|By REX HOGGARD|
Ted Williams once said the hardest thing in all of sports is to hit a round ball with a round bat, but then the famed slugger never had to sleep on a 54-hole lead. Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson & Co. make winning on the PGA Tour look easy, but the truth is closing the deal on a Sunday is hard like quantum physics.
Just ask Tim Clark or Brett Quigley, the two highest ranked active players on the career money list (Nos. 60 and 87, respectively) without a Tour bottle cap. Combined, the two have 559 starts and not a single Sunday keepsake. But the South African, with seven also-rans on his resume, is atop the “Best Player without a Tour title” list.
Based on current form, however, to say nothing of the often-confusing World Ranking, Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter are the two most likely to break the seal.
Poulter has improved statistically every year since joining the circuit in 2005 and has the confidence to survive any Sunday second-guessing, while McIlroy has already proven he can win (’09 Dubai Desert Classic) and compete in the United States (7 top 25s in 12 starts).
Neither, however, can hit a major league fastball.
|By RANDALL MELL|
The head and heart are at odds on this one.
The head says Ian Poulter, the heart Tim Clark.
Poulter, 34, seems to possess more potential when he puts it all together than Clark. He’s ranked substantially higher than Clark (No. 11 to No. 39) in the world rankings. He has won a lot more internationally than Clark (Eight European Tour titles to Clark’s three), but he plays more in Europe.
The heart likes Clark because of the 34-year-old South African’s gritty nature. So often, when we think a golf course is set up to benefit power players, Clark is the short-hitting contrarian who gets himself in the hunt. He showed us the nature of the fight in him knocking off Tiger Woods in the second round of the Accenture Match Play Championship last year. He has shown it in his seven career second-place PGA Tour finishes. He’s shown it finishing second at the ’06 Masters, in tying for third at the ’05 U.S. Open and in his third-place finish at the ’03 PGA Championship.
The heart wins. Clark’s knocking on the door more often in the events that matter most. His nature tells us he won’t stop knocking until the door opens.
Best player on Tour without a title
Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational
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.
Rose leads Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs
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
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.
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
President at the Presidents Cup
Purported round of 73 with Lindsey Graham
Cart on the green
Presence and protests at U.S. Women's Open
Trump golf properties
Reportedly fake TIME covers
Trump apologizes for voter-fraud story
Pros comment on the president
Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017
GolfChannel.com is counting down the top 10 Newsmakers of the Year as voted on by Golf Channel’s writers, editors, reporters and producers. Check out the list below, including future release dates. And click here for the full collection of articles.
No. 1: Dec. 18