Punch Shot: New Year's resolutions for pro golfers

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 1, 2015, 12:50 pm

It's 2015. Time to hit the gym, shed some pounds, drink less beer or whatever resolution you want to tell yourself you're going to commit to this year. Just for fun, we asked our writers to give their New Year's resolutions for professional golfers this season. Here are their answers:

By JASON SOBEL

Maybe I'm still stuck in the giving spirit of the holiday season. Maybe this is going to sound corny and cheesy and all sorts of Pollyannaish. Naïve, even. But here is my New Year's resolution for professional golfers.

Be more accessible. Acknowledge the crowd. Hand out an extra ball or two every round - at least for the kids. Smile for fan selfies. Personalize some autographs. You don't have to be Phil Mickelson, but it wouldn't kill you to make a little eye contact and give a few fist-bumps every once in a while.

Follow a couple of fans on social media. Not because they're rich or famous or a potential sponsor. Just because.

When you're being interviewed, especially on live television, be yourself. You don't have to sound like a robot. Saying you were really surprised by your performance because you spent the last two weeks fishing instead of grinding makes you sound more real than reciting the old adage about hard work paying off.

That's not to suggest the majority of players aren't already personable. They are. But hey, in a game that can use help growing in any way possible, a little more is never a bad thing.


By RYAN LAVNER

For Rory McIlroy, the man who seemingly has everything – fame, fortune and his pick of female acquaintances – here's hoping that he can do his best to avoid distractions in 2015.

They will be plentiful, no doubt. That’s what happens when you’re the new No. 1 player in the game, but this year in particular will provide unique challenges for one of golf’s biggest stars.  

Let’s start with the court case against his former management company, slated for February. Rory won’t yet have made an appearance on the PGA Tour, but the case could affect his early-season schedule on the European circuit. Add in the fact that the trial could include some unsavory details about both his buddy Graeme McDowell and his ex-fiance Caroline Wozniacki, and this figures to be a massive headache.

The run-up to the Masters will be insufferable as well, with the 25-year-old looking to become just the sixth player to win all four major championships. Rory and Tiger will be the biggest stories at Augusta, where McIlroy doesn’t have the best of histories, with just one top 10 in six tries and a collapse for the ages in 2011.

That figures to be a wild two-month stretch.

From a writer’s prospective, how Rory handles the most intense spotlight of his career will be one of the two most fascinating stories of the year.


By REX HOGGARD

Like joining a gym or vowing to cut back on adult beverages, New Year’s resolutions are more about the call to action than the actual result.

While Rory McIlroy is a more polished player today than he was in 2013 when Superman clocked more time as Clark Kent, the basic elements were the same – nuclear driver, pinpoint iron shots, serviceable short game.

The difference between that 2013 campaign, when he failed to win on the PGA Tour and didn’t contend in any of that year’s majors, and his ’14 masterpiece was the subtle advantage of unbridled confidence.

In ’14 when the world No. 1 won two of four majors, moved within an Augusta National green jacket of the career grand slam and added a World Golf Championships undercard to his resume, he arrived at the first tee each Thursday confident in the knowledge that he could win with or without his best stuff.

At his current ebb-and-flow clip, collecting the odd major every other year, McIlroy is destined to be remembered as one of the game’s greatest alongside the likes of Nicklaus, Woods and Palmer. Just imagine how good he could be if his New Year’s resolution was to avoid another mental lapse like the one he endured 2013.


By RANDALL MELL

I’d like to see Adam Scott resolve to put a standard putter in his bag before this season’s final major championship. 

Scott’s major championship fortunes changed after he put a long putter into play early in 2011. He didn’t have a top 10 in a major in the four years before he made the switch to a long putter. In the 16 majors since switching, he has nine top 10s, including his Masters victory in ’13. He has been T-5 or better in five of his last 10.

With the rule against anchoring going into effect in 2016, Scott has this year to figure out whether he will modify his stroke with an unanchored motion with the long putter or go back to a standard putter. Scott says he doesn’t believe going back to a standard putter will be a major issue. If that’s the case, getting one in his bag before a major in ’16 shouldn’t be an issue, either. The longer he waits, the more we’ll all wonder if it will be a major issue.


By WILL GRAY

Patrick Reed, embrace the dark side. Golf has plenty of room for heels – just ask Ian Poulter – and based on his performance in 2014, Reed clearly thrives in a me-against-the-world scenario. He took some criticism for his top-five comment in March, sure, but he also made those comments after dusting a field that included most of the game’s best players.

The line between confidence and arrogance is thin, but it’s not a delineation that should concern Reed. He wasn’t thinking about that when he enthusiastically quieted the crowd during his singles match at the Ryder Cup, one he went on to win to cap a weekend during which he earned more points than any other American. He shouldn’t lose sleep over image, or what fans or players think of him from one week to the next.

Reed should focus instead on what it takes to put his name near the top of the leaderboard. Based on 2014, that means keeping the earbuds in, tuning the competition out, and letting the results speak for themselves.

