Stories from the Sony

By Rich LernerJanuary 14, 2011, 5:37 am
HONOLULU – The Sony Open marks the first full-field event of the season – whenever it may officially begin. And with the start of a new year come plenty of new stories – not all from new players.


There was a time when the sun was up at the Sony.

It was Tuesday and it was warm and bright, though no brighter than the slacks John Daly sported. They were a yellow and black diamond print, an entire matching ensemble from the shoes right up to the bottle blond hair.

JD was in a good mood, which was nice to see because for so long his demeanor has seemed so flat.
John Daly
John Daly making a splash Tuesday at the Sony Open. (Getty Images)

“Greatest Christmas of my life,” he said. “I got custody of Little John.”  

John and girlfriend Ana Cladakis will homeschool 7-year-old Little John, suddenly conjuring up an unexpected vision of 'Little House on the Prairie.'

Father and teacher, John’s also a businessman and at that moment he was losing money.

“Jason’s killing us,” he said, referring to Jason Duffner, teaming with Roland Thatcher against John and Pat Perez.

And on cue, Duffner jammed home a downhill 30-footer for birdie at Waialae’s short par-4 12th.  

“Really?” asked Daly. “#@%* you, Rolie!” The players, caddies and this reporter lost it.

“I’m (ranked) third in the world on Tuesdays,” cracked Duffner.  

Daly answered by making an 18-footer for a half.

“I’m going back to my old stroke,” he explained. “I keep the right arm on my hip for an inside-out stroke. Everyone told me the opposite. Get over it more with my hands up but I started cutting everything.”

So there’s hope. It rolls in off the Pacific every January. But in golf, hope gets tempered quickly. When storms descended on Oahu, Round 1 was cancelled.

Thursday morning John stood outside a Denny’s on Waikiki smoking a cigarette, wondering what to do with the day ahead.

It was a slick little move, really, executed with Ricky Rubio flair. On the range, the caddie tossed the golf ball behind his back to the pro who nonchalantly caught it, teed it up and fired away.  

The caddie is 15-year-old Taylor Funk, and his boss is his father, Fred Funk, the 54-year-old former Players champion.    

Interestingly, this isn’t a one off, father-son experience. Taylor’s going to caddie upwards of 20 events this year between the PGA Tour and the Champions Tour.

He’s homeschooled and no stranger to tour life. “He already knows everybody because he’s kind of been everyone’s mascot out here since he was born,” said Fred.

Taylor’s not much bigger than the golf bag, but “He helps reads putts and really does it all,” said Fred, whose long-time caddie, Mark Long, determined he didn’t want to work full-time.

A 5 handicap, Taylor believes in his man, as caddies refer to their players. “I still think he can win out here on the right golf course,” Taylor said. “And Waialae’s the right course. The rough’s up and the fairways are tight.”

The boss hasn’t decided how he’s going to pay the caddie. “I know one thing,” said Fred. “The money might be in his account but he won’t see it.”

David Saka is an 18-year-old freshman at the University of Hawaii who qualifyied for the Sony through a local amateur event. His caddie/coach/instructor Kevin Ralbovsky knows Vijay Singh and set up a practice round earlier this week. Jim Furyk joined up.  

So there he was, all of 5’3” and 125 pounds, walking the fairways of Waialae with the 6’3” Hall of Fame member and the FedEx Cup champion.

His assessment of the experience was simple: “They’re very good.”  

He added, “Vijay drives it really far. He’s got me by like 75 yards.”

“Nobody climbs that mountain twice.”  

Paul Goydos, talking about Tiger Woods, is to us media chops what Wes Welker is to Tom Brady: Mr. Reliable.  

He doesn’t own Johnny Miller’s resume, but among current players, he’s most inclined to speak with Miller-like conviction.

On Tiger, while Goydos doesn’t believe he’ll ever be as good as he was 10 years ago, he does think he’ll be the best ever.

“Do I think he’ll be No. 1 again and hold onto it for a while? Yes,' he said. “He’ll win his 100 tournaments and beat Jack’s major record.'

“My goodness, he had a chance to win two majors last year – the Masters and the U.S. Open.'

Dustin Johnson also had a chance to win the U.S. Open until he blew a tire on Sunday.

“He showed me a lot,” Goydos said. “He came back from two heartbreaking losses to win the BMW.

“We’ve never had an athlete like this. He’s got game until the end of the world.”

Like so many, Goydos thinks this is an exciting time for golf with so many confident and capable young players. But he cautions that the Tiger-Phil era is by no means over.

“I wouldn’t be remotely surprised,” he said, “if over the next 10 years they combine to win 10 of the 40 majors played.”

Colleague Jerry Foltz knows the incoming class of PGA Tour rookies off his work on the Nationwide Tour and provided the following thumbnail sketches of a few notable players.

Kevin Chappell: “Has Pat Perez fire with maybe a bit more discipline. Not afraid to go low or occasionally slam a club.”

