Did Johnson get assist from above?

By Rex HoggardMay 27, 2012, 11:39 pm

Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.Psalm 27:14

FORT WORTH, Texas – Those were the words Zach Johnson tweeted early Sunday before setting out for the final round of the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial. It turned out to be a prophetic twist to a frenzied day.

Regardless of which side of the Tim Tebow divide you find yourself on, Sunday’s final round at Colonial was riddled with the unexplainable that transcended the simple rub of the green, an eventful 18 holes that featured three lead changes, four two-stroke, or more, turns and one of the most bizarre PGA Tour finishes in recent memory.

And at the center of that storm was Johnson – patient and, if one believes in such things, protected.

Johnson and Jason Dufner, the hottest player on the PGA Tour vying for his third title in his last four starts, traded blows, as many predicted, until the haymaker arrived in the form of a pitching wedge that sailed, inexplicably, 148 yards and into the water hazard behind the 15th green.

This is where things get mysterious. No, not Dufner’s triple-bogey-7 on the par 4, that was simply shocking considering his near-flawless play of late. It was Johnson’s wedge shot on the same hole that somehow didn’t meet the same watery fate as Dufner’s that makes for an interesting conversation about fate.

“We hit the approach shot on (No.) 15 and he said, ‘I think Daddy blew into that one so I didn’t go in the water,’” said Johnson’s caddie Damon Green, whose father, Rev. Douglas Brooks Green, died last Thursday.

“We should have gone in the water with Dufner. We were going 30 feet right of the pin and we pulled it and when you do that it goes a lot further and somehow it stopped short of the water.”

Johnson and Green wore green ribbons on their hats this week to honor Rev. Brooks Green, who had been battling stomach cancer. Considering how things played out it’s hard to imagine that Green’s father wasn’t paying attention.

Dufner’s miscue resulted in a four-stroke swing, and Johnson needed almost all of it to claim his second plaid jacket in three years and his eighth Tour title.

Cruising along at 14 under, three strokes clear of Dufner, Johnson made a mess of the closing hole, hitting out of turn from the tee and forgetting to replace his mark on the green after he’d moved it from Dufner’s line.

Thinking he secured a three-stroke victory, it wasn’t until Green hugged him and quietly asked, “Did you move your mark back?” that Johnson realized what he’d done. The two-stroke penalty dropped him to 12 under, a shot ahead of Dufner after a closing 72.

“How lucky I am,” Johnson shrugged, sounding a little like Roberto De Vicenzo, who famously said, “What a stupid I am,” after losing the 1968 Masters because of an incorrect scorecard.

Lucky? Sure, but one of the PGA Tour’s most devout Christians did not dismiss the unexplainable. Nor did he dismiss the pitched match that he Dufner put on Sunday at Hogan’s Alley.

Beginning the day a stroke adrift, Johnson pulled ahead in a birdie-bogey volley at the second hole. Two holes later Dufner squared the match with a 10-footer, and on it went.

The lead changed again at the fifth when Dufner rolled in a lengthy birdie putt and last week’s Byron Nelson Championship winner pulled two clear when Johnson hooked his tee shot at the eighth and made bogey.

The golf world will remember Dufner’s sloppy triple at the 15th, to say nothing of Johnson’s faux pas at the 18th, but it was a rinsed wedge shot at the ninth that likely cost Dufner his third Tour tilt and a chance to become the first player to score the DFW Slam in the same season since Ben Hogan did it in 1946.

“To be honest Zach played better than I did today,” said Dufner, who closed with a 74 to finish alone in second place. “He deserves the jacket but that is definitely one of the weirdest finishes on the PGA Tour anyone has ever seen.”

They call Nos. 3-5 at Colonial the Horrible Horseshoe, but it was Dufner’s play on Nos. 9, 11 and 15 that seemed more nightmare-ish.

He played that trifecta in 6 over with a swing that was slightly off and a putter that went cold at the worst possible moments, which seems apropos for a man whose idol is Hogan.

Dufner has two weeks to think about what could have been before his next start, the U.S. Open where he will be one of the more surprising favorites.

Chances are Johnson will do a good amount of reflecting in the next few days as well, but not about what’s to come. Johnson’s thoughts will fixate on what could have happened.

When asked about his 4-footer at the 18th hole, a putt he thought was for par and a breezy victory but turned out to be for a clinching double bogey, Johnson dropped his head: “I guess it went in. If I would have missed it . . . I don’t know . . .”

Green, however, was a little more sure of what guided the two through a turbulent and testing final loop.

