Monday, June 24, 2013

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Child golf prodigy's hopes for a fourth world junior title up in the air after Golf Australia refuses to help

KARL Vilips is a triple golf world junior champion, but his struggling family can't afford flights to defend his title and Golf Australia has refused to help.

The 11-year-old former Dingley boy, who's family has fallen on tough times, has had his funding application to Golf Australia for airfare to the USA rejected.

Dad Paul, who lost his job and home, said Karl won't only miss the chance to defend his title, he'll miss the opportunity to take up a fully-funded scholarship at the Hank Haney International Junior Golf Academy in the US.

Mr Vilips, is on a disability pension and he and Karl are currently in temporary accommodation.

HAVE YOUR SAY: Should Golf Australia tip in for Karl? Do you think the organisation does a good job of nurturing young talent? Have your say below or email

But Golf Australia chief executive Stephen Pitt said the organisation received numerous requests for funding each year and examined them on a "case-by-case basis using a range of criteria".
Karl Vilips

Karl Vilips is every bit the pro, even out of the bunker. Picture: Michael Klein

"With limited funding, not all of these requests are successful," he said.

The devoted dad is upset Golf Australia rejected the funding.

"It really makes it tough for players like Karl to get and stay motivated," Mr Vilips said.

"It made me feel really sad as a parent."

“Here you have the world’s best 11-year-old and they won’t give him anything," he said.

“No kid in the world has ever matched what Karl has done at this particular age.”

“There doesn’t seem to be any latitude for thinking outside the box in that organisation.

“You just feel you’re knocking your head against the wall when you’re dealing with them.”

Golf Australia states on its website that it aims to identify and develop talented golfers 'as early as possible'.

'The overall vision of the Golf Australia High Performance Program is to identify as early as possible Australia’s most talented golfers and give them the best possible opportunities and world-class resources to fully develop their potential on and off the golf course,' it states under the heading 'Golf Australia High Performance Program Vision'.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Phipps atop racing world with Derby winner Orb

There’s a lot of rich history behind Ogden Mills “Dinny” Phipps.

His great-grandfather, Henry Phipps, made his fortune in the iron and steel business with childhood friend and business partner Andrew Carnegie in the late 1800s.

His grandmother, Mrs. Henry Carnegie Phipps, owned Bold Ruler, the sire of 1973 Triple Crown winner Secretariat, the greatest racehorse in history — and a colt the family lost despite winning a coin flip.

His father, Ogden Phipps, ran the family’s racing empire that included nine champions, among them Buckpasser, Easy Goer and the undefeated filly Personal Ensign.

His first cousin is Stuart Janney III, whose parents owned the great filly Ruffian.

But Dinny Phipps and cousin Stuart may have topped ‘em all last week when their 3-year-old colt Orb gave the family its first Kentucky Derby victory.

“It’s terrific, absolutely wonderful,” Phipps said as he gears up for next week’s trip to Baltimore to see if Orb can win the Preakness on May 18 and set up a Triple Crown try in the Belmont Stakes three weeks after that.

“I’ve received hundreds of emails and texts and we are very lucky with what the reaction has been.”

For a change, it’s been almost all positive.

At a time racing is under intense pressure to come up with uniform medication rules and penalties, it’s refreshing that no dark clouds hang over a renowned stable — or its trainer, Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey — known for patience, priorities and playing fair.

“The popularity of Orb’s victory has a lot to do with what the Phipps family has meant to racing — a long tradition of service to the industry,” said Steven Crist, editor and publisher emeritus of Daily Racing Form. “The family has always believed that wealth and privilege also confer responsibility to improve the sport and the welfare of horses.”

Phipps also is chairman of The Jockey Club, a 119-year-old organization dedicated to improving breeding and racing. Recently, it has taken a lead role in calling for racing commissions to come up with “common medication rules” and dole out stiff penalties to cheaters. That sets Phipps up for plenty of criticism.

“I think we can bring people along to get the cheaters out of the game,” Phipps said this week at his Manhattan office at Bessemer Trust, the private wealth-management firm where he’s a board member. “I don’t think there are a lot, but the public perception is there.”

For all the champions the 72-year-old Phipps has bred and raced over the years, perhaps his most important move was not of the equine kind. In 1985, he was looking for a new trainer and pegged McGaughey as his man.

