Hey, Rook: Inside new PGA Tour crop for 2018

By Will GrayOctober 5, 2017, 12:30 pm

A new PGA Tour season begins this week at the Safeway Open, and with it a new crop of fresh faces are ushered into the spotlight.

There's plenty of reason to expect that at least a few of the newest Tour members will thrive in the coming months. Last season five rookies made it into the winner's circle, including Cody Gribble, Mackenzie Hughes, Wesley Bryan and Grayson Murray.

A total of 23 players have the official rookie designation this season (more on that below), and it's a group that includes several familiar faces to fans who follow both amateur and professional golf. Here's a look at some of the players from the Class of 2018 hoping to follow in the footsteps of newly-minted Rookie of the Year Xander Schauffele:

Peter Uihlein, 28

How he qualified: Made the Web.com Tour Finals via non-member FedExCup points, then promptly won the first Finals event to lock up his card.

Skinny: Uihlein is easily the most experienced player in this year's crop, having made 30 career PGA Tour starts and having played the last several years in Europe. But because he never made more than seven PGA Tour starts in any single season, the 2010 U.S. Amateur champ is still classified as a rookie and could be viewed as a favorite to top the class by season's end.


Beau Hossler, 22

How he qualified: Finished 23rd on Web.com regular-season money list

Skinny: Hossler grabbed headlines as a high-schooler at the 2012 U.S. Open, then had a standout career at Texas. A torn labrum delayed his pro debut, but he made up for lost time with two runner-ups in a four-start span this summer. While he has less experience than Uihlein, he won't be classified as a rookie because he made eight PGA Tour starts last season - one more than the rookie threshold allows. It's the same stipulation that kept Jon Rahm from consideration for top rookie honors last season.


Aaron Wise, 21

How he qualified: Finished 18th on Web.com regular-season money list

Skinny: While Hossler sat out the 2016 NCAA championship final with a shoulder injury, Wise powered his Oregon squad to a team title days after earning top individual honors. In his first full season on the Web.com Tour, he won the Air Capital Classic and notched two top-20 finishes during Web.com Tour Finals.


Tom Lovelady, 24

How he qualified: Fell short during the regular season, finishing 29th on the money list, but locked up his card with a T-3 finish in the first Web.com Tour Finals event.

Skinny: Lovelady won a pair of NCAA titles at Alabama while playing on a team that also included Justin Thomas and Bobby Wyatt. After turning pro last year, he started in Canada before earning status at Web.com Tour Q-School in the fall. Now he's poised to join Thomas as the latest Crimson Tide alum on the PGA Tour.


Stephan Jaeger, 28

How he qualified: Finished fifth on Web.com regular-season money list

Skinny: Jaeger was the first professional to shoot 58 in a Tour-sanctioned competition, one week before Jim Furyk pulled off the feat last summer. He went on to win that tournament but he still didn't crack the top 25 on the full-season money list, requiring another year on the Web.com. He gained consistency and won twice in between qualifying for the U.S. Open for the second time in three years.


Austin Cook, 26

How he qualified: Finished 15th on Web.com regular-season money list

Skinny: Cook was a Monday-qualifying sensation on the PGA Tour in 2015, nearly earning his card after starting the year with no status. After a year on the Web.com, he flourished this past summer and closed out the four-event Finals series with three straight finishes of T-11 or better to move up in the reshuffle.


Corey Conners, 25

How he qualified: Finished 20th on Web.com Tour Finals money list

Skinny: Conners was a runner-up to Gunn Yang at the 2014 U.S. Amateur, and he nearly made the cut at the Masters the following spring. The Canadian opened the year with two straight top-10 finishes on the Web but faded in the summer before snagging one of the last cards available with a pair of top-15 finishes at Finals.

Trump playing 'quickly' with Tiger, DJ

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 24, 2017, 1:33 pm

Tiger Woods is scheduled to make his return to competition next week at his Hero World Challenge. But first, a (quick) round with the President.

President Donald Trump tweeted on Friday that he was going to play at Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Fla., alongside Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Woods and President Trump previously played last December. Trump, who, according to trumpgolfcount.com has played 75 rounds since taking over the presidency, has also played over the last year with Rory McIlroy, Ernie Els and Hideki Matsuyama.

Chawrasia leads major champs in Hong Kong

By Associated PressNovember 24, 2017, 1:19 pm

HONG KONG – S.S.P. Chawrasia extended his lead at the Hong Kong Open to two strokes Friday after a 4-under 66 in the second round.

Chawrasia, who had led by one at the Hong Kong Golf Club, is at 9-under 131 overall and took as much as a five-stroke lead at one point.

''Yesterday I was putting very well, and today, also I make some up and downs. I saved a couple of short putts. That's why I think I'm leading by two shots most probably,'' the Indian said. ''The next two days, I'm just looking forward.''


Full-field scores from the UBS Hong Kong Open


Thomas Aiken (64) is second, followed by Alexander Bjork (66), Joakim Lagergren (66), Poom Saksansin (68) and Julian Suri (67) at 5 under 135.

Aiken's round was the lowest of the tournament.

''It is tough out there. The greens are really firm. You've got to hit the fairway,'' Aiken said. ''If you get above the holes, putts can get away from you.''

Justin Rose (69) had six birdies, but three bogeys and a double-bogey at the par 3 12th kept him at 3 under for the tournament.

Masters champion Sergio Garcia (71), playing for the first time in Hong Kong, was at even par, as was defending champion Sam Brazel (71) and 2014 champion Scott Hend (67).

''I have to play better,'' Garcia said. ''The way I felt like I played, it's difficult. This kind of course, you need to play well to shoot a good score.''

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.