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Lewis says she's expecting first child in November

By Randall MellApril 27, 2018, 2:18 am

Stacy Lewis is pregnant.

The 12-time LPGA winner confirmed after Thursday’s first round of the Mediheal Championship that she and her husband, University of Houston women’s golf coach Gerrod Chadwell, are expecting their first child on Nov. 3.

Lewis learned she was pregnant after returning home to Houston in late February following her withdrawal from the HSBC Women’s World Championship with a strained oblique muscle.

“We're obviously really excited,” Lewis said. “It wasn't nice I was hurt, but it was nice that I was home when I found out with [Gerrod]. We're just really excited to start a family.”

Lewis is the third big-name LPGA player preparing this year to become a mother for the first time. Suzann Pettersen announced last month that she’s pregnant, due in the fall. Gerina Piller is due any day.


Full-field scores from the LPGA Mediheal Championship


Piller’s husband, PGA Tour pro Martin Piller, withdrew from the Zurich Classic on Thursday to be with her. Piller and Lewis have been U.S. Solheim Cup partners the last two times the event has been played.

“It's going to be fun raising kids together,” Lewis said. “Hopefully, they're best friends and they hang out. But just excited about the next few months and what it's going to bring.”

Lewis, a former Rolex world No. 1 and two-time major championship winner, plans to play through the middle of July, with the Marathon Classic her last event of the year. She will be looking to return for the start of the 2019 season. The LPGA’s maternity leave policy allows her to come back next year with her status intact.

“This year, the golf might not be great, but I've got better things coming in my life than a golf score.” Lewis said. “I plan on coming back and traveling on the road with the baby, and we'll figure it out as we go.”

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Coach scores in NFL Draft and on golf course

By Grill Room TeamApril 27, 2018, 1:47 am

To say that Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio had a good day Thursday would be an understatement. Not only did his team snag one of the top defensive players in the NFL Draft - Georgia outside linebacker Roquan Smith, who the Bears took with the eighth pick of the first round - but earlier in the day Fangio, 59, made a hole-in-one, sinking a 9-iron shot from 125 yards at The Club at Strawberry Creek in Kenosha, Wis.

Perhaps the ace isn't so surprising, though. In late May 2017, Fangio made another hole-in-one, according to a tweet from the Bears. The only information supplied on that one was the distance - 116 yards.

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Gooch chooses 'life over a good lie' with gators nearby

By Ryan LavnerApril 26, 2018, 11:31 pm

AVONDALE, La. – A fairway bunker wasn’t Talor Gooch’s only hazard on the 18th hole at TPC Louisiana.

Gooch’s ball came to rest Thursday within a few feet of three gators, leading to a lengthy delay as he sorted out his options.

Chesson Hadley used a rake to nudge two of the gators on the tail, sending them back into the pond surrounding the green. But the third gator wouldn’t budge.

“It woke him up from a nap,” Gooch said, “and he was hissing away and wasn’t happy.”

The other two gators remained in the water, their eyes fixed on the group.


Full-field scores from the Zurich Classic of New Orleans

Zurich Classic of New Orleans: Articles, photos and videos


“I’m sure we would have been fine, but any little movement by them and no chance I would have made solid contact,” he said.

A rules official granted Gooch free relief, away from the gator, but he still had to drop in the bunker. The ball plugged.

“I chose life over a good lie in that situation,” he said.

He splashed out short of the green, nearly holed out his pitch shot and made par to cap off an eventful 6-under 66 with partner Andrew Landry.

“It was my first gator par,” he said. “I’ll take it.”

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Koepka's game 'where it should be' even after injury

By Ryan LavnerApril 26, 2018, 11:18 pm

AVONDALE, La. – Brooks Koepka didn’t look rusty Thursday while making six birdies in the first round of the Zurich Classic.

Making his first start in four months because of a torn ligament in his left wrist, Koepka and partner Marc Turnesa shot a 5-under 67 in fourballs at TPC Louisiana.

“It felt good,” Koepka said afterward. “It was just nice to be out here. I played pretty solid.”


Full-field scores from the Zurich Classic of New Orleans

Zurich Classic of New Orleans: Articles, photos and videos


The reigning U.S. Open champion felt soreness in his wrist the week after he won the Dunlop Phoenix in the fall. He finished last at the Hero World Challenge in December and then the following month at the Tournament of Champions before shutting it down.

He only began practicing last week and decided to commit to the Zurich Classic after three solid days at Medalist. He decided to partner with one of his friends in South Florida, Marc Turnesa, a former PGA Tour winner who now works in real estate.

Koepka hasn’t lost any distance because of the injury – he nearly drove the green on the 355-yard 16th hole. He’s planning to play the next two weeks, at the Wells Fargo Championship and The Players.

“I feel like I’m playing good enough to be right where I should be in April,” he said. “I feel good, man. There’s nothing really wrong with my game right now.”