Monday Scramble: Spieth banks, Gomez rallies and beards rule

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2016, 5:00 pm

Fabian Gomez rallies for a stunning victory, Brandt Snedeker comes up just short for the second week in a row, Jordan Spieth and Phil Mickelson both make headlines without hitting a shot and golfer facial hair comes under scrutiny. All that and more in this week's Aloha edition of Monday Scramble:

Consistency is overrated.

Perhaps taking a page from the book of all-or-nothing countryman Angel Cabrera, Gomez came out of nowhere Sunday to contend at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Seven birdies in a row during the final round can create that type of unexpected opportunity.

Months removed from his maiden PGA Tour victory – and with little form in the interim to suggest a return to the winner's circle was imminent – Gomez made the most of his chance. The Argentine closed with two birdies to cap off a final-round 62, then outlasted Snedeker on the second hole of a sudden-death playoff.

When Gomez emerged last summer to win the FedEx St. Jude Classic in convincing fashion, it was seen as a deserving win but one against a relatively weak field, with many of the game's best resting for the U.S. Open the following week. While this Sony field didn't boast a top-10 player, Gomez did have to pass guys like Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner before getting a crack at Snedeker in overtime. If anything, it shows that his win in Memphis was no fluke, and he is now up to a career-best No. 55 in the world rankings. 

As Gomez's finish in Hawaii showed, you don't need a ton of bites at the proverbial apple if you're able to take care of business with the few chances you are afforded.

1. Just how unexpected was Gomez's victory? Well, consider the fact that last week's T-6 finish at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions was his first top-10 finish since that breakthrough win in Memphis. He followed that victory with the following record in his subsequent seven starts: MC, MC, MC, MC, T-67, MC, T-71. Here's hoping the hangover is a little bit shorter this time around.

2. With a bevy of younger winners emerging in recent months on the PGA Tour, fans may have grown accustomed to 18th-hole celebrations that include players embracing their young children. (Great photo op, right?) Well when Gomez clinched his victory Sunday, the first family member to greet him was his 11-year-old daughter, Melina.

It served as a stark reminder that Gomez, 37, has been at this for a while. He turned pro in 2001, and was playing on the Tour just 16 months ago. Now with two victories under his belt, his PGA Tour schedule is set through the 2017-18 season. 

Is it great to see rising stars likey Smylie Kaufman and Justin Thomas get their hands on the hardware at a young age? Sure. But it's equally rewarding to see a grinder like Gomez reap some of the benefits from decades of hard work and perseverance.

3. With the victory, Gomez becomes just the fourth player from Argentina with multiple PGA Tour wins. Here's a look at the full list, which includes a pair of major champions:

  • Roberto De Vicenzo: eight wins (including 1968 Open Championship)
  • Cabrera: three wins (2007 U.S. Open, 2009 Masters and 2014 Greenbrier Classic)
  • Jose Coceres: two wins (2001 RBC Heritage and 2001 Walt Disney World Golf Classic)
  • Gomez: two wins (2015 FedEx St. Jude Classic and 2016 Sony Open)

4. Not on that previous list (yet) is Emiliano Grillo, who captured the season-opening Open. This win by Gomez basically locks up those two men to represent Argentina this summer when golf returns to the Olympics, where both could be intriguing players to watch while teeing it up in neighboring Brazil.

5. Victory celebrations can often include some tears, but usually the emotions come from the player - not the caddie. Roles were reversed at Waialae, though, as Gomez remained stoic while his caddie, Coco Monteros, broke down on the 18th green. Interviews with Gomez after the win shed light on the situation, as Monteros' father had died just a few weeks prior. The pair had dedicated their collective effort in the final round to his memory, and the in the moment Monteros was overcome with emotion.

"We knew we would have a chance, and we were proud to be able to do it for him," Gomez said.

6. Another close call for Snedeker, who followed a T-3 finish in Maui with a playoff loss in Honolulu. Sneds was surprisingly undone by a normally trusty putter, unable to find the proper pace on a few key putts coming down the stretch, and he probably wishes he could have a mulligan on the club choice off the tee of the second playoff hole.

"Just kind of never really got comfortable with the speed of the greens for some reason," Snedeker said. "I don't know why."

Overall, though, it's still a strong start to the new year for Snedeker, who is up to No. 24 in the world. After all, it was less than a year ago that he was well outside the OWGR top 50 and without an invite into most of the majors and WGC events - neither of which are an issue this year.

7. Zac Blair missed a 10-foot putt to join the playoff with Gomez and Snedeker, but the solo third was still a career-best result for the 25-year-old. His ascension through the ranks is the stuff dreams are made of in Ponte Vedra Beach: after brief stints on PGA Tour Canada and PGA Tour LatinoAmerica, Blair made it through the Tour Finals two years ago and has been in the big leagues ever since.

His path to success may be a bit meandering, but it's one that Tour officials can point to as a shining example of the opportunities they had hoped to create in this post-Q-School world.

8. Kisner is out to prove that his banner year and RSM Classic victory were no fluke.

In a stretch that bridges across the holiday season, Kisner has now gone four straight events in which he has entered the weekend in the thick of contention, and in three of those tournaments he has played in Sunday's final group. That includes his breakthrough win at Sea Island, and while Kisner is likely disappointed with an even-par final round that left him tied for fifth at Waialae, he is now up to No. 14 in the world and padded his lead atop the FedEx Cup standings.

9. It's good to be Jordan Spieth, even during an off week.

Days after Spieth cruised to victory at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, a Golf Digest report indicated that Spieth had overtaken Tiger Woods as the top earner in golf for 2015, amassing more than $53 million in on-course and endorsement earnings last year.

That proclamation was then followed by a multi-year partnership with Coca-Cola, putting Spieth on a par with the likes of LeBron James in the eyes of one of the country's most iconic brands. Get ready for that mug to appear on plenty of Coke six-packs in the weeks and months leading up to the Rio Olympics.

10. It appears that the Europeans have, in fact, realized that this is a Ryder Cup year. Led by Darren Clarke, who will captain the team at Hazeltine in October, Team Europe drummed their Asian counterparts en route to an 18 1/2 to 5 1/2 rout at the second annual EurAsia Cup.

That steamroll was led by Clarke's two captain's picks, Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter, both of whom displayed their veteran leadership and match-play savvy while also going undefeated.

But perhaps more importantly, it was invaluable experience for up-and-comers like Andy Sullivan, Danny Willett and Matthew Fitzpatrick, all of whom now have a taste of what it's like to win for the Continent. All three of those names could factor for spots on Clarke's roster this fall, and all appear poised to take the baton for English golf from the likes of Westwood, Poulter and Luke Donald at some point in the not-too-distant future.

11. There was plenty of Phil Mickelson discussion in the news this week, especially considering Lefty remained many miles away from Waialae. There was discussion over a recent practice round with newly-minted pro Ryan Ruffels that may or may not have included some side action, and we saw Mickelson rock the casual look as he oversaw progress at Mickelson National outside Calgary.

The most telling development, however, was Mickelson's candid comments that he is both optimistic and "nervous" about the start of a new season. At age 45, Mickelson hasn't played since the Presidents Cup in October, hasn't won since the 2013 Open Championship and now embarks on a pivotal season under the guidance of a new swing coach in Andrew Getson. It all gets started this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

12. Two-time defending champ Jimmy Walker salvaged a T-13 finish at Sony thanks in large part to a back-nine 30 on Sunday, but he never really contended for the three-peat. Walker has now opened the new year with a pair of top-15 finishes, but it's not the form we have been used to seeing from the American over the last two-plus seasons.

While Walker cracked the top 10 in the world rankings after his win at last year's Valero Texas Open, he has now slipped to No. 25 and hasn't had a realistic chance to win coming down the stretch since a T-2 finish at the AT&T Byron Nelson Championship in May.

13. Ryan Lavner with the recap of Paul Chaplet's win at the Latin America Amateur Championship, a surprising victory that brought with it an invite to the Masters for the 16-year-old from Costa Rica.

