Creamer is back in Singapore this week to defend her title at the HSBC Women's Champions, and tournament organizers set up another 75-foot putt for her to attempt on a mini-golf green at the pre-event gala. Dressed to the nines, Creamer took a crack at the putt and this happened:
The best part -- other than the ball going in, of course -- is Creamer turning away, thinking she'd missed, only to turn back in time to see the ball go in the hole. It didn't quite produce the same reaction from Creamer as last year's bomb, but the newlywed and those watching, including Michelle Wie, got pretty excited.
These are some admittedly personal reflections on golf architect Jay Morrish, the left-brain half of the superstar design team of Morrish and Weiskopf, who died on March 2 in a Dallas suburb, after dealing for years with heart disease.
I started writing about golf architecture for magazines in 1983, the same year Morrish left Jack Nicklaus's three-man design firm and headed out on his own. He was living in Tulsa at the time, and he took me around Tulsa Country Club, which he would soon remodel, and Tom Fazio's brand new Golf Club of Oklahoma, which Jay assessed with remarkable insight, pointing out structural challenges and solutions, potential maintenance issues and novel design features. I foolishly thought every architect was going to be as generous with his time.
The following year, Jay teamed with Tom Weiskopf, at the latter's invitation, to design Troon Golf & Country Club in Scottsdale. I'd begun running Golf Digest's course ranking panel, and their evaluations (I had no vote) picked Troon as America's Best New Private Course of 1986. The team of Morrish and Weiskopf became a marquee firm overnight, and their subsequent work also glittered: Troon, the Monument Course at Troon North, the Canyon Course at Forest Highlands, Shadow Glen in Kansas and Double Eagle in Ohio all ended up ranked on America's 100 Greatest. Their La Cantera in Texas won Best New Public of 1995 and was later a PGA Tour stop. Even today, our World's 100 Greatest includes their Loch Lomond Golf Club, the first design in Scotland by American architects and considered by both men to be their best, even though Jay was sidelined by quadruple bypass surgery during much of its construction.
Golf World proclaimed them joint Architects of the Year in 1996, when they surprised us by announcing they were splitting into separate, competing firms.(Their final co-designs, The Rim in Payson, Ariz. and The Reserve in Indian Wells, Calif., took three more years to complete.)
To the consternation of some readers, my article on that honor focused on their shared love of big-game hunting, an activity Weiskopf first encouraged Jay to try in the 1980s. Jay especially loved hunting in Africa. He described it as "95 percent boredom and 5 percent sheer terror."
His big-game trophies, including antelopes, lions and grizzly bears, were so extensive that in the early 1990s he built a 5,600 square foot home outside Dallas, designed by clubhouse architect Bill Zmistowski, to house them all. In 2007, Jay and his wife, Louise, downsized to a smaller home nearby, and most of the mounted animals were donated to the Dallas Zoo and Bass Pro Shops.
Earlier this week, I called Weiskopf to talk about Jay.
"He was somebody special," Tom said. "The total package. I learned so much from him. I couldn't have started in the business with a better guy.
"We were a terrific team. He handled all the technical aspects; he was the best problem-solver in the business. I'd offer strategic elements, things like following a reachable par 5 with the longest par-4 in the opposite direction. He liked my idea of a drivable par 4, which I'd gotten from playing the Old Course at St. Andrews. We did at least one on each of the 25 courses we did together.
"I'm proud to say that Jay and I always finished on time and on budget. And we've never had to go back and redo any of our courses."
I had to challenge Tom on that last statement. After all, he'd just spent much of 2014 rebuilding every hole at TPC Scottsdale, an early Morrish and Weiskopf flagship design.
"That was a result of technology," he said. "When you have the world's best golfers playing a course every year, you'd got to keep it competitive. But its basic structure was still sound. We didn't change that."
On his own, Jay did many spectacular yet playable courses, including Stone Canyon, Pine Canyon and Talking Rock, all in Arizona, Castle Hills and Pine Dunes in Texas, Blackstone, Ravenna and River Valley Ranch in Colorado and Bent Creek in Pennsylvania. He was assisted on most by his son, Carter, whose career he wanted to advance by leaving his partnership with Weiskopf.
By the time we met in 1983, Jay had given up golf. He'd once been avid about it, while earning a nursery management degree at Colorado State, and played left-handed. But quit because of back problems. "You don't have to be the world's best player to be a good architect," he said. "You just have to understand what the golf ball's going to do."
