Michael Bolton says he would caddie for Tiger Woods

Musician Michael Bolton hits a shot during the third round of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am at the Monterey Peninsula Country Club on February 14, 2015 in Pebble Beach, California.

Bolton has been a regular fixture on the celebrity golf circuit for years, getting in rounds with Bill Clinton, Bill Murray and Darius Rucker.

Courtesy of Extra Spin Staff (golf.com)

Mickelson details what needs to happen for him to play U.S. Open, and now we wait

Phil Mickelson closed the FedEx St. Jude Classic with a 68.

Phil Mickelson closed the FedEx St. Jude Classic with a two-under 68 on Sunday, but when he plays next is anyone’s guess.

Mickelson said earlier this month he plans to skip next week’s U.S. Open at Erin Hills in order to attend his daughter Amanda’s high school graduation in California, which is the same day as the opening round in Wisconsin. Mickelson is a U.S. Open victory away from the career grand slam and has finished as the runner-up in the event six times.

After his round on Sunday, CBS Sports’ Amanda Balionis asked Mickelson what needs to happen for him to make his tee time on Thursday, which is 3:20 p.m. EST.

“I need a four-hour delay,” Mickelson said. “I need a minimum four-hour delay most likely. That’s the way I kind of mapped it out. I should get into the air right around my tee time or just prior, it’s about a three-hour-and-twenty-minute flight, and by the time I get to the course I would need a four-hour delay. Last night there was a 60 percent chance of thunderstorms on Thursday; right now it’s 20 percent. Who knows. … It’s not looking good, but it’s totally fine.”

Mickelson, who hasn’t seen or played Erin Hills, added that he plans to keep his game sharp the next few days just in case.

courtesy of Josh Berhow (golf.com)

Veterans Day: Golfers Who Served in the Military

ArnoldPalmerVDArnold Palmer

Palmer enlisted in the Coast Guard in 1950 and served as a Yeoman until 1953. He was able to play golf while serving, and would go on to win the U.S. Amateur in 1954.

BenHoganVDBen Hogan

Hogan served in the U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II. A lieutenant, he was a utility pilot and was stationed in Fort Worth, Texas. Hogan’s service interrupted the prime of his professional playing career, but he would go on to win his first of nine major titles, the 1946 PGA Championship, after serving.

BobbyJonesVDBobby Jones

Jones served during World War II, eventually becoming an intelligence officer. Jones reached the rank of lieutenant colonel and served as a prisoner-of-war interrogator in 1944. His superiors initially wanted Jones to remain in the U.S. and play exhibition golf, but he insisted on serving overseas. Several golfers, particularly those unable to serve, played exhibition golf during WWII to support the troops.

LloydMangrumVDLloyd Mangrum

Mangrum was offered the head pro job at Fort Meade golf course in Maryland during World War II, a job that would have kept him from serving, but he declined the position. He would go on to serve in the Army and win two Purple Hearts, having been wounded in The Battle of the Bulge, a German offensive campaign that lasted from Dec. 1944 through Jan. 1945. This attack resulted in the highest number of U.S. casualties for any one WWII battle.

read more at golf.com

Peter Malnati Uses Late Surge to Win Sanderson Farms Championship

peter mPeter Malnati won for the first time on the PGA Tour, closing with a 5-under 67 to capture the Sanderson Farms Championship.

Malnati finished at 18 under in a rain-soaked tournament that was forced to complete play Monday. He was one shot behind going into the final round but closed with five birdies over his final 12 holes to beat William McGirt and David Toms by one stroke.

The event at the Country Club of Jackson was delayed five times, either by rain, lightning or darkness. The final day was a long one for several golfers, with some playing as many as 30 holes.

It was a crowded leaderboard throughout Monday’s marathon round, with about 15 players moving in and out of contention. Roberto Castro led through the first two rounds but shot a 3-over 75 in the third round and finished at 16 under.

courtesy of AP NEWS  (golf.com)

Russell Knox Wins 1st PGA Tour Title at WGC-HSBC Champions

russell knoxRussell Knox made an unexpected trip to Shanghai and left with a most surprising victory Sunday in the HSBC Champions.

Knox became the first player to win a World Golf Championship in his debut when the 30-year-old from Scotland was flawless on the back nine of Sheshan International and closed with a 4-under 68 for a two-shot victory over Kevin Kisner.

Knox only found out a week ago Friday that he was in the HSBC Champions as an alternate when J.B. Holmes withdrew. He was in Malaysia and had to scramble to get a Chinese visa, arriving in time for one practice round with his wife, Andrea, as his caddie.

Then, he held off a world-class field for his first PGA Tour victory.

”I always thought I was going to win a big one for my first one,” Knox said. ”This is going to take a long time to sink in.”

Li Haotong, the 20-year-old from China who felt like a rock star all week, faded quickly with a bogey-double bogey start. But he kept it entertaining the whole way around and at least achieved his goal of finishing in the top 10. Li saved par on the 18th hole for a 72 to tie for seventh, the highest finish ever by a Chinese player in a PGA Tour event.

Jordan Spieth, starting the final round three shots behind, never got anything going. Two birdies on the back nine at least allowed him to post a 70 and tie for seventh, enough for the 22-year-old Texan to return to No. 1 in the world.

Kisner made birdie on the 18th for a 70 to finish alone in second, his fourth runner-up this year. The other three were playoff losses.

Danny Willett of England closed with a 62 and was briefly tied for the lead. He tied for third with Ross Fisher (68), but at least made up significant ground on Rory McIlroy in the Race to Dubai on the European Tour. McIlroy, who closed with a 66 and tied for 11th, is not playing the BMW Masters next week in Shanghai. That means the Race to Dubai will be settled in the final event at the DP World Championship in Dubai.