Daniel Summerhays: “Dynamic, old-school ball striker who likes to work the ball. Wouldn’t be surprised if he won.”

Jhonattan Vegas: “First Tour player from Venezuela. An absolute bomber who can bring a course to its knees.”

Keegan Bradley: “Nephew of LPGA great Pat Bradley. Hits it a country mile and an easy guy to root for.”

Jamie Lovemark: “Doesn’t really have a weakness.”

Tommy “Two Gloves” Gainey: “Been told his whole life he’s never going to succeed. Has the demeanor of a country boy, swing of a lumberjack and the mentality of a boxer.”  
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2018 NCAA Golf Championships TV Schedule

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 21, 2018, 12:29 pm

Golf Channel will shine a spotlight on college golf across the next two weeks at the 2018 NCAA Division I Women’s and Men’s Golf National Championships. With more than 60 hours of live tournament and news coverage on-site from Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater Oklahoma (Monday-Wednesday May 21-23 and May 28-30), Golf Channel’s coverage connects 18 straight days of live tournament golf.

Watch live coverage of the NCAA Golf Championships beginning Monday, May 21 at 4pm ET on Golf Channel and streaming.

Keep up with the social media conversation by following Golf Channel on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Join in by using #NCAAGolf 

Golf Channel NCAA Women’s Golf Championships Coverage (all times ET)

Monday, May 21: Individual National Championship  4-8 p.m. (Live)

Tuesday, May 22:Quarterfinals, Team Match Play 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. (Live)

Tuesday, May 22: Semifinals, Team Match Play 4-8 p.m. (Live)

Wednesday, May 23:Team Match Play National Championship 4-8 p.m. (Live)


Golf Channel NCAA Men’s Golf Championships Coverage (all times ET)

Monday, May 28: Individual National Championship 4-8 p.m. (Live)

Tuesday, May 29: Quarterfinals, Team Match Play 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. (Live)

Tuesday, May 29: Semifinals, Team Match Play 4-8 p.m. (Live)

Wednesday, May 30: Team Match Play National Championship 4-8 p.m. (Live)

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AT&T Byron Nelson purse payout: Wise a millionaire

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 21, 2018, 12:05 pm

PGA Tour rookie Aaron Wise earned his first Tour title on Sunday at the AT&T Byron Nelson. Here's a look at how the purse was paid out at Trinity Forest:

1 Aaron Wise -23 $1,386,000
2 Marc Leishman -20 $831,600
T3 Branden Grace -19 $400,400
T3 J.J. Spaun -19 $400,400
T3 Keith Mitchell -19 $400,400
T6 Ryan Blaum -16 $257,950
T6 Kevin Na -16 $257,950
T6 Jimmy Walker -16 $257,950
T9 Adam Scott -15 $207,900
T9 Charles Howell III -15 $207,900
T9 Kevin Tway -15 $207,900
12 Brian Gay -14 $177,100
T13 Rory Sabbatini -13 $148,867
T13 Ethan Tracy -13 $148,867
T13 Matt Jones -13 $148,867
T16 Russell Knox -12 $115,500
T16 Hideki Matsuyama -12 $115,500
T16 Bronson Burgoon -12 $115,500
T16 Derek Fathauer -12 $115,500
T16 Joel Dahmen -12 $115,500
T21 Jordan Spieth -11 $80,080
T21 Billy Horschel -11 $80,080
T21 Robert Garrigus -11 $80,080
T21 Peter Uihlein -11 $80,080
T21 Martin Piller -11 $80,080
T26 Tyler Duncan -10 $55,825
T26 Anirban Lahiri -10 $55,825
T26 Parker McLachlin -10 $55,825
T26 Martin Flores -10 $55,825
T26 J.T. Poston -10 $55,825
T26 Shawn Stefani -10 $55,825
T32 Cody Gribble -9 $39,116
T32 Johnson Wagner -9 $39,116
T32 Geoff Ogilvy -9 $39,116
T32 Nick Taylor -9 $39,116
T32 C.T. Pan -9 $39,116
T32 Scott Piercy -9 $39,116
T32 Nicholas Lindheim -9 $39,116
T32 Fabian Gomez -9 $39,116
T32 Beau Hossler -9 $39,116
T32 Nate Lashley -9 $39,116
T42 Zac Blair -8 $23,184
T42 Abraham Ancer -8 $23,184
T42 Maverick McNealy -8 $23,184
T42 Denny McCarthy -8 $23,184
T42 Jonathan Byrd -8 $23,184
T42 Eric Axley -8 $23,184
T42 Sam Ryder -8 $23,184
T42 Brian Stuard -8 $23,184
T42 J.B. Holmes -8 $23,184
T42 Sung-hoon Kang -8 $23,184
T42 Andrew Putnam -8 $23,184
T53 Ben Crane -7 $17,659
T53 Steve Wheatcroft -7 $17,659
T53 Troy Merritt -7 $17,659
T53 Patrick Rodgers -7 $17,659
T53 Corey Conners -7 $17,659
T53 Robert Streb -7 $17,659
T59 Ryan Armour -6 $16,632
T59 Peter Malnati -6 $16,632
T59 Vaughn Taylor -6 $16,632
T59 Dominic Bozzelli -6 $16,632
T59 Adam Schenk -6 $16,632
T59 Hudson Swafford -6 $16,632
T59 Michael Thompson -6 $16,632
T66 Matt Atkins -5 $15,862
T66 Roberto Diaz -5 $15,862
T66 T.J. Vogel -5 $15,862
69 Sang-Moon Bae -4 $15,554
T70 Tom Lovelady -3 $15,246
T70 Cameron Percy -3 $15,246
T70 Rod Pampling -3 $15,246
73 Brian Davis -1 $14,938
74 Mark Wilson 1 $14,784
75 Robert Allenby 2 $14,630
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Howell, Uihlein qualify for U.S. Open via OWGR