“We had watched him, saw his fillies run and saw his other horses run, and they looked well taken care of,” Phipps said. “He wasn’t sort of a famous name at that time, but he was up-and-coming, young and bright and his horses looked good and he ran a clean stable.”

Owner and trainer became friends. Champion racehorses followed: 1989 Belmont Stakes winner Easy Goer, Personal Ensign, Inside Information, Rhythm and Storm Flag Flying, to name a few. McGaughey has been fishing on Phipps’ boat, played golf with him at Augusta National and has been a dinner guest at his estates in Palm Beach, Fla., and Old Westbury, N.Y.

Winning isn’t the only reason their long friendship has flourished. Phipps allows McGaughey to make all the calls when it comes to racing.

“Everything that I do and any success that I’ve had I attribute to this being my ball game with horses on the racetrack,” McGaughey said. “The Phipps and Janneys don’t question you, they don’t tell you ‘We want to run in this race, how come the 2-year-olds aren’t running in June? They understand. They’re patient with me.”

Says Phipps: “He’s somebody who loves to compete. He gets his horses right, and they look well. I have never gone into his barn and seen something I thought was out of place.”

The Phipps Stable is a breeding business, too, and it’s the backbone of an overall operation totaling about 100 horses, including 20 co-owned with Janney. The stable does not go to sales, like many owners today, to pick out their horses. Instead, they breed their own, and currently have 25 mares at Claiborne Farm in Paris, Ky.

“Our philosophy is that we love our fillies,” Phipps said. “They will all keep producing as long as we treat them well and put the right ones back into stud. We’ve always tried to have trainers that are good filly trainers because to go out in the marketplace today to buy colts and fillies — with a colt you’ve only got 25-30 of them in a crop that do well out of 20,000-25,000. They are not worth much if they are not in that 25-30. Whereas a filly, if she does decently she is in the position to help you for a long time. We believe the broodmare is the most important quality of the race horse.”

Winning the Derby has always been a dream, but never a priority in the Phipps way of thinking.

“Sure, something would have been missing if we didn’t win, but we’ve had such a wonderful career in racing that it really wouldn’t have been something that was glaring missing,” Phipps said. “It does mean a great deal now that we have won it, but we have never tried to force our horses into that race and I just don’t think we need to do that.”

It’s true there have been some great racing moments for Phipps. He called Personal Ensign’s remarkable, final-stride win over Winning Colors in the 1988 Breeders’ Cup Distaff one of the greatest races he’s ever seen. He ranks Orb’s Derby win right up there, too.

Some ended in defeat. There was Easy Goer finishing second to Sunday Silence in the 1989 Derby, a year after Seeking the Gold was beaten a nose by Forty Niner in the Travers.

Perhaps the family’s toughest defeat came after a fateful coin flip in 1969.

Told by his grandmother he could buy a breeding season to Bold Ruler for $5,000, Phipps was all in. At the time, the Chenery family wanted to breed Somethingroyal to Bold Ruler, and a deal was struck. A coin flip would determine who got the newborn foal and who would get the next foal.

Because Phipps was out of town on business at the time the coin flip was to take place, his father made the call.

“It was a three-year deal, so if you got the first choice and went for the foal on the ground (that was Secretariat), then that’s the end of it,” Phipps recalled. “If you got the second choice and the mare happened to be barren you at least had an opportunity to get a foal the third year.

“My father knew what I wanted to do. They flipped the coin and he won. Now it all goes back to our filly philosophy — we wanted a filly — so we were willing to take a shot on the next one.”

Bad call. Yes, the next one was a filly, named The Bride, who ran four times and did not earn a penny.

“The Bride could not outrun me,” Phipps said.

After Orb won the Derby last Saturday, Phipps got around well enough to be in the winner’s circle for the trophy presentation.

“I went pretty good, that day,” he quipped.

A stout man with a round face, he leaned back in his chair and smiled, knowing how lucky he is to be able to move around at all. In 2009, a blood clot was found in his right leg. After surgery, a massive infection developed. At times, he said he was on a respirator and once went into septic shock. His condition was touch-and-go for the four months he was in the hospital.

After he was released, he continued recuperating at home, with return trips to the hospital when needed. For more than two years, he was rarely seen in public.

“I had 27 operations,” he said. “Tubes stuck in you everywhere trying to save you ... I was a sick fellow for a long while. I have today no feeling in my leg. I lost half my foot and I lost the left side of all my quads. It’s taken quite a while to get back and be able to walk with a crutch and get around.”

