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D-II men want match play at nationals

With the NCAA Men's Championship at the Division I level successful shifted to a match-play format to determine a team winner, the Division II men's golf committee wants to make a similar move. The committee has forwarded to the D-II Championships Committee a proposal for the 2011 national championship that would follow the new the D-I format: three stroke-play rounds with the low eight teams advancing to a match-play bracket. An individual champion would also be named after the 54 stroke-play holes.

The championship would be a five-day event with the quarterfinals and semifinals of the match-play portion contested on one day. (The D-I championship was played this way last May but will be a six-day event beginning next year, with each round of match play being contested on one day.)

Committee members recommended the format change based on feedback from coaches, as well as reviewing the success of the format in Division I. Many in the golf community had argued that the previous four rounds of stroke play during which teams used the “play five/count four” approach was difficult for people to follow as far as scoring goes. Match play, on the other hand, is more spectator-friendly and provides for a better student-athlete experience as well.

“It provides for a different type of championship, and it offers excitement for more teams who might not be so close to the lead in that third round,” D-II men's committee chairman (and Oauchita Baptist athletic director) Dave Sharp told the NCAA News. “It brings more teams into the championship picture."


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News & Tours

Another Daly reality show? Here's the reality

Everyone would enjoy seeing John Daly turn his life and career around (in that order), and he says he's taken positive steps on both fronts.

At this point, it's probably better to withhold judgment on his turning his life around. Give him credit for losing weight, though do so with a caveat; the lap band surgery on which he relied for his weight loss is a reversible procedure. A benefit to the lap band surgery is that it doesn't allow for much, if any, alcohol consumption. Again, the surgery is reversible. Here's hoping for the best for Daly.

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As for his career, the evidence remains scant that he is on the cusp of a resurrection, notwithstanding a tie for second in the BMW Italian Open. He missed the cut in four of eight European Tour starts in 2009, and his best finish outside of Italy was a tie for 27th at the British Open.

In four PGA Tour starts since his suspension was lifted, he missed the cut in two of them and tied for 59th in the other.

More damaging to his new-man narrative (barring any post-round claim of injury), Daly shot an 88 in the second round Friday, a round that included a quintuple-bogey, a quadruple-bogey, a triple-bogey and a double-bogey. This after reports, this one from Geoff Shackelford, that in Thursday's round he at times played as though he had lost interest.

In the midst of it all, we learn that he has agreed to do a new reality show on the Golf Channel, this one with less turbulence. "I'm more laid back,"he told the Associated Press this week. "It won't have the hustle and bustle as the last show."

Better reserve judgment on that, too.

The reality is that seeing less of him would be far better than seeing more of him these days, until he has proven definitively that he has ditched his demons for good. A 51 on his back nine on Friday indicates that they're still hanging around.

-- John Strege

(Photo by Getty Images)

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News & Tours

Daly makes a 10 (and a 7) (and another 7)

John Daly made a quintuple-bogey 10 on the par-5 first hole Friday (his 10th hole) in the second round of the Buick Open.

ShotTracker on pgatour.com shows that he hit his drive "314 yards to unknown." It apparently was out of bounds. He hit his third down the tree line and it, too, apparently was out of bounds. He hit his fifth shot from the tee to the left rough, his sixth to the left rough, his seventh to the right intermediate rough, 78 feet from the hole and then took three to hole out from there, the last of his strokes a 12-foot putt to save 10.

UPDATE: He bogeyed the third hole and triple-bogeyed the fourth to go 10-over par for his round through 13 holes.

UPDATE II: He quadruple-bogeyed the eighth hole (his 17th) to go 13-over par for his round.

UPDATE III: A double-bogey at his last hole finished a round of 88 that included 51 strokes on his back nine.

-- John Strege

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News & Tours

Champions Tour thinking globally

More international opportunities might be on the horizon for the Champions Tour.

Golf World has learned that tour officials are exploring the viability of a tournament in Dubai, perhaps as early as next year, though there is no timetable. The idea is to provide a second overseas event scheduled either before or after a new event slated to debut in 2010 in South Korea.

The PGA Tour announced in June a multi-year agreement to take the Champions Tour to Asia for the first time with a tournament at the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club Korea, near Seoul. That tournament is likely to be held in September.

--Dave Shedloski

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News & Tours

If you thought Tiger would go away quietly...