By Will GrayMay 21, 2018, 11:02 am

Charles Howell III and Peter Uihlein both used strong play at the AT&T Byron Nelson to maintain their positions inside the top 60 in the latest Official World Golf Ranking, thereby ensuring exemptions to next month's U.S. Open.

Howell moved up three spots to No. 56 in the world thanks to a T-9 finish at Trinity Forest. He'll make his 10th career U.S. Open appearance, but just his second since 2009. Howell missed the cut at Olympic in 2012.

Uihlein finished T-21 in Dallas, which was barely enough to hold onto a top-60 spot as he actually fell two positions to No. 59. The former U.S. Amateur champ will make his third U.S. Open appearance and second in as many years.

Updated Official World Golf Ranking

The drama for the final spot came down to the wire on Sunday, where Adam Scott's bid to unseat Chesson Hadley at No. 60 came up just short. Needing a solo ninth-place finish, Scott ended up in a three-way tie for ninth to begin the new week at No. 61. Hadley, who didn't play the Nelson, remained No. 60 and will make his U.S. Open debut.

Others to punch tickets to Shinnecock Hills include No. 52 Luke List, No. 53 Chez Reavie and No. 57 Dylan Frittelli. A second and final top-60 cutoff will be done based off the June 11 world rankings following the FedEx St. Jude Classic, with U.S. Open sectional qualifying conducted in England and the U.S. on June 4.

The only change among the top 10 in the rankings this week came at No. 10, where Paul Casey moved past Tommy Fleetwood despite an off week for both players. Justin Thomas remains world No. 1 for a second week, followed by Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Jon Rahm and Justin Rose. Rickie Fowler remains No. 6, with Jason Day, Rory McIlroy, Hideki Matsuyama and Casey rounding out the top 10.

Taking the week off following a T-11 finish at The Players Championship, Tiger Woods fell two spots to No. 82.

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After Further Review: Nelson lost in the shuffle?

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 21, 2018, 3:40 am

Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On the Nelson's future ...

If the goal was “different” by bringing the AT&T Byron Nelson to Trinity Forest, consider it achieved. But bringing a world-class field south of Dallas could still be tricky.

Yes, the tournament can always rely on local resident and AT&T spokesman Jordan Spieth to throw his hat in the ring. But even with Spieth strolling the fairways this week, the field strength was among the worst all season for a full-point event.

The debut of the sprawling, links-like layout likely did little to sway the undecideds, with only the third round offering the challenging conditions that course co-designer Ben Crenshaw had envisioned. And the schedule won’t do them any favors next year, as a revamped itinerary likely puts the Nelson right before the PGA Championship at Bethpage Black.

The course will inevitably get better with age, and Spieth expects positive word of mouth to spread. But it might be a while before the stars truly align for an event that, for the moment, feels lost in the shuffle of a hectic schedule. – Will Gray

On Jordan Spieth's putting ...

Jordan Spieth’s putting is plainly bad right now, but it isn’t going to stay this bad forever.

He is the second ranked player on Tour in strokes gained: tee-to-green, just like he was last year. This putting slump has lingered, but it’s unfathomable to think this guy just forgot how to putt.

Sooner rather than later he’s going to remember he’s Jordan Spieth and the 40-footers are going to start pouring in. He’ll be telling Greller to go get the ball because he’s too far away and the tee is in the other direction.

Bottom line, the ball striking is for real and the putting slump will pass. He’ll win soon – maybe even as soon as this week. – Nick Menta

On golf and gambling ...

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court over tuned a federal ban on sports betting in most states, a move the PGA Tour and many professional sports leagues embraced as a tool to both build fan interest and grow revenue.

Experts estimate sports betting could become a $150-$200 billion annual industry, and even a small piece of that could be significant for golf, but there will be risks.

Unlike any other sport, golf is played on multiple fields simultaneously, which inherently creates risks when gambling is introduced to the equation. Although the Tour has gone to great pains to head off any potential problems, like all bets gambling comes with great rewards, and great risks. – Rex Hoggard