A homecoming the Aussies do not want to miss out on

By Doug FergusonSeptember 6, 2011, 8:05 pm

NORTON, Mass. – Robert Allenby was more dejected than angry after the final round of the Deutsche Bank Championship. He finished out of the top 50 for the second straight playoff event. Time is running out for him.

Only this had nothing to do with the FedEx Cup and its $10 million prize.

“It’s about a tournament that doesn’t pay a dime,” Allenby said.

Allenby is among three Australians – Geoff Ogilvy and Aaron Baddeley are the others – who care more about going to Royal Melbourne for the Presidents Cup than to East Lake for the Tour Championship and a shot at golf’s biggest payoff.

U.S. captain Fred Couples made it hard on himself for promising a pick toTiger Woods, who has gone two years without a win and has played only two tournaments the last five months. That leaves Couples only one more pick, with complaints sure to follow that someone was unfairly left out.

International captain Greg Norman might have it tougher. He has two picks, and three Aussies who might need them.

Making it even more compelling is that all three grew up in Melbourne, where the Presidents Cup will be played Nov. 17-20. And all three of them were in the gallery in 1998, when the matches were last held at Royal Melbourne.

With two weeks left to qualify, one could get left out.

The Presidents Cup might not mean much to everyone, but it does to them. It means everything. That’s why Allenby was so melancholy after he finished at the TPC Boston, and the normally cheerful Baddeley barely cracked a smile when he shot his second straight 75 and tied for last.

“Definitely a big goal,” Baddeley said. “It was a disappointing week.”

Baddeley, who won this year at Riviera and has revived his game since returning to swing coach Dale Lynch, has done well enough that he is No. 25 and comfortably made it to the third playoff event next week outside Chicago – the final event before the Presidents Cup teams are determined.

That wasn’t the case for Ogilvy, whose year has been bizarre since slicing open his finger on a piece of coral in the Pacific Ocean two days before the season opener in Hawaii.

He was No. 91 in the FedEx Cup standings, and only the top 70 moved on to Chicago. Ogilvy had to birdie one of the last two holes at the TPC Boston to advance, and it didn’t look good when he hit his tee shot on the 17th behind a rock, leading to a one-shot penalty. He made a 20-foot putt to escape with par, and then made a 6-foot birdie on the last hole.

That gave him one more week, either to move into the top 10 in the team standings, or to audition for Norman.

Ogilvy is likely to be a pick. He doesn’t want it come down to that.

“Obviously, you would want as many Australians on the team as you could. That’s only natural,” said Ogilvy, who has a house off the fairway at Royal Melbourne. “But you also have to balance that with the 12 best players to give you a chance to win. If there was an obvious great player – Ernie Els or somebody who was out – it would be hard to pick two Australians ahead of that. If everything else is equal, you’d pick the Australians.

“But,” he added, “nothing is ever equal.”

Ogilvy was a 21-year-old who had just turned pro when the Presidents Cup first came to Australia. He remembers missing the cut in New Zealand and flying home to watch Australia’s biggest golfing event ever at the time.

“I never had seen anything like that,” he said. “I had never heard noise like that. It was an amazing affair.”

Ogilvy is only a fraction of a world ranking point behind Louis Oosthuizen, who didn’t qualify for the playoffs. That’s why it was so important to get to Chicago, giving him another shot at making the team. Even so, he still can’t believe he’s in this position. The notion of missing the Presidents Cup never crossed his mind in January.

“I never felt better about my golf game – ever,” he said. “If you had asked me in Maui the morning I hurt my finger, I would have said this was the best year I was going to have. I felt that way. But life happens. You hurt yourself. Then you hurt yourself again. It’s nothing half the tour doesn’t put up with each year.”

Once the right finger healed, he injured his shoulder at the Masters and wasn’t fully healthy until the summer, just in time to cope with a parasite that affected his stomach.

Allenby knows about injuries.

He once was hailed as the next Greg Norman, particularly when he nearly won the Australian Open at Royal Melbourne as an amateur. Then came a horrific car accident in late 1996 that nearly killed him. Allenby was just getting back to form when the Presidents Cup came to his hometown in 1998. He was there, but only as a spectator.

Allenby gets a rap in America for not winning enough – his last PGA Tour win was in 2001. It’s a different story Down Under. He has 14 wins in Australia, including 2005 when he won the Triple Crown – the Australian Masters, Australian Open and Australian PGA.

“I’m just trying to play as good as I can and work my way into the top 10 instead of having to rely on being a pick. It makes for a tough decision for Greg,” Allenby said. “I haven’t played bad. I’m hitting the ball as good as I’ve ever hit it, but I’m not making any putts. I think I’m forcing it. Greg knows how much this means to me.”

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.

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Rose leads Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose completed the final two holes of his second round early Saturday for a 3-under 69 and a one-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, who had a first-round 62, was among a quarter of the field forced off the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course after weather delays on Friday.

The Englishman, who bogeyed his last hole, had a two-round total of 13-under 131.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who completed his 64 on Friday, was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters. He has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.


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Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.


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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 12:30 pm