Jack Newman: My Masters

By Mercer BaggsMarch 28, 2011, 10:24 pm

Editor's note: GolfChannel.com 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.

Pantone Matching System Color 567. It’s the particular shade of green in the official colors of Michigan State University.

Green has always been a good color for Jack Newman. His Hoover High Huskies (Des Moines, Iowa) sported green and gold. His MSU Spartans were the aforementioned green and white.  Even his 2006 Ford Taurus is “steel” green.

And then there is Augusta green, also known as Pantone 342.

That shade, chosen to match Augusta National's rye grass fairways, is reserved for the Masters champion, the color of the less-than-chic, but oh-so-coveted blazer.

Newman can remember the first time he saw Augusta National Golf Club up close.

“Green, just green everywhere,” he said. “Everything was perfect.”

Newman got a chance to play the course, and the Masters Tournament, thanks to his victory in the 2008 U.S. Public Links Championship.

Before Masters week 2009, he played the course 15 times on four trips to Augusta, Ga.

“I didn’t have Friday classes in the fall and spring semesters so I’d fly out Thursday night, meet up with my family, play 36 (holes) Friday and another 36 Saturday,” he said.

Those four outings included dad Bob, and brothers Andy, Dan and Dave on different occasions. Andy, now 36 and a former PGA section pro in Iowa and Minnesota for 11 years, served as Jack’s bagman for the tournament proper, just as he did at the Publinx.

When asked if he ever considered using a local caddie during the Masters, someone with more course knowledge, Newman replied, 'I did. But it was such a special time, we just wanted to keep it in the family.'

Family is a big part of Jack's life, and Jack has a pretty big family – three older brothers, one older sister, four nephews and one niece. He was awarded eight passes by tournament officials, but still had a total of 17 people in a house rented for the week. At nights they would have dinner and play cribbage, which helped Jack clear his mind.

Newman did, however, take advantage of a Masters tradition that allows amateur participants to stay in the Crow’s Nest above Butler Cabin during tournament week. He spent two nights there, overlooking all that was green and sharing stories with then reigning U.S. Amateur champion Danny Lee, U.S. Amateur runner-up Drew Kittleson and British Amateur champion Reinier Saxton.

“It was awesome. They were great guys and we had a great time. But when it got closer to tournament time I wanted to relax and focus, and be around my family,” Newman said.

Leading into the 73rd edition of the Masters Tournament, the then 21-year-old college junior had some quality company in practice rounds. He arrived in town the Friday before and played the course both Saturday and Sunday, the latter of which included nine holes with Rocco Mediate and 18 with Boo Weekley and Brandt Snedeker, who nearly won the tournament the year before.

Monday, he managed only 15 holes of practice in windy conditions, but did so alongside 2007 champion and fellow Iowan Zach Johnson. Anthony Kim joined them for three holes, helping them close out the front nine. After that it was off to the annual Amateur’s Dinner and then promptly in front of a TV set for the NCAA Men’s Basketball National Championship game between his Spartans and North Carolina. Unfortunately, Carolina Blue got the better of Pantone 567.

Tuesday, Newman played the back nine with Crow’s Nest roomie Saxton, before Kim and former British Open champion Todd Hamilton caught up with them on the par-3 16th. It was there that Newman enjoyed another Masters tradition: attempting to skip a ball across the water and onto the green. Saxton and Hamilton couldn’t keep their balls dry and Kim’s finished in a bunker. Going fourth, Newman hit a low line drive that skipped once, twice and three times before settling on the front of the green.

The patrons erupted in applause. It would not be the last time that they would give Jack a standing ovation.

Wednesday was the Par 3 Contest. Newman was grouped with former champions Fuzzy Zoeller and Sandy Lyle. Earlier in the morning, he got in nine holes on the tournament course with a 19-year-old Rory McIlroy and Kenny Perry.

“I got some advice throughout the week from the guys,” Newman said. “Rocco just told me to be myself and Rory said to just keep doing what I did to get to this point – don’t stray. I appreciated everything they had to say.”

With his father as his caddie, Newman nearly won the Par 3 Contest, ultimately finishing two back of champion Tim Clark. Despite a field-best five birdies over the nine holes, it was a double-bogey at the eighth that relegated Newman to a tie for second with two-time Masters champion Jose Maria Olazabal.

“On No. 8, I had 110 (yards) and flew the green, into the water for double. I didn’t even know I was close to the lead,” Newman recounted.

He certainly didn’t do it on purpose. Well aware that no one had won the Par 3 Contest and the Masters Tournament in the same year, Newman just had one goal in mind: “Pick up as much hardware as I could.”

As for his goal for the week, Newman, likewise, was single-minded: “I didn’t want to just make the cut. I felt that would be limiting me. I wanted to finish high enough to qualify for next year.”

Things certainly started in that direction Thursday afternoon. Teeing off at 12:02 p.m. ET with Mediate and Fred Couples – one of Newman’s golfing idols – Jack shot even-par 72 to finish the day in a tie for 39th. Friday, however, wasn’t quite as kind, as Mother Nature blew through Augusta.

Newman’s second round began at 8:55 a.m., and with three consecutive pars. Then came three bogeys over his next four holes. A birdie at the par-4 ninth, however, gave him a 2-over 38 at the turn and kept him in contention to qualify for the weekend.

At No. 9, Newman rifled a drive through the heart of the wind, stuck his approach shot to 8 feet, and then converted a less-than-routine birdie putt.

History shows in all its cruelty that no putt is a gimme at Augusta National and Newman learned quickly that there is nothing simplistic about the green complexes.

 “In the fall, the greens weren’t too fast, only a little more so in the spring,” he said.

“A week or two before, I could see an extra 2 feet of trickle. By the start of Masters week they were lightning quick. It wasn’t as if I had never had straight putts on very fast greens, but there are so many undulations there that it increases the speed and makes it so much more difficult. If you miss (your approach shot) on the wrong part of the green, it’s almost a guaranteed bogey – or, you’ll at least have to make a 15-, 20-footer for par. You have to put your ball in the proper segment of the green.”

After a bogey at 10 and a par at 11, Newman reached Augusta National’s most famous hole, the par-3 12th. It was playing right at 150 yards that day. In practice rounds, Newman made a couple of birdies on the hole known as Golden Bell and thought, “This isn’t really hard.”

That outlook changed during competition as Newman made bogey there on Day 1.

After watching Mediate plop one into Rae’s Creek on Day 2, Newman followed suit. “I ballooned an 8-iron. Right into the water,” he said. Double-bogey.

Not normally a conformist, Couples made it three-for-three and found the creek as well.

Newman went on to birdie the par-5 13th and the par-3 16th. His final birdie of the tournament came courtesy a beautiful 8-iron from 170 yards. With the pin on the right portion of the green, his tee shot hit right in front of the pin, hopped once and settled 6 inches away from an ace.

At the end of the day, Newman signed for a 4-over 76. His 4-over total missed the cut by three strokes.

After his round, Newman was greeted by family and friends, as well as Clair Peterson, tournament director of the John Deere Classic, who offered him a sponsor’s invitation into the event not three hours from his hometown of Des Moines.

That was a wonderful bonus to what was a wonderful week. But it wasn’t the highlight. That came Thursday.

After good night’s rest prior to his opening round, Newman ate breakfast, went through his warm-up routine, and then made his way to the first tee. After watching Couples and Mediate tee off, it was his turn.

“Fore, please. Jack Newman now driving.”

“I’m sure I breathed,” Newman said, only half-joking, “but I don’t really remember.

“I wasn’t really nervous until that point, when I put my tee in the ground. Somehow, I managed to make a good swing and knock it down the middle, about 280 (yards).”

Newman three-putted the first hole for bogey and made three other bogeys over his first nine holes to just one birdie, turning in 3-over 39. He dropped another shot at the 10th, before trading a birdie at 11 for a bogey at 12.

Newman reached the green in two on the par-5 13th, but once again three-putted, this time for par.

“That actually got me going,” he said. “The whole thing was a struggle until the back nine. When I three-putted for par at 13, it really got me upset. Being a little mad took away from the nerves.”

