Family Guy: Spieth maintains priorities

By Randall MellApril 13, 2015, 2:19 am

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Shawn Spieth stood in the shadow of the clubhouse at Augusta National early Sunday evening with his  eyes glistening and his heart swelling.

His son was about to be whisked away to Butler Cabin to slip on the green jacket as Masters champion.

Jordan Spieth won with an 18-under 270 total only equaled by Tiger Woods in the 79-year history of the Masters.

Standing there, surrounded by reporters, Shawn’s mind raced back to all the disappointment his son left the Masters with a year ago. The depth of Jordan’s satisfaction winning this Masters goes back to last year’s failure. As a parent, Shawn saw the ache in his son driving away from Magnolia Lane a year ago. Shawn felt it. The entire family felt it leaving the property with Jordan. That’s what made this day, this moment all the more glorious.

Whatever heartache Jordan felt losing a two-shot lead to Bubba Watson last year, he didn’t dwell on it. That’s what Shawn remembered most leaving Augusta National. He remembers the resolve.

“After last year, Jordan was convinced he would win this year,” Shawn said. “Right after we walked off that green and went back to try to find a way to have some dinner, and move on, right then, he felt he’d win this year.”

If there’s a secret to Jordan Spieth’s success, that might be it, that resolve his father pointed to in the aftermath of last year’s failure.

At 21, Spieth has already fended off some hard, competitive blows as a professional golfer, setbacks that could have wounded a young psyche, that could have created the kind of dispiriting doubt that derails youthful ambition. There was the failure to get through second stage of PGA Tour School after turning pro. That’s a potentially game-changing setback when you’re supposed to be a can’t-miss star. There were failures to close on giant stages at the Masters last year and again at The Players Championship. That intense scrutiny creates a chorus of doubts about not having the fiber to close.

There was resolve shown getting through all those setbacks.

Sunday morning, with the long wait for Jordan’s afternoon tee time, Shawn wanted to talk about the challenge ahead. He wanted to talk about what the day might require. So even though the family made a point not to talk about golf in their time together in the housing they shared this week, they did talk golf.

“I wanted to have a quick conversation,” Shawn said. “It’s such a long wait. I thought it might help a little bit, just maybe to calm me, if not him, to have a quick conversation, about what I thought was important.”

Shawn reminded Jordan to expect to face some adversity in the final round.

“He knew it, from other big moments,” Shawn said. “Last year, he wasn’t quite ready for it. We just talked a couple minutes about this, and the fact that this is the greatest game, and it’s the Masters, but it is still just a game, as opposed to something more critical in our world. I don’t know if it helped.”

If not the words, surely the spirit of the message helped.

In the aftermath of Sunday’s victory, you could see how important family and friends are in Spieth’s life.

He hugged Shawn, and he hugged his mother, Chris. He hugged his younger brother, Steven, who plays basketball at Brown University. He hugged his grandfather, his girlfriend, three of his closest friends. The hugs seemed to go on forever.

Spieth’s appeal goes beyond his skills.

Ben Crenshaw, the two-time Masters winner, said Spieth reminds him of Wyatt Earp.

“He wants to gun you down,” Crenshaw said.

But there’s another dominating element to Spieth. He also reminds you of Bobby Jones. There’s this gentlemanly spirit tempering Spieth’s competitive nature.

Spieth wants to win. He wants to win, badly. You see it and hear it in this commanding stage presence he’s developing, in his confident stride, in the certainty of his gestures, even in the way he talks to his golf ball. The appeal is how he is learning to temper this edge. There’s a Texas gentleman’s firm hand on all this.

C.S. Lewis, the author and professor of Oxford University fame, once described chivalry as the ability to be tough to the nth degree and gentle to the nth degree. That’s Spieth’s appeal. He’s chivalrous.

This really comes through in Spieth’s relationship with the one family member who wasn’t there Sunday. Ellie, Spieth’s 13-year-old sister, was born with a neurological disorder. She is a special needs child. He adores her, and she adores him.

“She puts everything in perspective for him in life,” Shawn said. “As great as this is today, it’s still golf. There’s nothing that’s going to change the world, other than the way players handle themselves out here.”

Jordan talked about wanting to call Ellie after his victory. She’s back in Dallas with other family. Jordan usually Facetimes with her when he’s away, so she can see him. She always asks him if he won when he calls.

“When I speak to her, she's going to probably tell me to just bring something home, bring a present home to her,” Jordan said. “I'm sure she was watching and was excited when she saw how happy I was with my family there at the end. Probably got a little jealous at that point. But she's just going to be happy that I won.  You know, after each round last week, she was out there at the Shell Houston Open, and after each round, she said, `Jordan, did you win?  Did you win?’ And I said, `Not yet, not yet ... no.’  I can tell her I won now (laughter).”

Spieth won with a resolve he learned at home.

“I just learn from example," he said, "and I have some great examples before me.” 

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.