Think again. Woods, after an opening-round 71 at the Buick Open put him in jeopardy of missing the cut for the second tournament in a row, opened his round Friday birdie-birdie-eagle, the latter coming on the par-4 12th hole. He's jumped from a tie for 95th to a tie for 16th.

Incidentally, the last time Woods missed consecutive cuts in PGA Tour events was 1994, when he went 0 for 3 as a 19-year-old amateur.

UPDATE: Woods birdied his fourth hole, drove the green at his fifth hole, the par-4 14th, and had a two-putt birdie. He is now six-under par through five holes and in a tie for fifth.

FYI, his career low round is 61, which he's shot three times, most recently in this same tournament in 2005.

-- John Strege

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Courses & Travel

Jay Feely Diary (Day 4)

Bayonne_4.jpgMission accomplished. Jay Feely, the New York Jets kicker, was out to make the best of a situation I wouldn't wish upon my future mother-in-law--moving. Feely had to get from Florida to New Jersey in a U-Haul while towing a minivan on his way to the start of the NFL season. Feely's not exactly Jed Clampett, but he did find black gold in the form of the game of golf on this journey through states. And he was traveling with family. Scroll down and start from "Day 1" if you need to catch up. This is Feely's final diary post as a guest blogger on this trip. He played three rounds but only 43 holes. And as of Bayonne, it looks like he's still in line for an all-expenses-paid golf getaway to Ireland.

Bayonne_6.jpgThe U-Haul arrived without incident at my home in New Jersey at 2 a.m. After unpacking in the morning and returning the truck, my move was officially over. However, my brother John and I were not yet done with our trip. I wanted to take John to one of my favorite courses--Bayonne (pictured above). In order to build Bayonne, there was 7.5 million cubic feet of dirt added to a land fill along the Hudson River that looks out to the Manhattan skyline and past Lady Liberty. The end result is a masterpiece that rivals any of the competition.

When I moved to New Jersey for the first time, I had no bigger misconception about the New York City area than my ignorance concerning the quality of golf. Courses like Winged Foot, Baltusrol, Bethpage Black and Shinnecock are all legendary. The other stalwarts are Trump National Bedminster, Liberty National, Ridgewood, Ballyowen, and Bayonne.

From the minute you drive through the entrance to Bayonne you are transposed to a different world. Each hole meanders through its own maze surrounded by hills covered in tall grass. You're looking at New York City and yet you can't believe you're so close. The course is not long but there is no room for error. Hit it in the fescue and don’t bother wasting your time to look because, even if you find it, you can't hit it out.

Bayonne_2.jpgThe weather was not cooperating even though the clubhouse was brimming with golfers frothing at their mouths to play Bayonne’s playground. We waited two hours before we got in seven holes. That's when the lightning drove us all off the course for good. My brother John (pictured above on the right) said it best back in the clubhouse, “Seven holes at Bayonne is as good as 18 anywhere else.”

The purpose of any golf trip with your buddies entails so much more than just golf. It's building relationships and celebrating those relationships through the common bond of golf. John and I were able laugh and golf, and even laugh at our golf. But more than anything else, we just enjoyed being together. Not too bad for a move across country. 

My brothers are still on the hook for our trip to Ireland but they have another year to refine their games. Their best bet is always in January or February, right after the NFL season ends and I haven’t played in five months. Whether I pay or they pay, the end result will be an experience of a lifetime.

--Jay Feely

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News & Tours

Jackson sets amateur mark

CARMEL, Ind.-- History was made on the first day of the U.S. Senior Open by 50-year-old amateur Tim Jackson, who shot a 66, the all-time low round by an amateur in the championship.
 
Jackson's six-under score gave him a share of the lead with Joey Sindelar, Greg Norman and Dan Forsman at Crooked Stick Golf Club and broke by two shots the Open's amateur single-round scoring record.
 
William C. Campbell (Winged Foot East, 1980), Ed Tutwiler (Winged Foot East, 1980), Jim Patti (Oakland Hills South, 1991) and Rick Cloninger (The Broadmoor East, 2008) shared the previous mark with 68s.
 
A real estate developer in Germantown, Tenn., who won the 1994 and 2001 U.S. Mid-Amateur titles and played on the 1995 and 1999 U.S. Walker Cup teams, Jackson ignored early butterflies Thursday to card a six-birdie, no-bogey score with his 15-year-old son, Austin, a budding 3-handicap golfer, alongside as his caddie.
 
