Scott can relate to current youth movement
Rory McIlroy shot a 62 at Quail Hollow to break the course record by two shots. Ryo Ishikawa shot a 58 to break the record of any course on a major tour and win The Crowns in Japan.
McIlroy turned 21 on Tuesday. Ishikawa, 18, graduated from high school two months ago. And to keep with the timing, 16-year-old Matteo Manassero is making his professional debut this week in the Italian Open. He made the cut at the Masters.
Adam Scott wasn’t sure which amazed him more.
“I wouldn’t have broken 90 at Augusta when I was 16,” he said. “I’m not just saying that as a throwaway line. I mean that. I wasn’t anywhere near that level at his age.”
Scott wasn’t too shabby, however. He turned pro when he was 20 and earned his European Tour card in eight starts. Over the next decade, he reached as high as No. 3 in the world and has won 15 times around the world, one of those The Players Championship when he became its youngest champion in 2004 at age 23.
Scott was born the same year as Sergio Garcia, who reached No. 2 in the world and counts The Players among his 18 wins worldwide.
McIlroy, Ishikawa and perhaps Manassero might be the next crops of kiddies, and Scott sees a trend.
“Every generation learns from the one before,” he said. “Tiger won early and Sergio learned from that, and he did it early. I was doing it at a fairly early age. Now you have Rory and Ryo. They’ve learned from guys like Tiger. Look at Ryo. He’s 18 and he’s been doing this for three years. He’s already played a Presidents Cup. That’s hard to get your head around.”
That begs the question: Who did Woods learn from?
Scott recalls Woods playing Augusta National as an amateur with Greg Norman, not to mention Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer.
“I think he learned from the best of his time,” Scott said. “He’s a special athlete who always had an extra sense. From what I remember hearing from Butch Harmon, Tiger soaked up information from everybody.”
CHANGING SIDES: Phil Mickelson hit his tee shot in the water on the island-green 17th at Sawgrass during a practice round Tuesday.
Not to be alarmed. He was hitting right-handed, and this time, there wasn’t a tree in his way.
Mickelson practiced with two-time Pebble Beach winner Dustin Johnson, and they decided to switch clubs when they got to the most famous hole at The Players Championship.
“He and I had a little contest,” Mickelson said. “He was going to hit it lefty, I was going to hit it righty, and neither one of us hit the green. I at least reached the water. Dustin struggled with that.”
ISLAND SOD: Because of the harsh winter in Florida, the condition of the Players Stadium course is not as good as it has been. The fairways and greens are running well, although there are splotches of green.
On the famous island green at No. 17, there is a patch of sod from where the grass did not come in. That means the back left hole location might not be used this week.
“A couple more chances for a hole-in-one, I guess,” Jim Furyk said.
He was referring to the front of the green, where players can land the ball in the ridge and allow it to funnel back to the cup. The back left location is considered the toughest, as players must make sure they hit it beyond the ridge without going too far into the water.
“It’s enticing,” Furyk said. “It makes you want to fire at it, even though you shouldn’t. I actually won’t miss it, to be dead honest.”
The other area of concern is chipping from around the greens, where the lie can be bare. J.J. Henry was behind the 13th hole when he chose to bump a 2-iron instead of chipping.
Phil Mickelson has opted for the putter.
“It reminded me a lot of the U.S. Open at Pinehurst in 2005 when there was a very bare area around the green and a lot of sand, and you weren’t able to get a wedge underneath it,” Mickelson said. “I found myself putting a lot from off the green, which I expect to do here just because you just can’t get a wedge underneath the ball.”
TIGER TIMES: As expected, Tiger Woods will be teeing off Thursday afternoon from the first hole. That’s only significant because it means he will start on No. 10 on Friday morning (8:18 a.m.).
The 17th hole is the rowdiest at The Players Championship, especially on Friday afternoon when fans have had plenty to drink and are at their most vocal. When Woods gets to that hole Friday, it will be just before 11 a.m.
He had the early-late rotation last week at Quail Hollow.
Over the last 10 years at The Players Championship, this is only the third time Woods has had the late-early rotation. He will be playing with Ian Poulter and Hunter Mahan.
POULTER ON THE MEND: Ian Poulter says he is back at full strength after injuring his knee playing basketball.
“Happy days,” Poulter said Tuesday on the range at the TPC Sawgrass. “The knee is good, the fluid is fully dissipated, full strength. There are no issues.”
Poulter, who won the Match Play Championship in February for his first American victory, pulled out of New Orleans because of his knee. He had been playing basketball with his son in the driveway when a few friends showed up, and they went at it for an hour.
“Guys in the NBA only play 48 minutes,” said Poulter, a regular at Orlando Magic games. “What was I thinking?”
DIVOTS: This is the first time Tiger Woods has played the week after missing the cut. … Camilo Villegas and his younger brother, Manny, will be playing together on the PGA Tour for the first time in the St. Jude Classic. Manny Villegas has received a sponsor’s exemption. … Bob Estes showed up Tuesday wearing trousers that look as though they were made from his grandmother’s quilt. He got them from John Daly, the “Loudmouth” variety. “If John can’t be here, someone should wear them,” Estes said with a laugh. But he won’t wear them during the tournament rounds. … Tiger Woods has never held the lead at The Players Championship except for after the final round in 2001, the only time he won.
STAT OF THE WEEK: Rory McIlroy (No. 13) was the highest-ranked player to win a tournament where Tiger Woods missed the cut.
FINAL WORD: “The first time I won here was the first year that I stopped trying to make a 2 on that hole and just accepted 3 as being a good score, even though I’ve got a wedge in my hand.” – Phil Mickelson, on the island-green 17th at the TPC Sawgrass.
Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational
Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.
The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.
Rose leads Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs
JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose completed the final two holes of his second round early Saturday for a 3-under 69 and a one-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters.
Rose, who had a first-round 62, was among a quarter of the field forced off the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course after weather delays on Friday.
The Englishman, who bogeyed his last hole, had a two-round total of 13-under 131.
Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who completed his 64 on Friday, was in second place.
Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters. He has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season.
Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump
Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.
Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.
None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.
Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.
An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.
In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.
Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.
Playing with the pros
Tiger, DJ and Faxon
President at the Presidents Cup
Purported round of 73 with Lindsey Graham
Cart on the green
Presence and protests at U.S. Women's Open
Trump golf properties
Reportedly fake TIME covers
Trump apologizes for voter-fraud story
Pros comment on the president
Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017
GolfChannel.com is counting down the top 10 Newsmakers of the Year as voted on by Golf Channel’s writers, editors, reporters and producers. Check out the list below, including future release dates. And click here for the full collection of articles.
No. 1: Dec. 18