Bunker Shots All on the line in Fall Series

By Randall MellOctober 13, 2009, 9:23 pm

The Fall Series marks a difficult time for so many tour pros struggling to stay among the top 125 on the PGA Tour money list and keep their exempt playing privileges. We set the weeks storylines with the help of motivational experts:

Stricker and OMeara, kindred spirits?

Thought allied fearlessly to purpose becomes creative force: He who knows this is ready to become something higher and stronger than a mere bundle of wavering thoughts and fluctuating sensations; he who does this has become the conscious and intelligent wielder of his mental powers. James Allen

Steve Strickers future wont include golf for awhile.

Hunting season is at hand for the avid outdoorsman from Wisconsin. Deer season is already open for bow hunters with pheasant, quail and grouse seasons opening this weekend.

All the time Stricker enjoyed playing with Tiger Woods at the Presidents Cup and during the FedEx Cup bodes well for him hunting golf championships in the future.

So does Strickers strengthening friendship with Woods.

It makes you wonder if Stricker wont be the next Mark OMeara. He appears to be on the same career path that led OMeara to break through and win a pair of majors late in his career. Stricker, looking for his first major, is 42, but OMeara proved its never too late to win a major when youre hanging around with Woods. OMeara won his two majors at 41 after bonding with Woods. OMeara was a terrific player for a long time, but he was never shy about acknowledging something about Woods might have rubbed off on him.

Strickers control of the golf ball, with improved driving going with his strong wedge game and stellar putting, should makes him a larger threat in the major championships next year. Strickers so comfortable playing with or against Woods. The comfort hes feeling in those pairings may well translate into being more comfortable in major championship settings.

Steve hasnt won a major championship, but Ill tell you, over the next three, four or five years, hes going to become a factor, says Dennis Tiziani, Strickers coach and father-in-law. You cant hit in the fairway like hes doing now, and putt the way he does, and not know that your time is coming.

Through the pressure of the FedEx Cup playoffs, in his Deutsche Bank Championship victory, Stricker appeared to elevate his game to another level. We saw confirmation of it at the Presidents Cup, where he excelled with Woods as his partner.

It was a blast to play with Tiger, and I learned a lot, Stricker said of his 4-0 Presidents Cup record as partners with Woods. I felt like I held up my end of the deal, which was a big concern for me coming into this deal, because I knew I was going to play with him. I wanted to make sure I contributed, and I felt like I did at times.

A rising star seeks higher heavens

A mans reach should exceed his grasp, or whats a heaven for? Lord Byron

Ryo Ishikawa will be looking to ride the momentum of his impressive Presidents Cup rookie campaign to another Japan Golf Tour victory.

Ishikawa, who just turned 18, is scheduled to play in the Japan Open Golf Championship this week.

Hell be going for his fifth title on that tour this season. He won the Coca-Cola Tokai Classic in his last start in Japan. While weve seen phenoms built up as the next great stars in golf fade away, Ishikawa looks like hes going to be around for a long time. He says his aim is to eventually make his mark in America. He got off to a good start with his victory against Kenny Perry in Sunday singles of the Presidents Cup to bump his record for the week to 3-2.

Nothing has been decided for the future, but for now, I'm going to be playing on the Tour in Japan, Ishikawa said through a translator before leaving Harding Park. Obviously, having played with great players all over the world this week, I'll be looking forward to playing with them in the future, and I'll be looking forward to playing in America and in foreign lands. I think playing in other countries is going to help my golf game, and obviously in the end, I would like to play on the PGA Tour and be able to play with the guys that I played with this week.

Count Woods among those impressed with Ishikawa.

He's by far much more developed in his game than I ever was at 18 years old, Woods said. I was longer than he was, but I certainly did not have the ability to hit shots like he does. It's quite remarkable what he's done, and the poise in how he goes about it . . . the way he's able to control his golf ball, the way he's able to putt and chip is far better than any 18-year-old that I've ever seen.

Best player without a PGA Tour title in action again

Dont loaf and invite inspiration; light out after it with a club, and if you dont get it you will nonetheless get something that looks remarkably like it. Jack London

Ishikawa isnt the only Presidents Cup player jumping right back into action this week.

Tim Clark, Jim Furyk and Anthony Kim are scheduled to tee it up at the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospital for Children Open in Las Vegas.

Clarks status as the best player not to have won a PGA Tour event was strengthened with his strong Presidents Cup play. He would love to get out from under the title this fall. He has plans to follow up this weeks event with another start next week at the Frys.com Open at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz. Notably, Clark is 61st in the Race to Dubai standings, with the top 60 at seasons end getting a shot at the big prize over there. Clark, though, has no plans as of now to play in Europe this fall.

Jones putting up the good fight

Attitudes are more important than facts. Dr. Karl Menninger

Matt Jones has quite the challenge in his Fall Series bid to keep his Tour card.

Hes No. 125 on the PGA Tour money list, holding down the last spot that wins exempt status for 2010 with just four events left, but his conditional status is making it tough for him to even get into tournaments. Hes been relying on Monday qualifying to stay alive.

Jones played his way into the Turning Stone Resort Championship last week and tied for 42nd. He wasnt as fortunate this week, failing to advance through the Monday qualifier to get into the Justin Timberlake event. If he cracks the top 125 on this route, it will be a terrific story.

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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.

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.