The week's storyline: How will Spieth recover?

By Ryan LavnerApril 4, 2017, 8:44 pm

AUGUSTA, Ga. – The shot was struck on Tuesday, not Sunday.

And it was a round for fun, not score.

Jordan Spieth has maintained that he’s not haunted by what happened on the 12th hole at last year’s Masters. That he won’t be defined by the most shocking collapse in tournament history. He tried to prove it yet again Tuesday during a practice round at Augusta National, stuffing his tee shot to a foot – so close he could do one of those hunched, Arnold Palmer-style tap-ins. 

Spieth turned to the patrons, crammed into the grandstand behind the tee, and smirked: “I really could have used that one about 12 months ago.”

Since then, Spieth has been asked incessantly about his travails on the 12th hole, and he has gone through the classic stages of grief. First he shrugged off the meltdown, said that he got over it quickly. Then he became frustrated, tired of the constant questioning and the perception that 2016 was a down year. And finally, he accepted it, chalked up the attention to the 24/7 sports-media culture, and became more guarded in what he offered during his weekly sessions with the press.

Now, two days before the start of the 81st Masters, he just wants to stop talking about it.

“You add them up after 72 [holes],” Spieth said through gritted teeth. “I look forward to getting out there, taking it right over the bunker, just like I can tell you my strategy for any other hole.”

Spieth tried to set the tone early this year. At the SBS Tournament of Champions in Hawaii, Spieth was asked an innocuous question at a pre-tournament news conference. It was Jan. 4.

“Do you find yourself daydreaming about Augusta already?”

Spieth could have answered this question any number of ways – but he decided to do so anecdotally. In vivid detail he recalled the two rounds he played at Augusta National in December, the first time he’d been back to the club since he blew a five-shot lead on the back nine.

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When the group arrived on the tee of the par-3 12th, Spieth was quick to break the ice with his playing partners.

“We have some demons to get rid of here,” he said.

Then he pured an 8-iron to 15 feet. Birdie.

He theatrically pumped his fist and declared, “Demons gone.” He made 2 the next day, too.

By sharing that story, the implication was obvious:

See, I’m over it, guys. No need to talk about it anymore.

If only it were that simple.

The Masters is the biggest golf tournament of the year. It’s the only one with eight months of anticipation. It’s the only one that dominates the sports calendar and draws in casual viewers. And unfortunately for him, How Spieth Recovers is the top storyline.

That much has been reinforced over the past few weeks, as TV networks, websites and magazines revisited the scene in agonizing detail. It’s clear that Spieth has grown tired of rehashing the past, and understandably so. “It will be nice once this year is finished from my point of view, to be brutally honest,” he said recently. But that, again, was wishful thinking.

“It’ll be something he has to prove to himself,” said two-time Masters champion Ben Crenshaw. “We’ve all had our catastrophes around here, but that happened at a bad time, and it was self-inflicted. But you make mistakes like that if you’re a golfer. You learn from it.”

Spieth and those close to him insist that it was merely one bad swing at a bad time, and that it was a minor miracle he was even in position to win back-to-back Masters, given his fatigue from offseason globetrotting and the shaky state of his ball-striking.

“That’s my takeaway,” said Spieth’s caddie, Michael Greller. “You have your C-game, but his short game, mentally, he was tough that week. No. 12 is what it is, but what he did the last six holes shows his stubbornness and his will.”

Those attributes should serve him well this week, with all eyes on the 23-year-old as he returns to the Masters – and to the 12th tee for the first time in competition.

“It will be difficult for him to put that out of his mind,” Colin Montgomerie said. “He says he has played the 12th hole in practice and he has come back and birdied it on every occasion. Yeah, but wait until he gets a card and pen in his hand again and see what you do on No. 12.”

There’s reason to believe this time will be different. Unlike last year, when he cracked the face of his driver and struggled with the weak right shot, Spieth has been sharp, especially with his irons, ranking first in strokes gained-approaches.

He began the year with three consecutive top-10s before a dominant victory at Pebble Beach. Since then, however, he hasn’t finished better than 12th in his last four starts, including a surprising missed cut last week in Houston, where he shot a second-round 77.

