Davis hopes McIlroy runs away with the Open

By June 18, 2011, 1:00 am

BETHESDA, Md. – Thanks to Rory McIlroy, Friday was a bad day for a few of the sacred cows of the USGA’s national championship.

McIlroy became the first player in U.S. Open history to reach 13 under par at any point in the championship. He became the fifth man in 111 U.S. Opens to reach double digits under par – the fourth in the last 12 Opens.

If the USGA lived up to its country club legend, then executive director Mike Davis should be sitting in a lair, pounding his fist on the desk and yelling at his subordinates to make the Ulsterman pay for daring to thump his course.

Instead, Davis sat back in his chair inside the rules trailer at Congressional and was enjoying the action on 20 different camera angles beamed to a big screen TV. He was genuinely happy.

What gives?

“I think what Rory did the last two days is fantastic,” Davis said Friday. “One of the things we always look at is that we want it to be a stern test but we want to make sure every part of it rewards good shots. In some ways, to be honest, when I see it, I love it, because I know he was just not missing shots. It rewarded him. In that sense, it’s great.

 “When you look at [McIlroy's] score and then look at the other 155 players, you say, ‘Here’s somebody that just played flat out great.’ It was like Tiger in 2000 at Pebble Beach,” he said.

In fact, Davis was hoping the 22 year old could have finished with a par instead of double bogey. He said, “Part of me thought it was too bad when he double bogeyed the last hole. To go 35 holes without a bogey, then finish how he did, that was too bad.”

There are no plans to exact revenge on McIlroy.

“Contrary to what people think, we don’t mess around with it.”

He added, “With the greens at these speeds, there are only so many places we can put the hole locations. There’s really not much we can do, even if we wanted to.”

Davis points to a piece of paper on a clipboard. It’s a spreadsheet with 18 lines – one for each hole – and a ton of boxes. Laid out in the boxes are the pin placements for all four championship rounds and even spots for a hypothetical playoff. They’re already set in stone and won’t change.

The five pin locations were selected months ago during a Davis visit to Congressional. He spied five possible spots for the holes but never assigns a day to them. The week before, in his final walk through, Davis sets the rotation for each hole. No magic, no revisionism.

On some of the greens, Davis got his highly-publicized wish of getting to 14 on the Stimpmeter. They settled into the mid-13s by the end of the day.

“I’m happy with how the course is playing. I wish the greens were firmer, only because I think it creates a more interesting event,” he said.

There will be no water applied overnight Friday at Congressional and the rough will be cut. In this Open, Davis can run the Subair system with confidence, knowing he won’t dry out the greens too much.

“Last year at Pebble in that last round – if I had it to do over again given the weather conditions – I would have put more water on the greens,” Davis said.

The USGA is not trying to embarrass players, they’re trying to identify them, Davis said with a modern spin.

“I actually get concerned sometimes when it’s overly tough,” he said. “Yes, it’s a great test, but you just don’t want to see pars, bogeys, bogeys, bogeys. That’s why you saw all of the par 5s reachable in two shots today. We could’ve made them harder, but we like those risk-reward shots.”

In four of the last 12 Opens, a player has identified himself as particularly outstanding – even if their status under par is fleeting. Only Tiger Woods has finished an Open double digits under par. That was not on Mike Davis’ watch, but since 2006, he concedes that there is a chance his way of doing things at the national championship has created the possibility of better scoring.

“I think you can make an argument that it’s probably – all things being equal – easier to score with this graduated rough if you’re really playing well versus really playing well the other way.

“I would argue there’s room for more shot making skills. We’re playing wider U.S. Open courses than we used – they were so narrow before. So if you’re playing well, there’s a chance to score very well.”

That’s what McIlroy is doing right now and, if he is to win the U.S. Open, then Mike Davis wants to see a blowout.

“In a way, I would rather Rory just run away with this thing versus him win by four. If he’s only going to win by four, then I want him to fall back a little closer.”

That said – a common qualifier in delicate situations like the reputation of a major championship – it can be safe to say that this will not be a regular occurrence.

“Personally, I don’t really care about scores. I care much more about how a course was playing,” he said. “But, there’s a tradition – a mystique and a trademark – to the U.S. Open. If you started seeing double digits under par win every year, then people would start saying, ‘What has changed?’”

Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017

By Grill Room TeamNovember 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.

Tributes pour in for legendary caddie Sheridan

By Randall MellNovember 23, 2017, 2:54 pm

Tributes are pouring in as golf celebrates the life of Greg Sheridan after receiving news of his passing.

Sheridan, a long-time LPGA caddie who worked for some of the game’s all-time greats, including Kathy Whitworth and Beth Daniel, died Wednesday in Indian Rocks Beach, Fla., at 63. He was diagnosed in July 2016 with brain and lung cancer.

Sheridan worked the last dozen years or so with Natalie Gulbis, who expressed her grief in an Instagram post on Wednesday:

“Greg…I miss you so much already and it hasn’t even been a day. 15+ seasons traveling the world you carried me & my bag through the highs and lows of golf and life. You were so much more than my teammate on the course…Thank you.”

Sheridan was on Whitworth’s bag for the last of her LPGA-record 88 titles.

“When I first came on tour, I would try to find out how many times Greg won,” Gulbis told Golfweek. “It’s a crazy number, like 50.”

Matthew Galloway, a caddie and friend to Sheridan, summed up Sheridan’s impressive reach after caddying with him one year at the LPGA Founders Cup, where the game’s pioneers are honored.

