Punch shot: Four questions for the 80th Masters

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 6, 2016, 9:05 pm

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Who will win, what will he shoot, who will surprise and who will leave devastated? Joe Posnanski, Rex Hoggard, Ryan Lavner and Jay Coffin are all at Augusta National and weigh in on these topics as we inch closer to the beginning of the 80th Masters.

Will the winner be a player ranked in the top 10 in the world?

POSNANSKI: The winner this year is a top-10 player. I actually believe it will be a top-five player. I actually think it will be a top-three player – Jason Day, Jordan Spieth or Rory McIlroy will win it this year.

HOGGARD: As a rule, Augusta National doesn’t serve up a lot of one-hit wonders and surprise winners. The list of champions reads like a “who’s who” list of greatness, but this year feels different thanks to a foreboding forecast. If the winds whip like predicted, the list of potential winners could extend well down the world ranking.

LAVNER: Yes. Too many top players are peaking for there to be a dud winner. In fact, don’t be surprised if Jason Day, my pick to win, becomes the first world No. 1 since Tiger Woods in 2002 to take the Masters.

COFFIN: Sadly, the winner will not come from the top 10. It makes too much sense that it will, which is precisely why it won’t. So much focus is on the top dogs and they’re all playing well. But it’s been several years since Augusta National has produced an unpredictable winner. We’re due for another.

Who will surprise this week?

POSNANSKI: I don’t know if it will be considered a surprise but I do think that Sergio Garcia contends this year. And Graeme McDowell maybe.

HOGGARD: Every time he rolls down Magnolia Lane Phil Mickelson looks as if he knows something everyone else is missing and this week has been no different. Simply put, Augusta National inspires Lefty and this year his game has shown flashes of the type of form that already delivered three green jackets.

LAVNER: Bryson DeChambeau. He’s as prepared as any amateur ever has been at the Masters, with a dozen practice rounds and priceless conversations about Augusta with many of the game’s legends. Ryan Moore’s tie for 13th in the 2005 Masters remains the gold standard for recent amateurs, but that mark is in danger this year.

COFFIN: Danny Willett, Branden Grace, Hideki Matsuyama. These guys are all world-class players and are hardly underdogs, but none are on the radar this week. Grace finished top-four in two majors last year, Willett is on the cusp of an American breakout performance and Matsuyama finished fifth here last year.

Will there be heartbreak?

POSNANSKI: Since I am predicting that Sergio Garcia will be in contention, he will obviously be the one to have the heartbreak because it always works out that way.

HOGGARD: There’s always heartbreak on Sunday. You can’t have that type of triumph without an equal amount of tears, and it’s increasingly beginning to look like Jason Day has the most to lose. Dubbed the favorite, Day ascended to world No. 1 with his victory two weeks ago at the Match Play and he’s played as well as anyone the last six months. The one title he wants the most, however, will have to wait for another year.

LAVNER: Oh, of course – the back nine always makes or breaks a player’s chances, and this year will be no exception. Pinpointing exactly whose Masters dreams will be crushed is more difficult. Likely candidates are Dustin Johnson and Henrik Stenson, who are playing well heading into Augusta but have faltered in plenty of big spots before.

COFFIN: There will be heartbreak because there always is, save for last year when Jordan Spieth ran away with it. Rickie Fowler strikes me as a candidate this year. Since his Abu Dhabi victory he’s been close to victory several times and hasn’t pulled it together. I see a major disappointment coming, which ultimately will lead to a major victory later in the year.

Will the winning score be over/under 12 under par?

POSNANSKI: Under because of the weather.

HOGGARD: Under, under, under. After Spieth’s 18-under romp last year the 2016 event was always going to be a tougher test, the powers that be at Augusta National wouldn’t have it any other way.

Add to that increasingly difficult conditions with winds predicted to whip to 30 mph and it has the feel of an 8-under year.

LAVNER: Under. The early forecast calls for morning thunderstorms Thursday and gusty winds of up to 30 mph on Friday and Saturday, with frost delays possible. This year’s Masters already reminds of the 2007 edition, when Zach Johnson won at 1 over par. The winning score will be closer to 8 under – players do most damage on the par 5s, anyway – but it won’t be the shootout that many of us expected going into the week.

COFFIN: Over. Jason Day said it would be 10 to 12 under. I still think the winning score will be lower than 12 under because these guys are just so damn good. Rain won’t cause as many problems as originally thought and Sunday looks beautiful. Marry those two and someone has to get to 13 or 14 under par.

Getty Images

Rose leads halted Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters when bad weather stopped play Friday during the second round.

The Englishman, who shot a 10-under 62 on Thursday, had completed 13 holes and was 5 under on the day at the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat (64) was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew wit on the 11th hole at 2 under for the day after shooting an opening 72.

There was no reason given for his withdrawal, but the American has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season. 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.

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

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

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

Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo

By Grill Room TeamDecember 15, 2017, 1:05 am

Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Really good at golf. Really good at vacationing.

With #SB2K18 still months away, Thomas and Spieth headlined a vacation to Cabo San Lucas, and this will shock you but it looks like they had a great time.

Spring break veteran Smylie Kaufman joined the party, as did Thomas' roommate, Tom Lovelady, who continued his shirtless trend.

The gang played all the hits, including shoeless golf in baketball jerseys and late nights with Casamigos tequila.

Image via tom.lovelady on Instagram.

In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.