Golf Rescues Easy Rider Hopper

By Rich LernerJanuary 3, 2008, 5:00 pm
He rode a chopper stuffed with drug money from L.A. to New Orleans in 'Easy Rider.'
 
Almost 40 years later the ultimate counterculture figure cruises Kapalua in a luxury automobile playing the ultimate establishment game. Bill and his pal Wyatt would have blown funny smelling smoke in the face of the man who made a career out of portraying iconoclasts.
 
On this cool Hawaiian morning, though, Dennis Hoppers not interested in perpetuating a persona, just hitting one solid hybrid before GOLF CHANNEL cameras stationed on the range at the Mercedes Benz Championship.
 
Were measuring his swing specs with Trackman, a device powered by Doppler radar gauging speed, launch, spin and carry. Dennis believes he hits his 22-degree 150 yards. A soft shove to the right registers 102 on the monitor.
 
Hes focused, impervious to the line of talent warming up next to him'Stricker, Choi, Mahan and Singh. Finally, after a rash of heavy hits, Hopper catches one flush and the read tallies 118.
 
Amateurs have no idea how far they hit it, says the young operator of Trackman.
 
Samuel L. Jackson saunters by, Dennis cracking, I was so bad that you could be really bad and you wouldnt touch me.
 
I got that covered, Jackson fires back, sounding just like the Samuel L. weve seen and heard in so many movies.
 
They share more in common than too frequent misfires. Jackson and Hopper fell into drug addictions dark hole. They climbed out onto a golf course.
 
I was 50 when I stopped drinking, says Hopper, now 71.
 
Willie Nelson took me to his 9-hole course in Austin and told me, we dont have lessons but just aim at the flag and keep hittin it until the turkey gobbles. Golfs nice because it gets you outside with friends.
 
Two months sober he made 'Hoosiers,' in the ironic role of the alcoholic father of a star player. He delivered vintage Hopper as foul-mouthed Frank Booth in David Lynchs 'Blue Velvet.' In sobriety he also became a whacked out drug dealer in 'Rivers Edge.'
 
Everything became easier, explains Hopper of his decision to put down the mind-altering substances. The paranoia and the schizophrenia seemed to just go away. The acting gets better. Everything gets better.
 
Except golf, which he initially thought was a sissy game. Now, he admits, theres nothing quite as good as hitting a ball correctly.
 
Hoppers a 23 handicap out of Riviera in L.A. logging a couple rounds each week.
 
He recently finished five pictures. Hes a father to Charlize Theron in 'Sleepwalking' and a democratic presidential candidate in Kevin Costners 'Swing Vote.' In another he plays death. Not a drifter or a CEO or a coach, but death.
 
For Hopper its no more a stretch than Tiger pouring in a 4-footer for par.
 
I can relate to his intensity, he says. That fierce concentration is something you need for acting.
 
I hope I act better than I golf.
 
With that, an official taps the Easy Rider on the shoulder. A drivers waiting to take Mr. Hopper to the first tee.
 
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    Lewis hopes to win at Volvik with baby on the way

    By Randall MellMay 27, 2018, 12:55 am

    Stacy Lewis was listening to more than her caddie on her march up the leaderboard Saturday at the Volvik Championship.

    Pregnant with her first child, she is listening to her body in a new way these days.

    And she could hear a message coming through loud and clear toward the end of her round at Travis Point Country Club in Ann Arbor, Mich.

    “The little one was telling me it’s dinnertime,” Lewis said.

    Lewis birdied five of the last six holes to shoot 5-under-par 67 and move into position to make a Sunday run at winning her 13th LPGA title. She is two shots behind the leader, Minjee Lee, whose 68 moved her to 12 under overall.

    Sunday has the makings of a free for all with 10 players within three shots of the lead.


    Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship


    Lewis, 33, is four months pregnant, with her due date Nov. 3. She’s expecting to play just a few more times before putting the clubs away to get ready for the birth. She said she’s likely to make the Marathon Classic in mid-July her last start of the season before returning next year.

    Of course, Lewis would relish winning with child.

    “I don’t care what limitations I have or what is going on with my body, I want to give myself a chance to win,” she told LPGA.com at the Kingsmill Championship last week.

    Lewis claimed an emotional victory with her last title, taking the Cambia Portland Classic late last summer after announcing earlier in the week that she would donate her entire winnings to the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts in her Houston hometown.

    A victory Sunday would also come with a lot of emotion.

    It’s been an interesting year for Lewis.

    There’s been the joy of learning she’s ready to begin the family she has been yearning for, and the struggle to play well after bouncing back from injury.

    Lewis missed three cuts in a row before making it into the weekend at the Kingsmill Championship last week. That’s one more cut than she missed cumulatively in the previous six years. In six starts this year, Lewis hasn’t finished among the top 50 yet, but she hasn’t felt right, either.

