Hooks and Cuts: Stars and Athletes

By Rich LernerJanuary 22, 2011, 10:59 pm
  • Bob Hope ClassicLA QUINTA, Calif. – As Tommy “Two Gloves” Gainey was gushing about Jhonattan Vegas, “he bombs it, hits it by me 40 yards,” Vegas’ caddie Luis Sira leans into the conversation and, with his Latin accent, says with a huge smile, “We got a new name in golf boys and it’s Jhonny Vegas!”
  • Here are some other 'Hooks and Cuts' from the California desert at the Bob Hope Classic:
  • – Gary Woodland really moves it as well, with a ball speed of better than 200 miles per hour. Woodland played college hoops at Washburn in Kansas, now refining his obvious athletic gifts with instructor Randy Smith. He has Jack Nicklaus thighs and, by the way, Jack averaged 18 per game in Ohio high school basketball.
  • – Mr. 59, Al Geiberger, is teaching in the California desert with his sons and he stopped by our Golf Channel booth for a visit. When he broke the barrier in 1977 at Colonial CC in Tennessee, the next best score that day was 65. Paul Goydos, whose 59 at the John Deere Classic was nearly matched that day by Steve Stricker’s 60, says without hesitation, “There may be five of us in the 59 club, but Al’s the President.”
  • – Tim Petrovic, looking every bit like a seasoned rocker with his hair grown long, jumped on stage Friday at the Hope Jam Session to sing with The Doors’ legendary Robby Krieger. Petrovic came off flushed, in a zone, as if he’d just fired a 59. “That was incredible,” he said. “I met him six years ago at Riviera, where he’s a member. I’ve always been a huge fan.”
  • – Thoughtful and articulate, Vegas talks openly about the decline of golf in his native Venezuela under leftist president, Hugo Chavez. “It’s sad,” he said. “Everything he does is for political purposes.” Chavez branded golf a bourgeois sport, seizing courses to build housing for the poor. There are just 17 courses remaining. “Ten years ago there were like 3,000 juniors playing in Venezuela,” Vegas said. “Now probably 90 percent have given it up.”
  • – As if anyone needs a reminder that golf’s a humbling game, Geiberger offers this: “Fourteen days after I shot 59, I shot 80 at Butler National. So within a two week span I shot in the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s.”
  • – Sprinter and former Chicago Bears wide receiver Willie Gault is 50 but looks 35 and runs like he is 25. Gault owns the over-40 world record in the 100-yard dash and, at age 48, ran a 10.80, just seven-tenths of a second off his personal best 30 years ago. That’s a mind blower.
  • – David Duval now believes the magic number is not 59 or 58 but 14 under. “No one’s ever done it,” he said.
  • – George Gervin, a.k.a. the Ice Man, chipped in Friday while playing alongside his old ABA Virginia Squires teammate, Dr. J, Julius Erving. The Ice Man scored 63 on the final day of the ’78 NBA regular season to win the scoring title by a thread over David Thompson, who’d gone off for 73 that day. And Gervin even sat out the fourth quarter. That’s a mind blower as well.
  • – Tony Dovolani from “Dancing With the Stars” is playing in his first Bob Hope. From the guys he hears, “My wife loves you.” From the ladies, it’s, “I just want to do one dance step with you.” Tony, who is already an 8 handicap despite playing only three years, thinks about dance principles of rhythm and timing when he “swings,” and said long-legged beauty Stacy Keibler was his favorite partner.
  • – One of our all time favorites, Jim Thorpe, walks out of an Alabama prison this Wednesday at 4 a.m. His old friend and caddie, Jelly Hansberry, spoke to Jim’s wife Carol, who reports that his “spirits are very high.” Let’s hope Jim, at 61, can turn back the clock like Willie Gault.
  • – Matt Kuchar’s caddie Lance Bennett on his boss, echoing what we’ve all been witnessing: “He’s as consistent and solid as it gets.”
  • – Former Hope winner Donnie Hammond and Kuchar ran into each other on the practice tee. “I miss our little matches,” said Kuchar, referring to their battles when Kuchar lived and played out of Heathrow in Orlando. “Yeah I remember (Chris) DiMarco, every time he needed a 30-footer he’d drop it like it was a tap-in,” said Hammond of longtime Heathrow member DiMarco. “Hey Kuch, I don’t know how you ever made it listening to Fulty and me,” cracked Hammond. “Fulty” is former PGA Tour player, Fulton Allem, and Hammond said he’s struggling with his health. DiMarco’s struggling with his game. Their other running mate was Thorpe. Hammond, unable to gain status on the Champions Tour, is considering the head pro job at Heathrow. “I gotta do something,” he said.
  • – Colleague and former Pebble Beach winner Matt Gogel reports this from a tour rep: 20 years ago the average shoe size on the PGA Tour was nine-and-a-half and now it’s 11-and-a-half. Athletes like Dustin Johnson, Vegas and Woodland have arrived.
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.

Getty Images

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

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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.