Foreseeing the Open future

By Jason SobelJune 10, 2011, 12:40 pm

Some predictions are based on research and facts and stats. Others are purely hunches.

Consider this one a little of both.

You can read my statistical reasoning for selecting Edoardo Molinari here, but this pick is based on more than just the average vitals for the four reigning major champions. Really, the man nicknamed Dodo just seems to fit the recent major profile. Very good player, but hardly great. He’s won, but hasn’t claimed a big one.

Based on recent history, he certainly fits in with the McDowell/Oosthuizen/Kaymer/Schwartzel type of players who have been winning the majors lately.

And with that, here is my top-25 for the upcoming U.S. Open, with a caveat: Just in case you didn’t realize it from the guy in the No. 1 position, these aren’t the favorites, but rather my predicted order of finish.

1. Edoardo Molinari
If the similarities with recent winners aren’t enough, he also won a U.S. Amateur on an East Coast, tree-lined course.

2. Alvaro Quiros
The longest hitter on any major tour, when his short game is on, he can be unbelievably tough to beat.

3. Robert Karlsson
Last year’s hot play one week beforehand in Memphis led to a T-27; this year expect much better.

4. Matt Kuchar
Based on recent track record, tough to envision a leaderboard anywhere that doesn’t include Kooch.

5. Justin Rose
Hampered by a few illnesses, but now ready to contend and always gets hot this time of year.

6. Lee Westwood
Close calls in majors – five top-3s in last four years – should be perceived as positive experiences rather than bad signs.

7. Dustin Johnson
When one interviewer recently told DJ that lengthy Congressional suits his game, his eyes lit up.

8. Phil Mickelson
This championship is Lefty’s white whale, but he’ll soar in the polls with a win in the nation’s capital.

9. Davis Love III
Ryder Cup captain likes his chances at Congressional. “It’s big, long and hard,” he said. “Suits my game.”

10. Luke Donald
Fifteen top-10s in last 16 starts, but zero in seven career U.S. Open starts. Something’s gotta give.

11. Gary Woodland
First player to reach field via new U.S. Golf Association exemption policy for top 50 in the world after FedEx St. Jude.

12. Hunter Mahan
Even this ball-striker supreme can’t hit all the greens – and he’s been known to be dicey from greenside rough.

13. Rory McIlroy
Great story if he can recover from back-nine meltdown at Augusta to contend once again.

14. Steve Stricker
World No. 4 owns just three career top-5s in majors – but two of ‘em were at the Open.

15. Nick Watney
Rarely mentioned among PGA Tour’s longest hitters, but his distance off the tee matches almost anyone.

16. Patrick Cantlay (a)
Hot on the heels of winning the Jack Nicklaus Award as a UCLA freshman, he cruised through the PGA Tour player-laden Columbus sectional.

17. Fredrik Jacobson
Known as “Junkman,” this noted scrambler should benefit if the leading score remains close to par.

18. Martin Kaymer
Hasn’t played his best golf recently, but the reigning PGA champion has the talent to win anywhere, anytime.

19. Francesco Molinari
If the other Molinari brother wins the title, I’m taking partial credit with my pick to win.

20. Ian Poulter
Quickly becoming known as a match play magician, he could thrive in a final-round final pairing.

21. Jonathan Byrd
Longtime pro is enjoying a breakthrough season with one win and a few other title contentions.

22. Robert Rock
One of the few players on a major tour without a hat deal, he looks like a throwback without one.

23. K.J. Choi
Once won the AT&T at Congo, but no player has ever won The Players and U.S. Open in same year.

24. Jim Furyk
Has yet to win this year, but remember: His U.S. Open victory in 2003 was first of that season, too.

25. Fred Funk
No, he’s no longer competitive on the PGA Tour, but the Maryland native may find some magic this week.

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.