Punch Shot: 2015 bigger for McIlroy or Scott?

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 24, 2014, 3:54 pm

Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott are set to duel Down Under in this week's Australian Open. McIlroy edged Scott a year ago for the title. The upcoming year looks to be a big one for both players, with McIlroy eyeing the career Grand Slam and Scott trying to win majors before the anchor ban takes effect. For whom is 2015 bigger? Our writers weigh in:

By RYAN LAVNER

Rory McIlroy.

We’ve seen this movie before – Boy Wonder captivating the golf world, winning majors and other top-tier tournaments, ascending to world No. 1. Remember 2012? That’s when McIlroy won the PGA Championship and four other worldwide tournaments to solidify his standing as the game’s next star.  

Then 2013 happened, and for a variety of reasons (equipment change, relationship rumors, management issues) he was knocked back down a few pegs. The competitive bell curve had come to define the early stages of his career.  

So now, after another banner year, after the best summer of his life, 2015 is shaping up to be a monster season for McIlroy. Still only 25, he needs to show that he’s capable of consistency – not just week-to-week, or month-to-month, but over the entirety of his year.  

Though his lawsuit figures to pose a significant distraction in the spring, everything else in his life seems to be in order. Whether that stability leads to continued success remains to be seen. 


By JASON SOBEL

Let's face it: This isn't a make-or-break year for either of these guys. Both are established world-class talents. Even if they falter in 2015, both have proven in the past that they can bounce back from disappointing campaigns.

With that in mind, this year is bigger for McIlroy, for the simple reason of what he could accomplish.

It all comes down to an April week in Georgia, where he could win a third straight major and become the sixth player ever to claim the career Grand Slam before his 26th birthday. If it happens, everything else he does for the year is gravy.

Scott will have a new caddie and one final year of being able to anchor his putter, so there's probably some sentiment that he'll have a sense of urgency this year. But the stakes are bigger for McIlroy, just because he's chasing history.


By REX HOGGARD

After a relatively injury-free 34 years, Adam Scott would appear to be reaching the prime of his impressive career, and yet 2015 will still looms as a pivotal season for the Australian.

Nearly 10 years younger, Rory McIlroy will feel more pressure in ’15 as he eyes the final leg of the career Grand Slam at Augusta National, but it will be Scott who will find himself on the proverbial clock.

It won’t be injury or indifference that sends Scott’s career into decline; it will be golf’s institutional shift away from anchored putting.

When the USGA and Royal & Ancient mandated last year’s ban on anchoring many considered Scott the player who would be most impacted.

A superior ballstriker who can overpower the game’s longest golf courses, Scott’s putting has always been suspect even with his broom-handle putter.

In 2013, when he won his maiden major and Australia’s first green jacket, Scott ranked 103rd on the PGA Tour in strokes gained-putting. Last year Scott ranked 55th in putting, his best position in that category in a decade, but he only won once on Tour.

Perhaps Scott can find a viable alternative to anchoring to cure his putting woes, but he hasn’t yet.


By RANDALL MELL

The anchored putter challenge makes 2015 a bigger year for Adam Scott.

With the ban against anchoring a stroke against the body beginning at the start of 2016, the pressure will begin to escalate for Scott to figure out what he’s going to do. He has 2015 to make the most of his last year anchoring and to figure out whether he’s going to go to a standard putter or modify his stroke with the long putter.

McIlroy doesn't have that to worry about.

Scott’s on record believing he won’t have an issue, but until he starts seeing putts go in without anchoring, it’s an issue. That's because anchoring appears to have made a huge difference for him in majors. Though his putting stats were actually good for most of his career with a standard putter, there’s no denying his performance in majors took off with the anchored putter. Scott did not have a top 10 in a major in the four years before he made the switch to a long putter. In the 16 majors since switching, he has nine top 10s, including his Masters’ victory in ’13. He has been T-5 or better in five of his last 10.

At some point this year, Scott has to square away a future putting plan.

Getty Images

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."