The Big Easy-Going

By Bailey MosierMarch 15, 2011, 5:01 pm
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.

OCALA, Fla. – It isn’t Ernie Els’ 18 PGA Tour victories, three major championships or 45 other international titles that make Zack Sucher envious of the South African.

It’s not Els’ election into the World Golf Hall of Fame or the fact that he ranks fifth in career earnings on the PGA Tour.

Nope. Zack doesn’t hold any of that against Els.

The one thing that does irk the 24-year-old aspiring Tour professional is The Big Easy’s trademark on, well, ‘The Big Easy.’

When asked what one word best describes Zack Sucher both on and off the golf course, Sucher could only come up with one phrase – the same phrase – for both categories: “Easy-going.”

Since Els will probably always have dibs on ‘The Big Easy,’ we’re going to dub Zack Sucher ‘The Big Easy-Going.’

It seems by no error that Sucher be linked to Els. Their physique, personality and temperament on the course could easily be interchanged for one another.

And Zack hopes the same for their golf games, too, one day.

“I’ve always liked Ernie Els. He’s a big guy and swings so easy. He’s pretty mellow on the golf course and doesn’t get mad too often.”

Which is precisely the perception Zack holds of himself.

“I’m easy-going as a person. I don’t worry very much. Probably the same as a golfer,” Sucher said.

“I usually stay pretty positive. Getting angry really doesn’t help much.”

Watching him golf, you’d never know if Zack had just made an eagle or a double-bogey. He smiles after a made putt the same as he smiles over a missed putt, joking that he knows “the hole will get in the way sooner or later.”

Zack Sucher
Zack Sucher has made the cut in three of eight events in 2011.

I caught up with Zack during his most recent Hooters Tour event at Golden Hills Golf and Turf Club in Ocala, Fla.

Heavy rains hit the Ocala area, delaying the first day of play and soaking the course so much so that a ‘lift, clean and place’ rule was in effect the morning after the storm.

Due to the Thursday storms, Sucher completed his second nine holes of his first round the following day where he observed the ‘lift, clean and place’ rule.

Zack finished his first 18 at Ocala with a 3-over 75 and after a 30-minute intermission, was back on the tee for his second 18. Having been made clear to all the players – Zack included – the ‘lift, clean and place’ rule would not be in effect for afternoon play.

On Zack’s first hole of his next 18, his drive found the fairway. He walked up to his ball, leaned over, picked it up and instantly knew he had made a mistake.

“Woops,” he laughed as he was assessed a one-stroke penalty.

With a smile on his face, he replaced his ball, knocked it on the green and two-putted for a five.

“I picked my ball up today and said ‘Crap. What am I doing?’” he recalled after the round.

Later that day, Zack told me about another hiccup he had recently – grounding his club in a hazard, and ultimately making a 10 on the 18th at Palmetto Hall Plantation Club in Hilton Head, S.C. during an eGolf Professional Tour event.

Coincidentally, the 10 he made on 18 at Palmetto Hall Plantation Club was not the first 10 he made on that hole during competition; he managed to perform the same feat during a high school match.

How, you ask?

“I hit in the woods, right, off the tee to avoid water on the left. Then I tried to get it around the trees up by the green, and I hit it in the water, took a drop, then hit another one in the water. And then I thought I could play it from the water, so I got down in there, grounded my club on my way walking in, and then I got out and knocked it on and made the putt for a 10.

'I haven’t played that hole very well,” Sucher said as he made light of the situation.

Zack assured me he is usually more on-the-ball with his game and that he really can’t recall making many mistakes like these ever before in his career.

“I haven’t done a whole lot of things like that. I haven’t had a whole lot of penalty shots,” he said.

While some might mistake Zack’s free-flowing, laissez faire attitude on the course for a man lacking passion, heart or competitive fire, Zack will be the first to tell you that’s hardly the case.

“I want to beat everybody,” Sucher said.

“Where I have an advantage over other players would be my mental game. Staying pretty mellow the whole round…I pretty much enjoy it the whole time. A lot of guys you watch out there don’t look like they have a lot of fun.”

It doesn’t take much convincing to know Sucher has fun on the course. It’s safe to assume anyone who plays with a yellow golf ball, marked with cartoon characters likes to have fun.

Zack Sucher
Zack Sucher has had the same cell phone since high school.

“I’d play with a pink golf ball if they’d come out with one. I’m hoping they come out with one soon,” Zack said, not worried about the perception others may hold of a man playing a pink golf ball.

“I wouldn’t care. As long as it goes the same (distance).”

Off the course, Zack exudes the same smooth-sailing, easy-going temperament as he does while on the course.

In a society and times driven more so by gadgets and gizmos than ever before, Zack still uses the same phone he’s had since high school.

No camera, no Internet, no games, no gimmicks. His cell phone is as basic as it gets.

The reason: “I fish and kayak a lot and if I have it in my pocket and accidentally drop it, I don’t want to have to worry.”

And while the 24-year-old’s year in golf hasn’t been all he could have hoped for, he says he’s not too worried.

Zack has played in six Hooters Tour events, one eGolf Professional Tour event and the Nationwide event in Bogota, Colombia. He has missed the cut in all but three Hooters Tour events.

“I’m hopeful,' he said. 'I kinda need to do good early; make money early and you get into a lot more events.”

While Zack Sucher may be on-par with ‘The Big Easy’ in a lot of ways, it’s simply a matter of time before we find out if ‘The Big Easy-Going’ can storm the game of golf in much the same way as Ernie Els.

