Chip-in gives Davis 1-shot Valspar lead

By Doug FergusonMarch 12, 2015, 10:46 pm

PALM HARBOR, Fla. - Brian Davis takes pride in his short game, which saved him from a rough finish Thursday and gave him the lead in the Valspar Championship.

Coming off back-to-back bogeys, Davis chipped in from 25 feet on the ninth green at Innisbrook for a 6-under 65, giving him a one-shot lead over past champion Sean O'Hair and Ricky Barnes after the opening round.

For the 40-year-old Davis, it was the perfect finish to go with what had been an ideal start. Starting on the back nine of the Copperhead course, he missed three birdie chances inside 15 feet and still went out in 30. There wasn't a hint of trouble until a three-putt from 45 feet on No. 7 and a poor chip at the par-3 eighth that led to bogey.

And right when he thought he had hit a good approach on No. 9, he heard nothing.

''I expected a clap and nobody clapped,'' he said.

His chip came out with more over-spin because of the grain in the grass and might have gone about 6 feet by the hole except that it struck the pin.

''Delighted,'' the Englishman said.

O'Hair got even more evidence that his game is turning around by making eight birdies in the morning for a 66. Barnes, playing in the afternoon, was tied for the lead until he three-putted the par-3 17th from 35 feet and missed a 12-foot birdie putt on the last hole.


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Henrik Stenson, at No. 3 the highest-ranked player in the field, made his debut at Innisbrook by dressing in the same colors as the volunteers, though it wasn't intentional, and none of the volunteers had matching pants to go with his periwinkle shirt.

He didn't like the swing he had on the range, though he hit enough good iron shots early on to get by. Stenson hit wedge into the par-4 ninth for a final birdie and a bogey-free 67. He was in a group that included Justin Thomas and Puerto Rico Open winner Alex Cejka.

Thomas opened with nine straight pars, a bogey on the par-5 first hole, and then five birdies.

Stenson played with Adam Scott, who made four straight bogeys on his back nine that ruined a good round. He had a birdie on the final hole for a 71. Also in the group was Jordan Spieth, slowed by a double bogey in his round of 70.

''Fell asleep out there for about 30 minutes,'' Scott said.

The Copperhead course didn't have a lot of bite with its green, soft conditions. Thomas was among those who had mud on the golf ball, which led to his bogey at No. 1. It still was the sturdy test that makes it so popular. Even without much wind and a mostly overcast sky, the course average was about 71.4

''The golf course was there - no wind and fairly soft - so you have to try to make your score today if you could,'' Davis said.

It wasn't there for John Daly. He opened with a double bogey when he three-putted from 5 feet. He later four-putted for triple bogey on the 14th hole. A birdie on the final hole gave him an 81, but there was a sliver of good news at the end of his long day. He wasn't selected for drug testing.

''No, that's tomorrow,'' said Daly, with a grin.

He said on his SiriusXM radio show Tuesday that night the PGA Tour didn't have random testing because he has been picked at Innisbrook the last six years.

O'Hair won at Innisbrook in 2008, though he has fallen on lean times. He has had to earn his card at the Web.com Tour Finals each of the last two years.

''The last two years have been disappointing for me,'' O'Hair said. ''I lost really everything. I lost my ball-striking and kind of lost my mind, lost confidence as far as how I play the game because I like to hit a lot of different shots and I got very swing-oriented.''

DIVOTS: Course owners said Thursday the Copperhead course will go through an extensive restoration this summer, primarily to replace the grass in the fairways and rough, to rebuild the greens and reshape some of the bunkers to the original Larry Packard design. ''Hopefully, they don't mess around with the design too much because I think we've got a really good golf course here,'' Scott said. ... Padraig Harrington, in his first start since winning the Honda Classic, opened with a 76. ... Georgia Tech senior Ollie Schniederjans, in his first PGA Tour event, made a 30-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole for an even-par 71.

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.