Match Play offers snapshot of golf scene

By Associated PressMarch 1, 2011, 7:43 pm

MARANA, Arizona (AP)—The PGA Tour could have skipped the West Coast swing andgone straight to the Match Play Championship, which provided a perfect snapshotof everything going in the world of golf.

Europe looked as strong as ever.

Martin Kaymer showed why he is No. 1 in the world ranking. Lee Westwood madepeople wonder why he was.

Bubba Watson and Rickie Fowler , when they’re not making videos for Twitter,offered more evidence that their homemade golf swings are just as compelling astheir fashion accessories.

Martin Kaymer of Germany hits …
AP - Feb 27, 5:26 pm EST

And has anyone seen Tiger Woods ?

Europe has been the strongest continent in golf over the last year, and DoveMountain was no exception. Luke Donald of England and Kaymer (Germany) reachedthe championship match, the second straight year for an all-European final.

Donald was so good that he never trailed after any hole in any of his sixmatches, and wound up playing fewer holes (89) than the winner of the Bob HopeClassic (92). Who would have guessed that?

After winning, Donald said European golf was going through a “purplepatch.”

For the Americans, it’s more black-and-blue.

Only two Americans have reached the championship match in the last fiveyears—Woods and Stewart Cink in 2008. One year ago, Americans were Nos. 1-2-3in the world ranking. Europe now occupies the first four spots in the rankingfor the first time in nearly two decades. Woods is the highest-ranked Americanat No. 5, his lowest position since the week before he won the 1997 Masters.

Before anyone writes the Americans off too quickly, they have had sixwinners on the PGA Tour this year. Then again, their average ranking when theywon was No. 171. Watson at Torrey Pines was the only winner inside the top 75.

The best American at the moment? Good question.

Mark Wilson has won twice, at the Sony Open and Phoenix Open, which doesn’texactly make him a favorite at the Masters, where he will be playing a major foronly the fourth time.

Wilson advanced to the second round of the Match Play, and that wasnoteworthy for whom he beat—Dustin Johnson .

There was little debate that Johnson was the most promising young Americangoing into 2011, if not one of the emerging talents in the world. Two monthsinto the season, however, he has only made news because of Natalie Gulbis andJim Gray.

He was linked romantically to Gulbis until the LPGA star said that Johnsonwas handling their PR. Meanwhile, Gray was sent home by the Golf Channel forasking Johnson in the middle of his round why he was late to the tee for atwo-shot penalty.

Speaking of tardiness, the Match Play Championship renewed talk about thepace of play.

One week after Kevin Na nearly turned Riviera into a five-day tournament,J.B. Holmes took some of the shine off a riveting match because he was sodeliberate. Watson rallied from 5 down with eight holes to play to square thematch on the 18th and win it on the 19th. But the match took nearly five hoursto play, and not all of that is down to rulings from the desert on the final twoholes.

The opening match of the tournament between Cink and Ian Poulter took overfour hours before it reached the 18th hole. Part of the delay was when they eachmade double bogey on the par-3 sixth, prompting rules official Stephen Cox totell Poulter on the next fairway, “Look, I realize you’ve both taken a trip toIn-N-Out for a double-double, but I’d appreciate it if you would pick up thepace.”

Watson and Fowler won’t get accused of slow play.

Both of them bring old-school qualities to the game, and both are reachingthe point where they can move the needle.

Watson, with the pink shaft in his driver and a $525,000 watch he sportedfrom a Richard Mille endorsement, came within one hole of winning the PGAChampionship last year. He held off Phil Mickelson to win at Torrey Pines, andshowed off his tremendous shotmaking at Dove Mountain. He’s always had rawtalent. Now he is getting comfortable with the spotlight.

Fowler, dressed in pink from his shoes to his cap, hit two of the mostimpressive shots all week with his 4-iron to 15 feet for eagle on the 11th and a4-iron to 2 feet for eagle on the 13th to hand Mickelson is worst loss ever inthe event.

Fowler went down the next day, not unusual at this tournament. He has allthe tools to be a star except the most important asset, which is a trophy. Butas Mickelson said in defeat, “I think he’s going to do a lot for Americangolf.”

Mickelson remains an enigma. He played six straight weeks, from Abu Dhabi toDove Mountain, with only one chance at winning.

That’s still one more chance than Woods, who remains the biggest mystery ingolf.

There is not much to say about the former No. 1, although that didn’t stopTV commentary from gushing that swing coach Sean Foley said Woods’ spin rate andlaunch angle were leveling out. Good to know.

He lost on the 19th hole to Thomas Bjorn with a swing Woods had to rehearsetoo many times and a 3-wood into the desert. It wasn’t as awful as it looked,for the right side of the fairway is the best angle to make birdie. Even so, hewould have been better off missing the 8-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole thatforced overtime than losing the way he did.

Johnny Miller compared Woods with Mike Tyson, not because of Iron Mike’scriminal behavior and outrageous comments, but because he was never the sameafter losing to Buster Douglas.

The longer Woods goes without winning, it’s not unreasonable to wonder aboutthat.

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.

Getty Images

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?

Getty Images

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.