12/6/2013 7:00:00 AM
Lexi Thompson has no problem generating and storing power with her big backswing.By Ron Kaspriske I always get a chuckle when I hear the golf-and-fitness term "separating the torsos." It makes me think of a...
12/5/2013 5:53:00 PM
By Luke Kerr-Dineen
As the world mourns the death of Nelson Mandela, the former President of South Africa who spent 27 years in prison and helped usher the country out of its apartheid era, we think back to the British Open this summer, when Tiger Woods spoke so eloquently of the first time he met Mandela:
The first time I ever met President Mandela was in '98. I went down there to play Sun City, and he invited us to his home. And my father and I went to have lunch with him. It still gives me chills to this day, thinking about it. A gentleman asked us to go into this side room over here and, "President Mandela will join you in a little bit." And we walked in the room and my dad and I were just kind of looking around. And I said, "Dad, do you feel that?" And he says, "Yeah, it feels different in this room." And it was just like a different energy in the room.
We just looked at each other and just shrugged our shoulders and whatever. And maybe, I'm guessing probably 30 seconds later, I heard some movement behind me and it was President Mandela folding up the paper. And it was pretty amazing. The energy that he has, that he exudes, is unlike any person I've ever met. And it was an honor to meet him at his home. And that's an experience that I will never, ever forget.
And it was at the British Open in 2012, when Ernie Els collected defied expectations to win his second Claret Jug, thanked Mandela in his victory speech:
Q. It's quite something to launch immediately into a tribute to Nelson Mandela after you win The Open. Most golfers thank their caddie.
ERNIE ELS: They're important.
Q. Can I ask what sort of compelled you to do that, and had you been thinking about it for a while? And more importantly, will you take the jug to him and will the pair of you share a drink out of that jug?
ERNIE ELS: I'd love to. My man in front here from Super Sports South Africa, we've been doing some little bytes for the Olympics. And a lot of the Olympic theme this year has got President Mandela in it. So he's been very much in my thoughts.
And believe it or not, this morning I was lying watching cricket and I was just kind of daydreaming, and that thought came through me in a split second. If I win, I told myself, I'd better thank President Mandela because I grew up in the era of the apartheid era, and then changing into the democratic era, and President Mandela was right there. And right after the change, I was the first one to win a major. And so there's a lot of significance there in my life, from the change from that and then President Mandela becoming president and me winning a golf tournament. And then him getting on the telephone with me talking to me when I was in Pittsburgh, Oakmont. So in a way we intertwined together in a crazy way. And I just felt he's been so important for us being where we are today as a nation and as sports people.
ERNIE ELS: Yeah, absolutely. And especially when you've met him personally. It's an unbelievable feeling, and he's a great man.
Q. Will you have a drink with him out of that?
ERNIE ELS: I don't know. I'd love to. As I said, I've got a schedule to run, and hopefully I can shoot back maybe for a day or two after the Olympics. I don't know if he's coming over. I'll go wherever he is. I'd love to see him again.
Protesters of South Africa's apartheid policy gave me grief for a couple of years. I didn't believe in apartheid and I surely wasn't responsible for it, but I was a ripe target. They threw crushed ice in my eyes. Hit me with telephone books at the top of my backswing. Threw balls on the green while I was putting. Burned awful statements into the greens where we were playing. I got death threats at my hotel every day. At the 1969 PGA Championship, a guy screamed just as I stroked a 10-inch putt, and I missed and lost by one. At Merion, during the 1971 U.S. Open, we kept guns in the house where I was staying. I struggled through it, and you know something? It's easier to fight than to run away.
It was a tough two years. But Nelson Mandela, who spent over 20 years in prison, had it a whole lot worse.
12/5/2013 11:54:00 AM
By Alex Myers
With Will Ferrell in the news a lot of late promoting "Anchorman 2," and Tiger Woods always in the news, what better time than to relive the time their two careers crossed paths. Well, sort of.
