Who Will Be the Michelin Man

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 10, 2005, 4:00 pm
2005 Michelin Championship at Las VegasThe Michelin Championship at Las Vegas is the most important event of the year ' at least to the winner. Thats the way its been over the better part of the last five seasons.
 
In 2000, Billy Andrade was fighting for his professional livelihood. His two-year exemption from winning the 1998 Bell Canadian Open was about to expire. He entered the Las Vegas event mired in 159th place on the money list.
 
And he left in 43rd place.
 
Andrade edged Phil Mickelson by a stroke and renewed his PGA Tour card for another two years.
 
Andre Stoltz
Andre Stoltz' surprise victory last year in Las Vegas extended his PGA Tour life.
Last year was a similar story.
 
Andre Stoltz, a rookie on tour, was in danger of heading back to the secondary circuit, until he hit the jackpot in Vegas.
 
Stoltz, who had just six sub-70 scores all year, fired four rounds in the 60s to beat Harrison Frazar by a stroke and catapult from 217th to 89th in earnings.
 
For others, this event wasnt about making some much needed money, but about ending some much unwanted schneids.
 
Phil Tatuarangi had never won a tour event until he did so at Vegas in 2002. That gave the oft-injured Kiwi much needed security.
 
And Stuart Appleby had gone four years without a victory until he beat Scott McCarron in a Vegas playoff in 2003.
 
Over the last half-decade, the Michelin Championship has indeed been the biggest tournament of the year ' to the winner. The lone exception was Bob Estes, who in 2001 made Vegas his second win of the season. That victory was a bonus; though, it did tack on an additional year of exempt status.
 
With just four full-field events remaining on the 2005 tour calendar, it is quite possible that Vegas will once again greatly influence a players future.
 
That is, unless the winner happens to be someone like Jim Furyk. Which is quite possible.
 
Five for the Title:
 
Jim Furyk
Long before he was Tiger Woods team partner of choice, and long before he was a major champion, Furyk was golf's Wayne Newton. Furyks maiden tour victory came in Sin City in 1995. He won again in 98, and yet again in 99. Its been six years since he stood next to the token showgirls with trophy in hand, but its not as if hes gone bust during that winless span. In his last five Vegas starts, Furyk has four top-20s, including a fourth-place finish in 2002. Furyk already has one win this year, prevailing at the Cialis Western Open. Its the ninth time in the last 11 years that he has had at least one win on tour. However, he has only one other multiple-win season; that coming in 2003, when he won the U.S. Open and the Buick Open.
 
Stuart Appleby
Stuart Appleby is in search of his first multiple-win season on tour.
Stuart Appleby
Like Furyk, Appleby has won this tournament before, doing so in 2003. He also already has a win under his belt this season, at the Mercedes Championships. But what he doesnt have is even a single multiple-win season in his career. Appleby has been playing well of late. He has four top-15 finishes in his last five starts.
 
Chris DiMarco
The good news for DiMarco is that he has had success in this tournament. He owns the course record at Southern Highlands GC (61). The bad news is that Southern Highlands is no longer in the rotation. The tournament was reduced from 90 holes to 72 last year, and SH was replaced with Bears Best. The event is still 72 holes this year, but the courses have been pared down to the host TPC at Summerlin and the TPC at The Canyons. DiMarco missed the cut in this event his first four times, but has made his last four cuts and tied for fifth in 2000.
 
Scott Verplank
While much is made about DiMarcos winless streak on tour, which reaches back to the 2002 FBR Open, Verplank hasnt won since the 2001 Bell Canadian Open. He has two runner-up finishes this season, which gives him four over the last three years. He has three top-10s in his last seven Vegas starts.
 
Phil Mickelson
Because of the time of the season, Mickelson hasnt been mentioned among the favorites in his last few starts. But he might have a chance to win just his second tour event ever after the month of August (2000 Tour Championship). Lefty has four top-10s in 11 Vegas starts and was runner-up in 2000. Hes back this year after withdrawing after two solid rounds a year ago due to illness.
 
Playing Out the Front Nine
 
Four more to keep an eye on
 
*Tom Lehman, who was the 54-hole leader a year ago. Lehman closed in 69 to tie for second. It was his second runner-up finish in the last four years in this event.
 
*Chris Riley, who went to school at UNLV. Its been a long, difficult year for Riley, who has struggled ever since the 2004 Ryder Cup. Hes in need of some home cooking, having made only 10 of 21 cuts this season.
 
*Ryan Moore, who also went to UNLV. Moore had one of the greatest ever amateur seasons in 2004. Now a professional, he is on the verge of getting his tour card for next year through sponsors exemptions. He could clinch his card this week.
 
