Latest News

On amateurs, stars, caddies and dieters ... and silent cells

CHIP SHOTS

Harold Varner III of Gastonia was medalist in qualifying for the U.S. Amateur, shooting 69-68 at Oak Valley Golf Club in Advance to earn a spot in the field at Chambers Bay in Washington next month. Also advancing were William Bowman of Greensboro and Matthew Younts of Stokesdale. ...

Robert Karlsson, a longtime star on the European Tour, is moving to Charlotte with his family and will use the city as his base as he plays both the European and PGA Tours next year. He is moving from Monaco.

The native of Sweden is a 10-time winner on the European Tour and is ranked 31st in the latest world golf rankings.

Karlsson said he has bought a house in the Longview neighborhood and his family will be situated by the time school starts in late August.

"I liked the city when I played there for the first time in 2007," Karlsson said. "I thought, 'This is very nice.' It's a bit European with the four different seasons, though the winter is not that long.

"Charlotte works well for the European Tour. I can fly directly into four airports in Europe from there."

Karlsson said he and his wife, Ebba, had considered the move to Charlotte for a while and finalized it this spring. The Karlssons were in Charlotte after he played in the Verizon Heritage at Hilton Head. Because of travel complications caused by the volcanic ash in Iceland, Karlsson and his family couldn't return to Europe.

They decided to go house hunting in Charlotte, found one they liked and the move is underway now. ...

This is a big week for Rick Lewallen, who tees it up in the U.S. Senior Open at Sahalee Country Club near Seattle. The 51-year-old Kannapolis resident is a former Champions Tour caddie - he worked for former Charlottean Terry Mauney, Hubert Green and Andy Bean, among others - with a goal of playing the tour full-time next year.

Lewallen ( www.ricklewallen.com) made the tour qualifying finals last year but didn't earn his card. Working with instructor David Ross at River Run Country Club, Lewallen has made some swing changes and believes they can carry him back to the Champions Tour. He was one of 70 players out of approximately 2,400 who played their way into the Senior Open.

"I've worked really hard at this," Lewallen said. "It's been a two-year journey to get to this point. I have a six-year plan to do it so it's time-sensitive."

Lewallen's experience as a tour caddie has convinced him he can succeed as a player.

"After caddying, I knew there was room out there for me," Lewallen said. "(Caddying) was like getting a master's degree in golf. I already had my four-year degree." ...

When Carl Pettersson won the RBC Canadian Open Sunday, it completed a long journey back for the Raleigh resident.

Pettersson had won three times in four years before his game vanished in 2009, a disappearance that coincided with a diet that caused him to lose 30 pounds. Pettersson gradually regained the weight and, eventually, his confidence.

That's why he was emotional Sunday after beating Dean Wilson by a stroke.

"I had a really poor year last year," Pettersson said in his post-victory press conference. "I've been fairly successful out here. I've had it, I wouldn't say easy. I've worked hard for it.

"I got on the European Tour (after playing at N.C. State), I won there. Got on the U.S. Tour, had three wins really early in my career and finished in the top 30 most years on the money list.

"And last year my game left me. You start questioning yourself if you're good enough to play and am I ever going to win again? I was feeling it coming up the last hole... It was a special, most important win for me coming back after playing so poorly."

OBSERVATIONS

Expect the Quail Hollow Championship to be renamed the Wells Fargo Championship in the near future. That's an indication that the bank likes what it's getting from the event which could bode well for its long-term future.

Speaking of Quail Hollow, only three courses - Pebble Beach, St. Andrews and Augusta National, sites of the first three majors - have higher scoring averages this year than Quail Hollow (72.918).

Here's a switch: Cell phones will be welcome at the Wyndham Championship next month at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro.

Tournament officials, working with PGA Tour approval, will experiment with allowing spectators to bring their phones to the tournament during competition. There will be strict limits: Phones must be kept on "Silent" at all times, they can't be used as cameras Thursday through Sunday, and there will be designated areas where phones may be used to take and place calls.

Cell phones have long been a problem at golf tournaments, and fans aren't typically allowed to bring them onto the course. Depending on how the experiment works at Greensboro, this could become more common or reinforce the idea of keeping phones away from golf tournaments.

"It's different, but it's the right move," tournament director Mark Brazil said. "I'm confident we'll be fine with this. I think the fans will appreciate this enough that they'll be respectful."

Defending champion Ryan Moore doesn't have a problem with it.

"People are going to sneak them in anyway," he said. "If you let people bring them out there, they'll probably respect the fact you did and they'll probably use (the designated) areas."

Moore's right. Fans sneak phones in all the time. But people went to golf tournaments for decades without their phones. I'm not sure this is the right call.

Happy 30th birthday to "Caddyshack."

"And I say, 'Hey, Lama, how about a little something, you know, for the effort, you know. And he says..."

Related stories from Raleigh News & Observer

  Comments