Willett details 'difficult' post-Masters stretch

By Will GrayOctober 11, 2017, 4:18 pm

After a trying stretch in his first full season as a major champ, Danny Willett reflected on the decline of his game in the wake of winning the 2016 Masters.

Willett surprised many with his back-nine rally to overtake Jordan Spieth at Augusta National last spring, becoming the first European to don the green jacket since 1999. But the subsequent months have not been kind to the Englishman, who has undergone both a coach and caddie change in search of a spark.

Willett entered this year at No. 11 in the world, but he's currently ranked No. 66. In a wide-ranging EuropeanTour.com post, Willett explains that his issues traced back even further to the fall of 2016, when he lacked motivation heading into the season-ending Race to Dubai after a disappointing Ryder Cup debut.

"I just didn't want to play golf," Willett wrote. "Think about that. It's utterly ridiculous. I had entered the HSBC Champions in China, Turkey, Nedbank and Dubai - four of the biggest tournaments of the year - and I didn't want to play. I just didn't feel good enough to compete."

He ultimately opted to tee it up in those events, finishing second in the season-long Race to Dubai for the second straight year. Willett explained that he had hoped that a brief off-season would help get his game in gear in time for his Masters title defense, but he continued to struggle both with form and a lingering back injury.

Things got worse after the Masters, as Willett's longtime friend and caddie, Jonathan Smart, abruptly quit during the RBC Heritage. Smart has since taken a part-time bag with Branden Grace, while Willett turned to another friend, Sam Haywood.

"My split with Jonny obviously wasn't how we would have wanted it to happen," Willett wrote. "We were good friends and it was just natural that me not playing well was going to put stress on things. He knew I was working my tail off and I knew he was doing the same, but a couple of bad breaks and some bad form and it's easy to let that tension seep into your professional relationship."

Willett identified another "low point" as the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, where he finished last among the 76-man field. That result prompted him to split with his swing coach, Pete Cowen, and he began working with Sean Foley the next week at the PGA Championship.

"For two or three months now we've looked at everything in my game and worked endlessly on getting better," he wrote. "I don't see (Foley) every week, but we're always face-timing or messaging, talking Trackman numbers or just working on drills."

Willett's wife, Nicole, is expected to give birth to the couple's second child in December. He remains optimistic that in the wake of a "difficult" 2017 season, he'll soon be able to rekindle the magic he flashed last spring around Amen Corner.

"When things are going badly, you start to widen your focus and take in a lot of negative thoughts or comments," Willett wrote. "However, when things are going well, you feel like you have a force-field around you. It's impossible to describe the feeling. I don't care what drugs people might take or things people might do to seek pleasure and joy, it honestly can't match stiffing a long iron or making a crucial putt on a Sunday in contention in a golf tournament."

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.

The golf world celebrates Thanksgiving

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 6:01 pm

Here's a look, through social media, at how the golf world celebrates Thanksgiving.

Lexi Thompson:

Baking time!!

A post shared by Lexi Thompson (@lexi) on

David Feherty:

Jack Nicklaus:

GC Tiger Tracker:

Steve Stricker:

Golf Channel:

Frank Nobilo:

Ian Poulter:

Tyrone Van Aswegen:

Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017

By Grill Room TeamNovember 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.

Tributes pour in for legendary caddie Sheridan

By Randall MellNovember 23, 2017, 2:54 pm

Tributes are pouring in as golf celebrates the life of Greg Sheridan after receiving news of his passing.

Sheridan, a long-time LPGA caddie who worked for some of the game’s all-time greats, including Kathy Whitworth and Beth Daniel, died Wednesday in Indian Rocks Beach, Fla., at 63. He was diagnosed in July 2016 with brain and lung cancer.

Sheridan worked the last dozen years or so with Natalie Gulbis, who expressed her grief in an Instagram post on Wednesday:

“Greg…I miss you so much already and it hasn’t even been a day. 15+ seasons traveling the world you carried me & my bag through the highs and lows of golf and life. You were so much more than my teammate on the course…Thank you.”

Sheridan was on Whitworth’s bag for the last of her LPGA-record 88 titles.

“When I first came on tour, I would try to find out how many times Greg won,” Gulbis told Golfweek. “It’s a crazy number, like 50.”

Matthew Galloway, a caddie and friend to Sheridan, summed up Sheridan’s impressive reach after caddying with him one year at the LPGA Founders Cup, where the game’s pioneers are honored.

“Best Greg story,” Galloway tweeted on Thanksgiving morning, “coming up 18 at PHX all the founders were in their chairs. Greg goes, `Yep, caddied for her, her and her.’ Legend.”

In a first-person column for Golf Magazine last year, Gulbis focused on Sheridan while writing about the special bond between players and caddies. She wrote that she won the “looper lottery” when she first hired Sheridan in ’04.

“Greg and I have traveled the world, and today he is like family,” Gulbis wrote. “Sometimes, he’s a psychologist. Last year, my mom got sick and it was a distraction, but he was great. When I used to have boyfriend issues and breakup issues, he was my confidant. In a world where caddies sometimes spill secrets, Greg has kept a respectful silence, and I can’t thank him enough for that. He’s an extension of me.”

Four months after Gulbis wrote the column, Sheridan was diagnosed with cancer.

“The LPGA family is saddened to hear of the loss of long-time tour caddie, Greg Sheridan,” the LPGA tweeted. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and players he walked with down the fairways. #RIP.”

Dean Herden was among the legion of caddies saddened by the news.

“Greg was a great guy who I respected a lot and taught me some great things over the years,” Herden texted to GolfChannel.com.

Here are some of heartfelt messages that are rolling across Twitter:

Retired LPGA great Annika Sorenstam:

LPGA commissioner Mike Whan in a retweet of Gulbis:

Golf Channel reporter and former tour player Jerry Foltz:

Christina Kim:

LPGA caddie Shaun Clews:

LPGA caddie Jonny Scott:

LPGA caddie Kevin Casas:

LPGA pro Jennie Lee: