Cauley on verge of joining very exclusive company

By Doug FergusonOctober 11, 2011, 9:39 pm

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Bill Cauley was a diver in the U.S. Navy who didn’t know much about golf except for the little he played on base at Mayport Naval Station. And he knew enough to realize that his little boy had a big appetite for the game.

Bud Cauley got his first set of golf clubs when he was about 5, and it doesn’t seem as though he ever put them down. Father and son used to spend hours at twilight on the putting green of a public course, chipping and putting until the pro shop closed and they could sneak over to the first tee and play until dark.

“We knew how to make a dollar stretch,” Bill Cauley said Tuesday.

It has paid off in a big way.

Cauley is on the verge of joining a distinguished group on the PGA Tour. The 21-year-old shot a 66 in the final round of the Open to finish alone in third and make $340,000. He has earned $671,150 in seven tournaments, the equivalent of being No. 114 on the money list.

If he can stay among the top 125, then Cauley would become only the sixth player to turn pro and get his PGA Tour card without having to go to Q-school. With two tournaments left - Cauley is playing at Sea Island this week in the McGladrey Classic - that appears to be a safe beat.

The others to do that - Ryan Moore, Tiger Woods, Justin Leonard, Phil Mickelson and Gary Hallberg.

Cauley wouldn’t allow himself to think that far ahead. It was only about four months ago that he left Alabama after his junior season to turn pro, driving from the NCAA Championship in Stillwater, Okla., to a U.S. Open qualifier in Mississippi. He made his pro debut in Congressional, tying for 63rd in the U.S. Open. Since then, he has played 22 rounds on the PGA Tour shot in the 60s all but five times.

Cauley is one of several college kids who have stood out this year.

Patrick Cantlay, now a sophomore at UCLA, is getting most of the attention. One week after he was low amateur at the U.S. Open, Cantlay shot 60 in the second round of the Travelers Championship, and then tied for ninth at the Canadian Open. Two college players from Georgia, Harris English and Russell Henley, won Nationwide Tour events.

Ultimately, the most impressive mark might belong to Cauley because of the elite company he is about to keep.

It’s one thing to have a good round, or a good week. Cauley said he turned pro because he knew he could compete with anyone, and then he has spent three months proving it.

He tied for 24th in the Travelers Championship (same as Cantlay), and tied for fourth in the Viking Classic, with a small purse because it is opposite the British Open. That got him into the Canadian Open, where he tied for 13th. The only cut he missed was in the Reno-Tahoe Open.

Perhaps even more impressive is that of the list of guys skipping school, only Woods and Mickelson earned cards with fewer chances than Cauley. Mickelson won as an amateur in 1991, giving him a two-year exemption when he turned pro a year later. Woods won in his fifth start.

Moore played in 10 tournaments before he earned enough money to get his card, while Leonard played 13 times and Hallberg got his card in his 14th start the summer of 1980. It could be that Cauley only needs seven chances.

“Getting starts out there and playing is really the most difficult thing,” Cauley said.

Getting noticed hasn’t always been easy this year, if not from tournament directors than from the guys he’s trying to beat. Cauley played the third round at CordeValle with Ernie Els. Cauley is only about 5-foot-7 with a slight build, and to see him walk down the fairway with the 6-foot-4 Big Easy, they looked like Andy and Opie headed to Mayberry’s best fishing hole.

Small wonder, then, that Els turned to Cauley that Saturday and innocently asked, “When are you going to turn pro?”

“I think by the back nine, he knew I was a professional,” Cauley said.

“That was my fault,” Els said with a sheepish grin. “Great guy, great kid. Met his father on the range. I wouldn’t mess with him ever. I hear he was in the military, in the Navy. Nice man. And he’s got a great son, a great future. He will be a great player.”

Cauley is not there yet, although it’s a first step worth noting because it is based on results over three months.

A tweet from Cauley as he left CordeValle shows how much he appreciates how far he has come.

“Thanks for all the support! Looking forward to next week. Very appreciative for the sacrifices my family has made to put me in this position.”

What sacrifices?

His father retired after 20 years in 2010 in the Navy. His mother is a reading coach at an elementary school who educated Bud at home so he could practice during the day. It’s not cheap to groom a golfer. Bill Cauley started a diving business on the side in which he would clean the bottom of luxury boats.

“I used to bring Bud along and let the gnats feed on him while I was diving and cleaning the boats,” his father said. “He saw what it takes to provide. And I think he saw what a strong work ethic can do.”

Another tweet showed how good life is treating him these days. During a practice round Tuesday on the Seaside Course at Sea Island, he made a hole-in-one.

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.

Getty Images

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?

Getty Images

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.