Scott (67) relies on short game to stay hot

By Will GrayMarch 17, 2016, 7:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. – Rest assured, this wasn’t exactly pretty.

There were some frayed edges to Adam Scott’s opening round at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, moments that made you wonder if he might actually return to the mortal realm.

But momentum can be a potent salve, and Scott currently has plenty of it. As a result, he turned a middling ball-striking performance at Bay Hill into a bogey-free, 5-under 67 as he looks to win his third straight start. Scott is one stroke behind Jason Day after Round 1. 

There’s never really a bad time to be Adam Scott, but right now – in the midst of perhaps the hottest streak of his decorated career – things certainly seem to be going his way.

“I didn’t play my best golf tee-to-green, but I chipped and putted really well today,” Scott said. “That’s a nice feeling when you shoot as low as you possibly can.”

When players are mired in a slump, golf can often turn into a vexing game of whack-a-mole. Fix the driver, and the short game leaves. Get the irons back on line, and the putter goes ice cold.

For Scott right now, though, it’s just the opposite. He has made his mark in recent months by covering mediocre putting with world-class ball-striking, a trend he continued en route to winning the Honda Classic. But it was his short game that salvaged his win at the WGC-Cadillac Championship, with an up-and-down on the 72nd hole, and that facet again was on full display Thursday at Bay Hill.

Scott hit only 10 of 18 greens, but he rolled in a bevy of clutch par saves. First there were the 6-footers on Nos. 10 and 14, then a 10-foot save on No. 15 and a 12-footer on No. 2.

In a few short weeks, Scott’s balky short putter – the one that held him back for so much of 2015 – has been first neutralized, and now converted into a bona fide asset.

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“It’s always good to rely on your putter. Everyone has ups and downs, and at the moment I’m putting with confidence,” Scott said. “I wish that would last forever, but, you know, the reality is it won’t. There are going to be moments where I just am out of rhythm with it or whatever, and while you’re hot you’ve got to run with it. I’m trying to do that.”

When Scott mentioned a few weeks ago that he wanted to be the best putter in the world by the time the Masters rolls around, many responded with a quizzical look. After all, this was a player who ranked 157th last season in strokes gained-putting, and whose banner 2004 season on the greens is looked upon now as an aberration.

But the stats are quickly catching up to the claim. Already leading the Tour in strokes gained-tee-to-green this season, Scott began this week ranked 43rd in putting. And after a 24-putt performance in the opening round, he was an early leader in strokes gained-putting at Bay Hill.

“I’m going to have a lofty goal to achieve what I want in this game,” he said. “I’m going to have to be a great putter to win at tournaments.”

Scott insists that he has put the wins at PGA National and Doral into the rearview mirror, and he spent four days at home last week in the Bahamas without touching a club. This event, he said, marks a fresh start in the final dash that leads to Augusta National.

But his results indicate that the residue from those wins remains. He is imbued with an unmistakable confidence, the kind that can only be derived from defeating a world-class field in successive weeks.

Scott is currently in possession of perhaps the most precious commodity in sports, and – to the detriment of the rest of the field gathered at Bay Hill – he continues to put it to good use.

“It’s good fun when you’re on it,” said Henrik Stenson, who played alongside Scott and matched his opening-round 67. “He’s put a lot of hard work in, and it’s paying off at the moment. He’s playing some great golf, and probably the game feels a little bit easier to him than it sometimes can be.”

Scott has long been one of the most even-keeled players on Tour, an attribute that helped him bounce back from a quadruple bogey and a pair of final-round doubles en route to his last two wins.

Having successfully navigated aberrations like those, a little bit of wobbly ball-striking early on wasn’t even enough reason to even break much of a sweat.

This may be a new week, but Scott is now equipped with a pair of assets as he looks to build upon his newfound winning streak.

“Confidence,” he said, “and calmness.”

Once again atop the leaderboard, he doesn’t appear likely to run out of either anytime soon.

Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo

By Grill Room TeamDecember 15, 2017, 1:05 am

Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Really good at golf. Really good at vacationing.

With #SB2K18 still months away, Thomas and Spieth headlined a vacation to Cabo San Lucas, and this will shock you but it looks like they had a great time.

Spring break veteran Smylie Kaufman joined the party, as did Thomas' roommate, Tom Lovelady, who continued his shirtless trend.

The gang played all the hits, including shoeless golf in baketball jerseys and late nights with Casamigos tequila.

Image via tom.lovelady on Instagram.

In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.

