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At one time or another, every golfer becomes what Bobby Jones described as “a dogged victim of inexorable fate.” But certain moments leave us more victimized than others. In that uplifting spirit, we give you this list. It’s our ranking of the 13 most demoralizing shots in the game.
1. The Hero-to-Zero Fairway Wood
It’s a reachable par-five, in theory, anyway, so you wait … and wait … for the green to clear, peeving off the group behind you while putting added pressure on yourself. Sure enough, you top it roughly eight feet ahead of you, the only good news being that the green is also reachable from there.
2. The De-Greener
Did you just putt it off the green? Don’t feel bad. Tiger Woods once did the same thing in the Masters. All that’s left for you to do is win 14 majors, and you and he will practically be twins.
3. The New York Super Fudge Chunk
On the one hand, the world’s best players also take divots with their irons. On the other, their divots don’t fly farther than the ball.
4. The Hosel Rocket
Call it what you will. The shank. The foozle. By any name, it’s a word you’d rather not speak aloud, and an experience you now fear you are doomed to repeat.
5. The Bold Effort
In a moment as rare as the Comet Kahoutek, you’ve got 15 feet for eagle, but you leave it 5 feet short. Not to worry. You’ll get another chance the next time the comet comes around.
6. The Lawrence of Arabia Short Game Clinic
Weight forward. Club face open. Feet left of the target. You tried to play the shot like Gary Player. Too bad it caught the bunker lip and rolled back in a footprint. Peter O’Toole had more fun in the sand.
7. The Harrison Ford
When you blade a simple chip, it becomes a runner. Blade. Runner. Get it? It’s funny when it happens to someone else.
8. The Egregious Mis-Club
Look at you posing after flushing your approach shot, hands high, tummy pointing toward the target, your eyes tracking the ball in its majestic flight as it beelines for the flagstick, only to land beyond it. In a pond behind the green.
9. The Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda Been A Gimme Putt
It should have been conceded, but it wasn’t. Silently disgruntled, simmering with resentment, you step up to tap it in and … doph! … It wasn’t a gimme, after all.
10. Here, Topper! Come here, boy!
They say that golf is like life, and it really is. Every round, like every day, begins with renewed hope. Until you top one off the first tee.
11. The Flopped Shot
Phil Mickelson makes those high, feathery shots look so easy. But big deal. That thing that you just did, passing your wedge directly under the ball without budging it an inch, that’s pretty tough to pull off, too.
12. The Player B Water Ball
Having just dunked an old, scruffy ball into the water, you pull out a brand new ProV1 and … do exactly the same thing.
13. The Not-So Great Escape
Trees are 90 percent air. Which makes it all the more impressive that you just hit the other 10 percent, dead center off the trunk, a ricochet that whizzes past your ear and leaves you even deeper in the woods.
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A new PGA Tour season means a new crop of rookies looking to find their footing on the big tour. With the first event of the fall, the Safeway Open, having wrapped up Sunday, here are 10 rookies to watch this season:
1. Anders Albertson
Age: 25 College: Georgia Tech Years pro: 3 World ranking: 245 Buzz: Improved all aspects of his game this past season on the Web.com Tour, and the most noticeable improvement was his putting. Albertson finished fifth in putting average last season on the Web.com Tour after ending up outside the top 100 in his first two seasons. He won the Lincoln Land Championship last season en route to finishing eighth on the Web.com tour regular-season money list. He then added two top-10s in the Finals.
2. Cameron Champ
Age: 23 College: Texas A&M Years pro: 1 World ranking: 235 Buzz: The long-hitting Sacramento, Calif., native led the Web.com Tour in driving distance last season at 343.1 yards. He also was fourth in greens in regulation and second in scoring average. After a slow start to last season, he turned it on in the summer with five consecutive top-10 finishes capped with a win at the Utah Championship. That helped him finish sixth on the Web.com Tour money list. His best PGA Tour finish in seven career starts remains his T-32 at the 2017 U.S. Open.
