The Razors Edge

By Randall MellMay 10, 2010, 5:33 am

The Players ChampionshipPONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Confidence and doubt duel on a razor’s edge.

At this sport’s highest level, on its grandest stages, close calls can be as exhilarating as they are debilitating.

At what point does Lee Westwood’s belief he’s succeeding by playing his way to the doorstep of a monumental victory turn into the dreaded sense he lacks something necessary to open the door?

When does the confidence gained playing the shots that get you so close to winning the game’s biggest prizes become confidence lost knowing you couldn’t play the winning shots?

It’s the ultimate mind game Westwood plays heading into the U.S. Open in six weeks.

Westwood gave himself another chance to win a big prize Sunday, but he failed to finish once more.

A shot ahead making the turn to the back nine, Westwood closed with a 39. He didn’t make a birdie over his final 13 holes and walked away tied for fourth, four shots behind the winner, Tim Clark.

“I didn’t play well enough,” Westwood said afterward. “I played pretty average, really. I didn’t really feel like I played that great all week, and I was quite proud to be in the lead going into the last day.

“Finishing fourth, not playing my best, I have to be pleased.”

Who says you can’t play defense in golf? That’s defense. That’s protecting your confidence and all the positive momentum you’ve built climbing to No. 4 in the Official World Golf Ranking.

Westwood, 37, has won 20 European titles and one PGA Tour title in New Orleans a dozen years ago. Westwood’s a winner everywhere but in major championships, where greatness is singularly measured in golf. The Englishman has appeared poised to break through, distinguishing himself as the most consistent factor in golf’s biggest events the last two seasons. He’s finished tied for third or better in four of the last eight majors, but he’s consistently disappointed with his finish.

It’s tough territory on a razor’s edge.

Losing deals a harder blow the closer you get to winning.

“It is a delicate balance,” Westwood’s caddie, Billy Foster, said while packing up his player’s locker Sunday evening. “You just keep knocking on the door until it opens.”

Westwood was the first player in 33 years to lead both the Masters and The Players Championship after 54 holes in the same year. Tom Watson, the last to do it, was at least able to come away with one of the prizes, a green jacket.

Since 2008, Westwood has come within a shot of making a playoff in the U.S. Open and also the British Open, but he didn’t capitalize on chances at the final holes of both.

On Sunday, at the TPC at Sawgrass Stadium Course, Westwood let it get away before arriving at the final hole.

At the 16th hole, two shots back, Westwood hit a heavy 5-iron short in the front bunker of that reachable par 5. Still, with a chance to pull within a shot, he rimmed out his 9-foot birdie chance.

“Another rubbish iron shot with a 5-iron,” Westwood said.

At the 17th, Westwood shot himself out of it, ballooning a wedge that plunked into the water short of the island green. It led to double bogey.

“That was tricky with the yardage,” Westwood said. “I was caught right between a 9-iron and forcing a wedge. I hit a wedge and it climbed up into the wind. On that line, it was never going to carry.”

Westwood has lots of fight in him. He showed that holing monster putts for par at the ninth and 14th holes Sunday. He showed it after climbing to No. 4 in the world a decade ago only to plummet to 264th when his swing left him in a miserable slump and then fighting all the way back to No. 4 again. He did it rebuilding his body and his confidence.

After Mickelson beat him by three shots at the Masters last month, Westwood left no clues that another close call was beating him down. On the contrary, he let everyone know he was emboldened by the fact that he’s consistently giving himself chances to win majors.

“I'm playing the best golf of anyone,” Westwood told the English media in the aftermath of his Masters’ loss. “It's hard to argue for anyone else. If you are [the best] you might as well say it. It builds confidence.”

Westwood wasn’t done and aimed his ambition at next month’s U.S. Open.

“It would be a big surprise, the way I'm playing, if I hadn't won a major by the end of 2011,” he said.

When you play on the razor’s edge, where confidence and doubt thrust and parry, you feed confidence to keep it strong. Westwood will need it to keep seeing himself as a man on the verge of breaking through and not a man who’s squandered chances in a window that’s closing. He’ll need it to win the ultimate mind game.

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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

Vandalism

Article: Environmental group vandalizes Trump golf course

Article: Man accused of vandalizing four Trump courses

Finances


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