“Best Greg story,” Galloway tweeted on Thanksgiving morning, “coming up 18 at PHX all the founders were in their chairs. Greg goes, `Yep, caddied for her, her and her.’ Legend.”

In a first-person column for Golf Magazine last year, Gulbis focused on Sheridan while writing about the special bond between players and caddies. She wrote that she won the “looper lottery” when she first hired Sheridan in ’04.

“Greg and I have traveled the world, and today he is like family,” Gulbis wrote. “Sometimes, he’s a psychologist. Last year, my mom got sick and it was a distraction, but he was great. When I used to have boyfriend issues and breakup issues, he was my confidant. In a world where caddies sometimes spill secrets, Greg has kept a respectful silence, and I can’t thank him enough for that. He’s an extension of me.”

Four months after Gulbis wrote the column, Sheridan was diagnosed with cancer.

“The LPGA family is saddened to hear of the loss of long-time tour caddie, Greg Sheridan,” the LPGA tweeted. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and players he walked with down the fairways. #RIP.”

Dean Herden was among the legion of caddies saddened by the news.

“Greg was a great guy who I respected a lot and taught me some great things over the years,” Herden texted to GolfChannel.com.

Here are some of heartfelt messages that are rolling across Twitter:

Retired LPGA great Annika Sorenstam:

LPGA commissioner Mike Whan in a retweet of Gulbis:

Golf Channel reporter and former tour player Jerry Foltz:

Christina Kim:

LPGA caddie Shaun Clews:

LPGA caddie Jonny Scott:

LPGA caddie Kevin Casas:

LPGA pro Jennie Lee:

Fitzpatrick one back in 2018 Euro Tour opener

By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 1:37 pm

HONG KONG – S.S.P. Chawrasia had six birdies and a bogey Thursday for a 5-under 65 and a one-stroke lead at the Hong Kong Open, the first event of the 2018 European Tour season.

Playing in sunny but breezy conditions at the Hong Kong Golf Club, the greens had the players struggling to gauge the approach.

''Very tough conditions today,'' Chawrasia said. ''It's very firm greens, to be honest. I'm just trying to hit the second shot on the green and trying to make it like a two-putt.''

Full-field scores from the UBS Hong Kong Open

Shubhankar Sharma and Matthew Fitzpatrick (both 66) were one shot behind, while seven others were tied for fourth a further stroke behind.

''Hit it great tee to green,'' Fitzpatrick said. ''I think I had like seven or eight chances inside 15 feet, and on a day like today when it's so windy and such a tough golf course, with how tight it is, yeah, it was a good day.''

Justin Rose, who won the title in 2015, shot was 2 under with five birdies and three bogeys.

''I think the course played a couple shots harder than it typically does,'' Rose said. ''I like this course. I think it offers plenty of birdie opportunities.''

Masters champion Sergio GarciaRafa Cabrera Bello and defending champion Sam Brazel (69) were in a group of 16 at 1 under.

Day, Spieth chasing Davis after Day 1 of Aussie Open

By Jason CrookNovember 23, 2017, 6:50 am

The PGA Tour is off this week but a couple of the circuit’s biggest stars – Jordan Spieth and Jason Day – are headlining the Emirates Australian Open, the first event in The Open Qualifying Series for the 2018 Open at Carnoustie. Here's how things look after the opening round, where Cameron Davis has opened up a two-shot lead:

Leaderboard: Davis (-8), Taylor MacDonald (-6), Nick Cullen (-5), Day (-5), Brian Campbell (-4), Lucas Herbert (-4), Stephen Leaney (-4), Anthony Quayle (-4)

What it means: Spieth has won this event three of the last four years, including last year, but he got off to a rocky start on Thursday. Playing in the windy afternoon wave, the world No. 2 bogeyed his first two holes but rebounded with birdies on Nos. 4 and 5. It was more of the same the rest of the way as the 24-year-old carded three more bogeys and four birdies, getting into the clubhouse with a 1-under 70. While it certainly wasn't the start he was hoping for, Spieth didn't shoot himself out of the tournament with 54 holes left to play, he has plenty of time to claw his way up the leaderboard.

Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open

Round of the day: With Round 1 in the books, the solo leader, Davis, is the easy pick here. The 22-year-old Aussie who turned pro last year, came out of the gates on fire, birdieing six of his first seven holes, including four in a row on Nos. 4 through 7. He did drop a shot on the ninth hole to go out in 30 but rebounded with three more birdies on the back to card a 8-under 63. Davis, who was born in Sydney and played this year on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada. He will attempt to get his Web.com Tour card next month during qualifying in Arizona.

Best of the rest: Making his first start in his home country in four years, Day started on the 10th hole at The Australian Golf Club and made four birdies to one bogey on the back side before adding four more circles after making the turn. Unfortunately for the 30-year-old, he also added an ugly double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole and had to settle for a 5-under 66, good enough to sit T-3. Day, who has dropped to No. 12 in the world rankings, is looking for his first win on any tour since the 2016 Players Championship.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Can the upstart 22-year-old Davis hold off the star power chasing him or will he fold to the pressure of major champions in his rearview mirror? Day (afternoon) and Spieth (morning) are once again on opposite ends of the draw on Friday as they try to improve their position before the weekend.

Shot of the day: It’s tough to beat an ace in this category, and we had one of those on Thursday from Australian Brad Shilton. Shilton’s hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole came with a special prize, a $16k watch.

Quote of the day: “Just two bad holes. Pretty much just two bad swings for the day,” – Day, after his 66 on Thursday.