Course record at stake at the Old Course
His wife, Sarah, made a sterling silver scorecard of his record round that Strange hangs on the wall in his office.
But it’s not in an official record book. Brian Davis matched the 62 in the Dunhill Links Championship in 2003. That doesn’t count, either.
The St. Andrews Links Trust, which manages the Old Course, has thrown out previous records because the Old Course has been lengthened. The official course record is 64 by Bradley Dredge in the 2006 Dunhill, matched last year by Mikko Ilonen.
“I’m disappointed,” Strange said. “But in my mind, it’s a wonderful memory for me. As far as I’m concerned, I still have it. And until someone shoots 61, the course record belongs to me.”
It was a peculiar decision, considering that golf and its courses continue to evolve. Augusta National now measures 7,435 yards, yet the home of the Masters still recognizes its course record as the 63 that Nick Price shot in 1986 and Greg Norman matched in 1996. In both years, the course was 6,925 yards.
Raymond Floyd shot a 63 at Southern Hills in the 1982 PGA Championship when it was 6,862 yards. Tiger Woods tied the course record with a 63 in the second round of the 2007 PGA Championship when the course was 7,131 yards. Both remain course records.
“I think that’s a little shortsighted,” Southern Hills head pro Dave Bryan said Tuesday of the St. Andrews decision. “The course is longer, but the equipment more than makes up for that. It’s a moot point.”
Not according to the St. Andrews Links Trust.
Trust spokesman Mike Woodcock said the 62s were thrown out when Old Course was lengthened – by 164 yards – for the 2005 British Open. Tiger Woods established the course record in the first round with a 66 in the ’05 Open, replaced by David Frost and his 65 in the second round, and by Dredge a year later in the Dunhill.
“The course was lengthened in 2005 for The Open, fairly substantially in one or two instances,” Woodcock said. “The decision was that the next low score would be the record.”
Asked about the changes in equipment to match the longer courses – and how Augusta National and other major courses have left their records in tact – Woodstock said, “It is a difficult one. The only measure you can take is the length of the course.”
The Old Course has been lengthened again, with a new tee on the 17th making it 40 yards longer at 495 yards. With other subtle changes, the official card will be 7,305 yards. That’s a whopping 26 yards longer than in 2005.
It’s possible the course record could be established Thursday. Woodcock wasn’t sure, and some of that depends on the whether the R&A uses the new tee on the 17th.
Davis, meanwhile, took the news in stride.
“Just one of those things,” he said Tuesday. “I can understand why there’s a new course record. It’s completely different. It’s hard to relate back in time. I’ll just have to qualify for the Open and get the new record.”
ANTHONY KIM: Two months after surgery to repair ligament damage in his left thumb, Anthony Kim was cleared to practice Tuesday.
Kim, who won the AT&T National two years ago, was hitting wedges at his home in Dallas. A spokesman said doctors were encouraged by his progress, although he didn’t set a date for his return. The British Open is definitely out.
Chris Armstrong, his agent at IMG, said Kim hopes to return in time for the Canadian Open on July 22-25, and at least be back in time for the PGA Championship and the playoffs for the FedEx Cup.
Kim has dropped only one spot in the Ryder Cup standings, to No. 3, despite missing the last two months. Zach Johnson (Colonial) and Bubba Watson (Travelers) are the only Americans to have won tournaments during his absence. His is No. 4 in the FedEx Cup standings.
BRITISH OPEN HOPES: Justin Rose had signed up for the 36-hole British Open qualifier that was played Tuesday on four links courses in Scotland. Thanks to his last two PGA Tour events, Rose is virtually a lock to play St. Andrews.
Two spots have been set aside for the top players (not already exempt) from a cumulative money list that includes The Players Championship and five successive PGA Tour events through the AT&T National. Rose won the Memorial and tied for ninth last week in the Travelers Championship, putting him atop that money list with $1.236 million.
Right behind is Travelers winner Bubba Watson at just over $1.1 million. They are likely to earn the two spots.
Rickie Fowler is the next eligible player on the special money list at $747,750, followed by Ricky Barnes at $625,945 and Davis Love III at $600,565. Those three players could finish second at the AT&T National and move past Watson, who is not playing this week.
The British Open also offers a spot this week and at the John Deere Classic next week to the leading player among the top five and ties, provided they are not already eligible.
A DIFFERENT ROAD: The North Carolina-based eGolf Professional Tour is designed to help young players make their way to the big leagues, paying the entry fee to PGA Tour qualifying for the top 20 players on its money list.
Chris Baker’s road has taken an unexpected turn.
Baker was runner-up in Golf in Morocco Classic in Columbia, S.C., the last week in March, earning him an all-expenses trip to the Moroccan Golf Classic in Casablanca for a Challenge Tour event. When the tournament finally was played two weeks ago – it was postponed in April because of travel delays from the volcanic ash – Baker closed with a 68 for a two-shot victory.
That gave Baker a one-year exemption on the Challenge Tour, and the top 20 on the money list earn exempt cards for the European Tour. With his victory, and a tie for 35th last week in Spain, Baker is 15th on the money list.
“I am definitely going to continue to pursue my European Tour card on the Challenge Tour,” Baker said. “As an American golfer, this is a rare opportunity to be able to pursue.”
DIVOTS: Former U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover and Japanese sensation Ryo Ishikawa are among those who have signed up for the Scottish Open in Loch Lomond next week. … Mark Woodward has resigned as chief executive of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America. Rhett Evans, the chief operating officer, will replace him on an interim basis.
STAT OF THE WEEK: Bubba Watson and Dustin Johnson are the only two players in the last two years to win a PGA Tour event and lead the field in driving distance.
FINAL WORD: “I’m a very emotional guy. I cry all the time. I couldn’t get the ‘yes or the ‘I do’ out on my wedding day. And the pastor said, ‘You gotta say it. You can’t just nod.”’ – Bubba Watson, who broke down after winning the Travelers Championship.
Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo
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.
In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.
Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys
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?
Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'
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
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.
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.