Notes Howells Augusta Blues Ryder Cup Quest

By Associated PressMay 2, 2006, 4:00 pm
Charles Howell III is the latest player to weigh in about the rules at the Masters, although the Augusta native isn't talking about the way the tournament is run.
 
Howell thinks he needs to ditch the unwritten rules about how to play Augusta National.
 
Three weeks after he went 80-84 at the Masters to finish last among 91 players, Howell still doesn't have an explanation for what went wrong.
 
'I don't know what to say about the Masters -- not that I don't want to talk about it, I just don't know what to say,' he said. 'I didn't leave there hanging my head. In a weird way, it might have been the best thing that could have happened to me.'
 
The problem? Howell said he has held the Masters in such high regard that he followed a script on how to play the golf course, such as not going at the flag on No. 12 when it's to the right, or when to go for the green on the par-5 13th and 15th holes.
 
'When you grow up in Augusta and you've watched every Masters in person since 1987, there comes a list of rules in the back of your head,' he said. 'You're supposed to have that rule book laid out before you stick a tee in the ground. It becomes a bigger deal that it is. When you've got a nice number and you can see the shot and you're swinging it well ... why not?'
 
Howell said he has been too uptight at the Masters, in part because he grew up five miles away, and in large part because of the 'unwritten rules' on how to play. His goal next year is to feel more free and treat it like other majors played on courses he has never seen.
 
And playing two days with good friend Bubba Watson at the Zurich Classic helped.
 
'I need Bubba's personality -- just let it fly,' Howell said.
 
ON THE RISE
Making the Ryder Cup is such a priority for Lucas Glover that he won't even refer to it by name.
 
Glover missed an 8-foot birdie putt on his last hole at the Zurich Classic and had to settle for a 63, clearly disappointed because every shot counts. He didn't have a chance to win, but he wanted to finish as high as possible to earn Ryder Cup points.
 
'I was trying to get in as low as I could, but I put the steering wheel on,' Glover said of his final round at English Turn, where he was 9 under through 13 holes and finished with five pars. 'I thought I needed that putt for some ... other stuff.'
 
Go ahead and say it, Lucas: Ryder Cup points.
 
He tied for seventh, earned 50 points and moved up to No. 9 in the standings.
 
Of the potential newcomers to this U.S. team, Glover merits plenty of attention. A winner at Disney last year, Glover started 2006 by making bogey on his first four holes at Kapalua. He eventually finished sixth, and while he hasn't won this year, Glover has five top 10s and finished one shot out of a playoff at Torrey Pines.
 
His worst stretch came in two of the biggest tournaments, when the 26-year-old thought too much about the Ryder Cup and what kind of impression a good week would leave with U.S. captain Tom Lehman. He missed the cut at The Players Championship and the Masters.
 
'I put a lot of pressure on myself at Augusta and at TPC because of the field, and because that's where Tom is going to look,' Glover said. 'I could have lightened up on myself a little bit preparing and playing.'
 
ON THE SLIDE
Chris DiMarco started the season No. 3 in the Ryder Cup standings, and had high hopes after winning at Abu Dhabi, his first victory of any kind in four years. But a slow start to the year, followed by a rib injury while skiing, has him sliding.
 
DiMarco went 67-77 to miss the cut in New Orleans, the third time in his last four cuts he has missed the cut. His only top 10 on the PGA Tour this year is an eight-way tie for ninth at the Match Play Championship, where he was beaten in the third round.
 
He got injured when he fell down wearing a back pack, and either a cell phone or sunglasses case pressed into his ribs. How bad the injury is remains a mystery. DiMarco said at the Masters he was 90-95 percent. But he said last week at New Orleans that he was only about 50 percent healthy at the Masters.
 
'More than anything, it just kept me out of getting in a rhythm,' he said. 'I'm one of those guys that plays real well when I'm playing each week and I'm making cuts.'
 
ON THE MEND
Former U.S. Women's Amateur champion Virada Nirapathpongporn finally made it to the LPGA Tour, then spent a month watching what she could from home after a freak eye accident.
 
