Ten stories I hope come true in 2013

By Randall MellJanuary 1, 2013, 1:00 pm

Nostradamus offered no meaningful help in trying to see what may unfold in the 2013 golf season.

He didn’t even foresee the upheaval the proposed banning of anchored putters would cause this year.

Jeane Dixon didn’t offer any help, either. She failed to predict the monumental change at Augusta National this year with the club inviting its first two women as members.

The Mayans were also no help forecasting the season ahead, but, of course, they didn’t think there would even be a season.

So here’s one attempt to look ahead, not so much as prophecy, but as hopeful wishing for some over-the-top storylines to mesmerize us yet again this year. Here are 10 dreamy stories that would intrigue if they were actually to unfold in the new year:

Monty aims to be the real Great Scot

In a surprising but strategically bold maneuver aimed to counter the Americans naming Tom Watson as the U.S. Ryder Cup captain, the European Tour announced that Colin Montgomerie will return as the Euro captain when the competition is played at Gleneagles in Scotland in 2014. Watson won four of his five British Opens in Scotland. Montgomerie, born in Glasgow, is one of Europe’s most decorated Ryder Cup stars and captained the Euros to a victory in Wales in 2010.

Mickelson wins California Slam

Phil Mickelson won the Northern Trust Open at Riviera Country Club, completing the California Slam. Mickelson’s victory was his fourth in four starts with Lefty winning every California PGA Tour stop on this year’s West Coast swing. He won the Humana Challenge, the Farmers Insurance Open and the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am before claiming the title at Riviera.

One from the heart: Compton wins at Doral

Erik Compton, golf’s only real miracle man, won his hometown event, claiming the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral. The two-time heart transplant recipient, who qualified for the WGC event piling up FedEx Cup points with a hot run on the West Coast, was the No. 1 junior growing up in Miami. His triumph was celebrated as the most emotional in tournament history since Ray Floyd won at Doral after his Miami home burned down.

Wie finds her oasis in the desert

Michelle Wie, coming off the most difficult season of her highly scrutinized career, delivered a message heard 'round the world in women’s golf by winning the Kraft Nabisco Championship. Wie, the former child prodigy whose future seemed uncertain with her slump in 2012, broke through to win her first major in the most watched telecast in the history of women’s golf.

Kingdom comes: McIlroy defeats Woods in final-round Masters duel

Rory McIlroy birdied the 72nd hole to defeat Tiger Woods by one shot at The Masters. McIlroy and Woods traded a flurry of titanic golf blows on Augusta National’s back nine that will go down as a duel for the ages. Winning a spirited game of one-upsmanship shot making, McIlroy claimed his second consecutive major by outlasting Woods in the final pairing together. The victory gives McIlroy three legs of the career grand slam before his 24th birthday.

Red, white and Lexi: Young American wins first major

Lexi Thompson won the Wegmans LPGA Championship to become the youngest winner of a major championship in the history of women’s golf. Thompson was 18 years, 3 months and 29 days old when she claimed the title at Locust Hill.

The master schools the boy king: Woods takes down McIlroy at Merion

Tiger Woods defeated Rory McIlroy to win the U.S. Open by a single shot after their 18-hole Monday playoff at Merion was extended an extra hole. Two months after losing a heart-wrenching duel with McIlroy at Augusta National, Woods answered back, claiming his 15th major championship, his first in five years. Woods moved to within three of equaling Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major championship titles.

Tseng hits a grand slam, sort of

Yani Tseng, rebounding from a second-half slump in the 2012 season, won the U.S. Women’s Open at Sebonack to complete the career grand slam in women’s golf, sort of. With the Evian Masters becoming a major in September, there will soon be a fifth leg to the career grand slam in the women’s game. Nevertheless, Tseng’s triumph is notable because the U.S. Women’s Open had been her most elusive prize.

Cool Hand Luke breaks through at Muirfield

Luke Donald’s no longer the best player without a major championship title. Dogged by questions as to whether he was worthy of a No. 1 ranking without having won a major championship, Donald unburdened himself, winning the British Open at Muirfield. He becomes the first Englishman to win the British Open since Nick Faldo won at Muirfield 21 years ago.

A hot English summer

A month after Donald broke through to win his first major, fellow Englishman Lee Westwood did the same, winning the PGA Championship at Oak Hill. Like Donald, Westwood was plagued with questions as to whether he was the best player without a major championship. At 40, he will endure the speculation no more.

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Wise: 'No hard feelings' over Nelson missed kiss

By Will GrayMay 23, 2018, 10:18 pm

Aaron Wise left the AT&T Byron Nelson with his first PGA Tour trophy and a seven-figure paycheck. But lost in the shuffle of closing out his breakthrough victory in near-darkness was his failed attempt for a celebratory kiss with his girlfriend on the 18th green.

Wise appeared to go in for a peck after his family joined him on the putting surface, but instead he and his girlfriend simply laughed and hugged. After the moment gained a bit of online notoriety, Wise told reporters at the Fort Worth Invitational that the young couple simply laughed it off.

"Yeah, I have been giving her some s--- about that," Wise said. "A lot has been made about it. It's really nothing. Like I was saying, she was just so excited to surprise me. I was kind of ruining the surprise a little bit that she was shocked, and she didn't even see me going in for the kiss."

