Finger fixed for Frys.com Open
University of Arizona golf coach Rick Larose knows how to kiss up to the boss. During his
team's fundraising tournament at Tucson Country Club Friday (Oct. 17, 2008), Larose put
UA Athletic Director Jim Livengood and USA Olympic softball coach Mike Candrea on the
same 3-person scramble team with one of his former players, PGA Tour pro Ted Purdy.
Must be nice to have a Tour golfer on your squad. They shot 15 under par to win the gross
portion of the tournament, the first time Livengood has ever taken a trophy home from the
Purdy found some inspiration in beating up on the field of amateurs as he gets ready for
this week's Frys.com Open in Scottsdale. He has been struggling through one of his worst
years on tour after injuring his left index finger in a freak kitchen accident. In May, Purdy
was popping the pit out of an avocado with a "miracle" knife that he'd just purchased from
a late-night infomercial. The sharp blade poked through the fruit and deep into his left
index finger, slicing tendons in that all-important golfing appendage.
All summer, the digit has been swollen to bratwurst size, forcing Purdy to switch from an
overlapping to an interlocking grip. He lost feel and confidence in his swing. Bad golf and
missed cuts, no pun intended, ensued. He weighed getting the finger surgically fixed, but
decided to tough out the Tour's Fall Series and a probable Q-School run.
When Purdy didn't get into Las Vegas's Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children
Open last week, he got a second opinion on the finger. A simple cortisone shot has the
digit shrunk back to size and in wonderful working order. "My finger feels great; I can finally
hit the ball," Purdy said Friday. "All year, I've been having to take enough ibuprofen so I
could kind of make the finger bend around the grip. Now I'm kind of frustrated that I didn't
get the cortisone shot earlier."
If there were a Parrothead Golf Association, Ted Purdy
would probably be on the board of directors, considering
he lists Jimmy Buffett as a hero in his PGA profile.
Being a fan of Buffett is something Ted has in common with a
lot of people on the planet, but there’s something else about
the Scottsdale resident and up-and-coming star that only a
handful of people can relate to. He has beaten Tiger Woods
in golf. Not in a video game, but on a real golf course.
“I beat Tiger, I think four times out of 4000, but I have beaten
Tiger,” Ted told POST. Purdy actually grew up playing
against Woods in junior tournaments around the country,
has competed against him in college when Tiger was at
Stanford and Ted was at the University of Arizona, and of
course on the PGA Tour, so 4000 rounds against the world’s
greatest player might not be much of an exaggeration.
Ted grew up in Moon Valley, Arizona, and if you’re looking for
an early sign that a future as a pro golfer might be on the
horizon, consider this — the school bus used to pick
him up and drop him off at the driving range. “I would hand
my clubs to the range attendant, go to school, then come
back and hit more balls.” The practice most definitely paid
off, as Ted is into his 12th year as a professional golfer, with
stops on the Asian, Nationwide and PGA tours.
In 2005, Ted earned his first PGA tour win with a one-shot
victory at the Byron Nelson Championship. With that win under
his belt, Ted was invited to play the Masters at Augusta
National for the very first time. “My first year I played it, I hated it.
I thought it was the worst course I had ever played. It was long,
it was hard, it was hilly. I thought it was terrible.” A year later,
Ted found the legendary track to be more to his liking, and
obviously would someday like to add an odd-looking green
blazer to his wardrobe. “I played it in 2006, now it’s my favorite
tournament. I have to find a way to beat that sucker.”
Off the course, Ted does even more good things than he does
on it. He stays busy when he isn’t traveling to the next PGA
stop by helping underprivileged youth in the Phoenix area
through his foundation, The Ted Purdy Foundation, which
works closely with A Stepping Stone Foundation to help
children prepare for the elementary school experience. Each
year, Ted finances an impressive and star-studded charitable
golf tournament, with 100 percent of all proceeds going to
support A Stepping Stone Foundation. “I look at this as an
opportunity to give back to the community, and I’m thankful
to have that.”
Purdy Darn Impressive
His involvement has made an unbelievable difference. The
tournament had never raised more than $5,000 before Ted and
his wife Arlene got involved, and to give you an example of power
of Ted’s rolodex, and his ability to get his friends involved, the
event in November of 2006 raised over $100,000.
It’s understandable that Ted’s favorite week on the tour is the
FBR Open at The TPC of Scottsdale, and he recently purchased a
skybox on the course for his friends and family to hang out on the
infamous 16th hole.
