Notes Ryder Cup Points Controversy
What it failed to do was distinguish between strong and weak tournaments.
That came under serious scrutiny Sunday, when John Rollins earned more Ryder Cup points (375) for winning the watered-down B.C. Open than Chris DiMarco earned (360) for being runner-up at the British Open.
DiMarco nearly chased down Tiger Woods at his best, making four birdies and two clutch par saves on the back nine at Royal Liverpool to close with a 68 and finishing two shots behind.
Across the ocean at the B.C. Open, a tournament rife with Nationwide Tour players and those without full status in the big leagues, Rollins rolled in a 5-foot birdie putt on the final hole for a one-shot victory over Bob May.
PGA president Roger Warren knew there was potential for such a scenario, but offered no apologies.
It has drawn a lot of attention because it actually occurred, Warren said Monday night from Kiawah Island, S.C. The interpretation of that as good or bad, Im not going to get into that. The system was designed to make sure we had those players who were playing well in this year receiving points higher than the first year, so as to reward good play. And we wanted to make sure we placed a value on winning.
Both got into the top 10 in the U.S. standings'DiMarco went from 21st to sixth place, while Rollins went from 39th to 10th. Four tournaments remain before the team is announced.
Asked whether the B.C. Open should be worth the same points as The Players Championship or the Wachovia Championship or other strong fields, Warren said winning is difficult anywhere and should be rewarded.
We didnt want to be in the business of evaluating different fields and different events, he said. We realize the reality that the players in the field are different, but we placed the value on winning. It still should be a high priority to win.
DiMarco, who started the year at No. 4 in the standings, earned points for only the second time this year. He also had an eight-way tie for ninth by reaching the quarterfinals of the Accenture Match Play Championship.
Rollins had a strong spring. He tied for fourth at the Buick Invitational, one shot out of a playoff won by Woods. He tied for fifth at the Nissan Open and tied for eighth in The Players Championship. Then he missed seven out of his next 10 cuts, not finishing better than 42nd, until winning the B.C. Open.
Rollins had only 37.5 points at the start of the season. He earned those last year by tying for second in the B.C. Open.
Warren, meanwhile, said it would be best to wait until after the team is set'and after the Ryder Cup'to judge the new system.
I dont think anyone can make a determination that its right or wrong, that its working or not working, he said. If we win, it will be the greatest system ever used. If we dont, there will be a number of questions about why we didnt stick with the old system.
SEE YOU SOON, HOYLAKE
No contracts have been signed, but Royal & Ancient chief executive Peter Dawson made it clear that Royal Liverpool will not have to wait another four decades to host the British Open.
He said it was the first time he could recall not hearing one complaint from the players.
We have seen absolutely nothing that would prevent us coming back, certainly before another 39 years have elapsed, Dawson said Monday. In our view, it was a wonderful Open played on a course that was long overdue to host the Open. I think it will go down as one of the best weve ever staged.
The British Open has nine courses on its rotation, with St. Andrews getting the tournament every five years.
R&A officials said the success at Hoylake would have no bearing on the British Open held up the road at Royal Lytham & St. Annes. Some fear the R&A might not want three courses'the other Royal Birkdale'within an hours drive in northwest England.
BRITISH CAMERA INVASION
This might have been the most photographed British Open ever.
Thats not necessarily a good thing.
Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia had to back off nearly every shot in the final round because of fans taking pictures, mostly with cell phones. Marshals asked repeatedly for fans to adhere to the policy of no cameras, and the fans blatantly ignored them.
I confess that it does concern us, Royal & Ancient chief executive Peter Dawson said Monday. I didnt like what I saw on the golf course yesterday. We have to get our thinking caps on as to how to deal with this better.
Dawson said British laws make it difficult to confiscate cameras, as the PGA TOUR has done at some tournaments. The other option is to check for cell phones and cameras at the gate, a process that could clog up the entry.
And even that might not be the best way to go.
David Hill, the R&As director of championships, said an elderly man died of a heart attack during the practice rounds. He was declared dead upon arrival at a hospital, although paramedics arrived within two minutes because someone called on a cell phone.
You have to consider that people like to have mobiles with them for matters of urgency, he said.
But it might be up to the fans whether they get to bring cell phones to the course switched off or on silent mode.
Tiger Woods victory means Americans have won 10 of the last 12 times in the British Open. The international winners were Ernie Els in 2002 and Paul Lawrie in 1999, the last European to win any major. ... Carnoustie already is gearing up for the British Open next year, with three minor changes to holes and the removal of trees to give it a more open feel. ... Woods now has won professional titles in 12 countries: the United States, Canada, Argentina, England, Scotland, Ireland, Spain, Germany, Dubai, Japan, Thailand and Malaysia.
STAT OF THE WEEK: Tiger Woods became the first player to win consecutive titles in three majors'the Masters (2001-02), the British Open (2005-06) and the PGA Championship (1999-2000).