3. Wyndham Clark
Age: 24 College: Oregon Years pro: 1 World ranking: 326 Buzz: He didn’t win on the Web.com Tour last season, but he was able to notch four top-5 finishes to end up 16th on the regular-season money list. He has made eight career PGA Tour starts with a best finish of 17th at last season’s Sanderson Farms Championship. Was a Haskins Award contender during his senior year at Oregon as he led the Ducks to the championship match at the 2017 NCAA Championship.
4. Cameron Davis
Age: 23 College: N/A Years pro: 2 World ranking: 99 Buzz: While the young Aussie won the Nashville Golf Open last season on the Web.com Tour, he didn’t finish inside the top 25 on the tour’s money list. However, he earned his card with two top-3s in the Finals. Davis is a promising talent who won the 2017 Australian Open and before that, as an amateur, captured the Australian Amateur and Eisenhower Trophy. He also was T-39 at this year’s British Open. Last season on the Web.com Tour, he ranked in the top 10 in driving distance, greens in regulation and putting average.
5. Kramer Hickok
Age: 26 College: Texas Years pro: 3 World ranking: 129 Buzz: He was a member of Texas’ 2012 NCAA title-winning team and more recently was better known for being Jordan Spieth’s roommate. Now, though, Hickok is starting to make a name for himself. He finished 23rd on the Web.com Tour regular-season money list, then improved his priority ranking with a win at the DAP Championship, the second Finals event, and a T-8 showing at the Web.com Tour Championship. He’s a strong and accurate driver of the golf ball and hits a lot of greens.
6. Sungjae Im
Age: 20 College: N/A Years pro: 3 World ranking: 97 Buzz: This South Korean prodigy already has been pro for three years yet is still not old enough to drink in the U.S. He is fully exempt on the PGA Tour this season after finishing first on the Web.com Tour regular-season money list. He won the season opener in the Bahamas before finishing second the next week. He added two more runner-up finishes before winning the regular-season finale in Portland. He is the third highest-ranked South Korean in the world, behind only Ben An and Si Woo Kim. He’s not overly long off the tee but is a strong putter.
7. Hank Lebioda
Age: 24 College: Florida State Years pro: 2 World ranking: 393 Buzz: One of the better stories in this year’s rookie class, Lebioda made his first ever PGA Tour start at the Safeway Open. He suffers from Crohn’s Disease and supports the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation. He earned the 25th and final card out of the Web.com Tour regular season thanks to four top-10s and seven top-25s.
8. Jose de Jesus Rodriguez
Age: 37 College: N/A Years pro: 11 World ranking: 283 Buzz: Mexico native started his pro career on the Mexican Tour and has spent several seasons on the Web.com Tour, Mackenzie Tour and PGA Tour Latinoamerica. He is a two-time winner on the Mackenzie Tour and four-time winner on the PGA Tour Latinoamerica. His first Web.com Tour win didn’t come until last season’s United Leasing and Finance Championship, a victory that helped him finish 12th on the money list and earn his PGA Tour card for the first time. He has made eight career PGA Tour starts, seven of them coming at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba. He is nicknamed “El Camaron,” or “The Shrimp.”
9. Chris Thompson
Age: 42 College: Kansas Years pro: 19 World ranking: 345 Buzz: A two-time All-American for the Jayhawks, Thompson didn’t play his first full season on the Web.com Tour until 2007, eight years after turning pro. Two years later, he made just three starts on the developmental tour and didn’t make more than nine in any single year until last season, when he played 24 times and notched five top-10s to finish 20th on the money list and earn his PGA Tour card for the first time.
10. Chase Wright
Age: 29 College: Indiana Years pro: 6 World ranking: 227 Buzz: Played three seasons on the Web.com Tour before losing status in 2017. He played the Mackenzie Tour that year and finished eighth on the money list thanks to a win and two other top-10s in 12 events. Last season on the Web.com Tour, Wright won the Rust-Oleum Championship en route to finishing ninth on the regular-season money list. He then capped his season with a T-3 finish at the Web.com Tour Championship. His only PGA Tour start prior to this season came at the 2012 McGladrey Classic, now known as the RSM Classic.
