Notes: DJ finally ready to tee it up at Memorial

By Doug FergusonMay 29, 2012, 11:20 pm

DUBLIN, Ohio – Dustin Johnson was on the putting green at Muirfield Village with his light blue shirt untucked. It was a sure sign that he had not been at a PGA Tour event in nearly three months, only it had nothing to do with a dress code.

''I forgot to pack my belts,'' he said.

Johnson last played at Doral the second week of March. Coming off minor knee surgery in the offseason, he tweaked his back early in the year and then injured it the weekend before the Masters while pushing a jet ski out of the water.

''And then when I went to try to play golf the next day, that was when I knew it was injured badly, and I was not going to be able to play,'' Johnson said.

He sat out for two months, wanting to make sure it was completely healthy.

Now, he has some catching up to do. Johnson was No. 4 in the Ryder Cup standings when the season began, and he helped himself with a few tournaments in contention at Pebble Beach and Riviera. Without having played since March, however, he is at No. 24. The top eight automatically qualify.

''Just have to play good golf,'' he said. ''Probably wouldn't hurt if I won a tournament between now and then. That would definitely help. I'm just going to have to get in contention a few times and have some high finishes and play good in the U.S. Open and PGA.''

Johnson's record in team play is 2-6-1 in the last Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup, though he badly wants to be part of the Ryder Cup team at Medinah.

''I want to be on the team, and I'm going to do whatever I can to make it,'' he said. ''Obviously, having a couple months off hurts a little bit, but I've still got plenty of time to make the team.''

RYDER CUP SLIP: U.S. captain Davis Love III has not announced his assistants for the Ryder Cup in September. Fred Couples took care of that for him on Tuesday.

Couples was introduced as Presidents Cup captain for the third time, and he was asked if that hurt his chances of ever being a Ryder Cup captain.

''No, I really never looked at it that way,'' he said. ''I'm going to help Davis, I think.''

Then he paused and smiled.

''I don't know if that's out yet, but I believe he's pretty much put that out there.''

As the room erupted in laughter, Couples added, ''Davis, wherever you are. ...''

AMAZING GRACE: Branden Grace of South Africa is still trying to get acclimated to the big stages in golf, which sounds odd considering he has won more tournaments than any other player on the European and PGA Tour this year.

Grace won twice in South Africa, including a playoff win over Ernie Els, and then won the China Open and is No. 4 on the European Tour money list.

Even so, last week was a big one for him. He finished fifth in the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, his second time this year competing against a field that featured the top three players in the world ranking. The other event was Doral, a World Golf Championship where he finished in the middle of the pack.

''My first time at Wentworth, actually, and I think not just for myself, but everybody wanted to see how I can perform on that big of a stage with Rory and Luke and Westwood and those guys in the field,'' Grace said. ''I really played well. I didn't play as well as I wanted to play. I played decent, got it around. But it was a good experience, and I'm just looking forward to this week.''

The week won't be as long as Grace expected.

He had signed up for the U.S. Open qualifier on Monday. But with his fifth-place finish at Wentworth, Grace moved up to No. 55 in the world.

The top 60 in the world on June 10 are exempt from qualifying. Based on the way he is playing, Grace is comfortable that he will be among the top 60 in two weeks, so he will skip the qualifier.

''The decision is made,'' he said. ''Should be good enough to get into the Open, and take it from there.''

Instead of 36 holes in Ohio, he will fly to south Florida and spend a week with good friends Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel to prepare for the U.S Open.

QUALIFYING COVERAGE: The Golf Channel will never be busier than on the Monday after the Memorial.

It is sending reporters and producers to 14 U.S. Open qualifying sites around the country, from Texas to Colorado, California to Ohio, Washington to Tennessee. Golf Channel is calling it ''Golf's Longest Day,'' and it will be covering stories from 7 a.m. to midnight with three dedicated specials and news updates throughout the day.

RYO CADDIE: Another tournament, another caddie for Ryo Ishikawa.

