U.S. Open groupings are the Noah's Ark of golf

By Jason SobelJune 10, 2011, 11:07 pm

There was a classic episode of “Cheers” back in the day during which Cliff Clavin appeared on “Jeopardy!” and received the answer: 'Archibald Leach, Bernard Schwartz and Lucille LeSueur.”

His response, phrased in the form of a question, was: “Who are three people who've never been in my kitchen?”

Unless your culinary skills have been known to attract world-class golfers, this would also be a proper reaction to the 52 different first- and second-round groupings for next week’s U.S. Open.

Of course, as usual the USGA had a little fun with its pairings process, as many of the three-man groups have a little more in common than Clavin’s kitchen.

Heading the list is the “Top Three Group” consisting of Luke Donald, Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer – not only the top three players on the current Official World Golf Ranking, but the only three men to have been ranked No. 1 at some point this year.

That is hardly the only triumvirate of heavy hitters.

There’s the “Roller Coaster Group” of Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson, players who can make birdies in bunches, but have been known to make mistakes in key situations, too.

There’s the “Hall of Fame Group” of Ernie Els, Davis Love III and Jim Furyk. The “Frequent Fairway Group” of Retief Goosen, David Toms and Steve Stricker. The “Coulda Been A Contender Group” of Hunter Mahan, Ian Poulter and Rickie Fowler.

Then there are those placed together for what they’ve already won – or haven’t won.

There’s the “Champions Group” of reigning U.S. Open winner Graeme McDowell, Open Championship winner Louis Oosthuizen and U.S. Amateur winner Peter Uihlein. The “Masters Champions Group” of Charl Schwartzel, Trevor Immelman and Zach Johnson. The “Remember When? Group” of past major winners Padraig Harrington, Stewart Cink and Angel Cabrera. And the “Show Him How It’s Done Group” of past U.S. Open champions Geoff Ogilvy and Lucas Glover, plus a potential contender in Nick Watney.

After that, well, the USGA simply turned into golf’s version of Noah’s Ark, taking three of everything and putting ‘em together.

There’s the “Sweet Swede Group” of Henrik Stenson, Johan Edfors and Fredrik Jacobson. The “Italian Stallion Group” of Edoardo Molinari, Francesco Molinari and Matteo Manassero. The “Spanish Armada Group” of Sergio Garcia, Miguel Angel Jimenez and Alvaro Quiros. And the “Asian Heritage Group” of Y.E. Yang, Ryo Ishikawa and Anthony Kim.

Just in case you still didn’t believe the USGA had a sense of humor after all of those, there’s one final threesome that sounds like the result of a delirious late night of pairing all of these players. The “Rhyme Time Group” features Thomas Levet, Brian Gay and Gregory Havret.

Yeah, it’s pretty silly. But the USGA wouldn’t have it any other way.

Trump playing 'quickly' with Tiger, DJ

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 24, 2017, 1:33 pm

Tiger Woods is scheduled to make his return to competition next week at his Hero World Challenge. But first, a (quick) round with the President.

President Donald Trump tweeted on Friday that he was going to play at Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Fla., alongside Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Woods and President Trump previously played last December. Trump, who, according to trumpgolfcount.com has played 75 rounds since taking over the presidency, has also played over the last year with Rory McIlroy, Ernie Els and Hideki Matsuyama.

Chawrasia leads major champs in Hong Kong

By Associated PressNovember 24, 2017, 1:19 pm

HONG KONG – S.S.P. Chawrasia extended his lead at the Hong Kong Open to two strokes Friday after a 4-under 66 in the second round.

Chawrasia, who had led by one at the Hong Kong Golf Club, is at 9-under 131 overall and took as much as a five-stroke lead at one point.

''Yesterday I was putting very well, and today, also I make some up and downs. I saved a couple of short putts. That's why I think I'm leading by two shots most probably,'' the Indian said. ''The next two days, I'm just looking forward.''

Full-field scores from the UBS Hong Kong Open

Thomas Aiken (64) is second, followed by Alexander Bjork (66), Joakim Lagergren (66), Poom Saksansin (68) and Julian Suri (67) at 5 under 135.

Aiken's round was the lowest of the tournament.

''It is tough out there. The greens are really firm. You've got to hit the fairway,'' Aiken said. ''If you get above the holes, putts can get away from you.''

Justin Rose (69) had six birdies, but three bogeys and a double-bogey at the par 3 12th kept him at 3 under for the tournament.

Masters champion Sergio Garcia (71), playing for the first time in Hong Kong, was at even par, as was defending champion Sam Brazel (71) and 2014 champion Scott Hend (67).

''I have to play better,'' Garcia said. ''The way I felt like I played, it's difficult. This kind of course, you need to play well to shoot a good score.''

Day (68) just one back at Australian Open

By Nick MentaNovember 24, 2017, 6:40 am

Jason Day posted a second-round 68 to move himself just one off the lead held by Lucas Herbert through two rounds at the Emirates Australian Open. Here’s where things stand after 36 holes in Sydney.

Leaderboard: Herbert (-9), Day (-8), Cameron Davis (-7), Anthony Quayle (-6), Matt Jones (-4), Cameron Smith (-4), Nick Cullen (-4), Richard Green (-4)

What it means: Day is in search of his first worldwide victory of 2017. The former world No. 1 last visited the winner’s circle in May 2016, when he won The Players at TPC Sawgrass. A win this week would close out a difficult year for the Aussie who struggled with his game while also helping his mother in her battle with cancer. Day’s last victory on his native soil came in 2013, when he partnered with Adam Scott to win the World Cup of Golf for Australia at Royal Melbourne.

Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open

Round of the day: Herbert followed an opening 67 with a round of 66 to vault himself into the lead at The Australian Golf Club. He made six birdies, including four on his second nine, against a lone bogey to take the outright lead. The 22-year-old, who held the lead at this event last year and captured low-amateur honors in 2014, is coming off a runner-up finish at the NSW Open Championship, which boosted him from 714th to 429th in the Official World Golf Ranking. His 5-under score was matched by Dale Brandt-Richards and Josh Cabban.

Best of the rest: Matt Jones, who won this event over Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott two years ago, turned in 4-under 67. Jones is best known to American audiences for his playoff victory at the 2014 Shell Houston Open and for holding the 36-hole lead at the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, which was eventually won by Day. Jones will start the weekend five shots off the lead, at 4 under par.

Biggest disappointment: Spieth has a lot of work to do this weekend if he expects to be in the title picture for the fourth year in a row. Rounds of 70-71 have him eight shots behind the lead held by Herbert. Spieth made a birdie and a bogey on each side Friday to turn in level par. The reigning champion golfer of the year has finished first, second and first at this event over the last three years.

Storyline to watch this weekend: The Australian Open is the first event of the 2018 Open Qualifying Series. The leading three players who finish in the top 10 and who are not otherwise exempt will receive invites into next summer’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.

Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

"It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’

Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open

Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

“Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

“That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.