Award Season Blunder

By Rex HoggardNovember 12, 2009, 3:53 am

PGA TourLAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Paul Azinger’s name is etched into it, as is John Daly’s and Peter Jacobsen’s. Steve Stricker’s on there too, twice, in consecutive years no less.

The circuit’s “Comeback Player of the Year” award dates back to 1991, hardly hallowed ground in a sport that keeps time in eons, but it is enough history to prompt a double take when news surfaced this week that there will be no engraving in 2009 barring a miracle performance by the game’s walking miracle on a corner of central Florida turf that bills itself the place “where dreams come true.”

But before we put too much pressure on Erik Compton, the double heart transplant recipient and perhaps the only player that could prompt the circuit to revive the honor in ’09, the curious case of the missing miracle must be examined.

According to a Tour official, the 16-member Player Advisory Council “has the discretion to determine that the Comeback POY not be awarded in a given year if they feel there are no viable candidates.”

Barring a Compton “W” at WDW, the ballots for Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year will be finalized next week without a CPOY option and there are no plans to “provide a space on the ballot for write in votes.”

While we agree there may not be an obvious choice – say, like, Stricker in 2007 after he’d already won the award in 2006 – but count the PAC some kind of tough crowd if six victories in 17 starts (Tiger Woods) following ACL surgery doesn’t rate at least a nomination. Or two titles and a major keepsake after failing to keep your Tour card (Y.E. Yang) can’t move the needle, or the pen.

The Woods nomination for CPOY seemed to run into a filibuster early, with the logic being that it’s hard to come back from a historic victory at the U.S. Open, to say nothing of that victory-victory-victory start that prefaced his Torrey Pines brilliance.

“He doesn’t care (about CPOY),” Heath Slocum said. “He cares about the Vardon Trophy and the Player of the Year (award).”

Truth is Woods is likely more concerned about tonight’s dinner plans in Australia than he is his dwindling CPOY chances, but that logic misses the distance travelled by the world No. 1 since Torrey Pines. ACL surgery, recovery from a broken leg and a reworked action aimed at taking pressure off that battered left knee and Woods himself has admitted he didn’t know what to expect in 2009 add up to one compelling comeback, if not an original HBO production.

He may not be the leading candidate for the Waterford crystal, but excluding his name from the conversation dismisses how hard Woods had to work to return to his world-beating form.

For most players, however, Woods’ name on the CPOY crystal seems to stretch the definition of the award, if not the bounds of logic.

“It’s not like he was hurting, at least competitively, when he went down,” said Brad Faxon, a member of the Tour’s Policy Board. “He was the No. 1 player in the world at the time and didn’t drop out of that spot.”

But all of this does little to explain Yang’s snub. In 2008 the Korean finished 157th in earnings and needed five of six rounds in the 60s to finish tied for 18th at Q-School to secure his job. His Honda Classic victory should have been enough to put Yang’s name on a CPOY ballot, but that mano a mano masterpiece at Hazeltine National with Woods should have made this year’s award a non-story – box it up and send it to Dallas via Seoul.

A sampling of PAC members on Tuesday at Disney would indicate many agree.

“I nominated Y.E. Yang,” said PAC member Ted Purdy. “He went from losing his card to winning a tournament and a major. That’s pretty good.”

D.A. Points, another member of the PAC, also said he nominated at least two players for the CPOY award, himself and David Duval, but was aware of the resistance by some members not to nominate a candidate.

“I saw (one PAC member) write down on his ballot, ‘This is a meaningless category,” Points said. “I understand that, sometimes names just don’t jump out at you, but I just didn’t feel like I should make that call not to give out the award.”

Davis Love III, a PAC member this year who will join the three other player directors on the Policy Board next year, said he was called by a Tour official last week to nominate a Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year candidate, but wasn’t asked about the CPOY ballot.

“That’s weird,” Love said.

Weird, and wrong. Woods and Yang may somehow miss the CPOY mold, but removing them from the conversation altogether cheapens their accomplishments. And that’s not right.

