Notes: Couples concerned with Tiger's health, not game

By Associated PressJune 1, 2011, 10:04 pm

DUBLIN, Ohio - Fred Couples says the only thing that will keep Tiger Woods ’ from dominating again and breaking Jack Nicklaus’ record in the major is his knee.

“At Tiger’s age, I’m more concerned about his body than his game,” Couples said Wednesday at the Memorial. “His game will come back. But it’s hard to come back when you’ve got knee problems and hip problems and Achilles problems and all that stuff.”

Couples knows what it’s like to play injured.

The former Masters champion and No. 1 player in golf first began suffering from back pain in 1994, and it has bothered him ever since. Even now, Couples is aching so much that after the Memorial, he might not play again until the U.S. Senior Open at the end of July.

But he says a left knee, especially one that’s been through four surgeries, is much different.

“I couldn’t imagine not being able to use my left knee to play golf,” Couples said. “I think it’s basically impossible to do what you used to do. And in golf, that’s the toughest thing.”

Couples said it can be tough to try to reclaim the No. 1 position - in golf or any other sport - because it can be a mental drain. He figures Woods is the only player who is strong enough between the ears to handle that.

“For him, that won’t be the problem. It’ll be this knee issue,” Couples said. “I don’t think he swings violent at it. I don’t think he does anything different than Charl Schwartzel when they swing. I just think his knee is a little tender and he’s got to get it right so he can come out and start to play every day feeling good.”


PRESIDENTS CUP PLANS: When he agreed to be Presidents Cup captain again, Fred Couples jokingly sent Woods a text telling him to play his way onto the team so he won’t have to be a pick.

Given the fact Woods has missed two tournaments already with left leg issues, and had to withdraw from another after nine holes, it might not be a joke. Couples isn’t worried, though. He figures if Woods isn’t good enough to make the team in September, or doesn’t feel healthy enough to play the matches in Australia in November, he’ll let Couples know.

“If he’s not ready to play, he’ll be the one to tell me, ‘Don’t waste your pick on me,”’ Couples said. “I don’t even know how much he’ll play, but he doesn’t have to prove a lot to any captain.”

Couples will be playing the week before the Presidents Cup at the Australian Open, and he said his two captain’s picks also will be in Sydney with him. Doesn’t that mean Woods will have to play the Australian Open if he’s a pick?

“Well, if he wants to play, yeah,” Couples said. “If I pick two people and the other guy is there, he should be there.”

There’s some wiggle room there, however.

Woods’ camp was irritated when the Australian Masters, where he played the last two years, had its date on the schedule taken away and given to the Australian Open. The Aussie Masters is run by IMG, however. Woods’ agent is no longer with IMG, and odds are Woods won’t be with the agency much longer.

Couples said all he wants is for his players to be competing somewhere before the Presidents Cup. That could be the Singapore Open (where Phil Mickelson will play) or another event in the region.


A GREEN JACKET AND BLACK TIE: Masters champions are allowed to take their green jacket home with them while they hold the title, and Charl Schwartzel is taking it with him wherever he goes.

“If you get to keep it only for a year and then leave it, you’ve got to pretty much enjoy it,” Schwartzel said. “No point leaving it if you’re only going to see it every two months.”

He brought it with him to the Memorial, even if just to look at it in the closet.

The last time he wore it in public was at Wentworth last week at the BMW PGA Championship, when the European Tour had an awards dinner and asked him to wear his prize.

One problem: It was a black-tie dinner.

“And I’m dressed up in a green jacket,” Schwartzel said. “Most people thought I was a waiter.”


MICKELSON’S NEW WEAPON: Mickelson is working on a new 2-iron to take to the U.S. Open at Congressional in two weeks.

It’s really not new - he’s had it for about six years. But he thinks he has it just about right.

“It hadn’t quite worked right until I bent it, tweaked it a little bit. Now it feels pretty dialed in,” Mickelson said. “I’ve been experimenting the last few weeks trying to get the right 2-iron that flies about 255 or so off the tee, which is kind of what I’m gunning for. I think this one is dialed in just right.”

In a slight change, Mickelson has decided not to play the St. Jude Classic the week before the U.S. Open. Instead, he will go to Congressional next week to get in his practice.


CADDIE CHANGE: In what appears to be a game of musical chairs with caddies and players, the biggest change is Joe LaCava no longer on the bag for Couples. Instead, LaCava is working for Dustin Johnson .

Couples had encouraged him to find another bag, mainly because Couples was on the less lucrative Champions Tour and not playing much this year because of a bad back. So when Johnson’s bag became open, LaCava took it.

“He’s been a great caddie. He’s caddied for a lot of great players,” Couples said.

Couples said it might be difficult early on for LaCava to get the right club for Johnson, mostly because Johnson is one of the longest hitters in golf. He also thinks LaCava will be good at knowing when to tell Johnson to scale back, and not hit driver.

“Other than that, I have a lot of respect for Joe,” Couples said. “I think he’s done a phenomenal job, and I hope he stays with him a while, because I’m not taking him back.”

They won’t be separated very long. Couples and Johnson are playing together the first two rounds, along with Nick Watney .

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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.