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Let's take a trip back to the 2008 ESPY Awards when it was a simpler, better time for both. Woods was still only famous for his actions on the course and Ferrell hadn't filmed the disastrous Land of the Lost. Anyway, Justin Timberlake (another golf connection!) announced Woods, still basking in the glow of his legendary win at the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, as the winner of the year's Best Athlete Award. Not surprisingly, Woods wasn't there to accept. Surprisingly, at least to the audience, Ferrell was:
What made the moment even better was Ferrell pretending to accept the award as Woods. "People are always asking me, 'Tiger, how do you do it?' And my answer is, 'Shut up.' I ask the questions around here. I'm Tiger Woods."
"All I did was sever my ACL and break a bone in my leg and you know, I still won the U.S. Open. And that's when even I started to believe it's undeniable, I am the greatest," said Ferrell, who then went on to thank a list of funny, fake Woods sponsors.
Related: These clips of Verne Lundquist will make you smile
Hey! Tiger is playing in the Hollywood area this week, possibly for the last time! Maybe these two stars will get together!
"What can I say, I'm the best. In your face, everybody. Goodnight."
OK, maybe not.
12/5/2013 10:35:00 AM
By Bob Carney
Jim Nantz accepted the Metropolitan Golf Association's Distinguished Service Award at Westchester Country Club in Harrison, N.Y., with great stories and kind of an unusual request: He asked that late CBS partner Ken Venturi's name be added to the award along with his. Venturi, who worked beside Nantz for 17 years and who raised millions for charity in the Met area, died this May on Nantz's birthday. "I feel shortchanged that Kenny's not here. I know he would have been here tonight."
Nantz was honored for decades of assistance to the MGA and its First Tee chapter, and his founding of the Nantz National Alzheimer Center in Houston in honor of his father, Jim Nantz Jr., who died from the disease in 2008.
Related: Jaime Diaz remembers Venturi's golf genius
Nantz spent most of a charming acceptance speech thanking his mentors -- Houston coach Dave Williams, former President George Bush ("41") and, at the top of the list, Venturi.
He recalled how Venturi had come to Westchester 50 years ago down on his luck and about to quit golf and head back to San Francisco to sell cars for Eddie Lowery. He gave himself one last chance, accepting a sponsor's exemption. He finished 5th and began a comeback that culminated a few months later with the U.S. Open Championship.
Nantz remembered "as many as 70 dinners a year" he had with Venturi when his partner would inevitably ask the waitress for a Diet Dr. Pepper. 'We don't have Diet Dr. Pepper,' every waitress would reply, and Kenny would go, 'Oh, Okay, give me a Crown Royal.'
Related: These clips of Verne Lundquist will make you smile
Nantz told the story of how "41," recruited him to be "an intermediary" when he invited Bill Clinton to play with him in Maine at Cape Arundel near the family compound. "We need an intermediary to keep the conversation from diverting to politics." A year later Bush invited Clinton and called Nantz again, this time suggesting that maybe Nantz could recruit a fourth.
"I think I've got just the guy," Nantz told Bush. "Tom Brady."
"Tom Brady the football player?" asked Bush. "Do you think Tom Brady would come up and play with us?
"I think your odds are good," replied Nantz.
The four played sixes -- three matches of rotating two-man teams. After one tie and one loss, Nantz welcomed Brady as his last partner with an opportunity to get even on the day.
"You've got a chance to do something no one has ever done," Nantz told Brady: Beat two former Presidents of the United States. "It was like a mask came over his face," said Nantz, and Brady was back on the football field, one minute left, two points down, the ball on his own 20.
"We won 5 up," said Nantz.
Related: Other notable NFL stars who play golf
Clinton came over as the match ended and said, "You guys are pretty rough on a couple former Presidents."
"Welcome to the NFL," said the intermediary.
In a season filled with awards ceremonies, last night's dinner at Westchester proved that if you want them to stay for dessert, give the award to a pro. And it helps if he's a good guy.