“It’s so fun. I went to the U of A (University of Arizona), so I get
heckled a lot by the Arizona State guys. I’ll miss a putt and they’ll
yell, ‘If you went to ASU, you would have made that!’”
There are a lot of PGA players that, dare we say, don’t deal with the
good-natured heckling very well, but the laid-back Purdy is one of the
easiest-going, most personable players on the PGA Tour. He knows
how lucky he is to be making a very good living playing a game that
he has loved his entire life.
“The game of golf really brings out your personality, good or bad.”
Ted Purdy is one of hundreds of professional athletes who call the
Valley home. But you’d be hard-pressed to find one as personable
and adamant about making a difference in the community as he is.
Oh, and there is that other thing that separates him from just about
everyone else who’s laced up a pair of golf shoes.
He has beaten Tiger Woods.
Photos by Scott Halleran/Getty Images North America
Ted Purdy plays the back 9 of the TPC Scottsdale during the FBR
Open in February 2008.
Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Ted Purdy hits a tee shot at the
Puerto Rico Open presented by
Banco Popular at Coco Beach Golf
& Country Club in Rio Grande,
GASP! Purdy survives Q-School
Ted Purdy gutted out the final day of the PGA Tour Qualifying
Tournament Dec. 3-8, emerging from the grueling 6-day
event with his 2009 Tour Card.
Purdy played solidly all week in La Quinta, Calif., shooting
68-67-74-65-71-68, but was agonizingly close to falling out
of the Top 20 until the 108th and final hole.
Golf Channel cameras swarmed in to watch the carnage.
"I knew where I stood when Gaga (Paul Goydos) arrived on
scene," Purdy would say later. "If they're covering you on the
last day of Q-School, you're on the bubble."
After his drive split the fairway on his last hole, Purdy slightly
yanked his second shot into a deep bunker at the back of
the green. This was going to be dicey. He was looking at a
50-yard sand shot to a lightning fast green that moved away
from him. A lake loomed behind the flag for good measure.
Bobby Conlin's keen reads helped Ted make it through Q-School.
After six or seven truncated, maybe nervous, practice swings, Purdy
blasted a beautiful high-arching shot out of the trap. The ball
checked, then hurtled down the glassy incline toward the pin. It
looked like it had a chance to go in, but missed and picked up speed.
Now it was gut-check time. He faced a 10-foot uphiller to secure a tie
for 18th and his playing privileges on the 2009 PGA Tour. He stood
far away from the important putt while the other players putted out.
Ted stroked the putt. It rolled toward the hole, a little too poky for
comfort. It didn't seem to have enough gas to make it to the cup. On
its last revolution, the ball tumbled in --- probably propelled by all of
Ted's friends and family gasping in front of their TV's.
"To think that 19-under nearly didn't make it is crazy," Ted said after
the round. "This is dome golf out here, but those numbers are nuts."
Ted's first tournament will be the Sony Open in Hawaii. Then he will
try to make it into all the fields on the West Coast Swing.
He was loosey-goosey Saturday, hitting a full sand wedge nine inches
from the cup on the raucous 16th hole, and then delighting fans by
waving a huge Arizona Cardinals flag on the way to the green for his
"Who knows, I might do it again (Sunday)," he said. "It got me loose, and
that's the point. It's just a golf tournament. It's not that big of a deal. As
long as I have that attitude, I think I'll be fine."
"It's important for me to play well here because of my fans, friends and
family," he said.
He played well in two late season events in October, then regained his
Tour card in December by dropping a 12-foot putt on the final hole of the
final stage of the Tour qualifying school, tying for 18th. His exempt status
should gain him entrance to 28-30 events this year.
"When I make that putt to win the FBR Open, it won't be the biggest putt
I've ever made," Purdy said. "It'll be the one I made in December,
because without that putt, I wouldn't be here (today)."
Ted Purdy sports an
Anquan Boldin jersey on
the 16th hole Sunday.
Ted Purdy, of Phoenix, tips his hat
after a birde putt on the 18th hole
during the second round of the
Texas Open in San Antonio, Friday,
May 15, 2009. From USA Today.
Rick Guy, The Clarion Ledger
PGA Tour pro Ted Purdy of Phoenix tees off on the first hole Wednesday during the Pro-Am play at
Viking Classic Golf Tournament at Annandale Golf Club in Madison, Miss., Oct. 28, 2009.