Pete Dye's Teeth of the Dog course took its toll on the field all week, but Chaplet emerged with the coveted golden ticket to Augusta National. Television viewers, on the other hand, left with plenty of reasons to add the scenic layout set along the rocky shores of the Dominican Republic to any golf-related bucket list.

14. Here we go. In the first full-field event since the anchoring ban became official, social media stirred during the close of play in Honolulu when Blair used a 3-wood from around the green and touched his shirt with the butt end of the club during his stroke. Did he anchor? Did he not?

The answer was no, as any anchoring violation is tied to the player's intent. But as Randall Mell pointed out this is the first – but hardly the last – time questions will abound about the A-word. The USGA's myopic ruling opened Pandora's box on this one, and we won't see the end of it anytime soon.

Are the facial hair police coming to a tournament near you?

Boo Weekley and Graham DeLaet have both been known to sport pretty full beards inside the ropes, but both appear to have misplaced their shaving kits over the brief off-season. The result is a pair of bushy efforts that make you wonder if the calendar still says Movember:

According to a Golfweek report, Weekley's facial hair has even caught the attention of Tour officials, who may soon ask him to trim it down. While the three-time winner insisted that he doesn't plan to break out the shears anytime soon, it could be an interesting situation to monitor in the coming weeks and months as he progresses toward full-on Duck Dynasty status.

As for DeLaet, maybe the extra-thick beard should be here to stay. The Canadian rallied from an opening 73 to finish T-7 in Hawaii, his best result since a fourth-place showing at the Travelers Championship in June and just his fourth top-10 finish since August 2014.

This week’s award winners … 

Quote of the Week: "Oh my gosh, that is so good." - Blair as his approach to the 72nd hole was mid-air, a 266-yard 3-wood that rolled to within 10 feet of the hole. While he failed to convert the subsequent eagle putt that would have given him a chance at the win, Blair still gets points for both pulling off a great shot when he needed it and for providing some stellar mid-swing commentary.

Too Much Time Off Can Be Detrimental to One's Health: It looks like former Ryder Cup hero Jamie Donaldson could be on the disabled list for a little while after the Welshman tweeted a picture of his recently-injured hand following a chainsaw encounter. I'm still waiting for the first time the phrase "chainsaw encounter" is used to describe something that ends well:

The Old Guard Strikes: It was a pretty good week in Honolulu for some of the game's elder statesmen. Vijay Singh, 52, opened with a 63 and briefly flirted with becoming the oldest winner in PGA Tour history. At age 59, Fred Funk became the oldest player in Sony tournament history to make the cut while 49-year-old Jerry Kelly quietly notched a T-9 finish for his third straight top-10 at Waialae. 

Away with the Anchors: Perhaps there is hope yet for recovering anchorers in this new era, as Tim Clark posted a solid T-13 finish in Hawaii in his first start since shelving his trusty broomstick putter. It was a nice week for the South African, who had been one of the most outspoken opponents of the anchoring ban since its announcement. The results for other ex-anchorers, though, were not as rosy: David Hearn failed to back up an opening 65 en route to an MDF finish, while Carl Pettersson missed the cut. Meanwhile Adam Scott, who at No. 11 was the highest-ranked player in the field, failed to shoot lower than 68 in any single round and finished a mediocre T-56.

Ridiculous Stat of the Week: Let's hear it for new year's resolutions. Snedeker ended 2015 by playing his final six competitive rounds in 19 over par, highlighted (lowlighted?) by an 84 at the Australian PGA. He has since opened 2016 by playing his first eight competitive rounds in 41 under.

Random Thought of the Week: Greg Norman is out as the lead golf analyst for Fox Sports. It seems like only a few days ago that someone used this space to advocate for a full-time U.S. commentary gig for Butch Harmon ...

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Honda Classic: Tee times, TV schedule, stats

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 19, 2018, 11:44 pm

The PGA Tour heads back east to kick off the Florida Swing at PGA National. Here are the key stats and information for the Honda Classic. Click here for full-field tee times.

