Punch Shot: Better season - Spieth, Day or McIlroy

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 6, 2016, 6:00 pm

Jordan Spieth, Jason Day and Rory McIlroy are the top-three players in the world. All had multiple wins last year. So who will have a better season in 2016? Our writers weigh in.


Rory McIlroy. That’s not a knock on the other two players. Spieth is coming off one of the best major seasons of all time, but recent history suggests that he’ll have trouble backing up a two-major campaign with another big year. Just look at what happened to McIlroy as he tries to follow up his 2012 and ’14 seasons. And Day has more than enough talent to post another five-win year in 2016, but it remains to be seen whether 2015 was a turning point in his career or an aberration simply because he avoided injury.

The hope here is that all three have monster seasons and, with a little help from Rickie Fowler, combine for 20 wins in 2016. But the more likely scenario is that McIlroy, tired of playing second fiddle to the Spieth-Day show, reasserts his dominance and returns to No. 1. If he isn’t motivated by what transpired in 2015, then it’s fair to wonder if anything else will provide a spark.


It will be another great year in golf if Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and Jason Day continue to thrive together.

But when the year ends, look for McIlroy to be back atop the Official World Golf Ranking.

He could own the year if he starts off the majors winning the Masters to claim the career Grand Slam. At his best, he’s a better version of Jason Day, powerful but an even more consistently good driver. At his best, he puts pressure on Spieth to be perfect. At his best, McIlroy can dominate and run away against the best fields in golf. He has already proven that. It sets him apart, not just from today’s best players, but historically.


Considering the collective accomplishments of golf’s new Big 3 in recent years it’s possible to imagine the trio of Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and Jason Day trading titles and the world’s top ranking with regularity over the next 12 months.

Spieth holds down the top spot in the world now and Day made a cameo at No. 1 in the fall, but it is McIlroy who holds the edge in consistency over the top three the last few years and why the Northern Irishman will emerge as 2016’s MVP.

All three players have the ability to win any time they’re on a tee sheet, but when McIlroy’s game is aligned properly he has the skills to win by a cool eight strokes, like he did at the 2011 U.S. Open and ’12 PGA Championship.

In 2015, McIlroy appeared headed for one of those epic seasons but was sidetracked by a mid-summer ankle injury that forced him to miss the Open Championship and WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and made him a non-story at the PGA Championship.

In a few weeks, however, he will begin 2016 healthy, happy and hungry, which is a good combination for a player who, when he’s properly motivated, can dominate the game in a way the others have not.


While he was derailed by injury last summer, I still contend that Rory McIlroy will have a better 2016 season than either Jordan Spieth or Jason Day.

The factors involved are two-fold. First, both Spieth and Day ascended to the top of the golfing landscape at warp speed last year, and now must face pressures – and expectations – with which they are both somewhat unfamiliar. Are they up to the task? Probably, but it’s still a consideration when forecasting the next 10 months or so.

Secondly, I still cling to the notion that when all three are playing at their absolute best, McIlroy would win. His ceiling, the one we saw at Congressional and Kiawah, is just a shade higher than the one Spieth showed at Augusta National or Day’s at Whistling Straits. McIlroy’s ability to dominate elite fields, and his comfort level and experience playing with or near the lead, trumps that of the other two.

If you’ve been tracking these little predictions, you’ll recall that earlier this week I said that McIlroy would win a major this year while both Spieth and Day would not. If that math pans out, it’ll be the Ulsterman who has the best season – and likely tops the world rankings a year from now.

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.

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Rose leads Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose completed the final two holes of his second round early Saturday for a 3-under 69 and a one-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, who had a first-round 62, was among a quarter of the field forced off the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course after weather delays on Friday.

The Englishman, who bogeyed his last hole, had a two-round total of 13-under 131.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who completed his 64 on Friday, was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters. He has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.

Playing with the pros

Tiger, DJ and Faxon

Article: Video, images from Tiger, DJ's round with Trump

Article: After DJ and Tiger, Trump plays golf with Jack

Rory faces criticism

Article: Rory: Round with Trump about respect for presidency

Article: Rory: Round with Trump not a 'political statement'

President at the Presidents Cup

Video: President Trump makes the rounds at Liberty National

Article: President Trump presents trophy to U.S. team

Article: Stricker: 'Great thrill' to get trophy from Trump

Purported round of 73 with Lindsey Graham

Article: Senator tweets Trump shot 73 in windy, wet conditions

Article: Graham offers details on Trump's round of 73

Cart on the green

Article: Trump appears to drive cart on Bedminster green

Presence and protests at U.S. Women's Open

Article: Trump makes presidential history at Women's Open

Article: Trump supporters, protesters clash near Women's Open

Article: UltraViolet takes protest inside Trump National

Photo gallery: President Trump at the U.S. Women's Open

Trump golf properties


Article: Environmental group vandalizes Trump golf course

Article: Man accused of vandalizing four Trump courses


Article: Two Trump courses in Scotland losing millions

Article: Eric Trump denies Russia helped fund golf courses

Article: Trump company ordered to pay $5.77M in dues dispute

Reportedly fake TIME covers

Article: Trump clubs display fake Time magazine cover

Trump apologizes for voter-fraud story

Report: Trump's voter fraud claim tied to Langer

Langer: Trump 'apologized' for story mix-up

Pros comment on the president

Article: Players defend Trump at Senior PGA Championship

Article: Trump congratulates Daly; Daly congratulates Trump

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 12:30 pm