USGA tweaks Walker Cup mid-am requirement

By Ryan LavnerApril 17, 2017, 6:03 pm

The USGA will shift away from its strict two mid-amateur minimum at future Walker Cups, but the outlook isn’t as dire as it might seem for those 25 and older.

Instead of guaranteeing two spots on the 10-man roster to mid-amateurs, the USGA has instead committed to at least one mid-am on the squad, with the possibility, perhaps even the likelihood, of even more if they play their way onto the team.

A headline in Monday’s Global Golf Post said that the USGA was “back[ing] off” its mid-amateur commitment. That prompted passionate responses on social media from 2015 Walker Cupper Scott Harvey, who tweeted that it was “very, very sad” for mid-ams, and fellow mid-am Patrick Christovich, who said that the “USGA is probably a big fan of the One-and-done college basketball rule too…Support the ‘Real Amateurs’ and the game will grow.”

The USGA announced before the 2013 matches that at least two mid-amateurs would be on the 10-man roster moving forward, a controversial move designed to promote the tradition of the event.

It was a non-issue in 2013, as the Americans won in a rout and mid-am Nathan Smith earned the clinching point. But neither the mid-ams nor the college kids played well in a shocking blowout loss two years ago at Royal Lytham, which put the mid-am rule back under the microscope.

The U.S. Walker Cup team already faces plenty of criticism because of its secretive selection process, but the thought of the Americans not sending their strongest team to face Great Britain and Ireland didn’t sit well with some inside and outside the organization, including this correspondent (as seen both here and here). 

But captain Spider Miller, himself a two-time Mid-Amateur champion, said Monday that the USGA’s policy change was common sense.

Some years (like in 2017), there will be several mid-am candidates, such as Masters low amateur Stewart Hagestad, Todd White, Harvey and Smith. Other years, there might be only one legitimate contender. The USGA wanted flexibility in filling out the roster.

“But given the level of play and how good the mid-amateur pool is,” Miller said, “I expect there will be two on this team.”

This is the second notable change in the past month, after the USGA said that it would unveil all 10 team members at the same time, rather than in two waves. John Bodenhamer, the USGA’s senior managing director of championships and governance, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

The biennial event will be held Sept. 9-10 at Los Angeles Country Club.  

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

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.

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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.