Captain Am-error-ca

By Rex HoggardNovember 4, 2011, 4:05 pm

In this week’s edition, the PGA Tour gets an injection of new talent courtesy the Nationwide Tour, Yani Tseng gets her chance at history and Fred Couples gets a rare “missed cut” for his missed opportunity.

Who says the silly season is all fun and games?

Made Cut

Class acts. Note to PGA Tour: This is how a Tour Championship is supposed to feel. Sunday’s big finish at the Nationwide Tour finale left no unanswered questions, unlike the primary circuit’s closing frame at East Lake, and produced an avalanche of compelling storylines heading into 2012.

Billy Hurley III, the U.S. Navy lieutenant turned Tour card holder, held on to the final spot on the money list and will begin his Tour career where he ended his Navy resume – in Honolulu at the Sony Open.

Two-time heart-transplant recipient Erik Compton can try on a long awaited new title – Tour member; and 42-year-old Ken Duke won the finale to crack the top 25 and earn a return trip to the Tour.

The cream of the ’11 class, however, may be Jason Kokrak. Sure the 26-year-old is crazy long (his 318-yard average led the Nationwide Tour) but there is a compelling softer side to this prospect.

“Everybody talks about how far he hits it,” Kokrak’s father, Kenny, said last Saturday, “but he’s got a great short game. He works so hard at it.”

Think a John Daly crunchy shell around a Luke Donald-like soft center. We call it the mash-mallow.

Tiger Woods. Some will interpret the comments from “Red Shirt” this week in Asia as an excuse, but the world No. 56 made an interesting point when asked to reflect on the last year.

“You look at everyone’s career, you have these ebbs and flows,” said Woods, who turns 36 in December. “We don’t play well all the time.”

If that sounds like a plea, consider the career of Jack Nicklaus, who Woods will forever be measured against. In 1979 the Golden Bear was 39 and a year removed from being named Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year, yet he played just 12 events, failed to win a Tour event for the first time since he turned pro in ’62 and finished 71st in earnings. The next season Nicklaus won two majors (Nos. 16 and 17).

It remains to be seen if Woods’ next move is a “flow” but history suggests we should withhold judgment until all the votes are counted.

Tweet of the week I: @bencranegolf “Met prime minister of Malaysia. Good dude. He pretty much just wanted to know how to swing it like a boomerang-a-tang.”

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Yani Tseng. Call it a publicity stunt. Call it a pipe dream. Whatever you dub it, the one thing you can’t call Tseng’s flirtation with the PGA Tour is unwarranted. Eleven worldwide victories this season and two major championships is enough to open any door.

It’s just the Trump International layout in Puerto Rico may not be the best venue for Tseng to go next level. It’s long (7,569 yards) and often wet and the tournament is played opposite the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral.

If Tseng wants to take her shot against the men she should do so on her terms on a course that offers her the best chance for success (Harbour Town in South Carolina, Colonial in Texas and Riviera in California immediately come to mind). Tseng has earned the right to test her game against the Tour’s best without any asterisks (opposite-field event) or excuses.

Player Advisory Council. If Luke Donald considered the Tour’s move to delay the release of this year’s ballot for Player of the Year “sketchy,” news that the ballot will not include nominees for the Comeback Player of the Year award is downright stupefying.

The Tour decided to make the CPOY award an optional honor after Steve Stricker won it in back-to-back years and in 2009 the 16-member PAC, which nominates players for the year-ending awards, decided there wasn’t a reclamation project worth recognizing.

But the move to forgo this year’s comeback award has flummoxed many who point to the progress that players like Aaron Baddeley, David Toms and Harrison Frazar made in 2011.

Baddeley began the year ranked 271st, won the Northern Trust Open and finished third at the Tour Championship to earn a spot on Greg Norman’s Presidents Cup team; Toms had slipped outside the top 100 before finishing 2-1 at The Players and Colonial, respectively; and Frazar emerged from hip surgery in 2010 to win the FedEx St. Jude Classic.

Maybe that’s not exactly Cinderella stuff, but that PAC is one tough crowd.

Tweet of the week II: @southpaw444 (Steve Flesch) “Stricker has them (Comeback Player of the Year awards) all up in Madison (Wis.). None left!”

Missed Cut

Faux WGCs. Despite the Tour’s attempt to include results from this week’s HSBC Champions in the Player of the Year voting there is no escaping the feeling that the China stop is a WGC in name only.

Three years into the WGC experiment the event still does not award official Tour money, small print that at least partially explains poor attendance from the American contingent.

China was a bold move to put the “World” back in the WGCs, but unless something changes – either a dramatic makeover of the Tour schedule or a date swap for Shanghai – the faux World Golf Championship will never get the respect it deserves.

Fred Couples. Golf’s “Most Interesting Man” is already 1-0 as a Presidents Cup captain and is making things interesting this week at the Champions Tour finale. But as the matches inch closer it seems Captain America missed his chance to nurture a future Presidents Cup prospect and assure the U.S. side doesn’t have to play shorthanded at Royal Melbourne.

When asked on Wednesday if he considered offering Keegan Bradley, who was bypassed for a captain’s pick, a special role on the American team, like that enjoyed by Sergio Garcia and Martin Kaymer at recent Ryder Cups, Couples said he didn’t think that was appropriate.

“Sergio asked to be there. They didn’t call Sergio. If Keegan were to call me I would fall down backwards to have him there,” Couples told

Kaymer, who was passed over by European captain Nick Faldo for the 2008 Ryder Cup matches but was included as a special assistant at Valhalla, seems a more apropos comparison.

Perhaps Bradley has no interest in carrying a walkie-talkie in Australia. Sadly, we’ll never know.

Tweet of the week III: @WestwoodLee “First-round 69, four behind playing partner (Bradley). The U.S. must have a really good team for the Presidents Cup if he’s not on it!”

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 “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 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.''