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By Rex HoggardAugust 3, 2011, 8:39 pm

AKRON, Ohio – It was a messy split by any measure. Rory McIlroy wanted the CD collection, the PGA Tour didn’t want to give up their half of the gym membership. One of those irreconcilable difference things where nobody is to blame but everything feels wrong.

The Tour tried to make nice, easing a punitive rule that would limit the game’s chosen one to just 10 starts in the United States, but it had a too little, too late feel to it. And when the Ulsterman won the U.S. Open by eight strokes it must have sent Tour types into an ice cream-laden bender. Rory, their Rory, was now atop the world heap if not in the World Ranking then in the collective consensus.

The European Tour, long considered the Little Sisters of the Poor to the PGA Tour’s Big State University, was officially the top dog. What’s wrong with American golf, pundits asked? The answer: the European Tour.

The transatlantic power shift was complete, Europe was a 4-and-3 winner.

But then months of drought in the south of England was shattered by a series of bone-chilling storms and Royal St. Wind Tunnel took it to the world’s best. Among the high-profile victims was Rory McIlroy. He may be a proud Ulsterman by birth but his game is more Northeastern than Northern Ireland.

Holywood Golf Club, the blue-collar layout perched high on a hill overlooking Belfast Lough, is, by any definition, a parkland (read American) style course and the native son understandably developed an American-style, high-flying power game.

It was a game that was pushed to the limits at Royal St. George’s by winds that gusted to 30 mph and rain that seemed to fall sideways. When McIlroy walked off property on Sunday he was honest and to the point.

“My game is suited for basically every golf course and most conditions, but these conditions I just don't enjoy playing in really,” he said following rounds of 71-69-74-73 and a tie for 25th. “That's the bottom line. I'd rather play when it's 80 degrees and sunny and not much wind.”

Although many back home in the United Kingdom took exception to McIlroy’s take on links golf, few on the other side of the pond took much notice. Even when McIlroy tweeted on Monday that this week’s WGC-Bridgestone Invitational is among his favorite events, few in Ponte Vedra Beach made a note of it. Breakups will do that; make you hard and blind to even the slightest hint of reconciliation.

But then on Wednesday morning at Firestone, McIlroy approached the Tour’s executive vice president and chief of operations Andy Pazder and senior vice president of player relations Ross Berlin about the possibility of a reunion. A few hours later he informed a group of stunned scribes that, “I’m leaning towards taking my card up again. I feel as if I play my best golf over here. I’m very comfortable in this country.”

Not much could wrench the media out of the Tiger Woods-induced coma, but McIlroy did it.

The Tour was guarded, as any jilted partner would be. Or, as Pazder stressed, “We’re cautiously optimistic.”

When asked why he’d had such a dramatic change of heart, McIlroy was clear, “The weather (at Royal St. George’s),” although some have speculated that his recent split with his long-time girlfriend also had something to do with the decision.

According to McIlroy’s congenial manager Chubby Chandler he will meet with McIlroy and his father, Gerry, on Monday in Atlanta to go over possible schedules. The truth is McIlroy will only need five more U.S. starts than he had this year (10) to keep his membership.

“I feel his schedule will be the same to this year over the first three months,” Chandler told GolfChannel.com. “He would likely add events toward the end (of the year).”

Specifically add the Tour’s four-event playoff series, which was, ironically, the reason McIlroy gave up his membership after the 2010 season and why, according to Tour regulations, he could not renew his membership this year even after his convincing victory at Congressional.

“You only got a week off after the PGA and then straight back into four weeks out of five that were pretty tough,” McIlroy said. “It’s hard to keep it going for that length of time. But yeah, it’s something that you just have to accept.”

McIlroy plans to look for a U.S. base after next week’s PGA Championship; Chandler said it will likely be in West Palm Beach, Fla. If he asks nicely, the Tour may be willing to co-sign a loan for his new digs if need be.

Although the Tour took the high road when McIlroy took his talents back to Europe, not having the game’s best up-and-coming player was a hole in the resume, particularly on the eve of a new round of television contract talks.

“Rory is an immense talent. For a person to win an Open by eight shots he captivates fans in the U.S. and around the world,” Pazder said. “For some reason I thought at some point Rory would take up has membership again.”

But then the jilted are always optimistic, no matter how unsavory a split might be.

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.