No Guts No Glory No Trophy

By John HawkinsMarch 3, 2010, 3:08 am
The West Coast Swing is complete, and not an unforgettable moment too soon, it might be added, as three of the year’s first eight events were defined largely by players taking the conservative route to a second-place finish. Tim Clark began the layup drill when he knocked a 7-iron into Wedgeville instead of firing at the 18th green from 230 yards on the par-5 closer at the Bob Hope Classic.

Needing a birdie to force a playoff, Clark walked away with a par and a very nice payoff. A week later, Michael Sim submerged to the same strategy under strikingly similar circumstances at Torrey Pines: another par-5 18th with a green guarded by water, another one-stroke deficit, a 240-ish second from the fairway and another runner-up check.
Rickie Fowler
Rickie Fowler came up short in his bid for his first PGA Tour win. (Getty Images)
No guts, no glory. Definitely no trophy.

Rickie Fowler, the stylish young hotshot who bears more than a passing resemblance to Lanny Wadkins, left mouths agape when he backed off a mere 210-yard carry into TPC Scottsdale’s 15th last Sunday. So much for that pedal-to-the-metal mentality, or just plain mettle. Little Rickie may become a big winner someday, but for right now, he looks like any other Tour pro minding his own bank account.

That’s the whole point here. Sim and Fowler own two of the game’s brightest futures but must also deal with the expectations that come with such promise. Clark, meanwhile, has piled up more earnings without a victory than any player in PGA Tour history, so none of the three needed help understanding the importance of a win while mulling the ramifications of risk vs. reward.

Were they playing for second? Of course not. It’s their inability to think clearly that scares me. Clark, Sim and Fowler all were victimized by the convenient mentality, tricked into letting their fear overrule their sense of better judgment. Safety comes first when you’re in first, not when you trail. Please consult the mirror before arguing otherwise.

Laying up, particularly from distances you wouldn’t think twice about Friday afternoon, does not mean you’re not trying to win, nor does an oversized portion of aggression guarantee anything but trouble. David Toms claimed the 2001 PGA Championship with a huge assist from caution. How’s my man Jean Van de Velde doing? Phil Mickelson got beat up for years because he consistently confused green-light opportunities with the yellows and reds.

What Clark, Sim and Fowler did succumb to is the failure to recognize good from great. Great players take chances. Great players understand that you do whatever it takes. Great players know the safe option isn’t always the smart option. Most of all, great players aren’t afraid to fail.

John Hawkins appears on Golf Central every Tuesday at 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET and on the Grey Goose 19th Hole every Wednesday at 7 p.m. ET.

Leading Grant Waite by a stroke on the 72nd hole of the 2000 Canadian Open, Tiger Woods hopped into a fairway bunker and rocketed a 6-iron from 218 yards to a back-right pin leaning hard against a lake. This was before the atomic golf ball, right after Woods outlasted Bob May in one of the greatest PGAs ever played. He could have played an ordinary second shot and everyone would have marveled over Tiger’s level of self-control, but only in recent months has Woods become an expert on the difference between good risks and bad ones.

Fowler carries two hybrid clubs and a 3-wood but apparently, the holster is empty. “If I was a couple [of shots] back and thinking I needed to make a few birdies coming in, I would have gone for it,” he rationalized. “Being one back at the time and putting a wedge in my hand from 80 yards, a lot of times I’ll make birdie there.”

Hey dude, did it ever cross your mind that you could make an eagle? You’re Rickie Freakin’ Fowler, the New Kid in Town, the second coming of Lanny. You wear orange pants, for crying out loud –you’ve gotta have guts. You’re supposed to go down swinging, not while hedging your bets. The idea is to send a message loud and clear: You play to win and expect nothing less than clutch, heroic performances from yourself.

You believe, Rickie, because that’s what champions do. Better safe than sorry? Sometimes, they mean the same thing.
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Stricker shares first-round lead in South Dakota

By Associated PressSeptember 22, 2018, 12:48 am

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - Steve Stricker shot a 7-under 63 on Friday to share the first-round lead at the Sanford International.

The 51-year-old Stricker was 8 under through 17 holes at chilly, rain-softened Minnehaha Country Club but closed with a bogey to fall into a tie with Jerry Smith, Brandt Jobe and David McKenzie.

Stricker only got to play seven holes in the pro-am because of rain that prevented the field from getting in much practice.

''You've just kind of got to trust your yardage book and hit to the spots and then try to make a good game plan on the way into the green, too, not really knowing where to hit it or where to miss it up there on the green. Sometimes it's good, too,'' Stricker said. ''You go around and you're focused a lot more on hitting it to a specific spot and not knowing what lies ahead in the course. So I guess today was the ultimate 'Take one hole at a time' because we didn't really know anything else, what was coming.''

Full-field scores from the Sanford International

Stricker has two wins and has not finished worse than fifth in six starts this season on the over-50 tour as he continues to play a part-time schedule on the PGA Tour. Next week, he will be one of U.S. Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk's assistants at the matches outside Paris.

McKenzie, a 51-year-old Australian, had two eagles on the back nine, holing a wedge from 116 yards on the par-5 16th.

''We got told ... to play faster on No. 16, and so my caddie just said, 'Hit it in the hole so you don't have to putt it,' so I just did what he told me,'' McKenzie said.

Smith had eagles on Nos. 4 and 12.

''Honestly, I was just trying to hit some good shots and I really wasn't with the irons,'' Smith said. ''I just really didn't like the way I hit them today. You know, just the putter was the big difference for me. I just felt good with it all day, especially say outside of 10, 15 feet, where I felt like I was a lot.''

Scott McCarron, Lee Janzen and Paul Goydos were one shot back. McCarron came in second in the Charles Schwab Cup money standings behind Miguel Angel Jimenez, who is not playing this week.

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Glover (64) leads Tour Championship

By Associated PressSeptember 22, 2018, 12:12 am

ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. – Former U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover shot his second consecutive 7-under 64 on Friday to take a one-shot lead at the Tour Championship.

The 38-year-old Glover, who won the 2009 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black, can still regain his PGA Tour card through a medical extension if he fails to earn enough money in the four-tournament Tour Finals. But a high finish this weekend at Atlantic Beach Country Club would take care of everything.

''I've got a lot to fall back on regardless of this week, but any time I tee it up, I want to play well,'' Glover said. ''Tomorrow won't be any different. Sunday won't be any different.''

Glover had arthroscopic knee surgery in June and will have eight starts to earn 53 FedEx Cup points and keep his card. He earned $17,212 in the first three Tour Finals events. The top 25 money winners in the series earn PGA Tour cards, and the final card went for $40,625 last year.

Glover was at 14-under 128. Denny McCarthy, who has already earned enough money to secure a return to the PGA Tour, was one shot back. McCarthy, a former Virginia player, has a shot at winning the Finals money list, which would guarantee him fully exempt status and entry into The Players Championship.

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

''There's no secret about it. I'll come out and tell you I'm here to win this tournament and get that No. 1 spot,'' McCarthy said. ''I've been hungry for a while. I have a pretty hungry attitude and I'm going to stay hungry.''

Tour veteran Cameron Tringale, who has earned just $2,660 after missing two of the first three cuts, was 12 under after a 67. Last year, Tringale entered the Tour Championship at 63rd on the Finals money list and finished tied for fifth to get back onto the PGA Tour. He struggled again this season, though, missing 19 cuts in 26 starts.

''Yeah, I was hoping last year was my last time here, but I do have a comfort at this golf course and I'm excited to keep pressing,'' Tringale said.

The four-tournament series features the top 75 players from the regular-season money list, Nos. 126-200 in the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup standings, and non-members with enough money to have placed in the top 200. The top 25 finishers on the regular-season money list are competing against each other for tour priority, with regular-season earnings counting in their totals.

Sepp Straka and Ben Silverman were three shots back. Each would likely need a top-5 finish to earn his card.

Peter Malnati, who regained his card with a second-place finish in the opening finals event, followed his opening-round 74 with a 9-under 62, shooting an 8-under 27 on his second nine.

Four-time PGA Tour winner Aaron Baddeley was among those who missed the cut. He was 22nd on the finals money list going in and likely will fall short of earning his card.

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Thomas (69) only three back with 'C' or 'D' game

By Rex HoggardSeptember 21, 2018, 11:56 pm

ATLANTA – Justin Thomas was tied for fourth place following his second-round 69 on Friday at the Tour Championship, which considering the state of his game on Day 2 was an accomplishment.

“I wish I had my 'B' game today. I would say I had my 'C' or 'D' game today,” he laughed.

Thomas’ struggles were primarily with his driver and he hit just 6 of 14 fairways at East Lake, but he was able to scramble late in his round with birdies at Nos. 15 and 18 to remain three off the lead.

Projected FedExCup standings

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

“I drove it so poorly today, this is probably in my top 5 rounds of the year I'm most proud of just because I easily could have shot 4- or 5-over par today and not had a chance to win the tournament,” he said. “I hung in there and birdied two of the last four, and I have a chance.”

Thomas was slowed the last two weeks by a right wrist injury that limited his preparation for the finale and said the issue with his driver is timing and the byproduct of a lack of practice.

Thomas made up for his erratic driving with his short game, getting up and down four out of seven times including on the fourth hole when he missed the fairway well left, punched out short of the green and chipped in from 81 feet.

“[Rory McIlroy] just kind of said it looked like a ‘3’ the whole day and I kind of laughed because I played with him at The Players and I chipped in three times that first round with him, so I guess he's good luck for me,” Thomas said.

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McIlroy two behind Woods, Rose after 68

By Rex HoggardSeptember 21, 2018, 11:46 pm

ATLANTA – Maybe it should be no huge surprise that Rory McIlroy finds himself back in contention at the Tour Championship. It is, after all, a Ryder Cup year.

In 2016, McIlroy won the finale before heading to Hazeltine and posting a 3-2-0 record. In ’14, he finished runner-up to Billy Horschel and went 2-1-2 at the Ryder Cup; and in ’12 he finished tied for 10th place at East Lake and went 3-2-0 at Medinah.

“I was on such a high a couple of years ago going into Hazeltine after winning the whole thing, and I felt great about my game that week and played well. I won three matches,” McIlroy said. “I guess it doesn't matter whether it's a match play event or whatever. If you're playing well and you've played well the week before, I think most people can carry it into the next week, whatever that is.”

Projected FedExCup standings

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

McIlroy’s performance this week certainly qualifies as “playing well.” He charged out on Friday with birdies at two of his first three holes and bounced back from a pair of late bogeys to shoot a 68 and was in third place and two strokes off the lead held by Tiger Woods and Justin Rose.

“I've made 12 birdies in 36 holes, which is really good around here, and that's with not birdieing either of the par 5s today,” he said. “So yeah, just tidy up the mistakes a little bit.”