Jordan pledges to Zach's charity event

2014 Ryder Cup
USA Today Sports Images
Zach Johnson and Jordan Spieth (pictured on either side of Captain Tom Watson) were teammates on the 2014 U.S. Ryder Cup Team.

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa -- The easier decision Jordan Spieth could have made would have been this:

"I'm really sorry, Zach. My life's become so chaotic, and I'm under so much scrutiny everywhere I go now. I really need to channel my time and focus toward getting ready for the British Open. It's best for me if I pass on coming back to your event in Iowa."

Many in Spieth's position would have made that call, and you really couldn't have blamed them. When someone wins the Masters and the U.S. Open in the same year, they're breathing rarefied air and a lot of people want to share that airspace.

But Spieth, who appeared at last year's Zach Johnson Foundation Classic, approached Johnson in April to say he'd like to make another swing through Elmcrest Country Club for this year's ZJFC. He never wavered on that pledge.

"Jordan actually mentioned that he wanted to come back to my event," Johnson said. "I truly didn't have to ask or urge him to play. This was all just after the Masters. He has stayed committed since. He mentioned how much fun he had last year and cannot wait to come back to Iowa."

In its five-year history, the ZJFC has done a good job of getting top professional golfers with sterling resumes, starting with the host himself and his 11 PGA Tour victories that include a Masters triumph. This year's field is easily its deepest and best, with world-class players that include Jason Day, Billy Horschel and Jason Dufner.

But to have the reigning Masters and U.S. Open champion, the man who has been on two Sports Illustrated covers in the last three months, the talk of golf? That doesn't require a lot of selling for Johnson's event. Jordan Spieth's here. Enough said.

Yes, it's taken this long into the story to mention Spieth is 21 years old. And you can't read a story about him without seeing references to his unusual maturity and poise for his age, on and off the course. So that's duly noted here, now.

Maybe it's that maturity that has him coming to Cedar Rapids and then the Quad Cities for the John Deere Classic when many would suggest he should instead get over to Scotland early to prepare for the British Open at St. Andrews next week, the third leg of golf's Grand Slam.

But Spieth didn't get to Augusta National for the Masters or Chambers Bay for the U.S. Open much earlier than he'll be arriving at St. Andrews. He seems to know what works for him.

Had Spieth not won either major, he would still be having a sensational year. In 17 PGA Tour events this season, he has three wins, three second-places, a third-place, a fourth-place and two ties for seventh. He has 3,128 FedExCup points. That's almost as many as any two players on the Tour combined.

So, yes. Phenom. Here. Today.

This article was written by Mike Hlas from The Gazette, Cedar Rapids, Iowa and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

By
Mike Hlas

Series: PGA Tour

Published: Monday, July 06, 2015 | 2:44 p.m.

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa -- The easier decision Jordan Spieth could have made would have been this:

"I'm really sorry, Zach. My life's become so chaotic, and I'm under so much scrutiny everywhere I go now. I really need to channel my time and focus toward getting ready for the British Open. It's best for me if I pass on coming back to your event in Iowa."

Many in Spieth's position would have made that call, and you really couldn't have blamed them. When someone wins the Masters and the U.S. Open in the same year, they're breathing rarefied air and a lot of people want to share that airspace.

But Spieth, who appeared at last year's Zach Johnson Foundation Classic, approached Johnson in April to say he'd like to make another swing through Elmcrest Country Club for this year's ZJFC. He never wavered on that pledge.

"Jordan actually mentioned that he wanted to come back to my event," Johnson said. "I truly didn't have to ask or urge him to play. This was all just after the Masters. He has stayed committed since. He mentioned how much fun he had last year and cannot wait to come back to Iowa."

In its five-year history, the ZJFC has done a good job of getting top professional golfers with sterling resumes, starting with the host himself and his 11 PGA Tour victories that include a Masters triumph. This year's field is easily its deepest and best, with world-class players that include Jason Day, Billy Horschel and Jason Dufner.

But to have the reigning Masters and U.S. Open champion, the man who has been on two Sports Illustrated covers in the last three months, the talk of golf? That doesn't require a lot of selling for Johnson's event. Jordan Spieth's here. Enough said.

Yes, it's taken this long into the story to mention Spieth is 21 years old. And you can't read a story about him without seeing references to his unusual maturity and poise for his age, on and off the course. So that's duly noted here, now.

Maybe it's that maturity that has him coming to Cedar Rapids and then the Quad Cities for the John Deere Classic when many would suggest he should instead get over to Scotland early to prepare for the British Open at St. Andrews next week, the third leg of golf's Grand Slam.

But Spieth didn't get to Augusta National for the Masters or Chambers Bay for the U.S. Open much earlier than he'll be arriving at St. Andrews. He seems to know what works for him.

Had Spieth not won either major, he would still be having a sensational year. In 17 PGA Tour events this season, he has three wins, three second-places, a third-place, a fourth-place and two ties for seventh. He has 3,128 FedExCup points. That's almost as many as any two players on the Tour combined.

So, yes. Phenom. Here. Today.

This article was written by Mike Hlas from The Gazette, Cedar Rapids, Iowa and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.


Tiger's bogey-free 67 'a great sign'

Tiger Woods
USA Today Sports Images
Tiger Woods saw positive signs in his 3-under par 67 in Sunday's final round of the Greenbrier Classic.

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. -- Tiger Woods was not the winner of the 2015 Greenbrier Classic.

In your mind.

In his mind, the week was a complete success. And he indeed was a winner.

On Sunday, Woods put together his first outing without a bogey in his last 56 rounds. He was minus-3 in the final round and finished minus-7 for the tournament.

"Today was a good day," Woods said. "I played really well. I hit the ball the best I've hit in a long, long, long time -- and made absolutely nothing.

"We were counting it up and I had six lip-outs for birdie. So this could have been one of those special rounds when I really could have gone low."

As Woods works on rebuilding his game to championship form, however, ball striking is an emphasis. That's why he smiled so after Sunday's round.

"It's a great sign," Woods said. "I feel control over all clubs. The only hole I struggled with the last couple times I played here was No. 17. It was the only fairway I missed all day."

It's called progress, he said.

"Absolutely," Woods said. "I felt I made a big, giant step at the Memorial. I shot those [plus-14] numbers, but the pattern was set. I just had to refine it. This week was definitely about refining it. If I'd just made a couple putts, this week could have been completely different."

Woods recorded two rounds in the 60s this week. He's had only two the rest of this season. Also, his minus-7 was his best score to par since the 2013 BMW Championship.

He claims momentum is being built.

"I was excited about what I was able to do at the Memorial," Woods said. "I shifted the baseline. Consequently, I'm here now in this position. Very excited about that. Obviously, I need to make some putts."

Woods has been working on a new swing technique taught by coach Chris Como.

"I just have to get used to the feel," he said. "It's a completely different motion. That's why I did what I did at the Memorial, to get into this position now. It's not a short-term fix. People looking for the one quick fix and the very next day go out and play great golf ... it doesn't work that way. It takes time. It takes time to build it. I'm very pleased with what I've been able to do."

As always, Woods was a big draw on the course. Thousands of fans followed him through the week. But he's also followed off the course. Some online reports, for instance, have Woods linked romantically to Amanda Boyd, golfer Jason Dufner's ex-wife. Woods explained how he deals with such scrutiny.

"One, you don't go online," he said. "Social media certainly has changed the world in which we know it. So many different things can happen and do happen on there. I just stay away from it.

"I understand everyone has an opinion -- just like everyone has something else. So it's just one of those things. It's changed the landscape for everyone out here and for all athletes.

