New Cut Line Rule Still an Issue for Players

By Associated PressJanuary 15, 2008, 5:00 pm
PGA Tour (75x100)HONOLULU -- Democracy arrived the day after 18 players who made the cut at the Sony Open were sent home.
On the bulletin board in the Waialae Country Club locker room, next to a notice of a mandatory player meeting in two weeks at Torrey Pines, someone posted a one-question survey written in pencil.
Do you agree with the new cut policy?
The vote was unanimous -- 6-0 against the new policy, with 63 abstaining.
That's the problem with independent contractors with a free lunch and millionaire's income. They preach about policies that supposedly are ruining their lives, but when it comes time to do something, they go to the range.
Or maybe they don't think anyone will listen.
'It's always back to the same thing,' Stephen Ames said. 'Play better.'
Ames didn't sign the sheet, although he said he disagrees with the policy. He feels more strongly about how the tour reached this decision, which essentially amounted to some 20 players speaking for 250 without really talking to them at all.
The policy that has raised so many hackles?
Whenever the top 70 and ties includes more than 78 players, the nearest number to 70 make the cut. The others still get credit for making the cut, and they receive official, last-place money and FedExCup points. But they don't get to play.
Twelve times last year -- and that's about average for the last decade -- the top 70 and ties to make the cut led to a weekend field almost the size of some tournaments. That meant a two-tee start with three players to a group, 5 1/2 -hour rounds, as many as three groups waiting on tees, and some players grumbling why it takes so long.
The highest number of players to make the cut last year was 89 at Disney, and perhaps it's no coincidence the policy board approved the new cut policy about a week later.
Among the 18 players it affected at the Sony Open was John Daly, who was playing on a sponsor's exemption and was outraged. It seems he met a family from Australia on Wednesday that had saved up money to come to Hawaii and watch him play, but they couldn't make it to the tournament until Saturday.
'I make the cut, and now they're not going to be able to watch me play,' Daly told GOLF CHANNEL.
Even if you believe that story, anyone claiming to be a Daly fan knows better than to wait until Saturday to watch him play. Sometimes it's not safe to wait until Friday. Daly withdrew six times last year; Jack Nicklaus withdrew seven times in a career spanning four decades.
The outrage is that a guy with a history of quitting is the first to complain about not getting to play.
But forget Daly for a minute.
What happens when a guy who actually sells tickets is sent home under this rule?
'I'd like to see if, by chance, Mr. Woods happened to be in that mix, and he has to go home, how the sponsors would feel,' Ames said. 'The No. 1 player, the star of the PGA TOUR, and he has to go home?'
The six who signed their names against the policy were Jerry Kelly, Paul Azinger, Carl Pettersson, Jay Williamson, Daniel Chopra and Patrick Sheehan. If you notice that none is among the top 50 in the world, consider that Steve Stricker, Jim Furyk and Vijay Singh also were outspoken against it.
'I don't like the rule,' Stricker said. 'It just seems like it doesn't benefit any of the players. It seems like our tour is about giving opportunity, and here's one they're taking away.'
And players were worried about the point structure in the FedExCup?
This is a far more meaningful -- and divisive -- issue.
The classic case study is Jose Maria Olazabal in 2002 at Torrey Pines, where he made the cut on the number and wound up winning when the cut was 85 players.
Twice last year when the cut was more than 78 players, those who made it on the number wound up in the top 10 -- Anthony Kim tied for third in New Orleans, Bo Van Pelt tied for sixth in Hartford. That's worth not only money, but FedExCup points. And with the Ryder Cup points based on dollars this year, it takes on greater significance.
But in this televised era of golf -- and remember, that's where the $280 million in prize money comes from -- who wants to see 5 1/2 -hour rounds and the final group having to wait 30 minutes on a tee late in the round, which recently happened in Las Vegas?
Both sides have merit. The broader issue is how these decisions are made.
The 16-member Player Advisory Council was roughly 75 percent in favor of the cut policy, so it went to the nine-member policy board. On matters related to competition, any change requires a majority of the four players on the board.
The cut policy was an unanimous decision.
Ames' excellent suggestion was to take a vote of the full membership, much the same way everyone votes on player of the year and other awards. Would it have been so difficult to give them a list of options and let the majority rule?
Or they could simply get more involved, which is what Kelly intends to do.
Each year, Kelly takes his name off the PAC ballot because he doesn't think anyone will listen. He forgot to do that this year, and lo and behold, he was elected. And he is determined to make a difference.
'There's a heck of a lot of guys who need a voice,' Kelly said. 'I didn't think a voice could be heard. We'll find out.'
Kelly is certain the cut policy will be a big topic next week at the mandatory meeting, which was scheduled to discuss the anti-doping policy. Then again, at the last mandatory players' meeting in May, half the guys didn't even show up.
And most left early.
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    Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole

    By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 3:21 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.

    Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

    It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.

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    Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

    By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

    Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

    Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

    “I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”

    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

    The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

    “The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

    Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.

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    Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

    By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

    LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook hit a hybrid into the fairway bunker on the par-4 18th on a breezy Saturday afternoon at La Quinta Country Club, then chunked a wedge and raced a chip 20 feet past the hole.

    Kip Henley, the longtime PGA Tour caddie who guided Cook to a breakthrough victory at Sea Island in November, stepped in to give the 26-year-old former Arkansas star a quick pep talk.

    ''Kip said, 'Let's finish this like we did on the first day at the Nicklaus Course.' We made a big par putt on 18 there and he said, 'Let's just do the same thing. Let's get this line right and if you get the line right it's going in.'''

    It did, giving Cook an 8-under 64 and a one-stroke lead in the CareerBuilder Challenge going into the final round on the Stadium Course at PGA West. Fellow former Razorback Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were tied for second, and Jon Rahm and Scott Piercy were a another stroke back after a tricky day in wind that didn't get close to the predicted gusts of 40 mph.

    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

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    ''I know that I wouldn't have wanted to play the Stadium today,'' Cook said. ''I think we got a great draw with the courses that we got to play on the days that we got to play them.''

    Cook played the final six holes on the front nine in 6 under with an eagle and four birdies.

    ''Starting on my fourth hole, I was able to make a birdie and kind of get the ball rolling and it never really stopped rolling,'' Cook said. ''Kip and I were doing really good at seeing the line on the greens.''

    After a bogey on 10, he birdied 11, 12 and 15 and parred the final three to get to 19-under 197.

    ''I think that tonight the nerves, the butterflies, all that will kind of be a little less,'' Cook said. ''I've been in the situation before and I was able to finish the job on Sunday. I think it would be a little different if I didn't play like I did on Sunday at Sea Island.''

    He's making his first start in the event.

    ''I came in from Hawaii on Monday, so I only had two days to prepare for three courses,'' Cook said.

    Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 at the Stadium. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. Winless on the PGA Tour, they will join Cook in the final threesome.

    ''Piller's a good guy and we have played a lot together and same with Cookie,'' said Landry, the only player without a bogey after 54 holes. ''Hope the Hogs are going to come out on top.''

    Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium to reach 17 under. The third-ranked Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.

    ''A little bit of a survival day,'' Rahm said.

    The wind was more of a factor on the more exposed and tighter Stadium Course.

    ''The course is firming up,'' Rahm said. ''I know if we have similar wind to today, if we shoot something under par, you'll be way up there contesting it over the last few holes.''

    Piercy had a 66 at the Stadium.

    ''I controlled my ball really well today,'' he said.

    Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on the Nicklaus Course, and Harkins shot 68 at the Stadium.

    Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.

    Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. He had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over.

    John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine - and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.

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    Phil misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years

    By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 am

    Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.

    He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.

    How rare is his missing the cut there?

    The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.

    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

    The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.

    The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.

    Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.

    Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.