Big names giving chase at Tour Championship

By Doug FergusonSeptember 24, 2011, 10:00 pm

ATLANTA – The cup is close enough now for Hunter Mahan and Aaron Baddeley to seriously consider how much it’s worth to them.

Even if they’re not thinking about the same cup.

Baddeley knew when he showed up at the Tour Championship that it was his last chance to convince captain Greg Norman that he was worth a spot on the Presidents Cup team in his native Melbourne.

He made quite an impression Saturday at East Lake, running off four straight birdies on the back nine for a 6-under 64 and a share of the lead.

 “That’s a huge goal of mine, to make that team and play down in Melbourne,” Baddeley said. “It was definitely on the forefront of my mind to be able to knuckle down, play well this week and show Greg that I’ve got some form.”

Mahan is No. 21 in the FedEx Cup, and after he narrowly wrapped up a spot on the U.S. team, said last week he looked forward to the Tour Championship and “not having to worry about 10 things.”

Now he’s got 10 million things to think about.

Of the top five players in the FedEx Cup, only Luke Donald remains in serious contention. That means Mahan has a shot at the FedEx Cup and its $10 million bonus if he were to win the Tour Championship (and its paltry $1.44 million payoff).

“I honestly didn’t think that was a possibility,” Mahan said after holing a 20-foot birdie putt on the 18th for a 66.

Mahan and Baddeley were at 9-under 201.

Jason Day recovered from a ragged start and had a 69, leaving him only two shots back. The 23-year-old Australian was tied with K.J. Choi, who also started poorly and shot 70.

Donald, the world No. 1 who still can add his name to the prestigious list of players to have captured the FedEx Cup, had a 70 and was only three shots behind.

Bill Haas, who had a chance to make the Presidents Cup team last week until a 42 on the back nine at Cog Hill, was among those tied for the lead until the final two holes. He went bunker-to-bunker on the 17th and had to scramble for bogey, and then hit his tee shot on the 18th into the crowd, missed a 4-foot putt and made double bogey.

Haas was followed by his father, Jay Haas, an assistant captain for the Presidents Cup. He had to settle for a 69 and was so steamed that he refused requests for interviews.

Ten players were separated by five shots – the margin by which Baddeley trailed going into the final round – and the group includes Phil Mickelson, who won this event two years ago. He had a 67 and was only four shots behind.

“I feel like the first three rounds, I had three possibilities of 63, 64 that I turned into 68, 69,” Mickelson said. “If I can just not do that and keep it where I feel the round should be, I think I can make a run tomorrow.”

The pressure is building on so many fronts going into Sunday, and while it’s easy to focus on the $10 million to the winner of the FedEx Cup – $9 million of that in cash – for some it’s a cup that doesn’t pay anything.

Baddeley, a winner at Riviera early in the year, grew up in Melbourne and desperately wants to be part of his first Presidents Cup team at Royal Melbourne. He is among three Australians – Robert Allenby and John Senden are the others – under consideration for two of Norman’s picks. They will be announced Tuesday.

Baddeley spoke to Norman at the start of the week and knew the Shark would be watching. It didn’t make Baddeley nervous, it made him determined.

“For me, it’s a motivator,” Baddeley said. “I want to play good. I want to be on that team, so I knew I had to play well this week. It’s time to bear down. I got some good work done on Tuesday and Wednesday, so I was ready for Thursday.”

Most of that practice time was spent on putting. Baddeley is among the best in golf, though he felt something was missing. He worked on getting the club more balanced, paying particular attention to his right hand on the putter. He seems to have figured it out, making a 35-foot putt on No. 7, and a pair of 20-footers on the 14th and 15th.

The rest of his game was sharp, too. From 176 yards in a fairway bunker on the 13th, he stuffed a 7-iron to inside 10 feet for yet another birdie.

Mahan also got in some late practice, mainly trying to get the club more square at impact because of a change in his release since working with Sean Foley. He got into the picture by hitting his approach on the eighth to inside a foot, and then drilling a fairway metal from 274 yards to 20 feet for an eagle on No. 9.

Throughout the day, the projections for who might win the FedEx Cup were like watching the stock market. As many as five players moved to the top, although nothing really matters until Sunday.

