Golf Hat in the Ring

By Adam BarrOctober 27, 2007, 4:00 pm
[Whistle; screeeee] Is this thing on? I think were ready to begin. [ahem] Ladies and gentlemen of the media, thank you for attending this press conference. My name is Adam Barr, and Im here today to announce my candidacy for President of the United States. Rather than make a long-winded statement, Ill take your questions right away.
Mr. Barr, what are your qualifications? Do you even have a party affiliation?
Im about as qualified as any other candidate. There are a lot of them out there now; I was waiting for a bus the other day when a guy in line behind me declared. Filled up CNN for a solid half hour. Anyway, Im a member of the GOP.
You mean the Grand Old Party? Youre a Republican?
No, I mean the Golf, Our Priority party. We believe that a nation based on the basic principles of fair play and meritocracy found in golf will excel on the world stage.
What would you do, if elected?
Well, first weve got to change some basic laws. Item One: Leaf blowers.
Did you say leaf blowers?
I did, and you would have heard me better if it werent for that yahoo with a leaf blower out there. Dang things make too much noise, and all they do is redistribute the gunk elsewhere. Theyre all over golf courses, firing up in your backswing and making life generally loud. Under my administration, theyll be outlawed. Welcome to the world of rakes, people. A strong country can move the tines.
And thats another thing. Once I get done outlawing one-word questions, well make failure to rake bunkers a federal felony. Leave a footprint and youll be making tracks in the dust in the yard at Leavenworth. And tennis will be the only thing on the prison T.V, and you wont be able to turn it off. Leave a ball mark on the green unfixed, and you have to watch bowling.
Isnt that cruel and unusual punishment?
Thats a constitutional question best left to the Supreme Handicapping Committee.
You mean the Supreme Court.
Not after Im elected. That august body will handle tournament and stroke-distribution matters, as well as executing the sentence for sandbagging.
And what will that be?
Having your eyes locked open and reading only whatever Oprah tells you.
Have you considered any possible nominations for members of your cabinet?
Sure have. Paul Azinger will be Secretary of Cup Defense. Lee Trevino will be Minister of Mirth. Larry Nelson will be in charge of the military. Tom Watson will be my pick to head up the Department of Ballstriking. I also want him to have a special advisory role in the Department of Integrity and Never Giving Up.
Id like to make Lorena Ochoa my chief scrappiness advisor. Padraig Harrington will be head of the new Department of Perspective; no one had a better smile on his face greeting his son on the last green of the Open Championship a moment after he felt like he had lead in the pit of his stomach. The Rules staffs at the USGA, PGA Tour and R&A will become the Joint Chiefs of Relief.
There are a lot more people Ill call on, but for now, lets move on. Yes, over there in the pink plaid.
Will there be golf fashion crimes?
No; were taking a lenient stand on that. Too many people want to see Ian Poulter play in this country. Besides, Darren Clarkes investment in shoes has direct links to the pillars of the Italian economy. Gotta be a responsible world citizen
How about taxation?
Well, interest on loans for golf vacation homes would be deductible for sure. There would be a tax credit for greens fees, especially for people who live in big cities and have a hard time getting to play.
And education?
Golf needs to be part of our national curriculum, at all ages. We can be just as productive starting work at 10 a.m., after a lesson or some short game practice. Think outside the box, America.
Come clean, Mr. Barr. Isnt this just one of those Pat Paulsen style joke candidacies that used to distract us from the more serious contenders back in the Sixties and Seventies?
Depends how much money I can raise. Whats your handicap, by the way?
Email your thoughts to Adam Barr
Photo by Enrique Berardi/LAAC

Top-ranked amateur Niemann one back at LAAC in Chile

By Nick MentaJanuary 21, 2018, 8:44 pm

Argentina’s Jaime Lopez Rivarola leads the Latin America Amateur Championship at 5 under par following a round of 3-under 68 Saturday in Chile.

The former Georgia Bulldog is now 36 holes from a trip to Augusta.

He is followed on the leaderboard by the three players who competed in the playoff that decided last year’s LAAC in Panama: Joaquin Niemann (-4), Toto Gana (-4), and Alvaro Ortiz (-3).

Chile’s Niemann is the top-ranked amateur in the world who currently holds conditional status on the Tour and is poised to begin his career as a professional, unless of course he takes the title this week. After a disappointing 74 in Round 1, Niemann was 10 shots better in Round 2, rocketing up the leaderboard with a 7-under 64.

Niemann’s fellow Chilean and best friend Gana is the defending champion who missed the cut at the Masters last year and is now a freshman at Lynn University. His second-round 70 was a roller coaster, complete with six birdies, three eagles and a double.

Mexico’s Ortiz, the brother of three-time Tour winner Carlos, was 6 under for the week before three back-nine bogeys dropped him off the pace.

Two past champions, Matias Dominguez and Paul Chaplet, sit 5 over and 7 over, respectively.

The winner of the Latin America Amateur Championship earns an invite to this year’s Masters. He is also exempt into the The Amateur Championship, the U.S. Amateur, U.S. Open sectional qualifying, and Open Championship final qualifying.

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McIlroy gets back on track

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 21, 2018, 3:10 pm

There’s only one way to view Rory McIlroy’s performance at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship:

He is well ahead of schedule.

Sure, McIlroy is probably disappointed that he couldn’t chase down Ross Fisher (and then Tommy Fleetwood) on the final day at Abu Dhabi Golf Club. But against a recent backdrop of injuries and apathy, his tie for third was a resounding success. He reasserted himself, quickly, and emerged 100 percent healthy.

