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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 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."

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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