Anchored putters, beta blockers and comebacks

By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2012, 2:16 am

The impending ban on anchoring and long putters has plenty of play-for-pay types feeling anxious; just don’t expect a run on beta blockers to ease frayed nerves. Both issues bookend a nervous edition of Cut Line.

Made Cut

The good fight. Jarrod Lyle, who was sidelined earlier this year with his second bout with leukemia, met with reporters this week in Australia and suggested that he may not have given up on his dream of playing professional golf.

“I do want to get back to golf at some stage but I guess if I never hit another shot I'll be happy,” said Lyle. “As long as I've got my health and as long as I've got my family with me I'm a happy boy.”

Cut Line has plenty of issues with the capriciousness of the Tour’s Comeback Player of the Year award (see Missed Cut), but if Lyle ever pegs it in another Tour event they should rename the award in Lyle’s honor and retire the chalice.

Tweet of the week I: @IanJamesPoulter “Kingston Heath is totally awesome. Someone please tell modern day architects we don’t need 8,000 yard tracks. They’re not enjoyable.”

Not sure Poult’s message needs any further explanation, but it’s worth pointing out that just eight of 49 Tour courses in 2012 came in under 7,000 yards, while 15 layouts measured over 7,400. #Discuss

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Beta testing. A New York Times story this week examined panic attacks and the use of beta blockers to help combat anxiety on Tour. The story came in the wake of Charlie Beljan’s emotional victory last week at the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic after he was hospitalized on Friday following a panic attack.

It’s worth pointing out that a source close to Beljan confirmed to Cut Line last week that he wasn’t given any medication and experience suggests that even if he were given beta blockers to help alleviate his anxiety they likely wouldn’t have had time to impact his play at Disney.

Cut Line didn’t stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night but we have spent enough time with Doug Barron – the only player ever suspended under the Tour’s anti-doping policy for testing positive for beta blockers, and synthetic testosterone, in 2009 – to know there is no quick fix.

Beljan didn’t win because he had a better drug. He won because, at least for one week, he had a better game than anyone else.

The slow burn. We’re starting to see what Davis Love III meant when he advised officials from the U.S. Golf Association last month that whatever decision they make regarding long putters and anchoring, it should be made quickly.

Chatter is reaching a crescendo as the golf world awaits the announcement later this year, including this missive from Graeme McDowell in Australia: “They're convinced the research has shown that under pressure on a Sunday afternoon the long putter just kind of takes one extraneous movement out of the putting stroke. It just makes it physically easier to stroke the putter when the nerves are there (and) I think we should be leveling the playing field (by banning it).”

Brandt Snedeker joined the conversation on Thursday’s “Morning Drive:” “Their (USGA and R&A) charge is protecting the game of golf, not making sure it's OK for Tour players. What's best for the game of golf might hurt a couple guys in the short run, but it might benefit the game in the long run.”

The only sliver of good news is that with all the handwringing over a potential anchoring ban, we’re not talking about how far players hit the golf ball . . . oh, wait.

Tweet of the week II: @Willie_Mack_III (professional Willie Mack III) “Today’s relationship status with my golf is: It’s complicated.”

The Flint, Mich.-based Tour hopeful was reacting to his first-round 76 at the second stage of Q-School this week, but Cut Line had a chance to watch Mack play at Southern Hills Plantation and was impressed. Mack and his game may not work things out in time for this year’s final stage, but he is certainly entertaining.

Missed Cut

De Nile. The general rules on this are rather clear, a slumping player switches clubs, caddies and eventually wives in an attempt to wrest themselves off the schnied, but Cut Line can’t help but think that the only thing Lee Westwood needs right now is a mirror.

According to a report on Thursday in the Daily Mail the Englishman has split with caddie Billy Foster, who missed much of the season with a knee injury, and his newly hired short-game coach Tony Johnstone. After the PGA Championship Westwood, who has slipped from No. 1 in the world golf ranking in May 2011 to fourth, split with swing coach Pete Cowen.

We know there are two kinds of caddies and swing coaches on Tour: those who have been fired and those who are about to be, but Westy may be taking that cliché a bit too far.

Don’t call it a comeback. Ballots for PGA Tour Player and Rookie of the Year went out this week with a combined 10 players nominated for their respective awards – with all due respect to Bubba Watson, we’re not sure one victory, albeit a big one at Augusta National, rates POY consideration.

Absent from the ballot for the second consecutive year, however, were nominees for Comeback Player of the Year. The Tour, or maybe it is the Policy Board and Player Advisory Council, have soured on the Comeback award in recent years, perhaps as a result of Steve Stricker claiming the honor in back-to-back years (2006-07).

Cut Line understands that some years there will not be a viable Comeback candidate, but explain again how J.B. Holmes doesn’t rate consideration in 2012? How about Ben Curtis? Or even Tiger Woods?

Holmes had brain surgery in September 2011 and yet played well enough this season to keep his card, while Curtis hadn’t finished inside the top 100 in earnings in three consecutive seasons but won the Texas Open this season and finished runner-up at The Players to finish 30th in earnings.

And Woods won three times in ’12 following the two worst years of his career and made a run at the Player of the Year trophy. It was, by any definition, a comeback from injury, both physical and otherwise. Just don’t expect the Tour to acknowledge it.

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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x


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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.