Major-less Woods Moves On

By Mercer BaggsJune 15, 2003, 4:00 pm
OLYMPIA FIELDS, Ill. -- For the first time since August 1999, Tiger Woods is not the current holder of a major championship trophy.
 
Woods completed another disappointing major with a 2-over 72 Sunday. He finished the 103rd U.S. Open at 3-over-par 283.
 
Since winning the 2002 U.S. Open, Woods has tied for 28th in the British Open, finished second in the PGA Championship, tied for 15th at the Masters, and tied for 20th this week.
 
Tigers primary problem at Olympia Fields was on the greens. He averaged 31.3 putts per round; tied for 64th of the 68 players who made the cut.
 
I had a tough time getting the speed right this week, he explained. It was frustrating in general this week because I never got anything going.
 
This is his worst finish as a professional in this event. After winning three of his first four starts in 2003, Tiger has failed to win in his last five, recording only one top-10 in the latter stretch.
 
LEAN-EY ON ME
 
With each major, particular the Opens, U.S. fans are generally introduced to a player with whom theyre unfamiliar.
 
Stephen Leaney was such a man in this week. The 34-year-old Australian played in the final twosome Sunday. Starting the final round trailing Jim Furyk by three strokes, he shot 2-over 72 to claim second place.
 
Leaney, though a stranger to many casual observers, is no stranger to success. He has three European Tour victories, and four more on the Australasian Tour. Hes a regular on the European circuit, and finished runner-up to Ernie Els in this years Johnnie Walker Classic.
 
He has five times tried to earn his PGA Tour card through Q-School, and five times failed. No failure was more difficult than a year ago when he birdied his final hole, but missed by one shot.
 
I was really devastated last year, he said. Its always been a dream of mine to come here.'
 
And now he has arrived. Thanks to his quarterfinal run in this years WGC-Match Play Championship, where he lost to Woods, and his runner-up finish this week, Leaney has earned enough money to secure his tour playing privilege for next season. And he is now a temporary member this year.
 
'I'm happy with the status that I will have,' he said. 'I don't have to go through Q-School again. It's nice that I was able to pull through.'
 
Its been a long and strange road to here. Ten years ago, a blood clot in his arm made it necessary for doctors to remove two of his ribs to alleviate the problem. It took him 18 months to fully recover.
 
Now, if only he could find a steady caddie. Leaney had been working the last three weeks with Justin Hoyle. But Hoyle, who suffers from a heart condition, had to pull out after the first round. Matthew Goggins caddie, who just happened to be on the grounds, replaced him.
 
I dont rely on guys that much to pick me up or spur me on, I just want them to do a certain job, he said. Its nice to have an Australian to talk to, because Im comfortable with him on the bag.
 
And his name?
 
Al, I dont know, Im sorry, Leaney said.
 
MAJOR WEEK FOR WATSON, EDWARDS
 
It wasnt the destination Tom Watson wanted, but it was one heck of a ride. After opening in 65 to share the first-round lead, Watson slipped steadily over the final three days.
 
His final three scores of 72-75-72 left the 1982 U.S. Open champion tied for 28th at 4-over-par 284.
 
Still, it was more than he or his caddie, Bruce Edwards, could have asked for. Support swelled for Edwards, who suffers from ALS, throughout the week, culminating in a standing ovation as the partners of 30 years walked to the 72nd green.
 
Its been a special week, to say the least, Watson said.
 
Said Edwards: Ive been really lucky in my career and Im not going to let something like this get me down. Im going to carry on.
 
I think what he did in the first round, there was a reason for that, Edwards added. The bottom line is to get the word out about ALS.
 
If someone said to me we can do this all over again, youre going to get ALS down the road, would you do it? Id say, you bet, every time. Ive been really lucky.
 
REWRITING THE RECORD BOOKS
 
United States Golf Association officials will have to take eraser to record book after this years U.S. Open.
 
Jim Furyk set a tournament record for lowest 36- and 54-hole scores, and tied the 72-hole record.
 
He and Vijay Singh established the midway mark with a 133 total. Furyks 10-under-par 200 was a 54-hole record in both relation to par and aggregate. His 272 finish tied Jack Nicklaus (1980, Baltusrol), Lee Janzen (1993, Baltusrol) and Woods (2000, Pebble Beach).
 
Singh also tied the marks for lowest nine-hole score (29) and lowest 18-hole score (63) in the second round. Friday was the lowest Round 2 scoring in Open history, with a 71.9 field scoring average. The 143 cutline was also the lowest in the 103 years of this event.
 
Prior to this year, the record for scores in the 60s for the entire championship was 76, at Baltusrol in 1993. Olympia Fields produced 77 rounds in the 60s through three days, and 83 by tournaments end.
 
KUEHNE WINS AMATEUR HOUR
 
Thanks in part to an eagle at the par-5 sixth Sunday, Trip Kuehne was able to take gold medal honors as low amateur in this years U.S. Open.
 
The Texan, who turns 31 Friday, shot rounds of 74-67-76-73 to finish at 10-over-par 290. He was a single shot lower than the only other amateur to make the cut, Ricky Barnes.
 
Kuehne is presently an equity salesman for Legg Mason. He is most famous for finishing runner-up to Tiger Woods in the 1994 U.S. Amateur Championship, an event Barnes won a year ago.
 
I was second low amateur in the (U.S.) Open in 96. Lost to Tiger in the 94 finals of the Amateur. I was medallist in the Public Links. Ive always kind of been right there, knocking on the door, but Ive never finished first in a USGA event, Kuehne said.
 
Granted, its not first in the tournament, but low amateur, I get a gold medal and I now have a gold medal to match my brother and sister and nobody will ever be able to take that away from me.
 
Keuhnes brother, Hank, won the 1998 U.S. Amateur, while his sister, Kelli, won the 1995 and 96 U.S. Womens Amateur.
 
Kuehne tied for 57th. Barnes, who finished as low amateur in this years Masters Tournament, shot 71-71-79-70 to tie for 59th.
 
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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?

    Getty Images

    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.

    Nathaniel Crosby at the 1983 Bing Crosby Pro-Am at Pebble Beach. Getty Images

    Crosby selected as 2019 U.S. Walker Cup captain

    By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 3:19 pm

    The USGA announced that former U.S. Amateur champ Nathaniel Crosby will serve as the American captain for the 2019 Walker Cup, which will be played at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England.

    Crosby, 56, is the son of entertainment icon and golf enthusiast Bing Crosby. He won the 1981 U.S. Amateur at The Olympic Club as a teenager and earned low amateur honors at the 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He also played in the 1983 Walker Cup, coincidentally held at Royal Liverpool, before embarking on a brief career in professional golf, with his amateur status reinstated in 1994.

    "I am thrilled and overwhelmed to be chosen captain of the next USA Walker Cup team," Crosby said in a statement. "Many of my closest friends are former captains who will hopefully take the time to share their approaches in an effort to help me with my new responsibilities."

    Crosby takes over the captaincy from John "Spider" Miller, who led the U.S. squad both in 2015 and earlier this year, when the Americans cruised to a 19-7 victory at Los Angeles Country Club.

    Crosby is a Florida resident and member at Seminole Golf Club, which will host the 2021 matches. While it remains to be seen if he'll be asked back as captain in 2021, each of the last six American captains have led a team on both home and foreign soil.

    Started in 1922, the Walker Cup is a 10-man, amateur match play competition pitting the U.S. against Great Britain and Ireland. The U.S. team holds a 37-9 all-time lead in the biennial matches but has not won in Europe since 2007.