3 aces, double-eagle at Frys.com Open
By Todd Kelly
Oct. 24, 2009
Ted Purdy, a Valley resident and former UA standout golfer, made a hole-in-one Saturday on the
par 3 16th hole at the Frys.com Open. For his efforts, he also won a blue Mercedes-Benz E350
sedan. What he really did was start a firestorm of amazing shots. Within moments, Nicholas
Thompson recorded a double-eagle on the par 5 11th hole, holing a 3-wood 261 yards away. It
was the fourth double-eagle on the PGA Tour this season. Two holes later, Thompson, born on
Christmas Day, struck again. On the par 3 13th, he made a hole in one with a seven-iron, the
second on of the day at Grayhawk. He went from six-under to 11-under in roughly 30 minutes.
Not to be outdone, Chad Campbell his a six-iron to the 16th green and he, too, made a hole in
one, the third ace in a wild day of scoring in great conditions during the third round of play.
Campbell, however, made his ace too late to win a Mercedes. Only the first golfer of the day to
make a one on the 16th gets the vehicle.
John A. Lacko / Special to the Kalamazoo Gazette
Patti Huiskamp and Western Michigan University dance
student Tajh Stallworth swing dancing to Route 66 won the
WMU Department of Dance "Dancing with the Stars" Oct. 29.
Sarah Welliver/ The Island Packet and Beaufort Gazette
Matt Mason asks for quiet on the course Saturday as
golfers play the 14th hole during the Verizon Heritage.
Ambassador of the 14th Green
By DAVID LAUDERDALE
Published Sunday, April 18, 2010
As an ambassador, Matthew Mason knows the ropes.
He'll meticulously tend the yellow ropes by the 14th green today during the final round of the 42nd
Verizon Heritage golf tournament. He knows just when to pull them taut to hold back meandering fans.
He clears the way so the PGA Tour players and caddies can march on to the next hole.
What Mason might not know is how many lives he's helped change for the better. He might not know that
few people expect to get such a lift from someone like him, a 40-year-old man with Down syndrome.
Mary and Dick Mason of Hilton Head Island will be by their youngest child's side today. It's one more step
in a journey of struggle, joy, excitement and sorrow. That's how it's described in a new book Mary Mason
has written about her son to give hope to others, and let them know joy is found in unexpected places.
At age 40, with two teenage children and a third-grader, Mary Mason felt like she had the world by the tail.
Everything changed with the unexpected words: "You are pregnant."
Matthew was born a month early, and health problems were there from the start. When Down syndrome
was diagnosed, she scrounged for information in the hardback Encyclopedia Britannicaand Parents
magazine. Nothing prepared her for the challenges ahead, but she looks back on it this way:
"My husband, Dick, and I have been blessed to be Matthew's parents, knowing that God chose us to be
so honored." She now sees God's plan throughout Matthew's life.
Matthew always has been an outgoing handful, always willing to lead the band and shake the hand of
His mother writes that he's been a "fundraiser, newspaper carrier, Boy Scout, Special Olympics
champion, golfer, traveler, swimmer, fisherman, biker, guitar player, piano player, drummer, dancer,
horse groomer, maker of cotton candy and latch hook rugs, bowler, skier, ski boat driver, tennis player,
gardener, preacher and scribe who uses computers and plans menus and schedules of any kind."
For the past six springs, Matthew Mason has been one of 1,500 volunteers at the Heritage, working
alongside his father, donning his straw hat and taking his assignment seriously. He throws himself into
it with his usual exuberance. That's why his mother's book is called, "The Ambassador of the 14th Hole:
The Inspiring Story of Matthew Jarrett Mason."
Matthew always had a relationship with the golfers. Davis Love III was the first to speak to him.
But he did the unthinkable one Sunday afternoon at the par-3 hole he guards. In 2004, golfer Ted Purdy
came off the slick 14th green clinging to a one-stroke lead in what he called the biggest tournament of
his life. He hit it long off the tee, then scrambled to curl in a 10-foot putt for par. The crowd erupted.
"Matt Mason, who was working as a marshal at the 14th green, gave me a big 'thumbs up!' " Purdy wrote
later to the Masons. His letter is included in the new book. "I smiled back and tossed him the golf ball.
He grabbed it, clutched it for a moment and then sprang forward to give me a big bear-hug of thanks. It
Touching players is verboten. Dick Mason saw his years of volunteer work -- now at 26 -- being wiped out
in a moment. But that's not how things worked out.
"I think Matt's hug emboldened me," Purdy wrote. He would place second that day, with Stewart Cink
winning on the fifth hole of a sudden-death playoff.
"I think I won more that day with Matt's genuine gesture of happiness and appreciation than if I had
pulled out the victory," Purdy wrote. "Matt's hug taught me to always look around and appreciate and
thank the people around me. Now, I always make it a point to thank the volunteers at golf tournaments.