How to watch:

Thursday, Rd. 1: Golf Channel, 2-6PM ET; live stream:

Friday, Rd. 2: Golf Channel, 2-6PM ET; live stream:

Saturday, Rd. 3: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream:; CBS, 3-6PM ET

Sunday, Rd. 4: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream:; CBS, 3-6PM ET

Purse: $6.6 million ($1,188,000 to the winner)

Course: PGA National, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida (par-70; 7,140 yards)

Defending champion: Rickie Fowler (-12) won by four, picking off his fourth PGA Tour victory.

Notables in the field:

Tiger Woods

• Making his fourth start at the Honda Classic and his first since withdrawing with back spasms in 2014.

• Shot a Sunday 62 in a T-2 finish in 2012, marking his lowest career final-round score on the PGA Tour.

• Coming off a missed cut at last week's Genesis Open, his 17th in his Tour career.

Rickie Fowler

• The defending champion owns the lowest score to par and has recorded the most birdies and eagles in this event since 2012.

• Fowler's last start was at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, where he failed to close a 54-hole lead. Fowler is 1-for-6 with 54-hole leads in his Tour career, with his only successful close coming at last year's Honda.

• On Tour this year, Fowler is first in scrambling from the fringe, second in total scrambling and third in strokes gained around the green. 

Rory McIlroy

• It's been feast or famine for McIlroy at the Honda. He won in 2012, withdrew with a toothache in 2013, finished T-2 in 2014 and missed the cut in 2015 and 2016.

• McIlroy ascended to world No. 1 with his victory at PGA National in 2012, becoming the second youngest player at 22 years old to top the OWGR, behind only Woods. McIlroy was later edged by a slightly younger 22-year-old Jordan Spieth.

• Since the beginning of 2010, only Dustin Johnson (15) has more PGA Tour victories than McIlroy (13). 

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Randall's Rant: Tiger no longer one with the chaos

By Randall MellFebruary 19, 2018, 9:49 pm

Back in the day, Tiger Woods appeared to relish riding atop the chaos, above the raucous waves of excitement that followed him wherever he went.

Like Kelly Slater surfing epic peaks at Banzai Pipeline ...

Like Chris Sharma dangling atop all the hazards on the cliff face of “The Impossible Climb” at Clark Mountain ...

Hell, like Chuck Yeager ahead of the sonic boom he created breaking the sound barrier in a Bell X-1 over the Mojave Desert in 1947.

It was difficult to tell whether Woods was fueling the bedlam in his duel with Bob May in the 2000 PGA Championship, or if it was fueling him.

Fans scampered in a frenzy you rarely see in golf to get the best look they could at his next shot at Valhalla in that playoff.

Same thing when Woods turned his 15-shot rout into a victory parade in the final round of the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach that same year.

And when Woods improbably chipped in at the 16th at Augusta National to shake every pine tree at the Masters before going on to defeat Chris DiMarco in a playoff in 2005.

Tiger brought a boisterous, turbulent new wave of excitement to the game, unrivaled since Arnie’s Army followed the legend in his heyday.

Woods attracted new fans who did not understand golf’s time-honored traditions. He lured them to the game’s most hallowed grounds. There were challenges with that, though they always seemed more daunting to Woods’ playing partners than to him.

At his best, Tiger seemed to be one with the chaos, able to turn its energy into his energy.

Every Tiger pairing in his prime turned wherever he was into a home game, turned every golf course into his stadium and transformed every opponent into the visiting team.

We heard how hard that was for the Bob Mays, Chris DiMarcos and even the Ernie Els of the world.

That’s what added to the intrigue of Tiger’s return to Riviera last week, and what will make this week at PGA National and the Honda Classic similarly interesting.

Tiger’s back.

Well, the overly exuberant frenzy only he can create is back, but his game isn’t. Not yet. And now we’re hearing how the bedlam is a challenge to more than his playing partners. It’s a challenge to his game, too.

“It cost me a lot of shots over the years,” Woods said at the Genesis Open. “It’s cost me a few tournaments here and there.

“I’ve dealt with it for a very long time.”