"I remember talking to [Wayne] Gretzky one time. He grew up in an era when he first played hockey and was winning the [Stanley] Cups. There was no 24-hour news cycle. It was a big deal going to the 24-hour news cycle. And now here we are with instant news with a click of a button. That has changed the landscape again."

The current golf landscape, however, looks better to Woods.

"It was a very positive week," he said. "I made some nice strides heading into the British Open and I'll do some good work next week and be ready come Thursday."

This article was written by Mitch Vingle from The Charleston Gazette, W.Va. and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

By
Mitch Vingle

Series: PGA Tour

Published: Monday, July 06, 2015 | 1:47 p.m.

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. -- Tiger Woods was not the winner of the 2015 Greenbrier Classic.

In your mind.

In his mind, the week was a complete success. And he indeed was a winner.

On Sunday, Woods put together his first outing without a bogey in his last 56 rounds. He was minus-3 in the final round and finished minus-7 for the tournament.

"Today was a good day," Woods said. "I played really well. I hit the ball the best I've hit in a long, long, long time -- and made absolutely nothing.

"We were counting it up and I had six lip-outs for birdie. So this could have been one of those special rounds when I really could have gone low."

As Woods works on rebuilding his game to championship form, however, ball striking is an emphasis. That's why he smiled so after Sunday's round.

"It's a great sign," Woods said. "I feel control over all clubs. The only hole I struggled with the last couple times I played here was No. 17. It was the only fairway I missed all day."

It's called progress, he said.

"Absolutely," Woods said. "I felt I made a big, giant step at the Memorial. I shot those [plus-14] numbers, but the pattern was set. I just had to refine it. This week was definitely about refining it. If I'd just made a couple putts, this week could have been completely different."

Woods recorded two rounds in the 60s this week. He's had only two the rest of this season. Also, his minus-7 was his best score to par since the 2013 BMW Championship.

He claims momentum is being built.

"I was excited about what I was able to do at the Memorial," Woods said. "I shifted the baseline. Consequently, I'm here now in this position. Very excited about that. Obviously, I need to make some putts."

Woods has been working on a new swing technique taught by coach Chris Como.

"I just have to get used to the feel," he said. "It's a completely different motion. That's why I did what I did at the Memorial, to get into this position now. It's not a short-term fix. People looking for the one quick fix and the very next day go out and play great golf ... it doesn't work that way. It takes time. It takes time to build it. I'm very pleased with what I've been able to do."

As always, Woods was a big draw on the course. Thousands of fans followed him through the week. But he's also followed off the course. Some online reports, for instance, have Woods linked romantically to Amanda Boyd, golfer Jason Dufner's ex-wife. Woods explained how he deals with such scrutiny.

"One, you don't go online," he said. "Social media certainly has changed the world in which we know it. So many different things can happen and do happen on there. I just stay away from it.

"I understand everyone has an opinion -- just like everyone has something else. So it's just one of those things. It's changed the landscape for everyone out here and for all athletes.

"I remember talking to Gretzky one time. He grew up in an era when he first played hockey and was winning the Cups. There was no 24-hour news cycle. It was a big deal going to the 24-hour news cycle. And now here we are with instant news with a click of a button. That has changed the landscape again."

The current golf landscape, however, looks better to Woods.

"It was a very positive week," he said. "I made some nice strides heading into the British Open and I'll do some good work next week and be ready come Thursday."

This article was written by Mitch Vingle from The Charleston Gazette, W.Va. and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.


Lee credits coach with resurgence

USA Today Sports Images
Danny Lee acknowledges the crowd after winning the Greenbrier Classic.

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. -- Danny Lee is the sixth player of Korean descent under the age of 30 to win on the PGA Tour in the last four years.

It's not surprising to see him win at age 24. In 2008, he was the youngest U.S. Amateur champion at the time at 18 years, 1 month. But he had a rocky road to winning his first tour title, the Greenbrier Classic.

He joined the tour full-time in 2012 and fell apart. He missed 10 cuts and managed only three top-25s in that season, and then failed to rejoin the tour by one stroke in the "Q School" tournament.

GREENBRIER CLASSIC: Danny Lee wins in playoff

He played well enough on the Web.com Tour to rejoin the big tour, then finished 88th in the 2014 FedExCup points race. With his Classic win Sunday, he is now 15th in those standings.

He credits his resurgence to his new coach, Drew Steckel. He finished second in the Puerto Rico Open in March 2014, but still wasn't happy with his swing.

"I'm still young. When I was a teenager, I wanted to swing like Tiger Woods or Justin Rose, that kind of swing," Lee said. "I've probably gone through 100 coaches, and meeting Drew Steckel was the best thing that ever happened to me."

MONEY MAN: Fans cash in on Greenbrier aces

The New Zealand resident, born in Seoul, South Korea, is the first New Zealander to win on the tour since Michael Campbell captured the 2005 U.S. Open.

This article was written by Doug Smock from The Charleston Gazette, W.Va. and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

By
Doug Smock

Series: PGA Tour

Published: Monday, July 06, 2015 | 1:47 p.m.

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. -- Danny Lee is the sixth player of Korean descent under the age of 30 to win on the PGA Tour in the last four years.

It's not surprising to see him win at age 24. In 2008, he was the youngest U.S. Amateur champion at the time at 18 years, 1 month. But he had a rocky road to winning his first tour title, the Greenbrier Classic.

He joined the tour full-time in 2012 and fell apart. He missed 10 cuts and managed only three top-25s in that season, and then failed to rejoin the tour by one stroke in the "Q School" tournament.

GREENBRIER CLASSIC: Danny Lee wins in playoff

He played well enough on the Web.com Tour to rejoin the big tour, then finished 88th in the 2014 FedExCup points race. With his Classic win Sunday, he is now 15th in those standings.

He credits his resurgence to his new coach, Drew Steckel. He finished second in the Puerto Rico Open in March 2014, but still wasn't happy with his swing.

"I'm still young. When I was a teenager, I wanted to swing like Tiger Woods or Justin Rose, that kind of swing," Lee said. "I've probably gone through 100 coaches, and meeting Drew Steckel was the best thing that ever happened to me."

MONEY MAN: Fans cash in on Greenbrier aces

The New Zealand resident, born in Seoul, South Korea, is the first New Zealander to win on the tour since Michael Campbell captured the 2005 U.S. Open.

This article was written by Doug Smock from The Charleston Gazette, W.Va. and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.


Why golf needs McIlroy and Spieth

USA Today Sports Images
Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth during last year's Open Championship at Royal Liverpool Golf Club.

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- The picture said it all.

In the tweet heard round the golf world Monday, there was the world's No. 1 golfer leaning on crutches with his left ankle encased in some Star Wars storm trooper boot. The words accompanying the photo were even less encouraging.

"Total rupture of left ATFL (ankle ligament) and associated joint capsule damage in a soccer kickabout with friends on Saturday."

What stands out from all this miserable information, however, is the look on Rory McIlroy's face -- eyebrows arched, lips pursed and a vacant stare in his wide eyes that scream out, "Yeah, I just screwed up the whole summer."

Not just McIlroy's summer, as rehabbing an injury on his pivot foot could cost him title defenses at both the British Open and PGA Championship.

It screwed up golf's summer.

With Jordan Spieth poised to chase history and the modern Grand Slam, it was McIlroy who stood as his most compelling obstacle. It was the rivalry between the two No. 1 and 2 guys currently holding all of golf's major hardware that we all hoped to see get launched at St. Andrews next week and perhaps Whistling Straits a month later.

