Sutton Expectations

By Mercer BaggsMarch 21, 2001, 5:00 pm
Hal Sutton knows the heavy burden of expectation. Eighteen years ago, he was the next Jack Nicklaus. A blond hair, blue eyed, savior of golf. A U.S. Amateur champion who won both THE PLAYERS Championship and the PGA Championship in just his second full season on the PGA Tour.
Before the age of 30, the Shreveport, La., native had garnered seven titles in five years ' an impressive feat, BT (Before Tiger).
Then, seemingly in his prime, Sutton went eight years without a victory. His attitude was even poorer than his play. He loathed his craft.
Suttons disdain grew from expectation. Expectation from others. Expectation he believed he had to live up to.
It is for that reason, Sutton has a soft spot under his hardened exterior for Tiger Woods.
I always sound like Im defending Tiger, and Im going to step out on a limb and say a few things, Sutton said during his Wednesday press conference at the TPC at Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.
I see Tiger being frustrated right now because people are saying that hes not doing this and Tigers not doing that.
I see all of that because Ive been there, not nearly to the degree that Tiger has had. But be careful how you (the media) handle this, because you might make him hate the game before its over with. And we need Tiger in the game.
Of course, dont think that Sutton spends his days in full support of his golfing buddy. No, professionally speaking, the 42-year-old Sutton still wants to whip the pants off the 25-year-old top-ranked player.
He has precedent.
Last season, Sutton added another chapter to his legend by beating the worlds best head-to-head for his second career PLAYERS Championship victory ' 17 years after he first.
Faced with repetitively annoying questions about Woods invincibility, Sutton stood firm, publicly denouncing Tigers intimidation factor.
I can beat him, Sutton said prior to the final round. He might be the best player in the world, but that doesnt mean he cant be beat.
Leading Tiger by one, and playing with him in Sundays final pairing, Sutton opened up a three-shot lead through 11 holes before rain forced the suspension of play until Monday.
As a new week began, an old story seemed to be unfolding. Woods eagled the par-5 16th to move to within one of Suttons lead. But true to his word, Sutton prevailed.
Still up one on the par-4 finishing hole, Sutton stiffed his approach shot.
'Be the right club today,' Sutton urged. It landed about 8 feet in front of the hole. Sutton let out a 'Yes!' and gave a hard hand slap to his longtime caddie, Freddie Hughes.
Woods looked over and gave him a thumbs-up.
Tiger didnt win that week, but he did win ten times worldwide in 2000; nine of which came on the PGA Tour.
His last year, a realistic comparison? I dont think it is, said Sutton, who currently stands in ninth place on the Official World Golf Ranking.
I mean, I said last year that I felt like this was going to be a pivotal year, because I felt like, that Tiger had raised the bar so high that not even himself could live up to those expectations and the challenge of trying to meet everybody elses expectations.
Woods won his first event of the season at last weeks Bay Hill Invitational. It snapped an eight-start winless streak on the Tour; and ended questions about a slump.
Eight starts without win ' a slump? Try eight years. Sutton did, and now hes better for it.
Since turning 40, Sutton has won five times, including last years PLAYERS and the 1998 TOUR Championship.
I enjoy the game a lot now, said Sutton, who has also qualified for a pair of Presidents Cup teams and the victorious 99 Ryder Cup squad.
Sometimes when youve had a lot of struggles in what you do, you appreciate being able to get back a lot more than you would have.
I just feel like I had a taste of it at one point and lost it and didnt know if I would ever get it back. And to be able to play at a level that when you go out there, you feel like youve earned everybodys respect and they look at you as a worthy competitor, thats exciting, to be able to get back to that point.
Read the Entire Transcript of Hal Sutton's Wednesday Press Conference

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.