Tiger and Others Stalking DiMarco in Augusta

By Mercer BaggsApril 6, 2001, 4:00 pm
For those waiting for Chris DiMarco to fall from his perch at the top of the Masters leaderboard, youll have to pine a little longer.
DiMarco overcame a shaky start to record a 3-under-par 69. The 32-year-old Masters rookie stands at 10-under-par entering the final 36 holes in Augusta, Ga., two shots clear of his nearest competitors.
Thursday, DiMarco wore green in tribute to his Masters debut. Friday, he wore red; and once again it proved appropriate because there are plenty of sharks in the water.
Free Video - Registration Required Chris DiMarco talks about his second round lead
The top two ranked players in the world, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, are tied for second at 8-under. Five others are just three back, including former World No. 1 David Duval and two-time U.S. Open champion Lee Janzen (70).
Woods birdied three of his final four holes in the second round for a 6-under-par 66. Tiger carded eight birdies and two bogeys on the day to finish with a 36-hole total of 8-under 136.
Tigers first two rounds of 70-66 are identical to his opening two rounds in his championship year of 1997.
Its not a bad thing, Woods said of the correlation between the two years. I did alright that year. Hopefully, Ill do it again.
Free Video - Registration Required Woods, Duval, Mickelson and others talk about Rd.2
However, four years ago, Woods led the event by three shots entering the weekend. This time, hes trailing by two.
DiMarco, who shot 65 to lead by one as the day began, overcame a bogey at the 1st to card a front-nine 1-under-par 35. He made the turn at 8-under, and picked up two more shots with birdies at the 12th and 15th holes.
DiMarco concluded his round with a pair of clutch par saves over his final two holes. At the par-4 17th, he got up and down from the greenside bunker. He then hit his tee shot on the par-4 18th into the left fairway bunker, the same one Sandy Lyle played from and made birdie to win the 1988 Masters.
Unlike the Englishman, DiMarco clipped the lip of the bunker and came up well short of the green. However, he pitched to 10 feet and converted the par save.
That putt on 18 was big. It was huge for my confidence, he said. You can pinch me if you want. It feels like a dream.
DiMarcos excitement is heightened by the fact that hell play the third round alongside Woods.
What a story, playing with the best player in the world on the best course in the world, DiMarco said.
Once again, there were plenty of red numbers on the leaderboard.
Duval and Toshi Izawa, who lost in a six-man playoff in this years Nissan Open, each shot 66 to climbed to 7-under-par for the tournament.
Mark Calcavecchia did the same to move into a tie for ninth at 6-under. Also on that number is two-time Masters champion Jose Maria Olazabal. The 35-year-old Spaniard carded a 4-under-par 68 in an effort to add another title to the ones he captured in 1994 and 1999.
I have a lot of good memories around this course, said Olazabal. That makes it even more special.
Duval has several lasting memories at Augusta; hes finished in the top-6 each of the past three years. However, hes still yet to collect that elusive first major.
Friday, Duval bogeyed the par-5 15th for the second round in a row, but he regrouped with birdies on the 16th and 18th holes to shoot a back-nine 32.
I think I know how to win around here as well as anyone. Granted I havent done itbut Im looking forward to doing it this weekend, said Duval, who is playing competitively for the first time in five weeks due to tendinitis in his right wrist.
Mickelson is also anxious to get the major monkey off his back. The left-hander recorded a 3-under-par 69, but it wasnt without peaks and valleys.
Mickelson bogeyed the par-5 2nd, only to birdie four holes on the front nine to make the turn at 8-under for the tournament.
Following another bogey at the 10th, Mickelson hit his tee shot on the par-3 12th onto the front of the green, where it trickled down into Raes Creek. He eventually notched a double bogey 5.
However, in typical Mickelson fashion, he birdied three of his next four holes to finish the day at 8-under.
Defending champion Vijay Singh is still in contention to become the first player since Nick Faldo in 1990 to successfully defend his title. Singh shot a second-round 71 to enter the weekend six off the lead at 4-under-par.
Not everyone left the course satisfied on Friday. Greg Norman endured another Masters mishap by shooting a 10-over-par 82 in the second round. The three-time Masters runner-up, who began the day at 1-under, recorded 10 bogeys, including eight in a ten-hole stretch.
Norman entered the event with high expectations, and even higher semblance. Fifteen years ago, a 46-year-old Jack Nicklaus defeated Norman for his sixth Green Jacket.
Therefore, it only seemed appropriate that at age 46, Norman would contend in 2001. Such was not the case. The Shark posted only one eagle and one birdie over 36 holes.
One word ' ugly, said Norman in describing his performance. Nothing you can do; just move onto next week.
Free Video - Registration Required Norman, Nicklaus and Garcia talk about missing the cut
Most everyone else will focus on the present; where Woods may not yet be leading, but is commanding most the attention.
Tigers march to winning his fourth consecutive major began with four birdies over his first eight holes. Despite a bogey at the 9th, Woods birdied both par-5s on the back nine to move to 7-under for the tournament.
A second bogey occurred at the par-3 16th, but once again Woods rallied by sinking a pair of birdie putts over each of his final two holes.
I felt like anything in the 60s was going to be great, said Woods, who took 28 putts in the second round. The golf course is only going to get tougher over the weekend.
In 1997, Woods ran way with the event over the weekend with rounds of 65-69. He finished the event at 18-under-par, 12 strokes clear of his nearest competitor.
In the four years since, Woods has added four more majors to his resume and 40 more pounds to his frame.
But if youre wondering ' and the Masters committee may be ' Tigers jacket size is still the same.
News, Notes and Numbers
*47 players made the cut, which fell at 1-over-par 145. It tied the lowest cutline in Masters history (1979, 1992, 1995).
*None of the five amateurs in the field made the cut. James Driscoll started the day at 4-under, but shot 78 to miss the cut by one shot. The 23-year-old was even par through 16 holes in his second round, but double bogeyed the 17th to finish the event at 2-over.
*Sergio Garcia (76) bogeyed the 18th to miss the cut by a shot. Thomas Bjorn (76) doubled the 18th to also miss the cut be a single stroke.
*Six past Masters champions made the cut, while 16 missed it. Jack Nicklaus, 61, Gary Player, 65, and Arnold Palmer, 71, all missed the cut. Nicklaus and Player each shot 71 in the first round, but shot 75 and 76, respectively, in the second round. Palmer shot 82-76.
*Chris Perry twisted his knee on the 1st hole in the second round. He carded a pair of 7s to start his day, but hobbled to a 2-over-par 74. He stands in a tie for 20th place at 2-under.
*Chris DiMarcos 10-under-par 134 score through 36 holes is a new tournament record for a first-time player. Mark Lye set the record with a 9-under-par 135 in 1984.
Full Coverage of the 2001 Masters Tournament
Getty Images

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.