LPGA rookie jumps at chance to ease Puerto Rico’s recovery
MEXICO CITY (AP) — Emma Talley has never been to Puerto Rico and probably couldn’t name any of winners in 10 years of the Puerto Rico Open. But she’s aware of the plight of Puerto Ricans still recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Maria, and the LPGA Tour rookie jumped at the chance to help.
Talley is among 19 players from the PGA Tour and LPGA Tour who are taking part in the Puerto Rico Open Charity Pro-Am this weekend that aims to raise $500,000 to help with recovery efforts.
The Puerto Rico Open, scheduled for this week, cannot be played as the island works toward recovery.
“Our hope is that this special event in 2018 will benefit Puerto Rico’s recovery efforts to the fullest extent, while reminding the world that Puerto Rico is a premier golf and travel destination,” PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan said.
Among the PGA Tour players taking part are defending champion D.A. Points and two other past champions, George McNeill and Derek Lamely. Talley, a former U.S. Women’s Amateur and NCAA champion at Alabama, is among 10 women playing Saturday, impressive in that the LPGA does not have a direct connection with Puerto Rico.
There also will be a celebrity pro-am Friday that includes baseball players Carlos Beltran, Pudge Rodriguez and Carlos Delgado, boxer Miguel Cotto and former NBA player Nick Van Exel.
“It’s almost like mission work,” Talley said. “It’s a great opportunity. So many people are hurting. It’s going to be a very humbling experience, and I hope we can raise a lot of money. I get to do a lot of charity events, but I don’t know if I’ve ever had a chance to do one with this much pain. I’ve done things for charities around town, but not where a country has been destroyed, or this caliber of disaster.”
The Puerto Rico Open is expected to return to the PGA Tour schedule in 2019 and 2020.
AUSSIE RULES MOTIVATION: Luke List has been making great strides since his move to California to work with Jamie Mulligan. It was intriguing to hear him after his playoff loss in the Honda Classic talk about full effort on every shot, which is also the outlook of Patrick Cantlay, another Mulligan pupil.
List received some additional help a few weeks ago through his caddie, Matthew Tritton. They were on the range at Riviera, and List felt he was not getting everything out of his rounds. Tritton told him to call Brett Stephens, a former Australian Rules Football player known as “Moose.”
“I talked to him for almost an hour on Thursday afternoon at Riviera,” List said. “He just said some stuff I like that I wrote in my yardage book and I was flipping through that all week and looking at that, just little reminders. We always work on our golf swings and our short game and our putting but sometimes we forget to work on our mental game.”
Among the reminders: “Effort over result.”
They traded a few text messages during the Honda Classic. He said Stephens encouraged him to enjoy the competition, and to have fun while doing it.
“I’m trying to get my first win and get in that next level of tournaments,” List said. “It just hasn’t quite happened yet, but the more I think about it, I feel like the worse I do. So the more I focus on what’s in front of me — the effort into the shot ... I did a really good job of that.”
He also took time to see some video clips of Moose.
“He’s a very fit dude,” said List, who cuts an athletic figure himself. “He’s got some clients that he brings down to south of Melbourne to run the sand dunes, and if we keep in contact, which I’m sure we will, I’m going to have to go down there and get my butt kicked.”
FUTURE SITES: The U.S. Women’s Open is returning to Pine Needles for the fourth time.
The USGA announced on Tuesday that the course in Southern Pines, North Carolina, will host the Women’s Open in 2022. The dates will be June 2-5.
Pine Needles is where Annika Sorenstam won her second U.S. Women’s Open in 1996. Five years later, Karrie Webb won a second straight Women’s Open at Pine Needles with an eight-shot victory. Cristie Kerr won the Open at Pine Needles in 2007.
Pine Needles also is staging the U.S. Senior Women’s Open next year.
The Walker Cup, meanwhile, is returning to St. Andrews for the ninth time in 2023. The last time the Walker Cup was held at the home of golf was in 1975, when Curtis Strange was part of the American team of amateurs that beat Great Britain and Ireland.
TIGER AND SAM: Sam Burns was playing in his eighth PGA Tour event at the Honda Classic and was paired with Tiger Woods in the final round.
So that was different, especially on the first tee.
“I don’t even remember feeling the club in my hands,” he said. “It was like everything was numb.”
The rest of the day was normal golf, normal conversations with one of the most famous athletes in the world. Burns said he settled down on the third hole, and it showed. He played bogey-free for a 68 and tied for eighth, two shots ahead of Woods.
Two sets of numbers stood out at the end of the week.
Burns moved up to No. 388 in the world ranking. Woods moved up to No. 389.
And while Burns was nervous and excited about the pairing, so were his friends. He checked his phone after the round and had 448 text messages. That’s not likely to happen no matter whom he plays with next week at Innisbrook.
NEW RULES: Don’t be surprised to see USGA leaders at more PGA Tour events, in part to be available if players have any questions about upcoming rules. The USGA is getting closer to revealing a modernization of the rules that is designed to involve more practical solutions and fewer complications.
Thomas Pagel, senior director of rules at the USGA, was at Riviera a few weeks ago. A few U.S Open officials were at the Honda Classic.
“I saw one somewhere at a tournament,” Stewart Cink said. “They have sent their guys out to get us prepared for the new rules.”
The modern rules — a project of both ruling bodies and representatives from the major tours — would not take effect until 2019. Cink said he would expect for players to go through some form of education.
“Our tour officials are going to have schedule four or five tournaments where they do a meeting,” he said. “Otherwise, the simplification of rules is going to get complex.”
THAI PIPELINE: Atthaya Thitikul was 6 when her father told her she should take up a sport, either golf or tennis. She watched golf on TV and liked it.
Atthaya was 14 when she played in the Thailand Championship last year on the Ladies European Tour with hopes of learning how the pros do it. She wound up beating them to become the youngest winner on the LET, a record previously held by 15-year-old Lydia Ko.
Expect to see more of Atthaya, the latest of several young Thai women who are coming on.
Atthaya won a four-way playoff at Sentosa Golf Club in Singapore last week to win the inaugural Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific, which was organized by the Royal & Ancient Golf Club. That earned her a spot in the HSBC Women’s World Championship this week, along with invitations to two majors — the ANA Inspiration and the Ricoh Women’s British Open at Royal Lytham & St. Annes.
STAT OF THE WEEK: Seven of the 15 tournaments on the PGA Tour this season have been decided by playoffs.
FINAL WORD: “I really don’t play golf to create records. I play golf because I enjoy it and I want to go through the process of getting better.” — Bernhard Langer.
(This version corrects the spelling of former Aussie Rules Football player to Stephens).