A look back at 2011 with tales from the PGA tour
AP Golf Writer
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) – Mike Tuten has spent the last 20 years on the North Shore of Oahu shaping surf boards. He joined his brother, Titleist rep Chris Tuten, for a round of golf on the Plantation Course at Kapalua at the start of the year.
Walking down the seventh fairway, the Pacific Ocean on the horizon, Tuten said he found a lot of similarities between surfing and golf.
“It’s all about controlling your inner self and enjoying the environment around you,” Tuten said.
That made sense to Adam Scott, who does a fair bit of surfing.
Ditto for Geoff Ogilvy, who described himself as a “splash-in-the-water kind of surfer.”
“A lot of surfing is just sitting on the back of your board and just enjoying the place you’re at,” Ogilvy said. “You can do it with friends or on your own. Some of the appeal is that you’re out there on your own with golf, too. Surfing is similar. A lot of guys who go surfing would be those types of guys who like to get out and do their own thing.”
For a technical answer, Kelly Slater weighed in.
“Physically, there’s not a lot of similarities,” Slater said at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. “When you surf, you do twist your body. You twist your shoulders and bring the board to where your shoulders are. When you catch a wave, you don’t want to be thinking about the crowd, cameras, how pretty it is. You want to have a calm mind when you take off on a wave.”
It all sounded good in theory until the question was posed to Ernie Els on the range at Waialae.
Are there any similarities between golf and surfing?
“No, I don’t agree with that,” Els said.
He pointed to the 30-foot palm trees lining both sides of the range to make his argument.
“You see a wave that big coming at you, I don’t see how you can enjoy your environment,” Els said. “I would be trying to get the hell out of there. No, golf is not like surfing. You don’t get killed playing golf.”
The 2011 season began with waves crashing along the shores of Maui and Oahu. Rory McIlroy wiped out at the Masters and had the ride of his life at the U.S. Open. Luke Donald is riding a wave that doesn’t seem to end. And late in the year, Tiger Woods showed signs of paddling back out to sea.
Along the way, there were plenty of other moments that went beyond birdies and bogeys.
Saturday at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am is when CBS Sports focuses primarily on the celebrities in the field, who don’t always take golf – or the interviews – all that seriously. David Feherty attempted to interview comedian George Lopez, who essentially spent his time in front of the camera making fun of the Irishman.
Feherty was riding his bike along 17 Mile Drive the next morning, still thinking about how Lopez buried him on TV, when he decided it was time for revenge. It was 6 a.m. and he knew the house where Lopez was staying, so Feherty went to the front door and began ringing the bell. Over and over and over.
He took out his phone and called Lopez, and the comedian answered with a groggy voice.
“George! Why aren’t you answering the door?” Feherty told him.
Lopez informed him that his door bell wasn’t ringing. Just at that moment, Feherty heard another groggy voice, slightly perturbed, through the intercom.
“Who is this?”
Feherty froze. He was at the wrong house. Lopez was in the one on the other side of the road.
“I was looking at him across the street,” Lopez said. “I think I’ve still got a picture of it. He looked like a wet rat.”
Bo Van Pelt walked up to the porch at the Augusta National clubhouse to find his caddie waiting for him with the golf bag and listening to a man on the bench telling stories.
“Bo,” caddie Mark Chaney said. “Have you met Bob Goalby?”
For the next hour, the 1968 Masters champion regaled Van Pelt with stories about practice rounds with Ben Hogan, about the stories Sam Snead once told at the Champions Dinner at Augusta, about playing in the Ryder Cup against British players hardly anyone knew.
Van Pelt didn’t want to leave. Goalby would finish a story, there would be a long pause, and then he would start another.
At the end of the week, Van Pelt was among eight players who had a share of the lead on Sunday. He tied for eighth. Yet that Tuesday afternoon on the porch with Goalby was as strong a memory as his best finish at the Masters.
“To me, those are the things where I feel fortunate I get to do what I do,” Van Pelt said a few weeks ago. “It’s great to be at Augusta. And you’re thinking about the tournament. But when you get a chance to visit with someone like that, those other things can wait. I could have sat there all day.”
Darren Clarke couldn’t do the math.
For a guy who spent two decades chasing the claret jug, Clarke did a remarkable job keeping a clear head until he approached the 18th green at Royal St. George’s and tried to figure out what remained for him to capture golf’s oldest championship.
He played the final hole the way he wanted, taking the bunkers out of play off the tee and hitting to the back left of the green.
“The crowd was roaring and shouting, and I’m thinking, ‘How many putts do I have from there?’ I promise you, that’s what I was thinking,” Clarke said. “And I couldn’t get the number in my head. The only time that I really figured it out was when I was standing over the ball. I’ve got five putts.”
He took three to make a meaningless bogey and win by three shots over Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson.
Fred Couples was outside the ropes near the first tee at Royal Melbourne, holding court on the world of sports as only Couples can do, while Tiger Woods and Dustin Johnson prepared to play for the first time as partners in the Presidents Cup.
Couples wanted to know about the sale of the Houston Astros, and how they could go to the American League, and if someone bought the Seattle Mariners, could the new owner demand they be in the National League? The conversation shifted to hockey, back to baseball, a brief stop for the NFL, back to hockey. And then he stopped.
“You know, I should be over there talking to Dustin and Tiger instead of you two clowns,” he said.
Maybe so. But, as one reporter asked, what would be his preference?
“You guys,” Couples said. Nodding in the direction of Woods and Johnson, he added with a smile, “Those guys don’t give me anything.”
Arnold Palmer was asked to describe his perfect day, and he frowned.
“I’m in a dilemma right now because I can’t hit the ball the way I want to,” Palmer said. “I can do things that will allow me to hit the ball where I want to hit it, but not as far. But straight isn’t the answer for me because I can’t hit it far enough. At 82, am I going to put the effort into it that I have to for me to enjoy playing? It’s very difficult.”
At the end of a long day that included a golf-course opening, Palmer made up his mind.
“I’ve decided I’m going to give it a shot this winter at Bay Hill, for my own satisfaction,” he said. “I’m going to work at it.”
Three weeks later, using a 5-iron from 163 yards on the Charger Course at Bay Hill, the King made his 20th career hole-in-hole and shot 79.
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