Punch Shot: Should Tiger be a Ryder Cup pick?

By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 8, 2014, 11:00 pm

Tiger Woods missed the cut at the 96th PGA Championship and will not finish among the nine automatic qualfiers for the U.S. Ryder Cup team. Captain Tom Watson has three wild-card picks to make on Sept. 2. Should he use one on Woods? The GolfChannel.com team weighs in from Valhalla Golf Club.


The 96th PGA Championship was always going to be a Hail Mary for Tiger Woods, an 11th-hour attempt to salvage a season that has been on life-support since he missed the 54-hole cut at the Farmers Insurance Open.

For Woods it was a scrambling attempt to play his way into the PGA Tour playoffs with an eye toward earning a spot on the U.S. Ryder Cup team in September. The result, however, was two more mediocre rounds, an assortment of new questions about his health and a very difficult decision for U.S. captain Tom Watson.

Whether Woods will be a captain’s pick is an esoteric debate for the coming weeks. Whether he should be a pick is a far easier choice. The former world No. 1 has done nothing to prove that he is either a) playing well, or b) healthy, which was Watson’s criteria early and often when asked if he’d make him a pick.

Woods is currently 69th on the Ryder Cup point list, and hasn’t finished better than 25th anywhere in the world this year. He has broken par just once since March and, most concerning of all, hobbled his way to another missed cut on Friday at Valhalla Golf Club.

None of that passes Capt. Tom’s litmus test.


Tiger Woods should absolutely be a captain’s pick – if we’re talking about the captain of his yacht and he’s considering an offseason ocean cruise.

But the Ryder Cup? No way. This is the same guy who just spent two days losing to senior tour players and club pros. The same guy who just last weekend walked off the course because of back pain. The same guy who is only four months removed from surgery and looks like he could use another four months on the couch before coming back.

Woods’ health clearly isn’t where it needs to be right now, especially for an event where 11 teammates – not to mention the rest of the country – are relying on him. And here’s the real kicker: Even if he is able to get his back pain-free in the next six weeks, his game is still pretty far from Ryder Cup form.

So, no, of course Tiger shouldn’t be named to the team when selections are made on Sept. 2.

You know what he could use instead? Maybe a nice relaxing few weeks on an ocean cruise.


A captain’s pick is meant to supplement the rest of the team. Maybe that’s a guy who has experience in team competition, or who catches fire at the right time, or who holes the most putts.

Four starts after back surgery, Tiger Woods offers … what, exactly?

Not leadership – Woods has enjoyed incredible success because of his singular focus, but he hasn’t always played well with others. Not good form – his missed cut at the PGA ended what (very) slim chance he had of extending his season. And certainly not good health – he rushed back for the PGA after another injury setback, and he labored around Valhalla like a marathoner on his 24th mile. At this point, not even a six-week layoff can fix all that ails Woods.

Sure, newbies like Ryan Moore, Brendon Todd and Chris Kirk might melt in the crucible of the Ryder Cup. They still offer something to the team that Woods can’t – hope.  


Tom Watson absolutely should not pick Tiger Woods for the U.S. Ryder Cup squad. Woods' current form has no redeeming Cup qualities and he would be both a distraction and a liability.

It’s sad, but I’ve seen enough the past month. Think about it: Woods likely wouldn’t be well enough to comfortably play 36 holes a day the first two days, no matter how much his health improves over the next six weeks. And Watson could not, under any circumstances, put Woods in foursomes. He’s driving it so erratically that you couldn’t saddle him with anyone, like a Matt Kuchar-type, who Woods paired with successfully last year at the Presidents Cup.

Woods has shown the past few years that he’s grown fonder of the cup events, but that still doesn’t mean his presence is a huge boost in the team room. Couple that with the state of his game and the decision is simple.

If he's ultimately picked it’ll only be because his name is Tiger Woods. It won’t be because he did anything to warrant it.


The only thing Tiger Woods’ presence will help this September at Gleneagles is TV ratings and interest in the Ryder Cup. Last time I checked, Tom Watson is the captain of the U.S. team, not a television executive.

So if I’m him, there’s no way you can pick an unhealthy 38-year-old coming off back surgery, who hasn’t been close to contending this year and has a 13-14-2 all-time Ryder Cup record, and somehow claim it’s for the good of the team.

The U.S. will already enter this event as big underdogs; if Watson puts Woods on the team it will send a message to the rest of his players that they aren’t really there to win. They might as well not even show up.

South Korean LPGA stars lead KLPGA team

By Randall MellNovember 24, 2017, 10:32 pm

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

By Rex HoggardNovember 24, 2017, 5:40 pm

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.

Made Cut

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.

Missed Cut

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.

Trump playing 'quickly' with Tiger, DJ

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 24, 2017, 1:33 pm

Updated at 11:14 a.m. ET

An Instagram user known as hwalks posted photos to her account that included images of Tiger Woods, President Trump and Dustin Johnson Friday at Trump National, as well as video of Woods' swing.

Here are some other social media posts that have surfaced:

Original story:

Tiger Woods is scheduled to make his return to competition next week at his Hero World Challenge. But first, a (quick) round with the President.

President Donald Trump tweeted on Friday that he was going to play at Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Fla., alongside Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Woods and President Trump previously played last December. Trump, who, according to trumpgolfcount.com has played 75 rounds since taking over the presidency, has also played over the last year with Rory McIlroy, Ernie Els and Hideki Matsuyama.

Chawrasia leads major champs in Hong Kong

By Associated PressNovember 24, 2017, 1:19 pm

HONG KONG – S.S.P. Chawrasia extended his lead at the Hong Kong Open to two strokes Friday after a 4-under 66 in the second round.

Chawrasia, who had led by one at the Hong Kong Golf Club, is at 9-under 131 overall and took as much as a five-stroke lead at one point.

''Yesterday I was putting very well, and today, also I make some up and downs. I saved a couple of short putts. That's why I think I'm leading by two shots most probably,'' the Indian said. ''The next two days, I'm just looking forward.''

Full-field scores from the UBS Hong Kong Open

Thomas Aiken (64) is second, followed by Alexander Bjork (66), Joakim Lagergren (66), Poom Saksansin (68) and Julian Suri (67) at 5 under 135.

Aiken's round was the lowest of the tournament.

''It is tough out there. The greens are really firm. You've got to hit the fairway,'' Aiken said. ''If you get above the holes, putts can get away from you.''

Justin Rose (69) had six birdies, but three bogeys and a double-bogey at the par 3 12th kept him at 3 under for the tournament.

Masters champion Sergio Garcia (71), playing for the first time in Hong Kong, was at even par, as was defending champion Sam Brazel (71) and 2014 champion Scott Hend (67).

''I have to play better,'' Garcia said. ''The way I felt like I played, it's difficult. This kind of course, you need to play well to shoot a good score.''