Notes: Scott's new caddie; Top 100 world courses

By Doug FergusonJanuary 7, 2014, 7:28 pm

HONOLULU – For the first time since Colonial in 2011, Adam Scott will have a new caddie on the bag this week at the Sony Open.

No, Steve Williams is not ready to retire.

''He's tired. He's old,'' Scott said of Williams, who turned 50 last week. ''One week in a row is enough.''

Williams called it the start of his semi-retirement. He has talked about cutting back on his schedule in the next year or two, though it would seem peculiar to come all the way to Hawaii just for one week.

The caddie failed to mention that the New Zealand Super Saloon Championship is next week, followed by the New Zealand Saloon Championships.

''He's chomping at the bit to have a go,'' Scott said. ''He's earned it. I'll let him drive one week, as long as he comes back.''

That won't be until the Honda Classic. For the Sony Open, the Masters champion will have a friend on the bag.


WORLD 100: Golf Digest has expanded its ''Top 100'' list to include courses worldwide, only that didn't change anything at the top.

Pine Valley claimed the No. 1 ranking in the inaugural ''World 100 Greatest Courses'' list that appears in the February issues available in print next week. The magazine had the top three courses in America (Pine Valley, Cypress Point, Augusta National), with Royal County Down in Northern Ireland at No. 4.

Shinnecock Hills was at No. 5.

The ranking was determined by 846 people from the magazine's U.S. Course Ranking panel, from panelists that work with Golf Digest's 27 international editions and other selected golfers. Forty courses from the top 100 were in America. Golf Digest said America has 46 percent of all the world's golf courses.

Rounding out the top 10 were Royal Dornoch in Scotland, St. Andrews, Muirfield, Royal Melbourne and Oakmont.


AUSTIN TIME: Woody Austin didn't make it to the PGA Tour until he was 30, and only then after a decade of playing mini-tours, working as a bank teller and even stocking shelves in a drug store. At least he gets to go out on his terms.

After more than two years of not having full status, the 49-year-old Austin appeared out of nowhere in Mississippi last summer and won the Sanderson Farms Championship. That got him back to Kapalua, which meant the world to him.

''Especially when you're about to turn 50 and have status,'' he said.

Austin turns 50 in three weeks, though he has no plans to play on the Champions Tour except for any major he gets in. Kapalua was just a start. Austin is most looking forward to the courses he was kept from playing when he lost his card – Bay Hill, Hilton Head, Colonial, Memorial.

''I don't plan on being one of those half guys,'' he said of splitting time on two tours. ''If I don't get in the FedEx Cup (playoffs) and have six weeks off, then I'll go play some on the Champions Tour. But I want to play out here.''

Austin lost his card in 2010 when he missed four cuts in his last seven events and finished at No. 129 on the money list. He got into only 18 tournaments the following year on conditional status, and only seven events in 2012 as a past champion.

His hallmark was ball-striking, and when that began to desert him, he was never very good with the putter (except for bashing it against his head, one of his more infamous moments) to atone for that. So what happened in Mississippi?

''That was the old me,'' he said. ''I knocked the flag over. That's me. That's what I do. This game now is only a putting contest. That's all it is. Technology has brought everyone into a small bowl.''

Austin said he was most disappointed that in his two years needing some help, he received only one sponsor exemption. The Greenbrier Classic found room for him – he missed the cut two weeks before winning – and Austin said he will never miss the tournament again.

He is exempt through the end of the 2014-15 season.


AN ISLAND ON AN ISLAND: Hawaii residents can get sensitive when they hear tourists mention the mainland as ''back in the U.S.''

Callaway Golf is the latest culprit.

In a press release announcing that it signed two-time PGA Tour winner Harris English to its tour staff, Callaway included a comment from English that was said ''shortly before leaving the U.S. for Hawaii.''


DIVOTS: One fan of the Dallas Cowboys had reasons beyond football to feel badly for quarterback Tony Romo's back surgery on Dec. 27. Jordan Spieth has to find a new partner for the AT&T Pebble Beach national Pro-Am. One possibility is country singer Jake Owen, who played last year with former U.S. Amateur champion Kelly Kraft. ... Former PGA champion Rich Beem is the latest to have a weekly show on SiriusXM. Beem made his debut Monday and will host the show from 1-3 p.m. each Monday ... Chesson Hadley has signed with International Sports Management, making him the first American client with PGA Tour status to sign with Chubby Chandler's group.


INFLATION STAT OF THE WEEK: In his first 24 starts as a pro, Tiger Woods won six times (including the Masters) and earned $2,626,115. In his first 24 starts as a pro, Jordan Spieth won the John Deere Classic and has earned $4,634,820.


FINAL WORD: ''We're all there. We all feel the same pressure. We all want to win that first major.'' – Brandt Snedeker on first-timers winning 15 of the last 20 majors.

