Baker-Finch Sympathizes With Duval

By Associated PressSeptember 2, 2003, 4:00 pm
NORTON, Mass. (AP) - David Duval no longer works on weekends, the result of a slump identified as much by his posture as the numbers on his scorecard.
He hasn't broken par all summer. He has shot in the 80s his last three stroke-play events. He has no clue which way the ball is going until it leaves the tee.
But to suggest it can't get any worse is to forget Royal Troon six years ago.
Rock bottom?
Try being a major champion who goes 31 straight PGA Tour events without a paycheck.
Try taking six months off in a desperate search for a solution, then taking a patched up swing and shattered confidence to golf's oldest championship.
Rock bottom is a 92 in the opening round of the '97 British Open.
It's knowing that thousands of people watching this horror show at Troon are cracking jokes or taking pity, and trying to decide which one makes you feel worse.
Ian Baker-Finch can tell you all about rock bottom.
'I felt like I was walking naked, like the grass was taller than me,'' Baker-Finch said. 'I tried to walk with my head high. It was really hard.''
Baker-Finch cried in the locker room that afternoon, withdrew from the tournament and quit competitive golf at age 35, the prime of his career.
Duval is not there yet, not even close.
Still, Baker-Finch has noticed enough similarities that he stopped a reporter last week at the Deutsche Bank Championship and asked the question no one has been able to answer.
What's wrong with Duval?
'What happened to me ... there's a correlation to what might be happening to David,'' said Baker-Finch, an amiable Australian working as an analyst for ABC Sports.
'I lost my confidence,'' he said. 'I got to the point where I didn't even want to be out here because I was playing so poorly. I would try my hardest, but when I came out to play, I managed to find a way to miss the cut time and time again. It became a habit.''
Baker-Finch won the Colonial in 1989, played in his first Tour Championship a year later and then blew away the field in 1991 at Royal Birkdale to win the British Open, the pinnacle of his career.
His problems began in 1994 with a series of injuries _ knee, shoulder, eyes _ and he started missing the cut, 11 straight at one point.
Baker-Finch tied for 47th at Firestone that year and made $12,850.
That was the last PGA Tour check he earned.
'You know those laminated woods?'' he said. 'I always make the analogy that confidence is like those layers. You keep chipping away at it. You play poorly, another layer is gone. And when you're on that negative spiral, it's hard to put another layer back because there's no glue left.''
He sought help from nearly a dozen of the best coaches, all of them certain they had the right fix.
It only got worse.
The scores were shocking _ 12 rounds in the 80s, only two in the 60s. Bad vibes penetrated his psyche every time he finished his round and saw a group of reporters waiting next to the 18th green to learn about the latest train wreck.
'I dreaded it,'' Baker-Finch said. 'They were always asking negative questions: 'Are you coming out of your slump yet?' My whole life became negative. Not only was I searching, not only was I lost, not only was I playing poorly, but I didn't want to be out there.''
The end came in 1997, and Baker-Finch now wishes he had not stopped so soon.
He still plays at The Bear's Club at home in West Palm Beach, Fla., often in friendly games with PGA Tour players, taking their money as often as they take his.
'He flushes it,'' said Robert Allenby, who says Baker-Finch could regularly finish in the top 50 on the money list if he could just bring that game inside the ropes.
No such luck.
Curiosity got the best of Baker-Finch two years ago and he played in the Colonial. Stress followed him to the first tee, he shot 74-77 and missed the cut.
Duval has not played since he shot 80 in the first round of the PGA Championship and withdrew.
'I don't think David is anywhere near as bad as where I got to,'' Baker-Finch said. 'He's missed a few cuts, but his talent will shine through if he allows it. He's got to trust himself.''
Baker-Finch urges Duval to stick with Jack Lumpkin, whom he began seeing last month. He doesn't think Duval should change his swing, which some criticized in recent months when the scores started soaring.
'It may be unusual, but there's nothing wrong with it,'' Baker-Finch said. 'He got to be No. 1 in the world with what he had.''
Can Duval make it all the way back?
'He's always been, and he's always thought of himself, as a top player. He should be back,'' Baker-Finch said. 'But there's a lot of scar tissue. The longer he plays poorly, and the longer he thinks poorly of himself, it becomes a habit that gets further ingrained. And the harder it's going to be to get back up thehill.''
More than anyone, Baker-Finch speaks from experience.
No one is rooting harder for Duval.

Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo

By Grill Room TeamDecember 15, 2017, 1:05 am

Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Really good at golf. Really good at vacationing.

With #SB2K18 still months away, Thomas and Spieth headlined a vacation to Cabo San Lucas, and this will shock you but it looks like they had a great time.

Spring break veteran Smylie Kaufman joined the party, as did Thomas' roommate, Tom Lovelady, who continued his shirtless trend.

