Golf Buzz

July 7, 2014 - 8:53am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
George McNeill
USA Today Sports Images
George McNeill fired a career-best, 9-under 61 on Sunday in a round that included a hole-in-one. Moments after finishing, he learned that his oldest sister had died earlier Sunday morning.

In a matter of minutes on Sunday, George McNeill experienced the highest of highs professionally and the lowest of lows personally.

First, McNeill began the final round of the Greenbrier Classic trailing leader Billy Hurley III by seven shots then went out and fired a 9-under 61 in the final round with a stretch that -- beginning on the fourth hole -- went birdie, birdie, birdie, birdie, hole-in-one. That's right -- 6 under in a five-hole stretch.

McNeill grabbed the clubhouse lead and would have to wait to see if that lead would hold and he'd win, if it would be close but no cigar, or if he was headed to a playoff.

RELATED: McNeill, Cauley make aces in Greenbrier final round | Final leaderboard

After the round, CBS analyst grabbed McNeill for an interview that was brief, yet revealing for the man who had just recorded his lowest ever round on the PGA Tour.

"I know it's really difficult, and I will not press the issue with you," Kostis said. "But sometimes perspective comes in different forms, doesn't it?"

McNeill was choked up.

"It does," said the 38-year-old, two-time PGA Tour winner. "Yeah, you go out and, you know, golf doesn't really mean a whole lot. So it's hard. I played good today. And got finished, and you know, it was a nice middle part of the round. And so like I said, you know, golf doesn't mean a whole lot sometimes."

That's where the lowest of lows come into play.

Golf Channel's Jason Sobel explains in a fantastic piece he filed at the conclusion of the Greenbrier Classic:

George McNeill called his family back home in Fort Myers, Fla., on Sunday morning, prior to competing in the final round of The Greenbrier Classic.

This had become a regular ritual, continuously checking in with them to receive an updated status report on Michele, the oldest of five McNeill siblings.

Only 46, Michele wasn’t doing well.

Two years ago, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a double mastectomy, followed by radiation and chemotherapy. It was a lengthy battle, but eventually doctors offered some good news. She was finally cancer-free.

But, as Sobel wrote, last November Michele began having trouble with her speech. Doctors found a tumor on her brain and performed surgery to remove it.

About a month and a half ago, Sobel reported, the cancer had spread throughout her brain, in her spinal fluid and spine. After a few days, Michele was paralyzed from the waist down and spent the last few weeks in a wheelchair.

Needless to say, McNeill knew the end was near for his sister.

Little did he know, however, that when he did that post-round interview with Kostis, his big sister was already gone.

Michele died at 11:35 a.m. on Sunday, 20 minutes before McNeill's tee time.

Again, McNeill didn't know what had transpired until after his round. Sobel asked, how, under such awful circumstances, was he able to maintain focus and turn in his best score on Tour to date.

"I don't know... I really don't know," he told Sobel said. "I'd be over a putt and she's going through my head.

"Maybe it was good that I had something else in my thought. I knew what I was doing, I was aware of what I was doing, but it really wasn't the first and foremost thing that I was concentrating on."

McNeill would finish the tournament alone in second place. Understandably, you've never seen a person less outwardly enthusiastic about having a hole-in-one, shooting a 61 and finishing second all on the same day.

What a tough, tough day for the McNeill family. 

Angel Cabrera
Angel Cabrera celebrates Sunday at the Greenbrier Classic after his eagle on No. 13.

Not to be outdone by two hole-in-ones earlier in the day, Angel Cabrera makes magic of his own Sunday at the Greenbrier Classic, holing a 175-yard shot for eagle on No. 13.

Watch this shot:



George McNeill made an ace at No. 8 en route to a final-round 61. Then less than an hour later, Bud Cauley aced No. 18 -- with golf legend Tom Watson looking on -- to finish up with a 64.

PAIR OF ACES: McNeill, Cauley make holes-in-one Sunday at Greenbrier

Bud Cauley
Bud Cauley is congratulated by Tom Watson after making a hole-in-one on No. 18 Sunday.

Greenbrier's Old White TPC was the place for a pair of aces in Sunday's final round.

First, George McNeill -- who had strung together four consecutive birdies -- made a hole-in-one on the par-3, 234-yard eighth hole. Here's a virtual representation of McNeill's shot, and his scorecard at the time:



Less than an hour later, Bud Cauley stepped up to the teeing ground at No. 18, and here's what happened:



A walk-off 1 on the final hole of the tournament, completing a round of 6-under 64, and even more special, a handshake from golfing legend Tom Watson, who happened to witness the shot. Here's Cauley's tweet afterward:


Ian Poulter
Ian Poulter/Twitter
Ian Poulter and son Luke take in the Formula 1 race Sunday from Silverstone.

It shouldn't be a surprise that PGA Tour golfers love to follow other sports when they're not on the course.

Several got up early Sunday to watch the men's singles final at Wimbledon. Others have shown an interest in the World Cup. And then there's Ian Poulter.

NEED FOR SPEED: Ian Poulter attends Daytona 500

Poulter loves cars. And so instead of trying to get a practice round in before the Open Championship later this month, Poulter and son Luke went to Silverstone to watch the Formula 1 race.

Check out some of his tweets:









Got to love a guy who loves speed. One word of warning, however. If you ever get a chance to play with Ian Poulter, it's best not to let him drive the golf cart.

Oliver Goss
Oliver Goss' ball teeters near the edge of the cup Saturday at the Par-3 18th hole.

Oliver Goss is a native of Australia, played collegiate golf at Tennessee, was runner-up at the 2013 U.S. Amateur and was the only amateur to make the cut at the 2014 Masters. The 20-year-old turned pro after the 2014 U.S. Open, missed the cut at the Travelers and was tied for the lead at the midway point of the Quicken Loans National at Congressional last weekend.

So he's pretty good. How good? Watch how close Goss comes to recording his first professional ace on the 18th hole Saturday at Greenbrier:



You would think gravity would have come to Goss' rescue. Or at least sheer momentum. Instead, the tap-in birdie makes up for the bogey he made the hole before and leaves Goss with an excellent way to finish up a 2-under 68 for the third round.


Steve Stricker
Steve Stricker drains a 41-foot boomerang for birdie Saturday at Greenbrier.

Steve Stricker hasn't decided whether he'll make the trip across the pond for the Open Championship in 10 days. But after dropping a 41-footer for a birdie on the first hole Saturday at Greenbrier, Strick just might have made up his mind.

Watch how much this putt breaks left to right. From this camera angle, the hole is actually just past Stricker's right elbow when he lines up:

Dead center in the heart of the cup for a birdie, and a high-five to boot. That's the way you'd like to start off a round.