Notes Matsuyama headed from Augusta to Japan to help countrymen

By Associated PressApril 11, 2011, 5:51 am

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Hideki Matsuyama hoped his play at the Masters would bring some joy to earthquake victims in Japan.

Now he's going to bring them some help.

The 19-year-old amateur will return Monday to Sendai and join relief efforts in the city that took the brunt of the March 11 earthquake and the tsunami that followed. Matsuyama is a student at Sendai's Tohoku Fukushi University.

'I think that it will be kind of a refreshing experience for me just away from golf and just to do something different,' Matsuyama said through an interpreter.

Matsuyama earned his spot at the Masters by winning the Asian Amateur last October. He was practicing in Australia when the quake hit and, after seeing the devastation in his city, debated whether he should even come to the Masters. But he decided playing well here was the best way he could help.

He was the only amateur to make the cut, and his 68 Saturday was the lowest by an amateur since James Driscoll's in the first round in 2001. Matsuyama shot a 74 on Sunday, but a birdie on 18 put him at 1 under for the tournament. His 287 was the lowest score by an amateur since Ryan Moore finished with the same total in 2005.

'There are some hard times right now in Japan, and hopefully my play was able to bring some encouragement to those who are in need right now,' he said.

Being at Augusta National was a welcome diversion for the teenager, and he'll carry the memories with him when he returns to the destruction and devastation in Sendai.

'There are so many great impressions, great memories from this tournament,' Matsuyama said. 'But as I came up the hill on the 18th hole and I heard the applause from the gallery, that just give me chills.'

Meanwhile, Ryo Ishikawa will be donating his winnings Sunday – $93,200 – to relief efforts after tying for 20th. The Japanese star announced last week that he is donating all of his 2011 earnings on the golf course to quake victims.

STRICKER'S SCHEDULE: Golf fans will be seeing a little less of Steve Stricker this summer.

Stricker said Sunday he plans to reduce his schedule, playing only 16 or 17 tournaments. The 44-year-old has two daughters, 12 and 4, and wants to be able to spend more time with them.

'It's just time to stay home a little bit more,' said Stricker, who still lives year-round in Madison, Wis.

This is not a step toward the Champions Tour, however.

Stricker won twice last year, and has three top-10 finishes already this year. He tied for fourth last week in Houston. He made seven birdies Sunday on his way to a 2-under 70, and finished the Masters tied for 11th at 5 under.

'If you looked at my last five wins, they were all coming off a week off or two weeks off,' Stricker said. 'So that kind of told me something, too, that it's not bad for me to come back and feel rested. And I work at it a lot at home, too. That's the goal, to stay home a little bit more and then be prepared and ready to play fewer tournaments than I've been playing.'
Phil Mickelson won't be rolling through the Krispy Kreme drive-thru in his green jacket anytime soon.

Lefty could never get his putter going, costing the defending champ any chance he had of winning a fourth Masters title. His 74 on Sunday was his worst round of the week, and he finished the tournament tied for 27th at 1 under.

'I struggled with the blade again today and it was a frustrating week, really, putting,' Mickelson said. 'I love these greens. I usually putt them very well, but I struggled this week.'

Mickelson plans to take the next three weeks off before playing Charlotte and The Players Championship.

'I'm excited about playing golf and finishing the year right,' he said. 'I feel like my game has been coming around, and I'm looking forward to getting back out and competing.'
The Aussies brought their own army to the Masters.

With Jason Day and Adam Scott playing together and in contention until the very end, their gallery Sunday was filled with giddy fellow Australians. One group of men wore suits that looked like Australia's Southern Cross flag, while three others sported shirts from Essendon, an Australian Rules football team.

John Duncan and 11 of his friends roamed Augusta National in matching bright orange shirts with 'US Masters Tour 2011' patches on the left sleeve.

'We were surprised to have three people on the leaderboard after the third day,' said Duncan, who is from Newcastle, in New South Wales. 'It's really good. The only problem is Geoff Ogilvy is two groups in front.'

No Aussie has ever won the Masters, but the tournament has special significance to Australians because of Greg Norman's heartbreaks here.

'We can win the other majors, but we can't win at the Masters for whatever reason,' Duncan said.

And the drought will extend for another year. Scott and Day finished two strokes behind Charl Schwartzel at 12 under, while Ogilvy was at 10 under.

'It'll happen someday,' Duncan said. 'And when it does, he'll never have to work another day.'

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.

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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.