Seems Like Old Times

By Randall MellMarch 10, 2011, 2:00 am

WGC-Cadillac ChampionshipDORAL, Fla. – Fifty years ago, three generations clashed in Doral’s debut as a PGA Tour event.

Billy Casper, Ben Hogan and Jack Nicklaus helped make the Blue Monster one of golf’s grand new stages with their Sunday duel.

Nicklaus, a 22-year-old rookie, made a serious run at winning his first event as a professional.

The 49-year-old Hogan mounted a final-round charge.

But 30-year-old Billy Casper held them off along with a little-known rookie, Paul Bondeson, to win the inaugural Doral Country Club Open Invitational.

The game was on the verge of a seismic shift back then.

Nicklaus was less than three months away from toppling the giant Arnold Palmer in Palmer’s backyard in the U.S. Open at Oakmont in Pennsylvania.

With the game amid yet another seismic shift, another generational clash appears in the works at this week’s WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral.

There’s Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els, Steve Stricker and Jim Furyk looking to show that in their 40s they’re still going to be factors in this new battle for the No. 1 world ranking.

There’s Tiger Woods, who at 35 is looking to shake a slump and regain his winning form.

There’s Lee Westwood, Graeme McDowell, Luke Donald, Paul Casey, Ian Poulter, Matt Kuchar and Bubba Watson among the thirty-somethings within striking distance of the top ranking.

And there’s a legion of twenty-somethings led by No. 1 Martin Kaymer poised to usher in a new era. Kaymer’s just 26.

“It's nice to see that the twenty-somethings are actually producing now,” said Els, a two-time winner at Doral and the defending champ. “They have started winning majors now, and they are winning tournaments. It's basically almost their time to shine and for us to do what we can.”

It’s been a long time since professional golf’s seemed so wide open, since back before Woods became dominant. It’s been a long time since the possibilities within the game have ranged as wildly as they do this week.

Woods built a lead in the world rankings that was the Mount Everest of points. The distance in points between Woods and No. 2 Phil Mickelson late in 2007 was roughly the same as the difference between No. 1 Kaymer and No. 998 Vicente Blazquez is today.

“I look at the world rankings quite a lot now,” says Rory McIlroy, among the twenty-somethings in this generational clash. “It’s definitely a big motivating factor for me.”

Count McIlroy, Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler among youth with the advantage of sporting none of the scars their aging counterparts sport from so many wounds sustained when Woods was at the height of his powers.

“I played for 10 years when that guy dominated, so it's tough to get a different mindset on things,” Els said of the wide open battle for No. 1. “Tiger was the dominant player. He won 14 majors. Think about it, 14 majors, in such a short period of time. Who is ever going to do that again? So for us, myself, Phil, Vijay [Singh], Davis [Love III], Fred Couples, guys like that, to have played under a guy who was that good, we took a beating, not only from him, but from you [media], too. It was a tough 10, 12 years for us.

“So to see kind of the new world out there, with these young players coming through, Martin at No. 1 . . . The youngsters have got something going for them. They didn't have to play under a guy that was so dominant. I don't think they will ever appreciate how good Tiger was back then. He could do it again, who knows. He's just got to sort out the new swing again. He's so mentally strong that he could well dominate again.”

The pairings this week heighten the nature of today’s battle for dominion.

No. 1 Kaymer, No. 2 Westwood and No. 3 Donald will play the first two rounds together. Also playing together are No. 4 McDowell, No. 5 Woods and No. 6 Mickelson.

“I’m not downplaying any Thursday morning on any given week, but you never really have all guns blazing from the word go to win the tournament,” McDowell said. “I think that focus will be there right away.”

Typically, pros don’t like to make a big deal of their first- and second-round pairings. Most will tell you they’re playing the golf course, getting in position to win on the weekend, and they don’t want to get caught up competing with players in their group.

McDowell said his pairing intensifies the action right from the first shot.

“It’s one of those things where you know if you can stay ahead of those two guys, you have a pretty decent chance of winning this golf tournament,” McDowell said. “You are not out there playing match play, but if you can stay ahead of those guys, you are probably in pretty good shape. If the scoring’s good, I’ll be trying to hang with whoever’s going low.”

