Everybody loves a good cliché: Looking back on 2012

By Bailey MosierOctober 16, 2012, 2:30 pm

Everyone loves a good cliché. The 2012 golf season has given us plenty of moments defined by such hackneyed phrases.

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Rory McIlroy won early this season at the Honda Classic in March but then cooled his jets for the next few months including three missed cuts and lackluster showings in the year's first three majors. Amid his 'struggles,' McIlroy came under fire for chasing girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki rather than giving chase late on Sundays. Everyone analyzed, scrutinized and many were convinced if McIlroy ditched the girl he would bag some more wins. And then, everything changed. McIlroy won the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island. Then he won the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston in August. Then he won the very next week at the BMW Championship at Crooked Stick. And guess what? He's found his way back into the winner's circle with Wozniacki on his arm – and in his heart – every step of the way. So what's love got to do with it? Maybe everything and maybe nothing. But critics be damned, the kid got the girl and the trophies, which goes to show ... love conquers all.

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Kyle Stanley blew a seven-shot lead in the final round at the Farmers Insurance Open, including a triple bogey-8 at the 72nd hole that forced him into a playoff with Brandt Snedeker. Stanley lost to Snedeker on the second playoff hole, but went on to win the next week at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, ironically, thanks to the final-round collapse of Spencer Levin (Levin blew an eight-shot lead in the final round in Phoenix). Stanley’s collapse at the Farmers could have scarred him for life, but instead, he persevered, which just goes to show you ... what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

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Ernie Els failed to qualify for the Masters this season for the first time since 1994. When The Masters committee opted not to extend an invite to the South African Hall of Famer, he said he understood the club's decision and acknowledged he had only himself to blame. '(Missing the Masters this year is) not going to change my life. It's just one of those things. I'll be back there next year,' Els said after failing to qualify. And ya know what? He will be back next year and then some. Els captured the Open Championship four months later at Royal Lytham & St. Annes for his first major victory in 10 years, which just goes to show you ... if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.

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Kevin Na notched his first PGA Tour victory last year at the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in Las Vegas, but earlier this season he was on the cusp of another major milestone. At The Players in May, Na held the 54-hole lead by one shot, despite much criticism and on-course ridicule from fans reagrding his slow play. Na struggled with pulling the trigger all three rounds at TPC Sawgrass and was put on the clock by Tour officials, sometimes taking more than the allotted 60 seconds to hit shots. Na went out Sunday and tried to speed up his play but shot a final-round 4-over 76. Na would have been better served had he stuck with his game plan Sunday – although it would have been a slow, excruciating round to watch, which just goes to show you ... you should march to the beat of your own drum.

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After Luke Donald bogeyed the par-5 18th hole at TPC Boston in the second round of the Deutsche Bank Championship, he decided to take to Twitter to let out his angst on architect Gil Hanse’s redesign. On Saturday evening, Donald tweeted to his nearly 300,000 followers, “Nothing quite like hitting my best shot of the day into the last and walking off with a bogie, what a terribly re-designed green #sourtaste.' In what was supposed to be a private message, Donald then tweeted his cellphone number and called Hanse an offensive name. Though he quickly realized his mistake, Donald’s comments were posted on several websites by late Saturday evening. Donald apologized the next day and although he said that he would likely take a hiatus from the social media tool, he has remained an active tweeter. Although now it appears he thinks before he tweets, which just goes to show you ... if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.

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In the first round of the season-opening Tournament of Champions, Nick Watney's caddie, Chad Reynolds, was accused – and later found to be innocent – of testing the surface of the seventh green while lining up a putt. That was the first rules gaffe of the 2012 season, but far from the last. From Graeme McDowell’s two-shot penalty in the first round of the BMW Championship for grazing a leaf attached to a twig while addressing his ball in a bunker, to Carl Pettersson being assessed a two-stroke penalty for moving a leaf during his swing while hitting from a hazard on the first hole Sunday at the PGA Championship, we’ve seen players become more and more victimized by the rules this year. The players aren’t complaining about having to follow rules, they’re complaining about being penalized for things out of their control or things they did without intent. The rules of golf are antiquated and perhaps, in need of an overhaul, which just goes to show you ... the rules were meant to be broken – or in this case, at least amended.

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Tiger Woods, 36, and Phil Mickelson, 42, had never both missed the cut in the same event in 17 years playing alongside each other as professionals. That all changed this year when they both missed the cut at The Greenbrier Classic, where Woods posted rounds of 71-69 and Mickelson countered with scores of 71-71 as each failed to finish inside the number.

The missed cut by Woods was just the ninth of his career and it was Mickelson’s 64th. An unfortunate fate for the two golfers and for fans watching that week, but 197 previous tournaments where at least one of the game’s two biggest stars cashed a paycheck on the weekend is still a tremendous feat. We would have loved to see the streak continue, but it just goes to show you ... all good things must come to an end.

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Match-by-match: 2018 WGC-Dell Technologies, Day 1

By Will GrayMarch 21, 2018, 6:32 pm

Here is how things played out on Day 1 of the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, as 64 players take on Austin Country Club with hopes of advancing out of pool play:

Group 15: (15) Pat Perez vs. (50) Si Woo Kim, halved: The first match of the day ended up in a draw, as the top seed rallied from a deficit to salvage half a point. Kim won three of the first six holes and held a 3-up lead with seven holes to go, but Perez fought back with four birdies over the next six holes to draw even.

Group 15: (24) Gary Woodland vs. (37) Webb Simpson, halved: This group remains entirely up for grabs since nothing was decided on the opening day. Woodland took a 3-up lead at the turn, but Simpson rallied by winning four of the next seven holes, including a birdie on No. 17 that brought him back to all square for the first time since the third hole.

