Kirk making Ryder Cup snub look bad

By Rex HoggardSeptember 11, 2014, 11:37 pm

ATLANTA – Chris Kirk is determined to make Tom Watson regret his decision, although the soft-spoken Southerner would never admit it.

That’s not his style. Never has been.

“He was so quiet and would never get excited. He’d just go out there and whip your butt,” said Chris Haack, Kirk’s coach when he played for the University of Georgia golf team and the man who announced the FedEx Cup front-runner onto the 18th green late Thursday afternoon.

Warm summer breezes and sweet tea make more noise than Kirk, so when the Ryder Cup frenzy reached its apex at the Deutsche Bank Championship the father of two defaulted to his manufacturer settings.

“I’ve got tickets to the Georgia-Tennessee (football) game that Saturday, so it’s pretty much out of my control,” he said at TPC Boston when asked about the possibility that Watson would make him one of his three captain’s picks for this month’s matches.

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Whether that laissez-faire attitude cost Kirk a spot on the U.S. team in Scotland will never be known, but there is no debating the merits of such an approach considering it helped lift him to a two-stroke victory at the Deutsche Bank Championship.

From uncluttered minds come great things.

Similarly, when Kirk was asked this week about the prospect of padding his burgeoning bank account with a $10 million windfall if he were to win the FedEx Cup he took the same long view.

“It wouldn't change much, to be honest with you,” he shrugged in his aloof style. “I just won a million and a half a few weeks ago, and I didn't go buy anything. I'm very comfortable financially and very happy with what I have. I'm not a very extravagant guy.”

What he has become is a very consistent guy.

When Watson announced his picks in New York City two weeks ago he was asked why the young American didn’t get the nod and the captain patiently explained that what he did at TPC Boston was “a snapshot.”

What Kirk is doing this week at East Lake has evolved into a feature film.

After a stress-free opening nine, he hit seven of nine greens on the outward loop and didn’t make a bogey on Day 1. He birdied two of his final four holes to finish with a 4-under 66 to take a share of the lead with Billy Horschel, who he was paired with.

While neither player would have been the favorite to collect this year’s $10 million lottery ticket when the season began last fall, they entered the week perched atop the statistical high ground at Nos. 1 and 2 on the FedEx Cup point list. You can’t win the Tour Championship on Thursday, but with Kirk’s lead on the points list you can go a long way toward etching your name into the silver chalice with a start like he had on Day 1.

But before you label Kirk a flat-liner, he’s not oblivious to what is on the line this week. While the $10 million may not get his attention, winning the FedEx Cup elevates a player to another level and he’s not blind to that reality.

“It’s kind of tough to get your mind off what’s going on here this week,” he admitted in a rare nod to the obvious.

But if the pressure is building behind that calm exterior Kirk isn’t letting on. In fact, the biggest pressure he said he’s facing this week is rounding up enough tickets for his family and friends.

Kirk was born in Atlanta, attended college just down the road in Athens, Ga., and returned home after turning professional. The partisan crowd was evident from the first tee on Thursday when he set out with Horschel, who attended the University of Florida.

“Some of the guys up there were having a little bit of fun, maybe at Billy’s expense a little bit,” smiled Kirk, who ignited the crowd with an 82-foot chip-in for birdie at the 17th hole. “I saw some people I haven’t seen in quite a while. It’s nice having a my hometown crowd behind me a little bit.”

While home-field advantage may be comforting, it’s been Kirk’s play over the last month that steadies a pulse that never seems to rise above resting.

Maybe Kirk’s relaxed demeanor wasn’t Watson’s brand of vodka. Maybe from the captain’s chair it was hard to imagine a rookie delivering on such a stifling stage. But a quarter of the way to the game’s ultimate payday it’s difficult not to imagine the captain second-guessing his choices.

That would never be Kirk’s intention, it’s just not in his DNA, but proving that he has the chops to close on one of the game’s most demanding deadlines would certainly prove a point.

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Singh's lawsuit stalls as judge denies motion

By Rex HoggardJanuary 23, 2018, 7:54 pm

Vijay Singh’s attempts to speed up the proceedings in his ongoing lawsuit against the PGA Tour have been stalled, again.

Singh – who filed the lawsuit in New York Supreme Court in May 2013 claiming the Tour recklessly administered its anti-doping program when he was suspended, a suspension that was later rescinded – sought to have the circuit sanctioned for what his attorneys argued was a frivolous motion, but judge Eileen Bransten denied the motion earlier this month.

“While the court is of the position it correctly denied the Tour’s motion to argue, the court does not agree that the motion was filed in bad faith nor that it represents a ‘persistent pattern of repetitive or meritless motions,’” Bransten said.

It also doesn’t appear likely the case will go to trial any time soon, with Bransten declining Singh’s request for a pretrial conference until a pair of appeals that have been sent to the court’s appellate division have been decided.

“What really should be done is settle this case,” Bransten said during the hearing, before adding that it is, “unlikely a trail will commence prior to 2019.”

The Tour’s longstanding policy is not to comment on ongoing litigation, but earlier this month commissioner Jay Monahan was asked about the lawsuit.

“I'll just say that we're going through the process,” Monahan said. “Once you get into a legal process, and you've been into it as long as we have been into it, I think it's fair to assume that we're going to run it until the end.”

