LPGA never runs out of optimism

By Jason SobelSeptember 16, 2012, 10:22 pm

I've got this friend – let's call him Chipper, since the name fits – who has an uncanny ability to remain eternally optimistic even though nothing ever happens in his life that should warrant actual optimism.

It's always either, 'Yeah, I got dumped, but there are plenty of other fish in the sea!' or 'I was passed over for that promotion, but I don't think I'm management material anyway!' or even 'I couldn't afford my apartment anymore, but moving back in with Mom and Dad should be fun!'

Admit it: You know someone like Chipper, too. Everyone does. Poor guy has never had a glass half-empty. It’s not even half-full. Instead, it’s half-open to all the great opportunities this world has to offer!!! And yes, he’s always a three-exclamation point kind of guy.

Chipper should be sponsored by Timex. Just like the watch company’s old slogan, he takes a lickin' and keeps on tickin'.

What does this have to do with golf? Simple. The LPGA is golf's version of Chipper.

Just look at the last two weeks as perfect examples.

At the Kingsmill Championship, the tour had an opportunity to capitalize on a rabid golf fan base that was jonesing for more drama after witnessing Rory McIlroy’s triumph over a BMW Championship leaderboard that included Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Lee Westwood.

When those fans collectively flipped over to the apparent conclusion of the ladies’ event, they were treated to a playoff duel between two of the game’s best players in Jiyai Shin and Paula Creamer. What they received was a live rendition of Groundhog Day, with the competitors playing the same hole with the same hole location eight different times.

It’s difficult to fault the LPGA for the format. Playoffs aren’t supposed to last that long. It’s easier to fault the tour for the dramedy that occurred at day’s end, with Creamer trying to make a decision, Shin interminably noncommittal and nary an official to make a final ruling.

When they came back the next day, rather than bemoan an untraditional finish the LPGA did its best Chipper impersonation, declaring it a great thing that two of their best had the Monday morning stage all to themselves before Shin prevailed on the ninth extra hole.

This week’s Women’s British Open continued the trend, playing out like an old blues tune. ”If it wasn’t for bad luck, I wouldn’t have no luck at all…”

The spotlight squarely affixed to the year’s final major with the PGA Tour on a bye week, instead the tournament was marred by poor weather and intriguing rulings.

After much of the early wave had already teed off in what was subsequently deemed unplayable conditions on Friday morning, little-known Rule 33-2d was invoked by the Ladies’ Golf Union – though it’s an LPGA co-sanctioned event, it is not run by the tour – which rendered those scores . The rest of the day was washed out, with players returning for the second round on Saturday, then only 50 making the 36-hole cut, with the final 36 holes all contested on Sunday.

It’s almost hard to believe a player named Murphy has been lighting up the leaderboards, considering the LPGA lives at the pedestal of Murphy’s Law: Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.

Maybe that’s just par for the course in the world’s only sport where the no-doubt-about-it best player in the world retired right in the middle of her prime, giving way to the next no-doubt-about-it best player in the world – only to have her do the exact same thing.

And yet, at Royal Liverpool once again optimism prevailed – and once again, so did Shin, by a whopping nine strokes.

It may not have been the perfect payoff for the women’s game, but domination can win fans and influence people just as much as – if not more so than – a packed leaderboard. (Exhibit 1A and 1B: Tiger Woods at the 1997 Masters and 2000 U.S. Open; Exhibit 2A and 2B: Rory McIlroy at the 2011 U.S. Open and 2012 PGA Championship.) In rainy, blustery and by the end, increasingly dark conditions, Shin finished the marathon week as the lone player under par with nobody else within a smashed 3-wood of her on the scoreboard.

Consider it just another sign that perseverance pays. Not just for Shin, whose two victories in seven days were her first in two years. But for the women’s game as a whole.

Too often left holding a glass half-full and hoping to add to it, that optimism was rewarded when the week was completed. It may not have been according to the blueprint, but going off script is becoming the new normal.

Hey, I know one person who was watching this week and never gave up hope that the conclusion would pay dividends. That’s right – Chipper was watching the entire event unfold with usual optimism. And why not? It was pretty cool of his Mom and Dad to let him have control of the TV.

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.

The golf world celebrates Thanksgiving

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 6:01 pm

Here's a look, through social media, at how the golf world celebrates Thanksgiving.

Lexi Thompson:

Baking time!!

A post shared by Lexi Thompson (@lexi) on

David Feherty:

Jack Nicklaus:

GC Tiger Tracker:

Steve Stricker:

Golf Channel:

Frank Nobilo:

Ian Poulter:

Tyrone Van Aswegen:

Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017

By Grill Room TeamNovember 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.