Jonathan Smart admitted his hands were shaking as he stood over the four foot putt that was to earn him and Masters champion Danny Willett the US$50,000 first prize in the Alfred Dunhill Links Team Championship at St Andrews.
Willett, who usually has Smart as his caddie in every other week of the golfing year, raised his arms in triumph when the putt dropped and then hugged him, saying later: “Jon rose to the occasion and carried me all week. I invited him to have a taste of what it’s like on my side of things and he’s won his first event. He played some great golf.”
Smart, a six-handicapper from Sheffield’s Hallamshire Golf Club, holed the decisive putt on the Old Course’s 9th green for a birdie three and said: “That’s the best golf I’ve ever played today and Danny is over the moon for me. But I won’t be getting any percentage of the winnings – he’s already done more than enough for me this week by giving me this treat of playing in such a great event as his amateur partner. It’s been an unbelievable experience.”
Willett and Smart started the final day on 26-under-par and shot a 12-under-par round of 60 to clinch the title by one stroke from Polish professional Adrian Meronk and his Swedish amateur partner John Eliasch.
Meronk and Eliasch had started out with a three-shot lead over Willett and Smart but were gradually hauled in by the English pair, who sported matching beige trousers with maroon tops. Playing together in a four-ball, the two teams were tied on 37-under-par when they teed off at their final hole, the 9th. Smart’s birdie blow then decided a titanic struggle.
“It was a real matchplay situation for 18 holes,” added Smart. “Those guys kept coming at us. It has been an amazing week for me and I cannot believe that we’ve won. But I’ve definitely experienced a little of the nerves that Danny has to cope with in every tournament. Now I’ll appreciate what he’s got to go through a little bit more. It’s been a real insight and so enjoyable.
“On that last hole my hands were shaking when I was trying to line the ball up. When you're telling someone what to do, it's a lot simpler than having to do it yourself. It has all been just very surreal. I could not believe how nervous I was coming down those last few holes. And to win an event with Dan, here, has just been unreal.”
Willett, who missed the cut in the individual tournament, added: “It's been great fun. I've obviously not played great golf myself. I showed a few bits every now and again but luckily that's what this format is for us as a team, dovetailing well, which we did.”
Cricket legend Sir Ian Botham, playing with English professional David Horsey, and Fifty Shades of Grey actor Jamie Dornan, who played with individual winner Tyrrell Hatton, were among the three teams who shared fourth place in the team competition.
Tyrrell Hatton showed the world he is going to be the next big name in British golf with an emphatic win in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at St Andrews.
Playing with a maturity and panache that belied his 24 years, Hatton added a 66 on the Old Course to his record-equaling third round 62 for a four-shot victory over England’s Ross Fisher and South Africa’s Richard Sterne.
Hatton said: “It feels amazing. I've wanted this moment since I was a six-year-old. It’s a dream come true and to do it here at the Home of Golf is fantastic. I’m just happy I got over the line.
“It’s been a fantastic week, I had my girlfriend Emily with me and my management team. And to come away with a trophy, just makes it even more special.
“I was pretty nervous going out there, but I'm really happy with how I dealt with that, and my caddie, Chris Rice, was a big influence. He just told me to try and stay patient. He’s done a fantastic job this week and this year.”
It was Hatton’s first win on the European Tour and his score of 23-under-par tied the lowest total in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, achieved by David Howell and Peter Uihlein in 2013. He wins US$800,000 and moves up to fourth in the Race to Dubai. It continues an excellent year for him in which he has had a fifth place in the Open Championship and a tenth place finish in the USPGA.
Hatton now seems likely to go on and become a significant force in British golf, but he refuses to get carried away. He said: “Time will tell. I'll keep trying to do my thing and play as good as I can. One of my goals was to get inside the top 50 in the world. I think I was 53rd coming into this week, and I am looking forward to Monday morning, when the world rankings come out and see what position I am.”
In a near faultless round in calm conditions, Hatton had seven birdies, the only bogey coming at the tricky 17th Road Hole. But by then he was home and dry and none of the chasing pack was able to eat into his lead. Sterne also managed a 66 and Fisher a 67, but there was an inevitability to Hatton’s victory.
Hatton played with actor Jamie Dornan in the Team Championship, finishing four shots behind the winners Danny Willett and Jonathan Smart. He said: “Jamie is a really nice guy. We had a lot of fun out there over the last four days and we did pretty well. Hopefully we can team up again next year.”
The tournament, conceived as a celebration of links golf, is played over three of the world’s best known and respected links courses - the Old Course at St Andrews, the Championship Course at Carnoustie and Kingsbarns Golf Links – and raises substantial sums for charity.
With a prize fund of US$5 million, the championship incorporates two separate competitions - an individual professional tournament for the world's leading golfers and a team event in which the professionals are paired with some of the most celebrated amateur golfers which creates a unique atmosphere.
In June 2011 the Alfred Dunhill Links Foundation was established as the official Foundation of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, formalising years of charitable giving from which a variety of causes have benefitted. Since 2001, playing spots have been donated to more than 50 different charities to help them to raise funds.
The Foundation is committed to developing young amateur golfers in Scotland and South Africa and also supports the University of St Andrews and the St Andrews Pilgrim Foundation, which refurbishes and preserves historical monuments in the town.
Tiger Woods said he hopes to play in the Safeway Open, Oct. 13-16, at Silverado Resort and Spa in Napa, California. Woods also intends to compete in the Turkish Airlines Open, Nov. 3-6, in Antalya, Turkey, and the Tiger Woods Foundation-run Hero World Challenge, Dec. 1-4, at Albany in the Bahamas. He will participate in the Tiger Woods Invitational presented by USLI, Oct. 10-11, on the Monterey Peninsula.
"My rehabilitation is to the point where I'm comfortable making plans, but I still have work to do," Tiger said. "Whether I can play depends on my continued progress and recovery. My hope is to have my game ready to go.
"I'm looking forward to going to California for my foundation event and Safeway. I'm also excited to return to Turkey and Albany. It could be a fun fall. It was difficult missing tournaments that are important to me, but this time I was smart about my recovery and didn't rush it. It was great spending time with my children Sam and Charlie, and also working on a lot of projects including golf-course design, the upcoming 20th anniversary of my foundation and my book about the 1997 Masters. But I missed competing. I want to thank all the fans for their kindness and concern. I've been a pro about 20 years, and their support has never waned."
“Follow the money” is a catchphrase popularized by the 1976 motion picture All The President's Men. In the context of the movie, the phrase was attributed to Deep Throat, the informant who took part in revealing the Watergate Scandal. However, the term has stuck throughout time and is a variation of the old adage, money talks and you know what walks!
While Nike has decided to step away from golf, it remains the anomaly. In a recent Securities and Exchange filing, Fila reported its intention to acquire an additional 20% from exiting investors in the Acushnet Company, owner of Titleist and FootJoy brands. The disclosure was an amendment to the initial public offering that is currently being conducted. Upon completion, Fila’s new position will represent a 53% holding in Acushnet and therefore it becomes a controlled company as defined by the SEC. It’s a safe assumption that Fila is committed to being a long-term investor in the company and would want Acushnet to maintain current strategic direction, thus the reason for adding to its original investment.
Within the filing, Acushnet’s six-month operating results were also disclosed. It reported net sales of $902.9 million, an improvement of 4.6% from 2015. Operating Income was $125.7 million, up 10.3%, while net income came in at $41.4 million, up 54.8% from 2015.
In case you missed it in making an early exit into the Labor Day holiday weekend, Phil Knight was on ESPN’s Mike and Mike show. The co-flounder of Nike Inc was questioned about the decision to exit selling golf equipment and he said this: “It was kind of an easy financial decision [to shut down Nike golf]. It was a really tough emotional decision. It was hard emotionally. It was hard emotionally for Tiger. I spoke to him a couple times. He was upset, and I was upset. It was something we would have rather not have happened, but the financial reality just led us to it.”
Since the news broke, more than a month ago, no one has come forward and made an argument that Nike is making a really bad decision that it might regret one day. In fact, you don’t get to $32 billion in annual sales and net income of nearly $4 billion making a lot of dumb decisions or for that matter hiring a lot of stupid employees. It was purely a financial decision, based on nearly two decades of operations. The first reason for going into business should be to make money. Once that is accomplished it becomes an exercise in attempting to make more. But that doesn’t seem to resonate with very many in golf.
Here’s the really bad news behind Knight’s candid comments. The competition doesn’t seem to be picking up on this. This isn’t intended to imply everyone should pull up stakes and exit golf. However, the harsh reality is that its lack of growth prospects has made it even more challenging to make money not only today but in the future. If you don’t acknowledge there is a problem, its impossible to over come it.
In a Bloomberg article, Callaway Chief Executive Officer Chip Brewer is quoted as saying, “Golf is not going anywhere. It’s never going to be for everybody. But the energy around the sport now I believe will be appealing to millennials, and will continue to grow.” Nike Inc, respectively, believes otherwise. Considering its annual revenue base is 32 times greater than Callaway’s along with its $5.4 billion sitting in cash, its figured out a thing or two over the years. In Callaway’s 2016 second quarter it realized a one-time gain of $17.6 million from the sale of a portion of its investment in TopGolf. In 2015, Callaway’s entire bottom line was $14.6 million. In 2014, it was $16 million. Does that tell you anything? Callaway made its original investment in TopGolf in the fourth quarter of 2006, when it had George Fellows as its Chief Executive Officer. It was never anticipated to deliver a financial windfall let alone surpass net income from continuing operations. It was hoped that it would give the company an inside track into new players entering the game and therefore give it a leg up when it came to future equipment purchases! How’s that been going?
For those keeping score at home, Callaway’s net sales in 2006 were $1.018 billion with net income of $23.3 million. In 2015, revenues were $844 million and a net profit of $14.6 million.