Dustin Johnson had a 71 and finished four shots behind, though he will look back at one great shot that cost him. One shot behind Knox on the par-5 eighth, Johnson hit a wedge that looked as though it would land a few feet behind the cup for a tap-in birdie. Instead, it hit the pin and caromed hard off the green and down into a creek, turning a sure birdie into a double bogey. He never quite recovered.

Knox, though, would have been tough to beat. He finished at 20-under 268.

His day started early, and it paid off. Knox chose not to finish the third round Saturday evening because of darkness, instead returning in the morning chill to play the par-5 18th. He hit wedge to 3 feet for birdie to tie Kisner for the 54-hole lead.

Kisner made bogey on the opening hole, Knox ran off two quick birdies and he was on his way.

The only sign of a struggle came when he missed a 3-foot birdie putt on No. 8 and then failed to get up-and-down for par on the ninth. He was tied for the lead at 17 under with Willett, Fisher, Kisner and Branden Grace, but not for long. He made a 10-foot birdie at No. 10 and another birdie on the 11th.

The clincher came at the reachable par-4 16th. Knox hit iron off the tee, wedge some 12 feet behind the flag and clenched his fist when it dropped for birdie. That gave him a three-shot lead with two holes to play, and he kept it clean.

The victory sends Knox to the Masters in April for the first time, along with the Hyundai Tournament of Champions.

”I’m over the moon,” Knox said at the trophy presentation, where he picked up $1.4 million.

Knox grew up in Inverness and attended Jacksonville University in Florida. It took him five years to reach the PGA Tour, and he has been steadily improving. His only other close call was a four-man playoff in the 2014 Honda Classic that included McIlroy and was won by Russell Henley.

”This is now my favorite tournament,” Knox said. ”I look forward to playing it for many years to come.”

courtesy of AP NEWS (golf.com)

 

Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth Headline Field in Shanghai

PGA Championship - Round OneThe final WGC event of 2015 is also the second tournament of four in the European Tour’s Final Series. Rory McIlroy carries the Race to Dubai lead into the HSBC Champions at Sheshan International in Shanghai.

This event started out as a regular European Tour event back in 2005 but in 2009 its status was elevated to become one of the four World Golf Championship tournaments held through the course of each season. Since that time, the event has carried a huge purse plus significant World Ranking points. It has consistently attracted a strong field as a result with winners including Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Bubba Watson.

World No. 2 Jordan Spieth will tee it up, as will Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler and defending champion Bubba Watson. It’s one of the most significant tournaments of the year, but what are the key talking points from a European Tour perspective?

read more by Fergus Bisset / Golf Monthly

 

Van Cynical Mailbag: Is There Anyone More Overrated Than Presidents Cup Captain?

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water, here comes this week’s Van Cynical Mailbag:

Van Cynical, What’s going to be the final score of the President’s Cup. U.S. 77 ½, Jason Day 2 1/2 seems like a legit score, right? — Brian Bailey via Twitter

Wow, who’s the cynical one here? Yeow. Give the International team some credit. I’ve never bought the excuses that they’re outmanned and don’t have enough depth. You’re talking teams that have featured Greg Norman, Ernie Els, Nick Price, Adam Scott, Charl Schwartzel, Stuart Appleby, Craig Parry, Retief Goosen, Mike Weir, Louis Oosthuizen, K.J. Choi and plenty of other top-notch sticks. I’ve been puzzled why they have repeatedly underperformed. This is the International team’s Ryder Cup, their chance on the big stage, and they haven’t risen to the occasion. The Americans probably have an edge because they play a team match-play event every year. Using that logic, of course, the Americans should do better in the Ryder Cup. But Europe has been fielding a better team for the last decade. I do not expect a blowout win: U.S. 16, Internationals 14.

Is the Presidents Cup just a scrimmage before the Ryder Cup next year for the American squad? It feels like Baylor-Rice… — Zach via Twitter

Zach Attack, it wasn’t that long ago that Baylor wasn’t much better than Rice and that game was a virtual Doormat Bowl. Same for Oregon and Oregon State. Change is good in college football. I get what you’re saying and I don’t disagree except for the word scrimmage. In soccer terms, maybe it’s a “friendly.” While the Prez Cup has lacked significance—my suggestion to make it a qualifier for the Ryder Cup continues to gain no traction–it has always been a good show. Team match-play is the most compelling form of televised golf. Let’s hope this one is close.

Hey Sick Man, How can the Tour allow for a system that leaves off a guy (Brooks Koepka) with a higher world golf ranking than seven members on the team? — Brian Rosenwald via Twitter

That problem is easily solved, BriRo, by the captain adding him to the team as a wild-card selection instead of, say, a lower-ranked Phil Mickelson. We’ve got two issues in play here, Rosey. One is the flaws in the world rankings. I have flogged them repeatedly. The second is the flaw in the points selection system. There is no perfect method or ranking to pick a team. That’s why the captain gets two extra choices. If Koepka hadn’t missed the cut in the first two FedEx Cup events right before the selection deadline, perhaps he would have made the team.

Hey, Sicktastic, who will be the man of the matches in the Presidents Cup? — Michael Cummings via Twitter

I’ll assume you mean other than the obvious choices, Jordan Spieth and Jason Day. I’ll just say this, MC Hammer: Beware India’s Anirban Lahiri. You haven’t heard of him but he can play.

Van Cynical, Is there a more overrated position in sports than Presidents/Ryder Cup captain? — Lionel Mandrake via Twitter

Yes. Major League Baseball Commissioner. Every time there’s been a big issue—strike, steroids, player’s rights—he’s always missing in action.