It's a small and simple thing to say 'thank you,' but as Matt's awesome reaction taught me, those small,
simple acts of gratitude will stay in people's hearts forever."
Purdy also sent a check for $50,000 to the Benedictine Foundation in Ridgely, Md., where his new friend
attended the Benedictine School for Exceptional Children and now works and lives in a group home with
adult peers. All proceeds from Mary Mason's book will go to the Benedictine Foundation.
Mary Mason says her youngest child changed her faith to something much stronger and more personal.
She has learned from Matthew "all we need to know about life: Live day by day, love the Lord, love
people, and think about other people more than yourself."
Purdy was in the Heritage field this year for the fifth time. During the opening round, he had a grand
reunion with the "ambassador of the 14th hole." When he got back to the clubhouse at even par, he had
a copy of Mary Mason's book in his golf bag.
He told me he still thinks about how Matthew's burst of joy lifted a heavy burden from his shoulders.
"It reminds me that what we're doing is just not that important," Purdy said. "The things that burden us in
life are not all that important. We can make a double-bogey on one hole, but an eagle on the next."
WANT TO READ?
"The Ambassador of the 14th Hole" can be purchased at Burke's Main Street Pharmacy, the Pink House
Gallery, Sea Pines Country Club, Bogey's Coffee Cafe and Palmettoes, or by e-mailing Mary Mason at
firstname.lastname@example.org. All proceeds go to the Benedictine Foundation, www.benschool.org.
Valley native Purdy inches closer to dream
By Tim Tyers
Jan. 31, 2009
Special for The Republic
Ted Purdy admits he has dreamed of winning the FBR (Phoenix) Open
ever since he began taking golf seriously as a youth.
The native Phoenician and former University of Arizona star, who is
playing this week on a sponsor's exemption, gave himself a chance to
accomplish that goal on Saturday, firing a 6-under 65 to move into a tie
for sixth at 9-under, three strokes behind leader Kenny Perry entering
Sunday's final round at TPC Scottsdale.
"I'd be lying if I said I didn't dream as a kid of winning this golf
tournament," said Purdy, who won the 1991 state high school
championship while at Phoenix Brophy Prep. "I was asked the other day
what would be my ideal year. I said to win the Phoenix Open and back it
up with a major."
That said, he now faces a Herculean task in the final round: Attaining a
title he dearly wants in front of his fans, friends and family, while clearing
his mind and convincing himself that it's just another golf tournament.
Photo by Kenny Kemp, 7/29/10
Andie Purdy, 4, bites into an ear of corn she picked at The Greenbrier's newly
established farm. Ted Purdy, her father, is competing in The Greenbrier Classic, but
took a break for a family outing to the farm. The Purdys live in Phoenix, Ariz.
of the 14th Hole"
can be purchased
by e-mailing Mary
"I can't see any of Ted's drives out there," he says.
What about the compliment on 7?
"I was just repeating what everyone else said."
Purdy would have laughed if he'd heard it. He regards Schechterle
with the same gallows humor his friends use. Before he retired
from the force, Schechterle's fellow officers put a Mr. Potato Head
on his desk. The nose and ears were missing. The victim of the
prank thought it hilarious.
Kids are different, though. Schechterle says it doesn't bother him
when a kindergartner stares. But when a 5-year-old runs over to
play with an air hose while we're talking Friday, Schechterle
suddenly leans forward, out of the light, his tone hushed.
Kids are hard. "Because of my appearance," he says, softly. He's
felt uncomfortable speaking at school assemblies since a boy
raised his hand and said Schechterle was going to give him
He didn't know what to say then. But he's working on it. He talks to
groups three or four times a month. He'd like to do more. Not
because he's good at it, or because he likes the travel. He
considers it an obligation. Twenty-eight officers have died from
Crown Vic fires like his. He considers himself lucky. Blessed.
Of all that has changed over the last 10 years, that much hasn't.
"Even though it would have been easy to die," he says, "I never
wished for it. I was always thankful."
He will watch his daughter graduate from high school next spring,
play catch with his boys, hold his wife.
He still loves, still hopes, still dreams.
"One under going into the weekend," he says. "I think we've got a
pretty good chance.
"I think he'll get some good vibes, you know?"
So should we all.
SI GOLF+ PGA Tour Confidential:
The state of the Tour; Tiger; favorite Tour stops and more
SI GOLF+ convened a fivesome of veteran PGA
Tour players — Ben Crane, Steve Flesch, J.J.
