Marathon day prompts Spieth to put old putter back in bag

By Rex HoggardMay 24, 2017, 8:20 pm

FORT WORTH, Texas – Superman never went with a backup cape, Thor never had a spare hammer in his trunk and Bobby Jones didn’t bench his iconic putter, dubbed Calamity Jane, for a newer model.

Well, Jones did bench the original Calamity Jane, which he won three majors using, because of wear and tear, but the parallels remain and at least partially explain why Jordan Spieth nearly broke social media last week when he benched his trusty Scotty Cameron for a shiny new model.

“I haven’t been comfortable standing over it for a little while so I just wanted something that’s a new look,” he said last week at the AT&T Byron Nelson when asked about the switch.

Like most love stories, this one has a happy ending. Or, at least it was on Wednesday at the Dean & DeLuca Invitational when Spieth acknowledged that he’s going back to his old putter for this week’s event, where he’s the defending champion.

With the new model, Spieth posted rounds of 68-75 to miss the cut for the second consecutive week for just the second time in his remarkable career.

Spieth lost 1 1/2 strokes to the field last week according to the strokes gained: putting statistic and rolled in a grand total of 39 feet of putts on Friday. By comparison, on his way to victory last year at Colonial he gained 9.12 strokes on the field and rolled in 151 feet of putts during Round 4.

Yet what Spieth didn’t find in his search for putting answers with the new model, a Scotty Cameron T5W Tour mallet, he said he discovered with improved alignment.

“I just lost a little bit of the feel that I had with the putter I've been using for however many years,” he said on Wednesday. “But what it did was now I feel a lot more comfortable with my alignment and feel like I got my set up back to where I want it and I have that feel.”

Spieth explained it wasn’t necessarily his play last week at the Nelson as much as it was a marathon day with caddie Michael Greller on Sunday at Dallas National that prompted his switch back.

Dean & DeLuca Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

“I played 36 holes on Sunday and had a couple great putting rounds,” he said. “That kind of made the decision that it was time, and I felt comfortable back on short- and mid-range putts with my alignment.”

What didn’t factor into his decision to go back to his old gamer was a general outcry on social and traditional media following his switch. Despite three consecutive days of armchair quarterbacking and uninformed hot takes, Spieth said he was largely indifferent to the second-guessing.

“I’ve been off social media for a while and media in general,” Spieth said. “I'm not even really sure what the reaction was other than the players on the putting green, which was significant. Like, ‘Why in the world are you switching?’ Which is probably what it was elsewhere.”

That would be the Cliffs Notes version, and whether Spieth rediscovers his magical putting touch he should at least be applauded for accomplishing what so many others find so difficult – ignoring the noise.

It’s a measure of Spieth’s historic putting prowess that news of his switch prompted so much reaction. He’s completed each of the last three season ranked inside the top 20 on the PGA Tour in putting; and ranked second and ninth, respectively, in strokes gained: putting the last two years after a dozen starts. He’s currently 52nd in that category.

Although there are plenty of players who would like to have Spieth’s current putting “problems,” he does have a victory and five top-10 finishes, when the bar has been set so high any fluctuation, however incremental, will be picked apart.

“Every player goes through it,” said Ryan Palmer, Spieth’s partner at the Zurich Classic last month. “He's trying to get back to where he was. He's one of the best putters on Tour, there is no doubt about that. I'm not really too worried about him struggling.”

It’s safe to say Spieth isn’t overly concerned with either his current putting line or his decision to try something new last week in Dallas. Nor did the 23-year-old seem interested in the notion that he and his old putter have some sort of manifest destiny relationship, like Jones had with Calamity Jane.

Instead, Spieth remembers a teen-aged tale of why he put the Scotty Cameron 009 into his bag in the first place.

“I used to putt extremely well with a [Scotty Cameron] Teryllium with a different neck before that one. I switched because Adam Scott and Geoff Ogilvy used the putter I use now way back when,” he said. “I thought the putter was really cool. I didn't know if it was the best for me or not, but I thought the putter was cool so I started using it. That was when I was probably 15, 16.”

It wasn’t some mystic path that led Spieth to start using his old putter, only an adolescent's interests. Just as his decision to switch things up last week wasn’t the seismic competitive shift it was made out to be, only an attempt to change things up in search of a different result.

Day (68) just one back at Australian Open

By Nick MentaNovember 24, 2017, 6:40 am

Jason Day posted a second-round 68 to move himself just one off the lead held by Lucas Herbert through two rounds at the Emirates Australian Open. Here’s where things stand after 36 holes in Sydney.

Leaderboard: Herbert (-9), Day (-8), Cameron Davis (-7), Anthony Quayle (-6), Matt Jones (-4), Cameron Smith (-4), Nick Cullen (-4), Richard Green (-4)

What it means: Day is in search of his first worldwide victory of 2017. The former world No. 1 last visited the winner’s circle in May 2016, when he won The Players at TPC Sawgrass. A win this week would close out a difficult year for the Aussie who struggled with his game while also helping his mother in her battle with cancer. Day’s last victory on his native soil came in 2013, when he partnered with Adam Scott to win the World Cup of Golf for Australia at Royal Melbourne.

Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open

Round of the day: Herbert followed an opening 67 with a round of 66 to vault himself into the lead at The Australian Golf Club. He made six birdies, including four on his second nine, against a lone bogey to take the outright lead. The 22-year-old, who held the lead at this event last year and captured low-amateur honors in 2014, is coming off a runner-up finish at the NSW Open Championship, which boosted him from 714th to 429th in the Official World Golf Ranking. His 5-under score was matched by Dale Brandt-Richards and Josh Cabban.

Best of the rest: Matt Jones, who won this event over Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott two years ago, turned in 4-under 67. Jones is best known to American audiences for his playoff victory at the 2014 Shell Houston Open and for holding the 36-hole lead at the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, which was eventually won by Day. Jones will start the weekend five shots off the lead, at 4 under par.

Biggest disappointment: Spieth has a lot of work to do this weekend if he expects to be in the title picture for the fourth year in a row. Rounds of 70-71 have him eight shots behind the lead held by Herbert. Spieth made a birdie and a bogey on each side Friday to turn in level par. The reigning champion golfer of the year has finished first, second and first at this event over the last three years.

Storyline to watch this weekend: The Australian Open is the first event of the 2018 Open Qualifying Series. The leading three players who finish in the top 10 and who are not otherwise exempt will receive invites into next summer’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.

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.