The big picture

By Rex HoggardJanuary 16, 2009, 5:00 pm
Hawaii is a long haul for a potential 36-hole week ' just ask Chad Campbell ' which makes this weeks Sony Open particularly stressful for those trying to make it to the weekend. Week 2 of Cut Line will leave the birdies and bogeys to those enduring an Aloha gale at the seasons first full-field event. Instead, the Cut staff is taking the long-view on a certain return, a premature return flight and a possible Ryder Cup return for Woosie.

  • Charles Howell III:
  • OK, hes only 18 holes into 09 so theres no need to start etching his name into the Comeback Player of the Year Award, but Howells opening 67 at Waialae was a victory by any measure for the games most explosive beanpole.
    Howell posted just two top-10s during the FedEx Cup portion of the schedule and lost ground in almost every major statistical category in 2008, which prompted him to switch swing coaches and put in a healthy amount of OT during the offseason.
    Howell, a long-time David Leadbetter pupil, started working with Sea Island (Ga.) Resorts Todd Anderson late last year and made the 3 hour trek from Orlando, Fla., once a week to hone a swing that had gotten too technical.
    Its the way he was taught and kind of his personality, Anderson said. I want to get him to feel where he needs to put the club.
    If all that wasnt enough, Howell boasted late last year that he was, One fifty-five. No, not in FedEx Cup points, but on a scale. Thats right. CH-3s ongoing News Years resolution is to gain weight.
  • Irish Open:
  • The championship wont be played until May, but players and fans already enjoyed a walk-off moment when officials announced the event will be played at Baltray, a seaside links on Irelands east coast.
    The Cut Line has never understood why the biggest events ' the 2006 Ryder Cup at the K Club comes to mind ' are played on relatively mundane parkland courses instead of one of the classic links layouts. Given an option, you dont bat it around U.S. Cellular Field if Wrigley Field is on the menu.

  • Buick Invitational:
  • Tournament director Tom Wilson has been feverishly working his cell phone, inundating Tiger Woods agent Mark Steinberg with text messages trying to lure the games top draw back to SoCal.
    When Buick and Woods ended their endorsement deal after nine years, Wilson fired a simple missive to Steinberg: Despite the divorce, we still want him.
    We applaud Wilsons optimistic energy, but the Buick is probably not on Woods radar. The earliest Woods is rumored to be considering is the WGC-Match Play Championship, three weeks after the Buick. Of course, Eldrick does have a flare for dramatics and a return to the same seaside muni where he made history may be just enough to woo a rusty Woods.
  • Chad Campbell:
  • It has been an interesting offseason for the good-natured Texan. He ended his long-running endorsement relationship with Nike Golf, penned a new deal with Adams Golf and made the hop to Hawaii only to discover there was no room at the inn.
    Seems Campbell forgot to commit to the Sony. So when he arrived in Hawaii he had no place to play. We commend Campbells intentions, a top player supporting an event that needs more star power, and offer this friendly reminder ' the Masters is in April.
    The good news, of course, is that Campbell did bank plenty of frequent flyer miles.

  • European Tour Ryder Cup captain selection committee:
  • The 15-member committee met this week in Abu Dhabi and decided . . . well, nothing. Keep up, because this gets confusing.
    Jose Maria Olazabal is widely considered the frontrunner for the 2010 job, but the Spaniard would like to play on the team so he is delaying his decision which, some say, prompted the committees stiff arm.
    Ian Woosnam, the man who led Europe to a nine-point victory in Ireland two years ago, seems to be something of a sentimental pick considering next years matches will be played in Wales, but he is sideways with Thomas Bjorn, the chairman of the selection committee who the Welshman kept off the 2006 team.
    Sandy Lyle seems to be the odd man out for a number of curious reasons, including his age (50), his failure to support the European Seniors Tour and his walking off the course during last years British Open.
    And president-elect Barack Obama thought he had a political minefield waiting for him next week in Washington D.C. It all makes one appreciate the secretive nature of the U.S. selection process for captains. Its like sausage, you just want it on your plate. You dont want to know how its made.
  • Maui Seven:
  • Seven players who participated in the Mercedes-Benz Championship bypassed the 20-minute flight to Oahu for the Sony Open. Give Vijay Singh a pass because he had knee surgery on Wednesday. The rest, however, must have not gotten their copies of that five-minute video from Tour commissioner Tim Finchem urging players to support all tournaments, large and small.
    Players pick their schedules for a variety of reasons ' golf course, purse, history ' and before someone throws an independent contractor at us, its important to respect that. But it just seems the Sony would have been a good place to start the Tours version of a corporate bailout.
    Email your thoughts to Rex Hoggard

    Battling mono, Kaufman tied for lead at CME

    By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 2:05 am

    NAPLES, Fla. – Kim Kaufman’s bout with mononucleosis might leave fellow tour pros wanting to catch the fever, too.