Henry, Davis Love III and Ted Purdy — plus SI
senior writer Gary Van Sickle to answer those
and other questions
State of The Tour
Van Sickle: The PGA Tour has turned up some
new sponsors in a tough economy. Should we
be optimistic or pessimistic about the Tour's
Flesch: It's more than just the PGA Tour. In the
grand scheme of things commissioner Tim
Finchem has done well to maintain 95
sponsors—45 on the PGA Tour and 25 or so
each on the Champions and Nationwide tours.
That's pretty darn good.
Crane: Considering the economy, I couldn't be
Love: If you looked at the PGA Tour without
looking at the economy, you'd say we're
struggling a bit. Based on the economy, you'd
say we're kicking butt. When you consider all the
car companies and financial institutions that had
bankruptcies and were tournament sponsors, to
fill in all those blanks and not go backward is a
Henry: It says a lot about our product and the
character of our players that we're fully
sponsored in a down period and have kept
purses up. I'm very optimistic. Especially seeing
the stock market back around 12,000.
Purdy: Before the FedEx Cup it took about
$600,000 [in earnings] to keep your Tour card.
The first year of the FedEx Cup it took $875,000.
Even though I finished 127th and missed my
card by a few thousand dollars, I thought
Finchem was brilliant. Then we had this down
economy, and the 125th spot went back to
$600,000. So I'm still optimistic, but we are
losing playing opportunities for the Tour's lower
third of the players—and that's my category now.
Flesch: Am I concerned about playing
opportunities? Absolutely. A case in point was
the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. We cut
24 spots from the field supposedly to improve
the pace of play. Well, the pace of play still stunk.
Was cutting a round from six hours to 5:45 worth
getting rid of 24 pros?
Love: We're not trying to cut playing
opportunities, but there are no businesses in
this country where the people at the bottom
aren't struggling. The guys at the bottom of the
money list can say it's not fair. Golf's not fair,
business isn't fair, and life isn't fair. I'm sure
things will get better over the next few years. We
have a great product.
Flesch: Life on the Tour is better than a lot of
people think. The West Coast swing was saved
this year pretty much because Phil Mickelson
played almost every week. He adds the flair and
excitement we need. With all due respect to Mark
Wilson and D.A. Points and some of the other
winners, they aren't moving the needle yet. We're
lucky our TV numbers are up. Tiger and Phil
playing in San Diego was a ratings home run,
and there has been plenty of good drama in our
events. I think the next TV packages will work out
Purdy: I'm grateful that Finchem is doing the next
TV negotiation because he's been there. I don't
think we want a new guy in there at this juncture.
Van Sickle: Finchem is pretty much batting
Purdy: Absolutely. He's the Albert Pujols of TV
Van Sickle: Tiger Woods put golf on the front
page and helped quadruple the size of purses,
but when he's not playing interest wanes. Has
Tiger proved to be a double-edged sword?
Crane: We've been dealing with not having Tiger
at every tournament for 12 years. He's the best
the game has ever seen, the most recognizable
sportsman in the world. Sure, everybody wants
him to play. We have more to offer with him. I'd
certainly rather watch a tournament with Tiger
than one without him.
Henry: Me, too. The better Tiger does, the better
it is for guys like me.
Purdy: The energy is simply different at Tiger
events. Obviously, everything Finchem
negotiated relied heavily on Tiger's exposure on
Henry: The new demographic that Tiger brought
in was big. Golf was cool when I was in high
school, but not this cool. Now some of the best
athletes go into golf, maybe because the world's
most recognizable figure plays our sport.
Van Sickle: Did the Tour get too dependent on
Love: You couldn't avoid it, just like there was no
way to avoid Michael Jordan becoming the focus
of the NBA. He was just that good. You have to
promote him. Our problem is that the rest of the
world got this perception that golf is Tiger
Woods, but it's not. He has to have a field to beat
and a platform to play. The PGA Tour is a great
platform. It was a few sponsors who got hung up
on, "Well, he's not here."
Purdy: Tiger's positives far outweigh the
negatives. I wouldn't put it on him as the reason
it's harder to find corporate sponsors. There are
only so many FORTUNE 500 companies willing
and able to sponsor golf.
Love: Tiger bumps the TV ratings, sure, but we
have Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els and Camilo
Villegas and other great players to watch. You
know, there will be a time when Davis Love and
Fred Couples and Tiger Woods won't be
playing, and there will be new stars. It has
always happened that way.
