Jaime Diaz - December 5, 2012

By Morning Drive TeamDecember 5, 2012, 1:27 pm

Jaime Diaz is the Editor-in-Chief of Golf World magazine. In determining the Newsmakers of the Year, the staff at Golf World looks at which people and which events made the biggest impact on the game of golf. Multiple staff members will provide their own list of the top 25 and they also hold debates on who are the biggest newsmakers with the top 10 stories inspiring the longest debates.

Beau Hossler, a junior who led the U.S. Open at The Olympic Club at one point in the second round, ranked #20 among the top Newsmakers because he is representative of the future of the game of golf. It was also notable that his longtime coach was Jim Flick who passed away this year.

Slow Play ranked as #17 and there were numerous stories this year in the amateur and pro ranks about how slow play has had a negative impact on the game. While it can be argued that slow play has improved the quality of the game of golf, it can also be argued that slow play is an example of a negative in the game of golf. It will be up to the USGA and R&A to determine how big of an impact slow play has made and can make in the future.

2012 Masters Champion Bubba Watson ranks #9 and while his win at Augusta National was a big deal and transcended the game of golf, it can be argued that Bubba underachieved for the rest of 2012. Bubba Watson is one of the most if not the most fascinating players on the PGA TOUR and he has shown how much potential he has to be one of the great players in the game of golf.

The act of anchoring putters and the proposed ban ranks 6th and Diaz said that it could actually ranked higher on the list. The significance of the story shows how important the governing bodies are to the game of golf and this could serve as an inspiration to those organizations to be more pro-active when it comes to setting rules and preserving the game. Both the USGA and R&A have made it clear that the proposed ban does not deal with equipment but instead deals with the definition of a stroke. It is an important issue and both organizations were smart to make their proposal on that basis.

The invitation of the first two female members into Augusta National Golf Club ranked as #5. It was a momentous announcement and the Augusta National led the process and was very smart to invite more than one female to become a member. Both Darla Moore and Condoleezza Rice are amazing women and they have the potential to make a huge impact not only on the Augusta National but also on the role of women around the world.

Tiger Woods ranked 4th and it was a great story to see Tiger win again on the PGA TOUR for the first time since 2009. He won three times this year but he has still not won a Major since 2008 and that fact makes Tiger incredibly interesting and he will always be someone to watch as long as he is playing the game. Tiger’s relationships with other players including Rory McIlroy and the U.S. Ryder Cup team show an evolution in his attitude towards fellow competitors and he would not be surprised if Tiger was energized by the time he spent with the younger players like McIlroy.

The European team victory at Medinah Country Club in the Ryder Cup ranked as the #3 Newsmaker of the year. The entire weekend was compelling and exciting as both the U.S. and European teams provided great performances and great stories because of the roles of the various players. On Saturday afternoon, Ian Poulter led Europe’s charge and it was fascinating to see World #1 and playing partner Rory McIlroy looking on in awe. Every player on both teams played different but important roles that week.

Rory McIlroy ranks as the #2 Newsmaker simply because the #1 story was a bit more compelling. There are many words that can be used to describe McIlroy’s season and his career up to this point and another great thing about McIlroy is that he seems to be making all the right moves in every part of his career. McIlroy seems very confident in his own thinking process and he comes across as a sensible person and as long as he keeps delivering great performances and being himself, he will do very well.

Golf World magazine named the pattern of crash landings in golf as the #1 Newsmaker of 2012 because it was amazing to see so many big tournaments end with some kind of collapse. Adam Scott in The Open Championship, I.K. Kim in the Kraft Nabisco Championship, Kyle Stanley in the Farmers Insurance Open, and the U.S. team in the Ryder Cup are just a few examples of the notable collapses. The majority of the players who held the lead entering the final round did not go on to win and it was unusual to see such a high number of final round collapses. Some of those players who collapsed like I.K. Kim did not come close to winning again the rest of the year.

