One-Hit Winners Struggle for Another

By George WhiteSeptember 10, 2002, 4:00 pm
Lets just say that the PGA Tour has rarely been more democratic. All 200 or so players can win - and most of them have this season. When they arent winning, a whole lot of them are missing cuts. But, hey, thats parity for you.
So John Rollins wins the Bell Canadian Open. Rollins seized the moment, capitalizing on Neal Lancasters double bogey on the 72nd hole, then rolling in a 20-foot birdie putt in overtime. When its your time, apparently its your time. Not Justin Leonard, Vijay Singh, Lee Janzen, John Daly, Mark OMeara, Hal Sutton or Mark Brooks ' all who were entered, incidentally. It was Rollins ' John Rollins.
I will ask the same question which has been asked so often this season ' when will you win again? Rich Beem made it a two-fer when he backed up a win at The International with a victory at the PGA. For the rest who have missed cuts by the bushel this season, they went right on missing cuts after their brief moment in the sun. Lets hope Rollins made this win only one in a long list of successes. Unfortunately, past history doesnt give us much hope.
Rollins actually has fared better than most of the other surprises who have managed a win this year. He has top 10s in five of his 27 tournaments this year. He has missed the cut in two of his last entries, but one of those was the PGA. He had won $800,000 or so before last weeks $720,000 paycheck hit the bank, so he was going to make his card for next year before lightning struck at the Canadian.
The others? Hard times have hit some of the guys. Kevin Sutherland used the claw grip to putt his way to victory in the WCG-Accenture, then he proceeded to miss four of the next five cuts, five of the next seven. He has struggled this year since that win in February, missing the cut seven times while playing the weekend 15 times.
Craig Perks was magnificent when he won the Players Championship, rolling in a long putt on 17 and chipping in on 18. But he promptly missed three straight cuts and seven of his next nine. And he missed the cut at Air Canada in his last outing, so Craig still has to do a little work before he fulfills all the potential displayed at The Players.
Theres Spike McRoy, who won the B.C. Open. Spike missed six of his first eight cuts, eight of his first 12, but then jumped up and grabbed a PGA Tour title with rounds the last three days of 65, 69 and 65. His game then slipped back to missing cuts ' he recently had three in a row ' but now he at least knows what winning feels like.
Chris Smith won the Buick Classic in June. He had missed eight cuts in 17 appearances before then, and danged if he didnt miss the Advil Western Open the week after he won. Hes made it the last five, though, so maybe hes finally on to something.
And theres Gene Sauers. Gene, of course, wasnt even a tour regular until he won the Air Canada a couple of weeks ago. He was a regular of the Tour, though he didnt have a finish in the top 18 in the minor leagues until August. Lately, though, he finished tied for seventh and tied for fourth in his two August outings on the, then won the Air Canada and finished tied for 16th in the Bell Canadian.
I guess it was just an unusual year in 2001, but look at the names who won after the PGA last year ' John Cook, Scott Verplank, Robert Allenby, Justin Leonard, David Toms, Bob Estes, Chris DiMarco. What a marked contrast to this year. This year since the PGA, winners have been Chris Riley, Sauers, and Rollins.
The fact is, of course, that those name players were in the events won by Riley, Sauers and Rollins. For one week, at least, these guys were better than those guys. If it doesnt say much for the consistency of the group mentioned, it says a whole lot about the game of golf. You may not know the names, but this is still golf at the highest level. You know whats coming next ' On any given day ' yada yada yada.
Maybe we are witnessing a turnover in the game. Mickelson hasnt won in awhile, Singh hasnt won in a while, its been a long time for Duval, even longer for Janzen and Brooks. Calcavecchia was good out west, average in the east. And wheres Cink and Garcia and Lehman?
Theyre behind Riley and Rollins and Sauers, thats where. If you dont have a roster from the past couple of years, you may not know much about them. But the Who-Dats have all won this year. I just wish they could do it again to prove it wasnt an aberration.
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The Social: The end was nigh, then it wasn't

By Jason CrookJanuary 16, 2018, 7:00 pm

The star power at the Sony Open may have been overshadowed by a missile scare, but there were plenty of other social media stories that kept the golf world on its toes this week, including some insight on Tiger Woods from a round with President Obama and some failed trick shots.