The Japanese star has switched to local caddies for his next five tournaments on Tour, which began last week at Colonial. This week at the Memorial, Ishikawa selected Adam Claytor, who came highly recommended by Muirfield Village members. Claytor played college golf at Ohio Wesleyan and is in his second year working at Muirfield Village, while playing mini tours when he can.

Hiroyuki Kato, who has caddied for Ishikawa throughout most of his young career, did not accompany him on the trip.

FOLLOWING FREDDIE: It would be unfair to say that Fred Couples speaks out of both sides of his mouth. It's just that when the words come out, they go in all sorts of directions. The latest example comes from his thoughts on the golf course before the Senior PGA Championship last week.

Try to follow along.

''It's maybe a little forgiving, but if you're off, you're going to struggle to make pars,'' he said. ''We're talking about the par 5s now. So to be honest with you, I don't remember where the par 5s are. I think maybe the fifth hole is a par 5. Well, I don't really know. It's hard. It depends what way the wind blows.''

DIVOTS: Luke Donald, the first player to win the money title on the PGA and European Tour in the same season, has been awarded an honorary life membership on the European Tour. Of the eight players awarded life memberships in the last three years, Donald is the only one who didn't win a major. ... Paul Spengler, executive vice president of Pebble Beach, has been given the Herbert Hoover Humanitarian Award by the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. ... Zach Johnson has won eight times on Tour but in only three states - four in Texas, three in Georgia, one in Hawaii. ... Only 15 players who are exempt and plan to play in the U.S. Open were at The Olympic Club the last time it was there in 1998. That includes Olin Browne, eligible this time as the U.S. Senior Open champion.

STAT OF THE WEEK: Of the 17 Americans who have won on Tour this year, 11 started the season in the top 50 in the world ranking.

FINAL WORD: ''He is a bit slower than the three of us.'' – Rickie Fowler, on Ben Crane being the only player from the ''Golf Boys'' video who hasn't won this year.

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Snedeker starts slow in effort to snag Masters invite

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.

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.

Rose (62) sets blistering pace in Indonesia

By Associated PressDecember 14, 2017, 3:06 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia – Justin Rose shot a 10-under 62 Thursday to take a two-stroke lead after the first round of the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, starting on the back nine at Royale Jakarta Golf Club, had five birdies to go out in 31, then birdied four of five holes midway through his final nine and another birdie on his last hole in the $750,000 tournament.

Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters

Gunn Charoenkul (64) was in second place and Kim Giwhan and Phachara Khongwatmai (both 65) were tied for third.

Brandt Snedeker shot 72. Ranked 51st in the world, the American is aiming for a strong finish in Jakarta to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

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LaCava: Woods wouldn't talk after H.O.R.S.E. match

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 2:27 pm

The competitive streak within Tiger Woods knows no bounds - even on the basketball court, according to caddie Joe LaCava.

LaCava has been on Woods' bag since 2011, and he recently shared a story on "Inside the Ropes" on Sirius/XM PGA Tour Radio about a clash between the two men over a seemingly friendly game of H.O.R.S.E. Actually, it turned into nine straight games (and nine straight wins) for LaCava, who exploited a weakness in Woods' on-court strategy while leaning on a mid-length jumper of his own:

"The thing with him was if I missed a shot, which I missed plenty of shots, but if I missed the shot he'd go back down to the 3 (point line) because he liked to make the 3," LaCava said. "But it's harder obviously to make a 3, and I'd go right back to the baseline 12-footer, and he couldn't make it."

It's a short list of people who have beaten Woods nine times in any athletic pursuit, let alone in a row. But for LaCava, the fallout from his afternoon of on-court dominance was less than subtle.

"He did not talk to me the rest of the day," LaCava explained. "I didn't even get the old text, 'Dinner is ready,' because I stay across at the beach house. I didn't even get that text that night. I had to get take-out. He didn't announce he wasn't (talking), he just did it. I'm telling you, nine games in a row. Like I said, he's so competitive, even at something like that."