At 21, Spieth's stats eerily similar to McIlroy's

By Jason SobelNovember 30, 2014, 1:08 pm

You can paint yourself into a pretty tight corner trying to compare players to a certain No. 1 with four majors on his resume, especially when the guy on the other end of that comparison is a 21-year-old with two career professional victories.

So let's not compare Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth. No, let's just state a few simple facts and let them linger in the air like a sweet aroma.

Just one year ago, McIlroy slogged through what most mortal golfers would characterize as a successful season, with eight worldwide top 10s entering the final month on the calendar. Still, being the young wunderkind that he is, there was criticism about failing to claim a trophy.

That’s when he “finally” broke out of that “slump” by winning the Australian Open, which turned out to be a springboard for a brilliant 2014 campaign that included two major titles.

This year, Spieth sputtered his way through a successful season of his own, earning nine top 10s around the globe, but like McIlroy also heard the skepticism when he failed to turn any of those close calls into victories. Then he traveled to the Aussie Open, where on Sunday – stop me if you’ve heard this one before – he “finally” broke out of that “slump” by winning his first title in nearly a year-and-a-half.

As for that springboard? Well, we’ll just have to wait and see. It would be too bold to hold Spieth up to the expectations of replicating McIlroy’s feats this year, but it certainly isn’t without reason to believe his momentum off this victory – not to mention the confidence gained from it – will carry over to future tournaments.

You know, not that we’re comparing them or anything.

And while we’re on the subject of not comparing Spieth to his fellow millennial, there’s this: At the age of 21, each owned two professional wins – one on the PGA Tour and one elsewhere. (For further non-comparisons, Phil Mickelson had one worldwide win before he turned 22; Adam Scott had two.) Oh, and Spieth has seven more months to add to that total, too.

Again, these are just facts, not comparisons, but they should serve to quash any notion that Spieth can’t handle the pressure or can’t close on a Sunday afternoon or – and this one is laughable – isn’t on the proper track to becoming an elite player.

Breaking news: He’s not becoming one; he’s already there. He’s now ranked 11th in the world. He’s challenged in major championships. The wins will come, maybe not in bunches, but more and more as he matures into a better player and one more comfortable in the Sunday spotlight. It’s the narrowest of narrow-minded viewpoints to simply look at his near-misses at the Masters Tournament and Players Championship, and proclaim that Spieth doesn’t have what it takes to flourish under the intense heat of a potential title.

On Sunday, he did plenty to dispel that notion, stepping on the gas pedal during a final-round 63 and stepping on the necks of his fellow contenders in the process.

“It was the best round I’ve ever played, there’s no doubt,” he said afterward, less boastful than bewildered. “Being able to spread out from the field, that was a pretty awesome experience.”

Of course, some critics will still insist that he needs to prove that mettle in a bigger tournament. To that, recent history tells us that it hasn’t happened, but our collective intuition contends that it simply hasn’t happened yet.

In other words: The kid is still 21. Give it time. Even the world’s No. 1-ranked player, only four years his senior, hadn’t celebrated more success at this point in his career.

What Spieth has accomplished so far has eerily mirrored the accomplishments of a young – OK, younger – McIlroy.

Of course, those are just the facts. Only a fool would dare make that a comparison.

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Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

“I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

“I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.

Masters victory

Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative

Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ

Green jacket tour

Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket

Man of the people

Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief

Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together

Ace at 17th at Sawgrass

Growing family

Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018

Departure from TaylorMade

Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade

Squashed beef with Paddy

Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'

Victory at Valderrama

Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm
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Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf

By Grill Room TeamDecember 11, 2017, 9:47 pm

Well, this is a one new one.

According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:

“No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”

Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.

“If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.

The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.

“I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”

The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.

Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.

Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.