Hot Seat: Feel the heat

By Randall MellJanuary 3, 2012, 4:30 pm

Welcome to golf’s Hot Seat.

Once a week, the aim is to gauge who is feeling the most heat to perform going into a tournament or major championship.

This week, though, the look ahead spans the entire season.

Here’s our Hot Seat index:

Smoldering pants: Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods, at his best, made the guys teeing it up with him feel like somebody rubbed Deep Heat in their jockeys.

He was a human thermostat able to turn up the heat on foes like nobody since Jack Nicklaus.

A final-round Sunday pairing with Woods was once only slightly less daunting than sitting through an IRS audit.

His 36th birthday in his rear-view mirror, Woods faces the audit now with so many young stars looking to measure themselves against him in late Sunday duels, young stars who built their confidence while Woods did them a big favor getting out of their way.

With five more major championship titles to be won to top Nicklaus’ record, the heat is on Woods to show he can build on his Chevron World Challenge title last month. Fourteen major championships have passed since Woods won his last major at the U.S. Open in 2008, though he’s only played in 10 of them. Still, 14 majors have never passed in the Woods era without a Woods title. The longest previous dry spell was 10.

Time isn’t on Woods' side anymore. Though his knee is feeling better, we don’t know how it will hold up in his bid to pass Nicklaus. That ratchets up the temperature in trying to get there sooner rather than later.

Phil Mickelson

A summer at the Equator: Phil Mickelson

Yeah, sure, he’ll be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in May, but Mickelson would love to make the folks in St. Augustine expand his exhibit in the future.

Mickelson wants to win the career grand slam before he retires, but, at 41, there’s the possibility he’s old for his age with psoriatic arthritis an issue. Mickelson needs to win the U.S. Open and British Open to claim all four of golf’s majors and become just the sixth player since the Masters began to win the career slam.

The U.S. Open is at the Olympic Club outside San Francisco this year. Mickelson tied for 10th the last time the U.S. Open was played there in '98. The British Open is at Royal Lytham & St. Annes. Mickelson tied for 40th there in '96 and tied for 30th there in '01.

Luke Donald

Death Valley discomfort: Luke Donald

Donald may be No. 1 in the world rankings, but he’s also the best player in the world who hasn’t won a major.

There’s an invisible asterisk with any major-less No. 1.

Can you lay claim to being the best in the world when you have been shut out in the four most important events in the game? The question turns up the temperature on Donald in this year’s majors. He’s 0 for 34 trying to win one.

Lee Westwood

Sahara heat: Lee Westwood

The former No. 1 wants that title back, and he would love to take it back winning his first major. At 38, Westwood’s still got time, but the clock’s ticking faster. He’s 0 for 55 in majors.

Davis Love III

Jalapeno spicy: Davis Love III

The United States will be looking to win back the Ryder Cup on its home turf in Medinah in September after losing four of the last five Ryder Cups and six of the last eight. As the American captain, Love faces the wonder of Ryder Cup captaincy: He will be celebrated as a genius or panned as a dunce. Depends on the outcome. That’s typically the brutal nature of Ryder Cup captaincy.

Rickie Fowler

Subtropical humidity: Rickie Fowler

Fowler just turned 24, but with a profile as high as his, there’s a downside to having no wins to show all those folks who think there’s too much hype.

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."