College Adviser: No Publinx, no problem

By Ryan LavnerFebruary 13, 2013, 6:11 pm

The U.S. Amateur Public Links will not be played after 2014, which has created considerable consternation amongst a golf community that likely doesn’t know who played in last year’s men’s final. (Answer: T.J. Vogel over Kevin Aylwin, in a rout.)

Bad p.r. or not, the USGA correctly determined that the Publinx no longer served its original purpose, which was to offer a landing spot for golfers who were not members of USGA clubs. That changed in 1979.

And so, too, has the amateur landscape.

In recent years the Publinx has been dominated by college players, many of whom have gone on to successful pro careers, while others simply became a useless bit of trivia for dimpleheads. Since 2000, only four men (Brad Benjamin, Colt Knost, Casey Watabu, Brandt Snedeker) have won the event while not still enrolled in college – and those players had graduated only a few months prior. 

The truth is, the Publinx had become just another big-time amateur event in a summer full of them.

In a three-month span, elite amateurs can pick and choose their schedule with such premier events as the Western Amateur, Sunnehanna Amateur, Northeast Amateur, Porter Cup, Sahalee Players, Dogwood Invitational and Pacific Northwest Amateur.

In this crowded landscape, the Publinx’s demise simply makes the U.S. Amateur that much more prestigious. At least the casual fan has a chance of remembering those winners.

Here’s what else happened this week on campus:

• As predicted here, the Amer Ari Invitational came down to a playoff between top-10 teams UCLA and Washington, with the Bruins prevailing in sudden death for their second team title of the season. Auburn senior Dominic Bozzelli captured medalist honors, finishing at 11-under 205 for the All-American’s third career individual title.

• On Sunday, Florida State and sophomore Daniel Berger rolled into rival Gainesville and captured the SunTrust Gator Invitational for the first time since 1981. The Seminoles won by 15 shots at Mark Bostick Golf Course, with host Florida finishing in fourth, 19 shots behind. The Gators struggled with reigning Publinx winner T.J. Vogel (sports hernia) and Tyler McCumber (flu-like symptoms) still on the mend.

• Iowa State’s Scott Fernandez, ranked 10th in the nation by Golfstat, tied for third at this week’s UTSA Invitational. The sophomore has now finished in the top 3 in each of the four tournaments he has played this season. 

• Washington sophomore Cheng-Tsung Pan remains the No. 1 player in Golfstat’s individual rankings, followed by UCLA senior Pontus Widegren, Cal sophomore Michael Kim, Washington junior Trevor Simsby and Kent State junior Corey Conners. Alabama sophomore Justin Thomas, the reigning NCAA Player of the Year, is ninth.

Here are the top 10 men’s teams in the country, as ranked by Golfstat (click here for the full rankings): 

1. California: The Golden Bears, who won their first five events of the season, make their next start at the Feb. 20-22 John Burns Intercollegiate.

2. UCLA: The Bruins jumped from fourth to second after their most impressive performance to date, a playoff victory over Washington at the Amer Ari Invitational, which boasted seven of the top 15 (and nine of the top 25) teams in the country. Senior Pontus Widegren led UCLA with a T-4 finish.

3. Texas: The Longhorns dropped a spot in the rankings after a fourth-place showing in Hawaii, but should be encouraged by the T-4s posted by Cody Gribble and freshman Brandon Stone. 

4. Washington: Rose three spots in the rankings, even though the Huskies didn’t get the win at the Amer Ari. Washington had three players in the top 10, led by Trevor Simsby’s T-2, and world No. 1 amateur Chris Williams finished in a share of 20th.

5. New Mexico: The Lobos, who won their spring opener in Arizona, return to action at next week’s John Burns Intercollegiate.

6. Alabama: The Crimson Tide’s spring season gets under way Sunday, at the Puerto Rico Classic.

7. Florida: The Gators suffered the biggest fall of the week after a disappointing fourth-place finish at their home tournament, after which head coach Buddy Alexander sighed, “We didn’t have anything this week.' 

8. Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets held tight in the standings despite a mediocre performance in Hawaii, where only one player, Anders Albertson (T-10), finished in the top 10. 

9. Georgia: The Bulldogs leapfrogged USC without hitting a shot. They begin their spring season Sunday at the Puerto Rico Classic. 

10. USC: The Trojans rallied after a dismal first day at the Amer Ari to finish in a tie for fourth there. Anthony Paolucci led USC with a T-10 finish individually. 

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McIlroy 'happy to be back', can 'empathize' with Tiger

By Associated PressJanuary 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – After a long layoff from golf, Rory McIlroy has some newfound sympathy for Tiger Woods.