"Shocked and saddened to hear the Rory McIlroy news -- could have been a magic match up with Jordan Spieth," six-time major winner Nick Faldo posted on Twitter.

"That's a big blow if he misses (The Open)," former Ryder Cup captain Sam Torrance told reporters at Wimbledon when he heard the news.

McIlroy was the odds-on favorite heading to the Old Course, where he shot 63 in the opening round in 2010 and finished third despite a wind-blown 80 in the second round. There was heavy sentiment that McIlroy was the player to beat on the venue he calls "my favorite golf course in the world."

Spieth now assumes the favorite role on all the odds charts.

McIlroy -- who withdrew from this week's Scottish Open -- hasn't ruled the British Open out, with his manager telling CNN there is a "10 percent" chance he'll still be able to play after reviewing more exams when the swelling goes down. But let's not kid ourselves that he can make like Tiger Woods on a torn knee and stress fractures at the 2008 U.S. Open. Not when we're talking about a load-bearing ankle.

It's much more likely that the long-term affects of McIlroy's injury will be greater than any short-term hopes.

So naturally when everyone is upset that a great story is ruined, people start attacking the source. McIlroy's sense and judgment have been questioned for putting himself at risk by playing soccer with friends in the middle of the most important stretch of the season. Apparently, he should have sat at home in bubble wrap and only dared walk gingerly to the practice range.

It is the second time McIlroy has hurt his ankle playing soccer, the last time just before Christmas in 2013 that put him down for a week. Asked then if he might consider banning himself from playing football, McIlroy said, "Yeah, sort of. Probably not a good idea to play anymore."

This incident, however, seemed innocuous enough when it happened. It's not like McIlroy maimed himself by tangling aggressively in his "kickabout." Reports say he just "went over, unchallenged" on artificial turf. In short, he rolled his ankle which he could have done working out on a treadmill.

You can't stop living your life just because you're great at something else. McIlroy wasn't base-jumping off mountains or wrestling alligators. He was kicking a ball around with friends.

He's far from the first golfer to injure himself recreating away from the golf course.

A young Phil Mickelson missed the 1994 Masters when he fractured his left leg and right ankle in a collision with a tree while skiing in Arizona. Ernie Els missed 21 weeks (including the PGA) in 2005 after rupturing ligaments in his left knee being pulled by a speedboat around the Mediterranean Sea aboard an inflatable tube.

The list of freak accidents and golfers is long. Paul Casey saw his place among the game's elite tumble after dislocating his shoulder snowboarding. Former Augusta State star Oliver Wilson broke his wrist in a fall during a snowball fight. Darren Clarke missed the 2012 Masters with a hamstring injury incurred while playing tennis in the Bahamas with his sons. Lucas Glover missed the first two months of 2012 after spraining his knee paddle boarding in the Pacific Ocean before the season-opener at Kapalua.

Thomas Levet once broke his leg leaping into a lake beside the 18th green after winning the 2011 French Open.

Stuff happens. That's life and neither Rory nor anyone else should stop living it in constant fear that you're going to get hurt.

But it's a big summer bummer that this happened just as golf is on the cusp of an exciting new era of young superstars doing amazing things.

"Working hard to get back as soon as I can," McIlroy wrote in his tweet.

Get well soon, but not so soon that it might inflict more damage. Because golf needs McIlroy at his best. 

By
Scott Michaux

Series: PGA Tour

Published: Monday, July 06, 2015 | 9:00 a.m.

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- The picture said it all.

In the tweet heard round the golf world Monday, there was the world's No. 1 golfer leaning on crutches with his left ankle encased in some Star Wars storm trooper boot. The words accompanying the photo were even less encouraging.

"Total rupture of left ATFL (ankle ligament) and associated joint capsule damage in a soccer kickabout with friends on Saturday."

What stands out from all this miserable information, however, is the look on Rory McIlroy's face -- eyebrows arched, lips pursed and a vacant stare in his wide eyes that scream out, "Yeah, I just screwed up the whole summer."

Not just McIlroy's summer, as rehabbing an injury on his pivot foot could cost him title defenses at both the British Open and PGA Championship.

It screwed up golf's summer.

With Jordan Spieth poised to chase history and the modern Grand Slam, it was McIlroy who stood as his most compelling obstacle. It was the rivalry between the two No. 1 and 2 guys currently holding all of golf's major hardware that we all hoped to see get launched at St. Andrews next week and perhaps Whistling Straits a month later.

"Shocked and saddened to hear the Rory McIlroy news -- could have been a magic match up with Jordan Spieth," six-time major winner Nick Faldo posted on Twitter.

"That's a big blow if he misses (The Open)," former Ryder Cup captain Sam Torrance told reporters at Wimbledon when he heard the news.

McIlroy was the odds-on favorite heading to the Old Course, where he shot 63 in the opening round in 2010 and finished third despite a wind-blown 80 in the second round. There was heavy sentiment that McIlroy was the player to beat on the venue he calls "my favorite golf course in the world."

Spieth now assumes the favorite role on all the odds charts.

McIlroy -- who withdrew from this week's Scottish Open -- hasn't ruled the British Open out, with his manager telling CNN there is a "10 percent" chance he'll still be able to play after reviewing more exams when the swelling goes down. But let's not kid ourselves that he can make like Tiger Woods on a torn knee and stress fractures at the 2008 U.S. Open. Not when we're talking about a load-bearing ankle.

It's much more likely that the long-term affects of McIlroy's injury will be greater than any short-term hopes.

So naturally when everyone is upset that a great story is ruined, people start attacking the source. McIlroy's sense and judgment have been questioned for putting himself at risk by playing soccer with friends in the middle of the most important stretch of the season. Apparently, he should have sat at home in bubble wrap and only dared walk gingerly to the practice range.

It is the second time McIlroy has hurt his ankle playing soccer, the last time just before Christmas in 2013 that put him down for a week. Asked then if he might consider banning himself from playing football, McIlroy said, "Yeah, sort of. Probably not a good idea to play anymore."

This incident, however, seemed innocuous enough when it happened. It's not like McIlroy maimed himself by tangling aggressively in his "kickabout." Reports say he just "went over, unchallenged" on artificial turf. In short, he rolled his ankle which he could have done working out on a treadmill.

You can't stop living your life just because you're great at something else. McIlroy wasn't base-jumping off mountains or wrestling alligators. He was kicking a ball around with friends.

He's far from the first golfer to injure himself recreating away from the golf course.

A young Phil Mickelson missed the 1994 Masters when he fractured his left leg and right ankle in a collision with a tree while skiing in Arizona. Ernie Els missed 21 weeks (including the PGA) in 2005 after rupturing ligaments in his left knee being pulled by a speedboat around the Mediterranean Sea aboard an inflatable tube.

The list of freak accidents and golfers is long. Paul Casey saw his place among the game's elite tumble after dislocating his shoulder snowboarding. Former Augusta State star Oliver Wilson broke his wrist in a fall during a snowball fight. Darren Clarke missed the 2012 Masters with a hamstring injury incurred while playing tennis in the Bahamas with his sons. Lucas Glover missed the first two months of 2012 after spraining his knee paddle boarding in the Pacific Ocean before the season-opener at Kapalua.

Thomas Levet once broke his leg leaping into a lake beside the 18th green after winning the 2011 French Open.

Stuff happens. That's life and neither Rory nor anyone else should stop living it in constant fear that you're going to get hurt.

But it's a big summer bummer that this happened just as golf is on the cusp of an exciting new era of young superstars doing amazing things.

