Players mourn remember Ballesteros

By Rex HoggardMay 7, 2011, 9:20 am

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The news Friday that European icon Seve Ballesteros' health had deteriorated following a 2 1/2-year bout with a brain tumor swept over the field at the Wells Fargo Championship, many of whom were too young to have been a contemporary of the Spaniard but still understood his influence on the game.

Saturday morning, it was reported the Ballesteros had succumbed after a brave battle. Knowing the situation was grave, players offered their heart-felt respect and love for one of the game's all-time great champions and personalities.

Sergio Garcia was a protégé of Ballesteros’ and learned that his health had taken a turn for the worse just before his 2:20 p.m. (ET) tee time at Quail Hollow.

“He’s fought for so long. It’s a tough illness,” the fellow Spaniard said. “He’s been one of my idols. He’s meant so much for Spanish golf and done a lot of good for all of golf. It’s a way of life.”

Seve Ballesteros
Seve Ballesteros was known for his touch around the greens. (Getty Images)

Early Friday the Ballesteros family posted a statement on their website that the 54 year old had “suffered a severe deterioration.” The three-time British Open champion and two-time Masters winner has undergone four operations and an assortment of chemotherapy and other treatments since late 2008.

Fellow Spaniards Jose Maria Olazabal and Miguel Angel Jimenez, both playing this week’s Spanish Open, were too emotional to speak with reporters after their rounds on Friday.

Englishman Paul Casey also became emotional when he was told of the news following his second round at Quail Hollow.

“He was so nice to me,” Casey said through tears. “He was my idol. I don’t know, it just makes me sad.”

Casey’s emotion was a common theme among the Europeans at the Wells Fargo, all of whom were too young to have played with Ballesteros during his prime but benefited from his trailblazing career and his kindness.

“He was a guy I wanted to watch because you always knew his golf was exciting,” Casey said. “Sergio was like one of his sons, really. Seve had it all, it was the flair, the smile, the never-say-die attitude that was very attractive.”

For Justin Rose the loss goes beyond Ballesteros’ impact to European golf. Rose’s sister, Margi, runs the Ballesteros foundation that raises funds for brain cancer research and he is scheduled to play in Ballesteros’ charity event in two weeks at Wentworth in England.

“He was an Arnold Palmer-type character for Europe,” Rose said.

When Rose won last year’s Memorial, his first PGA Tour title, he created a scrapbook from the victory and had Ballesteros sign it.

“There were a couple of times on the course (at last year’s Memorial) it was a little inspirational and I’d think of him when I had a couple good short-game shots,” Rose said. “He’s been a hero of mine. It was a really cool keepsake.”


Rose once partnered with Ballesteros at the Seve Trophy, a Ryder Cup-style team event created to honor the Spaniard. “He wasn’t hitting it well at all, but he never lost his dignity and he never lost his touch around the greens,” he recalled.


Davis Love III received an early indoctrination of Ballesteros’s legendary short game, which lifted him to 50 European Tour titles. At the 1993 Ryder Cup, Love’s first, he played his first three team matches against Ballesteros and Olazabal, dubbed the “Spanish Armada” for the duo’s stellar team record in the biennial matches.

“(United States team captain Tom Watson) said, ‘I’m not sending you back out for the fourth match. Nobody should have to play them four straight times,’” Love laughed. “He was always so good to me. It just makes you realize no matter how great a player you are your time will come.”

Phil Mickelson, a kindred spirit of Ballesteros’ with a magical short game and flair for the dramatic on the golf course, honored the former Masters champion during this year’s champions dinner at Augusta National with a Spanish-themed menu.

“The way he played the game of golf you were drawn to him. You wanted to go watch him play,” Mickelson said. “He kind of had so many shots that it was fun to watch him play.”

Mickelson met Ballesteros at his first Tour event in 1988 in San Diego and convinced a friend to arrange a practice round with him.

“He was the guy I wanted to play a practice round with the most,” Mickelson said. “From that day on he couldn’t have been nicer to me. . . . He showed me a few things, showed me a few shots and ever since then we’ve had a good relationship for the last 23 years.”

Follow Rex Hoggard on Twitter @RexHoggardGC

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.