Five Hopes for the Holidays

By Kraig KannNovember 12, 2004, 5:00 pm
Sitting here this week thinking about the absence of Tiger Woods in the stroke play winners circle this year and questioning the whereabouts of Annika Sorenstam this week at the Mitchell Company Tournament of Champions has me wishing for things already during the holiday season.
 
First - If Hank Haney is going to be Tigers swing guru for the foreseeable future, then can they find some magic before the Mercedes Championships so Woods can find his way out of the woods off the tee and get back to his winning ways? Im one of those who is amazed by a second place finish despite hitting only 37% of the fairways for the week at a tournament set up as tough as the Tour Championship, but Ive always liked it better when hes winning.
 
It doesnt have to be every week like the old days, I just want Vijay, Ernie, Retief and Phil to sweat their way to the finish line.
 
Second - If Annika Sorenstam is going to take a week or two off, fine. But lets make sure we play each and every event that the LPGA deems a big tournament. Her absence this week at a tournament called the Tournament of Champions hurts the event badly and hurts the tours image as well.
 
Annikas the best thing to happen to womens golf since Nancy Lopez. Maybe its not all Annikas fault. Is the LPGA massaging its best piece of gold in the best way possible? Maybe, maybe not. Whatever the case, given the uncertainty of her longevity from here on out, lets get together and make sure Annikas schedule works for everyone. Sometimes the facts hurt. If Annikas not playing - I take it that its not a big enough event.
 
Third - If John Daly truly enjoyed his rebirth on the PGA Tour then lets stick with it shall we?! Face it, you can love John or leave John, but a John Daly who challenges the superstars for victories (remember Vijay and the Buick Open?) is as good for the game and its ratings as Tiger Woods is carrying a 3-shot lead into Sunday. John was fun to watch this year because he was really WORTH watching this year. So John, work out, work on your game and work on making 2005 your best year yet!
 
Fourth - Please...every American PGA Tour star who dreams to play in next years Presidents Cup or the 06 Ryder Cup...find some guys at your home club with game and play some alternate-shot and best-ball matches! It certainly cant hurt.
 
These Cup matches are beginning to taste as bad as a cup of four day old coffee. Again, make it a part of your daily thought process. Say it with me...FOURBALLS...FOURSOMES. Maybe then it wont be a FORE-gone conclusion that the USA leaves with their heads down.
 
Fifth - Message to all those who know Greg Norman, Loren Roberts, Jay Haas and others with big name recognition who have or will soon find their way to 50. Tell them, beg them...heck...pay them to play some Champions Tour events next year. Jacobsen and Stadler did wonders during the weeks they played. Jerry Pate was a breath of fresh air as well. Its not that the Champions Tour is bad...its just that these guys will make it better. And if new blood isnt a given on the Champions Tour (as Haas seems to be indicating in this instance), then the tours future will be a bit cloudy.
 
One final thing...Heres hoping Haas son Bill makes it through PGA Tour Qualifying so he and his Dad can tee it up together next year. Keep in mind that Craig Stadlers win at the B.C. Open in 2003 keeps him exempt on the PGA Tour through 05 so with son Kevin earning his way as a Nationwide Tour grad, next year could be a weekly rendition of The Father-Son Challenge! And wouldnt that be fun for fans and ratings.
 
Enjoy the holidays yourself...and thanks for your support in reading this column!
 
Email your thoughts to Kraig Kann
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Casey in line to make Ryder Cup after Travelers T-2

By Will GrayJune 25, 2018, 10:30 am

Despite coughing up a four-shot lead at the Travelers Championship, England's Paul Casey moved into a qualifying position to make his return to the Ryder Cup this fall in Paris.

Casey struggled Sunday at TPC River Highlands, shooting a 72 as Bubba Watson raced to victory with a 63. But a four-way share of second place was still good enough to lift Casey into fourth place among those not already qualified on the World Points list, with the top four Europeans from that list in August punching their tickets to Le Golf National.

Casey has played in three Ryder Cups before, but none since 2008. After renouncing his European Tour membership a few years ago, he reinstated it for the 2018 season in order to be eligible to return to the biennial matches.

Here's a look at the updated standings for Europe, with the top four players from each points list ultimately joining four picks from captain Thomas Bjorn:

European Points

1. Tyrrell Hatton

2. Justin Rose

3. Tommy Fleetwood

4. Francesco Molinari

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5. Thorbjorn Olesen

6. Matthew Fitzpatrick

World Points

1. Jon Rahm

2. Rory McIlroy

3. Alex Noren

4. Paul Casey

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5. Matthew Fitzpatrick

6. Ian Poulter


On the American side of the ledger, Watson jumped two spots to fifth with his third win of the year and seemingly locked up his spot on the squad, while Bryson DeChambeau moved inside the top eight with a top-10 finish in Connecticut.

Here's a look at the latest U.S. standings, with the top eight after the PGA Championship earning automatic bids:

1. Brooks Koepka

2. Dustin Johnson

3. Patrick Reed

4. Justin Thomas

5. Bubba Watson

6. Jordan Spieth

7. Rickie Fowler

8. Bryson DeChambeau

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9. Webb Simpson

10. Phil Mickelson

11. Matt Kuchar

12. Brian Harman

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Watson cracks top 15 in world with Travelers win

By Will GrayJune 25, 2018, 10:15 am

After his third win in the last five months, Bubba Watson is back on the cusp of the upper echelon in the world rankings.