Four over par for the tournament with five holes to play in his first round, Newman got angry. He didn't turn green, but he did start carding red.

After a drive down the left side of the par-4 14th fairway, Newman hit his approach shot to 10 feet and made the putt for birdie. At the par-5 15th, he laid up short of the water in two. A wedge from 60 yards out finished 10 feet from the hole, setting up his second consecutive birdie.

He made it three-in-a-row at the 16th, before ending his run with a par at 17.

Another great drive put Newman dead center in the 18th fairway.

“Walking off the 18th tee, Chris Winkel, who way my coach then, said, ‘Well, let’s see if you can finish it off,’” Newman recalled.

And Newman obliged. He hit his approach shot to the uphill green a little long, his ball coming to rest on a sprinkler head. After his free drop, he faced a downhill, 18-foot slider.

“I hit the putt a little too hard. Some people have joked that the ball would still be rolling today, if it hadn’t hit the cup. But it did, and it went in, so that’s all that matters,” Newman said with a wry smile.

“The crowd went nuts. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that feeling.

“But the best thing, when you watch it on TV – the one time you get to see me on TV – when I go back to my bag, there is a Michigan State fan, this guy all decked out in Michigan State gear going bonkers. It’s great to receive that kind of support.”

Newman exited the grounds that Saturday morning. He regrets – just a little – leaving that early instead of sticking around for at least one more day to enjoy the tournament from outside the ropes.

One of his practice partners should have won that year. Perry had one arm inside the green jacket before flubbing it away. Angel Cabrera went on to defeat Perry and Chad Campbell in a sudden-death playoff.

Few will remember how well Cabrera putted late that Sunday to earn victory. Most will forever remember it as another major opportunity gone awry for Perry.

Newman will remember the 2009 Masters as only 95 other people can – as a playing competitor. It’s only two years down the line, but it’s safe to say that the clarity with which he recalls the events now will remain just as vivid in the future.

“It was an unbelievable experience,” said Newman. “It’s certainly something I will never forget and I can only hope to have the chance to live it again some day.”

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Davies wins by 10 on 'best ball-striking round'

By Associated PressJuly 16, 2018, 1:53 am

WHEATON, Ill. - Laura Davies immediately recognized the significance of having her name inscribed on the first U.S. Senior Women's Open trophy.

It might be a long time before anyone secures the title as emphatically as Davies did.

Davies went virtually unchallenged in Sunday's final round of the inaugural USGA championship for women 50 and older, claiming the title by 10 strokes over Juli Inkster.

''It's great seeing this (trophy) paraded down for the very first time and I get my name on it first, you know?'' Davies said. ''This championship will be played for many years and there will only be one first winner - obviously a proud moment for me to win that.''

The 54-year-old Davies shot a 5-under 68 to finish at 16-under 276 at Chicago Golf Club.

It was the English player's 85th career win, and she felt the pressure even though her lead was rarely in danger.

''I haven't won for eight years - my last win was India, 2010,'' Davies said. ''So that's the pressure you're playing under, when you're trying to do something for yourself, prove to yourself you can still win.

''So this ranks highly up there. And obviously it's a USGA event. It's hard comparing tournaments, but this is very high on my list of achievements.''

A 7-under 66 Saturday provided Davies with a five-shot lead over Inkster and what she said would be a sleepless night worrying about the pressure.

Full-field scores from the U.S. Senior Women’s Open

The World Golf Hall of Famer widened her advantage early Sunday when she birdied the par-5 second hole and Inkster made bogey. Davies said a par she salvaged at the 10th was another turning point.

''It wasn't the greatest hole I ever played, but I think that, to me, was when I really started to think I might have one hand on the trophy and just had to get the other one in there.''

Inkster shot an even-par 73. England's Trish Johnson also shot 73 to finish third, 12 shots back.

''I mean, she was absolutely spectacular this week,'' Johnson said about Davies. ''I've played against her for 35 years. Yesterday was the best I have ever seen her play in her entire career.

''She just said walking down 18 it was best ball-striking round she ever had. Considering she's won 85 tournaments, that's quite some feat.''

