Notes Iraq veteran gets golfing thrill
Damien Jordan, the last player to get into the field, was worth getting to know.
The 29-year-old rookie fulfilled one part of his dream by making it through Q-School last year on the Australasian Tour, a goal that had been put on hold when he enlisted in the Army and served two tours in Iraq.
The first tour was for five months in 2002, and he returned in 2005 for a seven-month tour of more heavy combat. He left the Army a year later, and took two years to polish his game. If anything, it has given him a different perspective than most.
“Regardless of what happens, I know I’ll go home at the end of the day and have a hot shower, have a good feed,” he said. “Half the time you’re over there, you’re thinking, ‘This could be the time when an IED goes off and I’m not going home.''
Jordan’s parents introduced him to golf at a young age, and he was slowly developing into a decent golfer when he felt compelled to join the Army, serving in the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment.
“A lot of people before me have given their lives for the country, and I thought, ‘Why should I be different and not put my end up?’' Jordan said. “That’s what I did. I met a lot of good mates, a lot of friends for life, and it made me stronger out here.”
Even now, he faces a struggle different from most.
He said his time in the Army cost him his marriage, which Jordan said was one of the untold statistics of Army life. He spends as much time as he can with his two daughters, ages 2 and 3.
Jordan said he will take medication the rest of his life to cope with the dreams, and he continues to see a psychiatrist twice a month.
“Even smells can bring it back,” he said. “I walked into a fruit and vegetable shop, and there had been an Iraqi shop that had the same incense going,” he said. “That made it tough. It was exactly the same. I’m trying to get away from stuff like that.”
Jordan mostly played the pro-am circuit this year in Australia, in which amateurs put up the purse while playing with the pros. It would be comparable to a mini-tour in the United States, and Jordan won eight tournaments.
The Australian Masters was his first event that counted on the world ranking. He opened with a 69 before falling well back and finishing toward the bottom of the leaderboard.
Asked for his greatest moment in golf, he smiled.
“Playing here, mate,” he said. “It’s the biggest thing I’ve ever done in my golf career. To make the cut, and to be out here, is just brilliant. And I got to see Tiger. To play in the field with anyone of that stature is phenomenal.”
Jordan was not sure if he would get into the Australian Open or the Australian PGA Championship next month. Asked for his ultimate goal, he did not mention winning or even playing a particular tournament.
“Just keep living the dream, doing what I’m doing,” Jordan said. “Every day is a win for me.”
RACE TO DUBAI: The European Tour has four players in position to win the Race to Dubai, which features a $7.5 million bonus pool in addition to the $7.5 million purse this week at the Dubai World Championship.
Rory McIlroy, the 20-year-old from Northern Ireland, moved atop the standings with his runner-up finish last week in Hong Kong, putting him about $190,000 ahead of Lee Westwood. They are followed by Martin Kaymer and Ross Fisher.
Paul Casey is fifth in the standings, but has withdrawn with a recurring rib injury.
PRESIDENTS CUP: PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said the Tour has agreed to look into the possibility of staging the Presidents Cup in China in 2019, which he said might be enough time for China to set a goal of having a player capable of competing in the matches, or worthy enough to be a captain’s pick.
If that’s the case, it would leave 2015 open for an international venue.
Finchem is intrigued by the idea that the Presidents Cup head to South America in 2015, one year before golf returns to the Olympic program in Brazil. Golf is only guaranteed the 2016 and 2020 Olympics before another vote of confirmation. It is important that golf put on a good show in Rio.
“We can’t just show up and say, ‘We’re here,'' Finchem said.
The Nationwide Tour is headed to Colombia next year, home country of Camilo Villegas. One problem is that the best players from South America are coming from Argentina – two-time major champion Angel Cabrera, Andres Romero, Ricardo Gonzalez, Daniel Vancsik and Estanislao Goya. Argentina held a wildly successful World Cup, won by Tiger Woods and David Duval, in 2000.
“Will that help with an Olympics in Brazil? I don’t know,” Finchem said.
He said the first priority before South America – perhaps Brazil, in this case – can be considered for a Presidents Cup is getting more golf courses built.
TIGER’S CHECK: Depending on the exchange rate when the check was written, Tiger Woods earned a little more than $250,000 for his victory in the Australian Masters, which was the sixth-lowest winning check of his career.
Two of those checks came on the PGA Tour.
Woods earned $216,000 for winning at Disney in 1996 and the Mercedes Championship at La Costa to open the next season. The tour negotiated its new TV deal later that year, and prize money took off a few years later.
The smallest check was $48,450 in 1997 for winning the Asian Honda Classic, followed by $190,798 for winning the Johnnie Walker Classic in 2000. Woods also received only $223,061 for winning the Johnnie Walker in 1998.
Of course, he received appearance fees that dwarfed the total purse in those overseas events.
DIVOTS: Tiger Woods earned 28 world ranking points with his victory in the Australian Masters, the fewest for any victory since he received 24 in the 2000 Johnnie Walker Classic. … There were 91 players who earned over $1 million on the PGA Tour, the fewest since 78 players in 2005. … The PGA Tour had 13 playoffs this year, three short of the record last set in 1991.
STAT OF THE WEEK: Adam Scott tied for third in Singapore and tied for sixth in Australia. It was the first time he had top-10s in consecutive tournaments since May 2008.
FINAL WORD: “I’m definitely playing well. I haven’t missed a cut since Tiger invited me to his tournament. But unfortunately, it’s not about missing cuts out here.” – Chris Riley, who failed to finish inside the top 125 on the PGA Tour money list to keep his card.
Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys
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?
Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'
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
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.
Crosby selected as 2019 U.S. Walker Cup captain
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.