At age 21, Wise is now one of the youngest winners on Tour. He explained that while both his girlfriend and mother flew in to watch the final round at Trinity Forest Golf Club, where he shared the 54-hole lead and eventually won by three shots, he took some of the surprise out of their arrival in true millennial fashion - by looking up his girlfriend's location earlier in the day.

Still getting used to his newfound status on Tour, Wise downplayed any controversy surrounding the kiss that wasn't.

"No hard feelings at all," Wise said. "We love each other a ton and we're great. It was a funny moment that I think we'll always be able to look back at, but that's all it really was."

Mmm Visuals / Lancaster Country Club

Giving back: Chun creates education fund at site of Open win

By Randall MellMay 23, 2018, 8:04 pm

South Korea’s In Gee Chun is investing in American youth.

Chun broke through on the largest stage in women’s golf, winning the U.S. Women’s Open three years ago, and she’s making sure Lancaster, Pa., continues to share in what that brought her.

Chun is preparing for next week’s U.S. Women’s Open at Shoal Creek outside Birmingham, Ala., but she made a special stop this week. She returned to the site of her breakthrough in Pennsylvania on Tuesday and Wednesday, launching the In Gee Chun Lancaster Country Club Education Fund. She announced Tuesday that she’s donating $10,000 to seed the fund. She’s expected to raise more than $20,000 for the cause in a fundraising dinner at the club Wednesday evening. The fund will annually award scholarships to Lancaster youth applicants, including Lancaster Country Club caddies and children of club employees.

“I’m excited to be back here,” said Chun, who put on a junior clinic during her stay and also played an outing with club members. “Winning the U.S. Women’s Open here in Lancaster gave me the opportunity to play on the LPGA and make one of my dreams come true.”

Chun also supports a fund in her name at Korea University, where she graduated, a fund for various “social responsibility” projects and for the educational needs of the youth who create them.

“Education is very important to me,” Chun said. “I would like to help others reach their goals.”

Chun made donations to the Lancaster General Health Foundation in 2015 and ’16 and to Pennsylvania’s J. Wood Platt Caddie Scholarship Trust last year. Lancaster Country Club officials estimate she has now made donations in excess of $40,000 to the community.

“We are grateful In Gee’s made such a wonderful connection to our community and club,” said Rory Connaughton, a member of Lancaster Country Club’s board of governors. “She’s a special person.”

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Spieth admits '16 Masters 'kind of haunted me'

By Will GrayMay 23, 2018, 6:38 pm

Two years ago, Jordan Spieth arrived at Colonial Country Club and promptly exorcised some demons.

He was only a month removed from blowing the 2016 Masters, turning a five-shot lead with nine holes to play into a shocking runner-up finish behind Danny Willett. Still with lingering questions buzzing about his ability to close, he finished with a back-nine 30 on Sunday, including birdies on Nos. 16-18, to seal his first win since his Augusta National debacle.

Returning this week to the Fort Worth Invitational, Spieth was asked about the highs and lows he's already experienced in his five-year pro career and candidly pointed to the 2016 Masters as a "low point" that had a lingering effect.

"Even though it was still a tremendous week and still was a really good year in 2016, that kind of haunted me and all the questioning and everything," Spieth told reporters. "I let it tear me down a little bit. I kind of lost a little bit of my own freedom, thoughts on who I am as a person and as a golfer."

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Spieth went on to win the Australian Open in the fall of 2016, and last year he added three more victories including a third major title at Royal Birkdale. Given more than two years to reflect - and after nearly nabbing a second green jacket last month - he admitted that the trials and tribulations of 2016 had a lasting impact on how he perceives the daily grind on Tour.

"I guess to sum it up, I've just tried to really be selfish in the way that I think and focus on being as happy as I possibly can playing the game I love. Not getting caught up in the noise, good or bad," Spieth said. "Because what I hear from the outside, the highs are too high from the outside and the lows are too low from the outside from my real experience of them. So trying to stay pretty neutral and just look at the big picture things, and try and wake up every single day loving what I do."

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Spieth offers Owen advice ahead of Web.com debut

By Will GrayMay 23, 2018, 6:22 pm

As country music sensation Jake Owen gets set to make his Web.com Tour debut, Jordan Spieth had a few pieces of advice for his former pro-am partner.

Owen played as a 1-handicap alongside Spieth at this year's AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, and this week he is playing his own ball on a sponsor invite at the Nashville Open. Owen joked with a Web.com Tour reporter that Spieth "shined" him by not answering his text earlier in the week, but Spieth explained to reporters at the Fort Worth Invitational that the two have since connected.

"We texted a bit yesterday. I was just asking how things were going," Spieth said. "I kind of asked him the state of his game. He said he's been practicing a lot. He said the course is really hard. I mean, going into it with that mindset, maybe he'll kind of play more conservative."

Owen is in the field this week on the same type of unrestricted sponsor exemption that NBA superstar Steph Curry used at the Web.com's Ellie Mae Classic in August. As Owen gets set to make his debut against a field full of professionals, Spieth noted that it might be for the best that he's focused on a tournament a few hundred miles away instead of walking alongside the singer as he does each year on the Monterey Peninsula.

"Fortunately I'm not there with him, because whenever I'm his partner I'm telling him to hit driver everywhere, even though he's talented enough to play the golf course the way it needs to be played," Spieth said. "So I think he'll get some knowledge on the golf course and play it a little better than he plays Pebble Beach. He's certainly got the talent to be able to shoot a good round."