Stricker Byrd Garrigus in the lead at Kapalua

By Doug FergusonJanuary 9, 2011, 8:19 am

Hyundai Tournament of Champions

KAPALUA, Hawaii – One shot to start his round, and Robert Garrigus was reeling.

One shot at the end had him celebrating.

Garrigus recovered from a double bogey on the opening hole by making a 50-foot putt on the 18th that banged into the back of the cup, went about 3 inches airborne and plopped in for eagle. That gave him a share of the lead Saturday with Steve Stricker and Jonathan Byrd going into the final round at the Tournament of Champions.

“That was a hell of a way to end the round,” Garrigus said after his 4-under 69.

It could be an ever better finish.

Stricker hit every approach inside 20 feet over his last 11 holes and ran off five straight birdies on the back nine, including a 4-iron from a dicey position in the bunker on the 12th. He wound up with an 8-under 65 and was the first player to finish at 18-under 201.

Then came Byrd, who has been around the lead all week. Steady as ever, he failed to birdie either of the par 5s on the back nine, but atoned for that by nearly holing a wedge on the 16th that set up a tap-in birdie. He shot a 67.

Garrigus appeared to be an afterthought after the start he had.

Saturday featured the notorious Kona wind that blows out of the opposite direction, making the Plantation Course at Kapalua play at its longest. Some players had to hit 3-wood on the par-4 opening hole. Garrigus, who has led the PGA Tour in driving distance the last two years, went with a 4-iron and chunked it into the native grass for double bogey.

Then he powered his shot through the wind on the par-3 second and made bogey, out of the lead and falling.

“I thought just getting back to under par for the day was going to be good for me,” Garrigus said. “And when I started to get going, I wasn’t missing any more shots. I was striking it well. That putt on 18 just kind of capped it off. And man, that was really nice.”

Garrigus, who captured his first PGA Tour title by winning Disney in the final event of the season, has a chance to become the first player since Tiger Woods in 2000 to win the season opener after winning the last tournament of the previous year.

And with three Americans at the top, it at least improved the odds of ending a nine-year streak of foreign-born winners.

Matt Kuchar had the lead at one point by making seven birdies in a nine-hole stretch, but he played even par over the final six holes for a 66 and wound up four shots out of the lead. U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell shot a 68 as he continued to get used to mountain golf atop the Pacific Ocean. He was six shots behind, along with Bill Haas (69).

Stricker began making his move with a birdie on the ninth hole, but the 12th was his shot of the tournament.

“A do-or-die swing,” he said.

He had a grass divot left of his ball in the bunker, which was no problem. There was a 2-inch piece of grass behind the ball, and he called for a rules official to ask if he could move it, deep down knowing that he couldn’t. What he didn’t realize, however, was Stricker could not touch the grass piece at any point in his swing.

From 178 yards into the wind, he hit 4-iron that he brought from the inside and picked the ball cleanly from the sand. It caught the left side of the green and settled 5 feet away.

“You hit a shot like that, you want to make the putt,” he said. “That was the topper.”

He kept right on going, making a super fast putt on the 13th, using his superb wedge game for easy birdie putts on the 14th and 15th, and ending with another good pitch to 3 feet on the 18th.

“I didn’t think an 8-under round was out there,” he said. “But as I got into a roll on the back side, I kept wanting more.”

Garrigus appears to be having as much fun as anyone, even after his rough start. With that attitude, he could be dangerous in the final round because he has what it takes to win on this course – enormous power and a strong wedge game.

That didn’t mean much to him.

“I don’t have an advantage over a guy who makes everything inside of 10 feet,” Garrigus said. “Steve Stricker is one of the best putters in the world. Jonathan Byrd has proved to be one of the best short-game guys in the world, hits his short irons great. I have to go out there and play my game and take advantage of shots I can take advantage of.

“If I can do that, it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Byrd didn’t spend much time looking at the leaderboard. He plodded along Kapalua, taking in the views of big surf and showing little emotion after some of his birdies. He’s long nearly as long as Garrigus, and doesn’t care.

“I think we played well to get into the position we were today,” Byrd said. “And we shot a good score. So I don’t think there’s anything about our style of play or anything like that.”

Getty Images

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?

Getty Images

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.