Watson started the year ranked No. 89 in the world, but after a three-shot victory at the Travelers Championship the southpaw moved up seven spots to No. 13 in the latest rankings. It marks his best position since a missed cut at the Waste Management Phoenix Open in February 2017.

Watson stayed one spot behind Paul Casey, who was one of four runners-up in Connecticut and rose one position to 12th as a result. Beau Hossler's T-2 finish helped him jump 24 spots to No. 64, while J.B. Holmes went from 93rd to 75th with the same result. Stewart Cink, who grabbed a share of second with a final-round 62, went from No. 149 to No. 95 and is back inside the top 100 in the world rankings for the first time since September 2011.


Updated Official World Golf Ranking


Matt Wallace, who won the BMW International Open on the European Tour, went from 91st to 66th.

There was only one change among the top 10 in the rankings, as an idle Jon Rahm moved past Jordan Spieth at No. 5 despite Spieth's T-42 finish at TPC River Highlands. At No. 6, Spieth is at his lowest point in the rankings since before last summer's victories at Travelers and The Open.

Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Rahm. Spieth slid to No. 6, with Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Jason Day and Tommy Fleetwood rounding out the top 10.

Poised to return to competition this week at the Quicken Loans National, Tiger Woods fell three spots to No. 82 in the latest rankings.

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After Further Review: Spieth needs a break

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 25, 2018, 1:11 am

Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On Jordan Spieth's much-needed break ...

Jordan Spieth is heading for a break, and that’s probably a good thing.

Spieth just wrapped a run of six events in seven weeks that featured largely underwhelming results. A third-place finish at the Masters that stemmed from a nearly-historic final round deflects attention away from the fact that Spieth has yet to enter a final round this year less than six shots off the lead.

A return to his home state didn’t work, nor did a fight against par at Shinnecock or a title defense outside Hartford where everything went so well a year ago. His putting woes appear to have bottomed out, as Spieth finished 21st in putting at Travelers, but now the alignment issue that plagued his putting appears to have bled into other parts of his game.

So heading into another title defense next month at Carnoustie, Spieth plans to take some time off and re-evaluate. Given how fast things turned around last summer, that might prove to be just what he needs. - Will Gray


On the difference between this week and last week ...

There wasn’t a single outraged tweet, not a lone voice of descent on social media following Bubba Watson’s victory at the Travelers Championship, a 17-under par masterpiece that included a closing loop of 30.

Nobody declared that golf was broken, no one proclaimed the royal and ancient game a victim of technology and the age of uber athletes. The only response was appreciation for what Watson, a bomber in the truest form, was able to accomplish.

At 6,840 yards, TPC River Highlands was built for fun, not speed. Without wild weather or ill-advised hole locations and greens baked to extinction, this is what the best players in the game do, and yet no one seemed outraged. Weird. - Rex Hoggard


On the emergence of another LPGA phenom ...

Add another young star to the favorites list heading to the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at Kemper Lakes outside Chicago next week.

Nasa Hataoka, the 19-year-old Japanese standout who needed her rookie season last year to acclimate to the LPGA, broke through for her first LPGA title Sunday at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship.

This wasn’t a surprise to LPGA followers. Hataoka won the Japan Women’s Open when she was 17, the first amateur to win a major on the Japan LPGA Tour, and she has been trending up this year.

Her tie for 10th at the U.S. Women’s Open three weeks ago was her fourth consecutive top-10 finish. She won going away in Arkansas, beating a deep field that included the top nine in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings. She outplayed world No. 2 Ariya Jutanugarn and No. 3 Lexi Thompson on Sunday. - Randall Mell

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Bubba waiting for Furyk's text about Ryder Cup

By Will GrayJune 25, 2018, 12:39 am

CROMWELL, Conn. – After winning his third PGA Tour title in the span of five months, Bubba Watson is now waiting by his phone.

Watson’s victory at the Travelers Championship, his third at TPC River Highlands since 2010, accompanies recent victories at both the Genesis Open and WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play from earlier this year. It also moved the southpaw from No. 7 to No. 5 in the latest U.S. Ryder Cup standings, with the top eight after the PGA Championship qualifying automatically.

After serving as an assistant captain at Hazeltine despite ranking No. 7 in the world at the time, Watson made it clear that he hopes to have removed any doubt about returning to the role of player when the biennial matches head to Paris this fall.


Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


“It still says in my phone that (U.S. captain) Jim (Furyk) hasn’t texted me yet. So I’d really like for him to say I’m going to pick you no matter what,” Watson said. “The motivation is I’ve never won a Ryder Cup, so making the Ryder Cup team and trying to win a Ryder Cup as a player would be another tournament victory to me. It would be a major championship to me just because I’ve never done it, been a part of it.”

Watson turns 40 in November, and while he reiterated that his playing career might not extend too far into the future as he looks to spend more time at home with son Caleb and daughter Dakota, he’s also hoping to make an Olympic return in Tokyo in 2020 after representing the U.S. in Rio two years ago.

“Talking about the Olympics coming up, that’s motivating me,” he said. “It was the best experience of my life to watch all the other events, and then the golf tournament got in the way. I’d love to do it again. I’d love to watch all the events and then have to play golf as well.”