Players Hoopla Wont Affect Play

By Mercer BaggsApril 3, 2003, 5:00 pm
Players like to speak of a singular mentality. The ability to focus on one shot at a time. Extract distraction.
 
Its a clich, but players love clichs. Theyre easy, compact, less thoughtful answers ' and theyre mostly truthful.
 
Ask a player about his round and hell give you mundane facts. Ask him something more personal and youll get anything from sincerity to sarcasm. Ask him about anything involving controversy and you wont get much of an answer at all.
 
No comment.
 
Those are two words Davis Love III expects to utter on more than one occasion next week in Augusta, Ga.
 
Ill talk to anybody to tell you how good Im playing or how I feel and let that be that, Love said after winning The Players Championship. Im going to play golf and Im not going to do anything else.
 
Love is talking, of course, about the peripheral distractions in wait at The Masters.
 
Of the host of players who had the good fortune to make it into the interview room at Sawgrass, few were spared at least one question about outside influences at Augusta National Golf Club.
 
And most agreed that they would not be influenced because it is on the outside.
 
The golf course is so well surrounded by ropes and fences, said Mike Weir, and the protests will be outside the ropes and the gates. I dont think it will affect the tournament at all.
 
Perhaps not on the outcome, but it has already had a major impact on the event and its surroundings.
 
The dispute over whether or not Augusta National should admit females as club members has affected everything from the local economy to national exposure.
 
Its been nearly 10 months since Dr. Martha Burk, chair of the National Council of Womens Organizations, sent Augusta National chairman Hootie Johnson a letter requesting the club to include its first female member.
 
Since then, weve witnessed a demonstrative reply, the dropping of sponsors, subjective polls supporting both sides, televised debates, a surplus of publicity seekers and judicial decisions.
 
I think its tarnished it this year, Tiger Woods said about the negative light under which the tournament has been placed. I think eventually it will go away and it will be resolved and Augusta and the Masters will be what it is.
 
Tiger even joked that the best way onto club grounds would be to parachute in. Youve just got to sky dive in there, he said with a smile.
 
Under normal circumstances the Masters would go into hibernation after the presentation of the green jacket, occasionally popping its head out of the ground to announce course changes.
 
The seasons first major wouldnt make steam until the PGA Tour hit Florida. And by this point, there would be two major story lines: Tiger trying for an unprecedented third straight victory; past champions age limit rescinded.
 
It would be about golf and little more. But the scenery, the stories, the serenity ' all have been upset by one terse two-page response from Johnson.
 
Its not just about a golf tournament anymore, said Woods. It used to be the first major of the year and everyone looked forward to that. Now its not that anymore.
 
It would be great if it would all go away and we could just play a golf tournament again, but thats not the reality of it.
 
What should be expected is exceeded by the unknown. Who will protest, how many will picket, and will it change a thing are all to be determined.
 
But there are two givens.
 
One, players believe it will not affect play: I don't think it will be different from a player's point of view. When we get inside the gates and when we're playing and competing in our first major championship of 2003, the field will be the same as it always has been, said Phil Mickelson.
 
Said 1992 champion Fred Couples: They will still have 50,000 people out there screaming and yelling and having fun.
 
And two, they dont want to talk about it: I dont feel like my opinion, one way or the other, means a whole lot, said Jay Haas, who will be competing in his 19th Masters Tournament.
 
Its understandable that players dont want to speak out on the subject. Theyre not controversial types; controversy harms the image, which, in turn, hinders endorsement deals. And theyre not only leery, theyre weary of the subject; theyve been asked to state their opinions ad nauseam.
 
In a poll conducted by Sports Illustrated, 49 percent of the players asked said that Augusta National should open its membership to a female. Twenty-three percent said no, while 28 percent said its up to them, not me.
 
PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem has supported that 28-percentile, stating the tournament, like all of the four major championships, is not run by the tour.
 
Its not really something I want to get into again, said last years Masters runner-up Retief Goosen when prompted last week.
 
I really dont have a comment, said six-time Masters champion Jack Nicklaus, who is also a club member.
 
As Love said, no comment will be two of the most expressed words in the media center and under the old oak tree behind the clubhouse next week.
 
You dont want to try and avoid either place, but you want to try and play well enough to change the subject, he said.
 
Related Links:
  • 2003 Masters Tournament Mini-Site
  • Tournament Coverage
  • The Augusta National Membership Debate: A Chronology
  • 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.