New hole at Memorial; overlooked rookie in Dallas

By Associated PressMay 31, 2011, 11:28 pm

DUBLIN, Ohio (AP)—Jack Nicklaus is always looking for ways to improveMuirfield Village, and this year brings the biggest alterations in the last fiveyears.

The par-3 16th now features a large pond located short and left of thegreen. The green has been repositioned, too, tilting at an angle to allow moreshots to hold the green.

If nothing else, it’s a more intimidating hole with the water.

“With the prevailing wind, you have the ability to feed the ball back intothe green so you don’t have to worry about having to stop the ball as easily ifyou play a smart shot,” Nicklaus said. “And if the wind turns the other way,then stopping the ball on the green is not an issue. I think that works out verywell.”

David Toms posses with the tro…
AP - May 23, 11:59 am EDT
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As for the water?

“I think there’s going to be a lot more 2s, there’s going to be a lot moreexcitement,” Nicklaus said. “I think you’ll find a lot of fairly conservative3s. And I think you’ll also find a few double bogeys that will come in there. Anerrant will not be rewarded and a good shot will be rewarded, which is what agood hole should be, anyway.”

Justin Rose made his final birdie on the 16th last year on his way towinning. Now he’s a bit more leery.

“I think 5 is more of an optional now than it ever has been,” Rose said.

SHORTER FIELD: Two changes in criteria have wound up costing Justin Leonard a spot in two big tournaments this year.

The U.S. Open used to take the top 15 players and ties from the previousyear. That was reduced to the top 10 for this year, which was bad news forLeonard, who tied for 14th at Pebble Beach.

Then there’s the Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone.

The World Golf Championship began in 1999 for only members of the mostrecent Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup teams. It was expanded to include the top 50in the world, along with winners of top-rated golf tournaments around the world.

A change to reduce that field takes effect this year—only members of theprevious year’s team (Ryder or Presidents Cup) are exempt into Firestone. Forthis year, only the Ryder Cup team members are exempt. Leonard was part of thelast Presidents Cup team in 2009.

OVERLOOKED: PGA Tour officials hosted a midseason dinner last week at theByron Nelson Championship for the 2011 rookie class. They asked the players toR.S.V.P., for the night included a video montage that featured only the rookieswho were playing in the tournament, plus a pair of rookie winners in JhonattanVegas and Brendan Steele .

Alas, one of the rookies forgot to R.S.V.P., so he wasn’t included in thevideo. He wound up watching a video that included highlights of everyone at thedinner except him.

The rookie didn’t feel slighted. Besides, he wound up making his ownhighlight reel by the end of the week.

It was Keegan Bradley .

COUPLES’ SCARE: Fred Couples does not wear a glove, making it impossible tomiss 13 scabs on the top of his hands.

Couples was treated three weeks ago for skin cancer.

At the request of his girlfriend, Couples went to a dermatologist for acheckup. A few spots on his back turned out to be nothing. But right whenCouples thought he was in the clear, he said the dermatologist glanced at hishands and looked concerned.

Moments later, she froze them off, leaving 13 red marks on his hands.

Couples, whose back was so bad that he chose not to play the Senior PGAChampionship last week, is in the field for the Memorial. After this week, he isnot sure where he will play next.

DAY’S NEW HOME: Jason Day is moving to central Ohio, and he already has beenextended playing privileges at Muirfield Village.

But he’s not at the Memorial.

Tournament host Jack Nicklaus was surprised—first that Day had beenoffered playing privileges, then that the Australian was not playing in thetournament. Nicklaus was told that Day withdrew to take a break before the U.S.Open. He was not informed that Day’s wife had uterine surgery earlier this monthand has a follow-up appointment in Houston this week.

“We did?” Nicklaus replied when told that the club had given Day amembership.

His son, Jack Nicklaus II, told him that Day has playing privileges atMuirfield Village.

“He does and he’s not here?” Nicklaus said. As the room filled withlaughter, Nicklaus added, “We’ll take that away. I did not know that. DoesJason live around here?”

The Australian reporter said that Day’s wife was from Ohio, and askedNicklaus for a comment on Day’s performance this year. Day was runner-up at theMasters after closing with a 68.

“He’s a good player, and if he’s got a gal from … has he married a galfrom Ohio?” he said. “He should be here.”

SQUEEZING TALENT: Paul Goydos is amused when he hears people say he gets themost of his game.

“I’m not sure exactly what that means, quite frankly,” Goydos said. “Theguy asked me, ‘Who gets the most out of his game?’ I go, ‘Tiger Woods .’ The guywon 71 tournaments, 14 majors. If he’s not getting a lot out of his game … myGod.”

Goydos was not blessed with the same physical skills as Woods or PhilMickelson or Ernie Els . He says the secret is not getting more out of less, butsimply understanding limitations.

“You know your strengths and weaknesses, and try to stay where you arecomfortable playing,” Goydos said. “And I’ve been able to do that.Understanding what you do well, what you don’t do well, what you need to work on… it’s an individual sport. You really need to get the most out of what youcan do, and the first thing you have to do is an honest evaluation of who youare and what you’re capable of doing.”

DIVOTS: Steve Hulka filled in as Ryuji Imada ’s caddie for the final round ofthe Byron Nelson Championship, and it raised an interesting question: If Imadahad won, would Hulka get the Cadillac that goes to the winning caddie. It didn’tcome to that, but Hulka had it figured out ahead of time. “All I wanted wasfour tires for my truck,” he said. … For the first time since 1974, the topthree players in Europe’s PGA Championship at Wentworth were from England. …Padraig Harrington has slipped to No. 50 in the world ranking. The last time hewas out of the top 50 was March 23, 2000. … Tom Watson has won more than $24million in his career, with $13.1 million of that on the Champions Tour. …Former USGA chief business officer Pete Bevacqua has joined CAA Sports to workin its golf division.

STAT OF THE WEEK: Four PGA Tour winners in 2011 were on the Nationwide Tourlast year.

FINAL WORD: “It’s not just a European winner. I can see a European beatinga European to win, like it was last year.”—Colin Montgomerie on hisprediction for the U.S. Open.

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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.