Slocum, Loupe familiar with extra pressure

By Will GrayAugust 15, 2014, 9:03 pm

GREENSBORO, N.C. – Two-minute drill. Bottom of the ninth. Crunch time.

Whichever sports metaphor you prefer, it can be applied to this week’s Wyndham Championship.

Players have one final chance to jockey for FedEx Cup playoff position, although many in the field are simply trying to secure playing privileges for next season.

Given only 72 holes to improve their season-long standing, some will wilt under the pressure. Others, though, have been under a similar spotlight before and continue to thrive.

Heath Slocum knows what this feels like. It was only two years ago that Slocum came to Sedgefield Country Club at No. 128 in the FedEx Cup standings, on the outside looking in. He tied for 31st, which was enough to propel him to No. 124 in points and punch his ticket to the playoffs. He remains the most recent player to crack the top 125 in the final regular-season event.

Slocum also knows the value of simply earning a spot at the dance. It was five years ago that he entered the postseason at No. 124, only to hold off the likes of Tiger Woods, Ernie Els, Padraig Harrington and Steve Stricker to win The Barclays at Liberty National. The win vaulted him up the standings, and he went on to make the 2009 Tour Championship.

This week, Slocum’s hole is a bit deeper. At No. 158 in points, he likely needs a top-three finish to make it to The Barclays, but he’s halfway there after rounds of 65-65 put him atop the leaderboard with Scott Langley in Greensboro.


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The key for dealing with do-or-die pressure, according to Slocum? Just let go.

“That’s been one of my biggest things, sometimes it’s just getting out of my own way, just stop trying to do too much,” he said. “Sometimes you just have to take a step back and just go, ‘Have fun with it. Go play.’”

Slocum has done just that through two rounds at Sedgefield, grabbing the pole position heading into the weekend as he looks to win on Tour for the fifth time, and first since the 2010 McGladrey Classic. He missed the cut in each of his last two starts, but the 40-year-old claims to have found a spark during practice last week.

“I said, ‘You know what? It’s all here. See if you can’t go play golf and enjoy it,’” he said. “I mean, sometimes you just go and enjoy yourself and you play some of your best golf.”

Like Slocum, Andrew Loupe is in familiar territory. Loupe has become a poster child for last-minute comebacks in recent years, a trend that began when he holed a 6-foot putt to make it through the second stage of PGA Tour Q-School in 2012. After a debut season on the Web.com Tour in 2013, Loupe needed to hole a putt of similar length at the final regular-season event to qualify for the inaugural Web.com Tour Finals.

Drained it.

Then after missed cuts in each of the first three Finals events, he came to the Web.com Tour Championship in dire need of a big result. After four straight rounds in the 60s, he left with a T-6 finish and a PGA Tour card for the 2013-14 season.

Now he’s at it again, entering the week at No. 145 in the FedEx Cup standings and likely in need of a top-six finish to crack the top 125 and sew up a PGA Tour card for 2015.

“I’ve been in this position before. It’s not exactly the same, but it’s pretty similar,” Loupe said. “That’s something I tell myself to remind myself, for security and confidence. You have to believe in yourself, and do your best to stay in the present. I know people say that all the time, but it’s true.”

Loupe has had no trouble staying in the present this week, and after rounds of 65 and 68 he sits three shots behind Slocum. The pressure-cooker that causes trouble for so many players is one that Loupe is comfortable with, and as a multi-sport athlete growing up he enjoys competing when the stakes are high.

“It’s an enjoyable stress level, I guess,” he said. “There’s nothing better than playing in front of a bunch of people with something on the line. It’s a great feeling.”

For Slocum, the goal is still maintaining his full-time status with a high finish this week, but the Web.com Tour Finals serve as a suitable back-up plan. Last year, he joined Loupe as one of 25 players to survive the four-event gauntlet and earn cards for this season.

His plan, then, is to build momentum – whether his destination beyond this week is New Jersey for the playoffs, or Fort Wayne, Ind., for the Finals – and enjoy the opportunity to be back in the mix over the weekend.

“No matter win, lose or draw, I will go have fun the next two days,” he said. “I do miss this feeling of being in contention. So not being in contention for a while, I’m going to savor it.”

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.