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Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys

By Rex HoggardDecember 14, 2017, 7:00 pm

After careful consideration and an exhaustive review of 2017 we present The Rexys, a wildly incomplete and arbitrary line up following one of the most eventful years in golf.

 There will be omissions – just keep your calls, concerns and even e-mails to yourself. We appreciate your patronage, but not your feedback.

It’s Not You, It’s Me Award. You know the deal: You can’t be a part of two until you’re a better one; but on this front it’s really just a desire to find a better two.

It was a tough year for caddies, and not just any caddies. In June, Phil Mickelson split with longtime bagman Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both player and caddie cited the need for “change,” but the move reverberated throughout the game.

“The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.

In the wake of the Lefty/Bones break, Rory McIlroy split with his caddie J.P Fitzgerald, and Jason Day replaced looper/swing coach Colin Swatton on his bag. It all proves yet again that there are only two kinds of caddies, those who have been fired and those who are about to be fired.

Run for the Rose Cup. Sergio Garcia got the green jacket, a lifetime exemption to the game’s most coveted member-member and a long-awaited major, but Justin Rose took home the slightly less prestigious “Rose Cup.”

Following a frenzied afternoon at Augusta National in April, Rose lost to Garcia on the first playoff hole, but he won so much more with his honesty and class.

“You're going to win majors and you're going to lose majors, but you've got to be willing to lose them,” Rose figured following the final round. “You've got to put yourself out there. You've got to hit the top of the leaderboard. There's a lot of pressure out there and if you're not willing to enjoy it, then you're not ready to win these tournaments. I loved it out there.”

Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.

Half-Empty Cup. It was the perfect setting, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and the promise of the Tristate masses descending on this fall’s Presidents Cup.

If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.

For the sixth time in the last seven matches, the U.S. team rolled to a victory of at least three points. This particular edition was even in danger of ending on Saturday afternoon thanks to a particularly dominant performance by a young American squad led by Steve Stricker.

Officials spoke of the purity of the competition and the attention the ’17 cup generated, but however you spin the 19-11 rout, this cup is half empty.

Enigma Award. The actual hardware is simply an oversized question mark and was sent directly to Tiger Woods’ South Florida compound following the most curious of seasons.

While it’s become customary in recent years to consider the uncertain path that awaits the 14-time major winner, this most recent calendar brought an entirely new collection of questions following fusion surgery on his lower back in April, his arrest for DUI on Memorial Day and, finally, a glimmer of hope born from his tie for ninth at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.

When will he play again? Can he compete against the current generation of world-beaters? Can his body withstand the rigors of a full PGA Tour schedule? Should Jim Furyk make him a captain’s pick now or wait to see if he should be driving a vice captain’s golf cart instead?

Little is certain when it comes to Woods, and the over-sized question mark goes to ... the guy in red and black.

After Further Review Chalice. In April, Lexi Thompson endured a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, the byproduct of a surreal ruling that arrived a day late via a viewer e-mail and cost the would-be winner a major championship.

The entire event was so unsavory that the USGA and R&A made not one but two alterations to the rules and created a “working group” to avoid similar snafus in the future.

That working group – it turns out the U.S. Ryder Cup team has some sort of copyright on “task force” – initially issued a decision that introduced a “reasonable judgment” and a “naked eye” standard to video reviews, and last week the rule makers kept the changes coming.

The new protocols on video review will now include an official to monitor tournament broadcasts and ended the practice of allowing fans to call in, or in this case e-mail, possible infractions to officials. The USGA and R&A also eliminated the two-stroke penalty for players who sign incorrect scorecards when the player is unaware of the penalty.

While all this might be a step in the right direction, it does nothing to change Thompson’s fate. The AFR Chalice won’t change the harsh reality, but at least it will serve as a reminder of how she helped altered the rulemaking landscape.

Nothing Runs Like a Deere Award. Nothing gets fans fired up like officials turning fields of fescue rough into hay on the eve of a major championship, and the USGA’s decision to do some 11th-hour trimming at Erin Hills in June certainly caught many by surprise.

Officials said the nip/tuck on four holes was in reaction to a particularly foreboding forecast that never materialized, and the maintenance drew the ire of some players.

“We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” Rory McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here; if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”

The record low scoring at the U.S. Open – winner Brooks Koepka finished with a 16-under total – didn’t help ease the fervor and had some questioning whether the softer side of the USGA has gone a bit too far?

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Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 5:28 pm

John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.

That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.

Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.

Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 4:22 pm

Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.

Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.

Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters

Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.

World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.

Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.