Money on Sucher's Mind

By Bailey MosierFebruary 16, 2011, 12:00 am

Editor's note: will be following four mini-tour players – Tim Hegarty, Zack Sucher, Benoit Beisser and Jack Newman – over the course of 2011 in our new feature, 'The Minors.' Check in each week for the players' progress, updates, photos and more.

Even when Zack Sucher was 5 years old, he made it a point to make money from golf.

He would go to the course with his dad, Randy, play a few holes but soon turn his attention elsewhere. He spent most of his time off in the woods and ponds gathering wayward golf balls.

It didn’t take long before Zack had collected enough balls to sell and turn a profit. Sucher recalls selling 400 golf balls for $20 – a fortune to a 5-year-old – to any person kind enough to throw a few bucks his way.

Today, nearly 20 years later, Sucher still makes it his business to make money from golf, but his sights are set at earning a few more Andrew Jacksons than he did as a kid.

One thing that hasn’t changed since his childhood is the way he marks his golf balls. If professional golf doesn’t pan out, Sucher may want to try his hand at artistry.

Zack doesn’t sketch two red dots or a line or write his name on his golf balls. Instead, he draws elaborate depictions of Bart Simpson, the Ninja Turtles or whichever other animated childhood icon he feels inspired to pen.

“I probably just have too much time on my hands,” Sucher said. “I don’t know why. I’ve always marked my golf balls up way more than most people do. I spend 15 to 30 minutes on each golf ball.”

Zack Sucher balls

An easy thing to do, Sucher said, with so much time alone in hotel rooms – a tune all too familiar to mini-tour golfers.

Sucher grew up in Mobile, Ala. and is the youngest of three. Randy Sucher passed the golfing gene to his son, whose swing is as homegrown as the cotton and corn on which Alabama’s economy thrives.

Zack worked mostly with his father and his own self-analysis to groove a swing about which he feels good, a swing he says is anything but prototypical:

“I wouldn’t describe it textbook at all. It’s not a very mechanical swing. I want to be more a feel player, but I usually know what I’m doing when I get it going crooked.”

Some crooked and some straight, his golf shots landed him a four-year scholarship to the University of Alabama at Birmingham where he penned quite the resume.

Sucher was individual medalist four times in college, was a two-time All-American who was named to the U.S. team for the U.S.-Japan International Cup and was at one point ranked the third best amateur in the country.

Sucher, 24, defines his game by the risks he takes.

“I’m probably too aggressive if anything.' he said. 'I’d rather hit it in the water going for something, trying to make a birdie than playing it safe and thinking a few holes later, ‘I wish I could have birdied that hole.’

“I don’t think I’d enjoy golf if I played most of the shots safe. I wouldn’t enjoy it as much, I know.'

While risk-taking has its rewards, Sucher said it’s also provided him some big numbers, recalling making a 12 on a hole in college. He certainly doesn’t seem to be afraid of the big numbers, however, because he doesn’t have any plans of taming anytime soon.

“I think it’s paid off more than it’s hurt me. There’ve been a couple times when I probably shouldn’t have hit a shot,” Sucher said. “I’ve either gotten lucky or pulled it off and it’s worked out great.”

Zack turned professional in the fall of 2009 and has been pleased with his progress over the past year and a half, mostly playing Hooters Tour events and Nationwide and PGA Tour Monday qualifiers.

Sucher made it to the third stage of PGA Tour Q-School this past winter where he missed earning full Nationwide status by three shots. He said he averaged six fairways per round that week because he just couldn’t quite get into a groove.

Zack Sucher“If I’d have just gotten my driver straightened out that week, I probably would have made it,” said the 6-foot, 225-pound southerner.

A narrow defeat at Q-School isn’t the only story to headline his golfing career lately. Sucher was part of the group which included LPGA golfer Brittany Lincicome at a Hooters Tour event in January.

“That was so interesting. I had no idea she was playing in the tournament. I went down the pairings sheet, saw her name and thought ‘No way! She wouldn’t play in this event,’” Zack recalled.

He said it was a great day and he marveled at how sharp her short game was. Her long game didn’t go unnoticed either, as he begrudgingly admitted she out drove him on the 18th hole.

