Pardon the Pedigree-less Leaderboard

By Rex HoggardMarch 27, 2011, 3:17 am
Arnold Palmer InvitationalORLANDO, Fla. – Since Arnold Palmer slapped his own moniker on the PGA Tour’s Central Florida staple five years ago, the King has enjoyed an embarrassment of Hall of Fame riches. In order, the trophy has been hoisted by Vijay Singh, Tiger Woods, Tiger Woods and Ernie Els.

So pardon the masses, who largely bolted for the exits after Woods finished his third round nearly an hour before the front runners.

With a monsoon of respect for Martin Laird – the leader by two heading into Sunday, Sunday, Sunday – the top 10 through 54 holes have a combined 19 Tour victories and two majors. If you remove David Toms, who is tied for fifth and five back from the equation, that total drops to seven Tour tilts and one major. That’s compared to a collective 20 Grand Slams for the last four Bay Hill winners.

Maybe more intriguing is the total for the top 4 – three victories, no majors. That list includes Spencer Levin, alone in second, and Steve Marino (T-3), arguably the two best frat brothers without a Tour bottle cap.

If winning on Tour is an art form, consider Sunday’s primary antagonist eager novices.

Complicating, or perhaps encouraging, the situation is a golf course that falls into the mid-major category. “It’s a good, long, hard golf course sort of like you get at a major championship,” Laird said.

Spencer Levin
Spencer Levin lost in a playoff at the Mayakoba Golf Classic last month. (Getty Images)
In the common wisdom of Tour Sundays experience kills, but that kind of cliché holds little meaning with 18 to play in the Florida Swing. Not with Woods, who struggled to a third-round 74 and headed down Apopka Vineland Road hoping for a windstorm on Saturday, and Phil Mickelson (2 under and the closest Hall of Famer to the lead) well outside the conversation, while defending champion Els will be on his way home by the time the leaders tee off on Sunday.

For those who left early on Saturday wondering if Bubba Watson (T-3) was Tom’s son the question is not “who are these guys?” so much as it is “who can win this thing?”

Laird may relish Bay Hill’s semi-tough status, but asked after his Day 3 70 to go over his scorecard, he gazed blankly at the ceiling, “I don’t know this golf course well enough to just rattle them off,” conceded Laird, who is playing the event for just the second time.

Not exactly the kind of institutional know-how that screams champion.

Levin knows even less of Arnie’s Place, not a surprise considering this is his first visit to the former citrus grove. Similarly, given the “A List” of Bay Hill winners, it’s little surprise the crowds know even less of them.

In short, Laird is a Continental contradiction, the rare Scot who can’t play in the wind, at least not like he used to growing up in Glasgow, while Levin is the rarest of Tour creatures – honest to the extreme with his heart permanently fixed to his oversized shirt sleeve.

One player recently deflected a question about Woods saying, “Have you ever considered the possibility Tiger’s not entirely truthful with you?” There is no need to consider such dishonesty from Levin.

When asked what experiences the former wild child turned flat-liner will pull from on Sunday when the PSI is turned up he stumbled for a few moments, “Mexico,” he said, referring to his playoff loss earlier this year South of the Border.

How about Disney last year, where he tied for third? “Oh yeah, man. Thanks,” smiled Levin, who drew even with Laird through 14 holes but played the next two bogey-bogey.

Asked his best memory of Bay Hill? “Only thing I remember is Tiger making a 100 footer every year to win.” In his defense, that’s most people’s only recollection of Arnie’s big dance.

What the two lack in pedigree and practical knowledge they more than make up for in potential. Levin has missed one cut and posted four top 10s since last October, while Laird has missed one weekend since last August with seven top 10s.

But then many believe the modern fixation on top 10s is over-rated and meaningless. Wins, particularly major victories, are what counts. Tour practice tees are filled with potential but Hall of Fame careers are not perched atop potential.

In many ways, whoever cashes on Sunday will enjoy a breakthrough of sorts, even Toms, whose last victory was the 2006 Sony Open. In fact, for Levin, Marc Leishman (T-7), John Senden (T-7) and Charles Howell III (T-7) Sunday could also earn them a spot in next month’s Masters.

And if six shots back seems a bit of a stretch even Levin, for all his inexperience, knows better.

“If the wind blows anybody at 5 or 6 under has a chance . . . four or five back definitely has a chance,” he reasoned.

Just not anybody with a Hall of Fame pedigree, and maybe that’s not a bad thing whether the Bay Hill masses realize it or not.


Follow Rex Hoggard on Twitter @RexHoggard 
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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.

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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

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Rory faces criticism

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President at the Presidents Cup

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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

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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

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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

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 12:30 pm