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Watch: Thomas saves par from impossible position

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 21, 2018, 5:18 pm

Luke List was just hoping for an opening in his Day 1 match against Justin Thomas at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.

Thomas cracked the door on the par-4 ninth, but then quickly slammed it shut. Thomas, 3 up through eight holes, was in terrible shape after two shots at No. 9. But his third shot was a beauty, and a heartbreaker for List.

Thomas made the putt to halve the hole and make the turn 3 up.

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LPGA's new Q-Series to offer deferrals for amateurs

By Randall MellMarch 21, 2018, 4:36 pm

The LPGA’s new Q-Series, which takes the place of the final stage of Q-School beginning this year, will come with a revolutionary new twist for amateurs.

For the first time, the LPGA will offer deferrals that will allow amateurs to win tour membership in December but delay turning pro until the following June or July, tour commissioner Mike Whan told GolfChannel.com.

It’s a notable change, because the deferral will allow a collegiate player to earn tour membership at the end of this year but retain amateur status to finish out her collegiate spring season next year, before joining the tour.

“We haven’t done that in the past, because we didn’t want an onslaught, where every player in college is trying to join the tour,” Whan said.

The way it worked in the past, a collegian could advance through the final stage of Q-School, but if that player earned the right to a tour card and wanted to take up membership, she had to declare after the final round that she was turning pro. It meant the player would leave her college team in the middle of the school year. It was a particularly difficult decision for players who earned conditional LPGA status, and it played havoc with the makeup of some college teams.

Whan said the revamped Q-Series format won’t create the collegiate stampede that deferrals might have in the past.

“It will take a unique talent to show up at the first stage of Q-School and say, ‘I’ll see you at Q-Series,’” Whan said. “There won’t be a lot of amateurs who make it there.”

Under the new qualifying format, there will continue to be a first and second stage of Q-School, but it will be much harder to advance to the final stage, now known Q-Series.

Under the old format, about 80 players advanced from the second stage to the Q-School finals. Under the new format, only 15 to 25 players from the second stage will advance to the Q-Series, and only a portion of those are likely to be collegians.

Under the new format, a maximum of 108 players will meet at the Q-Series finals, where a minimum of 45 tour cards will be awarded after 144 holes of competition, played over two weeks on two different courses. The field will include players who finished 101st to 150th and ties on the final LPGA money list, and players who finished 11th to 30th and ties on the final Symetra Tour money list. The field will also include up to 10 players from among the top 75 of the Rolex Women’s World Rankings and the top five players on the Golfweek Women’s Collegiate Rankings.

“We feel if you make it to the Q-Series finals as a college player, you are probably among the best of the best, and we ought to give you the opportunity to finish the college year,” Whan said.

University of Washington coach Mary Lou Mulflur said she would prefer amateurs not be allowed to compete at Q-School, but she called this a workable compromise.

“It’s a step in the right direction,” Mulflur said. “It’s better than the way it’s been in the past. That was hard, because it broke up teams.”

Mulflur said she disliked the tough position the former policy put college players in at the final stage of Q-School, where they had to decide at event’s end whether to turn pro and accept tour membership.

“I can’t imagine being a kid in that position, and I’ve had a couple kids in that position,” Mulflur said. “It’s hard on everybody, the player, the family and the coaches. You hear about coaches standing there begging a kid not to turn pro, and that’s just not the way it should be, for the coach or the player.”

Mulflur agreed with Whan that the new Q-Series format should limit the number of collegians who have a chance to win tour cards.

“I believe it’s a good compromise, and it will be interesting to see how it plays out going forward,” Mulflur said. “Kudos to the commissioner for giving kids this option.”

University of Miami coach Patti Rizzo, a four-time LPGA winner, applauds the deferral option. Two years ago, Rizzo lost her best player, Danny Darquea, who turned pro in the spring. It hurt Miami’s team.

“That was probably our best chance in seven years to win the nationals,” Rizzo said.

Rizzo said her concerns seeing a player turn pro go beyond how it affects her team.

“What all these girls need to realize now is that a degree is more important than ever,” Rizzo said. “In my day, it was like, 'My chances are pretty good. I will get my card.’ But it’s so much more competitive now. And financially, it’s hard to make it. I think it’s so much harder than it ever was. So many girls aren’t making it, and they need a backup plan.”

Darquea is playing the Symetra Tour now, but Rizzo said she is also back in Miami taking classes to finish up her final semester and get her degree.

“It’s great she is doing that, but it would have been better if she could have stayed in college three more months and got her degree and then turned pro,” Rizzo said. “I think this deferral option is great, and I would think all the college coaches will think so, too.”

Whan said collegians who take deferrals will be counseled.

“We will sit down with them and their families and explain the risks,” Whan said. “If you take a deferral and start playing on July 15, you might find yourself back in Q-Series again later that year, because you may not have enough time.”

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Tour still focused on security after death of suspected Austin bomber

By Rex HoggardMarch 21, 2018, 4:07 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – Although the suspect in the wave of Austin-area bombings was killed early Wednesday, the PGA Tour plans to continue heightened security measures at this week’s WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play at Austin Country Club.

According to various news outlets, Mark Anthony Conditt has been identified as the bombings suspect, and he was killed by an explosion inside his car in Round Rock, Texas, which is 19 miles north of Austin Country Club.

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“We do not comment on the specifics of our security measures, but we are continuing to work in close collaboration with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies in Austin to ensure the safety of our players and fans at this week’s tournament,” the Tour said in a statement. “Regardless of the recent developments, our heightened security procedures will remain in place through the remainder of the week.”

Authorities believe Conditt is responsible for the five explosions that killed two people and injured five others in Austin or south-central Texas since March 2.

Play began Wednesday at the Match Play.