Youth served

By Rex HoggardJuly 25, 2011, 7:20 pm

Chris Haack already knew the outcome, having followed the action online hours earlier and sealed the victory with a short phone call, but he wanted an encore.

“I sat down with a bowl of popcorn, put my feet up and just watched,” the University of Georgia men’s golf coach said when asked how he spent his Sunday afternoon.

Forgive Haack if he’s becoming a bit of a Sunday couch potato, his Bulldogs are making it look easy even if he knows it is not. For the second time this year one of Haack’s players stunned the play-for-pay types and won a Nationwide Tour event, the bookend victory coming on Sunday when Harris English held on to win the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Invitational in Ohio.

If the rumors of American golf’s death proved to be greatly exaggerated last week at Royal St. George’s, where the final leaderboard featured six U.S. flags out of the top-10 finishers, than the future of golf in the United States is starting to look like a simmering pot.

On the same weekend the amateur English took it to the field at Ohio State’s Scarlet Course, baby-faced Patrick Cantlay continued what can best be described as an endless summer with his tie for ninth at the Canadian Open.

Since the NCAA Division Championship in June, the UCLA sophomore-to-be has won the Jack Nicklaus Award, took low-amateur honors at the U.S. Open (T-21), tied for 24th at the Travelers Championship, 20th at the AT&T National and won the Southern California Amateur.

Along the way Cantlay has also took a pass on about $356,000 in Tour winnings. That kind of walking-around money can buy a lot of text books, not that the 19-year-old is much interested in paydays just yet. He says he’s going back to UCLA in the fall, after the U.S. Amateur and hopefully the Walker Cup, and will finish his degree.

“Until he shot 30 on the back nine at the U.S. Open no one was asking him about going back to college,” said Cantlay’s uber-cool swing coach Jamie Mulligan.

Monday morning caddies across golf-dom can second-guess all they want, the bright lights and big paydays of professional golf can wait not just for Cantlay but for English and fellow Bulldog Russell Henley, who won the Nationwide Tour’s Stadion Classic at UGA in May.

All three players plan to remain amateurs through the summer, with English and Henley likely turning pro after September’s Walker Cup in Scotland. It’s a clarity of thought that has particularly impressed Mulligan this summer.

“(Cantlay) listens unbelievably well,” Mulligan said. “It’s just golf, that’s been our theme all summer. Don’t get caught up with hitting balls next to Ernie Els or the courtesy cars. It’s just golf. There’s worse things that can happen than a kid going to college.”

Not that the decision to remain an amateur will get any easier, particularly for Cantlay. Even Haack concedes that it would be a difficult discussion if he had a player in a similar position.

“Out of all of these guys it’s Cantlay that is so impressive,” Haack said. “He’s a freshman and doing it every week. He’s playing like a Tour player already. Going back to college may feel like he’s going back to high school golf. . . . It’s going to be hard for him to pass everything up.”

It’s about the only thing that will be hard for Cantlay & Co. this summer, which prompts a much more important question. What has sparked the young American surge?

Although deep, few would call this year’s college class the deepest in recent memory – that honor likely belongs to the 2007 class that included the likes of Dustin Johnson and Chris Kirk. In fact, eight players from the 2007 U.S. Walker Cup team now have at least partial PGA Tour status. Nor is this year’s class laden with “big name” players, like a Rickie Fowler or Jamie Lovemark. At least not yet.

What they do have, however, is a level of familiarity with the professional game that didn’t exist just a few years ago.

“I think the intimidation factor isn’t what it was,” Haack said. “It’s surprising only because you’ve never seen guys do something like this on a regular basis. It exposes how good college golf is.”

Simply put, young players are more prepared for what awaits them at the next level. Whether the likes of English and Henley have the ability to sustain their success and weather the rigors of tour life remains to be seen, but they’ve already proven that they have the games to compete at the highest levels.

“I knew I could beat all those guys. My goal was to win, but I didn't get it done,” said fellow amateur John Peterson, who was outdueled by English in Ohio. “I didn't win the tournament, but I beat all the pros.”

On this Mulligan takes what he calls the “macro” view: “American golf is healthier than it has been in a long, long, long time. A 15-year-old player is better than a 15-year-old player was 10 years ago.”

Whether one is watching from 30,000 feet, or Haack’s couch, the view remains the same. Maybe there’s hope for American golf after all.

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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.

Nathaniel Crosby at the 1983 Bing Crosby Pro-Am at Pebble Beach. Getty Images

Crosby selected as 2019 U.S. Walker Cup captain

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 3:19 pm

The USGA announced that former U.S. Amateur champ Nathaniel Crosby will serve as the American captain for the 2019 Walker Cup, which will be played at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England.

Crosby, 56, is the son of entertainment icon and golf enthusiast Bing Crosby. He won the 1981 U.S. Amateur at The Olympic Club as a teenager and earned low amateur honors at the 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He also played in the 1983 Walker Cup, coincidentally held at Royal Liverpool, before embarking on a brief career in professional golf, with his amateur status reinstated in 1994.

"I am thrilled and overwhelmed to be chosen captain of the next USA Walker Cup team," Crosby said in a statement. "Many of my closest friends are former captains who will hopefully take the time to share their approaches in an effort to help me with my new responsibilities."

Crosby takes over the captaincy from John "Spider" Miller, who led the U.S. squad both in 2015 and earlier this year, when the Americans cruised to a 19-7 victory at Los Angeles Country Club.

Crosby is a Florida resident and member at Seminole Golf Club, which will host the 2021 matches. While it remains to be seen if he'll be asked back as captain in 2021, each of the last six American captains have led a team on both home and foreign soil.

Started in 1922, the Walker Cup is a 10-man, amateur match play competition pitting the U.S. against Great Britain and Ireland. The U.S. team holds a 37-9 all-time lead in the biennial matches but has not won in Europe since 2007.

Rose (62) sets blistering pace in Indonesia

By Associated PressDecember 14, 2017, 3:06 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia – Justin Rose shot a 10-under 62 Thursday to take a two-stroke lead after the first round of the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, starting on the back nine at Royale Jakarta Golf Club, had five birdies to go out in 31, then birdied four of five holes midway through his final nine and another birdie on his last hole in the $750,000 tournament.

Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters

Gunn Charoenkul (64) was in second place and Kim Giwhan and Phachara Khongwatmai (both 65) were tied for third.

Brandt Snedeker shot 72. Ranked 51st in the world, the American is aiming for a strong finish in Jakarta to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.