Monday Scramble: Deal with it

By Will GrayOctober 30, 2017, 2:30 pm

Justin Rose rallies, Dustin Johnson collapses, Tiger Woods makes the rounds, a high-schooler gets edged out by a bylaw and more in this week’s edition of Monday Scramble:

Rose left China with the trophy, but this will be remembered as the one that got away from Johnson.

The world No. 1 started the final round of the WGC-HSBC Champions with a seemingly insurmountable six-shot lead, then spent the afternoon proving why the word "seemingly" has to be interjected into the sentence.

Johnson picked a bad time to have perhaps his worst round of the year, failing to make a single birdie after notching 22 over the first 54 holes. It added up to a two-shot win for Rose, who entered the final round admittedly playing for second place.

A few hours on the paddleboard back home in Florida should help DJ put to bed any lingering regrets about his final-round woes amid blustery conditions, but it was certainly a surprising result for the American fans who went to bed Saturday night expecting to wake up to news of a Johnson coronation.


1. But let's not shortchange Rose, who put up a closing 67 on a difficult day when no one else in the top 10 managed to break 70.

The Englishman was a hard-luck runner-up at the Masters earlier this year, and he appeared to be closing in on his first winless year since 2009. But he remained patient amid Johnson's surprising collapse, and managed to take advantage when the slimmest of opportunities presented itself.

It's his first win since a gold medal was placed around his neck at the Rio Olympics, and his first PGA Tour victory since the 2015 Zurich Classic of New Orleans.

2. As an Englishman born in South Africa who currently resides in the Bahamas, it should come as no surprise that Rose possesses a global resume. He has won tournaments on every continent except Antarctica and has lifted trophies in 10 different countries: China, England, South Africa, Australia, Brazil, Scotland, Hong Kong, Japan, Turkey and the U.S.

3. Rose came from eight shots back to begin the final round, the third largest comeback in Tour history.

The only players to erase larger deficits on the final day? Paul Lawrie, who was 11 shots back at The Open in 1999 and Stewart Cink, who blew past Ted Purdy at the RBC Heritage in 2004 from nine shots off the pace.


4. To put Johnson's stunning demise in perspective, this was just the seventh time in his career that he didn't record at least a single birdie or better, and the first such round since June.

Johnson was in position to become the first player to ever win three WGC events in a calendar year, and he was hoping to extend his active streak of seasons with at least one win to 11. It turns out both will have to wait until at least 2018.

5. Johnson's Sunday melt took a little bit of heat off of Brooks Koepka's rough patch during the third round.

Playing alongside Johnson in the final group and holding a share of the lead, Koepka made a quad on the par-5 eighth hole en route to dropping well off the pace. He ended up alongside Johnson in second place at 12 under.

Earlier in the week, Koepka estimated that he and Johnson had hung out together for 14 of the 21 days following the Presidents Cup, talking about anything but golf. Neither will likely look to dwell on how things ended this week in China.


6. For a guy who hasn't played competitively in months, Tiger Woods sure found a way to be relevant in the news cycle this past week.

First there was the "stinger" social media post, which drove speculation about his possible return to a new high. Then there was an appearance at Game 2 of the World Series in Los Angeles, followed by his guilty plea Friday to reckless driving charges stemming from a May DUI arrest.

That's a full week, and it yielded Woods a solid chunk of the news cycle while many of the game's best played overnight in Asia.

7. Amid all the appearances, the question remains whether or not Woods will decide to tee it up two months from now at the Hero World Challenge.

The tournament made the unconventional move of announcing 16 of its 18 players earlier this month, perhaps paving the way for Woods to take one of two remaining sponsor exemptions should he so choose. It amounts to a far-fetched scenario for anyone who listened to Woods at the Presidents Cup, when he acknowledged the possibility of never again playing competitively.

The themes from Woods and agent Mark Steinberg have been to take it slow following back fusion surgery in April. But with each passing social media swing video, the lure of a return in the controlled environment of the Bahamas may be too tempting to pass up.

