Poll results: Answers to golf’s 18 toughest choices

Masters or Ryder Cup? Our readers overwhelming would rather head to Augusta than a Ryder Cup.

Every golfer loves a good debate: Tee high or tee it low? Jack or Tiger? Scotland or Ireland? But where do GOLF.com readers come down on these age-old questions? Over several days last week we polled you on 18 choices that golfers face, with the hopes of better understanding the psyche of the American golfer. More than 3,800 of you voiced your opinions, and some of the results might surprise you. (Zach Johnson over Dustin Johnson?!) The envelope, please!
1. In your ideal round, you are…

Walking: 64%
Riding: 36%

2. If you have time for one, your pre-round warm-up is at the…

Driving Range: 53%
Putting Green: 47%

3. When it comes to the rules, you play…

By the book: 60%
Fast and loose: 40%

4. Which of these two events would you rather attend?

The Masters: 81%
Ryder Cup: 19%

5. The greatest golfer of all time is:

Tiger Woods:  38%
Jack Nicklaus: 62%

6. With driver in hand, you prefer to…

Tee it high: 70%
Tee it low: 30%

7. If you can only carry one or the other…

Hybrid: 81%
3-iron: 19%

8. Would you rather drive it…

As long as Dustin Johnson: 49%
As accurate as Zach Johnson: 51%

9. If you could get one lesson, it would be from…

Butch Harmon: 74%
Hank Haney: 26%

10. Your dream golf destination is…

Scotland: 70%
Ireland: 30%

11. From the apron of the green, you’re pulling a…

Wedge: 30%
Putter: 70%

12. During a round, you’re…

Boozing: 24%
Abstaining: 76%

13. At the course your cell phone policy is…

In your pocket: 14%
In your bag: 73%
In your car: 13%

14. The ideal number of holes in one day is…

9: 3%
18: 72%
36: 25%

15.  In most rounds you prefer to…

Tee it forward: 65%
Play the tips: 35%

16. The most iconic par 3 in America is…

No. 7 at Pebble Beach: 30%
No. 12 at Augusta: 70%

17. When facing a risky approach to a par 5, you’re most likely to…

Go for it: 36%
Lay up: 64%

18. The most important question of all: At the turn, you’re gabbing a…

Burger: 24%
Hot dog: 68%
Wheatgrass smoothie: 7%

courtesy of Extra Spin Staff

 

Phil Mickelson on how Tiger Woods has changed

Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods go way back as one of the most beloved and fiery golf rivalries of all time. But as veterans of the game, they’ve come to respect and like each other both as competitors and teammates. And according to Mickelson, that was no more apparent than at the 2016 Ryder Cup at Hazeltine.

Speaking to Sports Illustrated’s Alan Shipnuck for a GOLF.com podcast, Mickelson practically gushed about Woods’ transformation off the course, especially in the Ryder Cup team room.

“He’s really fun to be around now,” Mickelson said. “He’s very thoughtful and detail oriented, but more than that, he’s been very approachable and helpful with a lot of the guys.

“I think for a number of years, he felt – and I don’t know this – but I think he felt as if he were to open up in these team events, he would be breaking down that aura that he’s built and the intimidation he’s built and could affect his career in some of these tournaments by that one week, and so has always been kind of held back or reluctant.”

According to Mickelson, Woods’ ideas during the Ryder Cup were instrumental in the game plan that helped deliver the Cup to the Americans after eight years of European domination. One example Mickelson mentioned was moving the tees back on par-5s when shorter hitters were playing, so they could take advantage with their strong wedge play. And, for the bigger hitters, moving the tees up so they could attack the green in two.

“I don’t know what it is but the last three or four years he’s been much more approachable and engaging with the guys and really fun to be around,” Mickelson said. “Guys grew up, on the team, idolizing him and watching him, and to have him support you and talk to you and be with you has been really fulfilling.”

It’s not just the personable Woods that Mickelson admires. Asked whether or not Mickelson thinks Woods will win again, he didn’t hesitate.

“Oh yeah,” Mickelson said. “He’s too good not to, unless physically something holds him back. He’d just out-ball-strike guys and he would win tournaments that way even not putting that great. He would win tournaments out putting everybody even if he didn’t strike it that great, because he was such a great putter and (had a) great short game. But when he did them both together, he just spanked everybody and won by 15 like the 2000 US Open.