Morrish served as the rock-steady president of the American Society of Golf Course Architects in the tumultuous year following 9/11. He was impressively eloquent and well read, as evidenced by an essay he wrote in 2003 comparing the golf design process to the manner in which Edgar Allen Poe composed a poem.
He could also be blunt, like the time in 2002 when I asked him to comment on the passing of his old boss, course architect Desmond Muirhead. "Never liked him, never liked his work," Jay said.
My reaction to Jay's passing is to flip that line. I always liked Jay Morrish. I always liked his work.
After getting over the initial shock of actually seeing Adam Scott on a golf course -- he hasn't been in action since last November -- it was interesting to see him tinkering with a short putter during the Tuesday practice round at the WGC-Cadillac Championship. The move was no doubt prompted by the USGA's forthcoming ban on anchored putters, which goes into effect at the start of next year.
Scott first switched to the long putter at the 2011 WGC-Match Play after plummeting down to 186th on tour in Strokes Gained/putting. He's recovered since then -- he had his second-best putting year in 2014 -- so it'll be interesting to track what kind of effect the switch back will have on his game.
A wiser, more mature Bubba? “Bubba ‘I’ve got issues’ Watson isn’t the first father to have his world re-ordered when the baby comes home. By the time the second arrives, what remains of the boy within is all but totalled, replaced by a well-adjusted, mature human being. Well almost,” Kevin Garside writes in the Independent, while noting fatherhood has been good for Watson and his game.
England’s Paul Casey, an American resident and now a full-time PGA Tour member, lost in a playoff at the Northern Trust Open and finished third in the Honda Classic and suddenly is thinking about a European Ryder Cup spot. “Three months ago he resigned his European Tour membership and woke to headlines proclaiming he had spurned the chance to play in the Ryder Cup, since you have to be a member to make the team,” Derek Lawrenson writes in the Daily Mail. “‘I understood the stories and if it hadn't involved me, it's what I would have thought,' he said. 'But I haven't given up on the Ryder Cup.’”
When the Royal & Ancient Golf Club began admitting women members, it seemed to have a domino effect. Royal Troon and Muirfield are reviewing their membership policies and now Royal St. George’s has announced it is opening its doors to women. "Royal St George's Golf Club is pleased to announce that a resolution to alter the club's rules to make ladies eligible for membership has been duly passed,” it said in a statement.
The WGC-Cadillac Championship is a showcase event for Donald Trump at Trump Doral. “Epitomizing the Trump doctrine of go big or go home, the week is a festival that includes a model search, fashion show, Carlos Santana concert and showcase for 70 of the game's best players, including world No. 1 Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson, Adam Scott, Bubba Watson and Rickie Fowler. This will not be just another tournament week on the PGA Tour, and that's precisely Trump's intention,” Steve DiMeglio of USA Today writes.
“It’s as the father of a 17-year-old girl that I, along with many others no doubt, find it quite astonishing to watch what Lydia Ko is achieving in the Royal & Ancient game,” Martin Dempster writes in the Scotsman, “making her appearance on Scottish soil later this year in the Ricoh Women’s British Open at Turnberry every bit as exciting as the prospect of Rory McIlroy defending the Open Championship at St Andrews.”
Every year for the past nine years, the American College of Sports Medicine has surveyed thousands of health professionals around the globe to determine what's hot in exercise and what's not. For example, Zumba made the top-20 list in 2012 and 2013 but has since dropped off. The experts were asked to consider 39 possible trends for 2015 including the top 25 from last year. So what do the experts think is the big thing for this year?
Things like push-ups, planks and plyometrics are finally getting their due respect. It's not that people haven't been doing body-weight exercises for years, it's just that the most common perceptions people have of what constitutes a good workout have been things such as running on a treadmill, or circuit training on a row of muscle-specific machines in some big-box gym.
The simple truth is you don't need a $500-a-year gym membership to get fit, and the 3,400-plus respondents to the survey think people are finally catching on to this fact.
In February, Australian Richard Green made the craziest hole-in-one you'll ever see on a par 4 at the Oates Victorian Championship on the PGA Tour of Australasia. But unfortunately for the three-time European Tour winner, the rarest form of albatross came a day before the tournament started.
And now, less than a month later, it's happened again.
This time it was Henrik Norlander pulling off the trick in a pro-am ahead of the Cartagena de Indias at Karibana Championship on the Web.com Tour. Sadly, there's no video, but here's a tweet from the tour with a few photos:
The problem with golf movies often is believability, the result of an actor without sufficient golf skills, for instance, or a screenwriter or director who doesn’t fully understand the game.
