Monday Scramble: Mixed emotions

By Mercer BaggsJune 26, 2017, 5:00 pm

Jordan Spieth wins in dramatic fashion, Phil Mickelson discusses his split from Jim Mackay and Rory McIlroy – maybe, perhaps, probably not – finds a suitable putter in this edition of Monday Scramble.

How one swing can change the narrative. By sinking his bunker shot on the first playoff hole at the Travelers Championship, Jordan Spieth revived Tiger Woods comparisons and reminded people of how much he’s accomplished in a short period of time.

But, boy, that Sunday evening news conference could have been much different.

A shaky putter, the inability to pull away from a field that wasn’t pressuring you, dumping a sand wedge in the bunker on the 72nd hole, that drive on the 73rd. You wouldn’t need to pick one, because they all would have been topics of conversation.

Instead, the focus is on Spieth’s “clutch gene” and Tiger-esque dramatics. And well it should be. Those other issues may rear their heads down the line, but for now, Spieth did what was necessary to win and did it with flair.

1. There’s plenty to dive into with Spieth’s win, but let’s start with the best part: The bunker hole-out. Spieth not only produced the shot, but he gave it the reaction it deserved. And give CBS credit for delivering the multiple angles. Here are a few:

2. We’re jaded. It’s not our fault; it’s Tiger’s. But stop and think about what Spieth has done before the age of 24, in a very competitive generation:

  • 10 PGA Tour wins
  • 2 major titles
  • 25th on the all-time money list (over $30 million, officially)

3. You have to take the good with the bad, it’s a fact of life. Spieth – like Tiger – is emotional. He’s going to seem petulant at times and he’s going to give you goose bumps at others. That’s who he is and it’s much better than someone who is stuck in the middle. It’s also worked out pretty well for him.

4. So, should Spieth be more apprehensive than elated? The guy above thinks there is cause for concern. So does the guy below:

When Rickie Fowler stumbled home but still won the Honda Classic in March, many wondered the same thing. He’s since earned three top-5 finishes and contended in the Masters and U.S. Open. But, in both, he struggled on Sunday. Hopefully Spieth’s in position after 54 holes of The Open to put his game to the test.

5. What he said:

6. “Jordan does Jordan things.” No one knows that better than Spieth’s contemporaries. Take this tweet, for example, sent out a few minutes before prediction came to fruition:

Credit to Daniel Berger for the way in which he handled defeat. He’s now 10th on the money list, 18th in the world and fourth on the Presidents Cup list

7. Rory McIlroy’s closing 64 wasn’t good enough to sneak into the top 10 at the Travelers, but it could be the start of something big. Using his third different putter of the week, McIlroy made seven birdies to only one bogey. And while he still took 30 putts, it should also be noted that he hit 12 of 14 fairways and 17 of 18 greens in regulation on Sunday. McIlroy is off this week but playing the Irish Open and Scottish Open, ahead of The Open at Birkdale. That gives him a few more rounds to settle on a putter before the season’s third major.

8. Phil Mickelson and Jim Mackay announced the dissolution of their work marriage this past week. Men cried. Women wailed. A nation mourned. And we all questioned, why? Was it something we did? Is it irrevocable? If they can’t make it together forever, who among us has a chance?

Overkill? A smidge. But this story had the proper mix for an emotional cocktail: surprise, nostalgia, intrigue. And golf Twitter – accustomed to languishing in the weekly doldrums – drank it up like Fireball from a major trophy.

There were 140-character hot takes and thousand-word retrospectives. So many opinions to share – they must be heard! – and since everyone follows everyone else, we saw them all. What’s the lesson to be learned from the Phil-Bones split? That all good things must come to an end? No. It’s pare down your social media following. You’re not going to miss anything.

9. There remains the question, why? Was it a single back-breaking straw? A boss’s desire for something fresh in a fading career? A pair of bad knees that just couldn’t take it anymore? Mickelson was on “Morning Drive” on Monday and made it seem like it wasn’t a health issue for Bones, who had double knee replacement late last year. “We just could tell that it was time,” Mickelson said. “We just needed a little bit of change in environment to do something different.” Even if Mickelson and Mackay never provide full disclosure, golf Twitter will speculate until we form our own truth.

10. Anything Ariya can do, Ryu can do better? Two weeks after Ariya Jutanugarn won on the LPGA to vault to world No. 1, So Yeon Ryu did the same at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship. Ryu held on to defeat Ariya’s sister, Moriya, and Amy Yang by two. It’s her second victory of the year. In case you forgot, she won the ANA Inspiration in a playoff over Lexi Thompson.

(Warning: external links contain adult language)

Trump driving across the greens is such a Trump power move it hurts @foreplaypod (credit mikenfrank on twitter)

A post shared by Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) on

There is a scene in “Blazing Saddles” in which Harriett Johnson reads aloud – very aloud – a letter from the Rock Ridge collective to Gov. William J. Lepetomane. The particulars are different, but, in relation to President Donald Trump driving his cart across a green, the kicker is the same.

This isn’t political. It’s a simple matter of courtesy and etiquette. Anyone who drives a golf cart over a putting surface, whether they vote blue or red, whether they are black, white or orange, whether they are the leader of the free world, whether they own the course or not, they are the same people who wear sunglasses inside.

This week's award winners ... 

Cool runnings: Mr. Cool, Fred Couples, closed in 66 to win the American Family Insurance Championship. It's the 57-year-old's 13th career win on the PGA Tour Champions. Tournament host Steve Stricker tied for third.

Get better, Tiger: Tiger Woods announced last Monday that he was "currently receiving professional help to manage my medications and the ways that I deal with back pain and a sleep disorder." He will not be on hand for this week's Quicken Loans National, which benefits his foundaiton.

That guy from Tiger's ace?: Yep, that's him. Omar Uresti, who couldn't properly high-five Tiger Woods after he made a hole-in-one in Phoenix in 1997, won the PGA Professional Championship, which didn't go over well with all.

Must be the new blood in office: The PGA Tour announced that it will begin, starting next season, blood testing and public disclosure of suspensions for recreational drug violations. Welcome to the 21st century.

Blown Fantasy Pick of the Week: Justin Thomas. There was reason for optimism, after he tied for third last year in Hartford, but Thomas ran out of gas and missed the cut (73-72) after his record-setting U.S. Open performance. Sigh. 

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.