Olazabal Down But Hes Not Yet Out

By George WhiteOctober 22, 2004, 4:00 pm
He had it. Then he didnt. He had it again. Then, he lost it again.
 
If Jose Maria Olazabal has done the merry-go-round for the final time, he is not going to give up without a fight. He is playing this weekend at the Funai Classic at Walt Disney World, he is 148th on the money list ' but he would dearly love to play with a U.S. card for another year.
 
The Spaniard was one of the brightest prospects on the European Tour as a 21-year-old when he first made a splash in America, playing in the '87 Ryder Cup at Muirfield with Seve Ballesteros as a partner. It was the first time in history that Europe had won in America, and Olazabal and Seve won three of their four partnership matches.
 
He won the Masters in 1994 before he was felled by a foot injury in 95 that almost ruined his career. Confined to bed for 18 months, he finally submitted in desperation to the radical theories of a German doctor. But ' it worked!
 
Instead of focusing on his feet for treatment, the doc went to work on his back. The homeopathic specialist discovered a lower back hernia. His therapy included small doses of vegetable matter to pump up the bodys immune system, and within a short time Olazabal was out of bed and winning golf tournaments again.
 
Another Masters green jacket was his reward in 1999. And in 2002, now as a member of the PGA Tour, Olazabal won the Buick Open in San Diego.
 
But this year, he didnt make the Ryder Cup team. And he appears lost on the golf course ' he's 172nd on the PGA Tour in driving distance, 182nd in driving accuracy, 177th in greens hit. Only his magnificent putter ' hes fifth in putts per round ' has keep him from completely going under.
 
The five-year Masters exemption runs out this year. He plans to get in this tournament after being obligated to play in Spain last weekend at a course he designed. And he will play in Tampa next weekend. That gives him two chances to make $200,000, or else the card goes out to window.
 
He opened with an impressive 65 the first round at Disney. He still doesnt know exactly what he was doing differently. But it doesnt matter. He may be beginning to find his way, even if it is only temporary. Golf has been a series of nothing but trials and tribulations this year.
 
It's pretty much been consistency, he sighed. I have to say that my iron play has been pretty bad all year long. I've missed a lot of greens, even from the fairway.
 
And then even a lot of the greens that I hit, I'm quite far away from the hole. So I'm not giving myself really birdie opportunities, and that has been the problem.
 
That means that too many times, his brilliant putting has been going for one-putt pars instead of one-putt birdies. And thats not the way to make big bucks.
 
The driver has always been so-so, even during the good times in Europe. But this year the irons have been added to his list of woes. Its a problem that has concerned him all year.
 
My driver has been on and off like the rest of the season, so I don't think that is any different to what it has been the last four, five years, said Olazabal.
 
But I'm thinking more about how I've hit the irons all year long.
 
He didnt look too kindly on his sparkling work Thursday at Disney, either. Its still a struggle, apparently. Hes still searching for answers.
 
Well, if you look at the scorecard, I hit all the par 5s, he said. And the iron play, I manage to give like four, five good iron shots, and I took advantage of those.
 
Then the rest was touch-and-go. I didn't put the ball that close to the hole on the rest of the holes. But that's what I'm fighting, anyway.
 
He shudders to think about what will happen if he doesnt make it. He definitely will not go through the rigors of Q-School, he says ' not at age 38. He will continue working in the off-season, trying to find that magic elixir that has been missing. He will play the European Tour next year where he has a guaranteed life membership. And ' he will rely on individual tournaments in America to come though with the seven sponsors invites. That will be the extent of his play in the U.S. until he regains his card.
 
I would have to rely on some invitations next year, obviously,' he said. 'I can play San Diego because I won it a couple years ago, and the Masters. But I would have to rely on invitations.
 
'We'll see what happens.'
 
It may be over. But if it is, Olazabal will go out like a true Spanish torreador - figthing all the way.
 
Email your thoughts to George White

Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo

By Grill Room TeamDecember 15, 2017, 1:05 am

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.

Image via tom.lovelady on Instagram.

In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.

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.