“Overall, I’m happy,” he said after finishing at 18-under 270, four back of Fleetwood. “I saw some really, really positive signs. My attitude, patience and comfort level were really good all week.”

To fully appreciate McIlroy’s auspicious 2018 debut, consider his state of disarray just four months ago. He was newly married. Nursing a rib injury. Breaking in new equipment. Testing another caddie. His only constant was change. “Mentally, I wasn’t in a great place,” he said, “and that was because of where I was physically.”

And so he hit the reset button, taking the longest sabbatical of his career, a three-and-a-half-month break that was as much psychological as physical. He healed his body and met with a dietician, packing five pounds of muscle onto his already cut frame. He dialed in his TaylorMade equipment, shoring up a putting stroke and wedge game that was shockingly poor for a player of his caliber. Perhaps most importantly, he cleared his cluttered mind, cruising around Italy with wife Erica in a 1950s Mercedes convertible.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

After an intense buildup to his season debut, McIlroy was curious about the true state of his game, about how he’d stack up when he finally put a scorecard in his hand. It didn’t take him long to find out. 

Playing the first two rounds alongside Dustin Johnson – the undisputed world No. 1 who was fresh off a blowout victory at Kapalua – McIlroy beat him by a shot. Despite a 103-day competitive layoff, he played bogey-free for 52 holes. And he put himself in position to win, trailing by one heading into the final round. Though Fleetwood blew away the field with a back-nine 30 to defend his title, McIlroy collected his eighth top-5 in his last nine appearances in Abu Dhabi.

“I know it’s only three months,” he said, “but things change, and I felt like maybe I needed a couple of weeks to get back into the thought process that you need to get into for competitive golf. I got into that pretty quickly this week, so that was the most pleasing thing.”

The sense of relief afterward was palpable. McIlroy is entering his 11th full year as a pro, and deep down he likely realizes 2018 is shaping up as his most important yet.

The former Boy Wonder is all grown up, and his main challengers now are a freakish athlete (DJ) and a trio of players under 25 (Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm) who don’t lack for motivation or confidence. The landscape has changed significantly since McIlroy’s last major victory, in August 2014, and the only way he’ll be able to return to world No. 1 is to produce a sustained period of exceptional golf, like the rest of the game’s elite. (Based on average points, McIlroy, now ranked 11th, is closer to the bottom of the rankings, No. 1928, than to Johnson.)

But after years of near-constant turmoil, McIlroy, 28, finally seems ready to pursue that goal again. He is planning the heaviest workload of his career – as many as 30 events, including seven more starts before the Masters – and appears refreshed and reenergized, perhaps because this year, for the first time in a while, he is playing without distractions.

Not his relationships or his health. Not his equipment or his caddie or his off-course dealings.

Everything in his life is lined up.

Drama tends to follow one of the sport’s most captivating characters, but for now he can just play golf – lots and lots of golf. How liberating.

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Crocker among quartet of Open qualifiers in Singapore

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 2:20 pm

Former amateur standout Sean Crocker was among four players who qualified for the 147th Open via top-12 finishes this week at the Asian Tour's SMBC Singapore Open as part of the Open Qualifying Series.

Crocker had a strong college career at USC before turning pro late last year. The 21-year-old received an invitation into this event shortly thereafter, and he made the most of his appearance with a T-6 finish to net his first career major championship berth.

There were four spots available to those not otherwise exempt among the top 12 in Singapore, but winner Sergio Garcia and runners-up Shaun Norris and Satoshi Kodaira had already booked their tickets for Carnoustie. That meant that Thailand's Danthai Boonma and Jazz Janewattanond both qualified thanks to T-4 finishes.

Full-field scores from the Singapore Open

Crocker nabbed the third available qualifying spot, while the final berth went to Australia's Lucas Herbert. Herbert entered the week ranked No. 274 in the world and was the highest-ranked of the three otherwise unqualified players who ended the week in a tie for eighth.

The next event in the Open Qualifying Series will be in Japan at the Mizuno Open in May, when four more spots at Carnoustie will be up for grabs. The 147th Open will be held July 19-22 in Carnoustie, Scotland.

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Got a second? Fisher a bridesmaid again

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:40 pm

Ross Fisher is in the midst of a career resurgence - he just doesn't have the hardware to prove it.

Fisher entered the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship with a share of the lead, and as he made the turn he appeared in position to claim his first European Tour victory since March 2014. But he slowed just as Tommy Fleetwood caught fire, and when the final putt fell Fisher ended up alone in second place, two shots behind his fellow Englishman.

It continues a promising trend for Fisher, who at age 37 now has 14 career runner-up finishes and three in his last six starts dating back to October. He was edged by Tyrrell Hatton both at the Italian Open and the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in the fall, and now has amassed nine worldwide top-10 finishes since March.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Fisher took a big step toward ending his winless drought with an eagle on the par-5 second followed by a pair of birdies, and he stood five shots clear of Fleetwood with only nine holes to go. But while Fleetwood played Nos. 10-15 in 4 under, Fisher played the same stretch in 2 over and was unable to eagle the closing hole to force a playoff.

While Fisher remains in search of an elusive trophy, his world ranking has benefited from his recent play. The veteran was ranked outside the top 100 in the world as recently as September 2016, but his Abu Dhabi runner-up result is expected to move him inside the top 30 when the new rankings are published.