Byrum Fireem in Vegas

By Mercer BaggsOctober 13, 2000, 4:00 pm
Tom Byrum went 79 straight rounds without shooting a 65. Now he's carded three in a row. For the third straight day, on three separate courses, Byrum fired a 7-under-par 65 to maintain his lead through three rounds of the Invensys Classic at Las Vegas.
At 21-under-par, Byrum is two shots clear of Bilyl Andrade. Mike Weir is three back at 18-under, while Scott McCarron and Blaine McCallister share 4th place at 17-under-par.
Byrum's Friday 65 didn't come easy. Playing Southern Highlands, Byrum began on the back nine and made the turn in 2-under-par 34. But after four consecutive pars to start his inward half, Byrum strung together five successive birdies to end the day.
'I got hot at the end and just ran out of holes,' Byrum joked.
Byrum's sterling play is a bit of a surprise, even to him. Since tying for 7th at the Reno-Tahoe Open in late August, the 14-year PGA Tour veteran has missed three cuts in his last five starts. In the process, Byrum has dropped to the precarious position of 125th in yearly earnings. The top 125 by season's end earn their 2001 Tour playing privileges.
'I'd been struggling a bit,' said Byrum, whose first and only Tour victory came at the 1989 Kemper Open. 'I hadn't been playing that well. I just needed to get on a roll early and get it going.'
'Roll' is an appropriate word for Byrum this week. Through three rounds, he leads the tournament in putting - averaging just 26 putts per round. That's an impressive number for two reasons; the first being that the Invensys Classic is contested over three different courses - Southern Highlands, Desert Inn and the host course, the TPC at Summerlin. Byrum's also been struggling with the flatstick all year. Entering this week, Byrum ranked 148th on Tour in putts per round, averaging over 29 strokes every 18 holes played.
Putting hasn't been a problem for Andrade in 2000, nor has it been this week. Andrade ranks second, behind Byrum, in putts per round in Las Vegas. Still, it's a crapshoot as to whether he will finish the season inside the top 125 in earnings.
The two-time Tour winner stands in 159th position on the money list. His last victory, the 1998 Bell Canadian Open, insured his playing status for this season, but he'll have to work to maintain it in 2001.
Friday, Andrade made great strides in securing his 2001 Tour card by firing a 9-under-par 63 at Southern Highlands. Like Byrum, Andrade started the day on the 10th; and just like the man he's chasing, Andrade finished strongly by birdying five of his final seven holes.
The 36-year-old Andrade has a bit of history at this event. Three years ago, he missed a 15-foot putt on the 72nd hole that would have earned him spot in the season-ending Tour Championship. Instead, he missed qualifying for the $4-million event by a mere five dollars.
'Maybe Las Vegas owes me one,' Andrade said. 'I played very well in 1997, but not a lot of good finishes since. Back then, I was on the top-30 bubble, this year it's just the opposite.'
Last season, Andrade finished 118th on the money list. It was his lowest finish since his rookie season in 1988. In fact, `88 was the last time Andrade made the dreadful trip to Q-School.
Weir matched Andrade's course-record at Southern Highlands on Friday. The Canadian, who will compete for the International squad at next week's Presidents Cup, fired a front-nine 6-under-par 30, and then added three more birdies on the inward half for a bogey-free 63.
Like Andrade, McCarron has a story involving Q-School and the Invensys Classic. But unlike his peer, McCarron's story had a happy ending. In his rookie season of 1995, McCarron tied for third at the former Las Vegas Invitational to secure his sophomore playing privilege.
McCarron is looking for a duplicate in 2000. The two-time Tour winner is currently 123rd on the money list.

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.