“It made me feel really bad. She got me by five or 10 yards,” Sucher said.

Many texts from friends poured in, ridiculing him for being out driven by a girl.

But the one girl in his life he receives no ridicule over is his wife, Courtney.

Zack and Courtney met the weekend before classes started at UAB their freshman year, immediately hit it off, dated throughout college and got married immediately after graduating.

A fairytale story with a slightly less than happily-ever-after honeymoon – a honeymoon Zack said he still owes to Courtney.

“To be honest, my coach probably wouldn’t want me telling this but I’m going to tell on him anyway,” Sucher said, referring to his former college coach’s scheduling mishap.

When Zack and Courtney got engaged at the beginning of their senior year, Zack went to his coach, Alan Kaufman, and asked for the date of the NCAA Regionals in the spring. The newly engaged couple knew they wanted a spring wedding but knew it was a goal and a reality that Zack would be making the trip to the NCAA Regional tournament.

Coach Kaufman gave Zack the incorrect date (in Kaufman’s defense, the NCAA changed the date that year for the first time in six years) and when Kaufman learned of his error five months before the wedding and Regionals, it was too late to do damage control.

Luckily, Zack and Courtney were able to marry according to plan, but ended up “honeymooning” in Orlando, Fla. – the site of the Southeast Regionals that year.

Sucher’s 27th-place finish at Regionals ended his collegiate career but segued into a summer of playing the big amateur events before turning pro in the fall.

Sucher’s 2011 will consist of playing a full Hooters Tour tournament schedule and Nationwide Tour Monday qualifiers. He says his short-term goal is to play well this year and position himself and his game in a place to play the PGA or Nationwide tour full-time in 2012.

So far this year he has played five Hooters Tour Winter Series events and placed in three.

That's $2,906, if you're counting. And we know Zack is.

Next Tuesday, 'The Minors' will feature former U.S. Public Links champion and Masters participant Jack Newman.

Getty Images

'The Golf Club 2019' adds Elvy to commentary team

By Nick MentaJuly 19, 2018, 4:45 pm

“The Golf Club 2019” is adding a new name to its commentary team.

Broadcaster Luke Elvy will join returning announcer and HB Studios developer John McCarthy for the title's third installment.

Golf fans will recognize Elvy from his recent work with CBS in addition to his time with Sky Sports, FOX Sports, TNT, PGA Tour Live and PGA Tour Radio.

A 25-year media veteran from Australia, he now works in the United States and lives with his family in Canada.

"Ian Baker-Finch was my right-hand man on Australian televison," Elvy told in an interview at the Quicken Loans National. "And Finchy said to me, 'What are you doing here? You should be with me in the States.’ He introduced me to a few people over here and that's how the transition has happened over the last five or six years."

Elvy didn't have any prior relationship with HB Studios, who reached out to him via his management at CAA. As for why he got the job, he pseudo-jokes: "They heard the accent, and said, 'We like that. That works for us. Let's go.' That's literally how it happened."

He participated in two separate recording sessions over three days, first at his home back in February and then at the HB Studios shortly after The Players Championship. He teased his involvement when the game was announced in May.

Although he doesn't describe himself as a "gamer," Elvy lauded the game's immediate playability, even for a novice.

“It’s exactly how you’d want golf to be,” he said.

"The Golf Club 2019" will be the first in the HB series to feature PGA Tour branding. The Tour had previously licensed its video game rights to EA Sports.

In addition to a career mode that will take players from the Tour all the way through the FedExCup Playoffs, "The Golf Club 2019" will also feature at launch replicas of six TPC courses played annually on Tour – TPC Summerlin (Shriners Hospitals for Children Open), TPC Scottsdale's Stadium Course (Waste Management Phoenix Open), TPC Sawgrass’ Stadium Course (The Players Championship), TPC Southwind (FedEx St. Jude Classic/WGC-FedEx St. Jude Championship), TPC Deere Run (John Deere Classic), and TPC Boston (Dell Technologies Championship).

“I played nine holes at Scottsdale,” Elvy added. “It’s a very close comparison. Visually, it’s very realistic."

The Golf Club 2019 is due out this August on PlayStation 4, XBOX One, and PC.

