Cut Line Aloha Means Goodbye

By Rex HoggardJanuary 15, 2010, 11:27 pm
The Sony Open may be the easiest cut to miss all year. Let’s face it, when the wind blows, Waialae is not exactly the easiest place to dust off the rust and a few days in paradise is hardly a reason to get worked up.

However, “Cut Line’s” weekly lineup is not so kind, particularly for those with short memories or short attention spans.

Made Cut

Dave Stockton Sr. If the putter whisperer is not careful the PGA Tour will put him on its lengthy list of performance-enhancing elements.

Stockton’s work with Phil Mickelson and Michelle Wie was well-documented last season and according to GolfWorld’s Tim Rosaforte the senior plans to start working with the likes of Anthony Kim and Hunter Mahan.

He’s even trading Christmas cards with Sergio Garcia, who must have confused Stockton with that other elderly gentleman who lives at the North Pole when he was sending out his 2010 “wish list.”

Mark McGwire. No, we have no love for the disgraced slugger or his grossly misguided belief that he would have put up the same numbers whether he was doping or not.

There is, however, a lesson to be learned in McGwire’s well-scripted mea culpa. Faced with the certainty of a media circus when he returns to the big leagues this year as a hitting coach for the St. Louis Cardinals, “Big Mac” hired Ari Fleischer, a former White House press secretary who runs a crisis-communications firm.

McGwire’s first televised interview occurred on the league-owned MLB Network, as sympathetic an outlet as there could be, and the preemptive move was an obvious attempt to clear the air before the start of spring training. You may not care for the message, but you have to respect the method.

Note to Tiger Woods’ manager Mark Steinberg: Call Fleischer.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish

Buick. Detroit has enough issues without the golf world hammering what turned out to be a broken business model, and Buick’s 2009 bankruptcy didn’t leave a lot of room for corporate entertainment, but it just seems the company’s split with Torrey Pines had a “Jon and Kate” feel to it.

Buick pulled the plug on the San Diego Tour stop a year early in 2009, yet by all accounts Century Club officials were slowed in their search for a replacement sponsor. Whatever the reason for the slow play, the Tour now must cobble together a plan to pay the bills in 2010.

“It’s in the Tour’s hands,” Century Club chairman Tom Wornham told the Union-Tribune. “This is a very special arrangement that they’ve done with us and they’re not going to want to replicate it.”

May we suggest a “want ad” on eBay: Tour staple seeks deep pockets. Two seaside golf courses, solid field that includes Phil Mickelson and sometimes Tiger Woods. Seven-million to $10 million per year, OBO.

Aloha also means goodbye. Those eight players who began their year last week at the SBS Championship in Maui but skipped this week’s Sony Open in Honolulu missed the point, if not a few extra days in paradise.

OK, it is a long season and most of the game’s top draw are thinking marathon not sprint, but the circuit is sailing through rough economic waters and the commissioner could use all the help he can get when he heads to corporate America with hat in hand.

What’s the rush to get home? The driveway will still need to be shoveled next week.

Missed Cut

Anthony Kim. Speaking of independent contractors, AK’s decision to skip next week’s Bob Hope Classic – played at, among other venues, PGA West, where Kim spent much of his high school years – is a curious move.

Kim, like every other Tour player, has the right to roll up where and whenever he wants, but this is a bit different. Hope officials gave the fourth-year player a sponsor exemption his rookie season and the one-time jewel of the West Coast Swing could use a little star power ever since Phil Mickelson pulled the plug on the Coachella Valley.

Instead, Kim – who also missed last year’s Hope with an injury – will play the Abu Dhabi Championship on the European Tour. Similarly, he skipped last year’s Northern Trust Open, which also gave him an exemption his rookie year, to play overseas. He must need the frequent flyer miles.

Frank Lickliter. “Frankie the Blade” has never failed to entertain. Asked a few years ago after taking medalist honors at Q-School why he declined to talk to the press for the first five days of the tournament Lickliter hissed, “Hogan didn’t talk to the press.” Nor did Hogan ever go to Q-School, but that’s another story.

This one is even better. According to Golfweek magazine Lickliter commissioned an artist to paint a 5-foot-by-7-foot canvas portraying his own victory at this year’s U.S. Open complete with a leaderboard in the background and a vision of Tiger Woods, reflected in Lickliter’s signature wraparounds, dropping to his knees in anguish.

Never mind, of course, that Lickliter has never finished better than 18th at the national championship, or that he failed to keep his Tour card in 2009 (finishing 191st in earnings), or – wait for it – that he is not even qualified for this year’s championship at Pebble Beach.

