February 15, 2019

By Tom LaMarre, The Sports Xchange
Publish Date: January 1, 2018 01:27:27 AM

Golf notebook: Spieth mum on apparent engagement

--Jordan Spieth, the second-ranked player in the world, apparently became engaged to his girlfriend, Annie Verret, over the Christmas holidays.
A picture of the couple that made the rounds on social media on Christmas Eve showed Verret wearing a ring with a large stone on the ring finger of her left hand.
"A lot of young girls hearts breaking all over the world tonight. Congrats golden child," fellow golfer Colt Knost said in a Twitter post.
Added Golf Central, the Golf Channel's news program: "Congrats to the future Mrs. Annie Verret Spieth on her engagement to the Champion Golfer Of The Year. Not a bad way to spend Christmas Eve."
There was no immediate confirmation from Spieth and Verret, who both are 24 years old, or Jay Danzi, Spieth's agent, who did not respond to a request for comment from Golf.com.
Verret, an event coordinator for The First Tee of Greater Dallas, is a graduate of Texas Tech University. The couple began dating as high school students in Dallas, where she attended Ursuline Academy and he went to Jesuit College Preparatory School.
Spieth, who has kept his relationship with Verret private, is scheduled to play this week in the Sentry Tournament of Champions, a tournament he won in 2016, at Kapalua Resort on Maui in Hawaii.
--Tiger Woods split with swing coach Chris Como and apparently will go it alone in his comeback following a fourth back surgery last year.
Woods made the announcement on Twitter.
"Since my fusion surgery, I have been working hard to relearn my own body and golf swing," wrote Woods, who tied for ninth early last month in the Hero World Challenge that he hosts in the Bahamas.
"I've done this by primarily relying on my feel and previous years of hard work with Chris. For now, I think it's best for me to continue to do this on my own. I'm grateful to Chris Como for his past work, and I have nothing but respect for him."
The Dallas-based Como started working with Woods in 2014.
Woods is expected to play next in the Genesis Open at Riviera Country Club near Los Angeles in mid-February. He will host that event for the first time, and the event will benefit the Tiger Woods Foundation.
"When our professional relationship began, I was asked to help Tiger utilize his own instincts and feel while playing pain-free. I think we've accomplished that and I'm proud of the results," Como said in a statement.
"Tiger is ready to have an incredible next run in his career. I'm eager to watch what will be one of the most exciting sports comebacks of all time. I will continue to be a close friend and resource to him and am extremely excited about Tiger's future, the golf industry and for the fans of golf."
Woods, who turned 42 on Dec. 30, previously worked with Butch Harmon (1996-2003), Hank Haney (2004-10) and Sean Foley (2010-14).
The last of Woods' 79 PGA Tour titles came in the 2013 Bridgestone Invitational, capping a season in which he won five times. The last of his 14 major titles came in the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines.
--While Ernie Els will be at Augusta National on the first week of April, he only hopes to be playing in the Masters.
The 48-year-old South African received a special invitation to attend the first major of the year from the Green Jackets at Augusta and posted this Twitter message on Christmas Eve: "Thank you for a Great Xmas present! @TheMasters Can't wait!"
Several news outlets read the message and reported that the man they call "The Big Easy" received a special exemption to play in the Masters. Els' management team erroneously confirmed to Golfweek that Els was granted an invitation to play.
Els had to post another Tweet clarifying that what he received was only an invitation often granted to former major champions to be on hand that week for the dinners and other festivities throughout tournament week.
"Wanted to clarify my excitement getting an invite from @TheMasters. Work continues to qualify to compete!" Els, a four-time major champion, wrote two days later.
Els' five-year Masters exemption for winning the 2012 Open Championship at Royal Birkdale ended last year. His best Masters results among five top-10 finishes were ties for second in 2000 (behind Vijay Singh) and 2004 (behind Phil Mickelson).
So Els still must play well enough early this year to qualify for the Masters, unless Augusta officials decide to give him an actual exemption.
The Masters has not granted a Special Exemption since 2013, when rising star Ryo Ishikawa of Japan received one.
Based on that, perhaps Masters officials should reconsider, considering Els' contributions to the game, which include 71 victories around the world.
--Anthony Chung of Alhambra, Calif., made two holes-in-one during the Southern California Golf Association Junior Golf Foundation's Fall League Tournament at Don Knabe Golf Course in Norwalk, Calif.
The 8-year-old aced the third hole from 75 yards and holed his tee shot from 100 yards at No. 6 in the par-3, nine-hole event.
"That was my first hole-in-one ever on any course," said Chung, who plays out of Los Amigos Golf Course in Downey, Calif. "My friend Connor told me it'd be awesome if I made another hole-in-one. It must be a record-breaker."
