10 Things you missed last week: Louis Oosthuizen wins in South Africa, Harman and Kizzire claim QBE Shootout, Cody Blick earns Web.Com Tour status despite stolen clubs, Zach Johnson splits with caddie of 15 years, Ian Poulter pokes fun at USA Ryder Cup squad, boy gets Claret Jug surprise, Bubba Watson wants VC role at Presidents Cup and Tiger Woods might just have an energy drink in the works
1. WEB.com Tour Qualifying: Pro gets clubs stolen, still makes earns status
On Sunday morning, Cody Blick had just started to make his breakfast when he discovered his clubs had been stolen. The big problem? He needed them to compete in the final day of Web.Com Tour qualifying, and was in need of shooting a low number.
After putting out an instagram post offering a $5,000 reward to anyone who could get his clubs back to him (no questions asked) that went unanswered, Blick was forced to look for other options.
“Five minutes after I realized my clubs were gone, it was a panic,” Blick told the PGA Tour. “But 30 minutes after, we had to figure something out and get this going.”
He ended up teeing off with a random set of clubs which included the Whirlwind GC course superintendent’s driver, wedges borrowed from the pro shop, a “random” set of irons, and a much heavier putter than he usually uses.
It might not have been the way he envisaged his final round starting, but he admitted using the make-shift set of golf clubs took the pressure off his game as he knew the clubs weren’t going to be as good as his own, calling the wedges ‘a little weird’ and saying the putter “took some getting used to”.
He ended up getting to four-under through nine holes and made five birdies on his back nine, including three in a row on his last three holes to close out a nine-under 63 and move him up 49 places to T25. His finish means Blick is now guaranteed play on the Web.Com Tour, granting him exempt status for the first eight events of the season.
“This is the weirdest week of my life, hands down,” Blick said. “But a great week. It was awesome.”
2. Zach Johnson splits with ‘shocked caddie’ Damon Green
Zach Johnson and Damon Green, who have been one of the longest-running player-caddie relationships on the PGA Tour, are no more, according to a report on thecaddienetwork.com. It’s a split many, including Green, didn’t see coming.
Johnson, who won both the 2007 Masters and 2015 Open Championship with Green on his bag, was the one to call time on the partnership– although he apparently insisted it wasn’t a ‘firing’.
“Zach said, ‘I think we need to take a break. It’s not a ‘firing.’ We’re too good friends for that.’” Green told The Caddie Network on Saturday.
“I just think he didn’t want to say the word ‘fire.’ I was shocked.”
The Johnson-Green pairing dates back to 2003, having totalled 387 starts together, with 79 top-10s, 175 top-25s and only missed the cut in 67 of 387 events.
“He’s probably had a Hall of Fame career and I had a front-row seat to it,” Green said. “It was great to watch.”
3. Patton Kizzire and Brian Harman carded a back-nine 29 on their way to winning the QBE Shootout by one shot
A late eagle from Patton Kizzire helped him and playing partner Brian Harman to victory on Sunday, pushing them one shot clear of Graeme McDowell and Emiliano Grillo, who were then unable to answer with a birdie on the last.
It was an impressive performance from Kizzire and Harman, who combined for a better-ball 61 during the final day of the QBE Shootout – which included nine birdies and an eagle over Tiburón Golf Club.
“We knew we needed at least birdie and eagle was a bonus,” Kizzire said. “He had a great iron shot in there close and freed me up, and I hit a good one, too. We both had looks at it. I putted first and made it. That was huge.”
But it was a partnership that almost wasn’t. Harman wasn’t even originally supposed to be in the event hosted by Greg Norman, having been drafted in by Kizzire as a late replacement for Davis Love III, who pulled out to be with his ailing mother.
It was a call that evidentially worked, but also one that made a lot of sense. Kizzire and Harman have known each other since they were 12 and both live close to one another other in Georgia, spending time together fishing or golfing. There’s also a playful personal rivalry there most of the time, but they put that aside for this week.
“We’re normally trying to get into each other’s heads,” Kizzire said after their final-round better ball 61 at Tiburón Golf Club. “And this week he was nice to me, which was kind of weird.”
Harman added: “I was hoping I wasn’t going to throw him for a loop.”
4. Louis Oosthuizen gets ‘special win’ at South African Open
Louis Oosthuizen got off to a nervy start during the final round on the Firethorn Course at Randpark Golf Club, but recovered in style as he eased to a six-shot victory over Romain Langasque at his home Open.
Oosthuizen had entered the final round with a three shot lead but quickly saw that reduce to one when he dropped back-to-back shots on the 2nd and 3rd holes. The South African soon recovered though with birdies on the fourth, sixth, seventh and ninth holes to push back ahead, following it up with a string of pars and a near tap-in eagle on the 14th to increase his lead to six.
He pushed his advantage briefly to seven strokes with a further birdie on the 16th, but handed that shot back immediately on the 17th before a par on the last secured a 67 and his first win at the South African Open at 18-under-par.
For Oosthuizen, who was teeing up in this event for the first time since he finished third in 2011, it was an emotional victory.
“I wish the family was here,” said Oosthuizen.
“The crowd was great this whole week. It was nice to do it for them. I knew today was either going to be very special or heartbreaking.”
“We had a tough start today and my caddie just told me, ‘you’re swinging it well, just go for it’. I just got back to basics, to try and hit fairways and greens. I know I’m putting well, I just needed to give myself putting opportunities for birdie.
With his win, Oothuizen has become just the sixth player to win both the South African Open and The Open, joining Bobby Locke, Gary Player, Bob Charles, Ernie Els and Henrik Stenson.
“I know there’s only a few that have won the [British] Open and the SA Open so I’m very chuffed to have my name on this. This feels very special. This is perfect.”
5. Jovan Rebula wins Freddie Tait Cup
Jovan Rebula capped off a stellar 2018 by earning the Freddie Tait Cup, 29 years after his uncle did the same.
The nephew of Ernie Els claimed the Amateur Championship at Royal Aberdeen earlier this year, and finished tied 24th in the SA Open to add the Freddie Tait Cup to his list of growing accolades.
“I dreamt about winning the Freddie Tait Cup since I won my first junior tournament,” said Rebula. “It has taken me three tries to do it, and I really had to grind it out today, but this rates right up there with winning the Amateur Championship. It’s incredibly satisfying to tick another huge box on my bucket list.
“Almost every Major champion and top South African golfers have won the Freddie Tait Cup. Bobby Locke, Trevor Immelman, Charl Schwartzel, Hennie Otto, Branden Grace, Brandon Stone. If winning the SA Open is the ultimate prize for our South African pros, the Freddie Tait is the rite of passage for every South African amateurs.
“My uncle (Ernie Els) won it in 1989 and I am so incredibly proud that I’ve kept the family tradition going and added my name to the past winner’s list.”
Note: The Freddie Tait Cup is awarded to the lowest amateur in the South African Open (who makes the cut) each year. It is dedicated to the Scottish two-time Amateur Champion Freddie Tait, who was the leading amateur at The Open three times and was killed during the Boer War while on duty in South Africa.
6. Langasque, Schwartzel and Wilson secure Open Qualifying Spots.
Romain Langasque, Charl Schwartzel and Oliver Wilson all secured their places in The 148th Open after earning the three qualifying spots at the South African Open hosted by The City of Johannesburg.
Langasque finished runner-up in the tournament to Louis Oosthuizen after recording a final round five-under 66, and will head to The Open next year for the second time. The 23-year-old recent Tour School graduation first qualified to play at St Andrews in 2015 as a result of winning The Amateur Championship at Carnoustie, and will now tee up as a professional for the first time.