The 28-year-old Northern Irishman is making a comeback at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship after ending his season early last year. He has not played a round since the final day of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Oct. 8.

McIlroy, a four-time major champion who has slipped to No. 11 in the world rankings, last won the Tour Championship on the PGA Tour in September 2016. He injured a rib in his first outing of 2017 – at the South African Open – and felt its after-effects throughout the year.

McIlroy, who has seven top-five finishes in his last eight starts in Abu Dhabi, said Tuesday he felt mentally low because of his physical issues.

''Honestly, I was excited to be done. I could have shut it down after the PGA Championship very easily and taken the rest of the year off, but I didn't. I played six events after that, played OK and had a chance to win one of them,'' McIlroy said. ''But I was just excited to take that time off and get myself just sort of a re-set.''

Last week, McIlroy also revealed that he has a minor, non-threatening heart condition that needs regular check-ups.

''After that 3-plus months of a re-set, I'm very happy to be back. I felt like I needed it physically and mentally. I just felt like it was a little bit of a sabbatical. I've been out here for 10 years, and I want to get ready for the next 10.''

McIlroy compared his situation to what Woods has been going through.

''I've only been through, maybe, not even 5 percent of what he's had to go through. And you can tell from where he was to where he is now mentally, because of physically where he is ... he's a totally different person,'' McIlroy said. ''Of course, I empathize with him, and I know he was in a dark place there for a while. It's just so great to see him out of that and back and excited to be playing golf again.''

The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship will be the first of back-to-back events for McIlroy, who is also playing next week in Dubai.

''I think the next two weeks will be a big learning curve, just to see where I'm at,'' McIlroy said. ''I'm obviously coming into the events trying to play as well as I can and trying to compete and trying to win, but I think there will definitely be things I'll have to work on going into that stretch in the States.''

The tournament, which starts Thursday, has attracted some big names, including top-ranked Dustin Johnson, No. 6 Justin Rose, No. 9 Henrik Stenson, No. 14 Paul Casey and No. 15 Matt Kuchar. No. 18 Tommy Fleetwood is the defending champion.

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Pre-tourney caution be damned: Stenson rides camel

By Grill Room TeamJanuary 16, 2018, 3:29 pm

If you were under the impression Henrik Stenson's days of engaging in pre-tournament hijinks at HSBC-sponsored events were over, then you don't know the Swedish Superman.

Ahead of this week's HSBC Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, the 2016 champion golfer of the year decided to have some fun riding (and pretend-spanking) a camel:

If you can't imagine any reason Stenson wouldn't get on a camel, we will point you to the WGC-HSBC Champions back in October, when Stenson, Dustin Johnson, Haotong Li and Hideki Matsuyama took place in this hire-wire act:

Two weeks later, Stenson revealed a rib injury, and a report from the U.K.'s Telegraph stated "that not only was the Shanghai caper to blame, but that Stenson is annoyed about being persuaded to do it in the first place."

Stenson brushed back at that report in this Instagram post, saying that his "comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal."

I’m disappointed to have to pre-emptively withdraw from the Nedbank Golf Challenge Hosted by Gary Player, I was looking forward to this important year-end event on the European Tour. At this point I am back home in Orlando waiting to do a scan on my ribs and get the necessary rest. I am still hoping for a quick recovery and have not ruled out playing in Dubai next week at this point. My comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal. The plan as of now will be to participate in the DP World Championship if my body is back to 100%. H

A post shared by Henrik Stenson (@henrikstenson) on

And it would appear he genuinely meant those comments, at least enough to get on a camel.

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Spieth, McIlroy to support Major Champions Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:25 pm

Nick Faldo announced Tuesday the creation of the Major Champions Invitational.

The event, scheduled for March 12-14, is an extension of the Faldo Series and will feature both male and female junior players at Bella Collina in Montverde, Fla.

Jordan Spieth, Rory Mcllroy, Annika Sorenstam, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Jerry Pate and John Daly have already committed to supporting the event, which is aimed at mentoring and inspiring the next generation of players.  

“I’m incredibly excited about hosting the Major Champions Invitational, and about the players who have committed to support the event,” Faldo said. “This event will allow major champions to give something back to the game that has given them so much, and hopefully, in time, it will become one of the most elite junior golf events in the world.”

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Rosaforte: Woods plays with Obama, gets rave reviews

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:15 pm

Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte reports on Tiger Woods’ recent round at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., alongside President Barack Obama.

Check out the video, as Rosaforte says Woods received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon.