The Mighty Thorpe

By Mercer BaggsApril 28, 2002, 4:00 pm
Jim Thorpe outlasted good friend John Jacobs to become the second African-American to win a Senior PGA Tour major Sunday by capturing The Countrywide Tradition in a playoff.
Thorpe, who holed a bunker shot for eagle on the final hole Saturday, birdied the par-5 18th to force sudden death, and repeated the performance on the first extra hole to end the tournament.
'That hole was very kind to me,' Thorpe said. 'They should put my name someplace out there.'

Thorpe shot 2-under 70 on the Prospector Course in Superstition Mountain, Ariz., to collect his fifth career Senior victory to go along with $300,000. Jacobs shot 71.
'I'm not going to lie to you. I love craps. Tonight I'll be playing craps in Vegas,' Thorpe said. 'Next week in Alabama I'll be at the dog track. But I do the right thing, too. I give 10 percent to the church.'

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Charlie Sifford, in 1975 at the Senior PGA Championship, was the first African-American to win a Senior major, though he did so before the tour was officially formed in 1980.
The two players ended regulation tied at 11-under-par 277. Jacobs led by one entering the par-5 18th, but an errant tee shot led to an awkward stance for his second shot. Standing in the left fairway bunker, with his ball waist-high on the right cusp, Jacobs side-slapped his ball into the adjacent rough. He eventually made a clutch 12-footer for par, while Thorpe, following a stellar approach, made a nervous two-footer for birdie.
They went back to the 18th. Thorpe found the right rough off the tee, while Jacobs once again snap-hooked his driver, this time avoiding the bunker. Thorpe laid up perfectly in the fairway on his second shot; Jacobs pushed a metal-wood into the right gallery.
As he did 25 minutes prior, Thorpe struck a beautiful third shot to inside five feet; Jacobs, scrambling again, pitched from the trampled-down rough to nearly half that distance. Thorpe made his birdie, Jacobs lipped out his.
'I misread it,' Jacobs said. 'I certainly didn't miss it because I was nervous. If I'd been nervous, I would have missed the first one.'
Said Thorpe: 'It was a wonderful finish. If this doesn't help the golf ratings, I don't know what will.'
Jacobs started the day leading Thorpe by a shot. Thorpe tied for the top spot with a birdie at the sixth, but fell back to 9-under when he couldnt get up and down from the greenside bunker at the par-3 eighth.
Jacobs returned the favor by bogeying the par-4 ninth after missing the green.
The back nine proved early to be a series of missed opportunities on the part of Thorpe, and crucial saves for Jacobs.
The big-bombing Jacobs ' hes won more than 100 Long Drive Championships worldwide ' showed a deft touch in saving par from four feet at the 10th, from six feet at the 11th and from 10 feet at the 12th.
Meanwhile, Thorpe missed a six-footer for birdie at No. 10, an eight-footer at No. 11 and a 12-footer at the par-5 13th.
As the two remained stagnate at 9-under, the rest of the field moved into attack mode. Bob Gilder birdied the 14th to go to 9-under, as did Bruce Summerhays at the 15th. But, finally, Thorpe coxed in a 20-foot birdie from the fringe at No. 14 to take the outright lead at 10-under.
For the first time in the final round, Jacobs found himself looking up on the leaderboard. It didnt last long enough for him to get a crick in his neck, however. Jacobs hit a short pitch approach shot to four feet at the par-4 15th and converted the birdie to tie Thorpe at 10-under. He then moved one clear after running his approach shot from the left rough to within five feet of the hole at the par-4 16th.
After a routine two-putt par at the 17th, Jacobs carried a one-shot lead over Thorpe, Gilder and Summerhays into the par-5 18th. Both Gilder and Summerhays birdied 17.
Playing in the penultimate group, Summerhays had a six-foot birdie putt to tie Jacobs at 11-under, but missed on the low side to set the clubhouse target at minus-10. Gilder, playing alongside Jacobs and Thorpe, also went on to two-putt and finish at 10-under.
Jacobs found trouble off the tee at 18, toe-hooking his drive into the rough buffering the fairway and the left-hand bunker. With his ball resting outside the bunker he contemplated hitting his second shot left-handed, but instead dug down into the sand ' with the ball waist-high ' choked down on his iron and punched his ball into the deep right rough. He laid up in the fairway with his third shot.
Thorpes tee shot, meantime, landed in the left-hand bunker, from where he laid up into the middle of the fairway. He then stuck his third shot within two feet of the cup.
Jacobs approach into the green finished 12 feet right of the hole ' leaving him that for par and a probable playoff. And as he had done for most of the day, he converted the save.
Full-field scores from The Countrywide Tradition

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.