Notes: Donald OK with losing top ranking

By Doug FergusonMarch 6, 2012, 11:44 pm

DORAL, Fla. — Don’t get the idea that Luke Donald was camped out in front of his television for the final hour of the Honda Classic, waiting to see if Rory McIlroy would win and replace him as No. 1 in the world.

“I was actually with my daughters at the playground,” Donald said Tuesday at Doral.

Donald was No. 1 for 40 weeks, the longest of anyone except for Tiger Woods in the last 15 years. Sunday was the 49th time the No. 1 ranking had traded hands, and only 10 players had a longer stay at the top than Donald. The record belongs to Woods at 281 weeks.

Donald’s first thought about seeing that McIlroy won was that he now had room for improvement, at least in the ranking.

“It’s hard to go very far when you’re No. 1,” Donald said. “But no, I didn’t give it too much thought. That’s what happens. I’ve had a little bit of a slow start. Rory has played well and deservedly overtook me. I’ve never really questioned the world ranking system. It’s an unbiased, mathematical system, and he’s done enough to get to No. 1.”

Donald and Lee Westwood, whom Donald supplanted at No. 1 last May, could return to the top this week at Doral, though that could depend on how McIlroy fares.

Westwood said he was talking to Donald on the putting green Tuesday. He greeted Donald by calling him “No. 2.”

“He looked at me and nodded and he said, `Yeah, it’s sort of a bit of a relief.’ He said, `There’s only one way to go when you’re No. 1.’ At least there’s more than one way to go at No. 2,” Westwood said. “You’re at the top there and everybody shoots at you. But I think that’s the position you want to be in. You want the position everyone is envious of.”

McIlroy became the fourth player in 16 months to be No. 1, and it has changed hands five times since Woods’ 281-week reign ended in November 2010.

“I think it adds a little bit of interest,” Donald said. “When Tiger was No. 1, no one really talked about the world rankings much, and maybe the big talking point was who was in the top 50.


GONE FROM DORAL: A couple of ugly finishes left Jim Furyk little hope of getting into Doral, where he is a past champion. First, he lost a 3-up lead to Dustin Johnson and was eliminated in the first round of the Match Play Championship. Then, he opened with a 68 at the Honda Classic but shot 74 to miss the cut by one shot. Furyk missed an 8-foot birdie putt on the last hole.

He is No. 61 in the world, ineligible for a World Golf Championship for the first time since this series began in 1999.

Ditto for Ernie Els, who has fallen to No. 65. Els narrowly got into the Match Play Championship and beat top-seeded Luke Donald in the opening round. But because all the top players were there, it was hard to move up without advancing deep into the bracket.

Ian Poulter has the longest streak of consecutive WGCs at 25, followed by Martin Kaymer and Lee Westwood at 16. That streak includes the HSBC Champions at Shanghai, which became a WGC event in 2009.


HONDA AND KOBE: Tiger Woods shot 62 in the final round of the Honda Classic, then retreated to the locker room to see if it would be enough for a playoff. He had the golf on one TV, and the Heat-Lakers game on the other.

“We had the volume turned down on the golf and up on the Lakers game,” Woods said Sunday.

One of them did better in the ratings.

ESPN drew a 5.1 overnight rating on the Heat-Lakers game, which the Lakers won. The Honda Classic at a 3.2 overnight rating.

Even so, the PGA Tour had an increase of 78 percent over the previous year, and it was the highest overnight rating for the Honda Classic since it registered a 3.4 in 2002.

It was the second straight week of gains for NBC Sports and golf. It had 3.3 million viewers for the final of the Match Play Championship, up 30 percent from the previous year and the highest for a championship match that did not feature Woods since the event began in 1999.


DIVOTS: Tiger Woods remains a big draw, even among his peers. Miguel Angel Carballo, the alternate thrown into the group with Woods and Lee Westwood after Ian Poulter withdrew, brought two flags into the scoring trailer for Woods to sign after the Argentine rookie missed the cut. … Jaime Diaz has been named editor-in-chief of Golf World magazine, replacing Geoff Russell, who left to become executive editor of the Golf Channel. … The Honda Classic set new attendance records last week with 161,700 confirmed spectators from Monday through Sunday, when Rory McIlroy held off Tiger Woods. It was the first time Woods played the event as a pro. … The Greenbrier Classic will give an exemption to the winner of the Haskins Award, given to the top Division I college golfer as voted on by NCAA players, coaches and golf media.


STAT OF THE WEEK: Greg Norman in 2002 was the last non-Asian to receive a special invitation from the Masters.


FINAL WORD: “My dad always said to me, `If you’re good enough, you’re old enough.”’—U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy, who at 22 went to No. 1 in the world.

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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.

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.