Par 5

By Randall MellMarch 8, 2011, 6:54 pm
Setting the agenda for the week ahead with five questions for the WGC-Cadillac Championship . . .

Will Doral’s Blue Monster spark the return of Tiger’s winning form?

You can rank Doral’s Blue Monster among the venues Tiger Woods has flourished on over the years.

It’s there with Torrey Pines, Firestone, Bay Hill, Cog Hill, Augusta National, Muirfield Village and Emirates Golf Club.

That’s not necessarily a good thing now, however.

While Woods has combined to win 35 times on those courses, he’s on a streak setting personal records for high scores on his most successful venues.

Over the last eight months, Woods has posted his high marks as a pro at Cog Hill (283), Firestone (298), Torrey Pines (287) and Emirates (284). Over the next six weeks, he’s got Doral, Bay Hill and Augusta National to play.

Woods has won three times at Doral. In seven starts on the Blue Monster, he’s never finished outside the top 10.

Woods equaled the tournament scoring record at 24-under 264 when he won at Doral in 2005.

Nobody should be surprised, though, if something kicks in on the Blue Monster.

Just last week, Jack Nicklaus said playing Baltusrol at the U.S. Open in 1980 helped pull him out of the worst slump of his career. He won for a second time at Baltusrol making his return there.
Where does Doral rank among Tiger’s hot spots?

Woods can become the winningest player in the history of Doral’s PGA Tour stop if he claims the title this week.

Woods won at Doral in 2005, ’06 and ’07. That equals Greg Norman, Raymond Floyd and Andy Bean for most PGA Tour titles there.

Though Woods has won more professional titles at Torrey Pines (7), Firestone (7), Bay Hill (6), Cog Hill (5), Muirfield Village (4) and Augusta National (4), he sports one of his better scoring averages at Doral among events where he’s played at least 20 rounds.

Here are Woods’ scoring averages as a pro at his best PGA Tour stops (rounds played in parenthesis):

Firestone Country Club 68.15 (44).

Emirates Golf Club 68.41 (24).

Doral’s Blue Monster 68.42 (28).

Cog Hill 68.56 (48).

Torrey Pines North/South 68.61 (47).

Muirfield Village 69.61 (47).

Bay Hill 69.73 (52).

Augusta National 70.48 (56).
Is Phil Mickelson ready to win again?

Phil Mickelson believes a victory is all he needs to feel like his game is right where he wants it before the Masters.

With the year’s first major just four weeks away, Mickelson’s planning a trip to Augusta National this week to get some Masters’ work in and another trip there the week of the Shell Houston Open.

Lefty needs a victory for more than the extra jolt of confidence it will give him. He needs one to replenish world ranking points. He’s poised to lose even more points than Tiger Woods this week. Mickelson’s victory at Doral two years ago comes off his world ranking points total next week. Woods will lose points he won for tying for ninth at Doral two years ago.
Will the Euros win another big event?

The Europeans are on a dominant run.

When England’s Luke Donald won the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship two weeks ago, it marked the fifth victory by a European or European Tour member in the last six World Golf Championships/major championships.

Tracing backward, that’s Luke Donald at the WGC-Accenture, Francesco Molinari at the WGC-HSBC Champions, Martin Kaymer at the PGA Championship, Louis Oosthuizen at the British Open and Graeme McDowell at the U.S. Open. Hunter Mahan scored the only non-Euro victory in that string of WGCs and majors, winning the WGC-Bridgestone.
Are the South Africans poised for another large victory?

Ernie Els and Retief Goosen may have hit 40, but the South African contingent still looks strong.

Els is the defending champ at the WGC-Cadillac Championship this week. He battled fellow countryman Charl Schwartzel down the stretch on the Blue Monster last year. Rory Sabbatini is coming off a victory at the Honda Classic last week, which vaulted him into running to make the International team for the Presidents Cup.

Did you know the top five players on the Internationals’ team point standings are all South Africans? Els, Goosen, Tim Clark, Oosthuizen and Schwartzel top the list. Sabbatini jumped to 18th with his Honda victory.

Follow Randall Mell on Twitter @RandallMell

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.