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Watch: Moore does impressions of Tiger, Poults, Bubba

By Grill Room TeamJuly 16, 2018, 10:36 pm
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Johnson begins Open week as 12/1 betting favorite

By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 5:15 pm

Dustin Johnson heads into The Open as the top-ranked player in the world, and he's also an understandable betting favorite as he looks to win a second career major.

Johnson has not played since the U.S. Open, where he led by four shots at the halfway point and eventually finished third. He has three top-10 finishes in nine Open appearances, notably a T-2 finish at Royal St. George's in 2011.

Johnson opened as a 12/1 favorite when the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook first published odds for Carnoustie after the U.S. Open, and he remains at that number with the first round just three days away.

Here's a look at the latest odds on some of the other top contenders, according to the Westgate:

12/1: Dustin Johnson

16/1: Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose

20/1: Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood, Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm

25/1: Jason Day, Henrik Stenson, Tiger Woods

30/1: Sergio Garcia, Francesco Molinari, Paul Casey, Alex Noren, Patrick Reed

40/1: Hideki Matsuyama, Marc Leishman, Branden Grace, Tyrrell Hatton

50/1: Phil Mickelson, Ian Poulter, Matthew Fitzpatrick

60/1: Russell Knox, Louis Oosthuizen, Matt Kuchar, Bryson DeChambeau, Zach Johnson, Tony Finau, Bubba Watson

80/1: Lee Westwood, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Thomas Pieters, Xander Schauffele

100/1: Shane Lowry, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker, Ryan Fox, Thorbjorn Olesen

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Woods needs top-10 at Open to qualify for WGC

By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 4:34 pm

If Tiger Woods is going to qualify for the final WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club, he'll need to do something he hasn't done in five years this week at The Open.

Woods has won eight times at Firestone, including his most recent PGA Tour victory in 2013, and has openly stated that he would like to qualify for the no-cut event in Akron before it shifts to Memphis next year. But in order to do so, Woods will need to move into the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking after this week's event at Carnoustie.

Woods is currently ranked No. 71 in the world, down two spots from last week, and based on projections it means that he'll need to finish no worse than a tie for eighth to have a chance of cracking the top 50. Woods' last top-10 finish at a major came at the 2013 Open at Muirfield, where he tied for sixth.

Updated Official World Golf Ranking

There are actually two OWGR cutoffs for the Bridgestone, July 23 and July 30. That means that Woods could theoretically still add a start at next week's RBC Canadian Open to chase a spot in the top 50, but he has said on multiple occasions that this week will be his last start of the month. The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational will be played Aug. 2-5.

There wasn't much movement in the world rankings last week, with the top 10 staying the same heading into the season's third major. Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm. Defending Open champ Jordan Spieth is ranked sixth, with Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Tommy Fleetwood rounding out the top 10.

Despite taking the week off, Sweden's Alex Noren moved up three spots from No. 14 to No. 11, passing Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Paul Casey.

John Deere Classic champ Michael Kim went from No. 473 to No. 215 in the latest rankings, while South African Brandon Stone jumped from 371st to 110th with his win at the Scottish Open.

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Spieth takes familiar break ahead of Open defense

By Rex HoggardJuly 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – As his title chances seemed to be slipping away during the final round of last year’s Open Championship, Jordan Spieth’s caddie took a moment to remind him who he was.

Following a bogey at No. 13, Michael Greller referenced a recent vacation he’d taken to Mexico where he’d spent time with Michael Phelps and Michael Jordan and why he deserved to be among that group of singular athletes.

Spieth, who won last year’s Open, decided to continue the tradition, spending time in Cabo again before this week’s championship.

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“I kind of went through the same schedule,” Spieth said on Monday at Carnoustie. “It was nice to have a little vacation.”

Spieth hasn’t played since the Travelers Championship; instead he attended the Special Olympics USA Games earlier this month in Seattle with his sister. It was Spieth’s first time back to the Pacific Northwest since he won the 2015 U.S. Open.

“I went out to Chambers Bay with [Greller],” Spieth said. “We kind of walked down the 18th hole. It was cool reliving those memories.”

But most of all Spieth said he needed a break after a particularly tough season.

“I had the itch to get back to it after a couple weeks of not really working,” he said. “It was nice to kind of have that itch to get back.”