The gang played all the hits, including shoeless golf in baketball jerseys and late nights with Casamigos tequila.

Image via tom.lovelady on Instagram.

In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.

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Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys

By Rex HoggardDecember 14, 2017, 7:00 pm

After careful consideration and an exhaustive review of 2017 we present The Rexys, a wildly incomplete and arbitrary line up following one of the most eventful years in golf.

 There will be omissions – just keep your calls, concerns and even e-mails to yourself. We appreciate your patronage, but not your feedback.

It’s Not You, It’s Me Award. You know the deal: You can’t be a part of two until you’re a better one; but on this front it’s really just a desire to find a better two.

It was a tough year for caddies, and not just any caddies. In June, Phil Mickelson split with longtime bagman Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both player and caddie cited the need for “change,” but the move reverberated throughout the game.

“The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.

In the wake of the Lefty/Bones break, Rory McIlroy split with his caddie J.P Fitzgerald, and Jason Day replaced looper/swing coach Colin Swatton on his bag. It all proves yet again that there are only two kinds of caddies, those who have been fired and those who are about to be fired.

Run for the Rose Cup. Sergio Garcia got the green jacket, a lifetime exemption to the game’s most coveted member-member and a long-awaited major, but Justin Rose took home the slightly less prestigious “Rose Cup.”

Following a frenzied afternoon at Augusta National in April, Rose lost to Garcia on the first playoff hole, but he won so much more with his honesty and class.

“You're going to win majors and you're going to lose majors, but you've got to be willing to lose them,” Rose figured following the final round. “You've got to put yourself out there. You've got to hit the top of the leaderboard. There's a lot of pressure out there and if you're not willing to enjoy it, then you're not ready to win these tournaments. I loved it out there.”

Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.

Half-Empty Cup. It was the perfect setting, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and the promise of the Tristate masses descending on this fall’s Presidents Cup.

If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.

For the sixth time in the last seven matches, the U.S. team rolled to a victory of at least three points. This particular edition was even in danger of ending on Saturday afternoon thanks to a particularly dominant performance by a young American squad led by Steve Stricker.

Officials spoke of the purity of the competition and the attention the ’17 cup generated, but however you spin the 19-11 rout, this cup is half empty.

Enigma Award. The actual hardware is simply an oversized question mark and was sent directly to Tiger Woods’ South Florida compound following the most curious of seasons.

While it’s become customary in recent years to consider the uncertain path that awaits the 14-time major winner, this most recent calendar brought an entirely new collection of questions following fusion surgery on his lower back in April, his arrest for DUI on Memorial Day and, finally, a glimmer of hope born from his tie for ninth at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.

When will he play again? Can he compete against the current generation of world-beaters? Can his body withstand the rigors of a full PGA Tour schedule? Should Jim Furyk make him a captain’s pick now or wait to see if he should be driving a vice captain’s golf cart instead?

Little is certain when it comes to Woods, and the over-sized question mark goes to ... the guy in red and black.

After Further Review Chalice. In April, Lexi Thompson endured a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, the byproduct of a surreal ruling that arrived a day late via a viewer e-mail and cost the would-be winner a major championship.

The entire event was so unsavory that the USGA and R&A made not one but two alterations to the rules and created a “working group” to avoid similar snafus in the future.

That working group – it turns out the U.S. Ryder Cup team has some sort of copyright on “task force” – initially issued a decision that introduced a “reasonable judgment” and a “naked eye” standard to video reviews, and last week the rule makers kept the changes coming.

The new protocols on video review will now include an official to monitor tournament broadcasts and ended the practice of allowing fans to call in, or in this case e-mail, possible infractions to officials. The USGA and R&A also eliminated the two-stroke penalty for players who sign incorrect scorecards when the player is unaware of the penalty.

While all this might be a step in the right direction, it does nothing to change Thompson’s fate. The AFR Chalice won’t change the harsh reality, but at least it will serve as a reminder of how she helped altered the rulemaking landscape.

Nothing Runs Like a Deere Award. Nothing gets fans fired up like officials turning fields of fescue rough into hay on the eve of a major championship, and the USGA’s decision to do some 11th-hour trimming at Erin Hills in June certainly caught many by surprise.

Officials said the nip/tuck on four holes was in reaction to a particularly foreboding forecast that never materialized, and the maintenance drew the ire of some players.

“We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” Rory McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here; if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”

The record low scoring at the U.S. Open – winner Brooks Koepka finished with a 16-under total – didn’t help ease the fervor and had some questioning whether the softer side of the USGA has gone a bit too far?

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Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 5:28 pm

John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.

That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.

Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.

Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 4:22 pm

Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.

Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.

Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters

Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.

World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.

Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.