“He doesn’t have to be the best he’s ever been at to win tournaments because his talent level is so high and I think it’s much easier to do it again than it is to do it for the first time.”

The Trump Tour: Behind Donald Trump’s Golf Empire

 

This story originally appeared in the June 7, 2007, issue of Sports Illustrated.

My assignment, as it first came down to me from on high, was to play Trump’s courses and write up the tour, and my goal at first was to avoid the owner.

Donald Trump, everybody knows, is a career .400 salesman, and I was afraid he’d overwhelm me. I had met him once, in 2002, when I was covering the season ending event on the LPGA tour, played at the Trump course in West Palm Beach, Trump International Golf Club.

The course looked beautiful, and by 2005 it was on the Golf Digest list of America’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses, in 84th place. But it was the kind of course for which, to borrow a phrase, I have unaffected scorn: crazy expensive to build and maintain, with a man-made waterfall, a man-made mountain and miles of cart paths. And apparently Trump was feuding with his contractors and not paying them, which may have accounted for the colossal clubhouse still showing exposed wires and (in places) concrete floors. Trump gave me a tour of his unfinished Taj Mahal with a lieutenant at his side.

We arrived in the grand ballroom where there were massive windows overlooking the course. Trump said to me, “My decorator says I need drapes on those windows, but I kind of like the unobstructed views of the course. What do you think?”

I figured the drape budget was gone. Trying to be polite, I said, “With those views of the course, who needs drapes?”

Trump turned to his lieutenant and said, “The guy from SI has spoken — no drapes!”

It was as if Ely Callaway, another scratch marketing man who ultimately figured out a way to leave his mark on golf, was back from the dead.

Last August, I called a man named Ashley Cooper, described by an editor as “Trump’s golf guy.” There are five Trump clubs, and four of them are private, so I’d need help to get on them. I told Cooper my hope was to play the various courses with just one friend and that we’d pay for everything. I wanted to see the courses myself, and not through the prism of Trump. Cooper couldn’t have been more accommodating. Naturally, there was a reason he returned my call so promptly: A big spread in SI about Trump’s properties could be useful. Still, he knew what I needed.

When I showed up at the Trump National Golf Club, in New York’s Westchester County, Trump was waiting in the XXL clubhouse. He was wearing a red baseball cap with the gold logo of his club on the front and one of those Little League adjustable straps, with the holes and the little plastic pegs, in the back. It was a rainy, gray day, but Trump was ready to go. We were a fivesome: Trump and me; Trump’s friend Louis Rinaldi, who is in the pavement business; a young pro with LPGA aspirations named Bri Vega; and my friend Mike Donald, a former Tour player.

Rinaldi, a lefthander with a lot of swagger and a handsy scratch golf game, built all the cart paths on the course. Trump made him a member of the club and gave him a locker in the same row as those of Trump, Bill Clinton, Rudy Giuliani and Joe Torre. “Are these not the most beautiful cart paths you have ever seen in your life?” Trump asked Mike and me. “Look at this curbing. You won’t see curbing like this anywhere else. I can play with anybody, chairmen of the biggest banks, any celebrity I want to play with. But you know something? I’d rather play with Lou. You can take Lou anywhere.” Trump slapped me on the shoulder and said, “You understand.” He went off and played his shot.

It was clear that Trump loved his Westchester course, in the vicinity of Westchester Country Club, site of an annual Tour event, and Winged Foot, where Trump is a member. He talked about an underground pumping system, the millions he spent on a waterfall, how much Clinton enjoyed playing there, how the Tour would like to move the Barclays Classic from Westchester Country Club to his course. He described in detail how he defeated Rinaldi one year in the final to win the club championship, which is amazing because Trump looked like a golfer who could maybe break 80 and Rinaldi looked as if he could break par anywhere, but strange things happen in golf, especially on your home course, and most especially when you’ve built it yourself. The design is credited to Jim Fazio, but Trump, by his accounting, had done a lot to shape every hole. It was obvious Trump believed the course also belonged on the Golf Digest list. (Golf Magazine, which also ranks golf courses, is a member of the SI Golf Group.) “I have people coming up to me all the time saying my New Jersey course is the best course they’ve ever played, but I think this one is every bit as good and maybe better,” Trump said.

