Check out the highlights from Carl Pettersson's five-shot win at the 2012 RBC Heritage.
Check out the highlights from Carl Pettersson's five-shot win at the 2012 RBC Heritage.
We guess Brian Gay never saw “Happy Gilmore” or he wouldn't have chosen to hit his ball after it stopped next to a 10-foot alligator at the 15th hole in the first round of the RBC Heritage. In the movie, Happy’s coach is Chubbs Peterson, a former Tour star whose career was cut short when an alligator bit off his hand. The Myrtle Beach Sun News has more:
Gay’s third shot plugged in the grass next to a 10-foot alligator on the bank of a pond to the front left of the green. His caddie, Kip Henley, attempted to shoo it away for several minutes using a bunker rake before it grudgingly slid into the water.
“I wasn’t going to go near him, but my caddie’s not scared of him,” Gay said. “It took at least 10 minutes and he just wouldn’t move. There was a baby about 20 feet away on the bank and we think that’s why he didn’t want to move. When he finally got in the water he just stayed right there. So I couldn’t get over there to hit.”
With the stubborn alligator lingering in the area, Henley bonked it on the snout with the rake, finally getting the reptile to swim about 30 feet away.
“He’d go under, and then you don’t know where he went, and a couple times he came back at him,” said Gay, the 2009 Heritage champion. “I didn’t know what was going to happen. Once I saw him 30 feet away I knew I had time to hit it and get out of there.”
Gay did have the option of a free drop because an alligator qualifies as a “dangerous situation,” but he chose to wait it out.
Just imagine the movie pitch: flamboyant pro golfer rents house for a week to play a golf tournament and moves in with his friends. Everybody likes the place. Sure, maybe the doors creak, it’s strangely cold in the stairwell and the dog barks at nothing, but it's spacious and near the course. But then suddenly it becomes...The Hilton Head House of Horror. That’s what happened last week at Harbour Town when Ian Poulter rented a home there. He documented it all on Twitter.
At first everything is great. This place has it all: great kitchen, comfortable bed, good TV room.
When play starts on Thursday, life at the rental home is still groovy. Poulter shoots 2-under and his only concern is his hair.
However, things take a turn for the worse on Saturday, when Poulter shoots 75.
Suddenly, Poulter starts to think about finding another place to stay.
Then it hits him. Poulter knows one guy who ain't afraid of no ghosts.
That appears to be the end of the story, although Poulter leaves the door open for a sequel that could be big business in Asia.
Can Furyk, who made a clutch putt worth $10 million last fall to win the FedEx Cup title, handle this kind of incredible pressure? The question made Furyk laugh.
“I think I can handle it, we’ll see,” he said. “If I don’t make any birdies at the Heritage, we’ll know there’s a problem.”
Furyk is partnering with Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals for the fund-raiser. They hope members of the public—like you—will pledge money for every birdie Furyk makes, starting with next week’s Heritage Classic at Harbour Town. Pledges can be as small as ten cents per birdie or as big as $20—or bigger, there’s no maximum pledge, obviously. You can sign up to pledge support for Furyk at MiracleBirdies.com. The amounts will be determined by how many birdies Furyk makes from the Heritage until the season-ending tournament, the Children's Miracle Network Classic at DisneyWorld.
“It’s funny, I’ve been asked that quite a few times about whether there will be pressure,” Furyk said. “I look at it more as an opportunity. I think it will be fun. Whether there are 100 or 2,000 pledges, it’s a positive. One of my partners, RBC, is going to run a big campaign around the PGA Championship this year. I’m proud to be part of all this.”
The money raised by people who make pledges will go to their local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital.
“What I like so much is that the money will stay in your local area,” Furyk said. “If you live in Orlando, for example, it would go to the Arnold Palmer Children’s Hospital. It’s easy to get people involved when they see the money is going to stay in their own community.”
Since 1983, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals have raised more than $4 billion, used for research and training, equipment and uncompensated care in support of children with health issues.
Furyk was already involved in fund-raising for children. He and his wife have supported Wolfson Children’s Hospital in Florida near their home in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. Getting into this new program was an easy choice for him.
“We’ve met quite a few kids,” Furyk said. “The hospital here has like a pediatric hospital for kids whose prognosis is not that great—it’s for their families and siblings. They’re building a new wing now so they can have more rooms where parents can sleep in the rooms and be with their sick children. A lot of these kids, it’s tough.
