Wakeup-call hole puts Day back on track

By Rex HoggardJuly 30, 2016, 12:33 am

SPRINGFIELD, N.J. – This wasn’t what Jason Day expects from himself. This wasn’t what the golf world expects from the world No. 1.

In a blur of flying grass, poor choices and even worse execution, Day sent his drive sailing into the Baltusrol woods, launched his next shot into a bunker in an overly aggressive bid to reach the green and sailed his third over the green into the type of hay where major championship dreams go to die.

All told, Day’s seventh hole on Friday at the PGA Championship added up to a double-bogey 6, sending the Australian tumbling to even par, closer to the cut line than contention.

“I gave myself a little kick in the bum,” Day said of the moments after his misadventure on the seventh.

Pressed for more details, bullet points even, regarding that internal pep talk the father of two admitted, “A few swear words inside my head.”

Day has spoken in the past about the expectations of being the world No. 1, the heavy weight he feels every time he tees it up to perform up to that standard. This is, after all, the same man who became inspired to play golf by reading a book about Tiger Woods.

It stands to reason then that his performance on the seventh hole just wouldn’t do.

“Just really I played that hole so bad that it was really frustrating for me. Why are you doing that? Why are you giving shots to the field when you don't need to do that?” Day explained. “Don't do little silly errors like that and potentially give them two shots on that hole.”

What followed that impromptu scolding may well go down as the turning point that delivers Day his second consecutive date with the Wanamaker Trophy.

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Day kept it simple at No. 8, hit the fairway, hit the green, make a putt – birdie.

To those with a front-row view, however, Day’s birdie at the eighth was much more nuanced and impressive.

“He had a [approach] shot on 8 that was really cool to watch,” said Phil Mickelson, who was paired with Day on Friday. “I haven't seen anybody with his power be able to hit that shot where we've got 86 yards, a back pin, it's soft and spinning and pitched.

“To take a club that usually goes about 125, hit it 40 yards less than the normal number and skid it in there and get the ball to not spin, his power and his wedge play coupled with his putting are combinations you don't see very often.”

With respect to Mickelson, who is widely considered the greatest wedge player of his generation, what followed from an entertainment perspective was just as impressive.

Day birdied his next three holes after the seventh, took a breather at the 11th before adding four more birdies in a row. That’s eight holes, seven birdies.

“I had some momentum stoppage with the double bogey, but once I birdied [No.] 8, the momentum started picking up and it picked up pretty quick,” Day said. “I felt good on the green; I had to get myself on the green and hole the putt.”

Day would complete his round in 65 strokes to move to 7 under par, just two strokes off the lead held by Jimmy Walker and Robert Streb.

That he’s in contention without making a single birdie on either of Baltusrol’s par 5s for two days is the kind of statistic that keeps other players up at night. That he’s within a layup of becoming just the second player since the PGA went to stroke play to win this event in back-to-back years considering how his week started defies explanation.

Day saw Baltusrol for the first time on Wednesday afternoon. He traveled from the RBC Canadian Open on Monday and took Tuesday off to nurse a cold.

Day contends that the extra rest has helped him keep his focus in the sweltering New Jersey summer, and figures his own lowered expectations given his abbreviated preparation have also been a bonus.

“I think being able to kind of voice where I'm at mentally and physically with my health takes a lot of expectations off my shoulders and lets everyone know that I don't have a lot of expectation coming to the week,” Day said.

It’s standard fare to ask Day about his health given his eventful past, and as he headed home on Friday night he was asked if he was feeling better.

“I'm feeling pretty good. No excuses,” he smiled. “Guys have won on worse. Tiger at the [2008] U.S. Open with a broken leg. I've got a cold. It's not the same.”

Although the diagnoses didn’t match Woods’ at Torrey Pines, the former world No. 1 could certainly appreciate Day’s comeback on Friday.

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The Social: G.O.A.T., after G.O.A.T., after G.O.A.T.

By Jason CrookJanuary 23, 2018, 6:00 pm

Tom Brady compares himself to Tiger Woods, who coincidentally is returning to the PGA Tour this week, Jordan Spieth hangs out with some decent company and kids these days ruffle some feathers with their friendships.

All that and more in this week's edition of The Social.

Well, it’s finally Farmers Insurance Open week and Woods has been spotted practicing for his official return to the PGA Tour on Thursday.

Some thought this day might never come after a 2017 filled with mostly downs for the 14-time major champ.

But as he has taught the golf world time and time again, you just can't count Tiger out.

So even as Jon Rahm attempts to overtake Dustin Johnson for No. 1 in the world this week at Torrey Pines, all eyes will be on one of the greatest we've ever seen do it, even if that guy is ranked No. 647 in the world.

Speaking of greatness …

There’s not many who can just offhandedly compare themselves to Tiger, but if anyone gets a pass, it’s Tom Brady.

The 40-year-old New England Patriots quarterback led his team back to the Super Bowl for the second straight year despite playing the AFC title game with a cut on his throwing hand.

When asked about it after the Patriots come-from-behind victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady answered, “I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that. It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament.”

So there you have it. A 40-year-old Brady is winning AFC Championships with his C game. Good luck, Eagles; you’re going to need it.

Also, if for some reason you wanted an update on Justin Thomas' life, it's still awesome:

Yeah, that's last year's PGA Tour Player of the Year hanging with Cy Young winner Cory Kluber in a suite at the Patriots game and teasing us with a possible #SB2K18 cameo.

Curtis Strange likes his competitive golf straight up, hold the friendliness.

This, according to Curtis Strange.