Hey Van Cynical, Is Pebble Beach pro-am now a boutique stop? It used to be the season opener in my eyes. — David Troyan via Twitter

You’ve gotta change with the times, Boy-Troy. The old Crosby used to feel like the start of the season because the frostbacks in the Midwest (like me) got the first taste of real golf and green grass and ocean spray. This wraparound season is a new animal. The new year may officially kick off with Monday qualifying next week for the Frys.com Open. I’m looking forward to asking players what they did during the offseason and getting answers like, “I barely had time to repack my luggage!” Also, the pros dislike the slow rounds with the am partners, often the course isn’t in prime condition yet and then there’s the weather.

Hey Vans, Are you vexed at the amount of publicity Jessica Marksbury is getting? You played in US Open qualifiers with pros. — BigMark via Twitter

I wished she’d gotten more. I could see a Golf Channel miniseries! I liked how Jessica, who failed to reach match play, wrote about her 12 in the second round and went through it shot by shot with all the thoughts in her head. Every golfer can relate to that nightmare moment. She makes a par on that par 5 instead of 12 and she shoots 79, a good score. I wrote about my U.S. Open qualifying adventures a few decades ago and my U.S. Senior Am rounds last year. Hey, it’s amateur golf, it’s fun and most people enjoy living vicariously if you bring them your story, like Jessica did. Like Tin Cup, she owned her 12 and gave us a peek inside the mind of a golf competitor. I enjoyed her heartfelt story.

Van Cynical, Rate the multiple-major seasons. — Floyd Harris via Twitter

Bobby Jones stands alone in a different class of four majors. Then you have Ben Hogan and Tiger Woods with three each. Hogan couldn’t make it back by ship after the British in time for the ’53 PGA and Tiger in 2000 went on to create the Tiger slam with a fourth in a row the following year. After that, four more stand out to me because they were legit almost-Grand Slams. Spieth this year, contending until the final hole, more or less, in all four majors; Jack Nicklaus in ’72 when he snagged the first two and then was stunned by Lee Trevino’s chip-in at Muirfield; Tiger in 2002 when he won the first two and, I believed, was going to win Muirfield, too, until that freak storm blew in just before he teed off in the third round; and Arnold Palmer in 1960 after he won the first two majors and was edge by Kel Nagle at The Old Course. The rest bunch up behind those.

Sicklemania, We’re living in sensitive times. Is trying to keep my left arm straight offensive to the LGBT community? — CapBozo via Twitter

No but my guess is that you might be.

courtesy of Gary Van Sickle (golf.com)

Friend Says Tiger Woods Knows ‘Sun Is Setting’ On Career

tiger4Following his second back surgery in the last two years, Tiger Woods seems to have tempered expectations for what remains of his career—at least according to Notah Begay III, Woods’ close friend and former college teammate at Stanford.

Begay said that Woods post-surgery is “giving it a little extra time to heal up before he starts rehabilitation. He’s just spending a lot of time at home and going to soccer games and watching Sam and Charlie play their fall soccer. It’s hard. It’s a challenge to be on the couch, but you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.”

Speaking on an NBC Sports conference call, Begay touched on Woods’ expectations for 2016, which, if an accurate reflection of Woods’ thinking, represent maybe the first time the 14-time major winner has come close to publicly acknowledging that he’s reached the twilight of his career.

“I think he has a clear understanding with where he’s at in regard to his career that the sun is setting,” Begay said. “He’s very fair about where he’s at with his career and his body, and he’s certainly not going to go down without a fight, without trying to do everything he can to get back to a world-class level.”

Woods announced Sep. 18 that he had undergone a second microdiscectomy surgery a few days earlier and that he hopes to return to competition in early 2016. With the Ryder Cup on the horizon and Woods far from peak form, Team USA captain Davis Love III said Monday that Woods, if unable to qualify, would make a great assistant captain.

courtesy of Brendan Mohler (golf.com)

 

Henrik Stenson Jokes About How Hard It Is to Win the FedEx Cup

Henrik StensonJust how difficult is it to win the FedEx Cup Playoffs and earn the $10 million bonus?

Let Henrik Stenson explain.

During his Tuesday press conference prior to the start of the Tour Championship at East Lake in Atlanta, Stenson was told he still had a chance to win the FedEx Cup by finishing third this week–no matter he hasn’t won a tournament all season.

Here’s his response:

“…I mean, it shouldn’t be too hard to wipe the floor with these guys this week, right? There’s no one that’s playing great and is sky high on confidence and no one with a bunch of majors and no one else that hits it 330 off the tee, so it shouldn’t be that hard.”

If you couldn’t tell, Stenson was being quite sarcastic.

courtesy of Josh Berhow (golf.com)

Jason Day Could Become World No. 1 With Win at Deutsche Bank

Jason%20Day%20Barclays_0If two is good, why not three?

What once seemed like a two-horse race to be the No. 1-ranked player in the world between Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy is now a three-headed competition after Jason Day won The Barclays Sunday.

The 27-year-old Australian began the week as the No. 3 golfer in the world, but after Spieth missed the cut and McIlroy elected not to compete, Day’s third victory in four starts pushed him closer than ever to the top spot. Day will supplant both of them if he wins this week’s Deutsche Bank Championship and Spieth and McIroy both fail to finish in the top three.

If it happens, Day will be No. 1 for the first time in his career and would be the third Australian to claim the top spot, following in the footsteps of Adam Scott and Greg Norman.

Nonetheless, for the immediate future, the number one spot is very much in flux. Spieth held it for just two weeks after his second place finish at the PGA Championship, before relinquishing it back to McIlroy, who held it for 54 weeks prior. This is now McIlroy’s sixth stint as the world No. 1.

courtesy of Sean Zak (golf.com)

Report: John Daly Taken to Hospital After Collapsing on Golf Course

john-daly-collapseJohn Daly collapsed near the end of a round of golf Saturday and was taken by ambulance to a hospital.

