Dear Hootie

By Brian HewittNovember 1, 2004, 5:00 pm
Perhaps more than anybody else in sport, William W. Johnson receives more advice on how to go about his business. Johnsons business, when hes in Georgia, is serving as chairman for the Masters.
Most people just refer to him as Hootie.
And here, Hootie, is the latest for a suggestion box that is perpetually overstuffed:
Find a way to get Joey Sindelar into the field at the 2005 Masters.
Sindelar, you probably know by now, finished 41st Sunday on the 2004 PGA Tour money list when he failed to make the cut at the Chrysler Championship and when Jesper Parnevik birdied the 72nd hole and when Tommy Armour III bogeyed his last hole Sunday.
This combination of events dropped Sindelar out of the top 40. Which brings us to your qualifying standards. The top 40 on the 2004 money list are in for next April. Sindelar, who hasnt played in a Masters since 1993, is out for now.
I know he can still qualify if he ranks among the top 10 on the U.S. money list published the week prior to the 2005 Masters. He can qualify if he jumps into the top 50 in the world rankings at the end of calendar 2004; and he can qualify if makes it into the top 50 on the world rankings published the week prior to the 2005 Masters. (As of Mondays latest re-mix, Sindelar is No. 82 in the world.)
All of these avenues, however, are something of a longshot.
Heres the deal, Hootie:
Sindelar has been aiming for the 2005 Masters ever since he won the Wachovia Championship at the age of 46 last May. His two sons are 14 and 11 now. Last time he got to Augusta they didnt know the difference between the green jacket and the Green Hornet.
Sindelar, by anybodys definition is one of golfs very best good guys. Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts and Ben Hogan all would have enjoyed his company.
When they told Sindelar he had earned $1.08 million for winning at Wachovia, he said this that day:
Thats wild. I really want to know what my parents are thinking right now. Because my dad delivered mail for 35 years and my mom drove a school bus. Thats a stupid amount of money no matter what you do, let alone that. Well have a lot of laughs about that. Its bizarre.
I know what youre thinking right now, Hootie. Youre thinking, son, a man has to earn his way into our tournament. We cant have every Tom, Dick or Esteban teeing it up here at Augusta National on a whim.
And, of course, you are absolutely correct.
Thing is, there is this other qualifying standard for your tournament: Its written right there in the tournament by-laws: The Masters Committee, at its discretion, also invites international players not otherwise qualified.
Im not the first to wonder why there isnt a similar category for American players. And Im thinking if there was, Joey Sindelar, who represents everything American golf should be all about, should receive one.
Thanks, Mr. Johnson, for your time.
Email your thoughts to Brian Hewitt
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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.