeated, 14 -9 , at Sea Island in 2002. And last year ended in a 12-12 tie, with the Americans keeping the Cup.
 
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    Five-time Open champ Thomson passes at 88

    By Associated PressJune 20, 2018, 1:35 am

    MELBOURNE, Australia – Five-time Open Championship winner Peter Thomson has died, his family said Wednesday. He was 88.

    Thomson had been suffering from Parkinson's disease for more than four years and died at his Melbourne home surrounded by family members on Wednesday morning.

    Born on Aug, 23, 1929, Thomson was two months short of his 89th birthday.

    The first Australian to win The Open Championship, Thomson went on to secure the title five times between 1954 and 1965, a record equaled only by Tom Watson.

    On the American senior circuit he won nine times in 1985.

    Thomson also served as president of the Australian PGA for 32 years, designing and building courses in Australia and around the world, helping establish the Asian Tour and working behind the scenes for the Odyssey House drug rehabilitation organization where he was chairman for five years.

    He also wrote for newspapers and magazines for more than 60 years and was patron of the Australian Golf Writers Association.

    In 1979 he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his service to golf and in 2001 became an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for his contributions as a player and administrator and for community service.

    Thomson is survived by his wife Mary, son Andrew and daughters Deirdre Baker, Pan Prendergast and Fiona Stanway, their spouses, 11 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

    Funeral arrangements were to be announced over the next few days.

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    Gaston leaves USC to become head coach at Texas A&M

    By Ryan LavnerJune 19, 2018, 11:00 pm

    In a major shakeup in the women’s college golf world, USC coach Andrea Gaston has accepted an offer to become the new head coach at Texas A&M.

    Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

    Gaston, who informed her players of her decision Monday night, has been one of the most successful coaches over the past two decades, leading the Trojans to three NCAA titles and producing five NCAA individual champions during her 22-year reign. They have finished in the top 5 at nationals in an NCAA-record 13 consecutive seasons.

    This year was arguably Gaston’s most impressive coaching job. She returned last fall after undergoing treatment for uterine cancer, but a promising season was seemingly derailed after losing two stars to the pro ranks at the halfway point. Instead, she guided a team with four freshmen and a sophomore to the third seed in stroke play and a NCAA semifinals appearance. Of the four years that match play has been used in the women’s game, USC has advanced to the semifinals three times.  

    Texas A&M could use a coach with Gaston’s track record.

    Last month the Aggies fired coach Trelle McCombs after 11 seasons following a third consecutive NCAA regional exit. A&M had won conference titles as recently as 2010 (Big 10) and 2015 (SEC), but this year the team finished 13th at SECs.

    The head-coaching job at Southern Cal is one of the most sought-after in the country and will have no shortage of outside interest. If the Trojans look to promote internally, men’s assistant Justin Silverstein spent four years under Gaston and helped the team win the 2013 NCAA title.  

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    Spieth 'blacked out' after Travelers holeout

    By Will GrayJune 19, 2018, 9:44 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – It was perhaps the most-replayed shot (and celebration) of the year.

    Jordan Spieth’s bunker holeout to win the Travelers Championship last year in a playoff over Daniel Berger nearly broke the Internet, as fans relived that raucous chest bump between Spieth and caddie Michael Greller after Spieth threw his wedge and Greller threw his rake.

    Back in Connecticut to defend his title, Spieth admitted that he has watched replays of the scene dozens of times – even if, in the heat of the moment, he wasn’t exactly choreographing every move.


    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


    “Just that celebration in general, I blacked out,” Spieth said. “It drops and you just react. For me, I’ve had a few instances where I’ve been able to celebrate or react on a 72nd, 73rd hole, 74th hole, whatever it may be, and it just shows how much it means to us.”

    Spieth and Greller’s celebration was so memorable that tournament officials later shipped the rake to Greller as a keepsake. It’s a memory that still draws a smile from the defending champ, whose split-second decision to go for a chest bump over another form of celebration provided an appropriate cap to a high-energy sequence of events.

    “There’s been a lot of pretty bad celebrations on the PGA Tour. There’s been a lot of missed high-fives,” Spieth said. “I’ve been part of plenty of them. Pretty hard to miss when I’m going into Michael for a chest bump.”

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    Pregnant Lewis playing final events before break

    By Randall MellJune 19, 2018, 9:27 pm

    Stacy Lewis will be looking to make the most of her last three starts of 2018 in her annual return to her collegiate roots this week.

    Lewis, due to give birth to her first child on Nov. 3, will tee it up in Friday’s start to the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers, Arkansas. She won the NCAA individual women’s national title in 2007 while playing at the University of Arkansas. She is planning to play the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship next week and then the Marathon Classic two weeks after that before taking the rest of the year off to get ready for her baby’s arrival.

    Lewis, 33, said she is beginning to feel the effects of being with child.

    “Things have definitely gotten harder, I would say, over the last week or so, the heat of the summer and all that,” Lewis said Tuesday. “I'm actually excited. I'm looking forward to the break and being able to decorate the baby's room and do all that kind of stuff and to be a mom - just super excited.”

    Lewis says she is managing her energy levels, but she is eager to compete.

    “Taking a few more naps and resting a little bit more,” she said. “Other than that, the game's been pretty good.”

    Lewis won the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship in 2014, and she was credited with an unofficial title in ’07, while still a senior at Arkansas. That event was reduced to 18 holes because of multiple rain delays. Lewis is a popular alumni still actively involved with the university.