Whos Up Next

By Mercer BaggsJuly 13, 2009, 4:00 pm

 
SHE'S OUT; WHO'S IN?: Carolyn Bivens' tumultuous four-year tenure as LPGA commissioner officially came to an end Monday. The tour announced Board of Directors member Marsha Evans as the new interim commissioner. She will serve in the role until a full-time replacement can be found.
 
Backspin Well, the players got their wish. So who's up next? Jan Stephenson says she wants to be commissioner. Not going to happen (see: Asians are killing the LPGA). Some are calling for Judy Rankin. Not likely to happen (see: Why in the world would I want that job?). I'll throw Dottie Pepper's hat into the ring. She is still an integral part of the tour and has great connections with the old-time sponsors. But that, too, is unlikely (see: choking freaking dogs).
 

 
FORGET ME NOT: Eun Hee Ji birdied the 72nd hole to avoid a playoff with Candie Kung and capture the U.S. Women's Open. The 23-year-old South Korean finished at even-par 284, one shot clear of Kung. It was her second career LPGA victory (2008 Wegmans).
 
Backspin It was a tough week for the women's premiere event, and one that will likely be remembered for all the wrong reasons. The first two days of play were overshadowed by the Bivens saga. Round 3 saw Paula Creamer, the most popular American player in the field, take a brutal nose dive out of contention. And Sunday, despite the U.S. Golf Association's best efforts to create birdie opportunities, lacked any drama. In time, Eun Hee Ji's name will be harder to recall than Inbee Park's.
 

 
MAJOR DIFFICULTY: Cristie Kerr held the lead from late Friday to late Sunday at the U.S. Women's Open, but couldn't hold on and finished tied for third, two back of Ji. The 2007 Open champion had only one birdie in a final-round 4-over 75.
 
Backspin This major was Kerr's to win ' as was this year's Kraft Nabisco, where she was in the lead until hitting her tee shot OB on the 15 hole. Kerr has been working to employ a Zen Buddhist approach on the course when under pressure. I never saw Buddha kick his golf bag. Then again, I never saw Buddha.
 

 
CREAMED AT THE OPEN: Paula Creamer was one off the 36-hole lead at the U.S. Women's Open, but shot 8-over 79 in the third round. She closed in 69 to finish four shots behind the winner. It's the second year in a row she has tied for sixth. Last year, she was one off the 54-hole lead but shot 78.
 
Backspin Aside from Kerr, no one leaves Saucon Valley more frustrated than does Creamer. (The two should take out their anger by reprising the final scene in 'Rocky III.') Creamer, an eight-time winner on the LPGA but still without a major, is fortunate the tour doesn't receive the same level of media scrutiny as does the PGA Tour. If it did, she would face a wrath that would make Sergio Garcia quit the game.
 

 
JUST ONE OF THE GIRLS?: Lorena Ochoa failed in her bid to win her first U.S. Women's Open, tying for 29th. Ochoa opened in 2-under 69 but was ultimately undone by a second-round 79.
 
Backspin Ochoa has won only two events this year, and none since April. For the first time in a very long time there appears to be no distinct No. 1 player on the LPGA. Annika Sorenstam is gone and Ochoa hasn't been dominant since early in the 2008 season. Parity, unfortunately, does not create public interest. Dominance does.
 

 
FAMILY FIRST: Phil Mickelson officially announced that he would not be playing in this week's Open Championship, ending his consecutive majors-played streak at 61. He is instead staying Stateside to be with his wife, who recently underwent surgery related to breast cancer. It was revealed last week that Mickelson's mother, Mary, has also been diagnosed with breast cancer. She was scheduled to have surgery last Friday.
 
Backspin The Mickelson's aren't alone in their need for prayer. Kenny Perry's mother is dying of blood cancer. Angela Stanford's mother has breast cancer. And Jonathan Byrd's father passed away due to a brain tumor. If you haven't talked to your parents in a while, give them a call and say 'I love you.'
 

 
OH, DEERE: Steve Stricker won his second PGA Tour event of the season, shooting 68-64 on a 36-hole Sunday to capture the John Deere Classic. The final two rounds were compacted into one day when Friday's second round was postponed due to inclement weather.
 