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Videos and images from Tiger's Tuesday at Torrey

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 23, 2018, 7:45 pm

Tiger Woods played a nine-hole practice round Tuesday at Torrey Pines South, site of this week's Farmers Insurance Open. Woods is making his first PGA Tour start since missing the cut in this event last year. Here's a look at some images and videos of Tiger, via social media:

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Power Rankings: 2018 Farmers Insurance Open

By Will GrayJanuary 23, 2018, 6:59 pm

The PGA Tour remains in California this week for the Farmers Insurance Open. A field of 156 players will tackle the North and South Courses at Torrey Pines, with weekend play exclusively on the South Course.

Be sure to join the all-new Golf Channel Fantasy Challenge - including a new One & Done game offering - to compete for prizes and form your own leagues, and log on to to submit your picks for this week's event.

Jon Rahm won this event last year by three shots over Charles Howell III and C.T. Pan. Here are 10 names to watch in La Jolla:

1. Jon Rahm: No need to overthink it at the top. Rahm enters as a defending champ for the first time, fresh off a playoff win at the CareerBuilder Challenge that itself was preceded by a runner-up showing at Kapalua. Rahm is perhaps the hottest player in the field, and with a chance to become world No. 1 should be set for another big week.

2. Jason Day: The Aussie has missed the cut here the last two years, and he hasn't played competitively since November. But he ended a disappointing 2017 on a slight uptick, and his Torrey Pines record includes three straight top-10s from 2013-15 that ended with his victory three years ago.

3. Justin Rose: Rose ended last year on a tear, with three victories over his final six starts including two in a row in Turkey and China. The former U.S. Open winner has the patience to deal with a brutal layout like the South Course, as evidenced by his fourth-place showing at this event a year ago.

4. Rickie Fowler: This tournament has become somewhat feast-or-famine for Fowler, who is making his ninth straight start at Torrey Pines. The first four in that run all netted top-20 finishes, including two top-10s, while the last four have led to three missed cuts and a T-61. After a win in the Bahamas and T-4 at Kapalua, it's likely his mini-slump comes to an end.

5. Brandt Snedeker: Snedeker has become somewhat of a course specialist at Torrey Pines in recent years, with six top-10 finishes over the last eight years including wins in both 2012 and 2016. While he missed much of the second half of 2017 recovering from injury and missed the cut last week, Snedeker is always a threat to contend at this particular event.

6. Hideki Matsuyama: Matsuyama struggled to find his footing after a near-miss at the PGA Championship, but he appears to be returning to form. The Japanese phenom finished T-4 at Kapalua and has put up solid results in two of his four prior trips to San Diego, including a T-16 finish in his 2014 tournament debut. Matsuyama deserves a look at any event that puts a strong emphasis on ball-striking.

7. Tony Finau: Finau has the length to handle the difficult demands of the South Course, and his results have gotten progressively better each time around: T-24 in 2015, T-18 in 2016 and T-4 last year. Finau is coming off the best season of his career, one that included a trip to the Tour Championship, and he put together four solid rounds at the Sony Open earlier this month.

8. Charles Howell III: Howell is no stranger to West Coast golf, and his record at this event since 2013 includes three top-10 finishes highlighted by last year's runner-up showing. Howell chased a T-32 finish in Hawaii with a T-20 finish last week in Palm Springs, his fourth top-20 finish this season.

9. Marc Leishman: Leishman was twice a runner-up at this event, first in 2010 and again in 2014, and he finished T-20 last year. The Aussie is coming off a season that included two wins, and he has amassed five top-10s in his last eight worldwide starts dating back to the Dell Technologies Championship in September.

10. Gary Woodland: Woodland played in the final group at this event in 2014 before tying for 10th, and he was one shot off the lead entering the final round in 2016 before Mother Nature blew the entire field sideways. Still, the veteran has three top-20s in his last four trips to San Diego and finished T-7 two weeks ago in Honolulu.

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Davis on distance: Not 'necessarily good for the game'

By Will GrayJanuary 23, 2018, 6:28 pm

It's a new year, but USGA executive Mike Davis hasn't changed his views on the growing debate over distance.

Speaking with Matt Adams on SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio, Davis didn't mince words regarding his perception that increased distance has had a negative impact on the game of golf, and he reiterated that it's a topic that the USGA and R&A plan to jointly address.

"The issue is complex. It's important, and it's one that we need to, and we will, face straight on," Davis said. "I think on the topic of distance, we've been steadfast to say that we do not think increased distance is necessarily good for the game."

Davis' comments echoed his thoughts in November, when he stated that the impact of increased distance has been "horrible" for the game. Those comments drew a strong rebuke from Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein, who claimed there was "no evidence" to support Davis' argument.

That argument, again reiterated Tuesday, centers on the rising costs associated with both acquiring and maintaining increased footprints for courses. Davis claimed that 1 in 4 courses in the U.S. is currently "not making money," and noted that while U.S. Open venues were 6,800-6,900 yards at the start of his USGA tenure, the norm is now closer to 7,400-7,500 yards.

"You ask yourself, 'What has this done for the game? How has that made the game better?'" Davis said. "I think if we look at it, and as we look to the future, we're asking ourselves, saying, 'We want the game of golf to be fun.' We want it to continue to be challenging and really let your skills dictate what scores you should shoot versus necessarily the equipment.

"But at the same time, we know there are pressures on golf courses. We know those pressures are going to become more acute."