"Working hard to get back as soon as I can," McIlroy wrote in his tweet.

Get well soon, but not so soon that it might inflict more damage. Because golf needs McIlroy at his best. 


McIlroy ruptures ligament in ankle

Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy/Instagram
Rory McIlroy posted a photo to Instagram of himself with crutches and a boot on his left ankle.

LONDON (AP) -- Rory McIlroy was on crutches Monday with an ankle injury from playing soccer, leaving in doubt the prospects of golf's No. 1 player defending his British Open title next week at St. Andrews.

Just as excitement was building toward a potential clash at the Old Course between McIlroy and Jordan Spieth, McIlroy posted a jarring photo on Instagram showing him on crutches with a walking boot on this left ankle. The 26-year-old from Northern Ireland said it was a "total rupture" of an ankle ligament and the joint capsule that happened while he was playing soccer with friends.

Sean O'Flaherty, his chief spokesman, said McIlroy has withdrawn from the Scottish Open this week at Gullane. O'Flaherty said they would not know until later in the week the extent of the injury and whether McIlroy would be able to tee it up July 16 at St. Andrews.

RORY VS. JORDAN: Who's No. 1?

Ben Hogan in 1954 was the last British Open champion who did not play the following year.

McIlroy had been the joint favorite along with Spieth. They have won the last four majors -- the first time in nearly a century that two players in their 20s have shared four successive majors -- and Spieth is headed to St. Andrews as only the fourth player with a chance at the Grand Slam.

Players were shocked to hear the news.

"Unlucky, obviously," Luke Donald said in a telephone interview. "I would never say, `Don't play football or don't do these thing.' You don't want to live in a bubble. It's just unlucky timing, especially this time of the year. Golf is exciting with Rory and Jordan. It's added a bit of spice to the game. It's a shame if Rory were to miss the Open, which it looks like he might."

Sergio Garcia, a runner-up to McIlroy at Royal Liverpool last year, tweeted, "So sad to hear about (at)Rory McIlroy injury on his ankle. We will all miss you (at)TheOpen next week my friend. Fast and healthy recovery."

McIlroy referred to his ATFL, which is the anterior talofibular ligament and the one most commonly sprained. The left ankle is crucial in a golf swing as weight transfers to that side of the body (for right-handers) in generating power.

"That's a big blow to the Open if he misses it," former Ryder Cup captain Sam Torrance said from Wimbledon.

FULL SCHEDULE: Rory McIlroy planned a busy summer of golf

McIlroy won the Open last year at Royal Liverpool by going wire-to-wire and taking a six-shot lead into the final round. He also won the PGA Championship, joining Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods and Bobby Jones as the only players in the last century with four majors at age 25 or younger.

The injury brought to mind Woods winning the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines with a stress fracture and shredded knee ligaments in his left leg. Woods knew about the injury a month before the U.S. Open and was determined to play, mainly because he was a six-time PGA Tour at Torrey Pines.

No one saw this injury to McIlroy coming, however. Along with potentially missing the British Open, McIlroy faces a busy time of the year as defending champion of the World Golf Championship at Firestone and the PGA Championship, followed by the FedEx Cup in America and the Race to Dubai in Europe.

Shane Lowry of Ireland told the Irish Times that he heard about the injury on Saturday.

"It's not ideal for him because he's wearing that boot and he's going to have everyone in the media on his back now," Lowry said. "But should he be playing football? I don't know. He likes playing football, and he likes playing football with his mates. What's wrong with that? ... People think because you're good at something you should just do that and focus on that, but that's not what life is about."

McIlroy has an affinity with the Old Course. It's where he secured his European Tour card in 2007 as an 18-year-old at the Dunhill Links with a third-place finish. He also tied the major championship record of 63 when the British Open was held at St. Andrews in 2010, though McIlroy followed with an 80 in the wind. He tied for third at St. Andrews five years ago.

 

 

 

 


Series: European Tour

Published: Monday, July 06, 2015 | 6:54 a.m.

LONDON (AP) -- Rory McIlroy was on crutches Monday with an ankle injury from playing soccer, leaving in doubt the prospects of golf's No. 1 player defending his British Open title next week at St. Andrews.

Just as excitement was building toward a potential clash at the Old Course between McIlroy and Jordan Spieth, McIlroy posted a jarring photo on Instagram showing him on crutches with a walking boot on this left ankle. The 26-year-old from Northern Ireland said it was a "total rupture" of an ankle ligament and the joint capsule that happened while he was playing soccer with friends.

Sean O'Flaherty, his chief spokesman, said McIlroy has withdrawn from the Scottish Open this week at Gullane. O'Flaherty said they would not know until later in the week the extent of the injury and whether McIlroy would be able to tee it up July 16 at St. Andrews.

RORY VS. JORDAN: Who's No. 1?

Ben Hogan in 1954 was the last British Open champion who did not play the following year.

McIlroy had been the joint favorite along with Spieth. They have won the last four majors -- the first time in nearly a century that two players in their 20s have shared four successive majors -- and Spieth is headed to St. Andrews as only the fourth player with a chance at the Grand Slam.

Players were shocked to hear the news.

"Unlucky, obviously," Luke Donald said in a telephone interview. "I would never say, `Don't play football or don't do these thing.' You don't want to live in a bubble. It's just unlucky timing, especially this time of the year. Golf is exciting with Rory and Jordan. It's added a bit of spice to the game. It's a shame if Rory were to miss the Open, which it looks like he might."

Sergio Garcia, a runner-up to McIlroy at Royal Liverpool last year, tweeted, "So sad to hear about (at)Rory McIlroy injury on his ankle. We will all miss you (at)TheOpen next week my friend. Fast and healthy recovery."

McIlroy referred to his ATFL, which is the anterior talofibular ligament and the one most commonly sprained. The left ankle is crucial in a golf swing as weight transfers to that side of the body (for right-handers) in generating power.

"That's a big blow to the Open if he misses it," former Ryder Cup captain Sam Torrance said from Wimbledon.

FULL SCHEDULE: Rory McIlroy planned a busy summer of golf

McIlroy won the Open last year at Royal Liverpool by going wire-to-wire and taking a six-shot lead into the final round. He also won the PGA Championship, joining Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods and Bobby Jones as the only players in the last century with four majors at age 25 or younger.

The injury brought to mind Woods winning the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines with a stress fracture and shredded knee ligaments in his left leg. Woods knew about the injury a month before the U.S. Open and was determined to play, mainly because he was a six-time PGA Tour at Torrey Pines.

No one saw this injury to McIlroy coming, however. Along with potentially missing the British Open, McIlroy faces a busy time of the year as defending champion of the World Golf Championship at Firestone and the PGA Championship, followed by the FedEx Cup in America and the Race to Dubai in Europe.

Shane Lowry of Ireland told the Irish Times that he heard about the injury on Saturday.

"It's not ideal for him because he's wearing that boot and he's going to have everyone in the media on his back now," Lowry said. "But should he be playing football? I don't know. He likes playing football, and he likes playing football with his mates. What's wrong with that? ... People think because you're good at something you should just do that and focus on that, but that's not what life is about."

McIlroy has an affinity with the Old Course. It's where he secured his European Tour card in 2007 as an 18-year-old at the Dunhill Links with a third-place finish. He also tied the major championship record of 63 when the British Open was held at St. Andrews in 2010, though McIlroy followed with an 80 in the wind. He tied for third at St. Andrews five years ago.

