Notes: Els to stage charity series for autism

By Doug FergusonFebruary 16, 2012, 1:40 am

LOS ANGELES - Ernie Els is staging his “Els for Autism” golf challenge again, and this time he has backing from SAP, one of his top corporate sponsors.

He describes it as the largest golf charity event in the world, a series of 30 tournaments from April through September, with the final being held Oct. 19-20 at The Gallery Club in Las Vegas for the low net winning team (two players) and any team that raises at least $10,000.

In the first year, the event included 1,700 golfers, 9,000 donors and raised $1.8 million. “SAP has taken over the golf challenge, so they’ve come in all guns blazing this year, and I think we’re going to have a wonderful time,” Els said. “I think we can double what we did last year.”

The money is going toward a $30 million education and research facility in south Florida for children with autism. Els’ son, Ben, is autistic, and Els has been driven in recent years to help families cope with children with autism and to help find a cure.

Els said with his own money and separate fundraising, he has reached the $9 million mark toward building the center.

“I was struck when I got to the grand finale in Vegas last year,” Els said. “Ninety percent of the people there that played in the challenge, those people’s lives are affected by autism, and a lot of them brought their kids to the event. I met people, numerous families, where the families have three kids, and all three of them have autism at a level where they have to care for their kids. They can’t even go to a school or anything.

“There were some really heart-wrenching moments there,” he said. “We learned. We give back to the autism community, and I think we feel like a big family when we get together there.”


PRESIDENTIAL FUTURE: Fred Couples wouldn’t mind coming back as U.S. captain at the Presidents Cup for a third time.

A decision for the 2013 matches at Muirfield Village is expected in the next few months. The Americans have won the last two times with Couples at the helm, and with Greg Norman leading the International team. Couples said he has spoken to PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem and other tour brass.

“I think I have a very good shot at it, and I would love to do it again,” he said.

For the International side, speculation had shifted toward Nick Price, who wanted to wait until after Norman was captain, especially at Royal Melbourne last year.

Now, however, Ernie Els wonders if the Shark shouldn’t get another turn.

One of the complaints from the International team was it didn’t have enough say in how the matches were run - from picking which format to use on opening day, to how the team is selected (such as number of captain’s picks) to how the course is set up.

That’s the biggest difference from the Ryder Cup, which essentially is a competition between two tours. The Presidents Cup is run solely by the PGA Tour. Norman spoke out against these issues in the final press conference in Australia.

“There’s change coming, and it’s because of him,” Els said. “I feel Greg should get the benefit of these changes.”


CHAIRMAN FRAZAR: Harrison Frazar gave up golf for a corporate job when he left Texas, unsure whether he wanted to play the game for a living. It won’t be long before he’ll be in a coat and tie at board meetings again, very much vested in golf.

Frazar has been elected chairman of the Players Advisory Council, winning a player election over Scott Verplank and Ben Crane. As head of the 16-player group, that means Frazar in two years will become one of four players on the PGA Tour policy board.


MATCH PLAY: Ernie Els has had such a love-hate relationship with the Match Play Championship that he didn’t even bother playing in 2004 and 2005. This time, he barely made it. After sitting out last week, Els slipped to No. 65 in the world. The only reason he will get into the first World Golf Championship of the year is because Phil Mickelson is not playing.

Els is desperate to play in such tournaments as he tries to get into the top 50 to avoid missing the Masters.

“There were days when I didn’t even go there. It shows you how times have changed,” Els said. “Now I’m grateful to be in the field. I’ll be playing next week, and I’ve got to play myself into Doral and I’ve got to play myself into the Masters. That’s a nice break coming my way.”

Els wouldn’t have to worry about the Masters if he had won a green jacket. His closest call came in 2004, when he was tied for the lead until Mickelson holed an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole. Now, he owes one to Mickelson for getting into the Match Play.

“I’ll buy Phil a steak dinner this week at some point,” Els said with a smile. “Maybe send him a good bottle of Bordeaux or something.”


DIVOTS: The forecast is for a strong wind the opening two days, shifting directions on Friday. … UCLA sophomore Patrick Cantlay didn’t offer much when asked about his future, saying only that he is letting his father sort through the offers and possibilities. … Tim Clark is making his first start of the year. He played only four times last year - the last one as defending champion of The Players Championship - because of a mysterious elbow injury.

Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo

By Grill Room TeamDecember 15, 2017, 1:05 am

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.

Image via tom.lovelady on Instagram.

In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.

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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.