Whether he gets there or not, we’ll know one thing for sure – wherever he is, whatever he’s doing, Zack will be doing it with a smile on his face.

Getty Images

Five-time Open champ Thomson passes at 88

By Associated PressJune 20, 2018, 1:35 am

MELBOURNE, Australia – Five-time Open Championship winner Peter Thomson has died, his family said Wednesday. He was 88.

Thomson had been suffering from Parkinson's disease for more than four years and died at his Melbourne home surrounded by family members on Wednesday morning.

Born on Aug, 23, 1929, Thomson was two months short of his 89th birthday.

The first Australian to win The Open Championship, Thomson went on to secure the title five times between 1954 and 1965, a record equaled only by Tom Watson.

On the American senior circuit he won nine times in 1985.

Thomson also served as president of the Australian PGA for 32 years, designing and building courses in Australia and around the world, helping establish the Asian Tour and working behind the scenes for the Odyssey House drug rehabilitation organization where he was chairman for five years.

He also wrote for newspapers and magazines for more than 60 years and was patron of the Australian Golf Writers Association.

In 1979 he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his service to golf and in 2001 became an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for his contributions as a player and administrator and for community service.

Thomson is survived by his wife Mary, son Andrew and daughters Deirdre Baker, Pan Prendergast and Fiona Stanway, their spouses, 11 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Funeral arrangements were to be announced over the next few days.

Getty Images

Gaston leaves USC to become head coach at Texas A&M

By Ryan LavnerJune 19, 2018, 11:00 pm

In a major shakeup in the women’s college golf world, USC coach Andrea Gaston has accepted an offer to become the new head coach at Texas A&M.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Gaston, who informed her players of her decision Monday night, has been one of the most successful coaches over the past two decades, leading the Trojans to three NCAA titles and producing five NCAA individual champions during her 22-year reign. They have finished in the top 5 at nationals in an NCAA-record 13 consecutive seasons.

This year was arguably Gaston’s most impressive coaching job. She returned last fall after undergoing treatment for uterine cancer, but a promising season was seemingly derailed after losing two stars to the pro ranks at the halfway point. Instead, she guided a team with four freshmen and a sophomore to the third seed in stroke play and a NCAA semifinals appearance. Of the four years that match play has been used in the women’s game, USC has advanced to the semifinals three times.  

Texas A&M could use a coach with Gaston’s track record.

Last month the Aggies fired coach Trelle McCombs after 11 seasons following a third consecutive NCAA regional exit. A&M had won conference titles as recently as 2010 (Big 10) and 2015 (SEC), but this year the team finished 13th at SECs.

The head-coaching job at Southern Cal is one of the most sought-after in the country and will have no shortage of outside interest. If the Trojans look to promote internally, men’s assistant Justin Silverstein spent four years under Gaston and helped the team win the 2013 NCAA title.  

Getty Images

Spieth 'blacked out' after Travelers holeout

By Will GrayJune 19, 2018, 9:44 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – It was perhaps the most-replayed shot (and celebration) of the year.

Jordan Spieth’s bunker holeout to win the Travelers Championship last year in a playoff over Daniel Berger nearly broke the Internet, as fans relived that raucous chest bump between Spieth and caddie Michael Greller after Spieth threw his wedge and Greller threw his rake.

Back in Connecticut to defend his title, Spieth admitted that he has watched replays of the scene dozens of times – even if, in the heat of the moment, he wasn’t exactly choreographing every move.

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

“Just that celebration in general, I blacked out,” Spieth said. “It drops and you just react. For me, I’ve had a few instances where I’ve been able to celebrate or react on a 72nd, 73rd hole, 74th hole, whatever it may be, and it just shows how much it means to us.”

Spieth and Greller’s celebration was so memorable that tournament officials later shipped the rake to Greller as a keepsake. It’s a memory that still draws a smile from the defending champ, whose split-second decision to go for a chest bump over another form of celebration provided an appropriate cap to a high-energy sequence of events.

“There’s been a lot of pretty bad celebrations on the PGA Tour. There’s been a lot of missed high-fives,” Spieth said. “I’ve been part of plenty of them. Pretty hard to miss when I’m going into Michael for a chest bump.”

Getty Images

Pregnant Lewis playing final events before break

By Randall MellJune 19, 2018, 9:27 pm

Stacy Lewis will be looking to make the most of her last three starts of 2018 in her annual return to her collegiate roots this week.

Lewis, due to give birth to her first child on Nov. 3, will tee it up in Friday’s start to the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers, Arkansas. She won the NCAA individual women’s national title in 2007 while playing at the University of Arkansas. She is planning to play the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship next week and then the Marathon Classic two weeks after that before taking the rest of the year off to get ready for her baby’s arrival.

Lewis, 33, said she is beginning to feel the effects of being with child.

“Things have definitely gotten harder, I would say, over the last week or so, the heat of the summer and all that,” Lewis said Tuesday. “I'm actually excited. I'm looking forward to the break and being able to decorate the baby's room and do all that kind of stuff and to be a mom - just super excited.”

Lewis says she is managing her energy levels, but she is eager to compete.

“Taking a few more naps and resting a little bit more,” she said. “Other than that, the game's been pretty good.”

Lewis won the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship in 2014, and she was credited with an unofficial title in ’07, while still a senior at Arkansas. That event was reduced to 18 holes because of multiple rain delays. Lewis is a popular alumni still actively involved with the university.