Note: A player’s rookie season is defined as the season in which he becomes a PGA Tour member – or receives special temporary membership – and plays in 10 or more events as a member or finishes in the top 125 in FedEx Cup points. Also, players are not eligible to be a rookie if they have previously played in more than seven PGA Tour events as a professional in any prior season. Gwk
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NAPA, Calif. – Rarely does a day go by when Kevin Tway is not reminded of his father, Bob, an eight-time TOUR winner who won the 1986 PGA Championship.
Kevin, who made them the 10th father-son duo to win on TOUR with his playoff victory over Ryan Moore and Brandt Snedeker at the Safeway Open on Sunday, takes it in stride. He speaks to his father daily about the family profession, and clearly remembers the spring break in Scottsdale, Ariz., when he was 16, when he beat Dad for the first time.
“I remember it because leading up to that, when we were pretty close, he’d look over and be like, ‘You know I’m going to birdie the last two holes to beat you,’” said Kevin Tway, 30. “And he would, every single time. I’d go home pissed, crying, going, ‘Mom, Dad did it again.’”
This time it was Bob Tway who wiped away tears as he watched the Safeway on TV back home in Oklahoma. He did not dispute Kevin’s account, but made no apologies for making it hard on the kid.
“I told him, I said, ‘I’m not going to lose just for you to win,’” Bob Tway said by phone Sunday night. “‘You’re going to work for it.’ So, a couple times I actually did do that and it upset him. You know how it is, kids want to beat their dads. I said, ‘Unfortunately, it’s going to be a little harder to beat your dad.’”
Kevin Tway has now done more than that, punching his ticket to the Masters and the Sentry Tournament of Champions at Kapalua with his victory at Silverado. All week he stressed the need for patience, and he relied heavily on that quality in the wind, as gusts forced him to turn his cap around backward as he warmed up on the driving range.
“It was blowing like 40,” Tway said. “My hat was flying off.”
This looked like Brandt Snedeker’s tournament for most of the day as he made the turn with a four-stroke lead, but Tway, playing with him in the final threesome, hung around long enough to execute a three-shot swing on the last two holes of regulation, going birdie-birdie as Snedeker went bogey-par.
Tway’s third straight birdie in the playoff, and fifth straight overall, was enough to outlast first Snedeker and then Moore.
It was all plenty dramatic, so much so that Bob Tway joked about hiding behind the sofa as he watched from home.
“I can’t say that I held it back very good with the tears,” he said, “but I did okay.”
Bob Tway’s best season was 1986, when he reeled off four wins including the PGA Championship. He is 59 and mostly retired, but he can still be found many weeks on TOUR, following on foot as he follows Kevin, who bears a striking resemblance to the old man.
Kevin Tway was born two years after Bob’s signature victory, and smiles and nods at all the well-meaning fans who tell him about the PGA and/or his dad’s other wins.
“I’ve had people come up to me and say, ‘Oh, I watched your dad in ’86,’” Kevin Tway said. “I was like, ‘Yeah, I wasn’t born yet, but yeah, cool.’ Yeah, I hear about it all my life.”
Last week, their club back home was set up to play as hard as it can, the greenskeeping staff forcing everyone to play from the tips, and with tucked pins. (Fittingly, it’s called the Tip-and-Tuck tournament.) Bob thought he was doing pretty well to shoot 72. Kevin shot 67.
But if Kevin rarely loses to his dad anymore, Bob still had him beat in one regard: closing. Bob, after all, had those eight TOUR wins; Kevin didn’t have any. When he worked his way into contention at the RBC Canadian Open in late July, only to shoot a final-round 76, it was emblematic of a trend that had seen him falter on Sundays.
As he always has, though, he worked through it. His has been a slow, steady progression on TOUR as he leans on not just Dad but also friends of Bob’s like fellow TOUR pros Willie Wood and Scott Verplank. Bob Tway stressed the importance of hitting fairways and greens, and patience, and Kevin also learned to monitor his food intake, eating every two or three holes.
Now he’s a TOUR winner, which means someday someone is going to tell Bob Tway about being in attendance that time that Kevin won in the wind.