At the turn he slipped into the clubhouse for a few minutes where a foot-high stack of tax documents awaited him. He signed a few of them with his distinctive, thick up-and-down signature and said, “Golf is a small part of my business. One, two percent. But you know why I spend so much time on it? Because I do what I want and I like it.”

Before I go on, I ask you to accept a blanket apology. . . .

This whole expanding business of playing fancy golf courses and comparing them with other fancy golf courses, there’s something appalling about it, and it yields some of the most pretentious writing and conversation you’ll ever come across. It’s an embarrassment of riches, just being able to play courses where you can putt on the tee boxes and a man stands there waiting to rake the bunker you’ve just sullied. Everybody enjoys the old grillroom question, “If you could play only one course for the rest of your life, which would it be?” You de-fend your choice and have a good time doing it. But when the tone is definitive, as if there are correct and incorrect opinions, that makes my skin crawl. I see golf courses not only as great playing fields but also as large-scale works of art. It was obvious after only nine holes with Trump that he does too — he likes to say that he finally gets gardening — which is why he likes to build them. All I’m doing is offering my own reaction to the places I went on my Trump tour, as your proxy.

Read more

Courtesy of golf.com

 

Justin Thomas Wins Sony Open, Sets PGA Tour’s 72-Hole Scoring Record

HONOLULU, HI – JANUARY 15: Justin Thomas plays a tee shot on the first hole during the final round of the Sony Open in Honolulu, Hawaii at Waialae Country Club on January 15, 2017 in Honolulu, Hawaii. (Photo by Stan Badz/PGA TOUR)

Challenged only by the record book, Justin Thomas won the Sony Open on Sunday with the lowest 72-hole score in PGA Tour history.

Thomas capped off his wonderful week at Waialae that began with a 59 with his second straight victory. He two-putted birdie from 60 feet on the par-5 18th and closed with a 5-under 65 to set the record at 253. Tommy Armour III shot 254 at the 2003 Texas Open.

“It’s been an unbelievable week. Unforgettable,” Thomas said before going to sign his historic card.

Make that two weeks.

The 23-year-old from Kentucky won the SBS Tournament of Champions at Kapalua last week by three shots, then destroyed the full field at the Sony Open to win by seven shots. Thomas is the first player since Tiger Woods in 2009 (Buick Open and Bridgestone Invitational) to win back-to-back weeks by three shots or more.

“I felt like I was trying to win a tournament for second place,” Jordan Spieth said, summing up the helpless feeling of everyone.

That honor went to Justin Rose, who closed with a 64 to finish alone in second. Spieth shot a 63 to finish alone in third.

The first full-field event of the year on the PGA Tour was a one-man show.

Thomas began the final round with a seven-shot lead and no one got closer than five shots all day. His only nervous moment was an 8-foot par putt on the sixth hole when he was five shots ahead. He made that, and the rest of the day was a Pacific breeze.

Thomas joined Ernie Els in 2003 as the only players to sweep Hawaii, and this performance might have been even better. Thomas was 49-under par for his two weeks, compared with Els at 47 under.

Thomas joined Johnny Miller (1974 and 1975) and Tiger Woods (2003, 2008, 2013) as the only players since 1970 to win three of the their first five starts in a PGA Tour season. It started last fall with the CIMB Classic in Malaysia.

He moved to No. 8 in the world.

“He’s got full control of his game, full confidence, and he’s executing under pressure,” Spieth said. “It’s a lot of fun to see. Certainly stuff that myself and a lot of our peers have seen going back almost 10 years now. He’s certainly showing the world what he’s capable of.”

No one ever lost a seven-shot lead in the final round of a PGA Tour event, a fact that never entered the conversation on a balmy afternoon at Waialae.

Thomas, thinking more about the trophy and another record when he started the final round, took no chances early on. He was 1 over through seven holes, making a soft bogey with a three-putt from 45 feet on No. 4 and a tough par save on No. 6, and still no one got closer than five shots.

