Notes: DJ riding wedge play on prolonged hot streak

By Doug FergusonMarch 29, 2017, 12:33 pm

AUSTIN, Texas - Just over a year ago, Dustin Johnson headed to the range at Riviera in the rain to begin work on his wedges, the one area of his game that has contributed the most to his No. 1 ranking.

He talks all the time about the improvement with his short clubs. He also showed at Austin Country Club how much he trusts them.

The par-4 13th hole over the water was easily reachable for him with a driver, and that's what Jon Rahm did in the final of the Dell Technologies Match Play that sparked his rally. Johnson never hit driver one time all week. Not this year. Not even last year.

Alex Noren squared their quarterfinal match on the 12th, and then hit driver to the throat of the green, 60 feet from the flag. Johnson still went with iron off the tee, hit a wedge to 10 feet and made birdie. Noren missed from 7 feet, and Johnson was on his way.

''It just doesn't ever work out well,'' Johnson said. ''For me, if I hit a great shot it's going to land on the green and go over the back. And it's just a really hard up-and-down. I feel like I've got a better chance wedging it from the fairway.''

Johnson said the last time he tried to drive the 13th green was in a practice round in 2016.

''After that ... there's just no reason,'' he said. ''So ever since then, I've laid up every time.''

Perhaps it's no wonder that when asked if he were more proud of his power off the tee or his precision with the short clubs, Johnson chose the wedges.

That doesn't mean he's perfect with them.

In the semifinals against Hideto Tanihara, he came up short of the green with a wedge on the 13th, 15th and 18th holes (he also stuffed one to 6 feet on the par-3 17th, the money shot, when the match was all square).

''I'm going to keep working on them,'' Johnson said. ''You can't be too good with one.''


DIFFERENT VIEW: Nick Faldo has seen tee shots into Rae's Creek on the 12th hole at Augusta National - Greg Norman in 1996 comes to mind.

What amazed him about Jordan Spieth making triple bogey last year in the Masters is why he didn't go back to the tee. Spieth, like many others, chose to drop short in the expanse of grass short of the creek and hit that fat and into the water.

''It's not a ball drop. You just find your own angle,'' Faldo said. ''You've never practiced it. It's a really weird place to be. And the depth perception is horribly difficult because all you see is creek, bank and the green is just a sliver. There's no depth perception, and then you see two bunkers in the back.''

Faldo said the shot from there is compounded by the emotions.

''It's a crazy, difficult shot, let alone you're thinking, 'What have I just done?''' he said. ''It just shows you, when you get in a spiral, you can't spell your bloomin' name.''


DARQUEA'S WIN: Daniela Darquea keeps crossing off benchmark moments for Ecuador.

A year ago, she became the first player from Ecuador to play in the U.S. Women's Open. On Sunday, she closed with a 5-under 67 in the IOA Championship to become the first Symetra Tour winner from Ecuador.

''It's such a special feeling knowing that kids in Ecuador can look up to someone and say, 'I can play golf and be successful,''' she said. ''Golf is not a very popular sport in Ecuador, so this is so special and really important to me.''

Darquea isn't even sure how she got hooked. Her parents joined a club when she was little, even though no one in the family played and Ecuador has only seven courses.

Darquea is second on the money list. She also has partial status on the LPGA Tour by tying for 29th in Q-school.

''I didn't really expect to win this quick,'' he said. ''I just love to play golf and compete, and I'm super excited about this.''


BUBBA'S TIPS: Bubba Watson has never had a formal swing coach, but he got some help with his putting at the Match Play.

Who? He's not entirely sure.

First, he said Brandt Snedeker helped him with his ball position. But asked about those tips a day later, Watson said, ''I messed it up. It was Brooks Koepka that really helped me out.''

And now, a word from Koepka.

''I was looking at Bubba on Tuesday and we were talking about some things,'' Koepka said. ''Sneds gave him a lot of advice and I was trying to give him a little bit more.''