The power of positive thinking or delusions of grandeur? You make the call.
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McCoy earns medalist honors at Q-School

By Will GrayDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 am

One year after his budding career was derailed by a car accident, Lee McCoy got back on track by earning medalist honors at the final stage of Tour Q-School.

McCoy shot a final-round 65 at Whirlwind Golf Club in Chandler, Ariz., to finish the 72-hole event at 28 under. That total left him two shots ahead of Sung-Jae Im and guaranteed him fully-exempt status on the developmental circuit in 2018.

It's an impressive turnaround for the former University of Georgia standout who finished fourth at the 2016 Valspar Championship as an amateur while playing alongside Jordan Spieth in the final round. But he broke his wrist in a car accident the day before second stage of Q-School last year, leaving him without status on any major tour to begin the year.

McCoy was not the only player who left Arizona smiling. Everyone in the top 10 and ties will be exempt through the first 12 events of the new Tour season, a group that includes former amateur standouts Curtis Luck (T-3), Sam Burns (T-10) and Maverick McNealy (T-10).

Players who finished outside the top 10 but inside the top 45 and ties earned exemptions into the first eight events of 2018. That group includes Cameron Champ (T-16), who led the field in driving at this year's U.S. Open as an amateur, and Wyndham Clark (T-23).

Everyone who advanced to the final stage of Q-School will have at least conditional Tour status in 2018. Among those who failed to secure guaranteed starts this week were Robby Shelton, Rico Hoey, Jordan Niebrugge, Joaquin Niemann and Kevin Hall.

Els honored with Heisman Humanitarian Award

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 11:41 pm

The annual Heisman Trophy award ceremony is one of the biggest moments in any football season, but there was a touching non-football moment as well on Saturday night as Ernie Els received the Heisman Humanitarian Award.

The award, which had been announced in August, recognized Els' ongoing efforts on behalf of his Els for Autism foundation. Els received the award at Manhattan's PlayStation Theater, where Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy.

Els, 47, founded Els for Autism in 2009 with his wife after their son, Ben, was diagnosed with autism. Their efforts have since flourished into a 26-acre campus in Jupiter, Fla., and the creation of the Els Center for Excellence in 2015.

The Heisman Humanitarian Award has been given out since 2006. Past recipients include NBA center David Robinson, NFL running back Warrick Dunn, soccer star Mia Hamm and NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon.

A native of South Africa, Els won the U.S. Open in 1994 and 1997 and The Open in 2002 and 2012. He has won 19 times on the PGA Tour and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011.

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Monday finish for Joburg Open; Sharma leads by 4

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 8:57 pm

Rain, lightning and hail pushed the Joburg Open to a Monday finish, with India’s Shubhankar Sharma holding a four-stroke lead with 11 holes to play in Johannesburg.

Play is scheduled to resume at 7:30 a.m. local time.

South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen will have a 3-foot putt for birdie to move within three shots of Sharma wen play resumes at the Randpark Golf Club. Sarma is at 22 under par.

Tapio Pulkkanen of Finland and James Morrison of England are tied for third at 14 under. Pulkkanen has 10 holes remaining, Morrison 11.

The top three finishers who are not already exempt, will get spots in next year’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.



Stricker, O'Hair team to win QBE Shootout

By Will GrayDecember 10, 2017, 8:55 pm

It may not count in the official tally, but Steve Stricker is once again in the winner's circle on the PGA Tour.

Stricker teamed with Sean O'Hair to win the two-person QBE Shootout, as the duo combined for a better-ball 64 in the final round to finish two shots clear of Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry. It's the second win in this event for both men; Stricker won with Jerry Kelly back in 2009 while O'Hair lifted the trophy with Kenny Perry in 2012.

Stricker and O'Hair led wire-to-wire in the 54-hole, unofficial event after posting a 15-under 57 during the opening-round scramble.

"We just really gelled well together," Stricker said. "With his length the first day, getting some clubs into the greens, some short irons for me, we just fed off that first day quite a bit. We felt comfortable with one another."

Full-field scores from the QBE Shootout

Stricker won 12 times during his PGA Tour career, most recently at the 2012 Tournament of Champions. More recently the 50-year-old has been splitting his time on the PGA Tour Champions and captained the U.S. to a victory at the Presidents Cup in October. O'Hair has four official Tour wins, most recently at the 2011 RBC Canadian Open.

Pat Perez and Brian Harman finished alone in third, four shots behind Stricker and O'Hair. Lexi Thompson and Tony Finau, the lone co-ed pairing in the 12-team event, finished among a tie for fourth.