Woods opens Australia title defense with 69

By Doug FergusonNovember 11, 2010, 11:35 am

JBWare MastersMELBOURNE, Australia – Tiger Woods played 14 holes before finally missing a green in the opening round of the JBWere Masters, which would seem like the ideal start to defending a title for the last time this year.

Trouble was, he couldn’t get a putt close to the hole, which was not the first time that happened this year.

Woods had to settle for a 2-under 69 on Thursday, leaving him four shots behind a trio of players who competed before far fewer fans and had far less trouble on the greens at Victoria Golf Club.

“That was probably the highest score I could have shot,” Woods said.

Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods struggled with his putting Thursday, making only three birdies. (Getty Images)

Adam Bland and Alistair Presnell, roommates on the Nationwide Tour, each had a 6-under 65 in the cool morning before the greens became crisp under a warming afternoon sun. They were joined late in the day by Daniel Gaunt, whose career took a sudden turn for the better this year, considering he was working in a golf shop this spring.

“Rock bottom,” said Gaunt, a feeling Woods knows all too well.

The JBWere Masters represents the 82nd worldwide victory for Woods, and also his most recent. That was a year ago at Kingston Heath, where his return Down Under after an 11-year absence brought the kind of crowds reminiscent of a major, all of them eager to see the world’s No. 1 player.

That was 12 days before his car accident in the middle-of-the-night led to revelations of womanizing. Woods returned to defend his title as the No. 2 player in the world—he lost his top ranking to Lee Westwood two weeks ago— who is trying to retool his swing.

Typical of his year, it was the putter that held him back.

Woods hit it in all the right spots, which at Victoria means below the hole. But he rarely had enough pace on his putts, and his lone bogey came on a three-putt from 45 feet that he left about 8 feet short. On the final hole, he avoided a similar mistake by holing a 7-footer for par. It left him in a tie for 17th and with few worries.

“I could have easily been 4, 5, 6 under,” Woods said. “I don’t know what the guys are going to do this afternoon, but I’m right there.”

Presnell was on the verge of earning a PGA Tour card late this summer until his game went into a funk at the worst time, and he failed to finish among the top 25 on the Nationwide Tour money list.

He still knows what it’s like to compete on a big stage, though – he qualified through the Australasian Tour for a World Golf Championship at Doral, tied for sixth and made $214,300. He also got into the HSBC Champions in Shanghai last week.

“It was a massive thrill,” he said.

Imagine how it felt for Gaunt, who this spring was working in a golf store trying to pay the bills and wondering if it was time to give up on golf as a career. Then came an exemption to a Challenge Tour event in England, which he won, and he went on to earn his European Tour card for next year.

Gaunt now feels as if he belongs, whether it’s on the Challenge Tour or in a field that includes Woods, Robert Allenby, Sergio Garcia, Geoff Ogilvy and Camilo Villegas.

He already is 1 up on Woods. Gaunt qualified for the British Open last summer at Turnberry, shot 67 in the second round and made the cut on the number. Woods didn’t make it to the weekend.

“I now feel I should be there,” he said.

Gaunt used to be a member at Victoria, as was Ogilvy, although it didn’t help the former U.S. Open champ Thursday. He struggled to a 72, as did the other marquee names in the field. Garcia made double bogey on his opening hole for a 73, while Villegas shot 71. Allenby, who played with Woods, three-putted his opening two holes from inside 18 feet and had five three-putts in his round of 73.

Woods feels as though he is making progress with his revamped swing under Sean Foley, who is home in Florida. He showed more signs in the opening round, managing his way around the tight, bush-lined fairways by missing only two fairways.

One of them came with a driver on the par-5 18th hole, forcing him to chip out and eliminating a good chance at birdie. The other was with a 3-wood on the eighth hole, where he went bunker-to-bunker and made par.

Most pleasing was a driver that he hit hard and with a slight fade, the perfect shape for the par-5 17th that plays 601 yards. Woods hit a 2-iron to 30 feet for eagle, and narrowly missed the putt.

Woods otherwise hit a collection of 2- and 3-irons off the week to play short of the bunkers, and he had plenty of looks at birdie. Three times on his outward nine, he missed from inside 8 feet. He made those putts on his back nine, twice for par.

“I hit the ball well all day,” Woods said. “It was just a matter of getting committed to hit the ball a little harder on my putts. I was in all the right spots. But they’re really slow up the hill and really quick going down, and I didn’t make the adjustment.”

From there, it was off to a luncheon and clinic for sponsors, along with a practice session.

The trio of leaders were allowed to dream about the gold jacket that goes to the winner, the one Woods wore a year ago.

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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.