So it was both of them? Apparently so.

''He asked me to take a look at his putting and I saw some stuff that I've seen for a while,'' Snedeker said. ''I told him what I would do differently. I was giving him a hard time - 'You've got nowhere to go but up. You're not putting very good right now at all' - It was fun. Glad to see he's playing well.''

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.

Getty Images

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."

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 3, Tiger Woods

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 12:45 pm

After returning to competition at the Hero World Challenge in December 2016, Woods started the new year with an ambitious slate of tournament starts as he eyed his first full season since 2013. But he made it only three rounds, looking rusty en route to a missed cut at Torrey Pines before withdrawing abruptly in Dubai.

The “spasms” that led to that withdrawal turned out to be something far more serious, as Woods underwent his fourth and most invasive back surgery in April, a lumbar fusion. It brought with it an extensive rehabilitation, and at the Presidents Cup in September Woods humored the prospect that he might never again play competitive golf.

At Liberty National he also faced some scrutiny for an off-course incident from months prior. In May he was arrested for suspicion of DUI, an incident that produced a startling roadside video of an intoxicated Woods struggling to follow instructions from the arresting officer after driving erratically.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


While he was not drinking at the time, Woods was found to have a mix of several prescription medications in his system, including multiple painkillers. He checked himself into a private drug treatment program in July to address his dependency issues, and in October he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of reckless driving.

But the incident was barely a memory when Woods again made a return to competition in the Bahamas at the tournament he hosts. This time around he exceeded nearly every expectation, twice shooting 4-under 68 while tying for ninth among the 18-man field. Having re-tooled his swing following fusion surgery, Woods appeared relaxed, happy and healthy while briefly taking the lead during the tournament’s second round.

What lies ahead for Woods in 2018 remains uncertain, as the stop-and-start nature of this past season serves as a cautionary tale. But after a harrowing arrest and another serious surgery, he seems once again focused on his game, intent on chasing down a new crop of elite talent, some of whom are barely more than half his age.

Woods' initial comeback short-lived, leads to another back surgery

Article: Woods undergoes "successful" fourth back surgery

Article: Woods (back spasm) withdraws from Dubai

Article: Players disappointed Woods withdraws from Dubai

Really, again: Tiger undergoes fourth back surgery

Begay on Tiger: Future is 'extremely uncertain'


Woods arrested for DUI, enters diversion program after getting "professional help"

Article: Woods arrested for DUI in May

Article: Police say Woods had 5 drugs in system when arrested

Article: DUI affidavit states Tiger asleep in parked car

Dashcam video released of Tiger's DUI arrest

Begay, Rolfing: Tiger's arrest needs to be wakeup call

Photos: Tiger Woods' car during DUI arrest

Tiger Woods at his 2017 DUI court hearing.

Photos: Tiger Woods in court for DUI hearing

Article: Tiger gets 'professional help' for prescription meds

Tiger Woods at his 2017 DUI court hearing.

Article: Woods pleads in court guilty to reckless driving


Woods goes from unsure of his pro golf future to resuming full golf activities

Article: Doctor clears Woods for full golf activity six months after back surgery

Article: Tiger doesn't know what future holds

Article: Woods back to making full swings

Woods admits he might never return to competition

Making progress: Breaking down Tiger's driver swing


Woods returns to competition for first time since February at Hero World Challenge

Article: Hero comeback a success for healthy Woods

Article: Woods discusses his back: 'No issues at all, none'

Tiger Tracker: Woods finished T-9 in return to competition

Chamblee: 'I was wrong' about some of my Woods skepticism

Tiger, if you were hurting, would you tell us? 'Yeah, I'd tell you'


Woods out and about in 2017

Article: Video, images of Tiger's round with Trump

Article: Woods posts photo as 'Mac Daddy Santa'

Article: Tiger at U.S. Open sitting in Nadal's box

Article: Shirtless Tiger holds up a massive lobster

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 12:30 pm