All that and more in this week's edition of The Social.

By now you've undoubtedly heard about the false alarm in Hawaii on Saturday, where just about everyone, including most Sony Open participants, woke up to an emergency cell phone alert that there was a ballistic missile heading toward the islands.

Hawaiian emergency management officials eventually admitted the original message was mistakenly sent out, but before they did, people (understandably) freaked out.

As the situation unfolded, some Tour pros took to social media to express their confusion and to let the Twittersphere know how they planned on riding out this threat:

While I would've been in that bathtub under the mattress with John Peterson, his wife, baby and in-laws (wait, how big is this tub?), here's how Justin Thomas reacted to the threat of impending doom:

Yeah, you heard that right.

“I was like ‘there’s nothing I can do,'” Thomas said. ”I sat on my couch and opened up the sliding door and watched TV and listened to music. I was like, if it’s my time, it’s my time.”

Hmmm ... can we just go ahead and award him all the 2018 majors right now? Because if Thomas is staring down death in mid-January, you gotta like the kid's chances on the back nine Sunday at Augusta and beyond.

Before the Hawaiian Missile Crisis of 2018, things were going about as well as they could at Waialae Country Club, starting with the Wednesday pro-am.

Jordan Spieth might have been the third-biggest star in his own group, after getting paired with superstar singer/songwriter/actor Nick Jonas and model/actress Kelly Rohrbach.

You'd be hard-pressed to find a more photogenic group out on the course, and the "Baywatch" star has a gorgeous swing as well, which makes sense, considering she was a former collegiate golfer at Georgetown.

As impressive as that group was, they were somehow outshined by an amateur in another group, former NFL coach June Jones.

Jones, who now coaches the CFL's Hamilton Tiger-Cats, played his round in bare feet and putted with his 5-iron, a remedy he came up with to battle the yips.

Former NFL and current CFL coach June Jones: A master of 5-iron putting?

A post shared by PGA TOUR (@pgatour) on

Considering he made back-to-back birdies at one point during the day, it's safe to say he's won that battle.

With Tiger Woods' return to the PGA Tour about a week away, that sound you hear is the hype train motoring full speed down the tracks.

First, his ex-girlfriend Lindsey Vonn told Sports Illustrated that she hopes this comeback works out for him.

“I loved him and we’re still friends. Sometimes, I wish he would have listened to me a little more, but he’s very stubborn and he likes to go his own way," the Olympic skiier said. "I hope this latest comeback sticks. I hope he goes back to winning tournaments.”

Vonn also mentioned she thinks Woods is very stubborn and that he didn't listen to her enough. That really shouldn't shock anyone who watched him win the 2008 U.S. Open on one leg. Don't think there were a lot of people in his ear telling him that was a great idea at the time.

We also have this report from Golf Channel Insider Tim Rosaforte, stating that the 14-time major champ recently played a round with former president Barack Obama at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., where he received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon.

The Farmers Insurance Open is sure to be must-see TV, but until then, I'm here for all of the rampant speculation and guesses as to how things will go. The more takes the better. Make them extra spicy, please and thanks.

These poor New Orleans Saints fans. Guess the only thing you can do is throw your 65-inch TV off the balcony and get 'em next year.

Here's two more just for good measure.

Farts ... will they ever not be funny?

Perhaps someday, but that day was not early last week, when Tommy Fleetwood let one rip on his European teammates during EurAsia Cup team photos.

Fleetwood went 3-0-0 in the event, helping Europe to a victory over Asia, perhaps by distracting his opponents with the aid of his secret weapon.

Also, how about the diabolical question, "Did you get that?"

Yeah Tommy, we all got that.

Ahhh ... golf trick shot videos. You were fun while you lasted.

But now we’ve officially come to the point in their existence where an unsuccessful attempt is much more entertaining than a properly executed shot, and right on cue, a couple of pros delivered some epic fails.

We start with Sony Open runner-up James Hahn’s preparation for the event, where for some reason he thought he needed to practice a running, jumping, Happy Gilmore-esque shot from the lip of a bunker. It didn’t exactly work out.

Not to be outdone, Ladies European Tour pro Carly Booth attempted the juggling-drive-it-out-of-midair shot made famous by the Bryan Bros, and from the looks of things she might have caught it a little close to the hosel.

