On The Range Blog - February 15

By On The Range TeamFebruary 16, 2012, 2:00 am

On The Range Talent
Host: Gary Williams (Golf Channel)
Analyst: Wayne Player (Instructor & Founder of The Player Approach)
Analyst: Billy Kratzert (4-time PGA TOUR winner)
Analyst: Bill Harmon (Instructor & Caddie for Jay & Bill Haas)

This Week’s Events
Northern Trust Open
Riviera CC - Pacific Palisades, CA
Defending Champion: Aaron Baddeley

Marquee Player
Luke Donald
-#1 in Official World Golf Ranking
-Won 2011 Money Title on the PGA and European Tour
-Led 2011 PGA and European Tour in Putting Average
-Making 2012 PGA TOUR debut
-Swing Instructor: Pat Goss
-Caddie: John McLaren

Course Survey
Riviera CC (Par 71 - 7,298 yards)

-Go low early: The 1st hole is a 503-yard, par 5 and has played the easiest hole on the course every year since course stats began being kept in 1984. Last year, it played the single easiest hole on the PGA TOUR! The past two winners, Aaron Baddeley and Steve Stricker played the hole 4-under for the week (3 birdies, 1 eagle). In 2009, Phil Mickelson played the 1st hole 7-under for the week en route to victory, making 3 eagles and 1 birdie!

-Irons play is important, the driver not so much: Each of the past 6 winners have finished Top 10 in GIR for the week. None of the past 4 winners have finished Top 10 in Driving Distance or Driving Accuracy

-If you do miss the green, you better be able to scramble: Last year’s champion Aaron Baddeley led the field in Sand Save Percentage (100.00%) and Scrambling (90.00%). 2010 champion Steve Stricker led the field in Sand Save Percentage (100.00%) and finished T8 in Scrambling (79.17%). 4 of the past 5 champions have finished Top 10 in Scrambling for the week.

-Score on the Par 4s: Every Par 4 is over 400 yards at Riviera except the drivable 10th hole. 3 of the last 4 winners have led the field in Par 4 scoring.

-Welcome to Poa: Riviera Country Club has poa annua greens, one of the main reasons no course of the 2011 PGA TOUR had a higher percentage of missed putts from Inside 3 feet and Inside 10 feet. It was also the toughest course for lag putting, with players facing an average distance of 2’8” for their second putt.

-Going against a recent trend: There has been a recent string of player blowing big final round leads on the PGA TOUR, but not at the Northern Trust Open. The past 4 years, the player that took the lead into the final round went on to win.

Top 5: European Players
This week our marquee player is Luke Donald, who is making his 2012 PGA TOUR debut. Europeans control the top 4 spots in the Official World Golf Ranking with Donald on top, but do you think he deserves that honor? Wayne Player shares his thoughts on the Top 5 European Players (Share your thoughts or Top 5 in the comments section):

Wayne Player
1. Rory McIlroy ('Rory is simply the most natural talent that European golf has seen since Seve Ballesteros. He has a US Open under his belt and is destined for greatness. Rory is also a very hunble young man who is very charitable.')
2. Luke Donald 
3. Lee Westwood
4. Sergio Garcia
5. Graeme McDowell

Featured Groups
Northern Trust Open
Coverage Begins Thursday at 2:30PM ET on Golf Channel

Thursday, 3:01PM ET
Fred Couples, Jason Day, Sergio Garcia

Thursday, 3:12PM ET
Phil Mickelson, Kyle Stanley, Brandt Snedeker

Friday, 3:01PM ET
Luke Donald, Adam Scott, Nick Watney

Friday, 3:12PM ET
Aaron Baddeley, Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson

Getty Images

Snedeker starts slow in effort to snag Masters invite

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.

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.

Rose (62) sets blistering pace in Indonesia

By Associated PressDecember 14, 2017, 3:06 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia – Justin Rose shot a 10-under 62 Thursday to take a two-stroke lead after the first round of the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, starting on the back nine at Royale Jakarta Golf Club, had five birdies to go out in 31, then birdied four of five holes midway through his final nine and another birdie on his last hole in the $750,000 tournament.

Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters

Gunn Charoenkul (64) was in second place and Kim Giwhan and Phachara Khongwatmai (both 65) were tied for third.

Brandt Snedeker shot 72. Ranked 51st in the world, the American is aiming for a strong finish in Jakarta to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

Getty Images

LaCava: Woods wouldn't talk after H.O.R.S.E. match

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 2:27 pm

The competitive streak within Tiger Woods knows no bounds - even on the basketball court, according to caddie Joe LaCava.

LaCava has been on Woods' bag since 2011, and he recently shared a story on "Inside the Ropes" on Sirius/XM PGA Tour Radio about a clash between the two men over a seemingly friendly game of H.O.R.S.E. Actually, it turned into nine straight games (and nine straight wins) for LaCava, who exploited a weakness in Woods' on-court strategy while leaning on a mid-length jumper of his own:

"The thing with him was if I missed a shot, which I missed plenty of shots, but if I missed the shot he'd go back down to the 3 (point line) because he liked to make the 3," LaCava said. "But it's harder obviously to make a 3, and I'd go right back to the baseline 12-footer, and he couldn't make it."

It's a short list of people who have beaten Woods nine times in any athletic pursuit, let alone in a row. But for LaCava, the fallout from his afternoon of on-court dominance was less than subtle.

"He did not talk to me the rest of the day," LaCava explained. "I didn't even get the old text, 'Dinner is ready,' because I stay across at the beach house. I didn't even get that text that night. I had to get take-out. He didn't announce he wasn't (talking), he just did it. I'm telling you, nine games in a row. Like I said, he's so competitive, even at something like that."