Something was missing

By Brian HewittAugust 4, 2008, 4:00 pm
Sunday in Ohio was a day the PGA TOUR surely wishes had been left on the cutting room floor.
It was such a short time ago that we were all singing the praises of golf at its highest level because the Open Championship at Birkdale gave us Greg Norman, Padraig Harrington, a pinch of David Duval and more Rocco Mediate. It gave us a challenging and fixating backdrop of weather you wouldnt put your cat out in.
And we realized our game was safe even from the absence of Tiger Woods.
Sunday at the WGC-Bridgestone we realized that maybe it isnt.
The winner, Vijay Singh, limped to victory and showed once again that he cant be trusted with a putter in his hands no matter what its size or grip. Singh is NOT the favorite for this weeks PGA Championship at Oakland Hills.
Bridgestone also showed us that Phil Mickelson, who bogeyed three of his last four holes Sunday to drop into fourth place, isnt to be trusted with a driver in his hands down the stretch in the final round.
He, too, is NOT the favorite at Oakland Hills.
So who is?
The answer is
Thats right. There is not a clear-cut pre-championship favorite for the years final major.
Which, actually, will make for a pretty good story line.
Meanwhile, last week was one of those embarrassment-of-riches weeks in golf. Its that time of year when the schedule is chock full. Everywhere you wanted to look there were compelling angles.
Here was Michelle Wie tantalizing all her fans Thursday in Lake Tahoe with a first round, 1-over par 73 in the PGA TOUR event there. Unfortunately for the rapidly dwindling group of people who still believe she should be trying her luck on the mens side, Wie skied to a Friday 80 low-lighted by another quintuple-bogey 9 that matched the number she carded at the par-4 ninth at the U.S. Womens Open in late June.
There was Singh making a mile of putts Friday in Akron and finding himself in the last group Saturday at the WGC-Bridgestone with his old foe Mickelson.
Think Woods was watching that with interest from home back in Florida?
There was Annika Sorenstam having to hustle to make the cut at the Womens British Open at storied Sunningdale in England. Laura Diaz startled everybody with three eagles in her second round. And Lorena Ochoa, who would tie for seventh, struggled to regain the dominant momentum she had built early in the year when, after capturing the Kraft Nabisco, she had generated talk about a womens Grand Slam.
Finally, there was Fred Funk fighting off neck problems at the U.S. Senior Open where the most watched golfer was Norman. Norman had reminded us just last month that almost anything is possible when, with nine holes remaining Sunday, he led the Open Championship by a shot over eventual winner Harrington.
Norman didnt factor in the Sunday mix at the Broadmoor in Colorado, but wound up fourth. Funk was runner-up to winner Eduardo Romero.
As for Annika, well, she fired a final-round 68 and tied for 24th in what will probably be her last major championship for a long time. She is engaged to be married next year and starting a family, she says, is a high priority.
But Sorenstam left the big stage in style in England. She hit all 18 greens in her final round and she was a bigger story than the winner, Ji-Yai Shin, who had managed to keep it a pretty good secret that shes the No. 10 ranked player in the world.
I wish I had the hunger in me to stay motivated, Sorenstam said after her round. Because I can still play.
She birdied her last hole and called it my last putt.
Ive dedicated my life to golf, she added.
Quietly, Asian women won three of four majors in 2008.
And over in Tahoe another Hawaiian, Parker McLachlin, won on a Wie-less weekend.
Email your thoughts to Brian Hewitt

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.