    A couple months after Anna Nordqvist battled her way into contention at the Women’s British Open playing with mono, and then thrived at the Solheim Cup with it, Kaufman is following suit.

    In her first start since being diagnosed, Kaufman posted an 8-under-par 64 Saturday to move into a four-way tie for the lead at the CME Group Tour Championship. It was the low round of the day. She’s bidding to win her first LPGA title.

    “I’ve been resting at home for two weeks,” Kaufman said. “Didn’t do anything.”

    Well, she did slip on a flight of stairs while recuperating, hurting her left wrist. She had it wrapped Saturday but said that’s mostly precautionary. It didn’t bother her during the round.

    CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship

    “I’m the only person who can take two weeks off and get injured,” Kaufman joked.

    Kaufman, 26, left the Asian swing after playing the Sime Darby Malaysia, returning to her home in South Dakota, to see her doctor there. She is from Clark. She was told bed rest was the best thing for her, but she felt good enough to make the trip to Florida for the season-ending event.

    “We had some really cold days,” Kaufman said. “We had some snow. I was done with it. I was coming down here.”

    How does she feel?

    “I feel great,” she said. “I’m a little bit shaky, which isn’t great out there, but it’s great to be here doing something. I was going a little bit stir crazy [at home], just kind of fighting through it.”

    Kaufman made eight birdies in her bogey-free round.

    New-look Wie eyes CME Group Tour Championship title

    By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 1:32 am

    NAPLES, Fla. – Michelle Wie is sporting a new look that even has fellow players doing double takes.

    Bored during her six-week recovery from an emergency appendectomy late this summer, Wie decided to cut and die her hair.

    She went for golden locks, and a shorter style.

    “I kind of went crazy after being in bed that long,” Wie said. “I just told my mom to grab the kitchen scissors and just cut all my hair off.”

    Wie will get to sport her new look on a big stage Sunday after playing herself into a four-way tie for the lead at the CME Group Tour Championship. With a 6-under-par 66, she is in contention to win her fifth LPGA title, her first since winning the U.S. Women’s Open three years ago.

    CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship

    Wie, 28, fought her way back this year after two of the most disappointing years of her career. Her rebound, however, was derailed in late August, when she withdrew from the final round of the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open to undergo an emergency appendectomy. She was out for six weeks.

    Before the surgery, Wie enjoyed getting back into contention regularly, with six finishes of T-4 or better this season. She returned to the tour on the Asian swing in October.

    Fellow tour pros were surprised when she came back with the new look.

    “Definitely, walk by people and they didn’t recognize me,” Wie said.

    Wie is looking to continue to build on her resurgence.

    “I gained a lot of confidence this year,” she said. “I had a really tough year last year, the last couple years. Just really feeling like my old self. Really feeling comfortable out there and having fun, and that's when I play my best.”

    You Oughta Know: LPGA's Sunday scenarios

    By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 1:17 am

    NAPLES, Fla. – The CME Group Tour Championship is loaded with pressure-packed subplots Sunday at Tiburon Golf Club.

    Here’s what You Oughta Know about the prizes at stake:

    Race to the CME Globe

    Lexi Thompson and Sung Hyun Park are 1-2 in CME Globe points. They are best positioned Sunday to take home the $1 million jackpot in the season-long competition.

    Thompson and Park are tied for fifth in the tournament, one shot off the lead. If either of them wins, she will take home the jackpot.

    The way it’s unfolding Thompson is a good bet to take home the jackpot by merely finishing ahead of Park, unless they both stumble badly on Sunday.

    Ariya Jutanugarn is also one shot off the lead. She must win to take home the jackpot, but she would also need Thompson to finish ninth or worse and Park to finish eighth or worse and nobody else among the top 12 in points to make a bold Sunday charge.

