Par 5 Questions Surrounding No 1
What kind of respect will new No. 1 Donald command at the Memorial?
More respect than any American player is getting these days.
That’s what the oddsmakers tell us about Luke Donald.
Whether you approve of gambling or not, one of the best ways to view the public’s confidence in a player is through the odds established by golf’s major betting houses. The whole “science” of oddsmaking is based on gauging the public’s perception of who ought to be favored to win. Really, it’s the betting public that sets odds.
Ladbrokes makes Donald the favorite at the Memorial this week at 10-to-1 with Phil Mickelson getting the next best odds at 14-to-1.
Though Donald’s never won a major, he’s also now the co-favorite with Mickelson to win the U.S. Open with the odds on each of them at 12-to-1, according to Ladbrokes.
So how long will Donald’s run at No. 1 last?
We’re in a different territory in the world rankings.
Donald is the fourth different player to hold the No. 1 ranking in the last 32 weeks.
It's been 14 years since so many different players have held the top ranking in such a short span.
Before Tiger Woods was overtaken in the world rankings last fall, you would have to go back more than 4,200 weeks to find four different players holding the top spot. Ernie Els, David Duval, Vijay Singh and Woods were the only players to hold the top ranking between June 13, 1998, and Oct. 30, 2010.
Back in the late spring/early summer of 1997, Greg Norman, Tom Lehman, Els and Woods took turns holding the top spot over a 10-week period.
Donald’s run at No. 1 shouldn’t be the shortest in OWGR history. Lehman held the top spot a single week in the spring of 1997. With No. 2 Lee Westwood and No. 3 Martin Kaymer taking this week off, Donald’s run should last at least two weeks.
After that? With three major championships and a World Golf Championship in the next 11 weeks, there’s a load of world ranking points up for grabs this summer. If somebody gets hot, a player could build a nice lead at No. 1. If parity continues as golf’s theme, we could see a lot more volatility at the top.
Will there be tea and crumpets in the players’ lounge at the Memorial?
There’s a decidedly English theme at Muirfield Village this week.
England’s Justin Rose is back as the defending champ with England’s Donald making his debut as the world’s new No. 1.
Donald’s obviously on a roll. He’s won twice and finished second twice in his last nine world starts with his worst finish at tie for 10th. Since missing the cut at the Northern Trust Open, here’s how Donald's results line reads: W, T-10, T-6, T-4, 2nd, T-8, T-4, 2nd, W.
Rose won the Memorial and the AT&T National within a month’s span last year. He’s made all but one cut in 12 starts this year with strong finishes at the Northern Trust Open (T-9), Transitions Championship (T-5) and Arnold Palmer Invitational (T-3).
Who’s best suited to make the U.S. relevant again on golf’s world stage?
The BMW PGA Championship didn’t need the Americans last weekend.
Though there were questions whether U.S. players should make the trip to the European Tour’s flagship event, the truth is that once the first tee shot was struck, nobody on the other side of the pond cared that there were no Americans there. The storylines were strong and plentiful with Donald outdueling Westwood to win the title and the No. 1 ranking, with 18-year-old Matteo Manassero in the mix for his third title and with Ian Poulter and Els feuding over course design.
The Americans are being overshadowed in a large way in the world’s biggest events, from the last four majors to the Ryder Cup and the world ranking battle for No. 1. If not for all the focus on Woods, they’d be nearly irrelevant.
With Woods hurt and slumping, Phil Mickelson’s the Great American Hope, the United States’ biggest name with the biggest persona and the most cachet.
Though he’s failed with so many chances to become No. 1, Mickelson’s best suited this week to carry the American banner back onto the game’s grandest stages.
Is this the week Rory McIlroy gets his mojo back?
McIlroy conceded at the BMW Championship last week that he’s still making his way back from the dizzying blow of his Masters’ loss.
“I think I need to get myself into that position again to know how I've got over it and if I'll handle it better,” McIlroy said. “I think I've put a few things in place that will make me handle being in that position better again. But you never really know until you're tested in that environment.”
Since the Masters, McIlroy’s spent time with putting wizard Dave Stockton and sports psychologist Bob Rotella.
After squandering the 54-hole lead at the Masters, McIlroy made a quick rebound at the Maybank Malaysian the next week, immediately getting into contention before losing late in the final round to Manassero with a clumsy finish.
The double dose of disappointment seemed to catch up to him with the down time that followed.
McIlroy missed the cut in defense of his title at the Wells Fargo Championship, his first return to the United States since the Masters. He was eliminated in the round of 16 at the Volvo World Match Play and never got in contention at the BMW PGA after opening with a 76. He seemed to find some rhythm playing the weekend at Wentworth and will be looking to build upon it at the Memorial.
Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo
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.
In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.
Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys
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?
Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'
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
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.