But when he poured in a 20-foot birdie putt on the eighth, Thomas shifted into another gear. That was the start of four birdies in five holes – the exception was a birdie putt he missed from just inside 10 feet – and he stretched his lead to as many as nine shots.

Waialae was vulnerable all week with not much wind, fast fairways and greens that were softer than usual. Thomas produced the eighth sub-60 round in PGA Tour history on Thursday. Kevin Kisner had a shot at 59 on Saturday until missing a 9-foot eagle putt on his final hole. And on Sunday, Chez Reavie made a hole-in-one with a 6-iron on the 17th hole that gave him a shot at a sub-60 round. Only a bogey on the sixth hole (he start on No. 10) stopping him, and he had to settle for a 61. That matched the third-best score of the week.

Even in easier conditions, no one played like Thomas.

McIlroy Taken By Storm In South Africa

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA – JANUARY 15: Graeme Storm of England celebrates with the trophy after winning the BMW South African Open Championship at Glendower Golf Club on January 15, 2017 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

Graeme Storm beat Rory McIlroy on the third playoff hole to win the SA Open on Sunday, earning the Englishman a second European Tour title 80 days after losing his card by 100 euros.

After the 251st-ranked Storm tapped in for a par, McIlroy slid his par putt wide from 7 feet on their fourth visit to the 18th hole at the Glendower Golf Club.

“I’m in shock, this has been a surreal week,” Storm said. “To find myself in the position I was in, playing on the final day with the best player in the world right now. It’s just a dream come true.”

McIlroy, the world No. 2, started the final round three strokes behind Storm but chased down the overnight leader, moving atop the leaderboard when Storm missed a 3-foot par putt on No. 14. McIlroy relinquished the lead by bogeying No. 17 after taking two shots in a greenside bunker, taking the event to a playoff with both on 18-under-par 270.

McIlroy shot 4-under 68 and Storm had a 71.

Storm lost his card at the end of last year, only to get a reprieve when American player Patrick Reed failed to play enough events to join the tour.

His other title came at the French Open in 2007.

Tour rookie Jordan Smith of England was a shot back in third ahead of a trio of South African players. Dean Burmester was fourth on 273, one stroke ahead of Thomas Aiken and Trevor Fisher Jnr.

On the first playoff hole, Storm sank a close-range putt for par. They went back up the par-4 18th and both players drove into the rough but still managed to make par.

The third time round, McIlroy hit his approach shot short of the green to give Storm the advantage. The Englishman’s 45-foot birdie putt just missed, as did McIlory’s putt for par minutes later.

Storm played cautiously Sunday, coming up short with many putts in the back nine, to allow McIlroy to eat into his lead.

Courtesy of AP NEWS

Woody Austin Shoots 59 At Diamond Resorts Invitational

Woody Austin

Woody Austin shot a 59 at the Diamond Resorts Invitational. And he didn’t even know it.

Austin went on a birdie tear in the opening round of the tournament, carding 10 birdies and an eagle with no bogeys. When he walked off the 18th green, Austin believed he had a great round, but not a 59.

“I didn’t know it was a par-71 so when I walked off the last green I thought I shot 60,” Austin said. “Everybody goes, ‘No, it’s a par-71.’ So, ah, cool. I really didn’t know.

“I’ve said all along the game has gotten a lot easier because of the technology and the golf ball,”Austin continued. “It really is a putting contest. And I proved that today. If you get hot in one round, it’s so easy to keep the ball in front of you. When you’re on, you’re really on.”

The event has a mixed field of PGA Tour Champions Tour players, LPGA Tour players and celebrities, so it’s not an official Champions Tour event. But still, a 59 is a 59.

Rory McIlroy Resents The Olympic Games For ‘Political’ Choice

Rory McIlroy tees off at Hazeltine National during the 2016 Ryder Cup.

Rory McIlroy says he resented how the Olympics forced him to decide whether he would represent Ireland or Britain and that it reached a point that it “wasn’t worth the hassle” to compete in Rio de Janeiro.

In an interview with the Sunday Independent in Ireland, McIlroy explained why he was so critical of golf’s return to the Olympics during a press conference at last summer’s British Open.

McIlroy, the four-time major champion from Northern Ireland, cited concerns over the Zika virus as his reason not to go to Rio.