 

 

 

 


Web.com: Ancer wins Nova Scotia Open

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia (AP) — Abraham Ancer won the Nova Scotia Open on Sunday for his first Web.com Tour title, beating Bronson Burgoon with a birdie on the first hole of a playoff.

The 24-year-old Ancer became the tour's fifth Mexican winner, following Keoke Cotner, Esteban Toledo, Alex Aragon and Carlos Ortiz. Ancer was born in Texas and has dual citizenship.

Ancer and Burgoon each birdied the par-4 18th in regulation to finish at 13-under 271 on Ashburn's New Course.

Ancer earned $117,000 to jump from 39th to fourth on the money list with $192,945. The former University of Oklahoma player tied for second in the Brazil Champions in March.

Burgoon is winless on the tour. The 28-year-old former Texas A&M player made $$70,200 to go from 43rd to 17th with $142,575.

Jason Allred, Travis Bertoni and D.H. Lee tied for third at 12 under. Allred shot a 64, Bertoni had a 68, and Lee a 69.

Stuart Appleby closed with a 68 to tie for 36th at 6 under in his first start since surgery to repair a herniated disk. The nine-time PGA Tour winner made his first appearance on the second-tier tour since 1995.


Series: Web.com Tour

Published: Sunday, July 05, 2015 | 11:59 p.m.

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia (AP) — Abraham Ancer won the Nova Scotia Open on Sunday for his first Web.com Tour title, beating Bronson Burgoon with a birdie on the first hole of a playoff.

The 24-year-old Ancer became the tour's fifth Mexican winner, following Keoke Cotner, Esteban Toledo, Alex Aragon and Carlos Ortiz. Ancer was born in Texas and has dual citizenship.

Ancer and Burgoon each birdied the par-4 18th in regulation to finish at 13-under 271 on Ashburn's New Course.

Ancer earned $117,000 to jump from 39th to fourth on the money list with $192,945. The former University of Oklahoma player tied for second in the Brazil Champions in March.

Burgoon is winless on the tour. The 28-year-old former Texas A&M player made $$70,200 to go from 43rd to 17th with $142,575.

Jason Allred, Travis Bertoni and D.H. Lee tied for third at 12 under. Allred shot a 64, Bertoni had a 68, and Lee a 69.

Stuart Appleby closed with a 68 to tie for 36th at 6 under in his first start since surgery to repair a herniated disk. The nine-time PGA Tour winner made his first appearance on the second-tier tour since 1995.


Caddieing is in their family

ERIN, Wis. -- "Your line is that center bunker."

That was the first of countless instructions from Janesville's Phil Quade as we stepped up to our first tee box at Erin Hills on a recent afternoon.

Nearly five hours later, Quade was able to rattle off a slew of other specific statistics kept on the watch-like device strapped to his wrist. In 297 minutes, we walked 6.8 miles--shorter than usual!--and his heart rate averaged 105 while burning 1,739 calories over 17,581 steps.

Just a day in the life of one of about 90 caddies at Erin Hills, a course that sits about a 75-minute drive northeast of Janesville and will host the 2017 U.S. Open.

GOOD CAUSE: Spieth will return to Zach Johnson's charity event

Quade, 48, has made the loop around the 18-hole links-style course nearly twice a weekend for the past three summers. His son, Korey, 20, caddies nearly every day on the course which might end up playing the longest in Open history.

"It's been great. To be able to caddie out there and just walk out on a course where it's in an area where you can't hear anybody or anything is amazing," Korey Quade said. "I think even the players are really going to respect this course and want to come back and play it again.

"I think it'll get everybody to know Erin Hills is out there."

Three years ago, the Quades were in the same boat as many Wisconsinites. Just nine years old and having not yet played host to major tournaments like Whistling Straits, Erin Hills will use the 2017 showcase event to help put it on the map.

For Phil Quade, it represented an opportunity to try something new. He's worked at GOEX for 24 years and is now a training coordinator.

"GOEX is a great company and I love working there. But I thought, 'If I ever want to do something else someday, what would it be? Something in golf,'" he said.

Thus, the new caddie adventure began. Quade called on an advertisement for caddies at Erin Hills, went through an interview process and training, made three loops and was ready to start his new weekend gig.

"If I would've been younger when I started, I would've probably been a caddie and pushed it all the way to making the tour," he said. "Even now, you never know, when you look at Jordan Spieth and his caddie.

"I just love the game. I started playing in seventh grade and played for Parker in high school."

SKY HIGH: Drones give bird-eye view of St. Andrews

Korey Quade grew up around the game of golf, as well, and graduated from Janesville Craig in 2013, the same year his father started to caddie.

When he turned 18, he joined Phil in the caddie barn.

"You have to learn a lot of stuff," Korey said. "It's not a walk in the park by any means. You have to know all the yardages so you're not always looking at your book. You have to know the greens because you're always giving your players reads.

"But for the most part it's just a great time and great to be out there. I love golf."

Phil and Korey also enjoy caddieing because they meet people from all walks off life.

They've caddied for blues musician Jonny Lang and Garrett Graham--a tight end for the Houston Texans who played at Wisconsin. Green Bay Packers kicker Mason Crosby was part of a group Korey caddied for one day.

They also see a wide range of incredible golf shots and have seen Erin Hills in different weather conditions and seasons.

The father and son caddied for a father-and-son grouping on Father's Day this year. And almost two weeks ago, Korey made the seven-mile trip around the course twice, caddieing 36 holes for the first time.

"I got through it. It's a really tough walk to do 36 in a day," he said. "It was about 20 miles. When you get to that second round, to the eighth hole, when you're trucking up that hill you start feeling it pretty good.

"I definitely was not in good enough shape when I first started training. They took me out for nine holes, and that was something in itself. It took me a good month to really get into it where I can not be so exhausted."

Phil's latest goal is updating his yardage book with a digital map of every green so he knows the exact slope and direction. He's through six holes thus far.

He wonders if he might parlay his experience into caddieing for an amateur at the U.S. Open.

"I think about it and talk about it here and there," Phil says of caddieing professionally. "I'm not going to leave my job anytime soon. But if somebody came up to me and asked me to carry their bag on tour ... I would."

Korey just might pursue the endeavor a little harder. He's thinking of a move to Florida or Arizona where he can caddie year-round.

"You can definitely make a career out of it if you work at it, make a name of yourself and people like you," he said.

For now, Janesville's father-son caddie duo will continue enjoying the trek to Erin Hills. It's about a nine-hour day from the time they leave town to the time they get back, if they make the loop in about five hours.

And they'll continue to pile up the experience--along with their steps and burned calories.

This article was written by Eric Schmoldt from The Janesville Gazette, Wis. and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

By
Eric Schmoldt

Series: PGA Tour

Published: Sunday, July 05, 2015 | 7:42 p.m.

ERIN, Wis. -- "Your line is that center bunker."

That was the first of countless instructions from Janesville's Phil Quade as we stepped up to our first tee box at Erin Hills on a recent afternoon.

Nearly five hours later, Quade was able to rattle off a slew of other specific statistics kept on the watch-like device strapped to his wrist. In 297 minutes, we walked 6.8 miles--shorter than usual!--and his heart rate averaged 105 while burning 1,739 calories over 17,581 steps.

Just a day in the life of one of about 90 caddies at Erin Hills, a course that sits about a 75-minute drive northeast of Janesville and will host the 2017 U.S. Open.

GOOD CAUSE: Spieth will return to Zach Johnson's charity event

Quade, 48, has made the loop around the 18-hole links-style course nearly twice a weekend for the past three summers. His son, Korey, 20, caddies nearly every day on the course which might end up playing the longest in Open history.