She was using an elastic band for a stretching exercise when it came loose and popped her in the eye. There were immediate concerns about a full recovery, but the 24-year-old Thai 'listened to every word my doctors said' and made a fully recovery in two weeks.
 
'It's probably given me the best perspective, watching TV coverage from the couch and seeing all my friends doing so well,' she said, removing her sunglasses to show eyes that look normal again. 'Seeing how great it really is out there, that really inspired me.'
 
The former Duke star tied for 12th at the Orlando tournament.
 
And does she still use the elastic band for her stretching?
 
'No,' she said. 'My coach asked if I'm back doing my exercises, and I just said, 'Coach, just looking at that thing makes me sick right now. Let me stay off it for a while.' I'll find other ways.'
 
DIVOTS
These girls rock, as long as they don't carry a U.S. passport. Americans have won only one tournament on the LPGA Tour this year, with South Koreans having captured four of the eight tournaments. ... The Masters has given $3.4 million to charity from this year's tournament, bringing to more than $29 million its donations over the last nine years. ... Chris Couch has never played in a major championship, and the winner of the Zurich Classic might have to wait until August. Couch said he forgot to turn in his entry to the U.S. Open. The only way to get to Winged Foot is to win one of his next four tournaments, or play well enough to get into the top 10 on the PGA Tour money list or the top 50 in the world ranking after the Memorial. ... Ai Miyazato said her biggest concern playing the LPGA Tour is watching how much she eats. 'I'm surprised about the size of the food that they serve over here,' said the 5-foot-1 dynamo from Japan.
 
STAT OF THE WEEK
Annika Sorenstam, Karrie Webb and Se Ri Pak all finished in the top 10 last week on the LPGA Tour, the first time that has happened since the season-ending ADT Championship in 2003.
 
FINAL WORD
'Of all the things we've done, I think the best thing he's done for me is get me going back to church.' -- Charles Howell III on his new swing coach, Bryan Mogg.
 
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    Snedeker starts slow in effort to snag Masters invite

    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.

    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.

    Rose (62) sets blistering pace in Indonesia

    By Associated PressDecember 14, 2017, 3:06 pm

    JAKARTA, Indonesia – Justin Rose shot a 10-under 62 Thursday to take a two-stroke lead after the first round of the Indonesian Masters.

    Rose, starting on the back nine at Royale Jakarta Golf Club, had five birdies to go out in 31, then birdied four of five holes midway through his final nine and another birdie on his last hole in the $750,000 tournament.


    Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters


    Gunn Charoenkul (64) was in second place and Kim Giwhan and Phachara Khongwatmai (both 65) were tied for third.

    Brandt Snedeker shot 72. Ranked 51st in the world, the American is aiming for a strong finish in Jakarta to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

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    LaCava: Woods wouldn't talk after H.O.R.S.E. match

    By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 2:27 pm

    The competitive streak within Tiger Woods knows no bounds - even on the basketball court, according to caddie Joe LaCava.

    LaCava has been on Woods' bag since 2011, and he recently shared a story on "Inside the Ropes" on Sirius/XM PGA Tour Radio about a clash between the two men over a seemingly friendly game of H.O.R.S.E. Actually, it turned into nine straight games (and nine straight wins) for LaCava, who exploited a weakness in Woods' on-court strategy while leaning on a mid-length jumper of his own:

    "The thing with him was if I missed a shot, which I missed plenty of shots, but if I missed the shot he'd go back down to the 3 (point line) because he liked to make the 3," LaCava said. "But it's harder obviously to make a 3, and I'd go right back to the baseline 12-footer, and he couldn't make it."

    It's a short list of people who have beaten Woods nine times in any athletic pursuit, let alone in a row. But for LaCava, the fallout from his afternoon of on-court dominance was less than subtle.

    "He did not talk to me the rest of the day," LaCava explained. "I didn't even get the old text, 'Dinner is ready,' because I stay across at the beach house. I didn't even get that text that night. I had to get take-out. He didn't announce he wasn't (talking), he just did it. I'm telling you, nine games in a row. Like I said, he's so competitive, even at something like that."