Spieth chalked it up to a rare off day. Nick Faldo believed it was something deeper.

“That’s why he hasn’t played well this past month, maybe winding himself up a little over it,” Faldo said. “All this attention.”

After missing the cut in Houston, Spieth also made an uncharacteristically brash statement – that “we strike fear” into others at Augusta. That turned some heads, since he is not physically intimidating, or with power and length. But he did have a point: His record here is 2-1-2.

“It’s the best course of the year for him,” Greller said, “and last year doesn’t change that.”

No, but there is scar tissue now that didn’t exist before, and Spieth will continue to be dogged by the memory of last year’s final round until he wins another green jacket.

“He’s got to go down there and deal with it,” Faldo said. “That’s the hardest thing in golf or any sport is when you don’t have an opportunity to come back and deal with it again. You don’t have another chance to square it up again.”

Spieth gets another chance Thursday, when his score on 12 actually begins to count.

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Angela hits Sergio in stride on field at Superdome

By Grill Room TeamDecember 18, 2017, 3:22 pm

Sergio and Angela Garcia's super 2017 keeps getting more ... Super ... Dome. (+1 awful blog lede.)

The couple started the year with Sergio's win at the Masters, then embarked on a whirlwind green jacket media tour, then kicked off El Clasico, then attended Wimbledon, then got married, then announced they were expecting their first child ...

2017 Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

And now, they're throwing each other passes on the New Orleans Saints' home turf at the Superdome.

Man, it must be so cool do that at the Silverdome. ... ... ... I'm sorry, it is the Superdome, brothers.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 1, Justin Thomas

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 1:00 pm

He won a major, captured the FedExCup and was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year. It should come as no surprise that Justin Thomas holds the top spot on our Newsmakers list for 2017.

Thomas entered the year ranked outside the top 20, and few might have pegged him for a transcendent campaign. But he kicked off January with a win in Hawaii, added another before leaving the Aloha State and never looked back.

Thomas’ seminal moment came in August when he captured the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow for his breakthrough major title. One month after greeting Jordan Spieth behind the final green at Royal Birkdale, this time it was Thomas’ turn to have friends stick around to snap pictures with the trophy that signaled his arrival among golf’s upper echelon.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

In addition to racking up the hardware – five in total, including the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in his first start of the new wraparound season – Thomas dazzled with style. His runaway win at the Sony Open included an opening-round 59, and his third-round 63 at Erin Hills marked the first time anyone had ever shot 9 under on a U.S. Open venue.

Thomas’ consistency was rewarded at East Lake, when a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship netted him the season-long title and $10 million prize. It was in the subsequent press conference where he shared the goals list he had written into his cell phone in February, having ticked off nearly every one. It showed a dedicated attention to detail as well the tactical approach with which Thomas had steered his rapid ascent.

Heading into a new year, he’s now very clearly entrenched as one of the world’s best. And as his career progresses, it’s likely we’ll look back at 2017 as the point where Thomas first transformed great potential into eye-popping results.

Win No. 1: Title defense at the CIMB Classic

Article: Thomas (64) rallies to defend CIMB title

Win Nos. 2 and 3: The Hawaiian double

Article: Thomas refuses to let disastrous hole derail TOC win

Article: Worst week ever ends with another title at Sony Open

Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open

Article: Thomas becomes youngest player to shoot 59

Take a look: Thomas’ scorecard from his amazing 59

Record Round No. 2: 63 at the U.S. Open

Article: Thomas sets U.S. Open record with 9-under 63

Temporary Slide: Open MC makes it three in a row

Watch: Thomas loses club, makes 9, misses Open cut

Mr. Major (and win No. 4): PGA champ at Quail Hollow

Article: Thomas joins the club – the major club

Win No. 5: Dell Technologies Championship

Article: Thomas wins the battle of buddies over Spieth

The $10 Million Man: FedExCup champ

Biggest Win of All? Player of the Year

And One to Grow On: Wins at CJ Cup in 2017-18 season

Article: Thomas caps torrid 12-month run with CJ Cup win

Photo Galleries: Best of ...

Best of: Justin Thomas and Jillian Wisniewski

Best of: Justin Thomas through the years

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 12:30 pm

Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.