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Watch: Daly makes birdie from 18-foot-deep bunker

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 11:14 pm

John Daly on Friday somehow got up and down for birdie from the deepest bunker on the PGA Tour.

The sand to the left of the green on the 16th hole at the Stadium Course at PGA West sits 18 feet below the surface of the green.

That proved no problem for Daly, who cleared the lip three times taller than he is and then rolled in a 26-footer.

He fared just slightly better than former Speaker of the House, Tip O'Neill.

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Koepka (wrist) likely out until the Masters

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 9:08 pm

Defending U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka is expected to miss at least the next two months because of a torn tendon in his left wrist.

Koepka, who suffered a partially torn Extensor Carpi Ulnaris (ECU), is hoping to return in time for the Masters.

In a statement released by his management company, Koepka said that doctors are unsure when the injury occurred but that he first felt discomfort at the Hero World Challenge, where he finished last in the 18-man event. Playing through pain, he also finished last at the Tournament of Champions, after which he underwent a second MRI that revealed the tear.

Koepka is expected to miss the next eight to 12 weeks.

“I am frustrated that I will now not be able to play my intended schedule,” Koepka said. “But I am confident in my doctors and in the treatment they have prescribed, and I look forward to teeing it up at the Masters. … I look forward to a quick and successful recovery.”

Prior to the injury, Koepka won the Dunlop Phoenix and cracked the top 10 in the world ranking. 

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Cut Line: Color Rory unafraid of the Ryder Cup

By Rex HoggardJanuary 19, 2018, 7:09 pm

In this week’s edition, Rory McIlroy gets things rolling with some early Ryder Cup banter, Dustin Johnson changes his tune on a possible golf ball roll-back, and the PGA Tour rolls ahead with integrity training.


Made Cut

Paris or bust. Rory McIlroy, who made his 2018 debut this week on the European Tour, can be one of the game’s most affable athletes. He can also be pointed, particularly when discussing the Ryder Cup.

Asked this week in Abu Dhabi about the U.S. team, which won the last Ryder Cup and appears to be rejuvenated by a collection of new players, McIlroy didn’t disappoint.

“If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”

McIlroy has come by his confidence honestly, having won three of the four Ryder Cups he’s played, so it’s understandable if he doesn't feel like an underdog heaidng to Paris.

“The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that,” he said. “The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

September can’t get here quick enough.

Mr. Spieth goes to Ponte Vedra Beach. The Tour announced this year’s player advisory council, the 16-member group that works with the circuit’s policy board to govern.

There were no real surprises to the PAC, but news that Jordan Spieth had been selected to run for council chair is interesting. Spieth, who is running against Billy Hurley III and would ascend to the policy board next year if he wins the election, served on the PAC last year and would make a fine addition to the policy board, but it is somewhat out of character for a marquee player.

In recent years, top players like Spieth have largely avoided the distractions that come with the PAC and policy board. Of course, we’ve also learned in recent years that Spieth is not your typical superstar.


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

On second thought. In December at the Hero World Challenge, Dustin Johnson was asked about a possible golf ball roll-back, which has become an increasingly popular notion in recent years.

“I don't mind seeing every other professional sport. They play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball,” he said in the Bahamas. “I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage.”

The world No. 1 appeared to dial back that take this week in Abu Dhabi, telling BBC Sport, “It's not like we are dominating golf courses. When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy?”

Maybe it didn’t feel that way, but DJ’s eight-stroke romp two weeks ago at the Sentry Tournament of Champions certainly looked pretty easy.

Long odds. I had a chance to watch the Tour’s 15-minute integrity training video that players have been required view and came away with a mixture of confusion and concern.

The majority of the video, which includes a Q&A element, focuses on how to avoid match fixing. Although the circuit has made it clear there is no indication of current match fixing, it’s obviously something to keep an eye on.

The other element that’s worth pointing out is that although the Tour may be taking the new program seriously, some players are not.

“My agent watched [the training video] for me,” said one Tour pro last week at the Sony Open.


Missed Cut

Groundhog Day. To be fair, no one expected Patton Kizzire and James Hahn to need six playoff holes to decide last week’s Sony Open, but the episode does show why variety is the spice of life.

After finishing 72 holes tied at 17 under, Kizzire and Hahn played the 18th hole again and again and again and again. In total, the duo played the par-5 closing hole at Waialae Country Club five times (including in regulation play) on Sunday.

It’s worth noting that the playoff finally ended with Kizzire’s par at the sixth extra hole, which was the par-3 17th. Waialae’s 18th is a fine golf hole, but in this case familiarity really did breed contempt.

Tweet of the week:

It was a common theme last Saturday on Oahu after an island-wide text alert was issued warning of an inbound ballistic missile and advising citizens to “seek immediate shelter.”

The alert turned out to be a mistake, someone pushed the wrong button during a shift change, but for many, like Peterson, it was a serious lesson in perspective.

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Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

“I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.