Goodbye From a Thankful Scribe
So this is the end. After a dozen years of yam-yammering in this corner, this voice will finally be silenced. Someone else is due to take this space, someone with a new outlook, someone with a different view to serve up to you.
Actually, I havent been writing about golf all my 43 years as a sportswriter. I didnt actually play golf until I was 28 years old. Thats when my friend Doug, after a year or so of alternately scolding and cajoling, finally brought an old set of clubs to my home and demanded I play with him. Out of exasperation, he also brought along an old golf bag and even a well-worn pair of spikes. Bereft of all possible excuses, I finally agreed to join him at a local muni.
And, I was hooked. That was in 1973.
In January of 1995 The Golf Channel went on the air. I was one of the uneasy souls who cast my fate with this company. The success of this venture was far from guaranteed, my employment for the next month far from resolved. During those initial months, everyone did everything. I was even on air for a few months, jabbering away with several other souls ' lets see, there was Mark Lye, Deb Vidal, Denis Watson, instructor Gary Smith, and an announcer named Dwayne Ballen. We were thrown together on a show which aired at 12 noon today, 1:30 tomorrow, and 11:30 the day after tomorrow. With such a wide berth of starting times, needless to say we werent a show for very long.
In 2000 this website was redesigned and I became a member of the dot-com team, which was very advantageous to me because I was trained as a writer and not as a television personality. And believe me, I was never a television personality. Now, some will say, You never were a writer, either. But nonetheless, I always felt I was much more of a journalist than a TV bloke.
This job is not easy. I was hired to give my opinions, and the truth is, I am not an opinionated person. But I have tried to throw something out there which would make YOU think. And your feedback to me was like water to a fish ' you have kept me going with your e-mails and your thoughts and YOUR opinions.
The e-mails, Ive decided, come in one of three categories. First, there are the ones who agree wholeheartedly with my topic. Ive gotten to know many of you by name, through the keyboard, even though weve never met face-to-face.
Then there are those who thoughtfully disagree. Those e-mails are important, too. Its impossible for me to be right every time, or for any one person to agree with another every time. Those messages are crucial, too ' and Ive learned a lot from you who beg to differ.
Finally, there is the third category. That is the one which almost always starts with, What a load of crap! Then it goes downhill from there. Those, though, I am happy to say, are few and far between. The first two are far, far more numerous.
Its a great profession, this golf. I married my wife Vicki after having met her at lessons with David Leadbetter. Ive had the honor of making friendships with Davis Love, Nick Price, Corey Pavin, Lee Janzen, Paul Azinger, Brad Bryant, Mark OMeara ... Ive sat in the kitchen while munching a ham-and-egg sandwich made by the late Payne Stewart. Ive played golf with any number of pros ' lets see, there was Sam Snead, Tony Jacklin, Gary Player, Lanny Wadkins, Fred Couples, Phil Mickelson, Nancy Lopez, Jan Stephenson, Hollis Stacey, Michelle Redman, OMeara, both Bart and Brad Bryant, several that I know I have missed. Ive even put my rag-tag game on exhibition with a couple of guys that I met though this column.
Golf has always been rather a mystery to me. I could never come close to mastering the game. But I have swatted it along with a thousand different people, always marveling at the mechanics of a professional who without fail launches it so effortlessly, high and far.
I have been blessed, indeed. Most of all, it has been a great ride enjoying the give-and-take with you the readers. I have been aware many times over that most of you know as much as me, several of you know MORE than me, and all of you have opinions that I have learned from each time I opened another e-mail.
But now, its time to close the back door and slip out into the night. Dont stop communicating ' make the new guy feel like hes one of you, taking care to praise him when he makes a point you think is credible, criticizing him (but politely!) when you think he deserves it. Each of you have been important with your thoughtful praise ' and your honest critiques.
Im going to miss those notes. But its time now. Goodbye!
Email your thoughts to George White
Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo
Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Really good at golf. Really good at vacationing.
With #SB2K18 still months away, Thomas and Spieth headlined a vacation to Cabo San Lucas, and this will shock you but it looks like they had a great time.
Spring break veteran Smylie Kaufman joined the party, as did Thomas' roommate, Tom Lovelady, who continued his shirtless trend.
The gang played all the hits, including shoeless golf in baketball jerseys and late nights with Casamigos tequila.
In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.
Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys
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?
Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'
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
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.
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.