Spieth patient about goals - unlike many fans

By Jason SobelDecember 3, 2014, 10:29 pm

WINDERMERE, Fla. – I was interviewed on a radio show the other day – I’ll leave the host and station unmentioned because, frankly, it could have been any host on any station over the past few years – when the inevitable question about the game’s future was broached with stunning neglect.

“Will any of these young players ever step up and become superstars?”

After explaining that 25-year-old No. 1-ranked Rory McIlroy is a superstar in every sense of the word and fellow 25-year-old Rickie Fowler is fresh off a year in which he claimed top-five finishes at every major, I brought up Jordan Spieth’s name. While there was no direct debate toward my assessment of him as an impending superstar, I could tell there was some blanching, as if somehow he hasn’t done enough to earn that designation.

He had an opportunity to win the Masters Tournament – and didn’t. He had a chance to win the Players Championship – and didn’t. He’s won just a single PGA Tour event so far. And so why, these criticisms suggest, should we believe he’s any different than so many other talented young players over the years?

That should be considered a narrowest of viewpoints on a long-term scenario.

The unspoken implication, of course, is the same that’s been saddled to every other young player with potential over the past two decades: He’s no Tiger Woods.

Well, guess what? Neither is anybody else.

That notion alone shouldn’t take away from what Spieth, at 21, has already become, nor what he can turn into in upcoming years.

To explain, let me take you back to New Year’s Day of this year.

Driving a golf cart across the sloping back nine of Kapalua’s Plantation Course, the mighty Pacific Ocean serving as a backdrop during a casual practice round, Spieth revealed three main goals for the upcoming 2014 calendar year.

1) Contend at a major championship.

Three months later, he accomplished this goal at the year’s first major, leading the Masters Tournament on Sunday afternoon before finishing in a share of second place behind champion Bubba Watson.

2) Make the Ryder Cup team.

He not only qualified for the biennial nerve-wracker, he teamed with fellow rookie Patrick Reed to form the United States’ most formidable duo on enemy turf at Gleneagles.

3) Win multiple events.

This one appeared like it would go unfulfilled until he lapped the field at last week’s Australian Open, giving him a chance – in his final start of the year at this week’s Hero World Challenge – to tick all the boxes on that New Year’s Day list.

“It is the best percentage chance I've had the whole year,” he joked Wednesday of the 18-player field.

During a year in which he’s been simultaneously commended for continually climbing leaderboards as a 21-year-old and criticized for failing to close while in contention on Sunday afternoons, Spieth heads into his final four competitive rounds with an opportunity to accomplish each of these stated goals.

All of which should serve as a reminder to those who are expecting – or at least craving – the next Tiger in the form of this easygoing Texan.

Unlike many of his observers, Spieth understands that his goals need to be stepping stones, each year’s list leading to greater heights.

“That's the main goal,” he insisted, “to improve each and every year a little bit, get a little better every year.”

This just in: Spieth is hardly the only player – young or old – to own that lofty yet shrewd goal of trying to get better with time. In fact, you’ll hardly find a pro golfer who doesn’t list this as his No. 1 intangible goal each year.

And that won’t change heading into the 2015 campaign, either.

Win or lose this week, whether he ticks that final box on the list or not, Spieth’s goals entering next year will include continuing improvement along with tangible ambitions taking the next step toward what could propel him into superstar status.

“Once we start getting into preparing for my first event of '15, that's when I will,” he said of making the next list. “Last year I went to my instructor’s [Cameron McCormick] house, and I had dinner with he and his family. He and I went up and sat down for an hour and a half or so and thought about what the right goals would be.

“Hopefully we can get together and maybe up the goals a little bit.”

This is how it starts, little by little, ticking all the boxes until the goals are reimagined, then ticking them again before upping the stakes. Even at 21, Spieth realizes he can’t earn that superstar designation immediately. It’s too bad not everyone can be so patient.

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.