Tom Watson practices Wednesday at Crooked Stick

By Associated PressJuly 29, 2009, 4:00 pm
CARMEL, Ind. ' Fuzzy Zoeller recites his winning philosophy like its on speed dial.
Or perhaps he just remembers Crooked Sticks history.
The 1979 Masters winner contends it will take someone who can hit long, accurate drives and repeatedly find the proper placements on these sloping greens to win this years U.S. Senior Open title. Someone like John Daly, who zoomed into the spotlight with his grip-it-and-rip-it strategy at the 1991 PGA Championship here. Someone like big-hitting 17-year-old Maria Uribe, who won the 2007 U.S. Womens Amateur here.
Now, the senior tour is looking to add another chapter on the longest course in Senior Open history at 7,316 yards.
The only thing that scared me was when (course designer) Pete Dye got up and said he had stretched the golf course out to 7,306 or something, Zoeller said. I had to speak right after him and I said, Oh, Pete, Pete, youre losing the fact that were over 50 years old. Were trying to bring it back to us so we can have some fun.
The USGA didnt do Zoeller and the other 155 players expected to start Thursdays first round any favors like shortening the course. It could be argued that it wouldnt have been necessary, especially after 59-year-old Tom Watson nearly beat the youngsters at the British Open two weeks ago.
The bad news: 7,316 yards could be the short end.
With forecasters calling for rain into Thursday afternoon, weather could certainly make the course play longer. Zoeller, a local favorite who lives about 120 miles away, noted that his second practice round Tuesday, in warmer conditions than Monday, seemed to shorten things up just a bit.
Who will contend?
Defending champion Eduardo Romero of Argentina survived a tough back nine last year and returns with more knowledge about coping with nerves on Sunday afternoons. He ranks seventh on the tour this season with an average drive of 288.4 yards, a number that could keep him near the top of the leaderboard this weekend.
I think its very important, very important to have a few extra yards this week, Romero said. But I think the course is a fantastic course from the tee to the green. I have to play chip good, putting good, then you have to be full game in good condition.
Watson could be there, too. He is playing his best golf in more than a decade and comes to Carmel as the sentimental favorite, if not the overall favorite, after missing an 8-foot putt on No. 18 for the win at Turnberry two weeks ago. He lost in a playoff to Stewart Cink, then rallied to finish in the top 10 last weekend at the Senior British Open.
As he prepares for his third major in three weeks, Watson made an adjustment to his short game that he hopes will help claim his first Senior Open title. But Watson also is dealing with an illness that forced him to skip Tuesdays practice round.
The biggest concern I have is preparedness, he said. Its going to be difficult for me to be properly prepared for this tournament. Ill probably play somewhat conservatively opening it up, you know, not knowing the golf course so well and watch my fellow players play.
Among the other big names in the field are two-time Masters champion Bernhard Langer and two-time British Open winner Greg Norman.
Langer, 51, has the best scoring average on tour this season (68.65) and ranks in the top 10 in driving distance and No. 1 in greens in regulation (76.85 percent) ' a combination that could make him a real threat.
Norman spent last weekend battling in Britain. The 54-year-old led after three rounds but opened the final round by missing birdie chances on the first three holes and then settling for a double bogey on No. 17 to finish sixth, three strokes behind champion Loren Roberts.
I feel my game is fairly solid, actually, Norman said. I have no complaints at the moment. Im just a little bit like anybody would say coming off playing golf in Europe for two weeks then getting over here, its bit of a slug on us. But it is what it is.
Yes, Norman, Zoeller and Watson all remember how Daly won at Crooked Stick and realize this weekend could be a hitters paradise.
Its a long-ball hitters golf-course, always has been. I think if youre driving the ball well and youre a long hitter, you should fare fairly well this week, Zoeller said. But theres one thing about winning an Open, or a British Open, youve got to have patience galore because some crazy things are going to happen and youve just got to bear it. Its going to be a long week.
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  • 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.