Stricker defends at John Deere Classic

By Associated PressJuly 12, 2010, 12:18 am

2006 John Deere Classic

SILVIS, Ill. – As well as he’s been playing lately, Steve Stricker believes that even better days are ahead.

With his second straight victory in the John Deere Classic on Sunday, Stricker has two victories this year and another $792,000 in the bank. He can face the many challenges in the British Open at St. Andrews this week with confidence.

At 43, Stricker has a good thing going. For starters, he’s ranked No. 4 in the world.

“My confidence level has been building since 2006,” Stricker said. “That season was a good season for me and it’s progressively gotten better. I believe I’m a better player today than I was four or five years ago.

“But I also believe that I can get better and that’s what excites me, because I still feel like there’s things that I can improve on and get better at.”

For now, he’s content with another Deere title, especially after he had to work so hard on the final day to get it.

Ahead by seven strokes early in the round, he saw his lead over Paul Goydos dwindle to just two with five holes to play. But he maintained it the rest of the way, thanks largely to a critical birdie putt on No. 17, and closed with a 1-under 70,

“It was a tough day,” Stricker sighed. “I’m glad it worked out.”

For a while, he had to be wondering if it would.

He certainly didn’t display the type of precision he had shown in the first three rounds while setting a PGA Tour scoring record for 54 holes. But he showed the resolve he needed down the stretch, when he made just enough shots to hold on.

“I wasn’t the same player as I was for three days for sure,” he said. “You’re just afraid to make a mistake and it’s hard to play golf that way. I thought I got off to a good start. I wasn’t backing down. I was coming out to try to make birdies right away.

“For some reason, it just kind of changed and I don’t know why.”

Stricker endured the same kind of final round in his other victory this year, the Northern Trust Open at Riviera in February. He took a six-stroke lead into the final 18 holes of that tournament, and like this one, ended up winning by two.

“I reflected back to Northern Trust a lot,” Stricker said. “It was pretty much the same scenario. I just kept doing my thing, tried not to make a mistake, tried to put it in the smart side of the green, give myself a putt at it and force the guy to come and make birdies and try to catch me.

“I just didn’t want to hand him a shot here or there and give it away.”

Stricker finished at 258 – 26 under and a record for the tournament. Goydos, who dazzled the golf world with a 59 in the opening round, shot a solid 66 that on many other days would have been good enough for a victory.

But he simply had too much ground to make up.

“Strick was hard to catch,” Goydos said. “I tried and kept pushing and chipping and grinding and biting at him and doing what I could. But in the end, the putt he made on 17 was a world-class putt. That’s what top-five players do, that’s what Ryder Cup players do.”

Goydos did receive a nice consolation prize. His second-place finish qualified him for the British Open, so he joined Stricker and about two dozen others from the tournament on the two jets Deere officials chartered to fly them directly to Scotland.

Stricker started Sunday’s round with a six-shot lead and quickly bumped it to seven with a 7-foot birdie putt on the first hole. But he had to battle through the rest of the round before essentially sealing his victory at the 17th.

After driving into the trees right of the fairway for the second straight day, Stricker punched out to 91 yards, right in front of the green, then knocked a sand wedge to six feet. Measuring the putt carefully, Stricker tapped the ball and as fans yelled “Get in the hole,” it dropped.

“I told myself you can make this and you need to make this,” he said. “I look back at some of the big putts that I’ve made and there’s nothing to be scared of and I rolled it in. So that was a big putt. To go into the last hole with two shots instead of one was huge.”

Goydos also birdied 17 to stay two behind, but his last hope died when he hit into the water on 18. Stricker bogeyed the hole after hitting a tree with his tee shot, but it didn’t matter – he was a champion again.

“After I hit the tree, my objective was just to get it down there where I could get my third shot on the green and make a 5 and force him to make a birdie,” Stricker said. “I don’t have to make it, it doesn’t have to be pretty. I just wanted to win and fortunately, it worked out.”

Now it’s on to St. Andrews for a difficult course and, if conditions don’t improve, some nasty weather.

“It’s a tough turnaround,” Stricker said. “But I’ve got to get out there and get some golf under my belt and try to learn a few things.”

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.