Golf

Stoops, Gran ponder: If UK's football team was a golfer, would it break par?

If UK football team was a golfer, what would its handicap be?

UK football head coach Mark Stoops and assistant coach Eddie Gran were asked, "If the UK football team was a golfer, what would its handicap be?"
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UK football head coach Mark Stoops and assistant coach Eddie Gran were asked, "If the UK football team was a golfer, what would its handicap be?"

Kentucky’s assistant head football coach, Eddie Gran, deftly handled the question of the day at the Barbasol Championship Wednesday: If UK’s 2018 football team was a golfer, how good of a golfer would it be?

“We want to be about a one (handicap golfer) this year,” Gran said before playing in the Pro-Am at Keene Trace Golf Club. “How about that? That sound good?”

That sounded excellent, if not brash and bold for a program with a modest tradition of success.

But a smiling head coach Mark Stoops echoed Gran’s confidence.

“That’s pretty good,” he said of UK’s football team nearly compared to a scratch golfer. “I’d like to get us to a minus one or two. We have a really good football team. I’m proud of the guys. They’ve worked really hard. We have a solid group top to bottom.”

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University of Kentucky head football coach Mark Stoops smoked a cigar during Wednesday’s Pro-Am event at the PGA Tour Barbasol Championship at Keene Trace Golf Club outside Nicholasville. Silas Walker swalker@herald-leader.com

Stoops acknowledged that UK’s football team has question marks.

“We all know we have to see what we have at quarterback,” he said, “but I’m confident in these guys. I think we have some really good choices. But across the board, I think we’re a really strong team, a much improved team, not as many weak spots as we’ve had in the past.”

Neither UK football coach spoke so confidently about his golf ability. Stoops said his game was “a little rough.”

Gran described himself as an “18-handicap.” “So I’ll make the head coach look good today,” he said.

Tubby’s goal

Although speaking warmly of his time in Central Kentucky, former UK basketball coach Tubby Smith planned to leave soon after playing in the Pro -Am.

“I’ve got to be out of here tonight and be in Atlanta to watch some games and evaluate some players,” he said.

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Tubby Smith watched his ball during Wednesday's Pro-Am event at the PGA Tour Barbasol Championship at Keene Trace Golf Club outside Nicholasville on Wednesday. Silas Walker swalker@herald-leader.com

As first-year coach at High Point, Smith hopes to guide the program to its first NCAA Tournament. He likened the task to his first head coaching job, Tulsa, each a private school with a relatively small enrollment.

Smith said he aimed to “try to develop the program into a Davidson- (or) Butler-type program that can get to the NCAA.”

Father-son

It’s not unprecedented, but hardly routine to have a father and son play in the same PGA event. Only nine times has a family produced a father and son that each won a PGA tournament. The most recent such tandem is Craig and Kevin Sadler, winners of the 1980 Bob Hope Desert Classic and 2014 Phoenix Open, respectively.

Davis and Dru Love will give the Barbasol Championship a father-son flavor. Though the possibility of an Oedipus complex did not come to mind during a joint news conference, the Loves do compete.

“We bet truck washes,” Dru said. Whether a tournament round or practice round, the loser has to wash the winner’s truck.

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Davis Love III and his son David Love IV spoke to the media during a press conference Wednesday for the PGA Tour Barbasol Championship at Keene Trace Golf Club outside Nicholasville. Silas Walker swalker@herald-leader.com

“I do remember the first time I beat him,” Dru said. “I get asked that question a lot, and I love telling the story.”

Dru said he was in his sophomore year at the University of Alabama. Father and son were on the 18th hole. They hadn’t added up their scores, but they knew it was close.

Davis made about a 40-foot eagle putt on the final hole. “I had about an 18-to-20 footer for eagle,” Dru said. Dru made his, too.

“And he said, ‘What was that for?’” Dru said. “I said, ‘64. What about you?’

“He said, ’65,’ and turned around and walked off. I remember it like it was yesterday. He knew he was defeated. It was awesome.”

Davis, the winner of 21 PGA events and a 2017 inductee in the World Golf Hall of Fame, smiled as his son told the story for the umpteenth time.

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Davis Love III teed off on the first hole during Wednesday’s Pro-Am event at the PGA Tour Barbasol Championship at Keene Trace Golf Club outside Nicholasville. Silas Walker swalker@herald-leader.com

“All I remember is I won yesterday,” the elder Love said. “And he played two practice rounds on the course and I’d never seen it before.”

Father conceded that his son, who is 2 inches taller at 6-foot-5 and 30 years younger at 24, had a distinct advantage by being the longer hitter.

“If we’re playing at home and everything’s equal and not on tour, he should beat me every day,” Davis said. “And I can accept that. He’s got way more firepower. . . .

“Every once in a while, old guys can be cagey. On tour, it’s a different game inside the ropes.”

Matt Jones of Kentucky Sports Radio made a long putt on the No. 12 hole, a par-4, during the Barbasol Championship Pro-Am event on Wednesday, July 18, 2018, in Nicholasville, Kentucky.

Good luck omen?

Billy Horschel, a five-time winner on the PGA Tour, is expected to be one of the contenders to win the Barbasol Championship.

Horschel is a 2009 graduate of the University of Florida. He said it might be “a little good luck” that the Gators won the 1993 national championship at Keene Trace Golf Club.

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