Notes: Woods not considered for Comeback Player

By Doug FergusonNovember 13, 2012, 4:27 pm

NAPLES, Fla. – Tiger Woods was on the ballot when the PGA Tour began voting on its annual awards but only in one category.

Even though Woods missed four months with an Achilles heel injury last season, failed to qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs and finished out of the top 125 on the money list for the first time in his career, he is not under consideration as Tour Comeback Player of the Year.

Neither is anyone else, for that matter.

The Tour has changed the definition of the award, which began in 1991, and over the years had been given to players who came back from injury (Steve Jones, Steve Pate), a life-threatening illness (Paul Azinger) and bad play (long list but notably Steve Stricker – twice).

Now it will be awarded to a player ''who through courage and perseverance has overcome extraordinary adversity, such as a personal tragedy or debilitating illness, to make a significant and meaningful contribution to the game of golf.''

The award will be determined by Tour commissioner Tim Finchem and the four players on the policy board, assuming there is a candidate.

It is not unprecedented for no one to win the award. There was no one on the ballot in 2009 and 2011. That's partly due to what now has become a running joke, with Stricker becoming the only player to win the comeback award in consecutive years – in 2006 after he started the year with limited status and was considered for the Ryder Cup team, and in 2007, when he won a FedEx Cup playoff event and was No. 4 on the money list.

Andy Pazder, the Tour's chief of operations, said potential candidates down the road could include Jarrod Lyle, who is in Australia recovering from a recurrence of leukemia, or even someone like Chris Smith, whose life suffered a crushing setback when his wife was killed in a car crash.

For Woods – and J.B. Holmes, who had brain surgery last year – there was little doubt they were going to return to play.

Rory McIlroy is virtually a lock to be voted Player of the Year after winning four times, including an eight-shot victory at the PGA Championship and back-to-back wins in the FedEx Cup playoffs. He also won the money title (on the PGA and European tours) and the Vardon Trophy.

John Huh is the leading candidate for Rookie of the Year. He won in Mexico in an opposite-field event, which wasn't nearly as impressive as Ted Potter Jr. winning The Greenbrier Classic. What is in Huh's favor is that he started the FedEx Cup playoffs at No. 25 and was the only the rookie to make it to the Tour Championship.


RYDER CUP: The PGA of America has a new chief executive and a new president, and it might not be long before it picks a new Ryder Cup captain. Davis Love III has some insight on the selection, at least one aspect of it.

''I can guarantee you it won't be me,'' Love said after he finished his final round of the year at Disney.

Love's name surfaced not long after Europe's amazing rally at Medinah. The Americans have not had a captain serve more than once since Jack Nicklaus in 1987, and the last U.S. captain to do it twice in a row was Ben Hogan in 1947 and 1949. Love said he hadn't been asked, and he wouldn't be interested.

At least not for 2014.

''I love my team; I love the way they played, everything they did,'' he said. ''If I had another chance, the only thing I'd change is winning. It would almost be wrong for the guys who played for me and played so hard and so well ... to try to make up for it. I don't think it would be good. Maybe down the road if they had a gap.''

Love doesn't understand why the PGA of America is hung up on a captain being in his late 40s, or having won a major. He has yet to figure out how winning a major translates into being a good captain. He said players argued for Jay Haas immediately after the 2004 Ryder Cup. Love figures with the Champions Tour, television and news coverage, the older players still know what's going on.

David Toms, Jim Furyk and Phil Mickelson appeared to be logical candidates for the next several years. After that?

''If there's a gap where they don't have anybody who fits, and they asked me to do it 10 years from now, I'd do it – maybe,'' Love said. ''Back to back? I don't think so.''


Q-SCHOOL: Scott Brown was a lonely figure on the putting green at Disney for the last two days after he missed the cut. He saw no point in going home. Brown was No. 144 on the money list, and if he dropped out of the top 150, he would have to go to the second stage of Q-School.

His projected number fell as low as No. 149, and he wound up at No. 148. He could go home for two weeks before heading out to the California desert for the final stage of the last Q-School that awards Tour cards.

So many others were not so fortunate. Billy Hurley III finished at No. 151 by $165. Mark Anderson was tied for the lead at one point Friday, but he fell back and didn't make up enough ground to avoid the second stage, which starts this week at six locations and is a critical step in getting back to the Tour.

Those who don't make it have no status anywhere on Tour, unless they are a past champion.

Among those entered in the 72-hole stage are major champions Todd Hamilton, Rich Beem, Shaun Micheel and Lee Janzen. Also entered are a pair of Europeans ranked in the top 50 (Jamie Donaldson and Alex Noren), a former Ryder Cup player from England (Ross Fisher) and K.T. Kim, who played in the Presidents Cup last year.


JOE DEY AWARD: The U.S. Golf Association has selected Taizo Kawata of Japan for its Joe Dey Award, making him the first non-American to win the annual award that recognizes volunteer service to golf.

Kawata first got involved with the USGA in 1981 as the color commentator for the Japanese television broadcast of the U.S. Open at Merion. He later joined the USGA Rules Committee and has been a rules official at the U.S. Open and U.S. Senior Open for most of the last decade. He also helped establish the U.S. Open sectional qualifier in Japan in 2005. Kawata has been a member of the Royal & Ancient Golf Club since 1990.