Is there a downside, Kevin was asked, to having a famous TOUR pro father?
“You could look at it that way,” he said. “Maybe a little (high) expectations, but I think it’s almost a plus. He played right where I’m playing for 30 years, so he kind of knows what I’m feeling at any point in time, so he’s a good person to talk to.”
Especially on Sunday night, after you’ve just hoisted your first PGA TOUR trophy.
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SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France — The 42nd edition of the Ryder Cup turned out to be un collage à Paris.
That translates to a pasting in Paris, which the Europeans administered to an overwhelmed U.S. squad in the biennial continental clash. Over three sun-lit days at Le Golf National and in front of more than 50,000 spectators, Europe was simply magnifique while the Americans looked listless and were left to wonder why it all falls apart for them when the Ryder Cup is held overseas.
After taking a 3-0 lead Friday morning, the U.S. was in a spot of bother the rest of the way, losing a Ryder Cup record-tying eight consecutive matches that gave Europe an insurmountable lead. The U.S. struck up an early challenge Sunday morning in singles, cutting the deficit to one point, but Europe regained control and polished off its pummeling, winning 17½-10½.
“We didn’t execute like we had planned and wanted to,” Tiger Woods said. “I went 0-4. Obviously very disappointing. Those are four points that aren’t going towards our side. It’s going towards their side.
“To have a Ryder Cup end that way, for me personally, it doesn’t feel very good because I didn’t help my teammates earn any points. At the end of the day, we came here as a team and we win or lose, and unfortunately, we lost this one.”
After the Americans boarded a charter as a supremely confident bunch, with nine major champions, with all 12 players ranked in the top 25 in the world, with Woods having just won his first tournament in five years at The Tour Championship, the stunned team staggered into the media center after losing overseas for the sixth consecutive time, a drought dating to 1993. And the U.S. has won just three of the last 12 playings of the Ryder Cup.
“At the end of the day, you’ve got to tip your cap to Europe,” U.S. captain Jim Furyk said. “They outplayed us.”
Now the Americans will put on their thinking caps ahead of the 2020 Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin. That’s what the Americans did in 2014 after winning the Ryder Cup just once in seven tries between 2002 and 2014. A Ryder Cup task force was created to analyze its losing ways and produce a plan for success that included players having more ownership of the process and the team.
The U.S. turned the tide with a blowout victory in 2016 at Hazeltine National in Minnesota, along with victories in 2015 and 2017 in the Presidents Cup, where the same plan was in use.
Now, it might be time to return to the blackboard to figure out why victory across the pond is such a foreign concept. The Ryder Cup committee, which replaced the task force and consists of Woods, Furyk, Phil Mickelson and three executives of the PGA of America, will do just that.
But sometimes what analytics can tell us, what history has shown us, isn’t enough to trounce the mystery of life and in this case, golf. Sometimes there are no answers to be found and you just play the game.
Case in point, the perfect blueprint wouldn’t have defeated a European squad that was comfortable on home soil and at Le Golf National — the European Tour’s French Open is a regular stop here. British Open champion Francesco Molinari led the way by winning all five matches he played. Rookie Tommy Fleetwood won four points, while veterans Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson each won three points. Every European won at least one point. And the team wasn’t exactly chopped liver — all 12 players were ranked in the top 45 in the world.
And the perfect blueprint wouldn’t have made up for Woods going 0-4, world No. 1 Dustin Johnson going 1-4, and Mickelson going 0-2 and being benched both sessions on Saturday.
“I thought that the way (Furyk) brought everybody in together on decisions, some of you might question some of the decisions, but everything was done with reason, input, and thought through, and then it was up to us to execute, and we just didn’t execute,” Mickelson said. “And let’s be honest. The European side played some exquisite golf. I mean, it was some phenomenal golf, and they flat-out beat us.”
So, there is no need to change the blueprint. The players bought in, they still have currency in the decision making, and they remain confident that they’ve been put in the best possible position to succeed.
Why change that? Sometimes, no matter what you do, you just get beat.
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