Notes Poulter not happy Hollywood at Augusta

By Associated PressApril 11, 2010, 6:05 am

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Ian Poulter made a move at the Masters on Saturday.

Only it wasn’t in the right direction.

Beginning the day with a share of the lead, Poulter took a tumble down the scoreboard with a 2-over 74. He’s at 6-under, six strokes behind good friend and second round co-leader Lee Westwood.

“Not obviously what I was after,” the Englishman said. “I’m a few shots adrift of where I wanted to be. I’m not overly happy right now.”

Poulter once boasted he would rival Tiger Woods when he reached his potential, and it seemed like that time had finally come in the first two rounds. He played almost perfectly, bogeying only three holes out of the first 36 and working his way around Augusta National with calm confidence.

The only thing missing were his colorful – some call them loud or garish – outfits.

But Poulter never got in a rhythm Saturday. He followed back-to-back bogeys with back-to-back birdies and finished the front nine at even par. He made bogey on 11 and double-bogeyed the par-3 12th after a terrible lie in the bunker.

“I really had no shot,” Poulter said. “There was no sand at the front of the bunker. I’m on the downslope and I had no shot.”

He did birdie 13, but couldn’t make up any more ground on Westwood.

Or anyone else, for that matter, with Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods and even the seemingly ageless Fred Couples making charges Saturday afternoon.

“I’ve got a chance,” said Poulter, who is tied for sixth. “You saw what guys were doing on the golf course today. There was roars all around the golf course, eagles are being made, second shots being holed. This golf course can give up eagles quite easily. I’m just going to have to go out there and play well.”

COMING AROUND: Jerry Kelly was just telling his wife Friday night that he knew his game was about to come around.

Boy was he right.

Kelly shot a 67 on Saturday, matching Phil Mickelson for low score of the day. It was Kelly’s lowest score in 25 rounds at Augusta National, besting his second-round 69 in 2007.

“I feel like I’m two shots better than I used to be. Not like you’re going to play two shots better everywhere, but if I make some putts, I’m going to be able to shoot some lower rounds than I ever have in all the different spots,” Kelly said. “I told my wife last night, ‘It’s coming. One of these weeks, something really good’s going to happen.’ So it’s working in the right direction.”

Back problems forced Kelly to withdraw from the Sony Open earlier this year. He returned three weeks later and missed the cut at the Northern Trust Open, and has been trying to get his game back where he wanted it ever since. He’s had some low scores – he shot 65 in the second round at the Honda Classic – but has yet to finish in the top 10.

But he felt good all day Saturday, and made six birdies in an eight-hole span.

“I just feel great about my game,” Kelly said. “It’s still loose compared to what I know can happen throughout an entire day, butt it’s showing me more and more all the time, which is great.”

PLAY IT AGAIN: Y.E. Yang had the best seat in the house for Phil Mickelson’s show at the Masters.

Yang was paired with Mickelson on Saturday, the fifth straight round they’ve played together, going back to last weekend in Houston. Mickelson made up four shots on Lee Westwood in just two holes, making an 8-foot eagle putt on the 13th and holing out a wedge on the 14th.

“I’ve gotten used to him. … He makes players comfortable,” said Yang, the PGA champion. “Fortunately for me today I was in a good area, good seat, to watch him play some incredible golf. So I was in spectator mode today.”

It might have inspired Yang a little, too. After a bogey on 12 left him at 3 over for the day, Yang worked his way back to even par, closing the round with a 33-foot birdie putt.

Yang is tied for ninth at 5 under, seven shots behind leader Lee Westwood.

“The goal is still the same,” Yang said, “finish in the top 10.”

YANI VISIT: Yani Tseng is emotionally exhausted from picking up her second LPGA major last week at the Kraft Nabisco Championship. What better place to recharge the batteries than Augusta National.

Yani drove up from Orlando, Fla., to watch the third round of the Masters. She was a popular figure under the oak tree behind the clubhouse, doing a number of interviews with Asian television.

“I like to spend time here, just sit on the grass. It’s so beautiful,” Yani said.

She first came to the Masters last year to support fellow Taiwanese player Lin Wen-Tang. She is pulling for everyone this week, although her loyalty lies with her home club in Orlando – Lake Nona – so give the nod to Ian Poulter.

Her biggest hope is to return to Augusta National with her golf clubs.

“I really want to play here,” she said.

STAR POWER: Actor Mark Wahlberg was riding around Augusta National when he spotted swing guru Butch Harmon.

“Want a ride?” he called out.

“No,” Harmon said initially. “Aren’t you a little young to be sitting your butt in a golf cart?”

Wahlberg chuckled and Harmon relented, climbing onto the back. The teacher had been following student Phil Mickelson on the front nine, and after watching Lefty tee off on No. 8, Harmon rode as far as No. 9 before hopping off and heading toward the green.

“We’ve been working together,” Wahlberg said.

Some of that work was in preparation for Wahlberg’s appearance in the Golf Digest U.S. Open Challenge. The actor will join hockey legend Wayne Gretzky, Super Bowl-winning New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees and the magazine’s contest winner in trying to break 100 at Pebble Beach ahead of the U.S. Open in June.

DIVOTS: Phil Mickelson joined Dan Pohl (1982) and Dustin Johnson (2009) as the only players to make consecutive eagles at Augusta National. Pohl went on to lose to Craig Stadler in a playoff, and Johnson finished in a tie for 30th. … Ernie Els will likely go another year without winning a green jacket. He’s at 3 over after a 75 on Saturday. … Chad Campbell couldn’t sustain the momentum from Friday’s round, when he rallied to make the cut with a 68. He shot 80 on Saturday.

AP Sports Columnist Jim Litke and AP Golf Writer Doug Ferguson contributed to this report.

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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.