Danielle Ammaccapane was fourth and Yuko Saito finished fifth. Martha Leach was the top amateur, tying for 10th at 6-over 298.

Davies plans to play in the Women's British Open next month, and called this win a confidence-booster as she continues to compete against the younger generation. She finished tied for second at the LPGA's Bank of Hope Founders Cup earlier this year.

''You build up a little bit of momentum, and a golf course is a golf course,'' Davies said. ''Sometimes the field strength is a little bit different, but in your own mind if you've done something like this, 16 under for four rounds around a proper championship course, it can't do anything but fill you full of confidence.''

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Romo rallies to win American Century Championship

By Associated PressJuly 16, 2018, 12:42 am

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Nev. - Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo rallied from four points back to win his first American Century Championship at Lake Tahoe on Sunday.

Romo, who retired after the 2016 NFL season and is now an NFL analyst, had 27 points on the day to beat three-time defending champion Mark Mulder and San Jose Sharks captain Joe Pavelski, the the leader after the first two rounds.

''It's a special win,'' said Romo, who had finished second three times in seven previous trips to the annual celebrity golf tournament at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course. ''It feels like you're playing a tournament back home here. The day felt good for a lot of reasons.''

Romo tapped in for par, worth one point, on the 18th hole to finish with 71 points, three ahead of Mulder, the former major league pitcher. He then caught a flight to Berlin, Wis., where he was to compete in a 36-hole U.S. Amateur qualifying tournament on Monday.

The American Century Championship uses a modified Stableford scoring system which rewards points for eagles (six), birdies (three) and pars (one) and deducts points (two) for double bogeys or worse. Bogeys are worth zero points.

Pavelski had a 7-foot eagle putt on the par-5 18th that could have tied Romo, but it slid by. He finished with 66 points, tied for third with Ray Allen, who will be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Sept. 7.

Full-field scores from the American Century Championship

''It feels like nothing went in for me today,'' Pavelski said. ''But I couldn't ask for more than to have that putt to tie on the last hole.''

Romo plays as an amateur, so his $125,000 first-place check from the $600,000 purse will go to local charities and the Stowers Institute for Medical Research, the primary charitable arm of title sponsor American Century Investments.

Rounding out the top five were Trent Dilfer, a Super Bowl-winning quarterback with the Baltimore Ravens in 2001, and former tennis player Mardy Fish. Each had 62 points.

Golden State Warriors guard Steph Curry, who fell out of contention with a mediocre round Saturday, jumped into Lake Tahoe amidst much fanfare after losing a bet to his father, Dell. The elder Curry jumped into the lake last year, so he negotiated a 20-point handicap and won by two points.

Other notable players in the 92-player field included John Smoltz, the MLB hall of Fame pitcher who two weeks ago competed in the U.S. Senior Open and finished 10th here with 53 points; Steph Curry, who finished tied for 11th with retired Marine and wounded war hero Andrew Bachelder (50); actor Jack Wagner (16th, 47 points); Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (tied for 18th, 44 points); actor Ray Romano (tied for 71st, minus-26 points); comedian Larry the Cable Guy (tied for 77th, minus-33 points); and former NBA great Charles Barkley, who finished alone in last with minus-93 points.

The tournament drew 57,097 fans for the week, setting an attendance record for the fourth straight year.

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Singh tops Maggert in playoff for first senior major

By Associated PressJuly 16, 2018, 12:10 am

HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. - Vijay Singh birdied the second playoff hole to beat Jeff Maggert and win the Constellation Senior Players Championship on Sunday.

Singh knocked in a putt from about 2 feet after a nearly perfect approach on the 18th hole at Exmoor Country Club, giving an understated fist pump as the ball fell in. That gave him his first major title on the PGA Tour Champions to go with victories at the Masters and two PGA Championships.

Singh (67) and Maggert (68) finished at 20-under 268. Brandt Jobe (66) was two strokes behind, while Jerry Kelly (64) and defending champion Scott McCarron (71) finished at 17 under.

Maggert had chances to win in regulation and on the first playoff hole.

He bogeyed the par-4 16th to fall into a tie with Singh at 20 under and missed potential winning birdie putts at the end of regulation and on the first playoff hole.