8. One person who seems confident about Woods' return is former swing coach Hank Haney.

Haney hasn't worked with Woods since 2010, but the two were together for six major wins. Haney explained on SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio that he expects Woods to tee it up at Albany, even though his most recent return to competition lasted only seven rounds before back issues flared up that led to another surgery.

"They're going to toy with everybody, because it's just what they do. But he's playing at the Hero World Challenge," Haney said. "He's not going to wait until February to play again."


9. In an era of 20-somethings dominating the LPGA tour, Cristie Kerr continues to turn back the clock.

Kerr won her 20th career title at the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia over the weekend, becoming the first player to win over the age of 40 since Catriona Matthew back in 2011.

She did so with a 35-foot bomb on the final green, and with yet another trophy on her shelf she trails only Annika Sorenstam and Karrie Webb on the LPGA's all-time money list.

"Yes, I'm 40," Kerr told reporters. "And a winner."

And clearly still with plenty left in the tank.

10. Kudos to the USGA for taking the top event in women's golf to one of the most iconic courses in the country.

Pebble Beach will host the 2023 U.S. Women's Open, creating a Northern California double-dip with The Olympic Club hosting in 2021. It'll be the first time the top women in the game play a major on the scenic oceanside layout, and it's about time they were afforded the opportunity.

Pebble will also host the men in 2027, creating a 10-year run of blueblood venues that means a possible return to a course like Chambers Bay or Erin Hills will have to wait until at least 2028.


When is a win not a win?

The riddle was answered this week with the plight of high-schooler Emily Nash, who dusted a field of boys at a regional competition only to be denied both the first-place trophy and a deserving spot at the state tournament.

The Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association dug its heels in while clinging to an arcane bylaw that insists girls can compete in boys' events, but that their scores can only count for the team portion - not the individual race.

The subsequent social media firestorm had pros from both genders weighing in with support for Nash, while LPGA stars crafted a video tribute to Nash under the hashtag #EmilyWon.

It's an unfortunate situation, and one that should have been easily resolved. Hopefully the resulting controversy ensures a similar scenario won't play out in the future.

This week's award winners ... 


In the Winner's Circle: Ryan Armour, who earned his first Tour win at age 41 at the Sanderson Farms Championship. Armour has bounced between the PGA and Web.com circuits for a decade and had only one prior top-10 finish since 2008.

Making the Most of It: Scott Strohmeyer. After surviving a pre-qualifier and winning a Monday qualifier with a holed bunker shot, Strohmeyer tied for fourth in his first career Tour start. The top-10 finish earns him a spot this week in Las Vegas.

Taking Notice: Chesson Hadley, who was a runner-up in Mississippi and came away impressed with the aerial display from Strohmeyer over the weekend:

Thanks for Stopping By: Shugo Imahira, who was disqualified from the WGC-HSBC Champions because he apparently saw an incorrect starting time and failed to show up for his 10:35 a.m. start to Round 3. But in the no-cut, limited-field event, he still went home with $43,000 in (unofficial) prize money.


On the Mend: John Daly, who had to abruptly withdraw from the same event after re-injuring his knee in an on-course fall. Hopefully the two-time major champ can come back stronger in 2018, as he remains an asset for the tour.

Wash, Rinse, Repeat: Bernhard Langer, who won a PGA Tour Champions playoff event for the second straight week. We ran out of superlatives long ago for the ageless German, who is now just nine wins shy of Hale Irwin's all-time mark on the over-50 circuit.

Back in the Saddle: Paul Casey, who will reportedly reinstate his European Tour membership for 2018. Suddenly, the European chances of winning back the Ryder Cup next fall at Paris seem decidedly better with the Englishman back in the fold.

Blown Fantasy Pick of the Week: Hideki Matsuyama. A return to the site of his seven-shot romp from a year ago wasn't enough to snap the Japanese phenom out of his months-long slide, as he tied for 50th and never broke par. Sigh.

Trump playing 'quickly' with Tiger, DJ

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 24, 2017, 1:33 pm

Tiger Woods is scheduled to make his return to competition next week at his Hero World Challenge. But first, a (quick) round with the President.

