Horses for Courses

By Rex HoggardJanuary 31, 2010, 6:14 am

Farmers Insurance OpenSAN DIEGO – Blame it on TMZ. Or divisive health care debates or an abnormally cold winter.

Whatever the impetus, golf has gotten mean.

Consider the last news cycle. Within the last 24 hours Phil Mickelson was forced to defend his honor, John Daly retired, then Tweeted, then unretired; and, finally, a thuggish muni took a toll on the Tour’s best and brightest.

Say this about the Tour’s SoCal staple, it stays on script.

Each year like taxes the North Course lulls Tour types into thinking they’ve got a good handle on things only to get TKO’d on the weekend when the proceedings move exclusively to the South Course.

The South’s 7,568 yards doesn’t take the tabloid’s temperature or reward style points which goes a long way to explaining why each year’s leaderboards have a “50 First Dates” feel to them.

Much like the famed Del Mar Racetrack just up the San Diego Freeway, some Tour ponies seem better equipped for the South than others.

Consider Saturday’s 54-hole primer. Atop the leaderboard is Ryuji Imada, whose last three cards at Torrey Pines read T-16, second, T-14; followed by Phil Mickelson, a three-time Torrey winner; and Ernie Els, whose handful of SoCal starts include a tie for sixth in 2005 and a 14th at the ’08 U.S. Open.

“It’s a great course to play because you don’t feel like you have to shoot a lot under par to do well,” said Charles Howell III, who is tied for 17th and counts two runners-up on his Torrey Pines resume. “It would be interesting to see what the scores would be if the North wasn’t in the rotation.”

They tried that experiment once. It was called the U.S. Open and Tiger Woods and Rocco Mediate made history and plenty of histrionics with 1 under par totals.

Opinions vary on why certain players excel on the South. Kamikaze putters seem to be the cure for Torrey’s bumpy Poa greens, while long and straight, which plays well most weeks, is also crucial, particularly on what is essentially the circuit’s longest venue at sea level.

“Driving the ball in the fairway at Torrey is important,” said Mike Taylor, the swing coach for Lucas Glover who is alone in fourth, three shots back. “I also think players who putt with more aggressive speed on those greens tend to putt better. Lucas does both very well.”

Glover is 29th and 32nd in driving distance and driving accuracy, respectively. It’s a combination that lifted him to last year’s U.S. Open victory and top-4 finishes at Torrey Pines last year and in 2006.

Simply put, it’s not the Bob Hope. Twenty under is not an option at Torrey Pines, which is why the U.S. Golf Association has made Torrey the Open’s West Coast home and why linebackers like Glover, Els and Mickelson enjoy its smash-mouth ways.

“It’s a U.S. Open course, long, hard, demanding,” said Glover, who played his best golf last year on the circuit’s hardest pitches (Torrey Pines, Bethpage, Quail Hollow). “It’s so hard it helps with my patience and I need that.”

Mickelson’s resume, to say nothing of his play this week, certainly qualify him as a founding member of the Torrey Pines “skull and crossbones” society, but Lefty’s take on the beloved muni is a bit sweet and sour.

The San Diego native has finished in the top 25 in more than half his starts at Torrey Pines (11), but he has not broken the victory seal since 2001, the same year Rees Jones did his pre-U.S. Open nip/tuck on the layout.

“The changes that were made to the golf course affected the way I've played here,” said Mickelson, whose best finish since ’01 is a tie for fourth in 2003 and ’04 and he finished 18th at the ’08 Open during the great “no driver” experiment. “The reads of the greens are totally different; they don't break towards the ocean, they break away from the bunkers.”

By comparison, Els has played Torrey Pines as a professional just twice, the 2005 Buick Invitational (T-6) and U.S. Open (T-14). The result, he concedes, of an international schedule and appearance fees. “The cash was good,” he said.

But it is a style of play, not reps, that matters at Torrey Pines.

“It's a good golf course for longer hitters,” Els said. “You can get onto some of the par 5s. But it's a good ballstriking golf course. You’ve got to hit the ball well all over. You can't really fake it around here.”

Seems about right that the “Big Easy” would be in the hunt on a course that is anything but.

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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


Article: Environmental group vandalizes Trump golf course

Article: Man accused of vandalizing four Trump courses


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