The 49-year-old Daly was playing in a small event at Deerfield Golf Club in Jackson’s northern suburbs.

Daly’s friend, Billy Allen, who was with Daly at the hospital, said the two-time major champion’s vital signs were good but doctors were checking on possible injuries to his ribs and fingers.

Deerfield club pro Leigh Brannan, who was at the tournament, said Daly was having trouble with the heat and had some difficulty breathing before being taken to the hospital. Temperatures were near 90 degrees in the Jackson area.

“He was struggling pretty badly right before he collapsed,” Brannan said. “But we’re all hoping it’s nothing serious and that he was just a little dehydrated. He was even telling (Allen) he still wants to play (Sunday).

Daly’s hard-living ways have been well documented during a colorful career on the PGA Tour. He most recently made headlines after throwing his 6-iron into Lake Michigan during the PGA Championship after hitting three balls into the water.

Daly became a popular figure in the game of golf after coming out of nowhere to win the 1991 PGA Championship at Crooked Stick, which he followed up with a victory at the Open Championship at St. Andrews in 1995. He has struggled on Tour for many years, often making headlines more frequently for his behavior off the course.

courtesy of AP NEWS (golf.com)

Tour Confidential: What Can We Make of Tiger Woods This Week?

tiger41. Tiger Woods shot three rounds in the 60s before a triple-bogey on Sunday derailed any hopes of winning the Wyndham Championship and extending his season into the FedEx Cup playoffs. What do you make of his week? What’s the main takeaway: him being in serious contention for the first time in two years or failing to break par on Sunday when it mattered most?

Eamon Lynch, managing editor, GOLF.com (@EamonLynch): This may be Tiger’s new reality: he has the undoubted ability to play sublime golf and shoot impressive scores, but playing around his weaknesses (either off the tee or around the green) is not likely to be a winning strategy. Most of the week when he was faced with short game shots Tiger opted for an airborne option — a flop shot or semi-flop — that allowed him to take a fuller swing. Guys with the chip yips can still execute those shots without flinching. When faced with a required chip shot on Sunday, the yips were exposed anew. Hank Haney made the astute point after the Masters that having the yips does not mean that one yips every time the opportunity presents itself, but the fear and possibility is there. That’s painfully evident in Tiger’s game. In many ways he is much improved since his awful start to the year, but the chipping issue remains and seems more psychological than technical.

Alan Shipnuck, senior writer, Sports Illustrated (@AlanShipnuck): If he had made 18 pars today it would feel more like progress, but the triple bogey that took Tiger out of the tourney was so wretched it has to leave more scar tissue. And it’s further proof that the chip-yips live inside of you like a sickness, just waiting to bloom at the worst possible time.

Michael Bamberger, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: He’s making slow progress to a place he has never been before: one of the top-20 players or so in the world, able to win now and again.

Jeff Ritter, senior editor, SI Golf Group (@JeffRitter): Given what Tiger had shown this season, I was completely shocked to see him in contention through the weekend. That was real progress. He still has more work to do to handle Sunday pressure, but it was an encouraging week. It left me thinking that he’ll win a Tour event somewhere in 2016.

read more http://www.golf.com/tour-and-news/tour-confidential-what-can-we-make-tiger-woods-week

 

Time of Day: Behind the Scenes of Jason’s Major Breakthrough

jason-day1Sean Foley lay on a leather couch in the Whistling Straits clubhouse last Saturday night, telling a story that illustrates just how much Jordan Spieth has gotten into the heads of his peers. Foley, a swing coach to the stars, was on the practice putting green during the wind delay at last month’s British Open when Spieth stroked a midrange putt. The ball stopped a couple of inches from the cup, but then a hard gust blew it in. Throwing up his arms in mock disgust, Sergio García shouted, “Even when you miss it, you make it!”

This is what poor Jason Day had to overcome last week at the 97th PGA Championship in Kohler, Wis. Day, 27, had been become golf’s star-crossed kid, an awesome talent with a disconcerting inability to get it done at major championships. That he had contended until the bitter end at Augusta National (twice), the Old Course, Merion and Chambers Bay was testament to his sublime combination of power and touch, but something was holding Day back; just last month at the British Open he had an 18-foot downhill putt on the 72nd hole to join the playoff but somehow left it short.  He walked off in a haze of what he called “disbelief” and “shock.”

But Day has a flinty resilience that comes from a tough upbringing in Australia. After his father died when he was 12, his mother sent him to a golf academy far from the streets where he was regularly getting drunk and causing trouble. So the week after the heartbreak at St. Andrews, Day picked himself up and rallied to win the Canadian Open, and at Whistling Straits he played some of the best golf of his life across the first three days. Late on Saturday it looked as if Day might have to hold off only lurkers like Matt Jones, Branden Grace and Anirban Lahiri to get his breakthrough. Then Spieth mounted the kind of charge that has already become a trademark.

After a birdie at the 1st, his round had stalled with nine consecutive pars, so on the par-5 11th, Spieth lashed a monster drive. Explaining his technique, he said, “I was pissed so I swung really hard”; after a birdie there, “the holes started looking bigger.” Just like that Spieth turned ravenous, pouring in five more birdies for a back-nine 30 that propelled him from irrelevancy to within two shots of the lead and into the final group, alongside Day. Spieth, who turned 22 in July, lacks Tiger Woods’s seething intensity and raw strength, but his relentless drive and hyper efficiency have made him nearly as feared already. To have to fend off Spieth seemed like just another bad beat for Day, but this test of his fortitude turned out to be exactly what he needed. “I’m going to give him a fight,” Day said following the third round, with some steel in his voice.

