Spieth to play Aussie dream courses; eyes Long Island

By Doug FergusonNovember 17, 2015, 5:22 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Jordan Spieth knows how to mix business with pleasure. His business is playing great golf. His pleasure is playing great golf courses.

Spieth leaves this week for Down Under, where he defends his title Nov. 26-29 in Sydney at the Australian Open. The first stop is Melbourne and a chance to play the fabled sand belt courses. He has games lined up at Royal Melbourne and Kingston Heath.

''I've heard Kingston Heath is unbelievable,'' Spieth said. ''And then Royal Melbourne, I hear you get on the first tee and think, 'Piece of cake,' and then watch your tee shot bounce in the air. There and then Long Island, the courses there, are on my bucket lists of courses I haven't played yet.''

Spieth surely has a long list. He's only 22 and just completed his third year as a pro.

What intrigues him about Melbourne's sand belt and Long Island (Shinnecock, National Golf Links) is ''that style of golf was meant for that area.''

He missed his chance at Long Island in August during The Barclays, although that was never the plan even before he missed the cut. He was supposed to play with Justin Thomas at Pine Valley the Monday after the tournament. When he missed the cut and had an extra day on his hand, Spieth chose to play Baltusrol with Rickie Fowler (who also missed the cut) to see it ahead of next year's PGA Championship, and then headed to Boston to work on his game.

Not to worry. That's an easy trip to plan.

After that?

''I've done pretty much everything I want to do,'' Spieth said. ''I still haven't played Oakmont (next year's U.S. Open). We have Royal Troon coming up. I haven't played Carnoustie. But sought after? Sand Hills in Nebraska, the Coore-Crenshaw. I've heard it's supposed to be that good, from Crenshaw and everyone down there.''

One area he failed to mention was Chicago Golf Club, one of the five founding courses of the USGA.

''Chicago Golf and Butler, I don't have as much of a desire. I heard they're great, and it will happen at some point,'' Spieth said. ''But for a style of golf that is so unique to the area, that's what I'm looking for.''

And that's what he's about to get in Melbourne.



SPRINT TO DUBAI: Danny Willett needed to finish alone in 28th at the BMW Masters to lead the Race to Dubai, but a bogey on the 17th hole at Lake Malaren meant a three-way tie for 28th. Rory McIlroy is still in the lead, but just barely.

McIlroy, who has been atop the European Tour ranking since his tie for fourth in the Masters, leads by 1,613 points. That's not much considering the winner of the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai this week gets 1,333,330 points.

And it's not just a two-man race.

Justin Rose, Shane Lowry, Louis Oosthuizen and Branden Grace could win the Race to Dubai with a victory. Byeong Hun An, who tied for third at the BMW Masters, also has a mathematical chance.


HOME BOY: Kevin Kisner is happy at home, living in a 1950s era house off the 17th fairway at Palmetto Golf Club in Aiken, S.C.

He'll be living at Sea Island through at least the end of the year as the house gets expanded. They haven't had a garage, and now they have a family with an 18-month-old daughter.

''I told (wife) Brittany, 'Either find us a new place or find somewhere you want to move, a new house.' And she wanted to stay there,'' Kisner said.

Sea Island is a popular spot with several PGA Tour players, along with a sister-in-law who can help when Kisner is traveling. Kisner wouldn't rule out moving there at some point in his career, though he can see some disadvantages that have nothing to do with golf.

''My off-course activities are not good for that area, like hunting, being in the woods, getting away with people who don't play golf,'' he said. ''It's all golf down there. All my buddies at home don't play golf professionally. They play recreationally, and they don't ask me about golf all day, which I like.''


OPEN TICKETS: The R&A will start selling a ''twilight ticket'' for the British Open at Royal Troon next year.

Along with reducing the price of tickets bought in advance, the R&A will offer a ticket for 25 pounds that allow fans onto the course after 4 p.m. on Thursday and Friday. That might not sound like much time in America, but not in Scotland. The last time it was held at Royal Troon, the last tee time was 4:21 p.m.

''We recognize that many people have work commitments during the week, and the new twilight tickets will give them an attractive option to attend the Open,'' R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers said.

The R&A also will reduce the price of daily tickets to 60 pounds if purchased before May 31. Daily tickets are 80 pounds after that. Weekly tickets (Sunday to Sunday) will be 230 pounds if bought before May 31, which is 10 pounds less than 2015. Those tickets are 260 pounds if bought after that date.


STAT OF THE WEEK: Americans have won only six of 30 official events on the LPGA schedule this year going into the CME Group Tour Championship.


FINAL WORD: ''I think that's why golf is the ultimate mental sport because you have all the time in the world to ask yourself all the crazy questions.'' – Graeme McDowell.

Getty Images

Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''


Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship


First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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. 

Getty Images

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.