Son Aiding the Father

By Randall MellNovember 11, 2010, 5:03 am
ChildrenLAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Cristian DiMarco remembers bobbing and weaving along the ropes to get a glimpse through the gallery of his father’s dramatic final-round duel against Tiger Woods at the Masters five years ago.

He was 9 back then and busting with pride. He'll never forget racing to see his father answer so many of Woods’ best shots as the duel pushed into a playoff.

“It was very emotional,” Cristian says today.

Chris DiMarco
Chris DiMarco and son Cristian at the 2005 Masters Tournament. (Getty Images)
Chris DiMarco didn’t win that Masters, but he was at the height of his powers. His game was never closer to taking him to golf’s pinnacle, to winning major championships. DiMarco’s finish at Augusta National gave him back-to-back second-place finishes in majors. The three-time PGA Tour winner would finish runner-up in yet another major at the 2006 British Open, giving him three second-place finishes in majors over three years.

After fighting his way back from injuries, and the damage they did to his swing over two seasons, DiMarco’s beginning to feel the momentum changing in his game. He will tee it up Thursday at the Children’s Miracle Network Classic at Disney World looking to take a meaningful step in a return to form. He’ll do it with some special help on his bag.

Cristian, 14, will caddie for his father in an event that’s strengthened their bond to the game. It's played practically in their backyard with the family's home in suburban Orlando.

Chris and Cristian began playing Disney’s parent-child tournament when Cristian was 3 years old. They’ve won it eight times in the nine years they’ve played.

“The Tripletts beat us that one year,” Cristian said Wednesday watching his father hit golf balls on the range at Disney. “We weren’t too happy about that.”

DiMarco has some pretty good mojo with family on his bag. When he beat David Duval in a playoff to win the Buick Challenge in 2001, his brother, Mitch, was his caddie. When DiMarco won the Abu Dhabi Championship on the European Tour in 2006, his wife, Amy, was his caddie. Half of DiMarco’s four worldwide titles have come with family toting his bag.

“I don’t know what it is,” said DiMarco, 42. “When it’s family on the bag, I’m the one making the decisions. I don’t have a caddie to blame. Maybe I think better.”

DiMarco says he’s inspired with his son at his side. Cristian caddied one other time for him in a PGA Tour event, at the Reno-Tahoe Open in July. DiMarco tied for 10th, his best finish this season.

“Cristian knows my swing and my game,” Chris said. “He has no problem saying, 'Hey, dad, you’re aiming 30 yards right.’ He has no problem saying that in the middle of a round. Sometimes, a regular caddie won’t take that on.”

Cristian is a freshman who helped Lake Mary Prep win its district playoffs this fall. Unlike his father, he's a lefty who plays to a 4-handicap.

With that Reno-Tahoe finish, Cristian got a nice cut of the week’s paycheck as part of his caddie deal.

“He made $3,700,” Chris said. “We put it on a Visa Bucks card. So we had a 14-year-old walking around with $3,700.”

Three months later, Cristian still hasn’t spent it.

“I’m saving it,” he said.

Dad steps off a ball on the range hearing that and beams.

“He’s 15 months away from being able to drive a car,” DiMarco says. “Maybe he can get himself a nice radio for his first car.”

This week’s first-place check is worth $846,000. If DiMarco wins, Cristian will split the standard 10-percent caddie share with DiMarco’s regular caddie. That means if Papa DiMarco chalks up his fourth PGA Tour title, Cristian will walk away with $42,300 as his paycheck.

“He could buy his own car with that,” DiMarco said.

The first-place check would go a long way for dad, too, in the year’s final PGA Tour event.

DiMarco is 165th on the PGA Tour money list. He needs to win or finish second to crack the top 125 on the money list and earn fully exempt status for next year. He’s signed up for PGA Tour Q-School, just in case.

If DiMarco finishes among the top 150 on the final money list, he could play next year on conditional status, as he’s doing this year. But with a top-150 finish, he’s also exempt into the final stage of Q-School. A finish outside the top 150 means he would have to earn his way to finals through a second-stage Q-School event.

DiMarco has a pretty good backup plan. While he used a top-25 career money exemption to play in 2009, he still has a top-50 career money exemption he can use to play next year.

“If I play well enough to get into the top 150 in money and can go directly to the final stage, I will probably go to Q-School,” DiMarco said. “If I have to go to second stage, I probably won’t.

“With the top-50 career money exemption, I’m fortunate. It’s like I’ve got nothing to lose this week. I can be aggressive and try to make a lot of birdies.”

DiMarco got himself in this position after injuring his ribs in a skiing accident four years ago. The injury led to a chain-reaction of events within his body. He began compensating to protect injured parts, and he ended up with bone spurs in his left shoulder. He had shoulder surgery in September of ’07 and has been battling his way back ever since.

“I tried to come back right away,” DiMarco said. “But I didn’t have the flexibility.

“You end up losing a lot of confidence and questioning your own ability. That’s what happened to me. And there’s no doubt wanting to get back to where I was probably hurt me because you want it so badly that you push too much. You play your best when you relax and let it come. That’s what I need to get back to doing. ”

Though DiMarco hasn’t won as much money as he’s needed, he said he likes the improving state of his game. He arrives at Disney having made 13 consecutive cuts. His ball striking’s coming back. His putting, too. And so is his confidence.

“I’ve been slower coming back than I would have liked, but I’m coming back,” DiMarco said.
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.