The two-time U.S. Open champ took to Twitter during the CareerBuilder Challenge to vent his frustration regarding the constant chit-chat and friendliness between Rahm and Andrew Landry:

This, of course, makes sense in theory. But good luck watching golf – or really any sport – from here on out. Sure there will be a few old school guys who buck the trend here and there, but for the most part, it’s really hard to share a private jet/dinners/vacations/(insert awesome thing here) with someone, and then completely turn off the friendship coming down the stretch of a big tournament.

Damn millennials. They ruin everything.

By now you've all seen that poor Philadelphia Eagles fan who lost his battle with a subway station pillar (from multiple angles), so instead here is a video of a man attempting to stand on an egg. Bet you can't guess how that goes.

Tony's gonna stand on an egg

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Seriously if you haven't seen the video of that Eagles fan, here's your last chance in this column. You'll be glad you did.

Jordan Spieth, Michael Phelps and Bryce Harper walk on to a golf course … there’s no punchline, that actually happened last week in Las Vegas.

Was the whole thing just a big advertisement for Spieth’s new Under Armour shoe? You bet.

But that doesn’t make the optics of three of the biggest superstar athletes on the planet teeing it up for a round any less awesome.

Off to the next. #Spieth2 #TEAMUA

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The trio has three major wins, five All Star Game appearances and 28 Olympic medals between them, and there they were over the weekend just fake laughing for the camera and driving around individual golf carts with their own personalized logos on them.

Just guys being dudes. Nothing better than that.

Matt Kuchar. Still good at golf. Still overly polite. This according to European Tour pro Eddie Pepperell who had the privilege of hitting on the range next to Kuuuuuch in Abu Dhabi last week.

That image is burned into your brain forever now, thanks Eddie. From now on when you think of Kuchar you're going to think of those Sketches ads and "oopsies."

Which, I suppose is better than a, "Did you get that?"

Blayne Barber's caddie, Cory Gilmer, collapsed and hit his head while at a restaurant at the Sony Open and has been mostly unconscious in the neurological intensive care unit ever since.

The outpouring of love and support from the golf community has been overwhelming on social media, and a GoFundMe page has been set up to help with the mounting medical costs for Gilmer and his family.

Check out the link below for more info or to donate to a worthy cause:

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Top-ranked amateur wins LAAC, earns Masters invite

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 23, 2018, 5:38 pm

Joaquin Niemann walked Augusta National Golf Club as a patron last year. He’ll be a competitor in 2018.

Niemann, the top-ranked amateur in the world, shot 8-under 63 Tuesday at Prince of Wales Country Club in his native Santiago, Chile, to win the Latin America Amateur Championship.

And with the title, both redemption and an invitation to the Masters Tournament.

Full-field scores from the Latin America Amateur Championship

Niemann finished runner-up in last year’s LAAC to fellow Chilean Toto Gana. He followed Gana around Augusta grounds, watching as his best friend played two rounds before missing the cut.

Niemann, who was going to turn professional had he not won this week, started the final round one back of Mexico’s Alvaro Ortiz. Niemann was sluggish from the start on Tuesday, but then drove the 313-yard, par-4 eighth and made the eagle putt. That sparked a run of five birdies over his next six holes.

Niemann was bogey-free in the final round and finished five shots clear of Ortiz, at 11 under.

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Judges Panel, Host Announced for Wilson Golf's "Driver vs. Driver 2," Premiering This Fall on Golf Channel

By Golf Channel Public RelationsJanuary 23, 2018, 4:15 pm

‘Driver vs. Driver 2 Presented by Wilson Currently in Production; Sports Broadcaster Melanie Collins Returns to Host

Morning Drive: Driver vs. Driver 2 Judges Announced

Golf Channel and Wilson Golf announced today the panel of judges and host for the second season of Driver vs. Driver, the innovative television series that follows aspiring golf equipment designers as they compete for the opportunity to have their driver idea or concept transformed into the next great golf driver from Wilson. The show is currently in production and will premiere this fall.

Joining judge Tim Clarke, President of Wilson Golf, are two newcomers to the series: 9-time National Hockey League (NHL) All-Star and current NHL on NBC hockey analyst Jeremy Roenick – an avid golfer with a single digit handicap and a self-described golf equipment junkie; and PGA Professional, golf coach, equipment reviewer and social media influencer Rick Shiels.

“Golf is a big passion of mine, and personally I enjoy learning about new equipment and concepts,” said Roenick. “To be able to see this side of the business in how equipment is developed first-hand is fascinating. Being a part of the process in reviewing driver concepts and narrowing them down to an ultimate winning driver that will be sold across the country is a tremendous honor.” 

“Jeremy, as an avid golfer, and Rick, as a coach, equipment reviewer and golf professional, bring incredible, real world insights and different perspectives to the show and this process,” said Clarke. “I’m excited to work alongside these two judges to push the boundaries of innovation and bring a next-generation driver to golfers around the world.”

Sports broadcaster Melanie Collins returns as the host of Driver vs. Driver 2. Currently a sideline reporter for CBS Sports’ college football and basketball coverage, Collins hosted the inaugural season in 2016 and formerly co-hosted Golf Channel’s competition series, Big Break.

Production for Driver vs. Driver 2 began in the fall of 2017 and will continue through the summer, including this week at the PGA Merchandise Show. The series is being produced by Golf Channel, whose portfolio of original productions include interview series Feherty hosted by Emmy-nominated sports personality David Feherty, high-quality instruction shows School of Golf, Golf Channel Academy and Playing Lessons and a slate of award-winning films.

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Tiger Tracker: Farmers Insurance Open

By Tiger TrackerJanuary 23, 2018, 4:00 pm

Tiger Woods is competing in a full-field event for the first time in nearly a year. We're tracking him at this week's Farmers Insurance Open. (Note: Tweets read, in order, left to right)