“Tabitha runs a wonderful program around the Players Championship week. Instead of 'These Guys Can Play,' it’s 'These Kids Can Play.' We have a lot of players come out—Ben Crane and Justin Leonard have really helped. Being around the kids and being in that wing and seeing what the doctors and nurses do on a daily basis, there are a lot of inspiring individual stories. The whole thing makes you want to be a part of it.”
As a father of two, Furyk naturally has a greater interest in children’s healthcare. Furyk, 40, is a Pennsylvania native and still an avid Pittsburgh Steelers fan, but he’s found a home in northeast Florida. “It really hits home when you start raising your own family,” he said. “I’ve lived here in Jacksonville and really felt like I became more a part of the community when we started having children and realized this was where we wanted to raise them. Our kids were born here at the Baptist Medical Center.”
Jim and Tabitha have two children—an 8-year-old daughter, Caleigh, and a 7-year-old son, Tanner. (Two years ago, the 6-year-old Caleigh filed a report on her dad playing in the Players Championship for Golf.com.)
Furyk always been good with kids, and that’s how he met his wife-to-be years ago.
“She was an education major and getting into teaching and I was playing golf with some kids at Jack Nicklaus’s Memorial Tournament,” Furyk said. “She loved the way I interacted with the kids and that was my in to say hello and get to meet her.”
And since then? “Well,” he said with a chuckle, “it’s worked out pretty well.”
(Photo: Matt Slocum/AP)
As Japan’s Ryo Ishikawa deliberated over club selections and putting lines Thursday at the soggy WGC event at Doral, he had a far graver matter weighing on him: the 8.9 magnitude earthquake and ensuing tsunami that struck his homeland, killing hundreds. Ishikawa read of the devastation on his computer early Friday morning before finishing his weather-delayed first round, yet still managed to card a sterling seven-under-par 65, good for second place.
“If you can imagine, it's beyond being a distraction for me,” Ishikawa said after his round. “I'm worried for the whole country of Japan. The fact that I was finally able to communicate with my parents [who live in the Tokyo area] did help me feel so much better. I just tried focus, but it is a battle out there for me.
"It is not possible to block something of this magnitude out completely," he added. "But I understand that in the position that I am, together with the other star athletes from Japan and other sporting areas, we can provide encouragement and hope for the people of Japan by myself doing the job."
Government bailout of Tour event is imminent
D-day is fast approaching for the PGA Tour’s popular stop in Hilton Head, S.C. The event has been scrambling to find a title sponsor in the wake of Verizon’s withdrawal, and if that doesn’t happen soon, state legislators plan to take a dramatic step: a government bailout, according to Seanna Adcox at Bloomberg Businessweek:
A bill put on hold for debate on the House floor until at least March 29 is designed to save the springtime tradition, if that becomes necessary. The so-called skeleton bill has no details.
"The options are wide open," said its sponsor, GOP Rep. Bill Herbkersman of nearby Bluffton. "It's up on deck waiting."
Such a proposal would face stiff opposition from newly elected Republican Gov. Nikki Haley, who last year, as a gubernatorial candidate, railed against the prospect of loaning the Harbour Town tournament $10 million from the state's insurance reserve fund, “calling it a golf course bailout akin to federal government bailouts of car companies and banks.”
"The governor loves the Heritage, understands how critical it is to our economy, and is very focused on finding a sponsor. But let's be clear: Under no circumstances should the taxpayers of South Carolina front the costs of a golf tournament," said her spokesman Rob Godfrey.
Perhaps that should be left to the taxpayers to decide.
According to a Clemson University study commissioned by the tournament, it brings more than $80 million to the state in spectators' spending, jobs and other revenue, with more than 70 percent of spectators living outside Beaufort County.
The case for a Tour event in Detroit
In more encouraging tournament news, it seems historic Detroit Golf Club is in line to land a Cadillac-sponsored Tour event, which would be a boon to a city desperately in need of a lift. Having visited DGC last year, I can attest to the site’s credibility; it has two stellar Donald Ross courses, a stunning red brick clubhouse, and even its very own putter boy (below). The club also has as avid a membership as you could hope to find, a point noted by Carlos Monarrex in the Detroit Free Press:
“I mean, we’re golf junkies,” said Todd Beals, the club’s chief operating officer. “We’re not Detroit Country Club. We’re Detroit Golf Club.”