“We’ve been thinking about my dad all day,” Green said. “I told Zach on (No.) 11, ‘Daddy will take care of us the rest of the way in.''

Word is the Rev. Brooks Green had a sneaky good sense of humor; Johnson just had to be patient.

Open Qualifying Series kicks off with Aussie Open

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 4:24 pm

The 147th Open is nearly eight months away, but there are still major championship berths on the line this week in Australia.

The Open Qualifying Series kicks off this week, a global stretch of 15 event across 10 different countries that will be responsible for filling 46 spots in next year's field at Carnoustie. The Emirates Australian Open is the first event in the series, and the top three players among the top 10 who are not otherwise exempt will punch their tickets to Scotland.

In addition to tournament qualifying opportunities, the R&A will also conduct four final qualifying events across Great Britain and Ireland on July 3, where three spots will be available at each site.

Here's a look at the full roster of tournaments where Open berths will be awarded:

Emirates Australian Open (Nov. 23-26): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

Joburg Open (Dec. 7-10): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

SMBC Singapore Open (Jan. 18-21): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

Mizuno Open (May 24-27): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

HNA Open de France (June 28-July 1): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

The National (June 28-July 1): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

Dubai Duty Free Irish Open (July 5-8): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

The Greenbrier Classic (July 5-8): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open (July 12-15): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

John Deere Classic (July 12-15): Top player (not otherwise exempt) among top five and ties

Stock Watch: Lexi, Justin rose or fall this week?

By Ryan LavnerNovember 21, 2017, 2:36 pm

Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.


Jon Rahm (+9%): Just imagine how good he’ll be in the next few years, when he isn’t playing all of these courses for the first time. With no weaknesses in his game, he’s poised for an even bigger 2018.

Austin Cook (+7%): From Monday qualifiers to Q-School to close calls on the Web.com, it hasn’t been an easy road to the big leagues. Well, he would have fooled us, because it looked awfully easy as the rookie cruised to a win in just his 14th Tour start.

Ariya (+6%): Her physical tools are as impressive as any on the LPGA, and if she can shore up her mental game – she crumbled upon reaching world No. 1 – then she’ll become the world-beater we always believed she could be.  

Tommy Fleetwood (+4%): He ran out of gas in Dubai, but no one played better on the European Tour this year than Fleetwood, Europe’s new No. 1, who has risen from 99th to 18th in the world.   

Lexi (+1%): She has one million reasons to be pleased with her performance this year … but golf fans are more likely to remember the six runners-up and two careless mistakes (sloppy marking at the ANA and then a yippy 2-footer in the season finale) that cost her a truly spectacular season.


J-Rose (-1%): Another high finish in Dubai, but his back-nine 38, after surging into the lead, was shocking. It cost him not just the tournament title, but also the season-long race.  

Hideki (-2%): After getting blown out at the Dunlop Phoenix, he made headlines by saying there’s a “huge gap” between he and winner Brooks Koepka. Maybe something was lost in translation, but Matsuyama being too hard on himself has been a familiar storyline the second half of the year. For his sake, here’s hoping he loosens up.

Golf-ball showdown (-3%): Recent comments by big-name stars and Mike Davis’ latest salvo about the need for a reduced-flight ball could set up a nasty battle between golf’s governing bodies and manufacturers.

DL3 (-4%): Boy, the 53-year-old is getting a little too good at rehab – in recent years, he has overcome a neck fusion, foot injury, broken collarbone and displaced thumb. Up next is hip-replacement surgery.

LPGA Player of the Year (-5%): Sung Hyun Park and So Yeon Ryu tied for the LPGA’s biggest prize, with 162 points. How is there not a tiebreaker in place, whether it’s scoring average or best major performance? Talk about a buzzkill.

Titleist's Uihlein fires back at Davis over distance

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 12:59 am

Consider Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein unmoved by Mike Davis' comments about the evolution of the golf ball – and unhappy.

In a letter to the Wall Street Journal, the outlet which first published Davis' comments on Sunday, Uihlein took aim at the idea that golf ball distance gains are hurting the sport by providing an additional financial burden to courses.

"Is there any evidence to support this canard … the trickle-down cost argument?” he wrote (via Golf.com). “Where is the evidence to support the argument that golf course operating costs nationwide are being escalated due to advances in equipment technology?"

Pointing the blame elsewhere, Uihlein criticized the choices and motivations of modern architects.

"The only people that seem to be grappling with advances in technology and physical fitness are the short-sighted golf course developers and the supporting golf course architectural community who built too many golf courses where the notion of a 'championship golf course' was brought on line primarily to sell real estate," he wrote.