FINAL WORD: I was getting bigger cheers than Tiger on some of the holes, and that was a great thing for me to experience. Thats why this is my favorite event.'Sergio Garcia, who played with Woods in the final round of the British Open.
Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Day finishes strong, leads Aussie Open by one
Jason Day birdied three of his final five holes to take a one-stroke lead into the final round of the Emirates Australian Open. Here’s where things stand in Sydney:
Leaderboard: Day (-10), Lucas Herbert (-9), Jonas Blixt (-7), Matt Jones (-7), Cameron Smith (-6), Rhein Gibson (-5), Anthony Quayle (-5)
What it means: Day has a great shot at his first victory – in his final start – in 2017. It’s been a frustrating campaign for Day, who has dropped to 12th in the Official World Golf Ranking. A win this week, in his native Open, would be a huge boost as he embarks on the 2018 season.
Round of the day: Day’s 2-under 69 wasn’t the lowest of the day, but it was the most important. Day parred his first 13 holes before birdies on Nos. 14 and 15. He bogeyed the 17th, but finished with a birdie at the par-5 18th for the outright lead.
Best of the rest: Blixt’s 66 put him in position to win. Meanwhile, Japanese amateur Takumi Kanaya shot the low round of the day, a 6-under 65, to reach 4 under for the tournament.
Biggest disappointment: No one really blew it on Saturday, but Jordan Spieth was unable to make a move. His 1-under 70 has him eight shots off the lead. Herbert managed an even-par 71 but he had a two-stroke lead until an errant tee shot at the par-3 11th. Speaking of which …
Shot of the day: Not every Shot of the Day is a great shot. Herbert made a long birdie putt on the eighth and was two clear of the field through 10 holes. But he hit his tee shot long at the 11th and was not able to find it. He had to re-tee, made double bogey and lost his advantage. He’s now chasing a major champion in the final round.
Spieth stalls on Moving Day at Australian Open
Moving Day? Not so much for Jordan Spieth in Round 3 of the Emirates Australian Open.
Spieth, the defending champion and also a winner in 2014, continued to struggle with his putter, shooting 1-under 70 on Saturday at the Australian Golf Club in Sydney.
“I was leaving them short yesterday and today it was kind of misreading, over-reading. I missed a lot of putts on the high side – playing wind or more break,” he said. “I just really haven’t found a nice marriage between line and speed to get the ball rolling.”
The world No. 2 started the day eight off the pace and was unable to make a charge. He had three birdies and two bogeys, including a 4 at the par-5 finishing hole.
Spieth praised his ball-striking in the wind-swept conditions, but lamented his putting, which has hampered him throughout the week.
“Ball-striking’s been fantastic. Just gotta get the putts to go,” he said.
Spieth, who is scheduled to compete in next week’s Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas, is still holding out hope for a third title in four years at this event. He fired a brilliant 63 in very windy conditions to prevail in ’14.
“Tomorrow is forecasted as even windier than today so you can still make up a lot of ground,” he said. “A few years ago I shot a final round that was a nice comeback and anything like that tomorrow can still even be enough to possibly get the job done.”
South Korean LPGA stars lead KLPGA team
South Korea’s LPGA team of all-stars took the early lead Friday on the Korean LPGA Tour in a team event featuring twice as much star power as this year’s Solheim Cup did.
Eight of the world’s top 20 players are teeing it up in the ING Life Champions Trophy/ Inbee Park Invitational in Gyeongju. There were only four players among the top 20 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings when the United States defeated Europe in Des Moines, Iowa.
Park led the LPGA team to a 3 ½-to-2 ½ lead on the first day.
Park, who has been recuperating from a back injury for most of the second half of this season, teamed with Jeongeun Lee5 to defeat Hye Jin Choi and Ji Hyun Kim, 5 and 4, in the lead-off four-ball match.
So Yeon Ryu and Park, former world No. 1s and LPGA Rolex Player of the Year Award winners, will be the marquee pairing on Saturday. They will lead off foursomes against Ji Young Kim and Min Sun Kim.
Nine of the 11 South Koreans who won LPGA events this year are competing. Sung Hyun Park and I.K. Kim are the only two who aren’t.
The fourball results:
LPGA’s Inbee Park/ Jeongeun Lee5 def. Hye Jin Choi/Ji Hyun Kim, 5 and 4.
LPGA’s Mirim Lee/Amy Yang def. Ji Hyun Oh/Min Sun Kim, 3 and 1.
LPGA’s M.J. Hur/Mi Hyang Lee halved Ji Hyun Kim/Ji Young Kim.
KLPGA’s Ha Na Jang/Sun Woo Bae def. Sei Young Kim/Hyo Joo Kim, 5 and 4.
LPGA’s Na Yeon Choi/Jenny Shin halved Jin Young Ko/Da Yeon Lee
LPGA’s In Gee Chun/Eun Hee Ji halved Jeongeun Lee6/Char Young Kim.
NOTE: The KPGA uses numerals after a player’s name to distinguish players with the exact same name.
Cut Line: Lyle faces third bout with cancer
In this week’s holiday edition, Cut Line is thankful for the PGA Tour’s continued progress on many fronts and the anticipation that only a Tiger Woods return can generate.
The Fighter. That was the headline of a story Cut Line wrote about Jarrod Lyle following his second bout with cancer a few years ago, so it’s both sad and surreal to see the affable Australian now bracing for a third fight with leukemia.
Lyle is working as an analyst for Channel 7’s coverage of this week’s Emirates Australian Open prior to undergoing another stem cell transplant in December.
“I’ve got a big month coming,” Lyle said. “I’m back into hospital for some really heavy-duty treatment that’s really going to determine how things pan out for me.”
Twice before things have panned out for Lyle. Let’s hope karma has one more fight remaining.
Changing times. Last season the PGA Tour introduced a policy to add to the strength of fields, a measure that had long eluded officials and by most accounts was a success.
This season the circuit has chosen to tackle another long-standing thorn, ridiculously long pro-am rounds. While there seems little the Tour can do to speed up play during pro-am rounds, a new plan called a 9&9 format will at least liven things up for everyone involved.
Essentially, a tournament hosting a pro-am with four amateurs can request the new format, where one professional plays the first nine holes and is replaced by another pro for the second nine.
Professionals will have the option to request 18-hole pro-am rounds, giving players who limit practice rounds to just pro-am days a chance to prepare, but otherwise it allows Tour types to shorten what is an admittedly long day while the amateurs get a chance to meet and play with two pros.
The new measure does nothing about pace of play, but it does freshen up a format that at times can seem tired, and that’s progress.
Tweet of the week: @Love3d (Davis Love III) “Thanks to Dr. Flanagan (Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center) for the new hip and great care! Can’t wait to get back to (the PGA Tour).”
Love offered the particularly graphic tweet following hip replacement surgery on Tuesday, a procedure that he admitted he’d delayed because he was “chicken.”
The surgery went well and Love is on pace to return to the Tour sometime next spring. As for the possibility of over-sharing on social media, we’ll leave that to the crowd.
Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)
Distance control. The Wall Street Journal provided the octagon for the opening blows of a clash that has been looming for a long time.
First, USGA executive director Mike Davis told The Journal that the answer to continued distance gains may be a restricted-flight golf ball with an a la carte rule that would allow different organizations, from the Tour all the way down to private clubs, deciding which ball to use.
“You can’t say you don’t care about distance, because guess what? These courses are expanding and are predicted to continue to expand,” Davis said. “The impact it has had has been horrible.”
A day later, Wally Uihlein, CEO of Acushnet, which includes the Titleist brand, fired back in a letter to The Journal, questioning among other things how distance gains are putting a financial burden on courses.
“The only people that seem to be grappling with advances in technology and physical fitness are the short-sighted golf course developers and the supporting golf course architectural community who built too many golf courses where the notion of a 'championship golf course' was brought on line primarily to sell real estate,” Uihlein wrote.
For anyone paying attention the last few years, this day was inevitable and the likely start of what will be a drawn out and heated process, but Cut Line’s just not sure anyone wins when it’s over.
Tiger, take II. Tiger Woods’ return to competition next week at the Hero World Challenge was always going to generate plenty of speculation, but that hyperbole reached entirely new levels this week as players began giving personal accounts of the new and improved 14-time major champion.
“I did talk to him, and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years,’” Day said as he prepared for the Australian Open. “If he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.”
Rickie Fowler added to the frenzy when he was asked this month if the rumors that Woods is driving the ball by him, by 20 to 30 yards by some reports, are true?
“Oh, yeah,” he told Golf.com. “Way by.”
Add to all this a recent line that surfaced in Las Vegas that Woods is now listed at 20-1 to win a major in 2018, and it seems now may be a good time for a restraint.
Golf is better with Woods, always has been and always will be, but it may be best to allow Tiger time to find out where his body and game are before we declare him back.
Searching for answers. Twelve months ago, Hideki Matsuyama was virtually unstoppable and, regardless of what the Official World Golf Ranking said, arguably the best player on the planet.
Now a year removed from that lofty position, which featured the Japanese star finishing either first or second in six of his seven starts as the New Year came and went, Matsuyama has faded back to fifth in the world and on Sunday finished fifth, some 10 strokes behind winner Brooks Koepka, at the Dunlop Phoenix.
“That hurt,” Matsuyama told the Japan Times. “I don’t know whether it’s a lack of practice or whether I lack the strength to keep playing well. It seems there are many issues to address.”
Since his last victory at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, Matsuyama has just two top-10 finishes on Tour and he ended his 2016-17 season with a particularly poor performance at the Presidents Cup.
While Matsuyama’s take seems extreme considering his season, there are certainly answers that need answering.