Who knows which generation the low scores are going to come from? Maybe all three, just like that first year at Doral.

Follow Randall Mell on Twitter @RandallMell

Marc Dull (Florida State Golf Association)

Golden: Dull rude, caddie 'inebriated' at Florida Mid-Am

By Ryan LavnerMay 25, 2018, 1:03 am

Jeff Golden has offered more detail on what transpired at the Florida Mid-Amateur Championship, writing in a long statement on Twitter that Marc Dull’s caddie was “inebriated” before he allegedly sucker-punched Golden in the face.

In a story first reported by, Charlotte County Police responded to a call May 13 after Golden claimed that he’d been assaulted by his opponent’s caddie in the parking lot of Coral Creek Club, where he was competing in the Mid-Am finals. Golden told police that the caddie, Brandon Hibbs, struck him because of a rules dispute earlier in the round. Hibbs denied any involvement, and police found no evidence of an attack.

Golden posted a 910-word statement on the alleged incident on his Twitter account on Thursday night. He said that he wanted to provide more detail because “others have posed some valid questions about the series of events that led to me withdrawing” from what was an all-square match with two holes to play.

Golden wrote that both Dull and Hibbs were rude and disruptive during the match, and that “alcohol appeared to be influencing [Hibbs’] behavior.”

Dull, who caddies at Streamsong Resort in Florida, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“I’ve never seen an opposing caddie engage in so much conversation with a competitor,” Golden wrote. “On the eighth hole I had become extremely frustrated when my opponent and caddie were talking and moving. I expressed my disappointment with their etiquette to the rules official in our group.”

On the ninth hole, Golden informed the official that he believed Hibbs had broken the rules by offering advice on his putt. Golden won the hole by concession to move 2 up at the turn, and Hibbs removed himself from the match and returned to the clubhouse.

Golden wrote that after the penalty, the match “turned even nastier, with more negative comments from my opponent on the 10th tee.” He added that he conceded Dull’s 15-foot birdie putt on No. 10 because he was “sick of the abuse from my opponent, and I wanted the match to resemble what you would expect of a FSGA final.”

Though there were no witnesses to the alleged attack and police found little evidence, save for “some redness on the inside of {Golden’s] lip,” Golden wrote that the inside of his mouth was bleeding, his face was “throbbing” and his hand was also injured from bracing his fall. X-rays and CT scans over the past week all came back negative, he said.

Golden reiterated that he was disappointed with the FSGA’s decision to accept his concession in the final match. He had recommended that they suspend the event and resume it “at a later time.”

“The FSGA has one job, and that’s to follow the Rules of Golf,” Golden wrote. “Unfortunately, there’s no rule for an inebriated ‘ex-caddie’ punching a player in a match-play rain delay with no witnesses.”

Asked last week about his organization’s alcohol policy during events, FSGA executive director Jim Demick said that excessive consumption is “highly discouraged, but it falls more broadly under the rules of etiquette and player behavior.”

Dull, 32, was back in the news Wednesday, after he and partner Chip Brooke reached the finals of the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship. They lost to high schoolers Cole Hammer and Garrett Barber, 4 and 3.

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D. Kang, M. Jutanugarn in four-way tie at Volvik

By Associated PressMay 25, 2018, 12:50 am

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Amy Olson crossed paths with her coach, Ron Stockton, on her walk to the 18th tee at the Volvik Championship.

''Make it another even $20,'' Stockton said.

The coach was already prepared to give his client $35 for making seven birdies - $5 each - and wanted to take her mind off the bogey she just had at 17.

Olson closed the first round with a 6-under 66, putting her into the lead she ended up sharing later Thursday with Moriya Jutanugarn , Caroline Masson and Danielle Kang.

Do small, cash incentives really help a professional golfer?

''Absolutely,'' said Olson, who graduated from North Dakota State with an accounting degree. ''He'll tell you I'm a little bit of a hustler there.''

Olson will have to keep making birdies - and petty cash - to hold her position at Travis Pointe Country Club.

Jessica Korda, Minjee Lee, Nasa Hataoka, Lindy Duncan, Morgan Pressel, Megan Khang and Jodi Ewart Shadoff were a stroke back at 67 and six others were to shots back.

Ariya Jutanugarn, the Kingsmill Championship winner last week in Virginia, opened with a 69.

The Jutanugarn sisters are Korda are among six players with a chance to become the LPGA Tour's first two-time winner this year.

Moriya Jutanugarn won for the first time in six years on the circuit last month in Los Angeles.

''What I feel is more relaxed now,'' she said. ''And, of course I like looking forward for my next one.''

Olson, meanwhile, is hoping to extend the LPGA Tour's streak of having a new winner in each of its 12 tournaments this year.

Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship

She knows how to win. It just has been a while since it has happened.

Olson set an NCAA record with 20 wins, breaking the mark set by LPGA Hall of Famer Juli Inkster, but has struggled to have much success since turning pro in 2013.

She has not finished best finish was a tie for seventh and that was four years ago. She was in contention to win the ANA Inspiration two months ago, but an even-par 72 dropped her into a tie for ninth place.

If the North Dakota player wins the Volvik Championship, she will earn a spot in the U.S. Open at Shoal Creek in Alabama. If Olson finishes second or lower in the 144-player field, she will enjoy an off week with her husband, Grant, who coaches linebackers at Indiana State.

''I'll make the best of it either way,'' she said.

Olson was at her best in the opening round on the front nine, closing it with four birdies in a six-hole stretch. Her ball rolled just enough to slowly drop in the cup for birdie on the par-3, 184-yard 13th. She had three birdies in five-hole stretch on the back, nearly making her second hole-in-one of the year at the par-3, 180-yard 16th. A short putt gave her a two-stroke lead, but it was cut to one after pulling and misreading a 6-foot putt to bogey the 17th.

Even if she doesn't hold on to win the tournament, Olson is on pace to have her best year on the LPGA Tour. She is No. 39 on the money list after finishing 97th, 119th, 81st and 80th in her first four years.

''Two years ago, I started working with Ron Stockton and whenever you make a change, it doesn't show up right away,'' Olson said. ''That first year was tough, but we've turned a corner and I've just found a lot of consistency in the last year. And, it's a lot of fun to go out there and play golf a little more stress free.''

Stockton helped her stay relaxed, walking along the ropes during her morning round.

''Maybe some people feel a little more pressure when their coach is there,'' she said. ''I'm like, 'Great. If he sees the mistake, he knows what can go wrong and we can go fix it.' So, I like having his eyes on me.''

Getty Images

Club pro part of 6-way tie atop Sr. PGA

By Associated PressMay 25, 2018, 12:04 am

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. - Nevada club professional Stuart Smith shot a 5-under 66 on Thursday for a share of the first-round lead in the Senior PGA Championship.

Smith closed his morning round with a double bogey on the par-4 18th, and Scott McCarron, Tim Petrovic, Wes Short Jr., Barry Lane and Peter Lonard matched the 66 in the afternoon.

One of 41 club pros in the field at Harbor Shores for the senior major, Smith is the director of golf at Somersett Country Club in Reno.

Full-field scores from the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship

McCarron won the Senior Players Championship last year for his first senior major.

Defending champion Bernhard Langer is skipping the event to attend son Jason's high school graduation, and Steve Stricker is playing the PGA Tour event in Texas.

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Watch: Na punctuates caddie tiff with hole-out

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 24, 2018, 11:10 pm

Microphones captured a fascinating and testy exchange between Kevin Na and his caddie, Kenny Harms, on Na's final hole of the first round of the Fort Worth Invitational on Thursday.

Na was in the right rough, 185 yards from the ninth green, which was guarded by water. He vacillated between a hybrid and an iron, but with either club he would have to hit "a 40-yard cut," as Harms termed it.

"Over the green's dead," Harms warned.

"It's not gonna go over the green, Kenny," Na replied.

Na finally settled on an iron and said to Harms, "As long as you're OK with this club."

"I'm not," Harms replied. "I'm not OK with either one of them."

"I'm going with this," Na ended the discussion.

He missed the green with his approach shot, but avoided the water. After taking a free drop away from the grandstand, he had 92 feet 3 inches to the cup and of course, holed the pitch shot for a birdie-3, a 62 and a one-shot lead at the end of the first round.