On Sunday, Day was so intimidated he birdied four of the first seven holes. That left Spieth four back, and though he fought hard, Day simply refused to let him apply any pressure. The signature moment of this overpowering victory came on the 11th hole. Spieth had birdied the 10th to trim the deficit to three, and it felt like the moment when Day would allow the fates to conspire against him, as they always have. Instead, he mashed a 382-yard drive into the skinniest part of the fairway. When he got to his ball in the right rough, Spieth was thunderstruck to discover he was 80 yards back. “You’ve got to be kidding me,” he yelled down the fairway at the 6-foot, 195-pound Day, who responded by flexing one of his brawny biceps. Day needed only a wedge for his second shot, securing a birdie that restored his lead to four strokes. He roared home with a 67, pushing his four-round total to 20 under, a scoring record for the major championships. Whistling Straits may have been softened a bit by rain, but disaster still lurked on every swing; Day was simply that good. “We play a lot of golf together, and that’s the best I’ve ever seen him play,” said Spieth, whose 17-under total had previously been bettered only by Woods and Bob May since the PGA Championship went to stroke play in 1958.

Day called the victory “one of the best moments of my life,” but the tears that poured out on the final hole were not joy, exactly.

Day’s father, Alvin, was a native of Australia, while his mother, Dening, hails from the Philippines. She describes herself as a “mail bride”—she had a long correspondence with Alvin but did not meet him until he flew to her homeland for their wedding. Jason was born in Beaudesert, on Australia’s Gold Coast. His parents worked at a nearby port, Dening as a clerk and her husband manning the scales.  “There was a big difference between the haves and the have-nots,” she says. “We were on the bottom of the have-nots.”

Jason started playing golf at age six. His father pushed him hard to excel, which created only part of the strain in their relationship; Jason says Alvin was an alcoholic. After he died of stomach cancer, the family fractured. Kim, one of Jason’s two older sisters, ran away from home and lived on the streets for more than a year before returning, while for Jason alcohol became an escape. “He was a lost soul,” Dening says.

Believing that golf was her son’s only road to salvation, Dening sold their house to pull together enough money to send Jason to board at Kooralbyn International School, a seven-hour drive from home. Colin Swatton was the golf coach there, and the two got off to a rocky start. On their first afternoon together Swatton instructed Day to work on his short game. “I told him to f— off,” says Day. “I was still a punk.” He stormed off and played a few holes before having a moment of clarity. “I was out there thinking, Man, my family is sacrificing so much for me to come here. So I went back and apologized.”

“I don’t think we’ve had a cross word since,” says Swatton, 46, who now serves as a caddie, coach and father figure for Day. “From that day forward Jason outworked every other kid at the academy.” Reading a biography about Woods helped Day focus his ambition; just as a young Tiger had done with Jack Nicklaus, Day taped above his bed a time line of his hero’s accomplishments.

After a successful amateur career Day turned pro in 2006, at 18, and moved to Orlando. With Swatton on the bag, he played well enough at Q school to earn status on the Nationwide tour for ’07. He won the 11th start of his rookie year, becoming the youngest champion in the history of that tour. Afterward, Day raised eyebrows, and a few hackles, by declaring his intent to unseat Woods at the top of the World Ranking.

Two days after the Nationwide victory he had his first date with Ellie Harvey, who was working as a waitress at a pub that Swatton frequented. They dined at Applebee’s, withSwatton, ever the loyal wingman, tagging along. After dinner Day sent him home so he could squire Ellie to the movies, and six months later she moved in with him. “Things moved really fast,” Ellie says, “but that’s kind of the story of his life. He had to grow up really fast, so at an early age he knew what he wanted.”

In 2009 they were married in a barn near her hometown of Lucas, Ohio (pop. 602). While most Tour pros are clustered in the Sun Belt, the Days live in Columbus to be near Ellie’s large, close-knit family. In ’12 their son was born—Dash, named for the rambunctious kid in The Incredibles. “Through Ellie and her family, Jason has found the stability he never knew growing up,” says Swatton.

It has not been as easy for Day to find his place between the ropes. Even as he began popping up on major-championship leader boards, he still had only one win, at the 2010 Byron Nelson Classic. His brash comments about being No. 1 were often brought up by the media as a kind of taunt about his underachievement. It took a tragedy to push Day to a different level. In November ’13, Typhoon Haiyan slammed into the Philippines. Day was in Australia, relaxing with his mom and two sisters and gearing up for the World Cup, in which he was to play for his home country alongside his good mate Adam Scott. Days went by without any contact with Dening’s family until her brother was able to travel to check on the missing relatives. “They were gone,” says Dening. “Everything was gone.” Her mother and another brother perished in the storm, along with six cousins, among the death toll that exceeded 6,000.

Day was devastated for his mom, but Dening is as tough as Tida Woods—she insisted he compete in the World Cup to honor their lost family, saying, “Go win the tournament. We will cry afterward.” Her son played the most inspired golf of his life, joining with Scott to win the team title and holding off his countryman for individual honors. “It was incredibly emotional,” Day says. “I found something deep inside myself.”

Even after he won the 2014 WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship and this year’s Farmers Insurance Open, Day has continued to absorb hard lessons. At this year’s U.S. Open he was felled by a bout of vertigo caused by an ear infection, but he bravely played on. Day shared the lead after 54 holes and tied for ninth. “I learned a lot about how far I could really push myself mentally and physically,” he says. “It’s just a matter of how much do you want it. And I really want it. I mean, I’m willing to put my body on the line just to get a taste of that greatness.” He even took some positives from the British Open, saying it was the most calm he had ever felt coming down the stretch of a big tournament. “Unfortunately,” Day said on the eve of the PGA, “some people make it look easier than others. Some people get there quicker than others. We’re humans. We’re not machines out there. It’s very easy to make poor choices and have bad swings every now and then. But we were so blessed with Tiger and Rory [McIlroy] and Jordan, just recently, that winning looks so easy.”

