In year full of great stories, Davies' may be best

By Randall MellNovember 8, 2014, 4:21 pm

Who is writing the scripts for the LPGA this year?

Mary Higgins Clark?

In a year of suspenseful twists and turns, of compelling protagonists and surprise endings, we’ve got another dramatic final chapter brewing in the women’s game.

Laura Davies is poised to make it awfully difficult to choose the best story of the year in women’s golf.

With a 5-under-par 67 Saturday at the Mizuno Classic, Davies moved into position to make history in the final round in Japan. At 51, she’s tied for the lead and looking to become the oldest winner of an LPGA event.

“It’s going to be tough, because there are so many good players who are playing well this week, so that would be a bonus,” Davies told reporters in Japan. “Obviously, it’s a bad thing, really, because it means I’m really old, but it would be a nice thing because it would mean I have a good record.”

The women’s game doesn’t get the attention the men’s game gets, but give the women credit, they’re delivering one compelling story after another in a bid to crack the mainstream sports feeds.

There was Lexi Thompson beating Michelle Wie in a final-round duel at the season-opening major, the Kraft Nabisco. There was Wie winning in her Hawaiian hometown, and Wie holding off then world No. 1 Stacy Lewis to win the U.S. Women’s Open. There was Mo Martin fashioning a Cinderella story to win the Ricoh Women’s British Open. There was Paula Creamer emotionally returning to the winner’s circle with a monster 75-foot eagle putt to prevail in a playoff in Singapore. There was teenager Lydia Ko and Hall of Famer Karrie Webb each winning twice. And then there was world No. 1 Inbee Park beating No. 2 Lewis in a duel in Taiwan just last week.

Davies, written off by so many, might trump them all as the tour’s best story this year.

Davies will be 51 years, 1 month and 5 days old on Sunday. Beth Daniel was 46 years, 8 months and 29 days old when she won the Canadian Women’s Open in 2003 to become the LPGA’s oldest winner.

Yes, there’s a lot of work to do Sunday in Shima-Shi, Mie, Japan, but Davies ratchets up the interest in Asia, where women’s golf is more celebrated than it is in the rest of the world. Davies has claimed 84 titles internationally, but she hasn’t won an LPGA event in 13 years, since the Wegmans Rochester International in June 2001. She hasn’t won anything outside a senior tour event in four years, but she remains one of the most colorful figures in the game, a towering personality who was once a bookmaker’s assistant and still relishes a good bet. She used to own a racehorse, likes fast cars and hates to practice. There isn't another protagonist quite like Davies in the women's game.

Davies will be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame next summer and just last month was officially christened Dame Laura Davies at Buckingham Palace in a ceremony appointing her as Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire.

After making it through a qualifier to play in the U.S. Women’s Open this past June, Davies was asked at Pinehurst why she still plays.

“I still think I can win,” she said. “A lot of people don’t think I can win, but I’m here this week thinking I can win the U.S. Open. There’s probably not more than a half-dozen people around the world that think that’s possible. But as long as you think you can win it, then maybe you actually can.

“That’s my driving force, to win more trophies and keep going. I love competing. If you don’t win, then try to finish second, or 10th. Do the best you can do. That’s what keeps me going.”

While Davies is relishing her entry into the World Golf Hall of Fame, she remains outside the LPGA Hall of Fame, where a strict points requirement must be met. She has 25 points and needs 27 to be inducted. A major championship victory is worth two points, a regular LPGA title worth a point. Though Davies could someday gain entry to the LPGA Hall of Fame through the Veterans Committee, she wants desperately to make it on points. Her loyalty to the Ladies European Tour might have cost her chances at getting the points needed in her prime, but she isn’t giving up on the quest.

Win or lose come Sunday, Davies’ improbable march makes for another compelling chapter in the LPGA’s storybook season.

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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.

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.