Getty Images

Expired visa, helicopter, odd clubs all part of Vegas' journey

By Ryan LavnerJuly 19, 2018, 3:48 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Jhonattan Vegas thought someone was playing a practical joke on him.

Or maybe he was stuck in the middle of a horror movie.

Scheduled to leave for The Open a week ago, he didn’t arrive at Carnoustie until a little more than an hour before his first-round tee time Thursday.

“Even if somebody tried to do that on purpose,” he said, “you couldn’t really do it.”

The problem was an expired visa.

Vegas said that he must have gotten confused by the transposed date on the visa – “Guessing I’ve been living in America too long” – and assumed that he was cleared to travel.

No problem, he was told. He’d have a new visa in 24 hours.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Except the consulate in New York didn’t respond to his application the next day, keeping him in limbo through the weekend. Then, on Monday, he was told that he’d applied for the wrong visa. UPS got shut down in New York and his visa never left, so Vegas waited in vain for seven hours in front of the consulate in Houston. He finally secured his visa on Wednesday morning, boarded a flight from Houston to Toronto, and then flew to Glasgow, the final leg of a 14-hour journey.

His agent arranged a helicopter ride from Glasgow to Carnoustie to ensure that he could make his 10:31 a.m. (local) tee time.

One more issue? His clubs never made it. They were left back in Toronto.

His caddie, Ruben Yorio, scrambled to put together a new bag, with a mismatched set of woods, irons, wedges and putter.

“Luckily the (equipment) vans are still here,” Vegas said. “Otherwise I probably would have played with members’ clubs today.”

He hit about 20 balls on the range – “Luckily they were going forward” – but Carnoustie is one of the most challenging links in the world, and Vegas was working off of two hours’ sleep and without his own custom-built clubs. He shot 76 but, hey, at least he tried.

“It was fun,” he said, “even though the journey was frustrating.”

Getty Images

'Brain fart' leads to Spieth's late collapse

By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2018, 2:44 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The closing stretch at Carnoustie has famously ruined many a solid round, so Jordan Spieth’s misadventures on Thursday should not have been a complete surprise, but the truth is the defending champion’s miscues were very much self-inflicted.

Spieth was cruising along at 3 under par, just two shots off the early lead, when he made a combination of errors at the par-4 15th hole. He hit the wrong club off the tee (4-iron) and the wrong club for his approach (6-iron) on his way to a double bogey-6.

“The problem was on the second shot, I should have hit enough club to reach the front of the green, and even if it goes 20 yards over the green, it's an easy up-and-down,” Spieth said. “I just had a brain fart, and I missed it into the location where the only pot bunker where I could actually get in trouble, and it plugged deep into it. It was a really, really poor decision on the second shot, and that cost me.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Spieth continued to compound his problems with a sloppy bogey at the 16th hole, and a drive that sailed left at 18 found the Barry Burn en route to a closing bogey and a 1-over 72.

The miscues were more mental, a lack of execution, than they were an example of how difficult the closing stretch at Carnoustie can be, and that’s not good enough for Spieth.

“That's what I would consider as a significant advantage for me is recognizing where the misses are,” said Spieth, who was tied for 68th when he completed his round. “It felt like a missed opportunity.”

Getty Images

Perez: R&A does it right, 'not like the USGA'

By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2018, 2:28 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Pat Perez didn’t even attempt to hide his frustration with the USGA at last month’s U.S. Open, and after an opening-round 69 at The Open, he took the opportunity to double down on his displeasure.

“They (the R&A) do it right, not like the USGA,” Perez said of the setup at Carnoustie. “They've got the opposite [philosophy] here. I told them, you guys have it right, let the course get baked, but you've got the greens receptive. They're not going to run and be out of control. They could have easily had the greens just like the fairway, but they didn't. The course is just set up perfect.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Concerns at Shinnecock Hills reached a crescendo on Saturday when the scoring average ballooned to 75.3 and only three players broke the par of 70. Of particular concern for many players, including Perez, were some of the hole locations, given how fast and firm the greens were.

“The U.S. Open could have been like this more if they wanted to. They could have made the greens a bit more receptive,” Perez said. “These greens are really flat compared to Shinnecock. So that was kind of the problem there is they let it get out of control and they made the greens too hard.”