Not Business Just Personal

By Rex HoggardNovember 11, 2010, 1:03 am
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – It is a war in words only – a row complicated by time and assumptions, which is the worst kind of quarrel.

On Monday, Rory McIlroy said he was done with the PGA Tour after a 12-month experiment. He said that after the PGA Championship neither his heart nor head was in the game. That home and harp, not history and heritage, was what’s important right now.

Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy, who won the 2010 Quail Hollow event, said he will not take up PGA Tour membership next season. (Getty Images)
It is a curious case of jingoistic nonsense then that McIlroy’s decision was viewed in some American quarters as a slight to the U.S. circuit. Somehow McIlroy’s decision, and Lee Westwood's before him, is being played on these shores as an indictment of a PGA Tour on the ropes.

To twist the words of Tom Hagen of “Godfather” fame it’s not business, it’s all personal for McIlroy and Westwood.

Make no mistake, the Tour needs young Rory more than he needs the Tour at this point in time. But that’s far too politically corrupt for McIlroy.

McIlroy is packing up his ProV1 and going home because the PGA Tour can be a lonely place, particularly for a 21-year-old who grew up in Holywood, Northern Ireland, pop. 12,037.

He’s headed home because he misses his girlfriend and his dog and, a crucial point that is far too often dismissed, he can.

McIlroy will get 10 Tour starts as a non-member in 2011, two fewer than other non-members because of his decision to shed his membership. One tournament director took the news much harder than McIlroy likely did on Tuesday considering that his starts will be limited to the four majors, three World Golf Championships, the Quail Hollow Championship (where he is the defending champion), The Players Championship and just one other.

Yet as much as some want to make this an “us against them” issue, it is no more than a quality of life decision.

Greg Owen should know. He was born and raised in Nottinghamshire, England, not far from where Westwood calls home and he knows how easy it can be to trade the bright lights of the U.S. Tour for the solace of the European circuit.

“It’s what you perceive to be important,” Owen said. “Was (Colin Montgomerie) wrong? I don’t think there’s a wrong way to do it.”

Owen – who joined the PGA Tour in 2005 and has never looked back – tried to split time between the two circuits in ’05 with pedestrian results. He was bounced out of the Open Championship that year because of a technicality and narrowly missed making it into the Masters because of world ranking math.

He can also attest to McIlroy’s point that the PGA Tour can be a lonely place when the putts aren’t falling.

“I played terrible this year and it’s a terrible place to be if you don’t have any family out here,” Owen said. “Everybody is so focused on what they are doing. It’s completely understandable, but very lonely.”

From a logistic point of view, McIlroy’s aversion to playing both circuits because of the scheduling demands rings a tad dubious. Although the minimum number of starts on each tour add up to 28 events (13 in Europe and 15 in America), co-sanctioned crossover between the majors and WGCs add up to just 20 events. Hardly Cal Ripken Jr. stuff.

There is also the notion that had Montgomerie played more in the United States during his prime he would have somehow been better prepared to win one of those heartbreaking majors that eluded him.

“OK,” Owen concedes, “but if you were to tell (Westwood) he’d win a major if he stays in the States I’m guessing he probably would. But you can’t guarantee that.”

Besides, both McIlroy and Westwood have already gotten off the PGA Tour schneid and are making regular cameos on Grand Slam leaderboards with ready-for-primetime games. What could be gained from an extra five starts on U.S. soil?

But then McIlroy and Westwood’s decision isn’t about starts or status. The global economy has somewhat leveled the purse gap between the PGA Tour and the European circuit and Westwood’s climb to the top of the Official World Golf Ranking has proven it’s no longer necessary to play both to establish a legacy – at least not in the eyes of the world golf ranking.

For years the world critiqued the top American players for their insular ways, but ultimately the independent contractors stayed home because they could. Now Europe’s best and brightest are staying home, not because they have an axe to grind or because there is something wrong with the PGA Tour. No, they are staying at home because they can.

Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo

By Grill Room TeamDecember 15, 2017, 1:05 am

Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Really good at golf. Really good at vacationing.

With #SB2K18 still months away, Thomas and Spieth headlined a vacation to Cabo San Lucas, and this will shock you but it looks like they had a great time.

Spring break veteran Smylie Kaufman joined the party, as did Thomas' roommate, Tom Lovelady, who continued his shirtless trend.

The gang played all the hits, including shoeless golf in baketball jerseys and late nights with Casamigos tequila.

Image via tom.lovelady on Instagram.

In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.