Chung posted a score of 28 and tied for second in the Grammar School Division behind Dylan Brack, who finished at 24. Jose Luis Chavez and Connor Kozumi tied for second with Chung.
--Nathaniel Crosby was selected captain of the United States team for the 2019 Walker Cup Match against Great Britain and Ireland at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England.
The 56-year-old Crosby, of Jupiter, Fla., is the son of legendary entertainer Bing Crosby.
"I am thrilled and overwhelmed to be chosen captain of the next USA Walker Cup team," said Crosby, the 1981 U.S. Amateur champion who is a native of Hillsborough, Calif. "It will again be a privilege to be a part of the Walker Cup competition that I was so fortunate to be a part of back in 1983.
"My experiences with the USGA, the Walker Cup Match and the World Amateur Team Championship have proved to be the most memorable weeks of my life, as I am sure it will be for the members of the 2019 Team. Many of my closest friends are former captains who will hopefully take the time to share their approaches in an effort to help me with my new responsibilities."
Crosby was a member of victorious U.S. teams in the 1983 Walker Cup and the 1982 World Amateur Team Championship.
He also is the godson is World Golf Hall of Fame member Jack Burke Jr., who won the 1956 Masters and PGA Championship in addition to serving as captain of two USA Ryder Cup teams.
"Nathaniel Crosby has proven experience as an amateur player at the highest levels in both individual and team competition, and this will lend itself well to providing leadership for the USA Walker Cup Team in 2019," said Stuart Francis, USGA championship committee chairman.
"His father earned the USGA's highest honor, the Bob Jones Award, and I know Nathaniel possesses similar traits, including sportsmanship, patriotism and a competitive spirit, that will assist him as captain."
The 47th edition of the Walker Cup will be played on Sept. 7-8, 2019, at Royal Liverpool, which hosted the 1983 Walker Cup Match won by the United States, 13 1/2-10 1/2.
The U.S. defeated Great Britain and Ireland, 19-7, in the 2017 Walker Cup Match on the North Course at Los Angeles Country Club and holds a 36-9 margin in the matches, which are held every two years.
--The Los Angeles Country Club made a historic donation of $250,000 to the Southern California Golf Association's Junior Foundation.
It one of the largest donations in SCGA history and the largest gift from a member club.
"This extremely generous donation promises to help dramatically expand access to youth golf programs across Southern California," said Kevin Gigax, SCGA Junior's executive director.
"These funds will make a tremendous, long-lasting impact on our operations and our ability to bring golf, education and life skills to young people who would otherwise not have those opportunities."
LACC generated the funds by hosting the 2017 Walker Cup.
Gigax said funds from the gift will be used as a three-year investment to improve and expand junior golf instruction and decision-making curriculum. The donation will be used to provide instructors, golf equipment, access and uniforms for youth development training programs.
The SCGA was founded in 1899 by five member clubs, including the Los Angeles Country Club.
--Stewart Hagestad of Manhasset, N.Y., earned AmateurGolf.com's 2017 Mid-Amateur Player of the Year award, which is based on a point system in major amateur events over the course of the year.
The 26-year-old Hagestad, from Newport Beach, Calif., and USC, actually began his run in September 2016, when he captured the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship in Elverson, Pa.
Hagestad, who also won the 2016 Metropolitan Championship in New York, was 4 down to 2014 champion Scott Harvey with five holes left in the 2016 U.S. Mid-Am but made birdies on five of the next six holes -- including a 14-foot birdie putt to win on the 37th hole.
That earned him a spot in the 2017 Masters in April at Augusta National, where he not only became the first Mid-Amateur champion to make the cut, but also finished as low amateur in a tie for 26th.
Hagestad, who works for a real estate firm in New York City, was awarded the Silver Cup in Butler Cabin, alongside Masters champion Sergio Garcia of Spain, who received the Green Jacket in the live television presentation. Then Hagestad also was honored in the formal awards ceremony on the 18th green.
After tying for 13th in the Irish Open and playing for the Metropolitan Golf Association in the Carey Cup against the Golfing Union of Ireland, Hagestad returned to the United States and qualified for the U.S. Open at Erin Hills, although he missed the cut.
Hagestad also finished fourth in the Coleman Invitational at Seminole Golf Club in Juno Beach, Fla.; tied for 10th in the Metropolitan Open in Deal, N.J.; tied for 10th in the Trans-Mississippi Amateur at Prairie Dunes Country Club in Hutchinson, Kan.; and tied for 21st in the Northeast Amateur at Wannamoisett Country Club in Rumford, R.I.
Those results landed him a spot on the U.S. team for the Walker Cup, and he helped the Americans to a 19-7 victory at Los Angeles Country Club with a 2-and-1 victory over Jack Singh Brar in Sunday singles