This is not an issue with the new golf film, “The Squeeze,” scheduled to debut on April 17, the Friday following the Masters.
For starters, the film is based on a true story of an unknown golfer playing high-stakes gambling games, and it was written and directed by Terry Jastrow, whose golf credentials are impeccable. Jastrow attended the University of Houston on a golf scholarship at a time that the Cougars were the dominant golf team in the country. And in a 22-year career at ABC Sports, he produced or directed 62 major championships for the network (U.S. and British opens and the PGA Championships).
Jastrow, 66, cast Jeremy Sumpter, a bona fide strong player, as the lead character, Augie. Sumpter plays to a handicap index of +1.1 at Moorpark (Calif.) Country Club.
Jeremy Sumpter as "Augie"
“Golfers love movies with golf in them, but it’s been so disappointing,” Jastrow said, citing the case of Don Johnson and Kevin Costner in “Tin Cup.” “Great actors, but the minute they pick up a club, you know you’re not watching a great golfer, but an actor.”
So Jastrow set out to find an actor with golf ability, “a low single-digit handicapper, five or less,” he said. He narrowed the search to five candidates and took each of them to Bel-Air Country Club, where he is a member, and auditioned them on the golf course.
“You can tell whether a guy can play by the way he grabs the club,” Jastrow said. “And Jeremy could really play.”
Jastrow’s search for investors took him to friend Tom Watson, who was reluctant pending proof that Sumpter indeed was a good player. So Jastrow sent video to Watson, who called back immediately. “I’m in,” he said. Judy Rankin also is an investor.
The gist of the story is that a gambler traveling cross country discovers a local golf phenom in a small rural town who won his city championship by 15 strokes. The gambler convinces him to travel with him and play high-stakes gambling matches. They eventually wind up in Las Vegas, where he ultimately finds himself in a high-stakes game against a man with mob connections, a game of life or death, according to promotional materials.
The golfer in real life, incidentally, is Keith Flatt, whose wife Chris is the executive vice president hotel sales and marketing for Wynn Las Vegas (the final match in the movie was filmed at the Wynn Las Vegas Golf Course). Jastrow and wife Anne Archer are friends of the Flatts, and Keith matter-of-factly told him his story one day.
“This is a movie,” Jastrow told him. Several years later, it has become one.
Welcome to another edition of The Grind, where we're always in the mood for a good comeback story. Here was this week's uplifting plot: A great golfer who hasn't won a major championship since 2008 tinkers with his golf swing and falls to depths in the Official World Golf Ranking he hasn't seen since turning pro. But in his 40s, he gets a sponsor's exemption into an event he won a decade earlier and rallies to win again on a major championship course. Inspirational stuff. Congrats to Padraig Harrington, and hang in there, Tiger. You've got time to figure this out.
Padraig Harrington: For a second straight week, the World No. 297 won on the PGA Tour. This time it was Harrington, 43, who hadn't won since capturing back-to-back majors at the British Open and PGA Championship in 2008, and had earned less than $1 million in his 41 previous tour starts since 2012. But after winning the Honda Classic in a playoff over 21-year-old Daniel Berger, the popular Irishman showed he still has the guts under pressure that made him a three-time major winner -- and a good accountant.
Lydia Ko: We might just have to give the 17-year-old phenom a permanent slot in this section. Ko won for a second week in a row, capturing the New Zealand Open for a remarkable 10th professional title. By comparison, Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus and Rory McIlroy didn't reach double digits in wins until they were 24.
The Loves: Talk about great timing. On the same day Davis Love III was officially introduced as the 2016 U.S. Ryder Cup captain, his son, Dru, picked up his first collegiate title. Congrats, Dru, but you're going to really have to kick things in gear if you're going to play for your dad at Hazeltine next year.
Ian Poulter: Poulter had his first 54-hole lead in a PGA Tour event and was looking for his first stroke-play win in the U.S., but things got away from him during a wild final round. Poulter hit five balls in the water -- one more and we would have permanently dubbed him "two sleeves" -- on his way to a 74 and a T-3 finish. "It's a shame to hand tournaments away. I've handed one away this week," Poulter said. No arguments here.
Dan Olsen: A former PGA Tour player appeared on a radio show last Friday and claimed Tiger Woods is serving a 30-day suspension. Woods' agent, Mark Steinberg, as well as the PGA Tour strongly denied the claims on Monday. A little later, Olsen retracted his statement and issued an apology. Just a guess, but Olsen has probably spent more time talking to lawyers the past few days than he has in his entire life.