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Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys

By Rex HoggardDecember 14, 2017, 7:00 pm

After careful consideration and an exhaustive review of 2017 we present The Rexys, a wildly incomplete and arbitrary line up following one of the most eventful years in golf.

 There will be omissions – just keep your calls, concerns and even e-mails to yourself. We appreciate your patronage, but not your feedback.

It’s Not You, It’s Me Award. You know the deal: You can’t be a part of two until you’re a better one; but on this front it’s really just a desire to find a better two.

It was a tough year for caddies, and not just any caddies. In June, Phil Mickelson split with longtime bagman Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both player and caddie cited the need for “change,” but the move reverberated throughout the game.

“The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.

In the wake of the Lefty/Bones break, Rory McIlroy split with his caddie J.P Fitzgerald, and Jason Day replaced looper/swing coach Colin Swatton on his bag. It all proves yet again that there are only two kinds of caddies, those who have been fired and those who are about to be fired.

Run for the Rose Cup. Sergio Garcia got the green jacket, a lifetime exemption to the game’s most coveted member-member and a long-awaited major, but Justin Rose took home the slightly less prestigious “Rose Cup.”

Following a frenzied afternoon at Augusta National in April, Rose lost to Garcia on the first playoff hole, but he won so much more with his honesty and class.

“You're going to win majors and you're going to lose majors, but you've got to be willing to lose them,” Rose figured following the final round. “You've got to put yourself out there. You've got to hit the top of the leaderboard. There's a lot of pressure out there and if you're not willing to enjoy it, then you're not ready to win these tournaments. I loved it out there.”

Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.

Half-Empty Cup. It was the perfect setting, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and the promise of the Tristate masses descending on this fall’s Presidents Cup.

If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.

For the sixth time in the last seven matches, the U.S. team rolled to a victory of at least three points. This particular edition was even in danger of ending on Saturday afternoon thanks to a particularly dominant performance by a young American squad led by Steve Stricker.

Officials spoke of the purity of the competition and the attention the ’17 cup generated, but however you spin the 19-11 rout, this cup is half empty.

Enigma Award. The actual hardware is simply an oversized question mark and was sent directly to Tiger Woods’ South Florida compound following the most curious of seasons.

While it’s become customary in recent years to consider the uncertain path that awaits the 14-time major winner, this most recent calendar brought an entirely new collection of questions following fusion surgery on his lower back in April, his arrest for DUI on Memorial Day and, finally, a glimmer of hope born from his tie for ninth at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.

When will he play again? Can he compete against the current generation of world-beaters? Can his body withstand the rigors of a full PGA Tour schedule? Should Jim Furyk make him a captain’s pick now or wait to see if he should be driving a vice captain’s golf cart instead?

Little is certain when it comes to Woods, and the over-sized question mark goes to ... the guy in red and black.

After Further Review Chalice. In April, Lexi Thompson endured a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, the byproduct of a surreal ruling that arrived a day late via a viewer e-mail and cost the would-be winner a major championship.

The entire event was so unsavory that the USGA and R&A made not one but two alterations to the rules and created a “working group” to avoid similar snafus in the future.

That working group – it turns out the U.S. Ryder Cup team has some sort of copyright on “task force” – initially issued a decision that introduced a “reasonable judgment” and a “naked eye” standard to video reviews, and last week the rule makers kept the changes coming.

The new protocols on video review will now include an official to monitor tournament broadcasts and ended the practice of allowing fans to call in, or in this case e-mail, possible infractions to officials. The USGA and R&A also eliminated the two-stroke penalty for players who sign incorrect scorecards when the player is unaware of the penalty.

While all this might be a step in the right direction, it does nothing to change Thompson’s fate. The AFR Chalice won’t change the harsh reality, but at least it will serve as a reminder of how she helped altered the rulemaking landscape.

Nothing Runs Like a Deere Award. Nothing gets fans fired up like officials turning fields of fescue rough into hay on the eve of a major championship, and the USGA’s decision to do some 11th-hour trimming at Erin Hills in June certainly caught many by surprise.

Officials said the nip/tuck on four holes was in reaction to a particularly foreboding forecast that never materialized, and the maintenance drew the ire of some players.

“We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” Rory McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here; if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”

The record low scoring at the U.S. Open – winner Brooks Koepka finished with a 16-under total – didn’t help ease the fervor and had some questioning whether the softer side of the USGA has gone a bit too far?

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Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 5:28 pm

John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.

That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.

Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.

Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid

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.

Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters

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.