Huh? Did Tiger forget the advantage he had playing in a storm? Or are today’s storms different, more unruly, more destructive?

Did having total control of all facets of his game when he was at his best make the bedlam work for him?

Does the focus it requires to find his old magic today make the chaos work against him?

Jack Nicklaus used to say that when he heard players complaining about difficult conditions going into a major, he checked them off his list of competitive threats.

You wonder if Tiger did the same back in the day, when players talked about the challenges that surrounded a pairing with him.

Golf is different than other sports. That has to be acknowledged here.

When you hear mainstream sports fans wonder what is so wrong with a fan yelling in a player’s backswing, you know they don’t understand the game. A singular comment breaking the silence over a player’s shot in golf is like a fan sneaking onto the field in football and tripping a receiver racing up the sideline. It is game-changing chaos.

Is Tiger facing game-changing chaos now?

Or was Riviera’s noise something he just can’t harness in his current state of repair? Is there more pressure on him trying to come back in that environment?

If Rory McIlroy needed a “couple Advil” for the headache the mayhem at the Genesis Open caused him playing with Tiger last week, then May and DiMarco must have needed shots of Demerol.

Then all those guys who lost majors to Tiger in final-round pairings with him must have felt like they endured four-hour migraines.

“It got a little out of hand,” Justin Thomas said of his two days with Tiger at Riviera.

Maybe McIlroy and Thomas were dealing with something boisterously new, more Phoenix Open in its nausea than anything Tiger created when he broke golf out of a niche.

Whatever it is, Tiger’s challenge finding his best will be even more complicated if he’s no longer one with the chaos, if he can no longer turn its energy into his energy.

If that’s the case, he really may be just one of the guys this time around.

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What's in the bag: Genesis Open winner Watson

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 19, 2018, 7:02 pm

Bubba Watson won the Genesis Open for a third time in his career. Here's a look inside his bag:

Driver: Ping G400 LST (7.6 degrees), with Grafalloy Bi-Matrix Prototype X shaft

Hybrid: Ping G (19 degrees), with Matrix Altus Hybrid X shaft

Irons: Ping iBlade (2), Ping S55 (4-PW), with True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100 shafts

Wedges: Ping Glide 2.0 (52 degrees, 56 degrees, 62 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100 shafts

Putter: Ping PLD Anser

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x

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Monday Scramble: Which way did he go?

By Ryan LavnerFebruary 19, 2018, 4:15 pm

Bubba Watson reemerges, Tiger Woods misses the cut, the PGA Tour might have a fan problem, Billy Hurley III loses an election and more in this week’s edition of Monday Scramble:

Bubba Golf is back, and not a moment too soon for the PGA Tour.

Love him or loathe him – and there are plenty of folks on both side of the aisle – the game is more interesting when Watson is in the mix.

Bubba went AWOL for two years, and entering the back half of his 30s, he thought his golf career might be finished. He got passed over for a Ryder Cup spot in 2016, despite being ranked inside the top 10 in the world. He endured a mysterious illness that caused him to lose 40 pounds on his already slight frame. He surprisingly changed his golf ball (more on that later). And he questioned his desire and motivation to play, until wife Angie gave him a swift kick in his white pants.

Watson was at his best at Riviera, again, shaping shots around the tree-lined fairways and holing just enough putts for a two-shot win.

Where Bubba goes from here – the Masters is less than 50 days away – is anyone’s guess, but the game just got a lot more entertaining.

1. Watson has not disclosed what illness he suffered from last year, and in true Bubba fashion, he grew tired of being asked about it, even though he was the one who brought it up. “I’m not talking about the illness no more, it’s no big deal. I’m here. I’m healthy. There are people that are a lot sicker than me in this world, so the illness is nothing.”

He said that he seriously wondered whether he’d ever win tournaments again. Though he has a number of small businesses to fall back on – a candy shop, a minor-league baseball team, a car dealership – it’s not as satisfying as playing good golf.  

"I was close [to retirement]," he said. "My wife was not close. My wife basically told me to quit whining and play golf. She’s a lot tougher than I am."

2. Though his game was already trending downward, Watson decided to switch his ball at the beginning of 2017. Players change equipment all the time, of course, but none rely on feel and shot shape as much as Watson.

It was a bizarre decision that he hasn’t yet fully explained, and likely never will, but he said in October that he didn’t have a ball deal to begin this new season. He played the Titleist Pro V1x at Riviera.

“Equipment is not the problem,” he said Sunday. “I got down to low-160s in weight. My ball speed, my swing, everything changed.”  

3. As memorable as Bubba’s holed bunker shot on 14 was, this will be the defining moment of his week in LA:

4. Here’s what Watson said in late 2014: “My goal is 10 wins and to make every team event. Those are the biggest goals. And until we reach those goals, I’m going to keep trying. If I get to 10, then I can switch it from there. Or retire.”

Watson on Sunday bristled when asked whether he was possibly going to retire, like he had said – “I don’t know if I was going to retire, let’s don’t start putting words out there” – but the point remains that he now has to change his goals.

And he doesn’t know where to start.

“Nobody thought that Bubba Watson from Bagdad, Fla., would ever get to 10 wins, let’s be honest,” he said. “Without lessons, head case, hooking the ball, slicing the ball, can’t putt. Somehow we’re here, making fun of it. So yes, I’ve got to set a new goal.”

After this latest win, and the two-year exemption, he said that he won’t retire for at least two more years, and that he’ll play the Masters “until they kick me out.”

5. The Tiger Woods comeback tour hit a snag last week at Riviera.

The driving issues that hampered Woods at Torrey Pines didn't magically disappear. He was still inconsistent with his iron play. (His 16 greens hit in two rounds were the fewest of his Tour career.) And he wasn’t as sharp around the greens. It added up to 72-76 and an early exit in his first L.A. appearance in more than a decade.

In two starts this year, Woods has hit 36 percent of the fairways and 54 percent of the greens.

That's a problem, because PGA National might be even more difficult, with water on seemingly every hole and 15-mph winds expected. Uh-oh.

6. Woods’ driver remains his biggest problem.

While he’d largely eliminated the left side of the course at Torrey Pines, that wasn’t the case at Riviera.

Putting a new, more “stout” model of shaft in his TaylorMade driver, Woods missed right almost exclusively in the opening round, then had several double crosses left with the big stick on Day 2.

His short game and putting might be vastly improved compared to the horrors of the past few years, but it’ll be hard to compete and then contend if he’s hitting it off the planet. (And many of those off-line drives would find the water at PGA National.)

For the week, he ranked 128th in strokes gained-off the tee, 100th approaching the green, 95th around the green and 65th putting.

7. The news wasn’t all bad, though.

That Woods committed to the Honda Classic, his hometown event, was an encouraging sign. That signals A) he has a desire to play tournaments, and B) he’s physically able to do it.

For the first time in years, we’re finally able to judge Woods on the quality of his play, not his health. 

8. The PGA Tour might be reaching a breaking point in regards to fan behavior.

Players know what they’re signing up for at TPC Scottsdale, but even regular Tour stops are getting more raucous than players and officials would like.

Woods created such a scene over the first two rounds at Riviera that his playing partner, Rory McIlroy, said that he had a splitting headache and that the circus probably costs Woods a half shot each round. Justin Thomas said Saturday that spectators are trying to scream and time their moronic comments perfectly. “It’s completely unacceptable,” he said.

The same thing happened at Torrey Pines, where a fan screamed during Woods’ putting stroke. It happened (a lot) at Phoenix, where a fan twice yelled in Jordan Spieth’s downswing. And it’ll absolutely happen again this week at the Honda Classic, especially at the long, par-3 17th, where tournament organizers have put their most overserved fans almost directly on top of the tee.

It’s only a matter of time before one of these idiots costs a player the tournament.  

9. Bill Haas was involved in a horrifying car crash last week in Los Angeles. The driver of the Ferrari he was traveling in, 71-year-old Mark Gibello, was killed, while Haas and the driver of the other vehicle were taken to the hospital.

It was a scary incident, and a sad one for the Haas family. Fortunately, Haas escaped without any major injuries, but the mental toll could be immense.

