Stanley steams to 5-shot lead in Farmers

By Doug FergusonJanuary 29, 2012, 12:46 am

SAN DIEGO - Hang gliders were taking off from the cliffs behind the 13th tee at Torrey Pines, where Kyle Stanley was waiting to tee off on the 524-yard hole. Then, the 24-year-old launched a shot that was just as majestic.

Wait `til to you see where this one went, caddie Brett Waldman said.

On another clear day along the Pacific coast, it was hard not to notice.

In a familiar performance'even if the name might not be all that familiar now'Stanley overpowered the South Course on Saturday on his way to a 4-under 68 that gave him a five-shot lead going into the final round at the Farmers Insurance Open.

For some reason, Ive always been long, said Stanley, who has a slight but athletic build and generates enormous speed. But if you take a golf course like this where youre hitting 7-irons into par 5s and short irons into long par 4s, it definitely helps.

It never hurt Tiger Woods, a seven-time winner as a pro at Torrey Pines.

Stanley chose to lay up on the par-5 18th with the large pond in front and spun a wedge near the hole to about four feet. About his only regret in the third round was missing that putt. One last birdie would have broken the 54-hole tournament record that Woods set in 1998, before Rees Jones beefed up the South Course to 7,698 yards for the 2008 U.S. Open.

Stanley grew up outside Seattle when Woods ruled the sport. All through his school, he kept a poster of Woods over his bed.

I think hes definitely influenced me and a lot of other people, too, Stanley said.

He gladly settled for a spot alongside Woods in the record book at 18-under 198 and a five-shot lead over John Huh and John Rollins as he goes after his first PGA Tour title.

Stanley cant recall ever having a lead this large, which can be troublesome if looked upon as only an opportunity to fail.

I think the biggest thing is you cant necessarily go out there and try to protect it, Stanley said. Youve got to really just keep doing what got you to this point. Im not going to be any more conservative tomorrow. Ill stick to my game plan off the tee and hopefully just continue to give myself a lot of chances.

He hit driver on all but three holes, and four of them traveled at least 320 yards, a big number considering Torrey Pines is just a cliff over sea level, and even in pleasant weather, the ball doesnt go quite as far as summer in Ohio.

Big numbers are nothing new for Stanley, however.

He recalls coming down to the Titleist Performance Institute when he was a 17-year-old in his senior year in high school. His ball speed was measured at 184 mph.

Now, I cant get it above 176, he said.

It wasnt just the big drives. Stanley showed exquisite control of his irons, especially his distance, and he has been working overtime the last few years on dialing in his wedges from inside 120 yards.

Even so, he refused to look ahead to Sunday and what a win might mean'a trip to the Masters, perhaps a spot in the World Golf Championships, a two-year exemption.

No one was giving him the trophy, either.

If a guy had a 10 or 12-shot lead, youd feel pretty comfortable, Rollins said after his 68. But when youre four or five shots, sometimes its hard to play with a big lead because you get kind of relaxed and everything else.

Rollins should know. He had a three-shot lead with five holes to play in 2009, losing to Nick Watney.

Still, Stanley, the former All-American from Clemson, aspires to play boring golf and not look too far ahead.

His lone bogey came on the 12th, when he went just over the green, chipped to 6 feet and missed the putt. Then came the big blast on the 13th'As good as I can possibly hit it, he said'that left him a soft 7-iron to 15 feet on the fringe below the hole for an easy birdie.

Are you playing this as a par 4? Sang-Moon Bae turned and said to him with a smile.

Huh, a 21-year-old rookie who spent three years on the Korean Tour, also had a 68 and joined Rollins at 13-under 203. FedEx Cup champion

Bill Haas (70) and Bae (72) were another shot behind. Bae was 5 over through five holes until he ran off four straight birdies to start the back nine to get his name back on the leader board.

The question is whether anyone else is in contention.

Stanley is no surprise to those who play with him or watch him hit balls, and he nearly joined the parade of rookie winners last year until Steve Stricker rallied with birdies on the last two holes to beat him in the John Deere Classic.

Stanley had a one-shot lead over Brandt Snedeker going into the third round at Torrey Pines and before long had a comfortable lead, just as Woods has done on this public course.

From deep rough on the par-5 sixth, Stanley hammered a shot just short of the green and pitched up to 12 feet for birdie. He hit sand wedge to 10 feet on the 10th for another birdie, then established himself on the back nine.

Along with the easy birdie on the 13th, Stanley saved par on the 14th. The day before, his approach jumped out of the rough and over the green for a double bogey. Playing it safe this time, he hit a 9-iron that went well short, into the bunker but blasted out to 8 feet and made a tricky, downhill putt for par.

His final birdie came on a 20-foot putt at the par-3 16th. No one else could make a move.

Snedeker went to tap in a two-foot par putt on the seventh and was shocked when it made a horseshoe around the cup. He then missed his next five greens in regulation, and when he got home in two on the 13th, he three-putted. Snedeker had a 74 and fell seven behind.

This is something you dream about as a kid, Stanley said. But theres still one more round.

DIVOTS: Jay Don Blake in 1991 was the last player to make Torrey Pines his first PGA Tour victory. Ryo Ishikawa had his third consecutive round of 69 and was tied for 11th. Jonas Blixt had the low round Saturday at 65. Under a University of Farmers campaign, that was worth a $20,000 donation to his alma mater, Florida State. Cameron Tringale (Georgia Tech) had a 66 to finish second, which was worth $10,000.

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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.

Nathaniel Crosby at the 1983 Bing Crosby Pro-Am at Pebble Beach. Getty Images

Crosby selected as 2019 U.S. Walker Cup captain

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 3:19 pm

The USGA announced that former U.S. Amateur champ Nathaniel Crosby will serve as the American captain for the 2019 Walker Cup, which will be played at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England.

Crosby, 56, is the son of entertainment icon and golf enthusiast Bing Crosby. He won the 1981 U.S. Amateur at The Olympic Club as a teenager and earned low amateur honors at the 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He also played in the 1983 Walker Cup, coincidentally held at Royal Liverpool, before embarking on a brief career in professional golf, with his amateur status reinstated in 1994.

"I am thrilled and overwhelmed to be chosen captain of the next USA Walker Cup team," Crosby said in a statement. "Many of my closest friends are former captains who will hopefully take the time to share their approaches in an effort to help me with my new responsibilities."

Crosby takes over the captaincy from John "Spider" Miller, who led the U.S. squad both in 2015 and earlier this year, when the Americans cruised to a 19-7 victory at Los Angeles Country Club.

Crosby is a Florida resident and member at Seminole Golf Club, which will host the 2021 matches. While it remains to be seen if he'll be asked back as captain in 2021, each of the last six American captains have led a team on both home and foreign soil.

Started in 1922, the Walker Cup is a 10-man, amateur match play competition pitting the U.S. against Great Britain and Ireland. The U.S. team holds a 37-9 all-time lead in the biennial matches but has not won in Europe since 2007.