The Titleist CEO even went as far as to suggest that Tiger Woods' recent comments that "we need to do something about the golf ball" were motivated by the business interersts of Woods' ball sponsor, Bridgestone.

"Given Bridgestone’s very small worldwide market share and paltry presence in professional golf, it would seem logical they would have a commercial motive making the case for a reduced distance golf ball," he added.

Acushnet Holdings, Titleist's parent company, announced in September that Uihlein would be stepping down as the company's CEO at the end of this year but that he will remain on the company's board of directors.

Class of 2011: The groups before The Group

By Mercer BaggsNovember 20, 2017, 9:00 pm

We’ve been grouping things since the beginning, as in The Beginning, when God said this is heaven and this is earth, and you’re fish and you’re fowl.

God probably wasn’t concerned with marketing strategies at the time and how #beastsoftheearth would look with a hashtag, but humans have evolved into such thinking (or not evolved, depending on your thinking).

We now have all manner of items lumped into the cute, the catchy and the kitschy. Anything that will capture our attention before the next thing quickly wrests said attention away.

Modern focus, in a group sense in the golf world, is on the Class of 2011. This isn’t an arbitrary assembly of players based on world ranking or current form. It’s not a Big Pick A Number.

There’s an actual tie that binds as it takes a specific distinction to be part of the club. It’s a group of 20-somethings who graduated from high school in the aforementioned year, many who have a PGA Tour card, a handful of who have PGA Tour wins, and a couple of who have major titles.

It’s a deep and talented collective, one for which our knowledge should continue to expand as resumes grow.

Do any “classes” in golf history compare? Well, it’s not like we’ve long been lumping successful players together based on when they completed their primary education. But there are other notable groups of players, based primarily on birthdate, relative competition and accomplishment.

Here’s a few on both the men’s and women’s side:

BORN IN 1912

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Feb. 4, 1912 Byron Nelson 52 5
May 27, 1912 Sam Snead 82 7
Aug. 13, 1912 Ben Hogan 64 9

Born six months within one another. Only a threesome, but a Hall of Fame trio that combined for 198 PGA Tour wins and 21 majors.

BORN IN 1949

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Sept. 4, 1949 Tom Watson 39 8
Dec. 5, 1949 Lanny Wadkins 21 1
Dec. 9, 1949 Tom Kite 19 1

Only 96 days separate these three Hall of Fame players. Extend the reach into March of 1950 and you'll get two-time U.S. Open winner Andy North.

BORN IN 1955

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Jan. 30, 1955 Curtis Strange 17 2
Jan. 30, 1955 Payne Stewart 11 3
Feb. 10, 1955 Greg Norman 20 2

Another trio of Hall of Fame players. Strange and Stewart were born on the same day with Norman 11 days later. Fellow PGA Tour winners born in 1955: Scott Simpson, Scott Hoch and Loren Roberts.


Birthdate Player LPGA wins Major wins
Feb. 22, 1956 Amy Alcott 29 5
Oct. 14, 1956 Beth Daniel 33 1
Oct. 27, 1956 Patty Sheehan 35 6
Jan. 6, 1957 Nancy Lopez 48 3

A little arbitrary here, but go with it. Four Hall of Famers on the women's side, all born within one year of each other. That's an average (!) career of 36 tour wins and nearly four majors.


Birthdate Player Euro (PGA Tour) wins Major wins
April 9, 1957 Seve Ballesteros 50 (9) 5
July 18, 1957 Nick Faldo 30 (9) 6
Aug. 27, 1957 Bernhard Langer 42 (3) 2
Feb. 9, 1958 Sandy Lyle 18 (6) 2
March 2, 1958 Ian Woosnam 29 (2) 1

The best 'class' of players Europe has to offer. Five born within a year of one another. Five Hall of Fame members. Five who transformed and globalized European golf.


Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Sept. 12, 1969 Angel Cabrera 3 2
Oct. 17, 1969 Ernie Els 19 4
May 12, 1970 Jim Furyk 17 1
May 12, 1970 Mike Weir 8 1
June 16, 1970 Phil Mickelson 42 5

Not a tight-knit group, but a little more global bonding in accordance to the PGA Tour's increased international reach. Add in worldwide wins – in excess of 200 combined – and this group is even more impressive.

BORN IN 1980

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Jan. 9, 1980 Sergio Garcia 10 1
July 16, 1980 Adam Scott 13 1
July 30, 1980 Justin Rose 8 1

Could be three future Hall of Fame members here.

Editor's note: Golf Channel's editorial research unit contributed.