Players divided on 54-hole cut in playoffs

By Will GrayAugust 31, 2014, 7:47 pm

NORTON, Mass. – In the playoffs, so the mantra goes, every shot counts.

With four postseason events gradually whittling down the list of contenders for the FedEx Cup, the difference between safety and elimination can often be small.

Last year, the gap between Ernie Els and Ryan Palmer after the Deutsche Bank Championship was less than one point: Els finished 70th and went on to play in the BMW Championship; Palmer finished 71st and earned an extra week of vacation.

With the stakes raised in the postseason, the value of a single good round can often be magnified. Except that for the second straight week, a handful of players won’t receive an opportunity to go low one last time.

As was the case at The Barclays, a secondary, 54-hole cut is in effect this week at TPC Boston. While only 93 players began the event, 80 made the cut at 3-over 145 or better.

Because more than 78 players advanced, the field will again be trimmed to low 70 and ties after the third round. The rule is rooted in the logistics of weekend television windows, and comes up with some frequency: it was used 12 times during the regular season.

Deutsche Bank Championship: Articles, videos and photos

It rarely impacts the playoffs, though, and occurred only once in the postseason from 2008-2013. But this year both playoff events with a 36-hole cut also required an additional trim after 54 holes, which left some players questioning whether it’s a rule that should end with the regular season.

“I don’t think we should do it in the playoffs,” said Brendan Steele, who made the 36-hole cut on the number but improved his standing with a third-round 69. “Guys have a chance to go out and shoot 65 early on Sunday, regardless of where they are, and it could be the difference in getting through.”

Steele’s sentiments were echoed by Scott Stallings, whose 1-over 72 Sunday was just enough to earn him a tee time in the final round as he looks to make one last charge toward next week’s event in Denver.

“You earn the right to play the weekend, you should play the weekend. This is the most important part of our season,” said Stallings. “I definitely think it should be re-thought, and give the guys an opportunity to play all four days. Someone got affected last week, and someone’s going to get affected this week.”

The player most impacted last week at Ridgewood was Luke Guthrie, who ended the regular season at No. 95 in the standings. Guthrie made the 36-hole cut but missed the secondary cut by one shot after a third-round 72. He fell to No. 106 in the points race as a result, with only the top 100 advancing to this week’s event in Boston.

This time around, the most notable MDF casualty was Scott Brown, who began the week on the bubble at No. 70. Brown rallied to make the cut during the second round, highlighted by a hole-in-one, but struggled to a 6-over 77 Sunday. While the secondary cut effectively ended his season, Brown has no problem with its use in the playoffs.

“I don’t think you can use them all year and then not use them in the playoffs,” he said. “That’s not fair to those guys that were MDF (Made cut, Didn’t Finish) all year. I think the bigger deal is that the points in the playoffs are weighted so high that you don’t reward the guys that have had a great year so far.”

The issue of how and when to implement the secondary cut is one that will be brought up at the first Player Advisory Council meeting of the 2014-15 season at the Open. While PAC member Stewart Cink agreed with Brown’s assessment – “That’s the way we’ve done it all year. I don’t see why we shouldn’t keep doing it the same way,” he said – fellow PAC member Scott Langley would prefer to do away with the secondary cut entirely.

Langley is an example of what can happen when a player is afforded 72 holes. After barely making the 54-hole cut at The Barclays, he shot a final-round 66 to finish in a tie for 30th. After beginning the final round projected at No. 85 in the standings, Langley instead headed to Boston at No. 65.

“To have that opportunity, I think, is important,” Langley said. “Especially as you get later in the year, daylight is not an issue so we can still achieve the same product for TV, even with the big cut. We can play twosomes and just tee off earlier.”

Getty Images

Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook played a six-hole stretch in 6 under and shot an 8-under 64 in breezy conditions Saturday to take the lead at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Cook began the run at La Quinta Country Club with birdies on Nos. 4-5, eagled the sixth and added birdies on No. 7 and 9 to make the turn in 6-under 30.

After a bogey on the 10th, he birdied Nos. 11, 12 and 15 and saved par on the 18th with a 20-footer to take a 19-under 197 total into the final round on PGA West's Stadium Course. The 26-year-old former Arkansas player is making his first start in the event. He won at Sea Island in November for his first PGA Tour title.

Fellow former Razorbacks star Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were a stroke back. Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 on the Stadium Course. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. They are both winless on the PGA Tour.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

Jon Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium Course to reach 17 under. The top-ranked player in the field at No. 3, 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.

Scott Piercy also was two strokes back after a 66 at the Stadium.

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 PGA West's Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course, and Harkins shot 68 on the Stadium Course.

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 Course 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. The Southern California recruit had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over for the week.

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.

Getty Images

Mickelson 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.

Getty Images

Defending champ Gana co-leads Latin America Amateur

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 11:20 pm

Toto Gana moved into early position to try to win a return trip to the Masters Saturday by grabbing a share of the first-round lead at the Latin America Amateur Championship.

The defending champ posted a 3-under-par 68 at Prince of Wales Country Club in his native Chile, equaling the rounds of Argentina’s Mark Montenegro and Colombia’s Pablo Torres.

They are one shot ahead of Mexico’s Alvaro Ortiz and Mario Carmona, Argentina’s Horacio Carbonetti and Jaime Lopez Rivarola and the Dominican Republic’s Rhadames Pena.

It’s a bunched leaderboard, with 19 players within three shots of each at the top of the board in the 72-hole event.

“I think I have my game under control,” said Gana, 20, a freshman at Lynn University. “I hit the ball very well, and I also putted very well. So, I am confident about tomorrow.”

The LAAC’s champion will get more than a Masters invitation. He also will be exempt into the The Amateur, the U.S. Amateur and any other USGA event he is eligible to play this year. The champion and players who finish runner-up are also exempt into the final stages of qualifying for The Open and the U.S. Open.

The LAAC was founded by the Masters, the R&A and the USGA, with the purpose of further developing amateur golf in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.

Getty Images

LAAC returning to Casa de Campo in 2019

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 8:23 pm

The Latin America Amateur Championship will return to Casa de Campo in the Dominican Republic in 2019 (Jan. 17-20), event organizers announced Saturday in Chile, where this year’s championship is underway.

The LAAC champion receives an invitation to play the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club every spring.

The champion is also exempt into The Amateur, the U.S. Amateur and any other USGA event for which he is eligible to compete. The champion and players who finish runner-up are also exempt into the final stages of qualifying for The Open and the U.S. Open.

The LAAC was founded by the Masters, the R&A and the USGA, with the purpose of further developing amateur golf in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.

The championship got its start in 2015 with Chile’s Matias Dominguez winning at Pilar Golf in Argentina. In 2016, Casa de Campo hosted, with Costa Rica’s Paul Chaplet winning. At 16, he became the first player from Central America to compete in the Masters. In 2017, Chile’s Toto Gana won the title at  Club de Golf de Panama.