    Stacy Lewis is one shot off the lead with a longshot chance at the jackpot. She must win the tournament while Thompson finishes 26th or worse, Park finishes 12th or worse and nobody else among the top 12 in points makes a bold Sunday charge.

    So Yeon Ryu and Shanshan Feng are among others who still have a shot at the $1 million prize, but they have fallen back in the pack and need bold Sunday charges to take home the jackpot.

    Rolex Player of the Year

    The Rolex Player of the Year Award remains a four-player race.

    Ryu (162), Feng (159), Park (157) and Thompson (147) all have a chance to win the award.

    Park and Thompson are best positioned to make Sunday moves to overtake Ryu.

    Park needs to finish sixth or better to win the award outright; Thompson needs to win the tournament to win the award.

    It’s simple math.

    The top 10 in the tournament will be awarded points.

    1st - 30 points

    2nd – 12 points

    3rd – 9 points

    4th – 7 points

    5th – 6 points

    6th – 5 points

    7rd – 4 points

    8th – 3 points

    9th – 2 points

    10th – 1 point

    Vare Trophy

    Thompson took a 69.147 scoring average to Naples. Park needs to finish nine shots ahead of Thompson to have a shot at the trophy.

    Money-winning title

    Park leads the tour in money winnings with $2,262,472. Ryu is the only player who can pass her Sunday, and Ryu must win the tournament to do so. Ryu is tied for 32nd, five shots off the lead. If Ryu wins the tournament, she also needs Park to finish worse than solo second.

    Rolex world No. 1 ranking

    World No. 1 Feng, No. 2 Park and No. 3 Ryu are separated by just three hundredths of a point.

    Because they are so close, the scenarios for overtaking Feng are head spinning.

    At No. 4, Thompson is a full average ranking point behind Feng, but she could become the sixth different player this season to move to No. 1. Thompson, however, has to win Sunday to have a chance to do so, and then it will depend on what Feng, Park and Ryu do. Again, the scenarios are complex.

    Cook leads RSM Classic by three at Sea Island

    By Associated PressNovember 19, 2017, 12:28 am

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. - PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook shot a 4-under 66 on Saturday to increase his lead to three strokes in the RSM Classic.

    Cook, a shot ahead after a second-round 62, had five birdies and a bogey - his first of the week - to reach 18-under 194 with a round left at Sea Island Golf Club's Seaside Course.

    ''Putting is key right now,'' Cook said. ''Been able to make a lot of clutch putts for the pars to save no bogeys. Hitting the ball pretty much where we're looking and giving ourselves good opportunities on every hole.''

    Former University of Georgia player Chris Kirk was second after a 64.

    ''I'm really comfortable here,'' Kirk said. ''I love Sea Island. I lived here for 6 1/2 years, so I played the golf course a lot, SEC Championships and come down here for the RSM Classic. My family and I, we come down here a few other times a year as well.''

    Brian Gay was another stroke back at 14 under after a 69.

    ''I love the course,'' Gay said. ''We keep getting different wind directions so it's keeping us on our toes. Supposed to be another completely different wind direction tomorrow, so we're getting a new course every day.''

    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic

    J.J. Spaun had a 62 to get to 13 under.

    ''I just kind of played stress-free golf out there and kept the golf ball in front of me,'' Spaun said. ''I had a lot of looks and scrambled pretty well, even though it was only a handful of times, but pretty overall pleased with how I played today.''

    Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. The 26-year-old former Arkansas player earned his PGA Tour card through the Tour.

    ''I think with an extra year on the Web this past year, I really grew mentally and with my game, just kind of more confidence,'' Cook said. ''I was able to put myself in contention on the more this year than I have in the past. I think I've just, you know, learned from experiences on the Web to help me grow out here.''

    He planned to keep it simple Saturday night.

    ''I've got my parents here and my in-laws are both here as well as my wife,'' Cook said. ''Go home and just have a good home-cooked meal and just kind of enjoy the time and embrace the moment.''

    Kirk won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2015 at Colonial.

    ''It's nice to be back in contention again,'' Kirk said. ''It's been a little while for me. But I felt great out there today, I felt really comfortable, and so hopefully it will be the same way tomorrow and I'll keep my foot on the pedal and stay aggressive, try to make some birdies.''