Wish him the best.  

10. So it looks like it’ll be another drama-filled year for Lydia Ko.

After going winless in 2017 and changing every major aspect of her game, she returned this year with even more changes – a new swing coach, Ted Oh, and caddie, Jonny Scott. She tied for 19th in her season debut.

It’s time to be concerned. She was on pace to be one of the all-time greats, but now – whether because of insecurity or too much parental involvement, who knows – she has changed her entire team. Again.

Ko said she deleted Twitter from her phone not because of the deluge of criticism she has received over the past year. No, more curiously, she said it was because she didn’t use the app that much and it was “taking up [too much] storage on my phone.”

Uhh ... Ko has more than $8.5 million in career earnings, so obviously she could splurge for the 256 GB plan, and the app takes up less storage on a phone than Uber, anyway.

Maybe she’ll get it turned around this year, but we’re not overly optimistic. There’s too much noise upstairs. 

11. Just in time for the run-up to the Masters, Spieth’s putter is starting to heat up.

On tricky greens for the second consecutive week, Spieth had another week with a positive strokes gained-putting statistic – and that’s a marked improvement from the start of the year. He tied for ninth at Riviera.

“I just made some tremendous progress,” he said. “I feel great about the state of my game going forward, feel like I’m in a great place at this time of the year as we’re starting to head into major season.”

12. Amateur swing coaches popped up everywhere as Patrick Cantlay appeared painfully slow during Sunday’s final round.

On full shots, he shuffles his feet while looking at the target and waggling the clubhead. But over putts, he remains still with his upper body while doing the same dance routine.

While putting on the 16th and 17th holes, he took six and seven looks at the cup, respectively. Perhaps not surprisingly, those putts did not drop. Playing in the final group, he shot 71 and finished three back.

Is there something going on here?

Cantlay’s first-round scoring average (67.67, second on Tour) is almost four shots lower than in his final rounds (71.13, 100th). He has broken 70 only once on Sunday – and that was in Vegas, where he won with a closing 67.  

Cantlay has incredible potential, but this is just one example of smart golf people believing he’d be better suited with a quicker routine:

Billy Hurley III put together one of the most epic campaign ads of all time, but did he release it too late?!

That’s the only reasonable explanation for why Hurley wasn’t elected as the next Player Advisory Council chairman on the PGA Tour.

Hurley’s ad went viral, logging more than 750,000 views on Twitter, but he released it the day before the election. Maybe most Tour players already cast their votes.


Maybe next time, #GoldenMan.

This week's award winners ... 

Peaking For Augusta?: Phil Mickelson. Well, well, well, Phil recorded a third consecutive top-6 finish, the first time he’s done that in 11 years. One massive hurdle remains – putting together four good rounds for his first win in nearly five wins – but he’s absolutely getting closer.

Count Yo’ Money: Kevin Na. With a runner-up at Riviera, the 34-year-old has now crossed $25 million in earnings despite notching just one win in his Tour career.

Changes Coming?: Augusta National’s fifth hole. Site plans were filed last month that show the 445-yard par 4 could be pushed back another 25 to 30 yards, the Augusta Chronicle reported. It’s a short- to mid-iron approach right now, but we’d rather see them address the severe undulations on the green.   

Nice Goin’, Rook: Jin Young Ko. She went wire to wire to win in her first start as an LPGA member, at the Australian Open. She’s just the second to accomplish the feat, joining Beverly Hanson (1951). Of course, the 22-year-old Ko also won last fall, but at the time she wasn’t an official member. The check still cleared, though. 

Stay Hot: Joost Luiten. He made 21 birdies in his last 54 holes to hold off Chris Wood and win the European Tour event in Oman.

Blown Fantasy Pick of the Week: Paul Casey. Seemed an easy pick, after a playoff loss at Riviera in 2015 and after recording a tie for eighth at Pebble that was his 12th top-20 in his last 13 starts. Instead, he needed to birdie his final hole to make the cut on the number, then continued to tread water on the weekend, eventually finishing 49th. Sigh.