Watson leads season-opening Mitsubishi

By Associated PressJanuary 24, 2010, 4:35 am

KAUPULEHU-KONA, Hawaii (AP)—Tom Watson knows the simple solution to turningaround an ugly putting performance.

“Make them,” he said. “Just make them all and that’s what I did on theback nine.”

Watson birdied six holes on the back nine for a 6-under 66 and a two-strokelead Saturday over senior newcomer Fred Couples after the second round of theChampions Tour’s season-opening Mitsubishi Electric Championship.

The 60-year-old Watson, coming off a win with Jack Nicklaus in the ChampionsSkins at Kaanapali, overcame a rocky start and finished with nine birdies andthree bogeys for a 15-under 129 total.

Players had a second day of mostly calm and hazy conditions at Hualalai GolfCourse, with the volcanic fog from Kilauea covering the Kona Coast. The scoreswere low again on this resort course, which is among the easiest on tour. Watsoncalled it a quarterhorse race.

“I hope my horse doesn’t trip. I’m letting loose. I’m not holding back onthe reins,” he said.

Couples, who shot a bogey-free 66, is making his first official ChampionsTour start on a sponsor exemption to the winners-only event.

“It’s not like you’re going to be a nervous wreck, you just want toaccomplish a goal and that’s to win,” Couples said. “It’s been done before. Idon’t know how many guys have played their first champions event and won. Butthat’s my goal.”

Fifteen players have won in their Champions Tour debut. They includeNicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player and three players last year, includingTom Lehman .

Lehman had a 67 to join Michael Allen (66) at 12 under. They were a strokeahead of Mark O’Meara (65) and Phil Blackmar (67).

Watson was paired with Lehman and will be with Couples on Sunday.

“Freddie and Tom gives our tour some street cred,” Watson said.

Couples said he’s looking forward to playing with Watson again. They werelast paired together at the 2003 British Open at Royal St. George’s.

After momentarily giving away the lead when he missed three very short parputts on the front nine, Watson surged back to the top with five straightbirdies to start the back nine to reach 14 under and open up a three-strokelead.

The eight-time major winner got the birdiefest going by two putting forbirdie on the par-5 No. 10.

“I made my first birdie at 10 and I said, ‘Let’s see how many birdies I canmake on the back nine,’ and I kept on knocking it pretty close … lo andbehold, that was the turnaround I needed,” Watson said.

He followed with birdie putts from 8, 15 and 12 feet, and added a tap-in forbirdie on 14 after a near-perfect 8-iron shot.

The last time he had five birdies in a row was the first round of the 2008Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am, where he went on to win.

After parring 15, Watson hit an 8-iron to 12 feet for his final birdie.

Watson is seeking his first win since teaming with Andy North to take the2008 Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf. Watson was winless last year, but finishedsecond at the British Open.

Watson, who was bogey free Friday, struggled with his putter early. Hestarted with a three-putt from 18 on No. 1 where he missed a 3-footer for par.He then missed a gimme on par-3 eighth and a 4-foot putt for par on the nexthole, which dropped him a stroke off the lead.

“I have a tendency of yanking it way inside and shut the face, and I justcan’t get away from it,” Watson said. “It’s a quirk in my stroke. I’ve foughtit for a long time. I haven’t been able to solve it yet.”

Just as it appeared Watson would self-destruct on the greens, he regainedcontrol of his putting and the lead.

Watson also led the first two rounds and took a three-stroke advantage intoSunday in 2005, but lost in a playoff to Dana Quigley , who closed with a 66.

Couples, who turned 50 in October, used his length to his advantage. The1992 Masters champion was steady all day, but his best shot came on aspectacular par save from the bunker on No. 11.

“You don’t hole bunker shots for par. It might be my only time I do thatall season, but it was good timing,” he said.

After his second shot skipped across the green and rolled into the bunker,Couples chunked his sand shot, which bounced off the grass and rolled back towithin a couple feet of Couples’ shoes.

He then holed his second bunker shot to save par and a share of the lead at10 under, drawing a wide grin from Couples.

“I did not want to make a bogey. I thought I could chop at it and pop it upand get it going, which I did on the second one,” Couples said. “That washuge.”

He closed the round with birdies on Nos. 16 and 17.

Lehman took the outright lead at 10 under by birdieing the par-3 fifth, ahole he triple bogeyed Friday. Watson took the lead right back with tap-inbirdies on the next two holes. He nearly holed it from the bunker on the par-5seventh, with his ball hitting the pin.

Lehman started the day with a birdie, hitting a wedge from about 80 yards to3 inches of the cup. But he couldn’t make a move after his birdie on No. 5 with10 straight pars.

The 74-year-old Player shot his age and for the 29th time in his storiedcareer, but was in last place at 6 over. Player got the birdie he needed toreach his age by holing a bunker shot for birdie on 16.

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.