Award Season Blunder

By Rex HoggardNovember 12, 2009, 3:53 am

PGA TourLAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Paul Azinger’s name is etched into it, as is John Daly’s and Peter Jacobsen’s. Steve Stricker’s on there too, twice, in consecutive years no less.

The circuit’s “Comeback Player of the Year” award dates back to 1991, hardly hallowed ground in a sport that keeps time in eons, but it is enough history to prompt a double take when news surfaced this week that there will be no engraving in 2009 barring a miracle performance by the game’s walking miracle on a corner of central Florida turf that bills itself the place “where dreams come true.”

But before we put too much pressure on Erik Compton, the double heart transplant recipient and perhaps the only player that could prompt the circuit to revive the honor in ’09, the curious case of the missing miracle must be examined.

According to a Tour official, the 16-member Player Advisory Council “has the discretion to determine that the Comeback POY not be awarded in a given year if they feel there are no viable candidates.”

Barring a Compton “W” at WDW, the ballots for Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year will be finalized next week without a CPOY option and there are no plans to “provide a space on the ballot for write in votes.”

While we agree there may not be an obvious choice – say, like, Stricker in 2007 after he’d already won the award in 2006 – but count the PAC some kind of tough crowd if six victories in 17 starts (Tiger Woods) following ACL surgery doesn’t rate at least a nomination. Or two titles and a major keepsake after failing to keep your Tour card (Y.E. Yang) can’t move the needle, or the pen.

The Woods nomination for CPOY seemed to run into a filibuster early, with the logic being that it’s hard to come back from a historic victory at the U.S. Open, to say nothing of that victory-victory-victory start that prefaced his Torrey Pines brilliance.

“He doesn’t care (about CPOY),” Heath Slocum said. “He cares about the Vardon Trophy and the Player of the Year (award).”

Truth is Woods is likely more concerned about tonight’s dinner plans in Australia than he is his dwindling CPOY chances, but that logic misses the distance travelled by the world No. 1 since Torrey Pines. ACL surgery, recovery from a broken leg and a reworked action aimed at taking pressure off that battered left knee and Woods himself has admitted he didn’t know what to expect in 2009 add up to one compelling comeback, if not an original HBO production.

He may not be the leading candidate for the Waterford crystal, but excluding his name from the conversation dismisses how hard Woods had to work to return to his world-beating form.

For most players, however, Woods’ name on the CPOY crystal seems to stretch the definition of the award, if not the bounds of logic.

“It’s not like he was hurting, at least competitively, when he went down,” said Brad Faxon, a member of the Tour’s Policy Board. “He was the No. 1 player in the world at the time and didn’t drop out of that spot.”

But all of this does little to explain Yang’s snub. In 2008 the Korean finished 157th in earnings and needed five of six rounds in the 60s to finish tied for 18th at Q-School to secure his job. His Honda Classic victory should have been enough to put Yang’s name on a CPOY ballot, but that mano a mano masterpiece at Hazeltine National with Woods should have made this year’s award a non-story – box it up and send it to Dallas via Seoul.

A sampling of PAC members on Tuesday at Disney would indicate many agree.

“I nominated Y.E. Yang,” said PAC member Ted Purdy. “He went from losing his card to winning a tournament and a major. That’s pretty good.”

D.A. Points, another member of the PAC, also said he nominated at least two players for the CPOY award, himself and David Duval, but was aware of the resistance by some members not to nominate a candidate.

“I saw (one PAC member) write down on his ballot, ‘This is a meaningless category,” Points said. “I understand that, sometimes names just don’t jump out at you, but I just didn’t feel like I should make that call not to give out the award.”

Davis Love III, a PAC member this year who will join the three other player directors on the Policy Board next year, said he was called by a Tour official last week to nominate a Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year candidate, but wasn’t asked about the CPOY ballot.

“That’s weird,” Love said.

Weird, and wrong. Woods and Yang may somehow miss the CPOY mold, but removing them from the conversation altogether cheapens their accomplishments. And that’s not right.

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Snedeker starts slow in effort to snag Masters invite

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.

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.

Rose (62) sets blistering pace in Indonesia

By Associated PressDecember 14, 2017, 3:06 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia – Justin Rose shot a 10-under 62 Thursday to take a two-stroke lead after the first round of the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, starting on the back nine at Royale Jakarta Golf Club, had five birdies to go out in 31, then birdied four of five holes midway through his final nine and another birdie on his last hole in the $750,000 tournament.

Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters

Gunn Charoenkul (64) was in second place and Kim Giwhan and Phachara Khongwatmai (both 65) were tied for third.

Brandt Snedeker shot 72. Ranked 51st in the world, the American is aiming for a strong finish in Jakarta to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

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LaCava: Woods wouldn't talk after H.O.R.S.E. match

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 2:27 pm

The competitive streak within Tiger Woods knows no bounds - even on the basketball court, according to caddie Joe LaCava.

LaCava has been on Woods' bag since 2011, and he recently shared a story on "Inside the Ropes" on Sirius/XM PGA Tour Radio about a clash between the two men over a seemingly friendly game of H.O.R.S.E. Actually, it turned into nine straight games (and nine straight wins) for LaCava, who exploited a weakness in Woods' on-court strategy while leaning on a mid-length jumper of his own:

"The thing with him was if I missed a shot, which I missed plenty of shots, but if I missed the shot he'd go back down to the 3 (point line) because he liked to make the 3," LaCava said. "But it's harder obviously to make a 3, and I'd go right back to the baseline 12-footer, and he couldn't make it."

It's a short list of people who have beaten Woods nine times in any athletic pursuit, let alone in a row. But for LaCava, the fallout from his afternoon of on-court dominance was less than subtle.

"He did not talk to me the rest of the day," LaCava explained. "I didn't even get the old text, 'Dinner is ready,' because I stay across at the beach house. I didn't even get that text that night. I had to get take-out. He didn't announce he wasn't (talking), he just did it. I'm telling you, nine games in a row. Like I said, he's so competitive, even at something like that."