Johnson's HSBC collapse surprising, but not major

By Will GrayOctober 29, 2017, 1:32 pm

In assessing his chances heading into the final round of the WGC-HSBC Champions, one in which he trailed by eight shots and Dustin Johnson was six shots clear of his closest competitor, Justin Rose accurately summed up the situation.

"Playing for second, barring something crazy from him," Rose told reporters. "But that's always the thing, you play for second and see what happens."

The latter half of that statement is a window into a veteran's mindset, a player who has seen nearly everything happen on the course and knows to keep even the slightest shred of hope alive - just in case.

But make no mistake, if tournament organizers had attempted to hand the trophy to Johnson prior to the final round, the other names on the leaderboard would have barely protested. The world No. 1 was in the midst of a clinic, piling up 22 birdies through 54 holes on a course where he has won before and one that favors his bomb-and-wedge approach.

This was Johnson mopping up against a WGC field, just as he had five times prior including twice earlier this year.

But then the unthinkable happened, as Johnson opened with a pair of bogeys to give the field a glimmer of optimism. He failed to right the ship from there, incomprehensibly recording zero birdies on a course that had played like a par-68 for him through the first three rounds. An even-par effort would have resulted in a three-shot win, but instead he signed for 5-over 77 as Rose raced from behind to steal the trophy.

"I mean, I felt fine all day," Johnson said. "I just could never get anything going and didn't hole any putts. It was pretty simple."


WGC-HSBC Champions: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the WGC-HSBC Champions


Very quickly comparisons were drawn to Greg Norman, the only other world No. 1 to cough up a six-shot lead in the final round on the PGA Tour. That, of course, was at the 1996 Masters. And Johnson has had a few major collapses of his own, namely the 2010 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach and the 72nd-hole debacles at Whistling Straits and Chambers Bay.

But to be clear, there was no major trophy at stake this week at Sheshan International Golf Club. In fact, this is the only one of the four WGC events for which there isn't a major championship on the immediate horizon.

The WGC label ensures a strong field, and it allows the Tour to bolster the strength of the capstone of its three-week residency in Asia. But it's also positioned at the tail end of a busy year, despite the Tour's efforts to insist that the calendar regenerates in October, so the predominant reaction to completing 72 holes in China this week was a sigh of relief. Finally, a substantive break is within reach for most players.

Included in that group is Johnson, who won't tee it up again until the Hero World Challenge a month from now. Any lingering scar tissue from Sunday's collapse will be long gone by then, since there probably won't be much sign of it by Tuesday of this week.

If any player is well-equipped to compartmentalize and effectively dispatch of a bitter defeat, it's Johnson. Recall the aforementioned litany of close calls and stack it up against his recent form, which has included four wins this year and an eight-month stint at world No. 1. This is the guy who three-putted away the U.S. Open two years ago and posed with the trophy the next time around.

Johnson was on autopilot for three rounds, sticking to the same clear gameplan that has worked so often this year. He felt comfortable, and he appeared poised. But amid blustery conditions Sunday, he started to wobble and never recovered.

In fact, the shots were so out of character for a player of his caliber - chunked irons, pitch shots that missed the green entirely - that there won't be much to dwell on.

"I felt like I rolled it good. Just nothing was going in the hole. Hit a couple really bad iron shots," Johnson said. "So I just gave a few away. But tough conditions. But I mean, it is what it is."

Johnson's final round is akin to a football team that gets crushed at home and the coach opts to ditch the game tape rather than try to dissect each faulty element. Sometimes the best option is to simply leave a result in the rear-view mirror.

Rose is a deserving champion, and should be commended on his ability to capitalize on Johnson's surprising collapse. But don't expect the world No. 1 to lose too many hours of sleep this week wondering what might have been.

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: