Tiger's putter lets him down at Match Play

By Doug FergusonFebruary 24, 2012, 12:21 am

MARANA, Ariz. ' Tiger Woods had a five-foot birdie putt to extend the match, and Nick Watney already was thinking about how to play the next hole. He had his yardage book out, trying to decide whether 3-wood was the right club to hit off the first tee.

The old adage is to expect your opponent to make it, Watney said. And when its Tiger Woods, you really expect him to make it.

Just not this Tiger Woods.

In what is becoming a troubling trend for Woods, he missed the birdie putt so badly that it never even touched the hole, giving Watney a 1-up victory Thursday in the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship.

It was the third straight time that Woods, a three-time champion in this event, failed to get out of the second round.

I didnt miss a single shot coming in, which is good. And that was fun, to hit the ball that well, Woods said. Unfortunately, I just didnt make a putt when I needed it.

Woods missed three putts inside 10 feet over the last six holes, none more important than the last one.

Two weeks ago, Woods couldnt buy a putt at Pebble Beach and closed with a 75, 11 shots worse than playing partner Phil Mickelson. He also struggled to make putts in Abu Dhabi, when he failed to win despite being tied for the 54-hole lead with Robert Rock.

Im very happy to move on. I feel a bit fortunate, as well, Watney said. We dont see him miss putts like that very often. And there were a few of them.

Watney next plays Lee Westwood, the former world No. 1 whom Watney has beaten at Dove Mountain each of the last two years. Westwood had no trouble against Robert Karlsson of Sweden, advancing to the third round for the first time in 12 tries at this fickle event.

Need more clothes. Didnt pack for long enough! Westwood jokingly tweeted.

England has won this World Golf Championship the last two years'Luke Donald and Ian Poulter'and Westwood is its last hope to make it three in a row.

The surprise was that Scotland had two players remaining'former British Open champion Paul Lawrie took down Ryo Ishikawa, and Martin Laird defeated Matteo Manassero. Lawrie and Laird face each other in the third round.

In other matches Thursday:

' U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy, the No. 2 seed, made only three birdies but won two straight holes with par to put away Anders Hansen and advance to the third round. He plays Miguel Angel Jimenez, the 48-year-old Spaniard who beat PGA champion Keegan Bradley.

' Dustin Johnson, headed for defeat in the opening round until outlasting Jim Furyk in 20 holes, blasted Francesco Molinari early and rolled to a 7-and-5 win. I was definitely in a better mood, Johnson said of the short day.

Johnson has played two medium-length players in Furyk and Molinari. Next up is another pea shooter, Mark Wilson, who breezed to a win over Robert Rock of England.

' Steve Stricker celebrated his 45th birthday in style. Two down on the back nine, he rallied to catch Louis Oosthuizen, then won the match with a 20-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole that had so much break even Stricker wasnt sure he could make it.

He will play Hunter Mahan, who never trailed in beating Y.E. Yang.

' Ernie Els, one day after becoming only the third No. 64 seed to win, had another short day that precedes a long flight home. He lost, 5 and 4, to Peter Hanson of Sweden.

Seven Americans, seven Europeans, an Asian and an Australian (John Senden) represent the 16 players left.

Watney fully expected to be among them.

He was among the few players who admitted peeking at the brackets, and he knew he had a chance to play Woods in the second round. Even as Woods was struggling to get through the opening round, Watney said he wanted to play him because of his stature as the dominant player of this era with 14 major championships.

I really like Gonzo, he said of Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, whom Woods beat in 18 holes in the first round. But I wanted to play Tiger. This is why we play. I could beat him in the second round at Riviera, but then we have two more rounds. To go head-to-head and wind up on top, this is something Ill remember.

Woods took his only lead when Watney three-putted for bogey on the fourth hole, and Watney squared the match at No. 7 when Woods missed a five-foot par putt, a sign of things to come.

The back nine again gave Woods fits. He hit into a bunker and into the desert, having to play a left-handed shot for the second straight day, conceding the 10th hole with a double bogey. Watney went 2 up with an 18-foot birdie on the 12th.

Then, it was a matter of hanging on.

I just felt like Tiger Woods is not going to lay down, Watney said. Tiger Woods is not going to give you this match, so youve got to do something to take it. And that was big. Obviously, that ended up being the cushion of the match.

Woods missed a birdie putt just inside 10 feet on the 13th and a six-foot birdie putt on the next hole that didnt touch the cup. Watney lost the 16th when his tee shot went over the corporate tent, and he went to the 18th hole all square.

Woods drilled his approach to 5 feet as the gallery erupted in a cheer that resonated across Dove Mountain. The silence that followed was all anyone needed to know what happened.

I was fighting the blocks all day with my putter, Woods said.

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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.