PSA to trick-shot artists everywhere: For the sake of the viewing public, if you feel a miss coming on, please make sure the camera is rolling.

Seriously, though, who cares? Definitely not these guys and gals, who took the time to comment, "who cares?" They definitely do not care.

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Spieth selected by peers to run for PAC chairman

By Will GrayJanuary 16, 2018, 6:43 pm

Jordan Spieth may still be relatively young, but he has gained the confidence of some of the PGA Tour's most seasoned voices.

Spieth is one of two players selected by the current player directors of the Tour's Policy Board to run for Chairman of the Player Advisory Council (PAC). Spieth will face Billy Hurley III in an election that will end Feb. 13, with the leading vote-getter replacing Davis Love III next year on the Policy Board for a three-year term through 2021.

Last year's PAC chairman, Johnson Wagner, replaces Jason Bohn as a player director on the Policy Board beginning this year and running through 2020. Other existing player directors include Charley Hoffman (2017-19), Kevin Streelman (2017-19) and Love (2016-18).

The 16-member PAC advises and consults with the Policy Board and Tour commissioner Jay Monahan on "issues affecting the Tour."

In addition to Spieth and Hurley, other PAC members for 2018 include Daniel Berger, Paul Casey, Stewart Cink, Chesson Hadley, James Hahn, Zach Johnson, Matt Kuchar, Anirban Lahiri, Geoff Ogilvy, Sam Saunders, Chris Stroud, Justin Thomas, Kyle Thompson and Cameron Tringale.

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Florida golfers encounter python-wrapped alligator

By Grill Room TeamJanuary 16, 2018, 6:29 pm

Alligator sightings are pretty common on Southern golf courses - see here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

Also, here. (RIP, Timmy the Turtle.)

But here's one that deserves distinction.

Those images come from the Golf Club at Fiddler's Creek, down in Naples - in case you're booking a vacation to Southwest Florida or just looking for a Hot Deal this week. Hit 'em straight, folks.

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McIlroy 'happy to be back', can 'empathize' with Tiger

By Associated PressJanuary 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – After a long layoff from golf, Rory McIlroy has some newfound sympathy for Tiger Woods.

The 28-year-old Northern Irishman is making a comeback at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship after ending his season early last year. He has not played a round since the final day of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Oct. 8.

McIlroy, a four-time major champion who has slipped to No. 11 in the world rankings, last won the Tour Championship on the PGA Tour in September 2016. He injured a rib in his first outing of 2017 – at the South African Open – and felt its after-effects throughout the year.

McIlroy, who has seven top-five finishes in his last eight starts in Abu Dhabi, said Tuesday he felt mentally low because of his physical issues.

''Honestly, I was excited to be done. I could have shut it down after the PGA Championship very easily and taken the rest of the year off, but I didn't. I played six events after that, played OK and had a chance to win one of them,'' McIlroy said. ''But I was just excited to take that time off and get myself just sort of a re-set.''

Last week, McIlroy also revealed that he has a minor, non-threatening heart condition that needs regular check-ups.

''After that 3-plus months of a re-set, I'm very happy to be back. I felt like I needed it physically and mentally. I just felt like it was a little bit of a sabbatical. I've been out here for 10 years, and I want to get ready for the next 10.''

McIlroy compared his situation to what Woods has been going through.

''I've only been through, maybe, not even 5 percent of what he's had to go through. And you can tell from where he was to where he is now mentally, because of physically where he is ... he's a totally different person,'' McIlroy said. ''Of course, I empathize with him, and I know he was in a dark place there for a while. It's just so great to see him out of that and back and excited to be playing golf again.''

The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship will be the first of back-to-back events for McIlroy, who is also playing next week in Dubai.

''I think the next two weeks will be a big learning curve, just to see where I'm at,'' McIlroy said. ''I'm obviously coming into the events trying to play as well as I can and trying to compete and trying to win, but I think there will definitely be things I'll have to work on going into that stretch in the States.''

The tournament, which starts Thursday, has attracted some big names, including top-ranked Dustin Johnson, No. 6 Justin Rose, No. 9 Henrik Stenson, No. 14 Paul Casey and No. 15 Matt Kuchar. No. 18 Tommy Fleetwood is the defending champion.