Bunker Shots Real Season Begins

By Randall MellFebruary 2, 2010, 9:35 pm
Blasting into the week ahead, from 'Lefty's Alley' to another big week in the Middle East . . .

Northern Trust Open

Thursday might actually feel like Opening Day for golf.

Nine of the top 10 players in the Official World Golf Ranking will tee it up, albeit it on different sides of the planet, with four of them at the Northern Trust Open in Los Angeles and five at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic in the United Arab Emirates.

Everyone in the top 10 except you-know-who will be playing this week.

That’s more stars playing than any week so far this season.

No. 1 Tiger Woods won’t be playing the Northern Trust Open in Los Angeles as he remains in self-imposed exile, but he hasn’t played there since 2006 anyway.

Stance: The two highest ranked players in the world available to play will make appearances at Riviera this week. No. 2 Phil Mickelson and No. 3 Steve Stricker should be factors given their histories there. They finished 1-2 last year. Mickelson has won the last two years at Riviera and is seeking to become the first player in the 84-year history of the event to win it three consecutive years. If he does, they might have to begin calling Riviera Lefty’s Alley instead of Hogan’s Alley. Seven players have won back-to-back at Riviera’s PGA Tour stop (Macdonald Smith, 1928-29; Hogan, 1947-48; Paul Harney, 1964-65; Arnold Palmer, 1966-67; Corey Pavin, 1994-95; Mike Weir, 2003-04; Mickelson, 2008-09).

Takeaway: Jim Furyk and Padraig Harrington make their 2010 debuts. They both left ’09 on nice little rolls. Furyk finished T8 or better the last five times he teed it up, including his unofficial victory at the Chevron World Challenge. After issues with swing changes much of ’09, Harrington’s last six PGA Tour starts ended like this: T2, T10, T2, T4, T6, T4.

Bunker shot: The 2010 PGA Tour season is all about strident noise. The wonderfully rich sounds golf typically brings us, the smattering of applause when greens are hit, the chirping of birds in the still before shots are played, have given way to squabbling. From PGA Tour players and tournament directors grousing about international waivers depleting their fields to the cheating accusations tossed around in the groove debate, golf feels like one big argument this season. You can toss in the numerous debates over what Woods should and shouldn’t do before he returns to golf. Has the game ever been noisier?

Omega Dubai Desert Classic

At 20, Rory McIlroy’s the buzz at Emirates Golf Club, but so is Tom Watson at 60.

McIlroy’s the defending champ. Watson’s coming off that rousing victory in a duel with Fred Couples at the Champions Tour’s Mitsubishi Electric Classic two weeks ago in Hawaii. His brilliant run at the British Open before losing in a playoff to Stewart Cink at Turnberry last summer adds to anticipation of his first appearance in the event. Watson’s 12th in the latest U.S. Ryder Cup standings. His next PGA Tour start will be the Masters in April.

Stance: Lee Westwood got off to a sluggish start in his 2010 debut at Abu Dhabi, but he rebounded with a third-place finish at Qatar last week. At No. 4 in the world rankings, Westwood is the highest ranked international player in the world, though that doesn’t necessarily make him the best. Padraig Harrington’s three majors give him that honor. After winning the Dubai World Championship and Race to Dubai last fall, Westwood will be looking to make this his big year in the world’s biggest events. He’s already a strong contender for the title nobody covets: best player without a major championship title.

Takeaway: Watch out for Henrik Stenson this week. He’s a member at Emirates Golf Club and won the Dubai Desert Classic in 2007.

Bunker shot: Europe may not have the best young talent in the world, but it sure looks like it. European youth win more than American youth. American devotees will argue that PGA Tour events are tougher to win and the world rankings reward European success too heavily. Given that, here are the facts: Martin Kaymer and Charl Schwartzel are both 25 and they’ve each already won five European Tour titles. Sean O’Hair leads Americans under 30 with three PGA Tour titles. Eight European Tour players under 30 rank among the top 50 in the world. They’ve combined to win 21 European Tour titles. Five Americans under 30 rank among the top 50 in the world. They’ve combined to win nine PGA Tour titles.

And also this week . . .

The Nationwide Tour’s second event of the year is the Moonah Classic, scheduled to begin Thursday at Moonah Links in Fingal in Victoria, Australia. American Robert Gates won the season-opening Michael Hill New Zealand Open in his Nationwide Tour debut. He’s back in this week’s field looking for back-to-back titles.
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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.

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Rose leads Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose completed the final two holes of his second round early Saturday for a 3-under 69 and a one-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, who had a first-round 62, was among a quarter of the field forced off the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course after weather delays on Friday.

The Englishman, who bogeyed his last hole, had a two-round total of 13-under 131.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who completed his 64 on Friday, was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters. He has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.

Playing with the pros

Tiger, DJ and Faxon

Article: Video, images from Tiger, DJ's round with Trump

Article: After DJ and Tiger, Trump plays golf with Jack

Rory faces criticism

Article: Rory: Round with Trump about respect for presidency

Article: Rory: Round with Trump not a 'political statement'

President at the Presidents Cup

Video: President Trump makes the rounds at Liberty National

Article: President Trump presents trophy to U.S. team

Article: Stricker: 'Great thrill' to get trophy from Trump

Purported round of 73 with Lindsey Graham

Article: Senator tweets Trump shot 73 in windy, wet conditions

Article: Graham offers details on Trump's round of 73

Cart on the green

Article: Trump appears to drive cart on Bedminster green

Presence and protests at U.S. Women's Open

Article: Trump makes presidential history at Women's Open

Article: Trump supporters, protesters clash near Women's Open

Article: UltraViolet takes protest inside Trump National

Photo gallery: President Trump at the U.S. Women's Open

Trump golf properties


Article: Environmental group vandalizes Trump golf course

Article: Man accused of vandalizing four Trump courses


Article: Two Trump courses in Scotland losing millions

Article: Eric Trump denies Russia helped fund golf courses

Article: Trump company ordered to pay $5.77M in dues dispute

Reportedly fake TIME covers

Article: Trump clubs display fake Time magazine cover

Trump apologizes for voter-fraud story

Report: Trump's voter fraud claim tied to Langer

Langer: Trump 'apologized' for story mix-up

Pros comment on the president

Article: Players defend Trump at Senior PGA Championship

Article: Trump congratulates Daly; Daly congratulates Trump

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 12:30 pm