Spieth’s finish at the PGA elevated him to No. 1 in the World Ranking, but even before the tournament began he was already acting like the sport’s alpha male. Phil Mickelson has made it a tradition to organize money games on Tuesdays at the majors, and last week he enlisted Rickie Fowler to take on Spieth and his close friend Justin Thomas, a Tour rookie. Spieth woofed publicly that he was going to trot out his U.S. Open trophy, the one thing Mickelson can’t buy with his many millions.

“When I heard that, I absolutely loved it because it’s the kind of crap I would pull,” Mickelson says. Of course, Spieth left the trophy at home, but it was the subject of much trash talk. Spieth’s team was 1 up heading to the 18th hole, where he hit a toe-hook off the tee into a horrendous lie on the edge of a fairway bunker. With one foot in the sand, Spieth summoned a miracle shot to within eight feet of the cup. Fowler poured in a 40-footer for birdie, but Spieth gutted his putt to win the match and ensure a few crisp Benjamins would change hands. “I don’t want to say that birdie was complete bulls—, but it really was,” says Mickelson.

Spieth produced a similar highlight on Sunday—a bunker shot on 16 that prompted Day to say, “It baffles me the stuff that he can prove out there”—but in the end Spieth simply didn’t have the firepower to keep up. Day is now third in the World Ranking and along with Spieth and the 26-year-old McIlroy makes up a telegenic, cross-cultural and immensely appealing neo–Big Three. Reaching No. 1 remains the goal, and Day is willing to pay the price: He has eliminated sugar and alcohol from his diet, and he hits the gym with a vengeance six days a week.

Ellie is due in November with the couple’s second child, and after the baby arrives, the Days will continue to travel the Tour as happy vagabonds in a tricked-out motor coach. Dash is a little ham, and he stole the show during the awards ceremony, but at one point while in his father’s arms he pleaded, “Can we go home now?” He was too young to realize that after a long, hard journey, his dad is finally where he is supposed to be.

courtesy of Alan Shipnuck (golf.com)

 

Spieth playing with a chip on his shoulder

Jordan Spieth celebrates after sinking his final putt to win a three-hole playoff in the fourth round of the 2015 Valspar Championship

Jordan Spieth celebrates after sinking his final putt to win a three-hole playoff in the fourth round of the 2015 Valspar Championship

Jordan Spieth has a green jacket in his closet, a silver U.S. Open trophy on his mantle and a chip on his shoulder.

The world No. 2 is far from content despite having a year most would consider a good career — winning the first two majors at the Masters and U.S. Open and adding two other PGA Tour titles to his resumé and $9.3 million to his bank account. Instead, the British Open has left a bad taste in his mouth that will linger when he tees it up Thursday at Whistling Straits in the first round of the PGA Championship.

On the Old Course in St. Andrews, Spieth’s unprecedented bid to win the modern day Grand Slam came up one shot short of a playoff. He was tied for the lead with two holes to play in the oldest championship in golf but couldn’t close the door on history or clutch the Claret Jug.

Instead of joining Ben Hogan as the only player to win the Masters, U.S. Open and British Open in the same year, the Texan left Scotland with his chili running hot. And it’s still simmering.

“Unlike the first two majors I had a chance to win and I didn’t pull it off. And that was the hardest part to get over for me,” Spieth, 22, said Wednesday at Whistling Straits after wrapping up his final preparations for the PGA.

“My frustration was we were tied for the lead with two holes to go, with one of them being a birdie hole and we didn’t close it out. We didn’t even get into a playoff. That was the hardest part for me and I certainly have a chip on my shoulder off of that that I’m wanting to get off.”

There’s unfinished business to settle. And there is plenty of history Spieth can make this week on the course along Lake Michigan. With a victory — and he’s clearly the favorite — he’d join Hogan and Tiger Woods as the only players to win three majors in a season in the modern era. He would also become the only player to win the American Slam — capturing all three majors played in the United States.

Further, and of no less importance, he has a chance to overtake Rory McIlroy as the world No. 1.

There are other motivating factors. While he’s only played in two, Spieth has not made the cut in the PGA Championship, and that irks him. And while he’s only been a member of the PGA Tour for three years, he hasn’t met his goal of making the cut in all four majors in the same season.

“I still haven’t accomplished that goal set at the beginning of the year that I said I wanted to make the cut in all the majors,” Spieth said. “And you wanted to contend and have a chance to win at least one of them. Certainly they have gone according to plan up to this point, but that first part of that goal has yet to be accomplished. So I got some work to do these first two days, and from there we’ll adjust and work our butts off to try and get a third major this year, which would be a pretty cool place in history to be a part of.”

Spieth certainly worked his butt off Wednesday playing nine holes. As he approached every green, he spent plenty of time finding — and then hitting from — the worst places around the putting surfaces. He even jumped down to the beach of an inland lake bordering the fifth green and hit shots off the sand toward the hole.

In anticipation of the wind picking up in the first round, Spieth wanted to ready himself for anything.

“There are a lot of tricky spots in the rough, because you have changing rough around the greens, from some of it being blue grass to some of it being a fescue-type grass. It plays extremely different, depending upon where it lies, so I wanted to get a variety of shots,” Spieth said.

“You have to be prepared for the worst. … So that’s what we tried to see today, rolling balls off of greens and around greens.”

As far as rolling balls on the greens, the game’s best putter said the surfaces are pure — which doesn’t bode well for the other 155 players in the field. He also likes the layout and knows all about the hundreds of bunkers, each a difficult challenge.

And he’s coming off a final-round 66 in the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational that vaulted him into a tie for 10th and gave him momentum heading to the Badger State.