*Andre Stoltz, who is the defending champion. Stoltz is lucky to have a two-year exemption, as he has been limited to just 12 starts this season and has but three made cuts. Furyk is the only player to successfully defend his Vegas title.
 
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  • 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.

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    Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys

    By Rex HoggardDecember 14, 2017, 7:00 pm

    After careful consideration and an exhaustive review of 2017 we present The Rexys, a wildly incomplete and arbitrary line up following one of the most eventful years in golf.

     There will be omissions – just keep your calls, concerns and even e-mails to yourself. We appreciate your patronage, but not your feedback.



    It’s Not You, It’s Me Award. You know the deal: You can’t be a part of two until you’re a better one; but on this front it’s really just a desire to find a better two.

    It was a tough year for caddies, and not just any caddies. In June, Phil Mickelson split with longtime bagman Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both player and caddie cited the need for “change,” but the move reverberated throughout the game.

    “The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.

    In the wake of the Lefty/Bones break, Rory McIlroy split with his caddie J.P Fitzgerald, and Jason Day replaced looper/swing coach Colin Swatton on his bag. It all proves yet again that there are only two kinds of caddies, those who have been fired and those who are about to be fired.



    Run for the Rose Cup. Sergio Garcia got the green jacket, a lifetime exemption to the game’s most coveted member-member and a long-awaited major, but Justin Rose took home the slightly less prestigious “Rose Cup.”

    Following a frenzied afternoon at Augusta National in April, Rose lost to Garcia on the first playoff hole, but he won so much more with his honesty and class.

    “You're going to win majors and you're going to lose majors, but you've got to be willing to lose them,” Rose figured following the final round. “You've got to put yourself out there. You've got to hit the top of the leaderboard. There's a lot of pressure out there and if you're not willing to enjoy it, then you're not ready to win these tournaments. I loved it out there.”

    Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.



    Half-Empty Cup. It was the perfect setting, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and the promise of the Tristate masses descending on this fall’s Presidents Cup.

    If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.

    For the sixth time in the last seven matches, the U.S. team rolled to a victory of at least three points. This particular edition was even in danger of ending on Saturday afternoon thanks to a particularly dominant performance by a young American squad led by Steve Stricker.

    Officials spoke of the purity of the competition and the attention the ’17 cup generated, but however you spin the 19-11 rout, this cup is half empty.



    Enigma Award. The actual hardware is simply an oversized question mark and was sent directly to Tiger Woods’ South Florida compound following the most curious of seasons.

    While it’s become customary in recent years to consider the uncertain path that awaits the 14-time major winner, this most recent calendar brought an entirely new collection of questions following fusion surgery on his lower back in April, his arrest for DUI on Memorial Day and, finally, a glimmer of hope born from his tie for ninth at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.

    When will he play again? Can he compete against the current generation of world-beaters? Can his body withstand the rigors of a full PGA Tour schedule? Should Jim Furyk make him a captain’s pick now or wait to see if he should be driving a vice captain’s golf cart instead?

    Little is certain when it comes to Woods, and the over-sized question mark goes to ... the guy in red and black.



    After Further Review Chalice. In April, Lexi Thompson endured a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, the byproduct of a surreal ruling that arrived a day late via a viewer e-mail and cost the would-be winner a major championship.

    The entire event was so unsavory that the USGA and R&A made not one but two alterations to the rules and created a “working group” to avoid similar snafus in the future.

    That working group – it turns out the U.S. Ryder Cup team has some sort of copyright on “task force” – initially issued a decision that introduced a “reasonable judgment” and a “naked eye” standard to video reviews, and last week the rule makers kept the changes coming.

    The new protocols on video review will now include an official to monitor tournament broadcasts and ended the practice of allowing fans to call in, or in this case e-mail, possible infractions to officials. The USGA and R&A also eliminated the two-stroke penalty for players who sign incorrect scorecards when the player is unaware of the penalty.

    While all this might be a step in the right direction, it does nothing to change Thompson’s fate. The AFR Chalice won’t change the harsh reality, but at least it will serve as a reminder of how she helped altered the rulemaking landscape.



    Nothing Runs Like a Deere Award. Nothing gets fans fired up like officials turning fields of fescue rough into hay on the eve of a major championship, and the USGA’s decision to do some 11th-hour trimming at Erin Hills in June certainly caught many by surprise.

    Officials said the nip/tuck on four holes was in reaction to a particularly foreboding forecast that never materialized, and the maintenance drew the ire of some players.

    “We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” Rory McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here; if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”

    The record low scoring at the U.S. Open – winner Brooks Koepka finished with a 16-under total – didn’t help ease the fervor and had some questioning whether the softer side of the USGA has gone a bit too far?

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    Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 5:28 pm

    John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.

    That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.

    Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.

    Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid

    By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 4:22 pm

    Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.

    Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.


    Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters


    Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.

    World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.

    Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.