Planet Golf — 03 February 2017 by Candace Oehler
Waste Management Wednesday – FORE!!

SCOTTSDALE – Celebrities took over the TPC Scottsdale Stadium Course Wednesday for the Annexus Pro-Am scramble, and it was a day of good fun, bad shots, and some ugly scores.  Celebs included actor Mark Wahlberg (Bubba Watson), 23-time Olympic Gold Medal winner Michael Phelps (Jordan Spieth), Cardinals All-Pro wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (Brooks Koepka) and cornerback teammate Patrick Peterson (Rickie Fowler), country artist Jake Owen (Daniel Berger), San Francisco 49ers QB Christian Ponder (Gary Woodland), and former Diamondback Miguel Montero (Si Woo Kim), who got big love from Cubs and Dbacks fans.

Hall of Famers were well-represented by the GOAT Jerry Rice (Phil Mickelson), Greg Maddux (Kevin Chappell), and Bo Jackson (Ryan Palmer).

Matt Kuchar’s team took home the gold with a 53, and  Patrick Peterson earned bragging rights over his teammate by finishing on the second place team (54).

The real star of the day, however, was Boomer Phelps, the 8-month old son of Michael and wife Nicole.  The good-natured baby tagged along for the round, cooing and giggling every time (many) his dad yelled “Fore!.” He also took some interest in the wood Spieth placed in his chubby little fingers, perhaps already contemplating junior golf. The three or four spectators who were on the receiving end of his a Phelps errant shot melted when they saw Boomer and granted immediate forgiveness to his daddy. A few of the other Pro-Am golfers would have been smart to bring a baby, too.

Press conference notes and quotes

Jon Rahm, ASU grad and winner of last week’s Farmers Insurance Open

          Phoenix: The fact that I have lived here for the last five years, I consider this my home.  The support I get from the fans here is unconditional.  I don’t get support like this even almost when I go back home to Spain.

          Playing the Masters: It still hasn’t really struck, really.  It’s probably not gonna happen until I’m flying there and I’m like, “oh man, I’m actually going to the Masters.”  It’s a big one, but there are a lot of other things I’m so excited I’m going to be able to play.

          Learning to contend: I kind of got a little bit relaxed, both in Congressional and Canada (RBC), right?  I still thought I was in college where we’re kids and we still make mistakes.  I didn’t realize we’re in the big leagues.  We’re on the PGA TOUR, and there are always going to be one or two who won’t make mistakes and not going to make it easy for you, right?

          Grouped with Spieth and Fowler first two days: I’m really excited to be able to tee it off with those guys, they’re world-class players.  They are something I one day hope to be.

          Jose Maria Olazabal: He’s the one who told me to just go get out there and win early. He told me before I left, “I want to see you at the Masters.” So hopefully, if he’s healthy, I will see him there.

Phil Mickelson

          I love playing this event (his 28th Waste Management Open).  It’s just a very well thought-through golf tournament and fun to be part of.

          Longevity in the sport: The swing I have does not put a lot of pressure on my low back and spine and whatnot. All areas of my body kind of move together with the golf swing so it doesn’t focus extra amount of pressure on one area.

          The season: It’s not the start I hoped for, but knowing that I wasn’t going to be 100%, to play the way I have the last couple of weeks, gives me a lot of confidence heading into these few weeks.

Bubba Watson

          The Pro-Am: It was a blast.  16 was packed; I’m pretty sure it was packed to the house.  Everybody was excited.  Who isn’t excited to see Mark Wahlberg (his teammate) show up at a golf course, a big event like this?

          The course: It’s the best shape I have ever seen it.  The greens are running perfect.  I have never seen them this good.  Absolutely amazing.

Jordan Spieth

          Playing the Pro-Am with Phelps: We had a great time.  Awesome time out there.  He’s offered to continue to advise or help or just really any time I want to reach out, which is just incredibly kind to have that opportunity.  It’s humbling for me and I certainly should take advantage of it.

          His swing: It’s not a new/old swing. I’m just trying to create a little more consistency just by getting a little around my body more, with a little more full shoulder turn a d a little more patience in the swing.  That allows me to have better contact.

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Candace Oehler’s deep dive into sports media began several decades ago when she won a trip from Seattle to Mariners spring training in Arizona. Noting that non-English-speaking Latino ball players received little, if any, media coverage, she fluently/en español became a pioneer in Spanish sports media, and eventually became known affectionately throughout the Latino MLB community as “La Veterana.” Candace has written for team publications and MLB.com; hosted her own radio show on several Spanish-language stations; served as producer/reporter/engineer for the Mariners’ inaugural season of Spanish radio broadcasts; and has been a reporter for MLB Network Radio the past 10 years. She was invited to Venezuela by future Hall-of-Fame shortstop Omar Vizquel to cover rebuilding efforts and accomplishments of his charitable foundation following the devastating 1999 mudslides; worked in Puerto Rico for former Major Leaguers Joey Cora and Carlos Baerga managing fundraising events; and was the only female in the raucous locker room when the hometown favorite Licey Tigers won the 2004 Caribbean World Series in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Candace was introduced to the game of golf in 1992 by members of Seattle’s historic Fir State Golf Club, who had approached her to manage their (then) little fundraising tournament hosted by a shy, gangly 15-year old Tiger Woods. Candace co-managed the annual event for nearly 20 years, working with hosts that included Ken Griffey, Sr., Birdie Griffey, Mike Cameron, Nate McMillan, Warren Moon, and Dale Ellis. She became secretary of the club and the Fir State Junior Golf Foundation, and got totally, completely hooked on golf, learning to play on a set of Redbirds given to her by the club (apparently they considered her mother’s Patty Bergs a bit antiquated). She has since traded up to another set of Redbirds and a much more user-friendly golf environment in Arizona. And, once a prolonged stint on the DL is over, she can’t wait to get back on the course and continue lowering her current 21-handicap to ….?

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