Casey (66) puts 40th birthday celebration on hold

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2017, 7:08 pm

SOUTHPORT, England – Even on the cusp of his fourth decade, Paul Casey has no interest in acting his age.

The Englishman, who prepared for this week’s Open Championship by cycling 300 miles through the Italian Dolomites, inched closer to that elusive first major on Thursday, opening his week with a 4-under 66 to move within a stroke of the lead.

On Friday he’ll continue that unrelenting march against the clock as a newly minted 40-year-old.

“I haven't had a [mid-life] crisis yet. Maybe I'll have one tomorrow,” he laughed. “A white Lamborghini or something. I don't know. I'm still in my 30s there.”

Casey said he’ll celebrate his birthday regardless of score on Friday, which is a mature way of accepting fate, which hasn’t always been his specialty.

There was a time when a bad round of golf would be a reason to stew and lament his misfortune. He was a man of extremes, effusive and entertaining when things went well, volcanic when they didn’t.

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His play could be brilliant at times and he climbed to third in the Official World Golf Ranking in 2009, but along the way there were numerous bouts with injury, some self-inflicted – like when he dislocated his shoulder snowboarding in Colorado in ’12 – some not.

In ’11, things seemed to bottom out when he divorced his first wife, Jocelyn, and lost his PGA Tour card, all of which makes his climb back to competitive relevance, not to mention personal enlightenment, even more compelling.

He’s advanced to the Tour Championship each of the last two years and is poised to do so again and, perhaps more telling, he’s regained his form in the game’s biggest events, with top-10 finishes in three of his last six major starts.

But even all of that momentum doesn’t completely explain the smile etched into his face following his round on Thursday at Royal Birkdale.

“I think there's a whole slew of things, not having played in England for a while, excited to be here, away from the course doing things,” he explained when asked about his solid start. “I used to hide a lot of that stuff away, not tell people. Wouldn't tell people I injured myself snowboarding. I think because of that you get, oh, why is he doing that?

“Now I’m very comfortable with myself on the golf course, away from the golf course, I think that's part of why I'm playing good golf.”

His caddie Johnny “Long Socks” McLaren, also factors into that equation, having teamed with Casey with the singular purpose of a five-year plan to win a major championship; and a week back at home in south England prior to the championship enjoying “beer and cheese” has rekindled a familiar desire.

On Thursday, Casey was the low Englishman and it’s known far and wide in these parts that the last Englishman to win an Open in England was Tony Jacklin in 1969 at Royal Lytham.

“The Open has never been the one I seem to have fared the best at. My results haven't been good,” he said. “But I feel really good about this week. Don't know why. Maybe I'm more in love with links golf than I was before.”

Or maybe he’s just older, wiser even despite those bold treks through the Italian Alps on a bike.

There won’t be a birthday celebration on Friday for Casey. That can wait until next week when the stakes aren’t as high. Instead, there’ll be a quiet dinner and, if his title hopes aren’t swallowed up by Friday’s fearsome forecast, a quick assessment of his opportunities.

“Dinner tomorrow night, but nothing silly,” he shrugged before someone suggested a possible celebration following Sunday’s final round that could possibly include the claret jug. “Sunday, yes.”

Day (68) just one back at Australian Open

By Nick MentaNovember 24, 2017, 6:40 am

Jason Day posted a second-round 68 to move himself just one off the lead held by Lucas Herbert through two rounds at the Emirates Australian Open. Here’s where things stand after 36 holes in Sydney.

Leaderboard: Herbert (-9), Day (-8), Cameron Davis (-7), Anthony Quayle (-6), Matt Jones (-4), Cameron Smith (-4), Nick Cullen (-4), Richard Green (-4)

What it means: Day is in search of his first worldwide victory of 2017. The former world No. 1 last visited the winner’s circle in May 2016, when he won The Players at TPC Sawgrass. A win this week would close out a difficult year for the Aussie who struggled with his game while also helping his mother in her battle with cancer. Day’s last victory on his native soil came in 2013, when he partnered with Adam Scott to win the World Cup of Golf for Australia at Royal Melbourne.

Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open

Round of the day: Herbert followed an opening 67 with a round of 66 to vault himself into the lead at The Australian Golf Club. He made six birdies, including four on his second nine, against a lone bogey to take the outright lead. The 22-year-old, who held the lead at this event last year and captured low-amateur honors in 2014, is coming off a runner-up finish at the NSW Open Championship, which boosted him from 714th to 429th in the Official World Golf Ranking. His 5-under score was matched by Dale Brandt-Richards and Josh Cabban.

Best of the rest: Matt Jones, who won this event over Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott two years ago, turned in 4-under 67. Jones is best known to American audiences for his playoff victory at the 2014 Shell Houston Open and for holding the 36-hole lead at the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, which was eventually won by Day. Jones will start the weekend five shots off the lead, at 4 under par.

Biggest disappointment: Spieth has a lot of work to do this weekend if he expects to be in the title picture for the fourth year in a row. Rounds of 70-71 have him eight shots behind the lead held by Herbert. Spieth made a birdie and a bogey on each side Friday to turn in level par. The reigning champion golfer of the year has finished first, second and first at this event over the last three years.

Storyline to watch this weekend: The Australian Open is the first event of the 2018 Open Qualifying Series. The leading three players who finish in the top 10 and who are not otherwise exempt will receive invites into next summer’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.

Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

"It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’

Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open

Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

“Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

“That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.

The golf world celebrates Thanksgiving

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 6:01 pm

Here's a look, through social media, at how the golf world celebrates Thanksgiving.

Lexi Thompson:

Baking time!!

A post shared by Lexi Thompson (@lexi) on

David Feherty:

Jack Nicklaus:

GC Tiger Tracker:

Steve Stricker:

Golf Channel:

Frank Nobilo:

Ian Poulter:

Tyrone Van Aswegen:

Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017

By Grill Room TeamNovember 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.