"It's been great. To be able to caddie out there and just walk out on a course where it's in an area where you can't hear anybody or anything is amazing," Korey Quade said. "I think even the players are really going to respect this course and want to come back and play it again.

"I think it'll get everybody to know Erin Hills is out there."

Three years ago, the Quades were in the same boat as many Wisconsinites. Just nine years old and having not yet played host to major tournaments like Whistling Straits, Erin Hills will use the 2017 showcase event to help put it on the map.

For Phil Quade, it represented an opportunity to try something new. He's worked at GOEX for 24 years and is now a training coordinator.

"GOEX is a great company and I love working there. But I thought, 'If I ever want to do something else someday, what would it be? Something in golf,'" he said.

Thus, the new caddie adventure began. Quade called on an advertisement for caddies at Erin Hills, went through an interview process and training, made three loops and was ready to start his new weekend gig.

"If I would've been younger when I started, I would've probably been a caddie and pushed it all the way to making the tour," he said. "Even now, you never know, when you look at Jordan Spieth and his caddie.

"I just love the game. I started playing in seventh grade and played for Parker in high school."

SKY HIGH: Drones give bird-eye view of St. Andrews

Korey Quade grew up around the game of golf, as well, and graduated from Janesville Craig in 2013, the same year his father started to caddie.

When he turned 18, he joined Phil in the caddie barn.

"You have to learn a lot of stuff," Korey said. "It's not a walk in the park by any means. You have to know all the yardages so you're not always looking at your book. You have to know the greens because you're always giving your players reads.

"But for the most part it's just a great time and great to be out there. I love golf."

Phil and Korey also enjoy caddieing because they meet people from all walks off life.

They've caddied for blues musician Jonny Lang and Garrett Graham--a tight end for the Houston Texans who played at Wisconsin. Green Bay Packers kicker Mason Crosby was part of a group Korey caddied for one day.

They also see a wide range of incredible golf shots and have seen Erin Hills in different weather conditions and seasons.

The father and son caddied for a father-and-son grouping on Father's Day this year. And almost two weeks ago, Korey made the seven-mile trip around the course twice, caddieing 36 holes for the first time.

"I got through it. It's a really tough walk to do 36 in a day," he said. "It was about 20 miles. When you get to that second round, to the eighth hole, when you're trucking up that hill you start feeling it pretty good.

"I definitely was not in good enough shape when I first started training. They took me out for nine holes, and that was something in itself. It took me a good month to really get into it where I can not be so exhausted."

Phil's latest goal is updating his yardage book with a digital map of every green so he knows the exact slope and direction. He's through six holes thus far.

He wonders if he might parlay his experience into caddieing for an amateur at the U.S. Open.

"I think about it and talk about it here and there," Phil says of caddieing professionally. "I'm not going to leave my job anytime soon. But if somebody came up to me and asked me to carry their bag on tour ... I would."

Korey just might pursue the endeavor a little harder. He's thinking of a move to Florida or Arizona where he can caddie year-round.

"You can definitely make a career out of it if you work at it, make a name of yourself and people like you," he said.

For now, Janesville's father-son caddie duo will continue enjoying the trek to Erin Hills. It's about a nine-hour day from the time they leave town to the time they get back, if they make the loop in about five hours.

And they'll continue to pile up the experience--along with their steps and burned calories.

This article was written by Eric Schmoldt from The Janesville Gazette, Wis. and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.


Danny Lee wins Greenbrier playoff

Danny Lee
USA TODAY Sports Images
Danny Lee won the Greenbrier Classic with a par on the second playoff hole.

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. (AP) -- Danny Lee parred the second hole of a four-man playoff to win The Greenbrier Classic on Sunday for his first PGA Tour victory.

The South Korean-born New Zealander earned $1.2 million and became the ninth first-time winner on the tour this season.

Lee, David Hearn, Kevin Kisner and Robert Streb were tied at 13 under after four rounds on the Old White TPC course in West Virginia.

GREENBRIER CLASSIC: Results | Photos

Streb shot a 5-under 65 in the final round by making five birdie putts on the back nine with a 56-degree wedge after breaking his putter on the ninth hole. The putter broke when Streb tossed it at his bag next to the green.

He was allowed a replacement putter for the playoff, but he never got to use it after missing the green at the par-3 No. 18. Lee and Hearn made birdie putts on the first playoff hole, also eliminating Kisner.

Hearn then drove behind a tree on the par-5 17th and made bogey. Lee reached the green in three shots and two-putted from across the green for par.

It marked the third playoff in the tournament's six-year history. A week ago, Bubba Watson won the Travelers Championship in a playoff.

SAND SAVE: Streb uses sand wedge as putter to make playoff

Tiger Woods started the day seven shots behind the leaders, shot a bogey-free 67 and said he made some "nice strides" heading into next week's British Open.

Woods broke a streak of 55 consecutive rounds with at least one bogey. It was his first time under par in a final round since the 2013 Tour Championship.

Lee, Hearn, James Hahn and Greg Owen earned spots at St. Andrews. There also were four spots handed out a week ago at the Travelers and one more is available this week at the John Deere Classic.

EAGLE LOCATOR: Bubba Watson's hole-out from 121 yards

Kisner shot a 6-under 64 to get to the clubhouse at 13 under. But he had to sweat it out with eight golfers within two shots of the lead still on the course.

Kisner lost in a playoff for the third time this season. The others were at the RBC Heritage and the Players Championship.

Kisner birdied the 18th three times in the first four rounds, but he went over the green in the playoff and left his approach shot in the rough.

Hearn (67) and Lee (67) birdied No. 17 to join the playoff. Both had chances to take the lead on the final hole in regulation, but Lee missed an 18-footer for birdie and Hearn left a 12-footer just short of the cup.

DRIVER GIVEAWAY: Danny Lee hands club to fan at Travelers

Russell Henley shot 63 and finished fifth at 12 under. Seven others were at 11 under, including Chad Collins (69), who was tied for the lead before bogeying the final two holes.

Jason Bohn, Sean O'Hair, Sun Joon Park and Bryce Molder shared the third-round lead at 11 under, but couldn't keep the momentum going Sunday. Molder shot 70 and the others had over-par rounds.

By
John Raby

Series: PGA Tour

Published: Sunday, July 05, 2015 | 6:40 p.m.

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. (AP) -- Danny Lee parred the second hole of a four-man playoff to win The Greenbrier Classic on Sunday for his first PGA Tour victory.

The South Korean-born New Zealander earned $1.2 million and became the ninth first-time winner on the tour this season.

Lee, David Hearn, Kevin Kisner and Robert Streb were tied at 13 under after four rounds on the Old White TPC course in West Virginia.

GREENBRIER CLASSIC: Results | Photos

Streb shot a 5-under 65 in the final round by making five birdie putts on the back nine with a 56-degree wedge after breaking his putter on the ninth hole. The putter broke when Streb tossed it at his bag next to the green.

He was allowed a replacement putter for the playoff, but he never got to use it after missing the green at the par-3 No. 18. Lee and Hearn made birdie putts on the first playoff hole, also eliminating Kisner.

Hearn then drove behind a tree on the par-5 17th and made bogey. Lee reached the green in three shots and two-putted from across the green for par.

It marked the third playoff in the tournament's six-year history. A week ago, Bubba Watson won the Travelers Championship in a playoff.

SAND SAVE: Streb uses sand wedge as putter to make playoff

Tiger Woods started the day seven shots behind the leaders, shot a bogey-free 67 and said he made some "nice strides" heading into next week's British Open.

