Pressel goes over $1 million again with cancer charity
By DOUG FERGUSON
Midway through the 10th anniversary of the "Morgan and Friends" charity tournament to raise money to fight cancer, Morgan Pressel looked around the room and asked how many people were there for the first event at St. Andrews County Club in her hometown of Boca Raton, Florida.
"Half the room raised their hands," Pressel said Tuesday.
Even more touching was the number of people who still remember her mother, Kathryn Krickstein Pressel, who died 15 years ago of breast cancer.
The event concluded Monday with the Morgan Pressel Foundation raising more than $1 million for the second straight year, bringing the total to more than $6.5 million since Pressel first started the tournament with a determined effort to stop the disease that took her mother.
Among the players who donated their time again were Paula Creamer, Lydia Ko, Gerina Piller, Lexi Thompson and Brittany Lincicome. The newcomers this year were Women's PGA champion Brooke Henderson and Bernhard Langer, the two-time Masters champion who still is beating everyone on the PGA Tour Champions.
Nicole Castrale, a former LPGA Tour player forced into retirement by back injuries, was the guest host.
As much success as the event has had, and as successful as it has been raising money for cancer, Pressel never takes it for granted. One day removed, she was still emotional talking about the support.
"We work so hard all year to put it together just for everybody to have a great time and enjoy it and come together for the community," she said. "Until breast cancer is no more, and still other cancers, I'll keep fighting as long as I can. It's a huge passion project for me to honor my mother and not let breast cancer affect other families."
Pressel, who won the Kraft Nabisco Championship at 18 to become the youngest LPGA major champion at the time, wasn't sure what to expect when she started "Morgan and Friends" and still gets overwhelmed by the amount of money raised. That remains the highlight of the two-day tournament.
"When everyone has come in from golf, and they've had a wonderful day and gotten to meet all the professionals, when they present the check, it's always the most emotional for me," she said. "I lose it every time. In the pictures, my face is always red as a beet. It just astounds me."
HIT OR MISS: Johnson Wagner can't wait to get to Honolulu, where he won the Sony Open five years ago.
He just never knows how long he'll be staying.
In of the more peculiar records, Wagner made the cut his first year at Waialae in 2007 and tied for 34th, won in 2012 and missed the cut every other time. That includes the last four years.
"I've thought about that," Wagner said. "When I play well somewhere, I usually always do well there. Greenbrier, Houston and it's getting that way at John Deere. I don't know. I think it's because this is the first tournament of the year, and I come here a little unsure about my game. And the year I won, we had pretty good weather in Charlotte (North Carolina) and I was playing a lot.
"If this tournament were in May, I think I would have won it a couple of times."
TOMS MOVES ON: With all signs pointing toward Jim Furyk being the next Ryder Cup captain, that would leave former PGA champion David Toms out of the mix.
And that's OK with him.
Toms said he would have wanted a chance to be captain in recent years, but he didn't seem the least bit put off about being passed over.
"It's a big commitment and I have a lot of things going on in life outside the golf scene," Toms said Tuesday. "It would take a lot of time and a lot of dedication away from other things I'm doing."
Toms just turned 50 and makes his PGA Tour Champions debut next week on the Big Island. His son, Carter, is a freshman at LSU and his daughter is about to turn 12.
"I'm not sure that I want to spend the time to be the type of captain that it takes to be successful, and what the PGA of America wants," he said. "I'm not sure when I'm 50 and starting a new career that I would serve myself well."
He seemed content with his other captaincy - he will lead the American youth in the first Junior Presidents Cup this summer.
SPIETH BRACE: Jordan Spieth was photographed wearing a light brace on his left ankle while playing Trinity Forest in Dallas on Dec. 29, and he had the black brace on at Kapalua last week for the SBS Tournament of Champions.
Spieth says it is only preventive.
"When I'm training, or when I first get back to hitting a lot of balls, I've got weird footwork on the side," Spieth said. "And I've been wearing a soft brace to make sure nothing crazy happens."
He tied for third at Kapalua in his first PGA Tour start of the season.
PRACTICE WITH PAMPS: Rod Pampling played his first Masters in 2005 and had a practice round on Tuesday with Tiger Woods and Mark O'Meara. Woods went on to win for his fourth green jacket, and that was the start of several practice rounds at the majors with Woods.
Now that Pampling is eligible for the Masters again with his victory in Las Vegas, he has one question: Why hasn't Woods called?
"He never gives me credit for that," Pampling said with a laugh. "We played at so many majors. Put it this way: He never lost a major when we played a practice round together. He should be calling me, shouldn't he?"
DIVOTS: The Golf Writers Association of America have voted Dustin Johnson (male), Ariya Jutanugarn (female) and Bernhard Langer (senior) as their players of the year. All three also won the awards from their respective tours. They will be honored April 5 at the GWAA annual dinner in Augusta, Georgia. ... Justin Thomas spent most of his time on driving it straighter during his offseason, and it paid off in his victory at Kapalua. That didn't include swinging any less hard. "That's just his game," said his father, Mike Thomas. "I don't think he would do well hitting it 90 percent. He's never played that way." ... Among those who failed to make it through Monday qualifying for the Sony Open was Jim Blair, who played the tour briefly in the 1980s and is the father of Zac Blair, who last year missed the Sony Open playoff by one shot. ... Jordan Spieth is headed to Toyko after the Sony Open where Under Armour will unveil the "Spieth One" golf shoe.
STAT OF THE WEEK: Eighteen players who shot 80 or higher in the first round of the Web.com Tour event in the Bahamas made the cut.
FINAL WORD: "I thought about the Masters straightaway because my mom rang me and said she's going." - Rod Pampling, whose PGA Tour victory in Las Vegas earned him a trip to Augusta National for the first time in 10 years.
Updated January 10, 2017