Rory's 2015 U.S. debut: Not since Tiger's heyday has a player been such an overwhelming favorite at a PGA Tour event, but McIlroy's 2015 U.S. debut at the Honda Classic was a total dud. His 73-74 left him three shots off the cut line. "I'm pissed off," a candid McIlroy said afterward. So was everyone who plays fantasy golf.
The PGA Tour moves from Palm Beach and "The Bear Trap" to Miami and Trump National Doral, aka "The Blue Monster," aka "The Trump Trap." OK, so we made that last one up.
Random tournament fact: The entire top 50 of the Official World Golf Ranking is in the field this week at the WGC-Cadillac Championship. It's the first time that's happened since the 2012 PGA Championship. Wait, that has to be a misprint because Tiger Woods isn't playing. Oh. Right.
RANDOM PROP BETS OF THE WEEK
-- A player will hit five balls in the water in the final round and only lose by one shot: 1 million-to-1 odds
After downing Daniel Berger in a playoff, Paddy celebrated by downing a burger. Was Paddy sending a message? Chew on that.
"GOLF BABE" PHOTO OF THE WEEK
Courtesy of Instagram handle @golfbabes, we introduce Hayden Sylte. Hayden is a reporter for Golfcentraldaily.com and is an assistant pro at Dove Canyon Golf Club, where her father, Russell, is the director of operations at the Orange Country, Calif., course.
Minivans must be considered a lot cooler in Canada.
THIS WEEK A LOOK BACK IN JASON DUFNER-AMANDA DUFNER PUBLIC DISPLAYS OF AFFECTION
This is actually a throwback photo with LeBron James from Dec. 19. In fact, it's the last photo Amanda posted of herself and her hubby, which is especially perplexing considering how good a slimmed-down Duf is looking these days. Where have you gone, Amanda?! Come back to us!
THIS AND THAT
While Lydia Ko was winning the New Zealand Open, Amy Yang won the Honda LPGA Thailand. It's rare when the LPGA takes a back seat to another women's golf tournament, but that's exactly what happened this week. . . . Andy Sullivan won his second European Tour title in South Africa in just over a month for his second career Euro Tour victory. No one would think twice if he legally changed his middle name to "Johannesburg." . . . Dru Love wasn't the only big name to earn his first collegiate win this week. University of Texas sophomore Beau Hossler broke through as well. We'll never forget that time he led the U.S. Open as a high school junior. . . . Jack Nicklaus is coming out with his own line of ice cream. Sounds fantastic, Jack, but instead of a press release, could you send some samples next time?
. . . Speaking of delicious desserts, you know what's the most underrated moment of the year if you work in an office? When you get the Thin Mint Girl Scout cookies you ordered delivered to your desk.
As part of a promotion for its XR line, Callaway Golf joined forces with Dude Perfect to produce one of the better golf trick shot compilations we've ever seen. A particular highlight was when Jaime Sadlowski, a two-time winner of the Remax World Long Drive Championship, decided to hit a golf ball through a bunch of random things. Like this Pineapple.
And Captain America.
And a bag of Skittles.
And some milk.
And finally, a watermelon.
It's a cool video and one worth watching in it's entirety. Don't take our word for it:
Like "yips," "shank" is a word PGA Tour players don't even like to say, never mind actually do.
Ian Poulter can avoid saying "shank" if he chooses, but video from the final round at the Honda tells the story. On the tee at the par-3, 174-yard fifth hole, Poulter shanked his 8-iron dead right. The ball bounced on the cart path and into the water, leading to a double bogey that dropped him from the lead permanently. He ended up shooting 74 and missing the Padraig Harrington-Daniel Berger playoff by a shot.
"Tour players usually hit a shank--when the ball hits the hosel and comes off sideways--when they apply force a little differently in the downswing, like trying to hit it harder or softer," says 50 Best Teacher Brian Manzella. "Poulter said after his round that the shank--and some of the other bad shots he hit--came when he was trying to take something off it."
The most common shank for the average player comes on a shorter shot, or one where the player consciously opens the clubface a bit more in an effort to produce some height. "Take a wedge shot," says Manzella. "If you open the face, it can make it so that it feels like the shaft itself--and the hosel--is the sweet spot. Then you swing down feeling like the point for center contact is at the end of the shaft, when really it's offset from that."
If you find yourself out there hitting shanks in the middle of the round, focus on turning your lead arm down, toward the ball, on the downswing. "Turning that arm down should automatically make your arms start moving toward your body," says Manzella, who is based at English Turn Golf & Country Club in New Orleans. "That will cure a vast majority of shanks the average player gets."