Backspin With the delay, the British Open this week, the U.S. Women's Open last week, and the whole Bivens ordeal, the John Deere could have been played in North Korea and received less attention. But they played ' and finished before Monday ' and Stricker picked up his sixth career Tour title. All that's missing is a major. He has back-to-back top-10s at the Open. If he's not worn out, he could be a legitimate contender at Turnberry.
 

 
TIGER'S TURN: Speaking of Turnberry, the site of the 138th Open Championship, Tiger Woods got his first look at the links venue Sunday. For the first time since 2004, Woods will enter a major championship without one of golf's four top prizes in his possession.
 
Backspin If history holds true, that will change come Sunday. Turnberry has hosted only three Opens, but each time the best player in the world has prevailed: Tom Watson (1977), Greg Norman (1986), and Nick Price (1994).
 

 
YOU WISH YOU WERE ME: Martin Kaymer won his second straight event on the European Tour, capturing the Barclays Scottish Open. He finished two ahead of two others, while Adam Scott tied for fourth, three back.
 
Backspin Congratulations, Kaymer. Now let's get to the real news of the week: Scott's special guest in Scotland. It seems tennis star Ana Ivanovic is Scott's latest girl ... friend ... or something. Scott will likely never have to worry about money, but if he should one day face financial ruin he should figure out a way to rent his life to others. Being Adam Scott would be much better than Being John Malkovich.
 

 
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Tiger Woods will compete in Notah Begay's charity skins game next month in central New York. ... Tickets for the Australian Masters sold out quickly with Woods scheduled to make his first start on the continent since 1998. ... John Daly received a sponsor's exemption into the Canadian Open. ... Bernhard Langer eagled the last hole to win the 3M Championship on the Champions Tour by one shot over Andy Bean.
 
Backspin Cheers for Tiger. Jeers to the tournament officials who made tickets $330 a pop. ... Woods receives an estimated $3 million just for showing up, which means he can buy about 9,091 tickets to Begay's skins game. ... This will be Daly's second start on the PGA Tour this year. He tied for 59th in Memphis, but has missed his last four cuts on the European Tour. ... Langer has four wins on the senior circuit this year. Too bad he's not in the field for the Open Championship. Too bad it's not 1986.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage ' John Deere Classic
  • Full Coverage ' U.S. Women's Open
  • Full Coverage ' Barclays Scottish Open
  • Complete News Headlines
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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?

    Getty Images

    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.

    Nathaniel Crosby at the 1983 Bing Crosby Pro-Am at Pebble Beach. Getty Images

    Crosby selected as 2019 U.S. Walker Cup captain

    By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 3:19 pm

    The USGA announced that former U.S. Amateur champ Nathaniel Crosby will serve as the American captain for the 2019 Walker Cup, which will be played at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England.

    Crosby, 56, is the son of entertainment icon and golf enthusiast Bing Crosby. He won the 1981 U.S. Amateur at The Olympic Club as a teenager and earned low amateur honors at the 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He also played in the 1983 Walker Cup, coincidentally held at Royal Liverpool, before embarking on a brief career in professional golf, with his amateur status reinstated in 1994.

    "I am thrilled and overwhelmed to be chosen captain of the next USA Walker Cup team," Crosby said in a statement. "Many of my closest friends are former captains who will hopefully take the time to share their approaches in an effort to help me with my new responsibilities."

    Crosby takes over the captaincy from John "Spider" Miller, who led the U.S. squad both in 2015 and earlier this year, when the Americans cruised to a 19-7 victory at Los Angeles Country Club.

    Crosby is a Florida resident and member at Seminole Golf Club, which will host the 2021 matches. While it remains to be seen if he'll be asked back as captain in 2021, each of the last six American captains have led a team on both home and foreign soil.

    Started in 1922, the Walker Cup is a 10-man, amateur match play competition pitting the U.S. against Great Britain and Ireland. The U.S. team holds a 37-9 all-time lead in the biennial matches but has not won in Europe since 2007.