Grand Slammed

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 14, 2008, 4:00 pm
Editor's Note: In Backspin, the GOLFCHANNEL.com editorial staff takes a look back on the biggest stories from the past week in golf -- with a spin.
 
PRIDE OF SOUTH AFRICA: Trevor Immelman held his nerves in check on Sunday at Augusta to win the 72nd Masters Tournament. He joins his idol Gary Player as the only South Africans to don the green jacket.
 
Backspin If you would have asked people before the start of the tournament, most wouldn't have had Immelman even in the top three amongst South African golfers. Now, the 28-year-old has one more green jacket than Ernie Els, Retief Goosen and Rory Sabbatini. And did you see his wife greenside at the end of his round? It sure must be good to be Trevor.
 

GRAND SLAMMED: Tiger Woods finished runner-up in this year's Masters, three strokes behind Immelman. Woods, unable to mount any momentum all week, shot even-par 72 Sunday. It is the fifth time in his career that Tiger has played the part of the bridesmaid in a major championship.
 
Backspin It was clear from the get-go that this wasnt Tigers week. But instead of Tiger hating, well take the high road and marvel at, despite not having his A-game, still managing a second place in the Masters. In the end, we will have to wait another year before we bring back the grand slam talk, although maybe we in the media should hold off on that until he wins the first leg. As should Tiger.
 

THE FIRST CUT IS THE DEEPEST: Fred Couples had never missed a cut in 23 career appearances at the Masters Tournament. Until this year. Couples shot 76-72 to miss out on weekend play by just one shot. He remained tied with Gary Player for the Masters record of 23 straight cuts made.
 
Backspin Couples MC was a bit surprising considering he was coming off a T-5 the previous week in Houston. The one thing about a record like this is hell never have a chance to set the mark by himself. Unless he manages to make the cut from 2009-2032. Odds are Player will still be playing then.
 

MAJOR COUCH POTATOS: Couples wasnt the only marquee player missing the cut this past week: Sergio Garcia, Ernie Els, Luke Donald, Rory Sabbatini and Steve Stricker all had the weekend off.
 
Backspin There were only 94 players in the field so you knew there would be some big names who would miss out. But all of the aforementioned (perhaps save Sergio) were legitimate contenders. Equally surprising were a couple of past champions who did make the cut ' Ian Woosnam (1991) and Sandy Lyle (1988).
 

PLAYER PLAYING ON...AND ON...AND ON: Gary Player made his Masters record 51st career start at Augusta and managed to attribute himself quite nicely. The three-time champion opened in 83 and followed that with a 78.
 
Backspin Player finished dead last in the field among those who played 36 holes, but come on ' the man is 72 years old! Hes 72. He shot 78. Incredible. And then to have his fellow countryman win the event - what a week for Player. Well see you again next year, Gary ' 1 million more ab crunches from now.
 

HOKIE HEALING: Drew Weaver, the reigning British Amateur champion out of Virginia Tech, made his Masters debut, shooting 76-80 to miss the cut.
 
Backspin This Wednesday will mark the one-year anniversary of the massacre of 32 students and faculty members on the Virginia Tech campus. Weaver was disappointed in his performance but he shouldnt be. Hes represented his school with great pride and class over the last year. The Backspin staff says a prayer for all of those affected by that tragedy, in what will surely be a difficult week.
 

HALL TIME GREAT: Lorena Ochoa won the Corona Championship by nine-strokes on Sunday, and in the process qualified for the LPGA Tour Hall of Fame. Ochoa will have to wait to be inducted until 2012, as she must be a tour member for 10 years. .
 
Backspin A truly fantastic story as the 26-year-old Mexican star became the second youngest player ever to qualify for the Hall of Fame. And she accomplished the feat in her home country to boot. Unfortunately, due to some questionable scheduling by the LPGA, her Hall of Fame moment was completely overshadowed by the Masters. Truly a shame for such an amazing achievement by Ochoa.
 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Arnold Palmer fired the opening salvo, hitting the ceremonial first shot of the Masters into the heart of a dense fog; Rory Sabbatini won the Par 3 Content; Children ages 8-16 were allowed onto the Augusta grounds for free when accompanied by a paying patron.
 
Backspin Fifty years after his first Masters victory, a comedic Palmer quipped: I hit it out of sight.; Sabbatini continued the tradition of Par 3 champions failing to win the overall tournament as he missed the cut; Thats great that their trying to hook kids on golf early, but what about us already addicted? Where are our passes?
 

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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.