Cut Line Azalea Edition

By Rex HoggardApril 10, 2009, 4:00 pm
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AUGUSTA, Ga. ' There is no Made Cut/Did Not Finish element at Augusta National, far too untidy, only a 10-shot rule and 18 of the most mesmerizing holes this side of the Irish coast. But Cut Line will take some artistic license as we rifle past moving day at the seasons first major.

Made Cut
Gary Player: Golf has the Grand Slam, the Tiger Slam and Harrington is inching toward a Paddy Slam, but on Friday at Augusta National Cut Line completed its own Big Three Slam.
As Player put the final touches on his 52nd Masters late Friday the thought occurred that we have covered all three Masters swansongs for the games Big Three ' Jack Nicklaus (2004), Arnold Palmer (2005) and now Player.
And the South Africans curtain call may have been the best ever. As Player approached the 18th green he paused and went to his knees, giving the course a sentimental farewell. Maybe even more inspiring was the group that awaited Player at the back of the final green.
In order, Player embraced Trevor Immelman, Rory Sabbatini, Louis Oosthuizen and Richard Sterne, four young South Africans who modeled their careers after Player.
For everyone in the golf world its a special event, Sabbatini said. I said to Gary, This is an amazing accomplishment, enjoy your relaxation after this.
Players Masters line is staggering: three victories ' including a 15-year run during which he finished outside the top 10 just twice ' more than 12,000 strokes taken and, of course, his 52 appearances.
Having come here 52 years ago, thats one year of your life here, Player said. You cannot be greedy in life and I have had more than my share.
Luckily for the game, Player plans to be regular in the Wednesday Par 3 Contest and will likely join Palmer as an honorary starter. It is not Knight Time at Augusta National just yet.
Augusta National: Some have called it a charm offensive, others a natural evolution. Either way, the sound track is back. Even on Friday, when an approaching cold front made the place look more like Royal Augusta National, birdies and roars were on the menu.
Theres little doubt things will tighten as Sunday approaches, but Cut Line predicts a raucous back nine on Sunday. Just like the good old days.
Give credit to the Augusta National powers, the players and patrons spoke and they listened. No one wants to hear the roars and the excitement more than the members, said chairman Billy Payne.

Made Cut ' Did Not Finish (MDF)
Greg Norman: At 54, the Shark is happily married, as fit as ever and worth a gazillion, but one week out of the year he starts looking a tad like the gangly kid in the back of the class with the Coke-bottle glasses.
The man has a charmed life, until he motors down Magnolia Lane and then all bets are off. This year, likely his last hurrah at a place that seems filled with hurt for the Aussie, it was more of the same. A teasing opening round of 70 was followed by a 77 and a missed cut.
It seems the golf gods dont do make goods.
Slow play: For all the things officials at Augusta National can control, it seems five-hour rounds are out of even their reach. Officials earlier in the week addressed slow play, likely because of last years final round which went five plus hours, and noted the policy requires threesomes to round the layout in four hours and 45 minutes.
It may be the only rule on property that players dont adhere to, as groups took more than five hours to complete their third rounds. If Masters officials cant stomp out slow play, what chance does the Tour have?

Missed Cut
John Daly: We may have to rename the Missed Cut portion after JD if the big man cant keep it in the fairway. Daly, who last we heard was readying for a return to competition when his six-month PGA Tour-induced suspension is lifted, was spotted down Washington Road hawking Daly Merchandise from a bus parked next to a jewelry store.
Many of Dalys well-documented personal three-putts can be attributed to a self-destructive lifestyle and the enabling of others, but this falls under the heading of bad decision making.
Times may be tough, but golf deserves more from a two-time major champion.
U.S. Golf Association/PGA of America/Royal & Ancient Golf Club/PGA Tour: Call it a challenge. Take $20 and an afternoon and try to blow the whole wad on food and drinks at one of Augusta Nationals vending areas. Cant do it.
Draft beer $2.50. Pimento cheese sandwich $1.50. Bag of chips $1. A reasonably priced day at a sporting event. Priceless, and virtually non-existent at golfs other major championships.
Throw in free parking and theres little wonder why the Masters is the best ticket in sports.
We know Augusta National plays by a different set of rules, but there has to be some middle ground the hosts of the games other majors can find to help ease the economic impact that comes with a day at a championship.

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    Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

    By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

    Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

    ''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''

    Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

    First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

    ''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

    David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

    The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    ''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

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    The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

    By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

    Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

    Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

    I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

    One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

    So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

    You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

    Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

    I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

    This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

    Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

    On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

    The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

    “What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

    Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

    Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

    Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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    Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

    Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

    Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

    In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

    Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

    After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

    Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

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    Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

    Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

    “I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”

    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

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    After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

    Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

    The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.