He told the Irish newspaper that when the International Olympic Committee announced in 2009 that golf would be part of the program for the first time since 2004, “all of a sudden it put me in a position where I had to question who I am.”

“Who am I? Where am I from? Where do my loyalties lie? Who am I going to play for? Who do I not want to (upset) the most?” McIlroy said. “I started to resent it. And I do. I resent the Olympic Games because of the position it put me in. That’s my feelings toward it. And whether that’s right or wrong, that’s how I feel.”

McIlroy said he sent a text message to Justin Rose to congratulate him on winning the gold medal in Rio for Britain. He said Rose thanked him and asked if McIlroy felt as though he had missed out.

“I said, ‘Justin, if I had been on the podium (listening) to the Irish national anthem as that flag went up, or the British national anthem as that flag went up, I would have felt uncomfortable either way.'” McIlroy told the newspaper. “I don’t know the words to either anthem. I don’t feel a connection to either flag. I don’t want it to be about flags. I’ve tried to stay away from that.”

McIlroy was among several top stars who opted to skip the Olympics, most citing the Zika virus. He had been scheduled to play for Ireland until announcing in June he would not be going. Jordan Spieth did not announce his decision to miss Rio until a few days before the British Open. McIlroy spoke after Spieth, and the Olympics was brought up again.

McIlroy dismissed the notion that he had let down his sport, saying, “I didn’t get into golf to try and grow the game.” He also said that he probably wouldn’t watch Olympic golf on TV, only “the stuff that matters.”

“Well, I’d had nothing but questions about the Olympics – ‘the Olympics, the Olympics, the Olympics’ – and it was just one question too far,” McIlroy said. “I’d said what I needed to say. I’d got myself out of it, and it comes up again. And I could feel it. I could just feel myself go, ‘Poom!’ And I thought, ‘I’m going to let them have it.’

“OK, I went a bit far,” he added. “But I hate that term, ‘growing the game.’ Do you ever hear that in other sports? In tennis? Football? ‘Let’s grow the game.’ I mean, golf was here long before we were, and it’s going to be here long after we’re gone. So I don’t get that, but I probably went a bit overboard.”

McIlroy said Olympic golf didn’t mean that much to him.

“It really doesn’t. I don’t get excited about it. And people can disagree, and have a different opinion, and that’s totally fine,” he said. “Each to their own.”

McIlroy, who is to play the South African Open this week, said he has never been driven by nationalism or patriotism because of where he was raised.

“And I never wanted it to get political or about where I’m from, but that’s what it turned into,” he said. “And it just got to the point where it wasn’t worth the hassle.”

Courtesy of Dublin (AP)

Former South African Golf Star Westner Dies in Apparent Suicide

Ernie Els and Wayne Westner celebrate winning the World Cup Golf competition on the 18th green at Erinvale golf club, South Africa, 24th November 1996. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

Wayne Westner, a South African golf star who once played alongside Ernie Els, died of an apparent suicide on Wednesday. Westner won the South African Open in 1988 and 1991 and the 1996 World Cup of Golf with Els as his partner. He won twice on the European tour.

Police confirmed that Westner had died as the result of a gunshot to the right side of the head. He was allegedly holding his wife hostage prior to his death. The 55-year-old’s career ended in 1998 after an accident at the Madeira Island Open that left him with several torn ankle ligaments.

Els posted a message of condolence this morning after learning of Westner’s death: “Sad day, our friend Wayne Westner passed today. Great memories thank you my friend.”

courtesy of golfwire

Brandel Chamblee, Bailey Mosier Married In Arizona Friday

Bailey Mosier

Most people know Brandel Chamblee as the guy with great hair who talks about Tiger Woods and other golf stars as an analyst for the Golf Channel. But the former PGA Tour player is now a husband, too.

Chamblee and Bailey Mosier married on Friday at the Arizona Country Club in Phoenix. Mosier is a reporter on Golf Channel’s Morning Drive, and she was also featured in GOLF’s Most Beautiful Women in Golf in 2016. You can view her photos from the shoot here.

Congrats to the couple; and may their life together bring them many birdies.

Courtesy Extra Spin Staff