His 15-footer on the 72nd hole rolled wide, forcing the playoff, and a downhill 12-footer on the same green went just past the edge.

Full-field scores from the Constellation Energy Senior Players

The 55-year-old Singh made some neat par saves to get into the playoff.

His tee shot on 17 landed near the trees to the right of the fairway, and his approach on 18 wound up in a bunker. But the big Fijian blasted to within a few feet to match Maggert's par.

McCarron - tied with Maggert and Bart Bryant for the lead through three rounds - was trying to join Arnold Palmer and Bernhard Langer as the only back-to-back winners of this major. He came back from a six-shot deficit to win at Caves Valley near Baltimore last year and got off to a good start on Sunday.

He birdied the first two holes to reach 18 under. But bogeys on the par-4 seventh and ninth holes knocked him off the lead. His tee shot on No. 7 rolled into a hole at the base of a tree and forced him to take an unplayable lie.

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Davies a fitting winner of inaugural USGA championship

By Randall MellJuly 15, 2018, 11:26 pm

Laura Davies confessed she did not sleep well on a five-shot lead Saturday night at the U.S. Senior Women’s Open.

It’s all you needed to know about what this inaugural event meant to the women who were part of the history being made at Chicago Golf Club.

The week was more than a parade of memories the game’s greats created playing in the USGA’s long-awaited showcase for women ages 50 and beyond.

The week was more than nostalgic. 

It was a chance to make another meaningful mark on the game.

In the end, Davies relished seeing the mark she made in her runaway, 10-shot victory. She could see it in the familiar etchings on the trophy she hoisted.

“I get my name on it first,” Davies said. “This championship will be played for many years, and there will only be one first winner. Obviously, quite a proud moment for me to win that.”

Really, all 120 players in the field made their marks at Chicago Golf Club. They were all pioneers of sorts this past week.

“It was very emotional seeing the USGA signs, because I've had such a long history, since my teens, playing in USGA championships,” said Amy Alcott, whose Hall of Fame career included the 1980 U.S. Women’s Open title. “I thought the week just came off beautifully. The USGA did a great job. It was just so classy how everything was done, this inaugural event, and how was it presented.”

Davies was thankful for what the USGA added to the women’s game, and she wasn’t alone. Gratefulness was the theme of the week.

Full-field scores from the U.S. Senior Women’s Open

The men have been competing in the U.S. Senior Open since 1980, and now the women have their equal opportunity to do the same.

“It was just great to be a part of the first,” three-time U.S. Women’s Open winner Hollis Stacy said. “The USGA did a great job of having it at such a great golf course. It's just been very memorable.”

Trish Johnson, who is English, like Davies, finished third, 12 shots back, but she left with a heart overflowing.

“Magnificent,” said Johnson, a three-time LPGA and 19-time LET winner. “Honestly, it's one of the best, most enjoyable weeks I've ever played in in any tournament anywhere.”

She played in the final group with Davies and runner-up Juli Inkster.

“Even this morning, just waiting to come out here, I thought, `God, not often do I actually think how lucky I am to do what I do,’” Johnson said.

At 54, Davies still plays the LPGA and LET regularly. She has now won 85 titles around the world, 20 of them LPGA titles, four of them majors, 45 of them LET titles.

With every swing this past week, she peeled back the years, turned back the clock, made fans and peers remember what she means to the women’s game.

This wasn’t the first time Davies made her mark in a USGA event. When she won the U.S. Women’s Open in 1987, she became just the second player from Europe to win the title, the first in 20 years. She opened a new door for internationals. The following year, Sweden’s Liselotte Neumann won the title.

“A lot of young Europeans and Asians decided that it wasn't just an American sport,” Davies said. “At that stage, it had been dominated, wholeheartedly, by all the names we all love, Lopez, Bradley, Daniel, Sheehan.”

Davies gave the rest of the world her name to love, her path to follow.

“It certainly made a lot of foreign girls think that they could take the Americans on,” Davies said.

In golf, it’s long been held that you can judge the stature of an event by the names on the trophy. Davies helps gives the inaugural U.S. Senior Women’s Open the monumental start it deserved.