Flesch: I agree. Our Tour will create new stars. It
already has. I walk through the locker room, and
I don't know half of these young kids.
Van Sickle: Jhonattan Vegas proved you can
create a new star in two weeks. Still, does the
Tour need Tiger to perform well this year?
Henry: I think it's important that Tiger comes
back and wins. Life is about second chances.
People still want to see him play golf. So do I.
Flesch: There are probably some players who
enjoy watching Tiger flounder—not that they'd
admit it. I think they're amazed by his fall from
grace and by what he has done to his swing in
the last four years compared with where it was
Love: Look, if you like golf, you can't watch only
one guy, whether it's Greg Norman or Fred or
David Duval or Tiger. Because eventually, that
guy is going to go away. Michael Jordan did.
Someday, so will Tiger Woods.
My Favorite Tournament
Van Sickle: What's your favorite regular Tour
stop, the one you never miss if you can help it?
Henry: Actually, I have two. I grew up in
Connecticut, so Hartford is big for me. Hartford
was the Phoenix Open before the Phoenix
Open. I played that event in college, and there
were 120,000 fans. It was amazing. When I
went to Texas Christian, I lived in an apartment
that looked right down Colonial Country Club's
18th fairway, so Colonial is a special place for
me. Plus, now I live in Fort Worth [Texas].
Purdy: Phoenix has grown way beyond what
Hartford once was. There's not a golf event in
the world like Phoenix, with the crowds and the
atmosphere and the excitement.
Van Sickle: Phoenix has the world's loudest
hole—the par-3 16th on Saturday.
Purdy: When the Cardinals were in the Super
Bowl [in 2009], I hit a shot there to half an inch. I
grabbed a Cardinals flag and waved it all the
way to the green. The fans went crazy. I was
playing late on Saturday, so it was amazingly
loud. I only wish the shot had gone in.
Love: I would never miss Hilton Head, and I'm
not saying that because I've won there. Hilton
Head is a lot like home to me, and it's the week
after the Masters, a relaxed atmosphere, and
my family always enjoys it. This will be my 26th
Van Sickle: Winning a tournament five times
doesn't hurt your attitude either.
Love: I suppose not. But even if I hadn't won,
Harbour Town would be one of my favorite
spots. It's a great week and a great course.
Flesch: I have to go with Hilton Head too. Maybe
it's the Low Country atmosphere, maybe it's
because it's usually the week after the Masters,
but there is a lack of urgency that lets you
unwind. Unless you're in the final group on
Sunday, Hilton Head is very relaxing.
Crane: I answer this question the same way
every time—my favorite event is the one I'm
playing that week.
Van Sickle: You may have a future in politics, sir.
Van Sickle: You're PGA Tour commissioner for
a day. What do you change?
Crane: Not a thing. Just keep doing what we're
Henry: The Super Bowl moves around every
year. Why can't the FedEx Cup playoffs move
around? Why couldn't, say, Hartford and the
BMW Championship switch spots on the
Van Sickle: That's pretty radical.
Henry: Well, a lot of sponsors and communities
have supported the Tour for years. Let everyone
have a chance to host a playoff event, not just
the same cities every year.
Love: I'd make the Nationwide tour bigger,
make it the way to get to the regular Tour
instead of qualifying school. I'd take some of the
PGA Tour's weaker events and make them
major Nationwide events. That would
strengthen the other tour and shorten our
Flesch: Yeah, I've heard talk that Q school might
become the way you get on the Nationwide, and
that a separate qualifier would be held for
players who lost their cards and for Nationwide
players to move up to the PGA Tour. So the only
road to the PGA Tour would go through the
Purdy: I'd increase the fields at all the big-dollar
events. The bigger, the better. Our best event is
the Players, with 144 players and a $9.5 million
purse. They got it right with that one. Everybody
says the Players has the strongest field of the
year. Why limit the fields at the World Golf
Championships to 60 or 70 players? Someone
like Sergio García, who can get hot and win at
any time, may miss them because he dropped
out of the top 50 in the World Ranking.
Flesch: I totally agree. The WGC fields should
be bigger—at least 120 players. And I'd add a
cut so they're not freebies anymore. It's too
easy for guys to shoot six or eight over par for
72 holes and still pick up their $50,000.
These events skew the money lists and the
rankings for the top players. They make it way
too easy to maintain a top 50 ranking without
playing all that well.
Van Sickle: If you add a cut, some top
international players might quit coming.
Flesch: Yes, but if you want to stay up in the
ranking, you'd have to play. There are too
many ranking points at stake. Plus, the real
problem is that the WGC events have helped
make it too easy for players to reach the
minimum number of events. We don't require
our stars to play enough to carry the rest of
the PGA Tour. That's why the Tour is
downsizing, that's why the Fall Series will go
away and why the Tour will downsize even
more. It's going to get harder for the not-so-
big stars to survive.
Van Sickle: The WGC events have
diminished the importance of regular Tour
Flesch: It really hurts when our stars play
abroad. The field at Dubai blew away Pebble
Beach. In this economy you have to bring your
best to the dance, and we don't do that often
enough. That's why Finchem is doing even
better than you think. A lot of tournaments are
putting up purses of $5 million or $6 million
even though they know Tiger isn't coming and
maybe nobody else in the top 10 is either.
That's some impressive smoke and mirrors.
Van Sickle: This has been a year of weird
rules violations. How do you feel about TV
viewers reporting potential mistakes?
Henry: I'm not a proponent of fans calling in.
Unlike other sports, we don't have an official
watching every shot by every player. And not
every shot is seen on TV, so some players
are under more scrutiny than others. That isn't
equal. We need to come up with a solution
where a guy isn't disqualified for something
he did wrong two days earlier.
Crane: Right. When a guy commits a penalty
and doesn't know it, it should be a two-shot
penalty, not a disqualification for signing a
wrong score. All it's going to take is to DQ a
leader everybody wants to see win.
Purdy: I wouldn't mind if the Tour had an 800
number. I wish they'd had that for the Heritage
Classic, where Stewart Cink beat me after he
moved sand from behind his ball. You can't
do that except on a green. So many people
called in, the officials in the rules trailer
unplugged the phone. They ignored it.
Van Sickle: If justice is served, it shouldn't
matter who pointed out the violation. Wouldn't
it be worse if a winner got away with a
violation that everyone witnessed?
Purdy: In the NFL and college basketball they
review plays because they happen quickly
and they want to get the ruling right. If the
result of calling in is the correct call, I don't
see how it's a bad thing. The more fan
involvement, the better it is for us.
Flesch: Do we really need to know what
viewers at home think? We don't need some
truck driver calling in because he thought
somebody grounded a club. Let's just put a
rules official in the production truck when the
telecast is on. If any violations happen on TV,
he'll see them. It's pretty simple.
A Rite of Spring
Van Sickle: The public Loves the glamour
and the aura of the Masters. This will be my
30th Masters, and I still look forward to it. How
Crane: The Masters is like Wimbledon. It's
different from all the rest. It's special.
Flesch: It's what every player thinks about
when he wins a tournament—I'm going to the
Masters! The course is unique, it's
spectacular and it has history. You're going to
the same place where Nicklaus, Palmer,
Player, Hogan and so many others did
special things. You can go to the spot where
Nicklaus made a putt in '86. It's never going to
lose its luster.
Purdy: There's something to be said for
tradition. There is not a better tournament to
win. The allure is there. They created it. It's
Henry: If I could pick one tournament to win it
would be the U.S. Open, but the Masters is an
unbelievable experience. I remember
watching on TV in the caddie room at my
home course, the Patterson Club in Fairfield,
Connecticut, when I was about 11, and
Nicklaus made those putts—and the roars!
Love: My favorite thing is being around the
clubhouse and hanging with the game's
legends. It's an amazing atmosphere. It's one
tournament you want to win so you can go
back there every year, whether you're playing
or not. It's an honor to play there.
Henry: I'll always remember driving down
Magnolia Lane the first time.
Love: It's still exciting to pull into Magnolia
Lane, whether it's in February or April. I'd
prefer it to be April, for obvious reasons.
Course to recovery
for Jason Schechterle
By Kevin Sherrington, The Dallas Morning News
IRVING, Texas — When he woke up after three months in a coma, Jason
Schechterle said it helped that he was blind. He couldn't see the damage the fire
Burned him to the bone from the neck up. Burned his hands so thoroughly he lost
Burned him so badly he needed 52 surgeries before he said enough.
One minute he's sitting in his Ford Crown Victoria, a Phoenix cop on the job. The
next, he's swallowed by flames after a taxi rear-ends the cruiser.
Ninety seconds he sat in his own hell before firefighters pulled him out.
Ten years he's spent getting over it.
And here's how he describes his life: "Incredible."
Doctors didn't expect him to walk or talk or see or survive, much less take two
strokes off his handicap. He's carried an Olympic torch and met a president and
fathered his third child. He plays scratch golf and ties his own shoes and
celebrates college football Saturdays in a man cave decorated with a Christmas
present that reads, "If you're smoking in here, you better be on fire."
