What We Learned: Daly, Grace and Love

By Jason SobelOctober 7, 2012, 10:26 pm

Each week, GolfChannel.com offers thoughts on 'what we learned' from the week. This week, we examine the ups and downs of John Daly, a lesser-known golfer putting up big numbers, and Davis Love being a stand-up captain.


John Daly is still some of the most compelling theater in golf - and he's easily one of the most compelling stories of the Fall Series. Entering the week at No. 132 on the money list, Daly appeared to be on the verge of getting inside that magical 125 number prior to theweekend. A second-round 63 put him into contention in Las Vegas, but an 86 the next day sent him careening down to the bottom of the leaderboard. Those two rounds should serve symbolically for a career that's seen more ups and downs than an elevator factory. Whether Dalycan enjoy more rounds closer to 63 than 86 these next few weeks remains to be seen. What we can be sure of is that they will indeed be seen, one of the game's most compelling stories enduring throughout his chase to earn full-time playing privileges once again. Jason Sobel


Aside from the infield fly rule applying 50 feet into the outfield, I learned Branden Grace should be considered the favorite for European Tour Player of the Year. Rory McIlroy is going to win the honor, because people will focus on his worldwide accomplishments (see Vijay Singh, 2004). But Grace has four wins in 2012, he's a true European Tour player and he's got four wins in 2012. That's kind of important since only two other players have multiple victories this season. There are still eight more events on this season's calendar, including a WGC event and the Tour Championship, but at the moment, Grace gets my vote.  Mercer Baggs


Much like head coaches in other team sports, Ryder Cup captains receive too muchblame for a loss and too much credit for a victory. Davis Love III is merely the latest example. Earlier this week the U.S. skipper penned a first-person column in Sports Illustrated in which he wrote, “If you need to blame somebody for this loss, blame me.” That’s honorable, but misguided. Love wasn’t the reason the U.S. team lost, despite all of the interrogation during the past week in Vegas. The onus should always fall on the players, even if it usually doesn’t in team sports. In the messy aftermath, though, Love shifted the focus off his players and onto himself. He never hit a shot at Medinah, yet he still shouldered the blame. Now that’s a good captain. – Ryan Lavner


That next year’s move to a split-calendar schedule may be long overdue. Maybe it’s the Ryder Cup hangover, or perhaps it was a dramatic lack of buzz, but this week’s Las Vegas stop had all the flair of a Sunday bingo marathon. Ryan Moore won, his second Tour tilt, but there was little by way of true drama. Not sure next year’s “fall start” to the new season will be any better, but we can’t imagine it would be any more mundane. – Rex Hoggard


The No. 1 player on the planet may be from Northern Ireland, and the United States might have the strongest tour in the world, but who has been on a better roll than the country of South Africa? After three straight years with a major champion (2010 Open champ Louis Oosthuizen, 2011 Masters champ Charl Schwartzel and 2012 Open champ Ernie Els) South Africa could be ready to crown a fourth straight in 2013. His name is Branden Grace. The 24-year-old South African claimed his fourth European Tour title Sunday at the Alfred Dunhill Links, displaying the kind of rhythmic swing that so many of his better known countrymen have. He is almost a lock to represent the International team at the 2013 Presidents Cup at Muirfield Village. He might even have a major by then.  Damon Hack


Ernie Els could be influencing the outcomes of major championships for decades to come. Branden Grace, winner of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Sunday, has the tools to step up in class and contend in major championships next year. Take the word of Els. He believes Grace is well suited to winning a British Open. He said as much this weekend watching Grace run away from him and other contenders in the European Tour event in Scotland. Grace, by the way, is yet another product of the Ernie Els Foundation, a program Els founded in his native South Africa in 1999 to identify and develop promising young talent. Louis Oosthuizen (British Open) and Charl Schwartzel (Masters) came up through the foundation and went on to win majors. With his terrific performance in winning the Dunhill on classic links courses at The Old Course at St. Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns, Grace, 24, showed how well his game may fit British Open style golf. It was Grace's European Tour leading fourth title this year.  Randall Mell

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McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:10 pm

It was an auspicious 2018 debut for Rory McIlroy.

Playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson for his first round since October, McIlroy missed only one green and shot a bogey-free 69 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. McIlroy is three shots back of reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, who played in the same group as McIlroy and Johnson.

Starting on the back nine at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, McIlroy began with 11 consecutive pars before birdies on Nos. 3, 7 and 8.

“I was excited to get going,” he told reporters afterward. “The last couple of months have been really nice in terms of being able to concentrate on things I needed to work on in my game and health-wise. I feel like I’m the most prepared for a season that I’ve ever been, but it was nice to get back out there.”

Fleetwood, the defending champion, raced out to another lead while McIlroy and Johnson, who shot 72, just tried to keep pace.

“Tommy played very well and I was just trying to hang onto his coattails for most of the round, so really pleased – bogey-free 69, I can’t really complain,” McIlroy said.

This was his first competitive round in four months, since a tie for 63rd at the Dunhill Links. He is outside the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time since 2014. 

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Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

"A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

"If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

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Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

"I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"


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The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

"It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

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DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

"It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

"I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

"If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."