Four players finished on ten-under-par in a tie for third place, but it was 2011 Masters winner Charl Schwartzel and England’s Oliver Wilson who took the remaining spots for The Open on account of their higher positions in the Official World Golf Ranking. Schwartzel, playing alongside two-time Open Champion Ernie Els, struggled to a final round 72 but it was still enough to guarantee his 15th start at The Open.
Meanwhile, a four-under-par 67 was enough to see Wilson claim the final qualifying place thanks to six birdies and two bogeys on Sunday, earning his sixth appearance at the next year’s final major.
7. Ian Poulter’s pokes fun at Team USA after getting hold of ‘Beat Europe’ Ryder cup top
Ian Poulter rubbed a little bit of salt in the wound of Team USA after getting hold of one of their infamous ‘Beat Europe’ tops from the Ryder Cup.
The tops had been worn by various American players before they were beaten 17.5 – 10.5 at Le Golf National in September, and hadn’t been spotted since. Until now.
Taking to Instagram, Poulter donned a top and posed the tongue-and-cheek question: ‘Can anyone spot the mistake in this photo… @rydercupteameurope’
He then posted a second picture, this time with the word ‘couldn’t written in marker pen above the Europe sign as he held the Ryder Cup, and captioned it ‘It’s ok I managed to fix the mistake… how does it look now? @rydercupteameurope’
The humorous post solicited a number of responses from members of both Europe and American teams, including Jordan Spieth, Brooks Koepka and Rory McIlroy.
8. Young boy’s Open themed bedroom goes viral… and the R&A responded perfectly
A Scottish women posted a photo of her son Joshua’s Open themed bedroom on Monday, and it was quick to grab the atention of golf twitter as people commended the themed Open-blue wall with decals, signed flags and pictures.
It also grabbed the attention of The Open’s social media accounts, and they decided to go the extra mile to give golf-enthusiast Joshua a suprise by putting the Claret Jug in his room.
9. Bubba wants role in Ryder Cup as VC, not player
Bubba Watson has made his intentions clear to President’s Cup captain Tiger Woods as he stated that he would rather be a Vice-Captain in the 2019 contest as he feels his poor record as a player in past team competitions make him a better off-course motivator than on-course contender.
“I have been bugging Mr. Tiger Woods about being a vice captain for Australia,” Watson said. “I would love the honor of doing that again. The reason why is I feel like I can service. For me personally, I have more enjoyment serving 12 guys than playing.”
It seems that Woods so far isn’t budging as he hopes Watson will be a player next year, but the two-time Masters champion is still keen to put his point across about what role he’d prefer to take on.
“I always bug Tiger,” Watson said. “He says, ‘You need to be playing.’ I said, ‘Look, man, we’ve never won a Ryder Cup with me playing, but we’ve won when I wasn’t playing. So me and you need to be captain and vice captains.’ That’s our joke. I’ve told him, ‘Listen, I’ll do anything to help you if you want me. If you don’t, that’s fine.’”
10. A new Tiger themed energy drink?
Tiger Woods is well-known for his deal with Monster Energy drinks, but it’s a partnership that could provide us with Woods-themed drinks in the near future.
After recently extended a multi-year endorsement deal with Monster Energy, Woods is apparently now in talks about a deal to produce his own drink.
“We just extended the deal with Monster, and so we’re looking at what the next stages are of that relationship,” Agent Mark Steinberg told Golfweek as he confirmed an extension to the deal with finalised a few months ago.
“It’s been an awesome partnership and there’s been talk about potential of a licensed deal with Tiger and Monster. What that looks like and tastes like, we haven’t flushed that out yet, but we’re at least in discussions about it now.”
It’s something that could be finalised as soon as ‘the next few months’, although Steinberg confirmed he wouldn’t do it without ‘heavy involvement’ and control over the idea and product.
“He’s at a stage in his life and career where he’s not doing those things without having heavy involvement,” Steinberg said.