Changing the Rules

By Mercer BaggsAugust 23, 2009, 4:00 pm

REBEL YELL: The United States claimed their third consecutive Solheim Cup and remained undefeated on American soil, knocking off the visiting European team, 16 to 12, at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, Ill.
Backspin It wasn't quite Florida-Charleston Southern, but the U.S. was heavily favored to win yet again. If there was a points spread, the Americans likely covered, which is a bit of a shame. The matches were all tied after two days, and then came Sunday Bloody Sunday. If I was the LET, I'd be willing to trade two home games each decade in exchange for three days of team play and no singles ' and no more Christina Kim.

OH, CAPTAIN, WHY, CAPTAIN?: U.S. captain Beth Daniel decided prior to the Solheim Cup matches that she was not going to play anyone in all five sessions. Ultimately, her plan worked as the U.S. won eight of 12 possible singles points Sunday in clinching the Cup.
Backspin Daniel's move was a big gamble. Had her squad lost, she would have taken some serious heat for sitting out the likes of Paula Creamer, Cristie Kerr and Michelle Wie. For years, the European Ryder Cup teams employed a Ride-Your-Horses-Till-They-Drop strategy, and it worked quite well. That was a map to success. Daniel forgoing such a philosophy was like someone telling Christopher Columbus, 'Hey, here's directions to the Americas.' And Columbus responding, 'Nah, I'll find my way there.'

CUP UP, CUP DOWN: It's hard to single out just one American and one European who deserve the best- and worst-played awards. Paula Creamer went 3-1 for the U.S., but Michelle Wie has to get Woman of the Matches for her 3-0-1 record in her debut. Meanwhile, Gwladys Nocera of France went 3-0-1 as well for Europe.
Backspin On the flipside, several candidates could have won the Razzie for Europe (Laura Davies: 0-1-1, with three sit-outs; Helen Alfredsson: 1-3), but the award goes to Suzann Pettersen. The Norwegian was supposed to anchor this team, but instead helped sink it with a 1-4 record. Nicole Castrale took the dubious prize on the American side, going 0-3 ' the only player on either team not to win at least a half-point.

JUST WYN, BABY: Ryan Moore earned his first PGA Tour title, denying Kevin Stadler and Jason Bohn in a playoff at the Wyndham Championship. The victory came in Moore's 112th start on Tour.
Backspin Sergio Garcia must feel like it's been 112 starts since he won on Tour. The Spaniard, winless on Tour since last year's Players Championship, held a three-shot lead during the final round, but needed to make a 35-yard bunker shot on 18 to join the playoff. He came up inches short. And so the drought ' and frustration ' continues.

JUST WEN, BABY: Mike Reid made a 10-footer on the first hole of sudden death Sunday at the Jeld-Wen Tradition, while John Cook missed one of similar length. The result gave Reid his second career Champions Tour major (2005 Senior PGA) and left Cook winless on the senior circuit.
Backspin What a brutal loss for Cook. He led by one entering the par-4 18th, but made bogey to force the playoff. He then couldn't match Reid's birdie in the extra session. That's now four majors down on the Champions Tour in 2009. Only seven more to go before the season ends.

JUST WHAT WIE NEEDED: Touching base with Wie again, the 19-year-old was stellar in her maiden Cup appearance. Aside from her near-perfect record, she appeared to be a well-received teammate and even showed she could overcome adversity after blowing a 3-up lead to Helen Alfredsson in the singles, only to rally and win, 1 up.
Backspin Wie was supposed to be the female Tiger Woods. But in actuality, they are little alike. Tiger exceeded expections at the start of his career; Wie has underachieved. Tiger immediately won twice upon turning pro and earned his PGA Tour card; Wie went through Q-School and is still winless. Tiger never needed acceptance among his peers; Wie was in desparate need for inclusion and camaraderie and may finally have received it. Tiger's performance in team competitions is less than remarkable; What Wie accomplished this past week in a team competition could jump start a remarkable career.

RED, WHITE AND WHO?: Nick Watney and John Merrick will represent the United States in the World Cup. The event will take place November 26-29 at the Mission Hills Olazabal Course in Shenzhen, China.
Backspin This once prestigious event hasn't been relevant since 'Ally McBeal' was on TV. It all turned when officials decided that the top-ranked player from each country didn't get to select his partner, but instead had to use the next highest-ranked countryman (should he accept the invitation). It was all in an effort to get Tiger Woods to team with Phil Mickelson. And now we have Nick Watney teaming with John Merrick. That's what happens when you try and tell Tiger what to do.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Tiger Woods committed to the first FedEx Cup Playoffs event, The Barclays. ... Australian Michael Sim earned a promotion to the PGA Tour by winning his third event of the year on the Nationwide Tour, the Christmas in October Classic. ... Simon Dyson won his second career KLM Open on the European Tour. ... Michelle Wie is working with former PGA champion Dave Stockton to improve her putting.
Backspin That comes as a bit of a surprise, but a good one. It will be more surprising if he actually kisses the trophy this time when he wins it. ... Hopefully Sim can keep his game in peak form as the Fall Series is a good six weeks away. ... Dyson defeated Peter Hedblom and Peter Lawrie in a playoff. ... She still missed a few gimmes at Rich Harvest Farms, but did seem much more confident. Working with the Stocktons can only help.
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage ' Solheim Cup
  • Full Coverage ' Wyndham Championship
  • Full Coverage ' Jeld-Wen Tradition
  • Complete News Headlines
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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.

    Nathaniel Crosby at the 1983 Bing Crosby Pro-Am at Pebble Beach. Getty Images

    Crosby selected as 2019 U.S. Walker Cup captain

    By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 3:19 pm

    The USGA announced that former U.S. Amateur champ Nathaniel Crosby will serve as the American captain for the 2019 Walker Cup, which will be played at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England.

    Crosby, 56, is the son of entertainment icon and golf enthusiast Bing Crosby. He won the 1981 U.S. Amateur at The Olympic Club as a teenager and earned low amateur honors at the 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He also played in the 1983 Walker Cup, coincidentally held at Royal Liverpool, before embarking on a brief career in professional golf, with his amateur status reinstated in 1994.

    "I am thrilled and overwhelmed to be chosen captain of the next USA Walker Cup team," Crosby said in a statement. "Many of my closest friends are former captains who will hopefully take the time to share their approaches in an effort to help me with my new responsibilities."

    Crosby takes over the captaincy from John "Spider" Miller, who led the U.S. squad both in 2015 and earlier this year, when the Americans cruised to a 19-7 victory at Los Angeles Country Club.

    Crosby is a Florida resident and member at Seminole Golf Club, which will host the 2021 matches. While it remains to be seen if he'll be asked back as captain in 2021, each of the last six American captains have led a team on both home and foreign soil.

    Started in 1922, the Walker Cup is a 10-man, amateur match play competition pitting the U.S. against Great Britain and Ireland. The U.S. team holds a 37-9 all-time lead in the biennial matches but has not won in Europe since 2007.