DiMarco Goes from Playoff to MC

By Associated PressApril 7, 2006, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Chris DiMarco sure could have used this shot a year ago.
 
DiMarco made an eagle Friday with his final swing at the Masters, holing out a 6-iron on the 18th hole. Alas, it wasn't nearly enough to get him to the weekend at Augusta National -- a startling change from the position he was in last April.
 
Chris DiMarco
Chris DiMarco will have to wait another year before he has a chance to win the Masters.
The plucky DiMarco had a stirring Sunday duel with Tiger Woods at the 2005 Masters, forcing a playoff with the world's best player.
 
Woods won his fourth green jacket with a 15-foot birdie putt on the first extra hole -- another close-but-no-cigar call for the short-hitting player who putts with that strange 'claw' grip.
 
This time, DiMarco didn't come close to challenging for his first major title. He put himself in a big hole at the start with a 4-over 76. He followed with a 74 -- a score bolstered by that improbable shot from 177 yards, but still two strokes shy of making the 4-over 148 cut.
 
'It just wasn't meant to be,' DiMarco said with a shrug.
 
Plenty of others were on their way out of town, including U.S. Ryder Cup captain Tom Lehman, whose week began with a random drive-by shooting -- he wasn't hurt -- and ended with a 76-75 in the Masters.
 
Lehman managed only one birdie over two days and finished with a 7-over 151, three strokes too much and a blow to his hopes of being the first U.S. playing captain since Arnold Palmer in 1963.
 
Of course, Lehman has an inside track to the team even if he fails to crack the top 10 in the points -- the captain gets to pick the last two players himself.
 
Also missing the cut: reigning U.S. Open champ Michael Campbell (149); 2005 Tour Championship winner Bart Bryant (149); and former No. 1 player in the world David Duval (159), who certainly had the most interesting round of the day.
 
Already staggering after an opening-round 84, Duval began the day with a double bogey at No. 1 and a quintuple-bogey 10 at the second, when he drove into a hazard on the left and took two more penalty strokes before he finally escaped.
 
But Duval bounced back, making five birdies over his final 12 holes and a 32 on the back nine on the way to signing for a 75. Not nearly good enough to make the cut, but quite a recovery nonetheless.
 
While Duval has been mired in a mystifying slump for nearly five years, DiMarco appeared on the verge of breaking through in a major. He lost a three-man playoff to Vijay Singh at the 2004 PGA Championship, then came up short against Woods eight months later.
 
DiMarco feels as though he lost a chipping contest at last year's Masters.
 
Woods pulled off a memorable birdie on the 16th hole with a shot that nearly stopped twice -- once at the top of the slope, then again at the edge of the cup before dropping in. DiMarco had a chance to rewrite history with his own chip from the edge of the 18th green, but the ball rattled the pin and stayed out.
 
Asked what he would have given to pull off an eagle at No. 18 last year, DiMarco jokingly pushed aside his 10-year-old son, Cristian, and said, 'See ya boy!'
 
Actually, he still had faint hopes of making the cut when he approached the last hole this time.
 
'I was just trying to hang in there and make a birdie because you never know what might happen out there with the wind swirling and the greens firm,' DiMarco said.
 
The conditions were U.S. Open-style tough, but the scores didn't go high enough for DiMarco to move on. So, he's moving out, settling for a pair of crystal goblets awarded by Augusta National to anyone making an eagle.
 
Seven golfers at 149 -- a group that included Campbell, Bryant and Colin Montgomerie -- were the most unfortunate.
 
The 36-hole leader, Chad Campbell, sneaked in a 15-foot birdie putt on the last hole, the ball spinning around the left edge before dropping in to give him a 6-under 138 total. If it stays out, everyone at 149 would have advanced to the weekend by being within 10 strokes of the top spot.
 
Then there's the most fortunate golfer in the field -- Brandt Jobe. He made an eagle at No. 10 that was even more remarkable than DiMarco's at the 18th, finding the cup with a 6-iron from 202 yards.
 
'I knew it was pretty good, but I couldn't believe it went in,' Jobe said. 'I just about fell over.'
 
He, too, gets a pair of crystal goblets -- and something even more rewarding. Jobe finished with a 148, just enough to make the cut.
 
Augusta National will save a bit on the awards it gives to the low amateur. To qualify for the prize, a not-for-pay player must actually make the cut. None of the five amateurs made it through this year, the first time that's happened since 2002.
 
In fact, none came close. Brian McElhinney had the best score among the amateurs, an 11-over 165 that was seven strokes too high to play on the weekend.
 
'It was the experience of a lifetime,' said McElhinney, who qualified for the Masters by winning the British Amateur. 'There's so much for my long game to improve. I will probably stay amateur another year.'
 
Related Links:
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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.

    Nathaniel Crosby at the 1983 Bing Crosby Pro-Am at Pebble Beach. Getty Images

    Crosby selected as 2019 U.S. Walker Cup captain

    By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 3:19 pm

    The USGA announced that former U.S. Amateur champ Nathaniel Crosby will serve as the American captain for the 2019 Walker Cup, which will be played at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England.

    Crosby, 56, is the son of entertainment icon and golf enthusiast Bing Crosby. He won the 1981 U.S. Amateur at The Olympic Club as a teenager and earned low amateur honors at the 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He also played in the 1983 Walker Cup, coincidentally held at Royal Liverpool, before embarking on a brief career in professional golf, with his amateur status reinstated in 1994.

    "I am thrilled and overwhelmed to be chosen captain of the next USA Walker Cup team," Crosby said in a statement. "Many of my closest friends are former captains who will hopefully take the time to share their approaches in an effort to help me with my new responsibilities."

    Crosby takes over the captaincy from John "Spider" Miller, who led the U.S. squad both in 2015 and earlier this year, when the Americans cruised to a 19-7 victory at Los Angeles Country Club.

    Crosby is a Florida resident and member at Seminole Golf Club, which will host the 2021 matches. While it remains to be seen if he'll be asked back as captain in 2021, each of the last six American captains have led a team on both home and foreign soil.

    Started in 1922, the Walker Cup is a 10-man, amateur match play competition pitting the U.S. against Great Britain and Ireland. The U.S. team holds a 37-9 all-time lead in the biennial matches but has not won in Europe since 2007.