Woods broke a streak of 55 consecutive rounds with at least one bogey. It was his first time under par in a final round since the 2013 Tour Championship.

Lee, Hearn, James Hahn and Greg Owen earned spots at St. Andrews. There also were four spots handed out a week ago at the Travelers and one more is available this week at the John Deere Classic.

EAGLE LOCATOR: Bubba Watson's hole-out from 121 yards

Kisner shot a 6-under 64 to get to the clubhouse at 13 under. But he had to sweat it out with eight golfers within two shots of the lead still on the course.

Kisner lost in a playoff for the third time this season. The others were at the RBC Heritage and the Players Championship.

Kisner birdied the 18th three times in the first four rounds, but he went over the green in the playoff and left his approach shot in the rough.

Hearn (67) and Lee (67) birdied No. 17 to join the playoff. Both had chances to take the lead on the final hole in regulation, but Lee missed an 18-footer for birdie and Hearn left a 12-footer just short of the cup.

DRIVER GIVEAWAY: Danny Lee hands club to fan at Travelers

Russell Henley shot 63 and finished fifth at 12 under. Seven others were at 11 under, including Chad Collins (69), who was tied for the lead before bogeying the final two holes.

Jason Bohn, Sean O'Hair, Sun Joon Park and Bryce Molder shared the third-round lead at 11 under, but couldn't keep the momentum going Sunday. Molder shot 70 and the others had over-par rounds.


Tour caddie performs double duty

USA Today Sports Images
Steve Hulka, left, who caddies for Brian Davis, right, also runs a luggage transport business for PGA Tour players.

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. -- When the Hulka's Overland Players Express (H.O.P.E.) rolled onto The Greenbrier grounds Monday morning, four players participating in The Greenbrier Classic stood waiting.

The 24-foot trailer driven by Steve Hulka contained not only their luggage for the week, but also the tools of their trade -- their clubs.

Hulka, who performs double duty as a caddy for British player Brian Davis, and his wife Mary spend 36 weeks a year hauling luggage, clubs and sometimes Jordan Spieth's fishing rods from tournament to tournament.

"After 9/11, it was very hard for the players to get through airport security, so I pitched the idea to the tour and they liked it," he explained.

So in 2003, H.O.P.E. was born.

"We thought that was the perfect acronym, because we 'hoped' they (players) used it," Hulka said, laughing. "The name was easy, but the hard part was to earn the trust of the players to let us take their clubs -- the instruments of their trade -- and put it on the trailer and drive all Sunday night and get it to the next town and have it there, usually ahead of them."

NO DECISION: McIlroy injury casts doubt on Open appearance

In that first year, the business transported for just five players, but continued to grow each year.

"We earned their trust and appreciation for what we did for them in those first few years and business just kept growing," he said, adding that it now transports luggage full-time for 50 players each year in addition to picking up other players from tournament to tournament.

It probably helped that Hulka was not a stranger to the golf world.

The Chicago native had his own playing dreams in his younger years, but after two years on the junior varsity team in college, he "happened" upon a tournament south of Champaign and, along with a couple of friends, was given the opportunity to caddie.

"It was amazing," he said of the experience. "I got to see the tour for the very first time from inside the ropes."

He returned the following year and, in the summer of 1972, met a few guys who were caddying all summer who he said told him, "'We're having a ball. We're seeing the best of the world play golf and we're getting paid $20 a day to do it.'

"The almighty $20 a day," he continued. "So I got rolling on the idea of being a tour caddie and my parents gave me the green light to do it full-time."

PLAY TIME: Spieth won't change pre-Open schedule

Hulka's first full season as a caddie was 1973. At the time, he said, it was easy to get a job as most of the caddies were club caddies from Augusta, Ga., or Jackson, Miss., who traveled during the winters but returned south.

"There wasn't a full-time (caddie) job to be had probably until the years I started," he said, adding that it wasn't until later that major events like The Masters and U.S. Open allowed players to bring their own caddies.

Hulka saw success working for David Graham -- who won several tournaments in his career including the PGA Championship and U.S. Open -- through 1979, when he said he grew tired of the "suitcase life."

"I said a little prayer and I said, 'Lord, I'm coming home and I want to meet the right woman,'" he recalled.

He found Mary, who at the time was working as a secretary at the Chicago Golf Club, where he was hired as an assistant golf pro.

Hulka unpacked his suitcase and he and Mary had three children, but 10 years later, when a PGA event came to Illinois and Tom Watson responded favorably to a letter, he again got the itch.

"I wrote the letter and told him I knew the course really well and I'd caddied for him a couple of times and I asked if I could work for him and he said, 'Absolutely,'" Hulka recalled. "Tom finished 9th, and at the end of the season, I told Mary, 'Honey, I've got to go back.'"

"It's in their blood," Mary said.

In his years away from the caddying, Hulka said the business of golf had changed a bit as names like Faldo, Couples and Azinger turned it into a bigger business while names like Nicklaus, Palmer and Player moved to the Senior tour.

WEDGE WIN: Streb makes due without putter

When David Graham, whom he had caddied for before he stepped away, turned 50, he moved with him to the Senior tour, meeting up with familiar faces.

"I got to see all my old caddy buddies who had gone out there with their players and got to see all the old stars who were having the time of their lives making big money on the Senior tour when before they had been out there playing for nickels," he said.

"That was nice."

Hulka enjoyed his second go as a caddy, but H.O.P.E. actually gave the family an opportunity to spend more time together.

The couple's youngest son, Ben, now 26, began working as his dad's summer help when he was 16. Mary, who progressed to manager of the golf club, flew out to help on the weekends, until finally coming on board full-time eight years ago.

It's probably a good thing she's there to help, too, as both say he is a terrible packer.

"He likes to pack leaning loads," Mary said.

"She won't let me near the front of that trailer," he added. "She is the Tetris mistress. She loves to pack the puzzle."

The Hulkas along with Ben -- now an equipment manager for the Seattle Seahawks, who came in to help for a few weeks -- transported luggage for 72 players from Hartford to West Virginia for The Greenbrier Classic.

Mary rented a Suburban and drove ahead catching a few hours of sleep while the men finished the load.

Not all of the players from Hartford made the trip to The Greenbrier, so Friday the family drove into Lewisburg where they rented a U-Haul. They transferred for those players over and Ben headed to Chicago -- next week's tournament location -- ahead of them Saturday morning.

Hulka, of course, has a full plate right now, as he is in his seventh season -- a 2- 1/2 year break included -- as Brian Davis' caddie.

The goal, of course, is that Mary will always be on her own for most of Sunday's packing duties as that will mean Hulka's guy has made the cut.

"It's a good problem to have," they say.

At 62, Hulka is now one of the oldest caddies on the tour. He has seen many changes and many faces through the years, but his enthusiasm and love for the game remain the same.

"I see Lee Trevino out here this week," he said, with a smile. "I love that guy. I grew up watching him play and win tournaments and Jack (Nicklaus) and Arnie (Palmer) and Gary (Player) and all these guys. To see the greats play the game the way they knew how to play and to win tournaments and to be in the ropes watching them do it and to actually experience it with David Graham ...

"Sam Snead was still playing golf when I started caddying," he continued. "To this day that blows my mind because that's how long I've been doing this."

Despite the passage of time and the changing of the guard, Hulka said one thing remains the same.

"The generations change, but the golf stays the same," he said. "The players change, but they're still the best in the world at what they do."