Beals did not specifically discuss the possibility of the club hosting a Cadillac-sponsored tournament. But when he spoke about possibly hosting any PGA Tour event, he said, “It would be like an Elvis fan going to Graceland for our membership to have an event here.”
Coming to a spa near you: the golf-ball massage
First came oily hands. Then hot stones. And now ... golf balls? Yep, thanks to a new device invented by California massage therapist Heather Karr, masseuses can now loosen up their clients with a Titliest.
The idea of using a golf ball as a massage tool came about when a client asked her to use it on his back for deep-tissue massage. It was effective, she said, but after a while started to hurt her hand.
"The final design, which is made of hard plastic, allows the ball to roll around inside if you push lightly. If you push hard, the ball doesn't move, and you get really deep work. You can also move it in circles for cross-fiber work."
“Work the calve, please, Charlene. Nice. O.K., now a little to the right. Wait, is that a two-piece ball? I asked for the three-piece!”
At the end of November, Karr and her SPAball Kaddy were featured on an episode of the TV show "The Doctors" and since then, she says, sales of her products have taken off.
What’s next? The Srixon Spa?
Phil Mickelson’s 67 on the South Course at Torrey Pines on Thursday matched the best score of the day on the tougher of the facility’s two tracks. But the real Mickelson story was Amy, who is recovering from breast cancer but felt vigorous enough to follow her husband for 18 holes. That’s the first time she’s done that since the 2009 Masters, according The San Diego Star Tribune’s Tod Leonard, who caught up with Amy out on the course:
Looking fit and healthy, Amy Mickelson put her palm up to the bright blue sky, the Pacific Ocean glimmering in the distance, and said, “This is the most perfect, beautiful day. I don’t remember a more beautiful day out here.”
“This is huge for me,” she said. “It’s just so fun to be out here. Of course, I watched all of Phil’s rounds on TV, but it’s not the same as being here.
“I think going through cancer, you have to look at it not day by day, week to week. We have to look at how far we’ve come in a year. It’s a long road.”
Of having Amy in the gallery, Phil Mickelson said, “I forget how much I’ve missed having her out here.”
His scorecard showed it.
Grey Goose and Soda, meet Fuzzy and Tonic
Greg Norman has his own wine. So does Jack Nicklaus. And Arnold Palmer. And Ernie Els. And Annika Sorenstam. Fuzzy Zoeller? He’s a vodka man. At the Champions Skins Game in Hawaii—sponsored in part by Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka—Zoeller told Ann Miller of The Honolulu Star Advertiser how his label came to be:
"It all started about five years ago," he said. "I was sitting in my office in southern Indiana. A lot of people had come to me to ask me to do wines. That wine business is so competitive, so many players have their own. I had to do something a little different because I'm a different type person."
A friend suggested vodka, and Frank Urban Zoeller, who now calls his drink of choice a Fuzzy and Tonic, jumped.
He found an American distillery that would make a private label and spent four years creating the taste he wanted. He did blind tastings at his club, which confirmed his belief.
Vodka tastings with the Fuz? Now there’s a prize for your next charity golf outing.
Gov’t appointee charged with finding sponsor for PGA Tour event
Parks and Rec departments assume all kinds of responsibilities, like maintaining historical sites, administering basketball leagues, and filling unsightly pits. South Carolina’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism now has one other unusual duty: finding a sponsor for the Heritage, the beloved yet beleaguered PGA Tour event at Harbour Town Golf Links in Hilton Head. The governor of South Carolina, Nikki Haley, issued the mandate to new department head, Duane Parrish, a former hotel executive:
“She literally said, ‘You're the perfect person for the job, and we need a sponsor for the Heritage at Hilton Head,'” he said. “So I have my marching orders.”
Legislative proposals last year to borrow up to $10 million from the state Insurance Reserve Fund for the tournament or to allow local governments to collect a sales tax to pay for tourism-related projects failed to pass.
“The first priority we have given to Duane is we have to find a sponsor for that PGA event before June,” Gov. Haley said.
No pressure or anything.
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