Last Chance to Make Presidents Cup

By Associated PressAugust 6, 2005, 4:00 pm
2005 PGA ChampionshipThe farewell tour for Jack Nicklaus is not over yet.
 
He bowed out at the Masters, not telling anyone that he was through until he had missed the cut. Then came that historic walk over the Swilcan Bridge at St. Andrews, where Nicklaus played his 164th and final major championship at the British Open.
 
Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus
Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus will again captain their respective teams in the Presidents Cup.
This time, he won't hit a shot or miss the cut.
 
His last act in a major event will be as the U.S. captain for the Presidents Cup team, and while Nicklaus tends to downplay his role, it has served as an incentive for players trying to get on the team.
 
'There's a group of us that really want to make the team and to win for Jack,' Davis Love III said. 'He deserves a Presidents Cup win after going around the world twice and not getting one.'
 
The PGA Championship is the last tournament to make the team, which is based on PGA Tour earnings the last two years for Americans, and the world ranking for the International team.
 
Love never imagined he would be needing to fight so hard.
 
He has been on every Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup team since 1993, the longest service of any American, and he joins Phil Mickelson as the only U.S. players to have played in every Presidents Cup since its inception in 1994.
 
Heading into the International and then the PGA Championship, Love was ninth in the standings, although he had a comfortable margin over Justin Leonard in the 11th spot. Scott Verplank was 10th, courtesy of his runner-up finish in the U.S. Bank Championship in Milwaukee two weeks ago.
 
Tiger Woods is atop the U.S. standings again, and the top seven players were all in South Africa two years ago when the matches ended in a tie, and an epic playoff between Woods and Ernie Els failed to decide the outcome before it got too dark to continue.
 
But if the Presidents Cup hasn't been on everyone's mind lately, there is a reason.
 
Three-time International captain Peter Thomson once described these matches as a 'happier contest,' and it certainly comes with far less hype than the Ryder Cup, which has nearly 70 more years of tradition on its side.
 
The best example is to look at the captains.
 
Heading into the PGA Championship last year, Ryder Cup captain Hal Sutton was making appearances across the country, talking up his potential team and trying to sort out whom he might take as his two picks.
 
Nicklaus was asked in early June when he would turn his attention to the Presidents Cup.
 
'When I have to turn my attention to it,' he said.
 
He spent last week fishing in Iceland, then headed to Utah to play in a charity event with Johnny Miller. He will be at Baltusrol for the PGA Championship, but only as the honorary chairman at a course where he twice won the U.S. Open.
 
That's not to suggest Nicklaus doesn't care. He simply puts these competitions in perspective.
 
'It's a great honor, a great event,' he said. 'What happened in South Africa was terrific for the game, and it was terrific for South Africa. That's all we're trying to do. We're no masterminds, for crying out loud. You do what you have to do to make sure you've got a good show, and the guys have a good time, and it's a good event and people enjoy it. And you try to get bragging rights if you can.
 
Zach Johnson
Zach Johnson needs a late push at the PGA to make the U.S. team.
'It's exactly like the Ryder Cup should be handled.'
 
Still, his presence figures to be a motivating factor for those trying to make the team.
 
Money counts double in a Presidents Cup year, and with a prize money expected to be at least $6.5 million at the PGA Championship, that leaves plenty of room for several Americans to play their way onto the team.
 
Several of them have never played in a team competition, such as Zach Johnson (No. 12), Ted Purdy (No. 14), Joe Ogilvie (No. 15) and Bart Bryant, who is 16th in the standings on the strength of winning the Memorial.
 
'It's a huge goal of mine,' Johnson said. 'It was at the beginning of the year. It's still foremost in my game, but when it comes to the first tee, I try to throw it away and just forget about it and go about my business.'
 
Nicklaus finally gets a home game, as the Presidents Cup will be played Sept. 22-25 at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in northern Virginia, where the Americans have never lost.
 
He was captain of the 1998 team in Australia that got clobbered at Royal Melbourne, 201/2-111/2, the worst loss ever by a U.S. team in cup competition. He had to settle for a tie in South Africa, which ended in the dark when both teams agreed to share the cup instead of returning the next morning.
 
Nicklaus and Player were asked to return in 2005 to settle the matter.
 
Player's job became more difficult when Els suffered a season-ending knee injury last week. That put Mark Hensby of Australia in the 10th spot, and world ranking points for the International team (represented by every country outside Europe) make it harder to climb the list without a top finish.
 
Even so, Player said the PGA Championship will go a long way toward determining his two picks. Two years ago, Tim Clark's third-place finish at Oak Hill was enough for him to warrant a wild-card selection.
 
'The thing I did last year was pick the up-and-coming guys who were playing well at the time,' Player said. 'Timing is the essential ingredient to picking your team.'
 
Player will have the usual suspects, starting with Vijay Singh, who also has played in every Presidents Cup. He will be joined by Retief Goosen and Adam Scott, while newcomers include Angel Cabrera and possibly Nick O'Hern.
 
While it is a surprise to see Love struggled to make the U.S. team, Player is concerned that former Masters champion Mike Weir is 10th in the standings, with not much breathing room between him and Peter Lonard at No. 12. Weir tied for fifth at the Masters, but has made only one cut in seven tournaments since then.
 
The PGA Championship will have a large influence on both teams, although winning doesn't guarantee a spot on the American team. Two years ago, Nicklaus left two current major champions off his team -- British Open winner Ben Curtis and PGA champion Shaun Micheel -- in favor of Jay Haas and Fred Funk.
 
Nicklaus wasn't sure what he had in mind this time around.
 
'I've got a very difficult situation,' he said a week before the PGA. 'My guess is I probably will not pick Nos. 11 and 12. The American team is relatively young and I might want experience this time. We'll see how things play out the next two weeks.'
 
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  • 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.