After Further Review: Woods keeping options open

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 1, 2016, 10:00 pm

Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On rumors of Tiger Woods' return ...

Depending on which Twitter thread, hotel reservation log or tea leaf you read, Tiger Woods will come back sometime in the next seven months: at The Players, Memorial, Quicken Loans National or World Challenge. Thing is, not even Woods himself knows at this point.

In the past, sure, he could be accused of withholding information just to reassert his dominion over the game. But that doesn’t seem like the case here. He looks and sounds genuinely unsure when he’ll play again, as he recovers from his third back surgery in the past two years.

There are several factors in play, but the threat of re-injury looms large – it would render his months of hard work meaningless and send him to the sidelines for good. With so much at stake, can you really blame him for, quite literally, keeping each and every option open? – Ryan Lavner

On John Daly turning 50 ...

John Daly turned 50 on Thursday, which means the PGA Tour Champions gets a much-needed shot in the arm next week. Daly will make his debut on the over-50 circuit at next week’s Insperity Invitational, a second chance the two-time major champion has been thinking about for some time.

For the PGA Tour Champions, however, it could be an even more beneficial mulligan. As evidenced by the reaction of fans to Daly as he prepares for the next phase of his eventful life, the often-troubled star still connects with a unique portion of the golf world. It’s a portion of the populace that suddenly has a reason to pay attention. – Rex Hoggard

On Jim Furyk's return at Quail Hollow ...

Jim Furyk hasn't been on the PGA Tour since withdrawing from last year's BMW Championship with a wrist injury. The injury led to surgery, and now Furyk will return this week at Quail Hollow and no doubt have one goal in mind – getting ready for the U.S. Open at Oakmont.

Furyk came agonizingly close to winning in front of a home crowd in 2007, the last time the U.S. Open was held at Oakmont. He was No. 7 in the world when he landed on the disabled list, and the soon-to-be 46-year-old has proven he still has plenty of game left. Let's hope his wrist won't keep him from a run at a Cinderella story in June. – Ryan Reiterman

On the youth movement in the LPGA ...

The youth movement continues in the women’s game with Jenny Shin breaking through to win her first LPGA title Sunday at 23 years, 6 months and 24 days old. Remarkably, through 11 events this year, Ha Na Jang remains the oldest winner. She was 23 years, 10 months and 4 days old when she won the HSBC Women’s Champions in February.

This year’s winners: Hyo Joo Kim (20) at Pure Silk Bahamas, Jang (23) at Coates Golf Championship, Haru Nomura (23) at Women’s Australian Open, Lexi Thompson (21) at Honda LPGA Thailand, Jang (23) at HSBC Women’s Champions, Sei Young Kim (23) at Founders Cup, Lydia Ko (18) at Kia Classic, Ko (18) at ANA Inspiration, Minjee Lee (19) at Lotte Championship, Nomura (23) at Swinging Skirts Classic and Shin (23) at Volunteers of America Texas Shootout. - Randall Mell

On Bhavik Patel's comeback from suspension ...

Bhavik Patel has yet to play in a PGA Tour event, but that streak will likely end in a few months.

Patel raced out to an early lead at this week’s Tour stop in Indiana, and while he faded over the weekend he still finished T-18. That marked his third top-20 finish in his last four starts, a run that was sparked by a runner-up finish in Brazil last month. He currently sits 11th on the season-long money list, with the top 25 earners receiving PGA Tour cards for the 2016-17 season.

If the name sounds oddly familiar, that’s because last year Patel became just the second player ever to be suspended under the PGA Tour’s anti-doping policy. He was suspended for a year for what he described as a “lapse in judgment” that occurred while he was trying to overcome an injury, and the 25-year-old went nearly 18 months in between competitive appearances as a result.

While many players might need a few starts to kick off the rust, Patel has quickly become a mainstay on Tour leaderboards early this season. Should he keep up the pace, he could have a tee time on the big stage by this fall – a notion that seemed unlikely a year ago. – Will Gray

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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.