Record day for Kaymer at Pinehurst

By Randall MellJune 13, 2014, 12:30 am

PINEHURST, N.C. – The eyes on the Donald Ross statue behind the clubhouse at Pinehurst No. 2 didn’t narrow menacingly with Martin Kaymer walking up the 18th fairway Thursday in the first round of the U.S. Open.

It only seemed that way.

Kaymer’s 5-under-par 65 wasn’t just good for the lead after day one of the championship. It was the lowest round posted in three U.S. Opens staged on the classic course Ross built here in the sandhills region.

With the leaderboard jammed tight all day long, Kaymer pulled away with a flurry on the back nine late in the afternoon. He birdied three of the final five holes to take a three-shot lead on Kevin Na, Graeme McDowell, Brendon de Jonge and Fran Quinn.

“It’s a tough golf course, I just played really well today,” said Kaymer, 29. “I didn’t make a lot of mistakes. I hit a lot of fairways, and I hit a lot of greens.”

For a guy who couldn’t seem to get comfortable when he was the world No. 1, Kaymer is looking awfully comfortable as he seeks to win his second major championship. He’s looking comfortable of late on some of the most uncomfortable courses in the world.

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Kaymer broke through to win the PGA Championship in 2010 at Whistling Straits. Six months later, he ascended to No. 1 in the world rankings, reigning there for eight weeks before he began to struggle with his swing and then his confidence. They’re both coming back in a big, bold wave, but Kaymer isn’t making too much of it.

“It’s the first round of a very, very important tournament,” Kaymer said. “I’m trying to win as many majors in my career as possible. I won one so far, and I put myself, so far, in a good position here, but we have three rounds to go.

“The golf course will change a lot. You have to adjust a lot more. So, that first round is a good start, but that's it. There's nothing more than that.”

Kaymer won The Players Championship last month on Pete Dye’s diabolical design at the TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course. Kaymer looked comfortable on that claustrophobic track with all that trouble around him. He looked comfortable again Thursday at Pinehurst No. 2.

“He played great,” said Keegan Bradley, the 2011 PGA Championship winner. “He hit the ball in the fairway all day. It was an impressive round, one of the best rounds I've seen, for sure.”

Pinehurst No. 2 was set up so severely in the practice rounds this week. It was slightly softened before the first round, but it wasn’t easy by any stretch of the imagination.

“Yesterday, I got asked what score I would take on Sunday afternoon, and I said plus 8, because of the way the golf course played on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday,” Kaymer said.

Bradley, who shot 69 alongside Kaymer, thought Thursday’s setup was a terrific test.

“It's the best setup I think I've ever played,” Bradley said. “If you hit the ball in the fairway, you can attack and you can make birdies right now. But if you hit the ball in that

waste, even if you've got a good lie, it's hard to hit a good shot.”

Kaymer acknowledges he has learned a lot about himself in his rise and fall as No. 1. He has been quite honest about how he struggled getting comfortable as a major championship winner and a world No. 1. He is candid about how he struggled with the critics who doubted his worthiness atop the world rankings.

“I can understand why they did, because there was not much success after I became the No. 1 in the world,” Kaymer said. “It was understandable for me, but at the same time, it was quite funny, because I knew that it's just crap. I was very secure about myself. I knew what I was doing, and I had a lot of trust in the people that I work with, and there was never any stress.

“So I was very fortunate to be in that position, to experience that, the highs and lows. I'm sure there are going to be other lows in my career at one stage, but I can accept it a lot better.”

Still, Kaymer would prefer to accept a U.S. Open trophy come Sunday.

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.