Four days after winning the Derby, Phipps went back to the hospital for a checkup.

“I have blood going in my foot and I’m a very happy fellow,” he said. “I was very, very lucky.”

Monday, April 29, 2013

New York's Saint Andrew's Golf Club to celebrate 125th anniversary

When the Saint Andrew's Golf Club-the oldest continuously existing golf club in America, founded in 1888-commemorates its 125th Anniversary this June, one of the highlights of the week-long celebration will be a star-studded panel of golf luminaries gazing into a crystal ball to predict the game's future.

On Saturday, June 8, the famed Waldorf Astoria in midtown Manhattan will host the club's Gala Anniversary Dinner Dance. A major part of the evening's program will be a roundtable conversation on the "The Present and Future of Golf," featuring notables from across the golf world.

Hosting the discussion will be Jimmy Roberts of NBC Sports, who also will serve as the evening's Master of Ceremonies. Joining him in focusing on the game will be:
• Billy Casper, Jr., one of golf's most prolific winners, two-time U.S. Open champion, winner of The Masters, and member of the World Golf Hall of Fame
• Ted Bishop, current president of the PGA of America and Director of Golf/General Manager of The Legends Golf Club in Franklin, Indiana
• Michael Breed, 2012 PGA National Teacher of the Year, author, and host of "The Golf Fix" on Golf Channel
• Stina Sternberg, Global Golf Director for Golf Digest

Following the roundtable, the dinner's keynote speech will be given by actor and golf enthusiast John O'Hurley, who has become famous-when not playing golf-by playing J. Peterman on "Seinfeld" as well as performing on Broadway and around the country. Another highlight of the evening will be a special presentation by USGA President Glen Nager, recognizing the association's five founding clubs for their pioneering vision in organizing the game of golf in America.

The New York-based PVH Corp. (NYSE: PVH) and its IZOD brand is the title sponsor for Saint Andrew's week-long anniversary celebration, which will honor the past, present and future of golf, while raising funds for charity. In addition to IZOD, PVH Corp. markets many of the most famous brands in men's wear worldwide, including Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, Van Heusen and ARROW.

IZOD has relationships with world-ranked golf professionals, including 2012 U.S. Open Champion Webb Simpson, PGA Tour Champion Scott Piercy and PGA Tour player Spencer Levin, all of who wear IZOD Golf apparel on the golf course.

"We are extremely pleased to participate in the 125th Anniversary Celebration with The Saint Andrew's Golf Club," said Emanuel Chirico, Chairman and CEO of PVH Corp. "The club's vision to celebrate this unique milestone while raising funds for important charitable causes typifies the character and integrity we so admire within the golf industry."

The gala evening is the culmination of a week of events honoring The Saint Andrew's Golf Club. Highlights of the week include the Folds of Honor Pro-Am Golf Tournament (Tuesday, June 4) to support the families of killed or disabled members of the military; the Celebration of Women's Golf (Wednesday, June 5), marking the history and growth of women's golf in America; and the Celebrity-Am Golf Tournament (Friday, June 7), an invitation-only event at Saint Andrew's Golf Club featuring celebrities from the world of sports and entertainment, paired with amateur golfers.

Continuing its legacy of charitable involvement, Saint Andrew's has designated The First Tee of Metropolitan New York and the Folds Of Honor Foundation as the two key beneficiaries of the celebration, which has already attracted a variety of distinguished supporters and participants, from renowned golf champions and current tour pros to public figures, celebrities and sports legends.

Members of The Saint Andrew's Golf Club are cognizant of their stewardship of the club's place in golf history and the significant role that Saint Andrew's has played in fostering the birth and growth of golf in the United States. "The founders of our club were motivated by a passion for golf, and a desire to organize and grow the game in America," stated George Miller, President of Saint Andrew's. "Our anniversary celebration has been designed to honor that legacy, by giving back to the community around us, and supporting the next 125 years of golf in America."

To inquire about participating in The Saint Andrew's Golf Club 125th Anniversary events, to purchase tickets for the Gala Anniversary Dinner Dance or to make a contribution to The Saint Andrew's Golf Club 125th Anniversary Fund, contact Karen Degnan at (914) 478-3500, or visit

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Gary Player visits Brazil in support of Brasil Classic tournament

The man who put South Africa on the golfing map landed in São Paulo on a mission to do the same for the sport in Brazil.

