Notes Haas Looking at Crossroads

By Associated PressAugust 16, 2005, 4:00 pm
Jay Haas wanted to keep playing on the PGA Tour until he felt like he couldn't compete, and the 51-year-old now has some serious questions he must ask of himself.
 
He missed the cut in his second major this year at the PGA Championship. He is 125th on the PGA Tour money list, with his only top 10 of the year coming at the Match Play Championship, where he advanced to the third round before he was eliminated by Chris DiMarco.
 
Haas is assured his PGA Tour card for next year having played on the last Ryder Cup team.

``I think I lost my golf energy,'' Haas said last week. ``You can't come out here and go through the motions. These guys are too good. I guess I'm at a crossroads. Right now, I would say I'll play more on the Champions Tour. But if I start to play a little better at the end of the year ... I still like to do this.''
 
Haas had reason to lose some energy, and not only because of his age.
 
Along with some back problems and the distraction of renovating his house, Haas didn't have the same incentives that carried him the last two years. He tried to make the Presidents Cup team in 2003 and the Ryder Cup team last year, and both times came close enough to warrant being a captain's pick.
 
Plus, he didn't get much of a break last year as he took advantage of good play. He took part in four silly-season events at the end of the year, including the Target World Challenge hosted by Tiger Woods.
 
``You see that all the time, guys playing a lot in the offseason,'' Haas said. ``I had never really done it before, and I had never really been in that position to do it before. I had to take advantage.''
 
Haas said one thing that probably won't influence his decision is whether his son, Bill, earns his PGA Tour card through the Nationwide Tour.
 
``We've done the father-son thing a bunch of times,'' he said. ``Not that it's lost its luster, but I need to let him do his thing. He knows how to play.''
 
AS THE WORM TURNS
The Presidents Cup got a brief scare last month when officials at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club discovered nematodes -- transparent, microscopic worms -- had infected some of the greens.
 
The Presidents Cup is to be played Sept. 22-25, and the worms could have severely damaged the putting surfaces.
 
``We had never been in better shape,'' said George Burger, general chairman of the Presidents Cup. ``It was surprising, but the minute they saw it, they sent samples out and we knew what it was within two or three days, and we were able to treat it. It was a great catch by the staff. If they hadn't got it, we'd have been in real trouble.''
 
Burger said the 12th and 17th greens have been re-sodded with grass from north of Pittsburgh, and it already has grown in nicely. Other greens were treated with chemicals and are no longer in jeopardy.
 
Burger said he expects the greens to be as good as ever when the matches start.
 
AGING AMERICANS
Five players on the U.S. team at the Presidents Cup are in their 40s. Four Americans were in their 40s at the Ryder Cup last year, with Tiger Woods the only guy in his 20s on both teams.
 
Is the U.S. team growing old? Ryder Cup captain Tom Lehman doesn't think so.
 
Lehman says the arrival of so many foreign-born players on the PGA Tour in recent years simply is making it tougher for younger Americans to immediately succeed, whether that means getting a card or finishing in the top 10.
 
``There is less opportunity for our young players, kids coming out of college or just starting out as professionals. There's less spots,'' he said. ``Let's face it, when you have the best players from South Africa and Australia and everywhere else coming here to play, they're awfully good players. So you need to be pretty doggone good to get that spot away from them.''
 
Since the 2000 Presidents Cup, the only player in his 20s besides Woods to play for the United States in either cup was Charles Howell III two years ago in South Africa.
 
FINAL PAIRING
Phil Mickelson became the 10th straight PGA champion to play in the final group, although that's usually the case with every major. The last 15 winners at the Masters have come out of the last pairing. The last seven winners of the U.S. Open were in the last pairing.
 
In fact, the only major champion who did not play in the final group since 2000 was Ben Curtis in the 2003 British Open. He was in the fourth-to-last group.
 
MAKING THE CUT
From Tiger Woods to Bernhard Langer, there were 14 players who made the cut in all four major championships this year. The others were Vijay Singh, Phil Mickelson, Retief Goosen, Adam Scott, Luke Donald, Fred Couples, Mark Hensby, Tim Clark, Kenny Perry, Steve Flesch, K.J. Choi and Ian Poulter.
 
That's up from 10 players to make the cut in all four majors last year.
 
Woods, Singh, Mickelson, Choi and Flesch have earned a paycheck in every major over the last two seasons.
 
On the other end of the spectrum, former major champions David Duval, Rich Beem and Shaun Micheel were the only players to miss the cut in all four majors. Duval has not made a cut in a major since he tied for 34th at the 2002 PGA.
 
Of the 14 players who made the cut in all four majors, Woods and Singh had top 10s in all of them. Scott, Perry, Choi and Poulter failed to finish in the top 10 in any of the majors.
 
DIVOTS
Retief Goosen qualified for the PGA of Grand Slam as an alternate, but said Tuesday he was not planning to go to Hawaii for the two-day exhibition Nov. 22-23. That would make Vijay Singh the next alternate. Singh would have been the first alternate until his bogey on the last hole of the PGA Championship. ... Tim Herron learned his week that the twins his wife is carrying will be boys. The due date is Dec. 3. He already has a 3-year-old son named Carson, and Lumpy is struggling with two more boy names. ``Something Irish,'' he said. ... The Salesmanship Club of Dallas, which sponsors the Byron Nelson Championship, raised more than $6.05 million for charity, the fourth time that its annual contribution went over the $6 million mark.
 
STAT OF THE WEEK
Tiger Woods became the first player since Jack Nicklaus in 1973 to finish in the top four in all four majors.
 
FINAL WORD
``Tiger collects them like they're nothing. For the rest of us, it's not that easy.'' -- Steve Elkington on winning majors.
 
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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?

    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.

    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.