Notes Home-Course Advantage Cambos Back

By Associated PressJune 12, 2006, 4:00 pm
U.S. OpenMAMARONECK, N.Y. -- If home-course advantage in golf meant as much as home-court advantage does in basketball, Andy Svoboda would be feeling pretty good heading into the week.
 
He is, after all, the only player entered in the U.S. Open who has logged 2,000 rounds at Winged Foot, the course where the toughest test in golf begins Thursday.
 
'The best experience I've ever had,' Svoboda said Monday of the support he got during an early practice round.
 
Svoboda is one of 77 players who made it to the U.S. Open via qualifying. He was one of 18 to qualify at the sectional in Summit, N.J., the same place where Michelle Wie missed out.
 
But while most of those qualifiers will come and go quietly, Svoboda will certainly draw his share of support this week. The 26-year-old estimates he's played 150 rounds a year at Winged Foot since he was 12. He has won the club championship four times.
 
He made it to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Amateur on the course two years ago, then turned pro and has come up short at Q-school the last two years. He is on the Hooters Tour, where he ranks 84th on the money list, with earnings this year of only $4,600.
 
The USGA, as usual, is setting up the U.S. Open course to be a bear. Svoboda, who has seen it on good days and bad, isn't intimidated at the site of his course in a less-forgiving state.
 
'As far as how it normally plays for the members, they usually don't have rough anywhere near this height,' he said of the grass that's growing between 5 and 10 inches high. 'But for a lot of the club championships ... the course plays really hard.'
 
Last year, journeyman qualifier Jason Gore -- ranked 818th in the world -- took Pinehurst by storm, playing his way into the final pairing on Sunday before flaming out.
 
Maybe with home-course advantage, Svoboda could be that guy this year.
 
'I'm not going to let myself get ahead like that,' Svoboda said. 'I'm just going to go about my business out there and whatever happens, happens. It's going to be great.'
 
IN DEFENSE
Michael Campbell enters this year's U.S. Open as a defending champion, a much different status than last year when he was making a decent living, but hardly making himself a star, on the European Tour.
 
How does he feel about his chances this year, as compared to last?
 
'It's the same,' Campbell said. 'Last year, I thought I was hitting the ball pretty well and giving myself chances. I feel the same this year.'
 
Because of last year, it wouldn't come as a shock if Campbell won this year, even though he hasn't been doing much winning of late. His best finish this year is a tie for fifth last month at the British Masters. Besides that, he hasn't finished higher than 12th.
 
Coming into last year's Open at Pinehurst, he had three top-10 finishes.
 
'The results haven't shown it, but I can tell how I'm hitting the ball,' Campbell said. 'I'm feeling a lot better. I feel like if I can keep the ball in play, get it down the middle, I'm going to have a chance.'
 
LEFT BEHIND
Because of the U.S. Open's limited field of exemptions and large number of qualifiers, many familiar names and some PGA TOUR regulars won't be at Winged Foot this week.
 
Among those who failed to qualify are: John Daly, Joe Ogilvie, Jeff Maggert, Justin Rose, Kirk Triplett, Jonathan Kaye, Craig Parry, Joe Durant, Jesper Parnevik, Kevin Sutherland and Jason Gore.
 
Rose played well enough to get into a playoff at sectional qualifying, but he didn't think his score would be good enough when he finished and left town before the playoff began.
 
SLUMAN'S ASSESSMENT
Jeff Sluman heard plenty of horror stories about Winged Foot, typical any time the U.S. Open comes to this man-sized course. But his first look at the course Monday, even playing in a group of big-hitters like Tiger Woods, didn't make him feel like he couldn't handle it.
 
'I thought it was perfect. The width of the fairways ... were very fair and almost generous,' he said.
 
Then he thought about what he said.
 
'Hopefully, I won't live to regret those words when I air it out,' he said.
 
Sluman was the first to hit from every fairway Monday while playing with Woods, Charles Howell III and Bo Van Pelt. But all of them were tested on the par-3 third hole, which they played from the back tee.
 
There are two tees for the U.S. Open, one at 243 yards on the card, the other at 216 yards. Asked if he played from the back tee -- Sluman said it was 234 yards to the front -- he replied, 'I hope there's not another tee behind there.'
 
DIVOTS
Fans stood three-deep down both sides of the par-3 10th hole at Winged Foot after it was posted that Tiger Woods had signed up for a 1:14 p.m. practice round at No. 10 with John Cook, Tommy Armour III and Madalitso Muthiya of Zambia.
 
Before long, people were asking, 'Where's Tiger?' He wound up playing the front side a half-hour later. ... Vijay Singh's victory moved him up to No. 3 in the world ranking, while Ernie Els slipped to No. 7. ... Els withdrew from the Barclays Classic last week and went home to London to relax with his kids. Only his wife, Liezl, joined him at Winged Foot, and she sat alone in the grass surrounding the practice green, watching him work.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - U.S. Open
  • 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.