Notes: Webb faces uphill battle for Olympic dream

By Doug FergusonJune 29, 2016, 1:43 am

AKRON, Ohio – One of Karrie Webb's greatest thrills was carrying the Olympic torch on the eve of the Sydney Games in 2000. She had a cousin who played for the Australian women's basketball team in the 1984 Olympics, and she has been a huge fan since then.

It's the reason Webb, a Hall of Famer with nothing left to prove, keeps a full schedule at age 41. Golf is back in the Olympics for the first time in 112 years, and Australia's greatest female player wants to be there.

But in a sudden shift in the world ranking, Webb now faces an uphill battle.

Minjee Lee is the highest-ranked Aussie at No. 13 and a winner in Hawaii this year. Webb appeared safe to earn the second spot until Su Oh was runner-up at the Kingsmill Championship and then tied for eighth in the KPMG Women's PGA Championship at Sahalee.

Oh is No. 42 in the world, while Webb has slipped to No. 60.

Webb is playing the Cambia Portland Classic this week (Oh is not playing), and the final tournament before the July 11 deadline to qualify is the U.S. Women's Open.

''The Olympics is pretty much why I'm still playing full time, so I guess that's a pretty big driving factor for me to be working as hard as I am,'' Webb said in March.

She started the year by finishing third in the Women's Australian Open, but has not had a top-10 finish since then. Oh, who won the Australian Ladies Masters in 2015, is helped by being an LPGA rookie, meaning she has fewer tournaments on her ledger that gives her a built-in advantage.

Lee and Oh, both 20, were on the Australian team that won the World Amateur Team title in 2014. They also were members of the Karrie Webb Scholarship team while growing up in Australia's junior golf program.


MICKELSON IN THE FALL: Phil Mickelson hasn't played a domestic PGA Tour event in the fall since the FedEx Cup began in 2007. He was on the Ryder Cup Task Force that came up with a new points formula, and the fall events were left out because Mickelson said it would be giving ''the bottom half of the tour'' a head start.

He will be joining them in October.

The Safeway Open, the first event of the 2016-17 season, announced Tuesday that Mickelson will play at Silverado Resort in Napa, California, on Oct. 13-16. It will be the first time Mickelson plays a PGA Tour event in America since 2005 in Las Vegas.

The Safeway Open is in its first year as title sponsor, replacing Frys.com.

''When we made the decision to be the title sponsor of the Safeway Open, Phil is one of the players we hoped would play and support our new event,'' said Bob Miller, chairman and CEO of Albertsons Companies, the parent company of Safeway.

Mickelson referred to Miller and the grocery company as ''one of our best PGA Tour sponsors for over 25 years.''

''Amy and I love going to Napa and now we have an even better reason to spend a week with the players and their wives,'' he said.

The Safeway Open is run by the golf event management division of Lagardere Sports and Entertainment, which also manages Mickelson.


HURLEY'S CHOICE: Billy Hurley III won the Quicken Loans National on Sunday and earned a spot in the British Open. That left him in a tough spot because his sister, Megan, is to be married in Virginia on the Saturday of the Open.

It wasn't a tough decision.

Hurley called R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers to tell him he would not be coming to Royal Troon.

''I wouldn't miss my sister's wedding for the world,'' Hurley said Tuesday. ''And I think that at this point in time for me and my family and the trajectory of our family, it's very important for me to be there to support her and her husband.''

The Hurley family has been through a lot in the last year. He sought public help a year ago at the Quicken Loans National finding his father, who had gone missing. His father was located, but then died of a self-inflicted gunshot a short time later. Weddings are emotional enough.

''It was a pretty easy decision at the end of the day,'' Hurley said.

He said the topic didn't come up on Sunday night. Hurley was still trying to soak up his first PGA Tour victory. He played a practice round at Firestone on Tuesday and called her from the golf course.

''She started crying,'' he said. ''So she was pretty thrilled that I'll be there.''


TIGER'S SON: Tiger Woods was asked during the telecast of his Quicken Loans National if he was close to returning, but before Jim Nantz of CBS Sports could finish the question, Woods replied, ''Close to what? Yeah, I'm close to beating Charlie?''

That would be his son, Charlie. And there might be some truth to that.

The 7-year-old son of the 14-time major champion tied for second in the Boys 7 division of a U.S. Kids Golf event. It was his first tournament.

''It was pretty neat, very special to get to watch that,'' Woods said.

Charlie Woods shot a 55 in the nine-hole event at Mayacoo Lakes in West Palm Beach, Florida. He finished five shots behind Henry Crowe.


WORLD CUP: Bubba Watson loves playing for the flag, and he would really like to do that three times this year.

He is set to qualify for the Olympics and said he was committed to going to Rio. He is No. 6 in the Ryder Cup standings and has played on every team since 2010. The tough one might be the World Cup at Kingston Heath in Melbourne.

Jordan Spieth is the highest-ranked American and can choose whoever he wants as a partner. Watson is No. 3 on the American list behind Dustin Johnson. Spieth and Johnson have not indicated whether they plan to play, although Spieth will be Down Under for the Australian Open.

''I'm pleading my way into the World Cup,'' Watson said.

Spieth said how he feels that late in the year depends on whether he stays in Australia for an extra week to play in the World Cup.

''I don't know what my schedule is going to be right after the Ryder Cup, if I'll play before the Aussie Open,'' Spieth said. ''There's a chance I'd play one of the Fall Series events. ... I'll probably have to make a decision somewhat soon on the World Cup.''

Meanwhile, Jason Day and Shane Lowry both plan to play in the World Cup. They withdrew from the Olympics on Tuesday citing concerns over the Zika virus.


DIVOTS: Keegan Bradley picked up his first victory of the year on Tuesday when he teamed with fellow New Englander Jon Curran for a playoff victory in the CVS Charity Classic over Bill Haas and Billy Andrade. ... The PGA Tour is donating $100,000 to the American Red Cross to help those affected by the West Virginia floods. The flooding forced The Greenbrier Classic to be canceled next week. ... The PGA Tour Champions is off this week, but not John Daly. He is playing the Barracuda Championship, only his second PGA Tour start of the year. ... The 61-man field at the Bridgestone Invitational is the smallest since 2001, when the World Golf Championship was only for current Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup players and had a 39-man field.


STAT OF THE WEEK: Only 13 players in the World Golf Championship at Firestone are eligible and still planning to play in the Olympics.


FINAL WORD: ''There's not going to be an asterisk, I don't think. You go win a gold medal, you're going to win a gold medal.'' - Jason Day, on the weakened field at the Olympics with 10 players having withdrawn.

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.