2017 majors delivered for everyone but Fowler

By Rex HoggardAugust 16, 2017, 9:10 pm

If it seems like just yesterday you were heading down Magnolia Lane for the year’s first major, welcome to the club.

With Justin Thomas’ Sunday charge at Quail Hollow, the Grand Slam season came to a dramatic close, four months after Sergio Garcia got things underway at the Masters. For those who say professional golf has no offseason, consider that the next major golf shot won’t be hit for 231 days. How’s that for dramatic pause?

There were a few themes to this year’s major championships, with three of the four being won by first-time major winners and two stops defined by ridiculously low scoring.

Charley Hoffman got the season underway on Thursday at Augusta National, his 65 the best round of the day by four strokes and nearly 10 shots better than the Day 1 field average (74.97).

Rickie Fowler did what Rickie Fowler does at majors, moving into a share of the lead through 54 holes only to fade on Sunday (we’ll circle back around to Fowler in a moment), and Garcia doing what few that he could – win a major.

Perhaps Sunday’s final round at the Masters wasn’t exactly what we’ve come to expect from the year’s first major, with Garcia and Justin Rose battling to a standoff with closing nines of 35, but it was entertaining nonetheless and the Englishman gave one of the game’s classiest interviews in defeat.

“It was a wonderful battle with Sergio, you can’t feel bad for me. If there was anyone to lose to it was Sergio. He deserves it,” Rose said.

But what the Masters may have lacked in Sunday firepower, the U.S. Open filled the void.

One of two first-time major venues this season, conventional wisdom suggested Erin Hills, a behemoth at 7,740 yards, would be a typical U.S. Open grind. That unease was only fueled when officials made an 11th-hour decision to mow down some of the layout’s rough before play started.

What transpired on the course, however, was something entirely different.

Fowler (remember him?) once again got off to a dream start with a first-round 65, one of 44 scores under par at the Bob Hope Classic U.S. Open on Day 1. On Saturday, Thomas set a championship record in relation to par with his 9-under 63 and Johnny Miller, whose 8-under 63 in ’73 had been the U.S. Open scoring standard, wasn’t exactly impressed.

“Taking nothing away from 9 under par – 9 under is incredible with U.S. Open pressure,” Miller told GolfChannel.com. “But it isn’t a U.S. Open course that I’m familiar with the way it was set up . . . It looks like a PGA Tour event course set up.”

That Brooks Koepka would finish at a record-tying 16 under for his first major victory did nothing to counter Miller’s argument - that the combination of no wind and a soft course had turned Erin Hills into a major pushover - but Thomas would have the final word before the Grand Slam season was over.

Perhaps there was some solace for the USGA that the scoring assault continued at Royal Birkdale in July when Branden Grace made more history, becoming the first player to shoot 62 in a major on Saturday, not that the South African knew of his accomplishment until he’d putted out.

“Let's get this out of the way: I didn't know what was going on on 18. I promise you,” Grace smiled. “[Caddie Zack Rasego] came up and said, ‘You're in the history books.’ And I was like, ‘What are you talking about?’”

But if ignorance was bliss for Grace on Saturday, Jordan Spieth knew exactly what was going on during the final round when his tee shot at the 13th hole sailed into a dune right of the fairway.

More than 20 minutes later, after taking an unplayable lie and a drop on Birkdale’s practice tee, Spieth completed a scrambling bogey that the late Seve Ballesteros would have been proud of.

Spieth later admitted that he’d hit drives much farther off line in his career, but none were as eventful on his way to the third leg of the career Grand Slam.

“We are going to skip the first 12 holes, right?” joked Spieth when asked about his round, which included three birdies and an eagle following his adventure on No. 13.

In a twist to the Grand Slam status quo, the PGA Championship proved to be the year’s toughest major, with the year’s lowest winning total (8 under) and the season’s toughest course on the PGA Tour by more than a half stroke.

That it was Thomas, who emerged from a crowded leaderboard late on Sunday afternoon, holding the Wanamaker Trophy only seemed apropos (perhaps there should have been some sort of tweet directed at Miller, maybe next time).

It should also be noted that Fowler finished tied for fifth at the PGA despite a Saturday 73, and with 231 days until the next major, the title of "best player without one" rests squarely on his shoulders.

Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

"It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’

Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open

Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

“Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

“That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.

The golf world celebrates Thanksgiving

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 6:01 pm

Here's a look, through social media, at how the golf world celebrates Thanksgiving.

Lexi Thompson:

Baking time!!

A post shared by Lexi Thompson (@lexi) on

David Feherty:

Jack Nicklaus:

GC Tiger Tracker:

Steve Stricker:

Golf Channel:

Frank Nobilo:

Ian Poulter:

Tyrone Van Aswegen:

Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017

By Grill Room TeamNovember 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.

Tributes pour in for legendary caddie Sheridan

By Randall MellNovember 23, 2017, 2:54 pm

Tributes are pouring in as golf celebrates the life of Greg Sheridan after receiving news of his passing.

Sheridan, a long-time LPGA caddie who worked for some of the game’s all-time greats, including Kathy Whitworth and Beth Daniel, died Wednesday in Indian Rocks Beach, Fla., at 63. He was diagnosed in July 2016 with brain and lung cancer.

Sheridan worked the last dozen years or so with Natalie Gulbis, who expressed her grief in an Instagram post on Wednesday:

“Greg…I miss you so much already and it hasn’t even been a day. 15+ seasons traveling the world you carried me & my bag through the highs and lows of golf and life. You were so much more than my teammate on the course…Thank you.”

Sheridan was on Whitworth’s bag for the last of her LPGA-record 88 titles.

“When I first came on tour, I would try to find out how many times Greg won,” Gulbis told Golfweek. “It’s a crazy number, like 50.”

Matthew Galloway, a caddie and friend to Sheridan, summed up Sheridan’s impressive reach after caddying with him one year at the LPGA Founders Cup, where the game’s pioneers are honored.

“Best Greg story,” Galloway tweeted on Thanksgiving morning, “coming up 18 at PHX all the founders were in their chairs. Greg goes, `Yep, caddied for her, her and her.’ Legend.”

In a first-person column for Golf Magazine last year, Gulbis focused on Sheridan while writing about the special bond between players and caddies. She wrote that she won the “looper lottery” when she first hired Sheridan in ’04.

“Greg and I have traveled the world, and today he is like family,” Gulbis wrote. “Sometimes, he’s a psychologist. Last year, my mom got sick and it was a distraction, but he was great. When I used to have boyfriend issues and breakup issues, he was my confidant. In a world where caddies sometimes spill secrets, Greg has kept a respectful silence, and I can’t thank him enough for that. He’s an extension of me.”

Four months after Gulbis wrote the column, Sheridan was diagnosed with cancer.

“The LPGA family is saddened to hear of the loss of long-time tour caddie, Greg Sheridan,” the LPGA tweeted. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and players he walked with down the fairways. #RIP.”

Dean Herden was among the legion of caddies saddened by the news.

“Greg was a great guy who I respected a lot and taught me some great things over the years,” Herden texted to GolfChannel.com.

Here are some of heartfelt messages that are rolling across Twitter:

Retired LPGA great Annika Sorenstam:

LPGA commissioner Mike Whan in a retweet of Gulbis:

Golf Channel reporter and former tour player Jerry Foltz:

Christina Kim:

LPGA caddie Shaun Clews:

LPGA caddie Jonny Scott:

LPGA caddie Kevin Casas:

LPGA pro Jennie Lee: