Aussie golfer Woods talked about family

By Doug FergusonDecember 16, 2009, 12:06 am
In Tiger Woods’ last tournament before his world was rocked with an infidelity scandal, the Australian golfer who played with him said Woods mentioned how he could stay in touch with his family when he was on the road.

“I remember him talking about how good Skype was for his kids and his wife,” Cameron Percy said in a telephone interview during the Australian PGA Championship last week. “It’s unreal that no one close to him knew about it. No one knew, I suppose. Up until then, he was the perfect role model for anyone.”

Percy considered the final round of the Australian Masters on Nov. 15 as the biggest day of his career, and now it carries an added distinction. He was the last golfer to play with Woods before his “indefinite leave” from golf to try to save his marriage.

“It was the best day of my life, and I suppose it’s tainted a bit,” Percy said. “But I’ll keep the memories.”

Percy, who grew up in Melbourne, was two shots off the lead and in the second-to-last group with Woods. His entire family was part of the record crowd at Kingston Heath that saw Woods close with a 68 and win for the 82nd time in his career. Percy, rattled by fairways that looked narrow with fans lining both sides of them, shot 72 and tied for sixth.

“A local boy from Melbourne, playing with Tiger Woods in front of the biggest crowds,” Percy said. “Everyone in that field wanted to be me that day.”

Two weeks later, Percy was on a family holiday when a friend called and told him to turn on his TV. He saw a picture of Woods and a photo of the damaged SUV that Woods drove into a tree. Then came allegations of rampant affairs, and part of Percy wondered if that was the same guy dressed in a red shirt and playing flawless golf Down Under.

“It was bizarre,” Percy said. “My initial thinking was, ‘This can’t be right.”’

Percy recalls Woods greeting him on the first tee and putting the unheralded Australian at ease with small talk.

“I remember there was a kid crying in the crowd on the third hole, and we were having a chat about how we used to wonder why people brought their kids to the course, but now that we have kids of our own, it doesn’t bother us,” Percy said.

Woods announced his indefinite leave from golf last week, and even when he returns, no one can be sure if he will continue to play overseas as much. Woods promised the crowd at Melbourne that he won’t wait another 11 years before returning.

How will the fans embrace him should he return?

“I can’t see this being an issue,” Percy said. “Our biggest idol is Greg Norman – not much difference there. The golfing public just loves to watch his golf. We have athletes in trouble for one thing or another. Once they’re on the sporting field, it’s all right.”

CAMERON COMES BACK TO EARTH: It didn’t take long for Cameron Percy to go from the ultimate high – a final round pairing with Tiger Woods in his hometown of Melbourne – back to reality.

Two weeks after the Australian Masters, his draw for the first two rounds of the Australian Open put him with Jian Chen of China and Shintaro Iizuka of Japan. Both missed the cut at a combined 49 over par. Chen shot 82-90, while Iizuka shot 83-82.

“Bit of a contrast,” Percy said with a laugh. “The tour really looked after me on tee times.”

The scores were one thing. Percy said toward the end of the second round at New South Wales – one of the most scenic golf courses in Australia – they asked him to take pictures of them.

“You don’t expect that from your playing partners in the middle of the round,” Percy said.

YOGI AND THE HOPE: Yogi Berra will take on a new role at the Bob Hope Classic as the first “Classic Ambassador,” in which he will perform a variety of duties during the 51st edition of the tournament in the California desert.

The Hall of Fame catcher played 15 times in the Bob Hope, during which he brought his brand of wisdom to the game.

“Ninety percent of all putts which finish short of the hole don’t go in,” Berra once said.

Among other things, Berra will hit the ceremonial first tee shot on Jan. 20 and present the trophy after the 90-hole tournament.

“It’s a privilege for me to be honored by the Bob Hope Classic, which has always been a wonderful tournament,” Berra said. “I thought the world of Bob, for all he’s done for golf and everything and everybody, and I cherish the times we spent. Playing this tournament every year over the last 15 years, I can honestly say has been a great experience.

“I can also say, being 84, not many can beat me in experience.”

GRAND FINALE: Anders Hansen of Denmark goes into the South African Open with a chance to become the first player from the northern hemisphere to win the Order of Merit on the Sunshine Tour.

That’s not all that’s at stake. The South African Open is the final tournament of the year that awards world ranking points, and the top 50 in the final ranking Dec. 28 will be invited to play in the Masters. Hansen is at No. 48.

Even without golf being played, points are gradually reduced from a player’s record each week. Among the players on the bubble for an automatic bid to Augusta National are Miguel Angel Jimenez (No. 47), former British Open champion Ben Curtis (No. 49) and big-hitting Alvaro Quiros of Spain at No. 50.

Ryan Moore and Dustin Johnson are just outside the top 50, although they already are exempt.

DIVOTS: Tadd Fujikawa has been given a sponsor’s exemption to the Sony Open in Honolulu. … Ryo Ishikawa had last week off, and the Japanese teenager certainly earned his break. Dating to the PGA Championship, Ishikawa played 17 weeks in a row. … Lee Westwood has won the Golf Writers’ Trophy, joining Seve Ballesteros as the only three-time winners of the award from the Association of Golf Writers in Britain. Catriona Matthew, who won the Women’s British Open, was the runner-up, while Rory McIlroy finished third. … Sophie Gustafson won the Ladies European Tour money title for the fourth time this decade.

STAT OF THE WEEK: The Ladies European Tour has more tournaments (27) on its 2010 schedule than the LPGA (24).

FINAL WORD: “I just don’t think that even if you become a professional athlete that you have to give up your education.” – Michelle Wie, who took a final exam at Stanford over the Internet just hours before shooting 65 in the final round of the Dubai Ladies Masters.

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.