"I was having good yardages and leaving the ball on the green with just the perfect line," said Jackson, who will be inducted into the Tennessee Golf Hall of Fame later this year. "Either just straight up the hill or straight down the hill. Not a lot of big breakers."
 
"I knew he'd take the nervousness and turn it into something good," said Austin, who has yet to beat his father. "I've seen him shoot plenty of low rounds, so it was another one of those days. I think he was excited about senior golf."
 
--Bill Fields
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News & Tours

Fodder for the anti-technology crowd

Crooked Stick Golf Club is playing up to 7,316 yards for the U.S. Senior Open, longer than it played for the PGA Championship when John Daly won it in 1991. Then it played as much as 7,295 yards, making it the longest course in the history of the PGA Championship.

UPDATE: Greg Norman, in his news conference following the first round of the Senior Open, said he's hitting the same irons into greens that he did in the '91 PGA Championship. "I'm hitting the ball farther on this golf course today than what I was in '91,"he said. "I'm carrying the 14th hole without a problem, the big chop dogleg to the left, driving farther down on the par 5s than I did in '91. That's got a lot to do with technology, obviously. From pure technology we picked up some yardage. The same clubs I hit in '91 I'm hitting now into the greens, and there is, what, 20 years separation? My clubhead speed isn't as fast as what it was in '91, so technology has made up the gap."

-- John Strege

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News & Tours

What do golf daddies and Confucius have in common?

Each has contributed to the Koreans' growing influence on the LPGA, according to the Samsung Economic Research Institute.

"First and foremost, fathers played a pivotal role by encouraging their daughters to start golf at an early age," SERI researcher Min-hoon Lee told the Korea Times. "The so-called golf daddies also made all-out efforts to support their daughters full-time.

"The players themselves also have virtues of an unparalleled work ethic as well as self-restraint, which seem to have something to do with the country's Confucian tradition."

The Koreans tend to focus on golf to the exclusion of everything else, according to Lee, who said, "They are workhorses who pay attention only to golf."

Koreans have won six times on the LPGA this year, including three of the last four.

-- John Strege

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News & Tours

A major boost to the women's game

LYTHAM ST. ANNES, ENGLAND - One of the smartest things the LPGA has done in the past decade is elevate the Women's British Open to major championship status. Thursday's first round at Royal Lytham and St. Annes screamed that message loudly. Take a great links course, add in a dash of weather - in this case wind in excess of 20 mph - and there is no better test of the skill and mental discipline needed to be a champion. There are also few things as entertaining as watching great players forced to think anew their approach to the game. No shot can be played by rote. What had been your target on a blind tee shot on one day will provide totally useless information the next if the direction of the wind has changed.

Among the great courses in the Open Championship rota, for both the men and the women, none surpasses Royal Lytham. With its devious and ubiquitous bunkering, Lytham is simply one of the best tests of golf anywhere. Flat spots on the fairways are as rare as sunny days have been lately in northwest England and often a ball that appears to be safely past a bunker will begin a circuitous backward route that winds up right back in the little devil.

But perhaps the most surprising thing about the Women's British is not that it only became a major in 2001, but that it only came into being in 1976. Then again, it is not all that surprising when you remember that the tradition of women's golf in Britain in on the amateur level. The first Women's British Open was played at Fulford and was won by Jenny Lee-Smith, an amateur who was a former Curtis Cup player. Vivien Saunders and Gwen Brandom, two of a handful of pros in the event, put up 200 pounds of their own money as the professional prize money.

To show how far the tournament has come, when Gwen Saunders won the second Women's British at Lindrick in 1977 it was on a match of cards with Mary Everard after they finished tied at 306. The winner's share was 210 pounds. There wasn't even an Open in 1983, but when it retuned in 1984 at Woburn with a sponsor - Hitachi - it began to produce an impressive group of winners.

Ayako Okamoto won in '84, Betsy King at Moor Park in '85 and Laura Davies at Royal Birkdale in '86. The tournament was sponsored by Weetabix, a British breakfast food, when it was elevated to major status in 2001, and is now under the domain of Ricoh, a Japan-based technology company - a long way from when players competed for their own money.

-- Ron Sirak

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July 28, 2014

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