As part of its sponsorship of this week's Brasil Classic tournament (April 4-7), global golf sponsor HSBC has flown in international golf legend Gary Player to help the country's best young amateur prepare for the event with a 48 hour masterclass in golfing excellence.

As the countdown continues to golf's return to the Olympic Games at Rio 2016, the nine time Major winner gave São Paulo-born Rafael Becker a putting lesson on the roof of the city's tallest building, Centenario Plaza - a perfect birthday present for the former Brazilian No 1 junior who turns 22 today.

Player, a finalist for the 2016 Rio Olympic golf course design bid, hopes to lend the young Brazilian advice from his storied career that includes a record setting 59 en route to his 1974 Brazil Open victory.

Becker - the only local amateur taking part in the US $675,000 Brasil Classic presented by HSBC - will spend two days under the wing of the golf icon as part of a comprehensive masterclass covering everything from mental preparation to diet and fitness plus all aspects of the game from tee to green. The pair will also play a full round together at the tournament's Pro-Am event.

Brasil Classic presented by HSBC is a new event on the Tour, the developmental tour which represents the main opportunity to earn a place on the PGA Tour.

South African Player, who is renowned as the world's most travelled sportsman having clocked up an incredible 25 million km, said: "When I first started to travel the world in the 1950s it was a genuine breakthrough moment for golf in South Africa - now could be the moment for Brazil and if my visit can inspire the next generation of talent that really would be fantastic.

"When HSBC contacted me I was more than happy to answer the call - Rio 2016 is fast approaching and this Brasil Classic event is a great shop window for golf in this part of the world.

"I'm absolutely thrilled that golf will be included in the Olympics once again. The exposure will be a great catalyst for growth and development around the world, especially in new, emerging markets and the growth in Brazil and Latin America will be tremendous.

"The global game of golf is developing at a rapid pace and there's one thing I've learnt in my career - change is the price of survival."

Giles Morgan, HSBC Global Head of Sponsorship & Events, added: "This year marks HSBC's tenth anniversary as a major international sponsor of golf - in that time we have been involved in 30 tournaments and 1,000 golf days and helped thousands of children worldwide get involved in the game of golf.

"As a global banking and financial services organisation, we pride ourselves on opening up a world of opportunities for people and we want to help Brazil maximize the Olympic opportunity - this is why we have sponsored this groundbreaking new event on the Tour and why we have flown one of the best golfer's in history to São Paulo this week.

"We hope Rafael can go on to great things for Brasil and it would be incredible to see him making an impact at Rio 2016 - with a nine time major winner on his side he's got a great chance."

For further information, please contact:
HSBC Golf Press Office
Steve Bradley 07771 776568

About HBSC:
HSBC provides a comprehensive range of financial services to around 89 million customers through four global businesses; Global Retail Banking and Wealth Management, Global Commercial Banking, Global Banking and Markets and Global Private Banking.

The HSBC Group
HSBC Holdings plc, the parent company of the HSBC Group, is headquartered in London. The Group serves customers worldwide from around 6,900 offices in over 80 countries and territories in Europe, the Asia-Pacific region, North and Latin America, and the Middle East and North Africa. With assets of US$2,721bn at 30 September 2012, the HSBC Group is one of the world's largest banking and financial services organisations.

HSBC Golf Sponsorships
HSBC's global commitment to golf encompasses all levels of the game, from grassroots to elite. HSBC is a Patron of The Open Championship and this partnership with The Royal & Ancient creates a centre of gravity in a global golf portfolio that spans HSBC's key markets. In Asia, HSBC has spearheaded the arrival of world-class golf events, with its flagship WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai and HSBC Women's Champions in Singapore. The WGC-HSBC Champions is renowned as 'Asia's Major' and was once described by 14-time Major winner and former World Number 1 Tiger Woods as "The crowning jewel of all of Asian golf."

HSBC has been co-title sponsor of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship since 2010 and the event has quickly become one of the biggest events on the European PGA Tour calendar. As golf returns to the Olympic Games for Rio 2016, HSBC is sponsoring the Brasil Classic event on the Tour in April 2013.

