Bubba on a roll as the kids go home

By Doug FergusonFebruary 26, 2011, 3:24 am

2005 WGC Accenture Match PlayMARANA, Ariz. – J.B. Holmes and Bubba Watson are in the quarterfinals of the Match Play Championship, and it’s not hard to figure out how they got there.

In fact, you could say it’s elementary.

Holmes has five of the longest drives this week at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club, including a 400-yard shot in the opening round. He wasn’t always straight, but he was long enough to keep himself in the game and win the last two holes against Jason Day on Friday.

Watson didn’t win his match against Geoff Ogilvy on the par-5 11th hole, but it sure felt that way. Already 2 up in his match, Watson was 290 from the hole when he ripped a 3-iron with a tight draw that bounded onto the green and settled about 15 feet away.

Tiger Woods was knocked out of the first round of the Match Play Championship for only the second time in his career.

“I knew if I hit a bullet 3-iron, it could roll up close,” Watson said. “We were just thinking about getting it on the green. We were thinking about missing it left, so we’d have an easy chip up on the slope. I knew it was good. I saw where it was running and it worked out in my favor again. I swung as hard as I could at a low, bullet 3-iron.”

Three holes later, the match was over, 6 and 4.

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“It’s never fun to lose,” said Ogilvy, a two-time champion of this fickle event. “But it’s the first time I’ve played OK and lost. He played well. He hit great shots. I didn’t play that bad. I didn’t play ‘6-and-4’ bad.”

That set up more fireworks for Saturday morning – Holmes vs. Watson, two of the longest hitters on the PGA Tour, head-to-head on a course nearly 7,800 yards long in the high desert with wind expected to top 20 mph.

“It should be fun,” Holmes said. “Me and Bubba move it out there pretty good.”

Their explosive play shifted the focus from youth to power in the third round, as the kids got sent home – 17-year-old Matteo Manassero, 22-year-old Rickie Fowler and the 23-year-old Day all lost their matches.

The youngest player still around also is the best – Martin Kaymer, the highest seed left at No. 2. The “Germanator” can move up to No. 1 in the world if he wins two matches on Saturday to reach the championship match.

“If I can get up one more spot in the world rankings, of course I wouldn’t mind it,” Kaymer said. “But I think I’ll have a chance the next few weeks, months, as well.”

Getting to Saturday wasn’t easy, of course. Kaymer trailed by two holes until winning the 13th and 14th, then surged ahead on the par-3 16th when he hit a 3-iron into a stiff breeze to 12 feet for birdie.

Even so, it was the end that was painful to watch as it stirred Ryder Cup memories of Mahan.

Kaymer was 1 up and went long and left with his approach. Mahan did the same, and needed to at least escape with par to have any chance. Instead, he muffed yet another chip that barely got up the hill, well short of the green. He chipped long and made double bogey.

Mahan also flubbed a chip at the Ryder Cup on the 17th hole, although he was a long shot to win his match against Graeme McDowell. Still, it was an image that sticks among the key moments from Wales, and his finish against Kaymer won’t help erase that memory.

Kaymer advances to play Miguel Angel Jimenez of Spain, at 47 the oldest player in the field, who gave Ben Crane another short day at the office. Crane, whose 8-and-7 win on Thursday was the second-largest margin in tournament history, didn’t make a birdie until the 11th hole against Jimenez and lost, 7 and 6.

With cold weather due on the final day, the schedule was changed to avoid frost delays. The quarterfinals will be Saturday morning, followed by the semifinals. The 18-hole final match will be Sunday afternoon.

In other matches:

– Matt Kuchar won three straight holes to start the back nine as Fowler ventured into the desert, and while the kid tried to rally, Kuchar closed him out on the 17th hole.

– Luke Donald never trailed in beating Manassero, although the Italian teen pushed him to the 16th hole.

– Ryan Moore holed a 10-foot birdie putt on the 19th hole to defeat Nick Watney, who had birdied the last two holes to extend the match. In a cruel example of match play, Watney had nine birdies in 19 holes and lost, while Kuchar made only three birdies in 17 holes to beat Fowler. Moore is the lowest seed still alive at No. 48.

– Y.E. Yang continued his surprising run by beating McDowell, winning the last three holes with birdies, including a chip-in from behind the 16th green for a 3-and-2 victory.

Tiger Woods and Thomas Bjorn shared a moment after Woods was ousted from the first round. 'The game of golf needs him back at his best,' Bjorn said.

Watson’s performance has been so dominant that he has led every hole he has played for three days. He has won the opening hole all three rounds and closed out matches on the 16th hole, 13th hole and 14th hole.

“Hit a lot of good putts, a lot of good iron shots. Haven’t missed that many fairways, probably no more than five all three days,” Watson said. “So it’s been good so far. And I’ve won every time, so it works out.”

No one feels more grateful than Holmes, who didn’t even get into the 64-man field until Tuesday when Tim Clark withdrew. He took over the No. 22 seed in the bracket, but technically could be considered No. 65. The lowest seed to win was Kevin Sutherland at No. 62 in 2002.

Holmes only saw this course for the first time Wednesday when he beat Camilo Villegas. He is not driving it straight, but it is going long. That power figures to be on full display against Watson on Saturday.

And if this format were not already unpredictable, watch out for the wind.

“If that puts more people in the desert, that will give me an advantage,” Holmes said. “I’ve been practicing out of there.”

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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.

Nathaniel Crosby at the 1983 Bing Crosby Pro-Am at Pebble Beach. Getty Images

Crosby selected as 2019 U.S. Walker Cup captain

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 3:19 pm

The USGA announced that former U.S. Amateur champ Nathaniel Crosby will serve as the American captain for the 2019 Walker Cup, which will be played at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England.

Crosby, 56, is the son of entertainment icon and golf enthusiast Bing Crosby. He won the 1981 U.S. Amateur at The Olympic Club as a teenager and earned low amateur honors at the 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He also played in the 1983 Walker Cup, coincidentally held at Royal Liverpool, before embarking on a brief career in professional golf, with his amateur status reinstated in 1994.

"I am thrilled and overwhelmed to be chosen captain of the next USA Walker Cup team," Crosby said in a statement. "Many of my closest friends are former captains who will hopefully take the time to share their approaches in an effort to help me with my new responsibilities."

Crosby takes over the captaincy from John "Spider" Miller, who led the U.S. squad both in 2015 and earlier this year, when the Americans cruised to a 19-7 victory at Los Angeles Country Club.

Crosby is a Florida resident and member at Seminole Golf Club, which will host the 2021 matches. While it remains to be seen if he'll be asked back as captain in 2021, each of the last six American captains have led a team on both home and foreign soil.

Started in 1922, the Walker Cup is a 10-man, amateur match play competition pitting the U.S. against Great Britain and Ireland. The U.S. team holds a 37-9 all-time lead in the biennial matches but has not won in Europe since 2007.