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Winning on Kerr's mind this week and beyond

By Randall MellMarch 24, 2018, 2:11 am

Cristie Kerr moved into position Friday to do more than win the 21st LPGA title of her career.

She moved into position to claim an LPGA Hall of Fame point this week.

Yes, winning is foremost on her mind at the Kia Classic, where she took the lead with an 8-under-par 64 in the second round, she’s on a larger quest, too.

After turning 40 last fall, Kerr was asked what her goals are.

“The Hall of Fame is attainable, if I stick with it,” she said.

Kerr is five shots ahead of Lizette Salas (67), In-Kyung Kim (69), Hee Young Park (70) and Caroline Hedwall (70).

It’s a good time for Kerr to get on a hot streak, with the year’s first major championship, the ANA Inspiration, next week. She has long been one of the best putters in the women’s game, but her ball-striking is impressive this week. She hit 17 greens in regulation Thursday, and she hit 16 on Friday.

“I like winning,” Kerr said. “I like challenging myself. Definitely doesn't get any easier as you get older, with the travel and recovery time. I got up this morning and I'm like, `Man, why does my hamstring hurt?’ From working around this hilly golf course.”

Kerr acknowledged Friday that her body is more vulnerable to time’s realities, but her mind isn’t.

Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

“The golf ball doesn't know an age,” Kerr said. “I've always said that. As long as I stay hungry, going to just keep playing.”

Kerr won two weeks after her 40th birthday last fall, boosting her LPGA Hall of Fame point total to 22. She is five points short of eligibility for induction. A player earns one point for an LPGA victory and two points for a major championship title. So there’s a lot of Hall of Fame ground to gain this week and next.

It’s a long-term goal that motivates Kerr to take care of her body.

“I don't think the golf changes,” Kerr said. “I think, physically, it gets harder as you get older. Like I said, I've got tape on my hamstring. I strained it, just a little bit yesterday, walking around this golf course. It's tough as you get older, just being fresh and rested. I put more focus into that as I've gotten older. I still practice, but off the course I try to get more rest.”

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Big names chasing Kerr into the weekend at Kia Classic

By Associated PressMarch 24, 2018, 1:55 am

CARLSBAD, Calif. - Cristie Kerr shot an 8-under 64 on Friday in the Kia Classic to take a five-stroke lead into the weekend.

The 40-year-old Kerr had eight birdies in her second straight bogey-free round to reach 13-under 131 at rain-softened Aviara.

''I like winning. I like challenging myself,'' Kerr said. ''Definitely doesn't get any easier as you get older with the travel and recovery time. I got up this morning and I'm like, 'Man, why does my hamstring hurt?' From working around this hilly golf course. The golf ball doesn't know an age. I've always said that. As long as I stay hungry, going to just keep playing.''

She has 20 LPGA victories, winning at Aviara in 2015. She won twice last year and helped the U.S. beat Europe in her ninth Solheim Cup appearance.

''It's tough as you get older just being fresh and rested,'' Kerr said. ''I put more focus into that as I've gotten older. I still practice, but off the course I try to get more rest.''

Lizette Salas, In-Kyung Kim, Hee Young Park and Caroline Hedwall were tied for second. Salas shot 67, Kim 69, and Park and Hedwall 70.

''I really like this golf course. I really like the environment,'' said Salas, the former University of Southern California player from Azusa. ''My family gets to come out. So much confidence at the beginning of the week, and definitely showed the first two days.

Jeong Eun Lee was 7 under after a 69, and defending ANA champion So Yeon Ryu had a 70 to get to 6 under.

Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

Ariya Jutanugarn (72), Brooke Henderson (70) and 2016 winner Lydia Ko (71) were 5 under. Shanshan Feng (68) was another stroke back, and Singapore winner Michelle Wie (72) was 1 under.

Lexi Thompson was 2 over after a 74, making the cut on the number in the final event before the major ANA Inspiration next week at Mission Hills.

Kerr opened with birdies on the par-5 10th and par-3 11th, added birdies on the par-4 16th, 18th and second, and ran off three in a row on the par-3 sixth, par-4 seventh and par-5 eighth.

''I don't think you can fall asleep on one shot,'' Kerr said. ''It's a really good golf course. I think I play better on courses that demand the focus, so I think that's why I've played well here in the past. ... I'm trying not to put limits on myself right now. I've got some good things going on with my swing.''

She has long been one best putters and green-readers in the world.

''I can see the subtleties that a lot of people can't,'' Kerr said. ''It's a gift from God being able to do that. I've always had that, so I'm lucky.''

Laura Davies withdrew after an opening 82. The 54-year-old Davies tied for second last week in the Founders Cup in Phoenix, playing through painful left Achilles and calf problems.

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DJ hits 489-yard drive, but it doesn't count for history

By Rex HoggardMarch 24, 2018, 12:22 am

AUSTIN, Texas – Dustin Johnson is no stranger to big drives, but even for DJ this one was impressive.

Trailing in his Day 3 match at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, Johnson launched a drive at the par-5 12th hole that traveled 489 yards, but that number comes with an asterisk.

“He got lucky it hit the road,” smiled Kevin Kisner, who was leading the world No. 1, 3 up, at the time. “I thought he would make an eagle for sure, he only had 80 yards [to the hole]. He didn’t hit a very good putt.”

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Full bracket | Scoring | Group standings

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Johnson’s drive, which was 139 yards past Kisner’s tee shot, is the longest recorded on the PGA Tour in the ShotLink era, surpassing Davis Love III’s drive of 476 yards in 2004 at the Tournament of Champions.

The drive will not go into the record books, however, because the Tour doesn’t count statistics from the Match Play.

It should also be noted, Kisner halved the 12th hole with a birdie and won the match, 4 and 3, to advance to the round of 16.

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Durant leads Champions event in Mississippi

By Associated PressMarch 24, 2018, 12:21 am

BILOXI, Miss. - Joe Durant had three straight birdies in a back-nine burst and a shot 6-under 66 on Friday to take the first-round lead in the PGA Tour Champions' Rapiscan Systems Classic.

Durant birdied the par-4 11th and 12th and par-5 13th in the bogey-free round at breezy and rain-softened Fallen Oak. Because of the wet conditions, players were allowed to lift, clean and place their golf balls in the fairway.

''It just sets up nice to my eye,'' Durant said. ''It's a beautiful golf course and it's very challenging. The tee shots seem to set up well for me, but the greens are maybe as quick as I've ever seen them here. You really have to put the ball in the right spots. I played very nice today. With the wind swirling like it was, I'm really happy.''

He won the Chubb Classic last month in Naples, Florida, for his third victory on the 50-and-over tour.

Full-field scores from the Rapiscan Systems Classic

''Done this long enough, Friday's just one day,'' Durant said. ''Especially in a three-day tournament, you've got to go out and shoot three good numbers. Fortunate to put one on the board, but I know I have to back it up with a couple of good days because you can get passed very quickly out here.''

Mark Calcavecchia was a stroke back. He won last month in Boca Raton, Florida

''It's probably my best round I've ever had here and it was a tough day to play,'' Calcavecchia said. ''The greens are just lightning fast. They're pretty slopey greens, so very difficult to putt.''

Steve Stricker was third at 68. He took the Tucson, Arizona, event three weeks ago for his first senior victory.

''Just getting it around and managing my game I think like I always do,'' Stricker said. ''You get in the wrong position here with the greens being so fast and you're going to be in trouble. I did that a couple times today.''

Billy Mayfair, Billy Andrade and David McKenzie shot 69. Jerry Kelly, the winner of the season-opening event in Hawaii, was at 70 with Wes Short Jr., Glen Day, Gene Sauers and Jesper Parnevik.

Bernhard Langer opened with a 71, and two-time defending champion Miguel Angel Jimenez had a 72.

Vijay Singh, coming off his first senior victory two weeks ago in Newport Beach, California, had a 73.