Webb Simpson is No. 1 on the list, and he finished with a birdie on the 18th to get into a tie for 15th. If he were to finish in the top 12, he could still claim the $10 million even if Mahan wins the Tour Championship.

“It’s kind of weird,” Mahan said. “I could still win – I could play flawless golf tomorrow, win by five – and finish fifth in FedEx Cup points. I could finish 10th in FedEx Cup points. It’s one of those things where you can’t even worry about it just because you can’t do the math that fast.”

Adam Scott remains hopeful, at least of the Tour Championship. He was in the lead until a 39 on the back nine, compounded by a three-putt double bogey on the 14th. He wound up with a 74 and was five shots behind.

“Very disappointing,” Scott said. “Going to come tomorrow and have the round of my life, hopefully.”

Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

"It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’


Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

“Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

“That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.

The golf world celebrates Thanksgiving

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 6:01 pm

Here's a look, through social media, at how the golf world celebrates Thanksgiving.

Lexi Thompson:

Baking time!!

A post shared by Lexi Thompson (@lexi) on

David Feherty:

Jack Nicklaus:

GC Tiger Tracker:

Steve Stricker:

Golf Channel:

Frank Nobilo:

Ian Poulter:

Tyrone Van Aswegen:

Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017

By Grill Room TeamNovember 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.

Tributes pour in for legendary caddie Sheridan

By Randall MellNovember 23, 2017, 2:54 pm

Tributes are pouring in as golf celebrates the life of Greg Sheridan after receiving news of his passing.

Sheridan, a long-time LPGA caddie who worked for some of the game’s all-time greats, including Kathy Whitworth and Beth Daniel, died Wednesday in Indian Rocks Beach, Fla., at 63. He was diagnosed in July 2016 with brain and lung cancer.

Sheridan worked the last dozen years or so with Natalie Gulbis, who expressed her grief in an Instagram post on Wednesday:

“Greg…I miss you so much already and it hasn’t even been a day. 15+ seasons traveling the world you carried me & my bag through the highs and lows of golf and life. You were so much more than my teammate on the course…Thank you.”

Sheridan was on Whitworth’s bag for the last of her LPGA-record 88 titles.

“When I first came on tour, I would try to find out how many times Greg won,” Gulbis told Golfweek. “It’s a crazy number, like 50.”

Matthew Galloway, a caddie and friend to Sheridan, summed up Sheridan’s impressive reach after caddying with him one year at the LPGA Founders Cup, where the game’s pioneers are honored.

“Best Greg story,” Galloway tweeted on Thanksgiving morning, “coming up 18 at PHX all the founders were in their chairs. Greg goes, `Yep, caddied for her, her and her.’ Legend.”

In a first-person column for Golf Magazine last year, Gulbis focused on Sheridan while writing about the special bond between players and caddies. She wrote that she won the “looper lottery” when she first hired Sheridan in ’04.

“Greg and I have traveled the world, and today he is like family,” Gulbis wrote. “Sometimes, he’s a psychologist. Last year, my mom got sick and it was a distraction, but he was great. When I used to have boyfriend issues and breakup issues, he was my confidant. In a world where caddies sometimes spill secrets, Greg has kept a respectful silence, and I can’t thank him enough for that. He’s an extension of me.”

Four months after Gulbis wrote the column, Sheridan was diagnosed with cancer.

“The LPGA family is saddened to hear of the loss of long-time tour caddie, Greg Sheridan,” the LPGA tweeted. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and players he walked with down the fairways. #RIP.”

Dean Herden was among the legion of caddies saddened by the news.

“Greg was a great guy who I respected a lot and taught me some great things over the years,” Herden texted to GolfChannel.com.

Here are some of heartfelt messages that are rolling across Twitter:

Retired LPGA great Annika Sorenstam:

LPGA commissioner Mike Whan in a retweet of Gulbis:

Golf Channel reporter and former tour player Jerry Foltz:

Christina Kim:

LPGA caddie Shaun Clews:

LPGA caddie Jonny Scott:

LPGA caddie Kevin Casas:

LPGA pro Jennie Lee: