USA's Walker Cup roster up in the air at U.S. Am

By Ryan LavnerAugust 16, 2017, 11:45 pm

LOS ANGELES – So, here’s the question on everyone’s mind here at the U.S. Amateur: Who will represent the United States at the upcoming Walker Cup?

No, seriously.

Who?

The 10-man team is expected to be unveiled Sunday night, and there are even more questions than usual about how the USGA International Team Selection Committee will arrive at its decision.

Earlier this year, the USGA announced that it was breaking from tradition and releasing the names of all 10 Walker Cup members at the same time, following the conclusion of the Amateur.

For at least the past decade, the USGA has named part of the team well ahead of the biennial matches. The rationale was that the blue blazers wanted to assure the team’s stars that they had a spot on the team, lest they were enticed by parents or agents to turn pro early. But in some cases, there were unintended consequences: With the pressure off, a few players scaled back their summer schedules and came to the matches out of form.

The USGA said the decision to make one formal announcement was for team unity, to “avoid the perception of a Tier 1 and Tier 2 group.” That sounds swell in a press release, but this decision created an unsettling scenario for the best young Americans, who were forced to decide whether to test the pro ranks or travel all over the country (on their parents’ dimes) in an attempt to impress a committee it has never met.

And it’s not just the bubble boys who have no clue where they stand.

The stars are out of the loop, too.

“I don’t have any idea,” Maverick McNealy said. “I’m just going to wait with my phone on loud Sunday night.”

There is no public Walker Cup points list, no objectivity to the super-secret selection process. It’s a stark contrast to the increasingly popular Palmer Cup, a match-play event between top U.S. and European college players, in which the standings are released several times before the roster is finalized.

Even U.S. captain Spider Miller, who is not involved in the final roster decision, said Wednesday at Riviera: “If there were a points system for the Walker Cup, then I think that would make sense. But that’s not my decision to make.”


U.S. Amateur: Articles, photos and videos


If there’s one thing this amateur season has proved, however, it’s that the allure of the Walker Cup remains strong. There was some apprehension that recent changes to Web.com Tour Q-School would tempt more players to turn pro after the NCAAs in June – even in Walker Cup years – to chase the seven sponsor exemptions allowed for PGA Tour non-members. But that hasn’t panned out, at least not this year.  

Ultimately, only one player (USC’s Rico Hoey) who attended the 16-man practice session last winter opted to turn pro early, while a few contenders such as Sam Burns (LSU) and Sean Crocker (USC) postponed their pro debuts for a chance to wear the Team USA uniform.

The only problem? Now they aren’t sure if they’ll make the squad.

Burns won the Nicklaus Award as the top college player last season and tied for sixth at the PGA Tour’s Barbasol Championship (his 18-under total was the best by an amateur in Tour history). Crocker, meanwhile, played four events overseas this summer and missed the 36-hole cut at the Am.

“I don’t really know, to be honest with you,” Burns said. “Hopefully I’ve put together a strong enough résumé to make the team. But we’ll see.”

Despite the USGA reducing the mid-amateur requirement from two players to one, Miller has suggested that he expects two over-25 players to be on the team. One of those spots will go to Stewart Hagestad, the reigning Mid-Am winner who made the cut at the Masters. The other pick, if the committee indeed green-lights two mid-ams, is likely Scott Harvey, who was part of the losing U.S. team in 2015.

As for the other eight players?

The safe bets are NCAA champion Braden Thornberry and Hogan Award winner Maverick McNealy. Also in strong shape (one would assume) are Norman Xiong, the NCAA Freshman of the Year and recent Western Amateur winner; Cal star Collin Morikawa, who captured the Northeast Amateur; and Pacific Coast winner Doug Ghim, ranked seventh in the world.

The rest of the roster is anyone’s guess.

Burns should receive plenty of consideration. So should big-hitting Cameron Champ, who starred at the U.S. Open and followed it up with a victory at the Trans-Miss.

A few months ago, Illinois senior Dylan Meyer would have been a lock, but the fourth-ranked amateur in the world has struggled this summer. Former USGA champions Will Zalatoris, Scottie Scheffler and Brad Dalke are ALL on the USGA’s radar, too, along with Nick Hardy and a half-dozen other players. Oh, and one spot is reserved in case there’s an American U.S. Amateur winner.

All would make fine selections, of course.

But the how and why matters.

How will the selection committee arrive at that 10-man roster Sunday night?

Why was Player A valued differently over Player B?

“The committee is going to have some difficult choices to make,” Miller said.

And frustratingly, it’ll do so behind closed doors.

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.

Tributes pour in for legendary caddie Sheridan

By Randall MellNovember 23, 2017, 2:54 pm

Tributes are pouring in as golf celebrates the life of Greg Sheridan after receiving news of his passing.

Sheridan, a long-time LPGA caddie who worked for some of the game’s all-time greats, including Kathy Whitworth and Beth Daniel, died Wednesday in Indian Rocks Beach, Fla., at 63. He was diagnosed in July 2016 with brain and lung cancer.

Sheridan worked the last dozen years or so with Natalie Gulbis, who expressed her grief in an Instagram post on Wednesday:

“Greg…I miss you so much already and it hasn’t even been a day. 15+ seasons traveling the world you carried me & my bag through the highs and lows of golf and life. You were so much more than my teammate on the course…Thank you.”

Sheridan was on Whitworth’s bag for the last of her LPGA-record 88 titles.

“When I first came on tour, I would try to find out how many times Greg won,” Gulbis told Golfweek. “It’s a crazy number, like 50.”

Matthew Galloway, a caddie and friend to Sheridan, summed up Sheridan’s impressive reach after caddying with him one year at the LPGA Founders Cup, where the game’s pioneers are honored.

“Best Greg story,” Galloway tweeted on Thanksgiving morning, “coming up 18 at PHX all the founders were in their chairs. Greg goes, `Yep, caddied for her, her and her.’ Legend.”

In a first-person column for Golf Magazine last year, Gulbis focused on Sheridan while writing about the special bond between players and caddies. She wrote that she won the “looper lottery” when she first hired Sheridan in ’04.

“Greg and I have traveled the world, and today he is like family,” Gulbis wrote. “Sometimes, he’s a psychologist. Last year, my mom got sick and it was a distraction, but he was great. When I used to have boyfriend issues and breakup issues, he was my confidant. In a world where caddies sometimes spill secrets, Greg has kept a respectful silence, and I can’t thank him enough for that. He’s an extension of me.”

Four months after Gulbis wrote the column, Sheridan was diagnosed with cancer.

“The LPGA family is saddened to hear of the loss of long-time tour caddie, Greg Sheridan,” the LPGA tweeted. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and players he walked with down the fairways. #RIP.”

Dean Herden was among the legion of caddies saddened by the news.

“Greg was a great guy who I respected a lot and taught me some great things over the years,” Herden texted to GolfChannel.com.

Here are some of heartfelt messages that are rolling across Twitter:

Retired LPGA great Annika Sorenstam:

LPGA commissioner Mike Whan in a retweet of Gulbis:

Golf Channel reporter and former tour player Jerry Foltz:

Christina Kim:

LPGA caddie Shaun Clews:

LPGA caddie Jonny Scott:

LPGA caddie Kevin Casas:

LPGA pro Jennie Lee: