Bunker Shots

By Randall MellMay 26, 2009, 4:00 pm
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Rory chases a legend down Hogans Alley
Move over, Ben.
Rorys Rowdies are coming with their man Rory Sabbatini trying to do something Hoganesque at Hogans Alley.
Sabbatini is among 14 players who have won both the Byron Nelson and the Colonial PGA Tour events in the Dallas area over the years, but he bids this week to become the first to win them both in the same year since Hogan pulled that double in 1946. Sabbatini claimed the HP Byron Nelson Championship on Sunday with a group of supporters in Rorys Rowdy Roadies T-shirts exhorting him. The Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial is up next in the South Africans backyard. He makes his home in suburban Dallas-Fort Worth. The ultra confident Sabbatini should have no problem envisioning himself equaling a Hogan mark, though we may not get to hear him in full swagger. Since calling Tiger Woods more beatable than ever a couple years ago, hes clearly choosing his words more carefully. Same with his clothing. The pink Sunday attire was classy last weekend as tribute to Phil Mickelsons wife, Amy, whos battling breast cancer.

An Englishman went up a hill
Paul Casey arrives at Colonial casting a larger shadow.
With his victory at the BMW Championship Sunday, Casey is suddenly No. 3 in the Official World Golf Ranking, making him the highest ranked player in a reasonably good field at Colonial Country Club.
How will he handle his elevation in status on American soil? Hes all aglow with star power possibilities, but its a different game up here in the clouds, where only Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson rank ahead of him, and yet Caseys record of late indicates he has found more game this season.
Casey, 31, should get top billing at Colonial, a tournament absent Mickelson, who isnt defending his title while taking a heartfelt leave of absence to be with his wife. With three victories worldwide in little more than four months, Casey has soared from No. 41 in the world at years start, gaining more world ranking points than anyone this season. After finishing runner up at the Accenture Match Play Championship two months ago, he finally broke through to win on American soil at the Shell Houston Open last month. Those performances were logged against stellar fields. Whats next? His first major? No Englishmans won a major since Faldo in 96, but Caseys giving them hope overseas as the highest ranked Englishman since Faldo.

The Daly show keeps rolling in Europe
John Daly will play his fifth consecutive week in Europe when he tees it up at the European Open in England.
That also makes it five straight weeks since Daly last visited a Hooters.
Europe may not serve chicken wings with the presentation Daly has grown accustomed, but its offering him the boost he has sorely needed.
Daly, 43, told the Associated Press he will play the St. Jude Championship in Memphis in two weeks on a sponsors invite. Daly has made the cut in all four of his European Tour starts. After tying for 31st in his first at the Spanish Open, then tying for second at the Italian Open, he has slipped against the stronger fields, tying for 98th at the 3 Irish Open and tying for 72nd at the BMW Championship. Still, hes rolling with the European media falling in love with him on a run that includes no negative setbacks.

Making me Irish mother blush
Shane Lowry wont be shown on five-second delay or wearing a muzzle when he makes his professional debut this week at the European Open, but his spirited tongue is on the minds of European Tour officials. Apparently, the lad could make a Jersey longshoreman blush with his language after bad shots.
Two weeks after becoming the third amateur to win a European Tour event, Lowry, 22, makes his start under a warning about a certain four-letter word he let slip more than once within boom microphones reach when he won the 3 Irish Open. Irish-based Independent News & Media were among media reporting that European Tour Director of Operations David Garland cautioned Lowrys managers that he will now be subject to European Tour rules and fines for similar indiscretions as a tour member.

Blasting away . . .
Adam Scott will be looking to end his streak of six consecutive missed cuts when he tees it up at Colonial, where hes playing for the first time . . . CBS analyst Ian Baker-Finch, 48, will tee it up at Colonial on the 20th anniversary of his victory there partly to see how much work he needs to play the Champions Tour in two years . . . Brian Davis is aiming to log his fourth consecutive finish among the top five in a four-week span when he plays Colonial . . . Danny Lee will tee it up at Colonial in his fourth start as a pro in his quest to win his PGA Tour card without going to Q-School in the fall. While Lee, 19, had his best finish with a tie for 13th at the Byron Nelson Sunday, his double bogey at the final hole cost him roughly $60,000. He gets seven sponsor exemptions in his quest to make it among the top 125 money winners by seasons end to earn exempt status. He has earned $152,960 in his three starts so far this season. A year ago, Martin Laird finished 125th in money with $852,752 in earnings.
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  • 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.