Seven rookies will determine fate of Internationals

By Rex HoggardOctober 1, 2013, 11:00 pm

DUBLIN, Ohio – If it is true that one can only have bad association with memories, Nick Price’s best chance this week in middle America rests with his seven rookies.

If the Rest of the World is going to wrest itself off a victory schnied at the Presidents Cup that stretches back to the Clinton administration, it will do so on the backs of its fresh-faced majority – Brendon De Jonge, Graham DeLaet, Branden Grace, Marc Leishman, Richard Sterne, Hideki Matsuyama and Louis Oosthuizen.

There is no other choice.

Sure Adam Scott and Ernie Els will anchor the International side, as they have done for the last decade, but if there are any certainties entering this week’s Presidents Cup it is the status quo will not be enough to turn an event that has overwhelmingly been dominated by the United States.

In nine outings, the Americans have won all but two matches (1998 and a tie in 2003) and have never lost a home game. With seven rookies in tow on a distinctly American-style course serving as the global pitch (Muirfield Village), that wasn’t exactly change one felt Tuesday in the fall wind.

But in those untested seven, Price sees hope – so much so that he made both of his captain’s picks rookies (de Jonge and Leishman).

“I think they feel more of a team today,” Price said.

In some ways, the abundance of rookies on Price’s squad has created a cast system, a circle closing tightly around a common theme.

“With there being seven, it makes it a little bit easier,” Grace said. “There's seven guys that haven't been here before. They haven't had this experience. It's nice to get all that experience and sharing with guys like that, especially the great guys we have got on our team.”

Nor will Price’s “seven” be dogged by the ghosts of four consecutive losses in the event. They haven’t had to endure the heartbreak and horror of blowout losses and lopsided matches that have many contending that if the International side doesn’t get off the schnied soon they risk rendering the event irrelevant.

“We don't really know what to expect so we're kind of coming in somewhat blind, whereas some of the veterans know maybe how tough it is and how difficult it's going to be,” DeLaet said.

“I look back at like going to Q-School, and the easiest time to go to Q-School is your first time, and the second time it's harder, and the third time it's harder because you realize what's at stake and the emotions that are going to be involved.”

Considering Tuesday’s practice round pairings, it appears Price seems certain to mix and match his veterans with the newcomers as best he can, but with more than half his team playing their first Presidents Cup there’s only so much he can do.

Expect DeLeat to play with Jason Day, who is playing his second match; Leishman to pair with Scott; Els, who is making his eighth start in the Presidents Cup, to go out with either Grace or Sterne; and Oosthuizen, a rookie in name only, would be a good match with fellow South African Charl Schwartzel.

Having six South Africans and three Australians certainly makes things a little easier for Price, but that still leaves Matsuyama and either Grace or Sterne looking at an all-rookie team sometime over the first four days. Not exactly a best-case scenario when the confines are this unfriendly.

Price will lean on his rookies because he has no other choice. Unlike the Ryder Cup, where four players from each team sit out the team matches, everybody plays at the Presidents Cup.

On paper, this is not a fair fight. Combined, Price’s rookies have won two Tour titles and has just one player ranked inside the top 10 in the world. By comparison, U.S. captain Fred Couples enjoys an embarrassment of riches with seven players on his team ranked inside the top 11.

For Price, this is golf’s version of “Moneyball,” a young, inexperienced team thrown into the big leagues. And like Oakland’s Billy Beane, the International captain knows this is a numbers game – the first team to 17 ½ points wins however you get there.

Price wasted little time on Monday plugging in the proper credentials, clearly with an eye toward his untested newcomers.

“Listen,” he implored. “There is no better feeling than lifting that trophy on Sunday. Believe me, we're going to have a party if we do it.”

That last part was for the benefit of the rookies, because the veterans certainly know what to expect.

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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."