Kawata, who played baseball at Ohio State, will be honored Feb. 2 at the USGA annual meeting in San Diego.


DIVOTS: Nicolas Colsaerts of Belgium and Peter Hanson of Sweden were among four international players who earned enough money to get full Tour cards for next year. The others were David Lynn of England, the runner-up by eight shots at the PGA Championship, and Ryo Ishikawa. ... The top 26 players in the world ranking are all Tour members. ... Stricker says he struggled with his putter over the second half of the year, and one statistic shows that. In the ''strokes gained'' category, Stricker fell to No. 67. He was No. 2 last year. ... Justin Leonard (No. 9) and Jerry Kelly (No. 25) will be using one-time exemptions for being in the top 25 in career money to have a full Tour card for 2013.


STAT OF THE WEEK: There were 67 tee shots of at least 400 yards on Tour this year, with 65 occurring at either Kapalua or Firestone. The exceptions were Retief Goosen on the seventh hole at Doral and Kevin Kisner on the 18th hole at Sedgefield CC in the Wyndham Championship.


FINAL WORD: ''I still have a lot of years ahead of me. I just don't want to be burned out. I don't want to get to the stage where I'm 30 years old or 35 years old and ... I don't want to say, 'Fed up with the game.' But it's a long time to be playing a sport. And I just want to pace myself.'' – McIlroy.

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The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

“What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

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Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

“I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”


Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.

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Landry stays hot, leads desert shootout at CareerBuilder

By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 12:35 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – 

Andrew Landry topped the crowded CareerBuilder Challenge leaderboard after another low-scoring day in the sunny Coachella Valley.

Landry shot a 7-under 65 on Thursday on PGA West's Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course to reach 16 under. He opened with a 63 on Thursday at La Quinta Country Club.

''Wind was down again,'' Landry said. ''It's like a dome out here.''

Jon Rahm, the first-round leader after a 62 at La Quinta, was a stroke back. He had two early bogeys in a 67 on the Nicklaus layout.

''It's tough to come back because I feel like I expected myself to go to the range and keep just flushing everything like I did yesterday,'' Rahm said. ''Everything was just a little bit off.''

Jason Kokrak was 14 under after a 67 at Nicklaus. Two-time major champion Zach Johnson was 13 under along with Michael Kim and Martin Piller. Johnson had a 64 at Nicklaus.


Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


Landry, Rahm, Kokrak and Johnson will finish the rotation Saturday at PGA West's Stadium Course, also the site of the final round.

''You need to hit it a lot more accurate off the tee because being in the fairway is a lot more important,'' Rahm said about the Pete Dye-designed Stadium Course, a layout the former Arizona State player likened to the Dye-designed Karsten course on the school's campus. ''With the small greens, you have water in play. You need to be more precise. Clearly the hardest golf course.''

Landry pointed to the Saturday forecast.

''I think the wind's supposed to be up like 10 to 20 mph or something, so I know that golf course can get a little mean,'' Landry said. ''Especially, those last three or four holes.''

The 30-year-old former Arkansas player had five birdies in a six-hole stretch on the back nine. After winning his second Web.com Tour title last year, he had two top-10 finishes in October and November at the start the PGA Tour season.

''We're in a good spot right now,'' Landry said. ''I played two good rounds of golf, bogey-free both times, and it's just nice to be able to hit a lot of good quality shots and get rewarded when you're making good putts.''

Rahm had four birdies and the two bogeys on his first six holes. He short-sided himself in the left bunker on the par-3 12th for his first bogey of the week and three-putted the par-4 14th – pulling a 3-footer and loudly asking ''What?'' – to drop another stroke.

''A couple of those bad swings cost me,'' Rahm said.

The top-ranked player in the field at No. 3 in the world, Rahm made his first par of the day on the par-4 16th and followed with five more before birdieing the par-5 fourth. The 23-year-old Spaniard also birdied the par-5 seventh and par-3 eighth.

''I had close birdie putts over the last four holes and made two of them, so I think that kind of clicked,'' said Rahm, set to defend his title next week at Torrey Pines.

He has played the par 5s in 9 under with an eagle and seven birdies.

Johnson has taken a relaxed approach to the week, cutting his practice to two nine-hole rounds on the Stadium Course.

''I'm not saying that's why I'm playing well, but I took it really chill and the golf courses haven't changed,'' Johnson said. ''La Quinta's still really pure, right out in front of you, as is the Nicklaus.''

Playing partner Phil Mickelson followed his opening 70 at La Quinta with a 68 at Nicklaus to get to 6 under. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer is playing his first tournament of since late October.

''The scores obviously aren't what I want, but it's pretty close and I feel good about my game,'' Mickelson said. ''I feel like this is a great place to start the year and build a foundation for my game. It's easy to identify the strengths and weaknesses. My iron play has been poor relative to the standards that I have. My driving has been above average.''

Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on a sponsor exemption, had a 70 at Nicklaus to match Mickelson at 6 under. The Southern California recruit is playing his first PGA Tour event. He tied for 65th in the Australian Open in November in his first start in a professional tournament.