    The former world No. 1 didn’t make her second start of 2018 until April, at the year’s first major, the ANA Inspiration. She withdrew from the HSBC Women’s World Championship in late February with a strained right oblique muscle and didn’t play again for a month.

    Still, Lewis is finding plenty to get excited about with the baby on the way.

    “I kind of had my first Mother’s Day,” Lewis told LPGA.com last week. “It puts golf into perspective. It makes those bad days not seem so bad. It helps me sleep better at night. We are just really excited.”

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    Rose hasn't visited restroom at Colonial - here's why

    By Nick MentaMay 27, 2018, 12:20 am

    In case you're unaware, it's pretty hot in Texas.

    Temperatures at Colonial Country Club have approached 100 degrees this week, leaving players to battle both the golf course and potential dehydration.

    With the help of his caddie Mark Fulcher, Fort Worth Invitational leader Justin Rose has been plenty hot himself, staking himself to a four-shot lead.


    Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

    Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


    "Yeah, Fulch has done a great job of just literally handing me water bottle after water bottle. It seems relentless, to be honest with you," Rose said Saturday.

    So just how much are players sweating the heat at Colonial? Well, it doesn't sound like all that water is making it all the way through Rose.

    "I haven't even seen the inside of a restroom yet, so you can't even drink quick enough out there," he shared.

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    Up four, Rose knows a lead can slip away

    By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 11:21 pm

    Up four shots heading into Sunday at the Fort Worth Invitational, Justin Rose has tied the largest 54-hole lead of his PGA Tour career.

    On the previous two occasions he took a 54-hole Tour lead into the final round, he closed.

    And yet, Rose knows just how quickly a lead can slip away. After all, it was Rose who erased a six-shot deficit earlier this season to overtake Dustin Johnson and win the WGC-HSBC Championship. 

    "I think I was in the lead going into the final round in Turkey when I won, and I had a four-shot lead going into the final round in Indonesia in December and managed to put that one away," Rose said Saturday, thinking back to his two other victories late last year.

    "I was five, six back maybe of DJ, so I've got experience the other way. ... So you can see how things can go both ways real quick. That's why there is no point in getting too far ahead of myself."


    Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

    Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


    Up one to start the third round Saturday, Rose extended his lead to as much as five when he birdied four of his first six holes.

    He leads the field in strokes gained: tee-to-green (+12.853) and strokes gained: approach-the-green (+7.931).

    Rose has won five times worldwide, including at the 2016 Rio Olympics, since his last victory in the United States, at the 2015 Zurich Classic.

    With a win Sunday, he'd tie Nick Faldo for the most PGA Tour wins by an Englishman post-World War II, with nine.

    But he isn't celebrating just yet.

    "It is a big lead, but it's not big enough to be counting the holes away. You've got to go out and play good, you've got to go out positive, you've got to continue to make birdies and keep going forward.

    "So my mindset is to not really focus on the lead, it's to focus on my game tomorrow and my performance. You know, just keep executing the way I have been. That's going to be my challenge tomorrow. Going to look forward to that mindset."

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    Grillo still hunting follow-up to debut win

    By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 10:53 pm

    Following a round of 1-under 69 Saturday, Emiliano Grillo will enter Sunday's final round at Colonial four shots behind leader Justin Rose.

    Grillo is hunting his first win since he took the 2015 Safeway Open in his rookie debut as a PGA Tour member. 

    The young Argentinian finished 11th in the FedExCup points race that season, contending in big events and finishing runner-up at the 2016 Barclays.

    In the process, Grillo had to learn to pace himself and that it can be fruitless to chase after success week to week.

    "That was a hot run in there," Grillo said Saturday, referring to his rookie year. "I played, in 2016, I played the majors very well. I played the big tournaments very well. I was in contention after two, three days in most of the big events.


    Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

    Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


    "I think, you know, I wanted to do better. I pushed for it. Some of the tournaments I ended up being 50th or 60th just because I wanted to play. I wanted to play well so badly. That played against me, so I learned from that. In that rookie year, I learned that."

    Grillo was still plenty successful in his sophomore season, advancing to the BMW Championship last fall.

    But now he's beginning to regain some of that form that made him such an immediate success on Tour. Grillo has recorded four top-10 finishes year - a T-9 at Mayakoba, a T-8 at Honda, a T-3 at Houston, and a T-9 at Wells Fargo - and will now look to outduel U.S. Open champs in Rose and Brooks Koepka on Sunday at Colonial.

    "Well, he's top 10 in the world, so everything he does he does it pretty well," Grillo said of Rose. "You know, he does his own thing. Like I say, he's top 10 in the world. Nothing wrong with his game. ...

    "He's in the lead on a Sunday. Doesn't matter where you're playing, he's got to go out and shoot under par. He's got 50 guys behind him trying to reach him, and I'm one of those. I've just got to go out and do what he did today on those first five or six holes and try to get him in the early holes."