He would rather laugh than cry, which is hard sometimes. He was at a fundraiser in
Phoenix a couple of weeks ago for his foundation, Beyond the Flames, and was
overcome at seeing the men who rescued him. He was thinking it was an
emotional night. Maybe Ted Purdy was feeling it, too, he figured, or maybe he'd had
a drink too many, because he asked him to caddie at the HP Byron Nelson.
Purdy had known Schechterle since their junior golf days in Arizona. They became
close friends after Schechterle retired from the police force in 2006 and took up golf
at Phoenix's Moon Valley Country Club, Purdy's home course.
Friends or not, Schechterle knew this was business. The 2005 Nelson champ,
Purdy lost his card last year. Hadn't made a cut this year. So Schechterle told his
pal no, thanks.
His wife, Suzie, had a different take.
"You're a fool if you don't do that."
Schechterle called Purdy back and took him up on the offer. Purdy didn't have a lot
to lose. He'd once used a high school golfer as a caddie to break a string of bad
luck. Maybe Schechterle could be a good luck charm, too.
Maybe even an inspiration.
On Thursday, Purdy shot a 68, his best round of the year. He was 4 under until
double-bogeying 18. Friday morning breaks breezy and cool. After a birdie on No. 1,
he bogeys the next three holes.
But on 7, a par-5, Purdy smashes a perfect drive, splitting a pair of bunkers on a
hairpin curve, the ball rolling down a chute into the middle of the fairway.
"Good shot, Ted," Schechterle says.
It would be Purdy's last good hole of the day. As the temperature climbed and the
wind howled, he did well to hold on at 1 under for the tournament. Still, it was good
enough to put him in a tie for 25th. He'd made the weekend.
And so had his caddie. Slumped in a cart outside the bag room, Schechterle could
feel the effects of the workload already. Because of the scars, he doesn't perspire
much. Heat gets to him quicker. Wind, too.
What were once simple chores are now challenges. Can't button a shirt on his
own. Couldn't knot a tie until last month. Before Friday's round, Purdy tied his
caddie's bib for him. Behind the wrap-around sunglasses, Schechterle wears two
sets of contacts. Without them, everything's underwater. Even with them his vision
Jason Schechterle's foundation helps those
who have suffered trauma and are in need of
assistance and hope. See beyondtheflames.com.
An amazing tournament
Posted on June 6, 2011
I spent six days in Irving, Texas, at the HP Byron Nelson caddying for Ted Purdy, who won the same event in 2005. Now, I am an avid golfer and lifelong fan of the
game. I watch the Golf Channel religiously and keep up with all my favorite players. So to be a caddy in a PGA Tour tournament was a once-in-a-lifetime
opportunity and experience. I can tell you, my dreams of what it would be like paled in comparison to the real deal. The week didn’t start off too well. The weather
in the Dallas-Fort Worth area was not good. Traveling there from Phoenix on Monday took 8 hours instead of 2. Then, Tuesday night we were at the Texas
Rangers baseball game when the tornado sirens went off and they had to get everyone underground. Very scary evening and gave me a deeper respect for what
real tornado victims have gone through recently across our great country. My prayers are with all of them, from Joplin, Mo., to Tuscaloosa, Ala., and everywhere in
between. Then on Thursday, the tournament started. We were paired with J. P. Hayes and Duffy Waldorf. It was awesome to walk 18 holes with those guys and
get to know them a little. I owe a lot to both their caddies as well --- the two Tony’s. They taught me so much about how to conduct yourself inside the ropes and
help your player be successful. Purdy made the cut after 2 great rounds of golf on a challenging course with high winds. I was very proud to be with him as he
entered the weekend. For those of you who watched the tournament unfold, you saw the score increasing each day. The wind was very bad and made guessing
how far the ball would travel pretty tough. Ted played well and has so many positives to take away from that week. I can’t wait to see how the rest of his year goes.
The highlight of the week for me was meeting Peggy Nelson, the widow of the great Byron Nelson. She is a beautiful, sincere woman and it truly warmed my
heart to meet her. I would like to thank the members of the Salesmanship Club (The Red Pants) for taking such good care of me. Thank you to all the members
of the media at the tournament. You all were wonderful at sharing my story as a caddie and made some great memories for my family to read. I hope to go back
next year and do it all again. And I must have gotten inspired from those pros, because when I got back and played golf, I shot a 2-under-par 70!
Former Phoenix cop Jason Schechterle, loving life again