He will be a force to handle just as he has been all year. And his year isn’t over. He will play with Zach Johnson, who won the British Open, and McIlroy in the first two rounds. McIlroy is returning to play after missing two months due to an injured ankle. But he didn’t stop watching Spieth.

“Whenever you see someone put together a season like this, of course you become motivated,” McIlroy said. “But as well you’re inspired. I think the performances that he put in at the Masters and the U.S. Open and even at St. Andrews when he was so close, they were inspirational performances. That’s something really, for him, to be proud of, especially how he handled everything at St. Andrews going into all the Grand Slam talk. I think even though I’m not that much older, I probably wouldn’t have handled it quite as well as he did.”

Spieth is set to go once more. He is confident and in form, running a bit hot and chasing the Wanamaker Trophy and the No. 1 ranking in the world.

“I did not have a time frame set (to become No. 1),” Spieth said. “When that was a goal that was just a career goal, that at one point in my career I would like to be No. 1.

”Given everything that’s happened, I believe now that I would like it obviously to be sooner rather than later, and then to be able to hold on to it. That’s a whole other animal as I’m sure Rory knows, Adam Scott knows, Luke Donald knows, there’s Tiger … there’s a number of them that understand what it’s like. I don’t know what that feels like yet. That will be a new goal.”

courtesy of  Steve DiMeglio, USA TODAY Sports

Phil Mickelson, Spieth Play Money Game to Spice Up PGA Practice

Jordan Spieth let out a very large ”Whooooooo” after watching the 20-foot putt hit the bottom of the cup.

Sunday on the 18th green at the PGA Championship? Not quite.

But still very satisfying. And it wasn’t even Spieth’s putt.

Rather, it was rookie Justin Thomas making the long twister on No. 16 at Whistling Straits to give himself and Spieth a 2-up lead over Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler in their Tuesday best-ball match. Mickelson has been setting up these practice-round games – just for fun and a bit of cash – for years.

”It feels good for everyone,” Spieth said. ”That’s why Phil gets them together.”

Two-down with two holes to go, Mickelson and Fowler pressed Spieth and Thomas on the 17th tee box, setting up a new bet that covered only the last two holes. Mickelson responded by hitting his tee shot pin high, to 8 feet, on the 223-yard par 3, then making the putt for birdie to win the hole.

That set up some drama on 18, when Fowler drained a 20-foot birdie putt, forcing Spieth to knock one in from about 5 feet to halve the whole, keep the lead in the overall game and end up even in the betting.

Which, of course, is what really counts on days like this.

”You don’t want to lose and have to hand those guys whatever you play for,” said Spieth, who goes for his third major of the season when the `real’ golf starts Thursday. ”There’s a little bit of nerves strictly because of bragging rights. And also because it means something.”

Nobody reveals the stakes. Suffice to say it’s not a $2 Nassau. The combined career earnings of the four players is more than $135 million.

Thomas, a 22-year-old tour rookie making his second appearance in a major, has won only $2 million of that. His entry into this game is another longstanding tradition of Mickelson’s. In addition to getting sharp for the grinding week ahead, Mickelson sets up these games to give the young players the taste of pressure – and, specifically, pressure in a team game, the likes of which they play every year on the U.S. side in the Presidents or Ryder Cups.

”If I go out and play on a Tuesday, I don’t get much out of it,” Thomas said. ”You lose focus. You kind of hit shots that don’t mean anything. Every shot means something on a day like today. The nerves can get going.”

Anticipating the showdown with Mickelson, Spieth suggested last week that he might bring the U.S. Open trophy he won at Chambers Bay and place it on every green. It’s the only major trophy Lefty has yet to win. ”It’s the first time I have something on him,” Spieth said.

But it never came to that.

Less is more, Spieth said, when going against Mickelson, a Grade A trash talker who once made copies of the $100 bills he won off Tiger Woods, drew smiley faces on them and placed them in Woods’ locker, along with a note telling Tiger the Benjamins were very happy in their new home.

”He doesn’t like it if you’re quiet,” Spieth said about Mickelson. ”If you give it back to him, that’s when he knows it’s bothering you.”

And so, after Thomas made the 20 footer on 16 to go 2 up with two to go, he passed Fowler and gave him a nice slap on the butt. That, along with Spieth’s shout, were the winning team’s most outward displays of emotion.

With money still on the line on the 18th green, Fowler made his long putt, then high-fived and shared a Ryder Cup-esque hug with Mickelson. Then, they stood almost directly behind Spieth as he lined up a fairly simple 5-footer to ensure he and Thomas would break even.

Spieth made it. Never a doubt.

”Me making (my) putt was to save some money,” Fowler said. ”And it was nice to walk away with that.”

After his final make, Spieth simply offered a meek bow toward Mickelson, who brought him into these games a few years back.

The four posed on the green for some pictures. A friendly close to a bloodless, but still-entertaining day.

”It was a great match,” Spieth said. ”We had a good time with it. And we kept Phil quiet most of the day.”

courtesy of AP News (golf.com)

PGA Tour Pros Bring Driving Range Music Differences To Twitter

Brendan Steele

                                                                 Brendan Steele

Golf is widely regarded as a quiet sport, fixed on concentration and silence. On the PGA Tour, that apparently doesn’t allow for much audible Drake music on the driving range.

Last week at the Travelers Championship, Will Wilcox was listening to music while practicing on the range, and it was apparently too loud for Brendan Steele.

According to a source close to Wilcox, the 29-year-old golfer was notified when he arrived at the Greenbrier Classic in West Virginia this week. It led Wilcox to Twitter, where he pardoned Steele with the hashtag #whatisthismiddleschool, before accusing him of taking a “tattle tale approach.”

