Notes: 'Group therapy' for Dufner; DJ heading to Euro Tour?

By Doug FergusonAugust 16, 2011, 11:55 pm

JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – Jason Dufner went from a devastating playoff loss at the PGA Championship to the next stop on the PGA Tour, but not before a brief detour for some group therapy.

A big group.

Dufner went to Auburn and has remained close with some of the football coaches, who called him Monday and asked him to come by the football complex. The Tigers had an off day, but Dufner got quite a surprise when he walked into one of the auditoriums.

“The whole team was in there, and they gave me a standing ovation,” Dufner said Tuesday. “So that’s pretty cool. I don’t know a lot of those guys personally as far as the players go. … You wouldn’t expect a 320-pound defensive lineman to be watching golf on Sunday, but they were. And for the coaches to take time out of their meetings and practice on Sunday saying, `We were checking text messages, watching when we could,’ that was a pretty neat experience for me.”

Dufner is the kind of player who doesn’t get too high or too low, and usually doesn’t let his mind get beyond the next shot. He had a four-shot lead with four holes to play when he made three straight bogeys and wound up losing to Keegan Bradley by one shot in a playoff.

Dealing with the loss apparently has been harder on those around him.

“Everybody that’s come up to me, I almost feel like it’s a funeral or something tragic,” he said. “I don’t feel that way at all. It was a great experience. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to win that event, but I had a great chance, best opportunity probably to win a tour event, so I feel good.”

“Maybe some guys are different. Maybe some guys would feel like it was a tragedy. But I don’t really look at it that way,” he said. “I’m disappointed with not being able to finish that tournament off with a W, but I’m a professional golfer. I’m going to continue to be a professional golfer.”

DUSTIN TO EUROPE?: The PGA Tour gets Rory McIlroy. The European Tour might be getting Dustin Johnson.

It’s not a straight-up trade since players have joint memberships, but Johnson is leaning toward joining the European Tour for the 2012 season. He already has played three European Tour events this year in South Korea, Germany and Sweden. Counting the four majors and World Golf Championships, he only needs a couple more to be a full-time member.

“I like traveling and seeing the world,” Johnson said before leaving the PGA Championship.

Johnson said he doesn’t have to decide until December.

The appeal is his enjoyment of European Tour events, and he considers the Race to Dubai an additional perk.

“You get two shots to win a money title,” he said. “Both would be nice to win.”

McILROY PLANS: U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy still hasn’t figured out his 2012 schedule when he takes up PGA Tour membership, although it doesn’t sound as though he’s going to play the bare minimum tournaments required.

“My guess is he might play more anyway,” said Chubby Chandler, his agent at International Sports Management.

There will be a few changes. Chandler said McIlroy likely will not play the Northern Trust Open at Riviera, which he did two years ago when he was a PGA Tour member. He also plans to swap out the Memorial, hosted by Jack Nicklaus, for the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill. McIlroy finished fifth at Muirfield Village, but it was his third straight week before a major.

“We’ll write a letter to Mr. Nicklaus, and Mr. Palmer will be really happy, won’t he?” Chandler said. “But I think Rory feels a responsibility as a U.S. Open champion to play more.”

Depending on how he fares, McIlroy won’t have to play all four FedEx Cup events. After all, two of the four champions wound up missing the first playoff event - Tiger Woods in 2007 because he didn’t enter, and Jim Furyk last year because he was disqualified for missing his pro-am time.

Chandler said Masters champion Charl Schwartzel won’t be playing the Barclays next week.

“Until the PGA Tour works out a (points) system that entices the guys to play, they won’t take advantage of it,” Chandler said.

MASTERS DOWN UNDER: The Australian Masters might have the No. 1 player in the world for the second time in three years.

Only this time, it will be Luke Donald.

Despite getting bumped on the schedule to a month after the Presidents Cup in Melbourne - it had been held the last two years the week before the matches - the Australian Masters will have Donald, Ian Poulter, Italian teen Matteo Manassero and defending champion Stuart Appleby on Dec. 15-18 at Victoria Golf Club.

Tiger Woods was No. 1 when won the Australian Masters in 2009 before record crowds at Kingston Heath. It remains his last win. Woods was No. 2 in the world when he defended his title last year at Victoria.

Woods is no longer with IMG, which runs the event. He instead has signed on to play the Australian Open. Donald and Manassero are IMG clients.

DIVOTS: Pine Valley is No. 1 in Golf Magazine’s 15th biennial list of top 100 courses in the United States and the world. The magazine relied on a panel of 100 voting members, including major champions and architects. Pine Valley, Cypress Point and Augusta were the top three in the U.S. and world lists. In America, Shinnecock Hills and Pebble Beach rounded out the top five, while the world list had St. Andrews and Royal County Down. … The Old Course at St. Andrews has raised its green fee by about $15. It now cost about $250 in the peak time of the year. … The Phoenix Open raised just over $4 million to give to local charities. Since the tournament first signed on a title sponsor in 2003, it has raised more $46.4 million.

STAT OF THE WEEK: Tiger Woods played eight times on the PGA Tour this year and earned $629,863 from a combined purse of $62.8 million. As a 20-year-old rookie in 1996, he played eight times and earned $790,594 from a combined purse of $11.95 million.

FINAL WORD: “I don’t see how you can see anything negative from losing in a playoff in a major, other than not winning.” - Jason Dufner, who lost in a playoff at the PGA Championship after losing a four-shot lead with four holes to play.

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.