Fore Things: Longhorn Spieth eliminated in Austin

By Rex HoggardMarch 24, 2017, 10:47 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – Friday’s frenzied action at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play included dominant performances by Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson, disappointing finishes for Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth, and much, much more.

1. For the second time in three years, Spieth failed to advance out of group play, although his Friday match against Ryan Moore provided some insight into the state of his game.

“I didn't look at a scoreboard, pretended like winner [of his match with Ryan Moore] was advancing. And that's what brought those nerves and that adrenaline to me,” he said. “I was able to see some tendencies and I can adjust for them.”

2. Marc Leishman played just two holes on Friday, but they were two good holes. Leishman was scheduled to play Jason Day on Day 3, but when the fellow Australian withdrew on Wednesday, it led to a conceded point for Leishman and a strange day of waiting.

Leishman ended up in a playoff with Lee Westwood and Pat Perez, and he earned his spot in the round of 16 with a birdie at the second extra hole.

“It was strange this morning not even knowing if I was going to play,” said Leishman, who won last week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational. “Even three hours ago I didn't know if I was going to be playing. Now I'm going to be playing tomorrow.”

WGC-Dell Match Play: Articles, photos and videos

3. A subplot to this week’s action is the final push to move into the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking and qualify for the Masters when the new ranking is published on Monday.

Ross Fisher, who closed with three consecutive birdies earlier this month at the WGC-Mexico Championship to move into the top 64 and qualify for the Match Play, advanced to the round of 16 on Friday thanks to two closing birdies. He’s currently 53rd in the world and on track to crack the top 50.

Charles Howell III, No. 67 in the world, needed a five-hole playoff to advance to Saturday, but he’ll likely have to make it at least to the semifinals to move into the top 50.

4. Paul Casey advanced to the round of 16 with a perfect 3-0-0 record this week, improving his career mark in the event to 23-8-1, just one victory behind David Toms for second-most in the event. Asked why match play brings out the best in him, Casey struggled for an answer.

“I don't know, because I've tried to analyze it. Some of the best golf maybe I ever played was the final match against Shaun Micheel at [the 2006 HSBC World Match Play],” Casey said. “It's my only 10-and-8 victory. I don't mention it was 36 holes.”

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Snedeker starts slow in effort to snag Masters invite

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.

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.

Rose (62) sets blistering pace in Indonesia

By Associated PressDecember 14, 2017, 3:06 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia – Justin Rose shot a 10-under 62 Thursday to take a two-stroke lead after the first round of the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, starting on the back nine at Royale Jakarta Golf Club, had five birdies to go out in 31, then birdied four of five holes midway through his final nine and another birdie on his last hole in the $750,000 tournament.

Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters

Gunn Charoenkul (64) was in second place and Kim Giwhan and Phachara Khongwatmai (both 65) were tied for third.

Brandt Snedeker shot 72. Ranked 51st in the world, the American is aiming for a strong finish in Jakarta to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

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LaCava: Woods wouldn't talk after H.O.R.S.E. match

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 2:27 pm

The competitive streak within Tiger Woods knows no bounds - even on the basketball court, according to caddie Joe LaCava.

LaCava has been on Woods' bag since 2011, and he recently shared a story on "Inside the Ropes" on Sirius/XM PGA Tour Radio about a clash between the two men over a seemingly friendly game of H.O.R.S.E. Actually, it turned into nine straight games (and nine straight wins) for LaCava, who exploited a weakness in Woods' on-court strategy while leaning on a mid-length jumper of his own:

"The thing with him was if I missed a shot, which I missed plenty of shots, but if I missed the shot he'd go back down to the 3 (point line) because he liked to make the 3," LaCava said. "But it's harder obviously to make a 3, and I'd go right back to the baseline 12-footer, and he couldn't make it."

It's a short list of people who have beaten Woods nine times in any athletic pursuit, let alone in a row. But for LaCava, the fallout from his afternoon of on-court dominance was less than subtle.

"He did not talk to me the rest of the day," LaCava explained. "I didn't even get the old text, 'Dinner is ready,' because I stay across at the beach house. I didn't even get that text that night. I had to get take-out. He didn't announce he wasn't (talking), he just did it. I'm telling you, nine games in a row. Like I said, he's so competitive, even at something like that."