This article was written by Michelle James from The Register-Herald, Beckley, W.Va. and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

By
Michelle James

Series: PGA Tour

Published: Sunday, July 05, 2015 | 4:35 p.m.

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. -- When the Hulka's Overland Players Express (H.O.P.E.) rolled onto The Greenbrier grounds Monday morning, four players participating in The Greenbrier Classic stood waiting.

The 24-foot trailer driven by Steve Hulka contained not only their luggage for the week, but also the tools of their trade -- their clubs.

Hulka, who performs double duty as a caddy for British player Brian Davis, and his wife Mary spend 36 weeks a year hauling luggage, clubs and sometimes Jordan Spieth's fishing rods from tournament to tournament.

"After 9/11, it was very hard for the players to get through airport security, so I pitched the idea to the tour and they liked it," he explained.

So in 2003, H.O.P.E. was born.

"We thought that was the perfect acronym, because we 'hoped' they (players) used it," Hulka said, laughing. "The name was easy, but the hard part was to earn the trust of the players to let us take their clubs -- the instruments of their trade -- and put it on the trailer and drive all Sunday night and get it to the next town and have it there, usually ahead of them."

NO DECISION: McIlroy injury casts doubt on Open appearance

In that first year, the business transported for just five players, but continued to grow each year.

"We earned their trust and appreciation for what we did for them in those first few years and business just kept growing," he said, adding that it now transports luggage full-time for 50 players each year in addition to picking up other players from tournament to tournament.

It probably helped that Hulka was not a stranger to the golf world.

The Chicago native had his own playing dreams in his younger years, but after two years on the junior varsity team in college, he "happened" upon a tournament south of Champaign and, along with a couple of friends, was given the opportunity to caddie.

"It was amazing," he said of the experience. "I got to see the tour for the very first time from inside the ropes."

He returned the following year and, in the summer of 1972, met a few guys who were caddying all summer who he said told him, "'We're having a ball. We're seeing the best of the world play golf and we're getting paid $20 a day to do it.'

"The almighty $20 a day," he continued. "So I got rolling on the idea of being a tour caddie and my parents gave me the green light to do it full-time."

PLAY TIME: Spieth won't change pre-Open schedule

Hulka's first full season as a caddie was 1973. At the time, he said, it was easy to get a job as most of the caddies were club caddies from Augusta, Ga., or Jackson, Miss., who traveled during the winters but returned south.

"There wasn't a full-time (caddie) job to be had probably until the years I started," he said, adding that it wasn't until later that major events like The Masters and U.S. Open allowed players to bring their own caddies.

Hulka saw success working for David Graham -- who won several tournaments in his career including the PGA Championship and U.S. Open -- through 1979, when he said he grew tired of the "suitcase life."

"I said a little prayer and I said, 'Lord, I'm coming home and I want to meet the right woman,'" he recalled.

He found Mary, who at the time was working as a secretary at the Chicago Golf Club, where he was hired as an assistant golf pro.

Hulka unpacked his suitcase and he and Mary had three children, but 10 years later, when a PGA event came to Illinois and Tom Watson responded favorably to a letter, he again got the itch.

"I wrote the letter and told him I knew the course really well and I'd caddied for him a couple of times and I asked if I could work for him and he said, 'Absolutely,'" Hulka recalled. "Tom finished 9th, and at the end of the season, I told Mary, 'Honey, I've got to go back.'"

"It's in their blood," Mary said.

In his years away from the caddying, Hulka said the business of golf had changed a bit as names like Faldo, Couples and Azinger turned it into a bigger business while names like Nicklaus, Palmer and Player moved to the Senior tour.

WEDGE WIN: Streb makes due without putter

When David Graham, whom he had caddied for before he stepped away, turned 50, he moved with him to the Senior tour, meeting up with familiar faces.

"I got to see all my old caddy buddies who had gone out there with their players and got to see all the old stars who were having the time of their lives making big money on the Senior tour when before they had been out there playing for nickels," he said.

"That was nice."

Hulka enjoyed his second go as a caddy, but H.O.P.E. actually gave the family an opportunity to spend more time together.

The couple's youngest son, Ben, now 26, began working as his dad's summer help when he was 16. Mary, who progressed to manager of the golf club, flew out to help on the weekends, until finally coming on board full-time eight years ago.

It's probably a good thing she's there to help, too, as both say he is a terrible packer.

"He likes to pack leaning loads," Mary said.

"She won't let me near the front of that trailer," he added. "She is the Tetris mistress. She loves to pack the puzzle."

The Hulkas along with Ben -- now an equipment manager for the Seattle Seahawks, who came in to help for a few weeks -- transported luggage for 72 players from Hartford to West Virginia for The Greenbrier Classic.

Mary rented a Suburban and drove ahead catching a few hours of sleep while the men finished the load.

Not all of the players from Hartford made the trip to The Greenbrier, so Friday the family drove into Lewisburg where they rented a U-Haul. They transferred for those players over and Ben headed to Chicago -- next week's tournament location -- ahead of them Saturday morning.

Hulka, of course, has a full plate right now, as he is in his seventh season -- a 2- 1/2 year break included -- as Brian Davis' caddie.

The goal, of course, is that Mary will always be on her own for most of Sunday's packing duties as that will mean Hulka's guy has made the cut.

"It's a good problem to have," they say.

At 62, Hulka is now one of the oldest caddies on the tour. He has seen many changes and many faces through the years, but his enthusiasm and love for the game remain the same.

"I see Lee Trevino out here this week," he said, with a smile. "I love that guy. I grew up watching him play and win tournaments and Jack (Nicklaus) and Arnie (Palmer) and Gary (Player) and all these guys. To see the greats play the game the way they knew how to play and to win tournaments and to be in the ropes watching them do it and to actually experience it with David Graham ...

"Sam Snead was still playing golf when I started caddying," he continued. "To this day that blows my mind because that's how long I've been doing this."

Despite the passage of time and the changing of the guard, Hulka said one thing remains the same.

"The generations change, but the golf stays the same," he said. "The players change, but they're still the best in the world at what they do."

This article was written by Michelle James from The Register-Herald, Beckley, W.Va. and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.


Wiesberger rallies to win French Open

PARIS (AP) -- Bernd Wiesberger of Austria came from three shots back to win the French Open on Sunday, making five birdies on the front nine to take command as overnight leader Jaco Van Zyl faltered.

Wiesberger finished with a 6-under 65 to win by three shots ahead of James Morrison of England, who shot a 67. Van Zyl only managed a 73 to finish five shots behind Wiesberger's total of 13-under 271.

Wiesberger found himself in the lead after four straight birdies from the fourth hole, and picked up another shot on the ninth. After eight straight pars, he finished with another birdie on the 18th.

Martin Kaymer, the 2009 champion, finished fourth after a 70.

It was Wiesberger's third European Tour title.


Series: European Tour

Published: Sunday, July 05, 2015 | 4:20 p.m.

PARIS (AP) -- Bernd Wiesberger of Austria came from three shots back to win the French Open on Sunday, making five birdies on the front nine to take command as overnight leader Jaco Van Zyl faltered.

Wiesberger finished with a 6-under 65 to win by three shots ahead of James Morrison of England, who shot a 67. Van Zyl only managed a 73 to finish five shots behind Wiesberger's total of 13-under 271.

Wiesberger found himself in the lead after four straight birdies from the fourth hole, and picked up another shot on the ninth. After eight straight pars, he finished with another birdie on the 18th.

Martin Kaymer, the 2009 champion, finished fourth after a 70.

It was Wiesberger's third European Tour title.


Syndicate content