  Will Wilcox ? @willwilcoxgolf

@Brendan_Steele hey dog sorry for upsetting u with that Drake on the range last week

___________________________________________________________________

no dog. It’s the act accordingly

____________________________________________________________________

Will Wilcox ?@willwilcoxgolf   couldve asked me to turn it off an wouldve done so happily

Wilcox tees off at 9 a.m. ET Thursday.
courtesy of Sean Zak (golf.com)

Six reasons why Tiger Woods will never win another Major

Tiger_Woods

Simply put, Tiger Woods revolutionized the game of golf. He was like no one the game had ever seen, and the masses flocked to watch him play- no, change- the game of golf.

Woods was on television playing golf as a toddler, became the first man ever to win the US Junior amateur multiple times, won the US amateur at a younger age than anyone previously, and stormed onto the PGA Tour in a cyclone.

Woods’ fist-pumping, energetic, aggressive style sent PGA Tour veterans cowering in the corner, and Woods told the world he was here to stay right off the bat with a record-shattering 12-stroke victory in the 1997 Masters.

Woods, then 21, came onto the pro circuit and absolutely embarrassed the field in golf’s most prestigious tournament. Almost immediately thereafter, Augusta National, the host course, began making drastic changes in an effort to “Tiger-proof” the golf course, so such a beatdown wouldn’t happen again.

Spoiler alert: it did. Woods has won there three times since.

And did I mention that Woods is black? In a game where rich white men historically trotted around the course with blacks allowed only to caddie, Woods rocked their world by not only making it on tour, but by owning it.

That same course that implemented structural changes to prevent Tiger from winning didn’t allow black members until 1990, just six years before Tiger made it on tour. It refused women until 2012.

There will never be another player like Tiger Woods. He was so different, so revolutionary, so dominant, so intense; he’s a once-in-a-lifetime player that the world has never seen before and may never see again. Personally, there will never be another player that I idolize more or root for harder. No golfer in my lifetime has ever captured audiences more thoroughly than Eldrick Woods, and for me, none ever will.

Which is why it hurts me so much to realize that it’s all over.

Tiger Woods will not win another major championship. He’s won 14 of them, and ten years ago, it wasn’t a question of if, but rather when, Tiger would break Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 majors.

Too much has changed, too much has gone down for Tiger to be the player and the man he once was, and there are six specific reasons why.

1. Age

This one is obvious: Tiger isn’t getting any younger. Now 38 years old, he’s entering the end of his prime as a golfer. Can he be competitive for several more years? Of course. Jack won at Augusta when he was 46, and Phil Mickelson continues to play at a high level into his 40s.

But with that said, the list of current 40+ players winning regularly is very, very short, if it exists at all.

2. Health

This is closely tied to age, and is much more detrimental to Tiger’s ability. While age is just a number, a bad back is anything but, and that is what ails Woods right now. The knee seems to be fine, but now the back is giving Tiger fits. This type of injury can linger, and derail anyone’s career.

3. Confidence

Did Tiger Woods have the best golf swing when he arrived on tour? Maybe. Did he have the best mental game? Without a shadow of a doubt.

Woods’ advantage was between his ears, as well as between the ears of his competitors. In the early 2000s, when Tiger was plowing through the world’s best players with ease, everyone in the field believed it was Tiger Woods’ championship to win. He had a killer instinct and a will to win that was unparalleled, making him a terrifying competitor with ferocious intensity.

Now, he lacks that same confidence. I’m not sure anyone believes Tiger can win on a weekly basis anymore, and his own failures have allowed doubt to creep in. No golfer can win unless he believes he can.

4. Putting

When Tiger was at his best, he never missed clutch putts. Every putt that had to go in did just that, and at one point he had a streak of something like 1,000 straight putts made inside three feet.

That was before he changed putters. I can’t fault Woods for doing so- the money thrown at him for going to the Nike Method he now uses must have been ridiculous. But since switching from the Scotty Cameron putter he won 13 majors with, he hasn’t won another.

I think the Indian, and not the arrow, is at fault here, but the switch had to rattle Tiger’s confidence even further.

5. New swing

First of all, I think that Tiger’s swing is just as good now as it was when he was winning. However, it isn’t his swing.

Tiger grew up on tour taking wild lashes at the ball, playing a draw on nearly every shot. Now, he’s toned it down for more control, opting for a fade instead.

I like his new swing- it’s more fundamentally sound and will produce more consistently- for most players. But this is Tiger Woods we’re talking about- I’m not sure firing Butch Harmon and switching to Sean Foley as his swing coach was the best move for him.

6. Strength of competition

The PGA Tour has evolved since Tiger got on tour- a great example of this is the purse size, or earnings for players who make the cut in a tournament. Tiger’s first major win- the 1997 Masters- had a purse of $2.7 million, with $486,000 going to the champion.

In 2013, Adam Scott made just shy of $1.5 million for winning, with the total purse being $8 million.

Now, not all of this can be attributed to Woods, but he’s certainly had a hand in popularizing the game throughout the last 20 years. His own doing may be his undoing- as popularity and money have increased, so has his competition. The players are better, parity is at an all-time high, and anyone can win on any given week making it harder for Tiger to do so.

Tiger Woods hasn’t won a major since 2008, when he topped Rocco Mediate and the rest of the US Open field on one leg, limping around Torrey Pines in a stoic manner, determined to get it done at all costs.

Since that day, we haven’t seen that same Tiger- only glimpses of what he once was.

There have been so many moments in Tiger’s career that have left is in shock and awe, that gave us no option but to rise to our feet in amazement. From the ace at 16 in the Arizona desert to the gutty US Open win at Torrey, and everything in between (a certain Augusta chip-in comes to mind), Tiger has been nothing short of unbelievable.

Until he prowls down the 18th fairway, wearing red, tied for the lead once again, I’ll be left with no more than memories of what it was once like to watch the man they call Tiger.

courtesy of Scott Peceny (isportsweb.com)