President Donald Trump tweeted on Friday that he was going to play at Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Fla., alongside Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Woods and President Trump previously played last December. Trump, who, according to trumpgolfcount.com has played 75 rounds since taking over the presidency, has also played over the last year with Rory McIlroy, Ernie Els and Hideki Matsuyama.

Chawrasia leads major champs in Hong Kong

By Associated PressNovember 24, 2017, 1:19 pm

HONG KONG – S.S.P. Chawrasia extended his lead at the Hong Kong Open to two strokes Friday after a 4-under 66 in the second round.

Chawrasia, who had led by one at the Hong Kong Golf Club, is at 9-under 131 overall and took as much as a five-stroke lead at one point.

''Yesterday I was putting very well, and today, also I make some up and downs. I saved a couple of short putts. That's why I think I'm leading by two shots most probably,'' the Indian said. ''The next two days, I'm just looking forward.''


Full-field scores from the UBS Hong Kong Open


Thomas Aiken (64) is second, followed by Alexander Bjork (66), Joakim Lagergren (66), Poom Saksansin (68) and Julian Suri (67) at 5 under 135.

Aiken's round was the lowest of the tournament.

''It is tough out there. The greens are really firm. You've got to hit the fairway,'' Aiken said. ''If you get above the holes, putts can get away from you.''

Justin Rose (69) had six birdies, but three bogeys and a double-bogey at the par 3 12th kept him at 3 under for the tournament.

Masters champion Sergio Garcia (71), playing for the first time in Hong Kong, was at even par, as was defending champion Sam Brazel (71) and 2014 champion Scott Hend (67).

''I have to play better,'' Garcia said. ''The way I felt like I played, it's difficult. This kind of course, you need to play well to shoot a good score.''

Day (68) just one back at Australian Open

By Nick MentaNovember 24, 2017, 6:40 am

Jason Day posted a second-round 68 to move himself just one off the lead held by Lucas Herbert through two rounds at the Emirates Australian Open. Here’s where things stand after 36 holes in Sydney.

Leaderboard: Herbert (-9), Day (-8), Cameron Davis (-7), Anthony Quayle (-6), Matt Jones (-4), Cameron Smith (-4), Nick Cullen (-4), Richard Green (-4)

What it means: Day is in search of his first worldwide victory of 2017. The former world No. 1 last visited the winner’s circle in May 2016, when he won The Players at TPC Sawgrass. A win this week would close out a difficult year for the Aussie who struggled with his game while also helping his mother in her battle with cancer. Day’s last victory on his native soil came in 2013, when he partnered with Adam Scott to win the World Cup of Golf for Australia at Royal Melbourne.


Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


Round of the day: Herbert followed an opening 67 with a round of 66 to vault himself into the lead at The Australian Golf Club. He made six birdies, including four on his second nine, against a lone bogey to take the outright lead. The 22-year-old, who held the lead at this event last year and captured low-amateur honors in 2014, is coming off a runner-up finish at the NSW Open Championship, which boosted him from 714th to 429th in the Official World Golf Ranking. His 5-under score was matched by Dale Brandt-Richards and Josh Cabban.

Best of the rest: Matt Jones, who won this event over Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott two years ago, turned in 4-under 67. Jones is best known to American audiences for his playoff victory at the 2014 Shell Houston Open and for holding the 36-hole lead at the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, which was eventually won by Day. Jones will start the weekend five shots off the lead, at 4 under par.

Biggest disappointment: Spieth has a lot of work to do this weekend if he expects to be in the title picture for the fourth year in a row. Rounds of 70-71 have him eight shots behind the lead held by Herbert. Spieth made a birdie and a bogey on each side Friday to turn in level par. The reigning champion golfer of the year has finished first, second and first at this event over the last three years.

Storyline to watch this weekend: The Australian Open is the first event of the 2018 Open Qualifying Series. The leading three players who finish in the top 10 and who are not otherwise exempt will receive invites into next summer’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.

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.