However, underpinning those blue-riband events is a longer-term goal to create a legacy from HSBC's global tournaments through its sponsorship of youth development and grassroots programmes. As well as committing to the professional game, HSBC has a longer-term goal to create the legacy through sponsorship of youth development and grassroots programmes around the world. In China, HSBC supports the HSBC China Junior Golf Program - a sustainable long-term structure and framework upon which the future of Chinese golf is being built. This includes the HSBC-sponsored China National Junior Team, the HSBC China Junior Open and the HSBC National Junior Golf Championship: a year-long series of tournaments designed to give China's elite junior golfers the competitive platform they need to develop their game. In the UK HSBC is sponsor of HSBC Golf Roots - The Golf Foundation's national development programme which promotes the sport in schools, helps youngsters into clubs, and uses golf to promote important life skills such as honesty and respect. 

Monday, March 18, 2013

Stacy Lewis on top of the golf world

Dale Lewis never thought his daughter, Stacy, could be the No. 1 golfer in the world. His dream for her was much more modest.

“I just wanted her to play in one college golf tournament. That was it,” Dale said.

On Sunday, after Stacy had received a celebratory beer bath from LPGA Tour pros Gerina Piller and Kristy McPherson, father and daughter met on the 18th green at Wildfire Golf Club. Dale, his eyes moist, lifted Stacy in the air and spoke the words he once thought impossible.

“You’re the Number 1 player in the world,” he said.

So she is.

Lewis’ final-round 8-under 64 gave her a 3-shot victory over Ai Miyazato in the RR Donnelley Founders Cup and, more significantly, vaulted her past Na Yeon Choi and Yani Tseng to the top of the Rolex rankings.

For a woman who wore a back brace 18 hours a day for 7½ years starting at the age of 11 because of scoliosis, the ascent defies reason or explanation.

“Almost 10 years ago I was going into surgery to put a (titanium) rod and five screws in my back,” said Lewis, who ended Tseng’s 109-week stranglehold on No. 1 and is the first American to top the rankings since Cristie Kerr in 2010.

“That’s not normal. … I mean, I’m really not supposed to be here. People with metal in their back, how do you play golf? I don’t know. I don’t know how.”

Lewis started thinking about the No. 1 ranking midway through the 2012 season but figured it would take much of this year to get there — if she did at all. But two victories in four starts — she won the HSBC Women’s Champions earlier this month — made up the ground rather quickly.

“It’s just crazy,” Lewis said. … “To be Number 1 in the world — it’s what everybody out here on tour is working for, and to be that person, is, I mean, I really don’t even know what to say.”

For much of Sunday, victory seemed beyond Lewis’ grasp. Every time she made a birdie, Miyazato responded and maintained a 3-stroke lead with six holes left.

But then everyone found out that there’s more than one infamous 16th hole in the Valley.

On Saturday, Lewis incurred a 2-stroke penalty at the short (307 yards) and supposedly benign par 4 when her caddie, Travis Wilson, was ruled to have tested the sand in the left fairway bunker.

Sunday, No. 16 cost Miyazato the tournament.

Standing in the fairway with a 1-stroke lead and a pitching wedge in her hand, Miyazato hit her approach shot far left — “I was shocked. That’s not Ai at all,” Lewis said — and it rolled down a hill and into an unplayable lie in the desert. After inexplicably taking a drop in the desert rather than walking back to her original lie and hitting her fourth shot from the fairway, Miyazato wound up with a double-bogey.

Lewis then drained her birdie putt, pointed to Wilson and walked to the 17th tee with a 2-shot lead.

The tournament — and the No. 1 ranking — were hers.

“We were so motivated today,” said Lewis, 28. “I really wanted to birdie 16. That was kind of in the back of my mind all day, and as soon as I made that putt, I pointed to Travis, and I said, ‘That one’s for you.’

“He would have felt horrible if we lost by 2, so that’s why I just put the dagger in and made some more putts there coming in.”

Lewis, who donated $50,000 of her purse to the LPGA-USGA Girls Golf foundation, won’t be burdened by the pressure of being No. 1.

She knows there will be additional demands on her time and that she’ll be under the microscope every time she tees it up.

But she has a back held together by a rod and five screws, and all dad wanted was that one college tournament.

What’s not to enjoy?

“I watched Yani struggle with (the expectations) for too long,” Lewis said. “I’m going to go have fun.”

Reach Bordow at scott.bordow! or 602-444-7996. Follow him on Twitter at