Cut Line: Azinger's RC plan; Tiger's appearance fees

By Rex HoggardOctober 17, 2014, 3:01 pm

The PGA of America’s Ryder Cup task force can start moving and shaking behind closed doors, another blue-ribbon panel emerged from its own conclave to announce the 2015 World Golf Hall of Fame class, while the metaphorical door may be closing on the PGA Grand Slam of Golf.

Made Cut

O captain. Whatever Paul Azinger’s plan for the PGA of America may be, know that the 2008 U.S. Ryder Cup captain only has a singular motivation – winning.

’Zinger, who declined a spot on the PGA’s task force, told this week that his blueprint for Ryder Cup success is “ready to go,” and he plans to present his ideas to officials early next month.

Although he declined to address specific points of his plan, it’s clear his vision for future Ryder Cup teams goes well beyond the use of pods and captain’s picks. It’s also clear that whether he is named the 2016 captain isn’t as important to Azinger as creating a winning environment.

The alternative is a continued slow march to irrelevance, which Azinger acknowledged is a possibility.

“It could, yeah. America needs to win one,” he said. “It’s really interesting irony that you can’t focus on winning and you certainly can’t focus on losing. You want to focus on process. It’s razor thin and the future is bright for the Ryder Cup and the American team can still play well and win these matches.”

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Class of 2015. The World Golf Hall of Fame’s new selection committee named its first induction class, a list that included a long overdue nod to the likes of David Graham and A.W. Tillinghast.

Laura Davies and Mark O’Meara also earned their tickets to the Hall to round out a class that largely defies scrutiny, although O’Meara’s inclusion (16 PGA Tour victories and two major championships) has certainly provided a level of debate.

But it’s the committee’s lack of transparency and inclusiveness that overshadows the ’15 class. Last year the Hall went to a 16-member committee to select its inductees, removing hundreds of golf writers and administrators from the process.

Nor did the Hall do itself any favors by failing to release the vote totals, saying only that each member received the required 75 percent of the vote. The new committee’s inaugural class is solid, but we are still not sold on the process.

The task at hand. The PGA released the list of players that will sit on the Ryder Cup task force this week to mixed reviews.

The 11-man panel includes Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk, Steve Stricker and Rickie Fowler along with former captains Raymond Floyd, Tom Lehman and Davis Love III.

Some pointed out that many of the current players on the task force have losing Ryder Cup records, and that Fowler has never won a match, but that ignores the statistical reality that the U.S. team has lost eight of the last 10 matches. The few active American players with winning records in the event either have limited experience (Keegan Bradley) or can’t be found (Anthony Kim).

Some have also argued that the task force is reactionary following another U.S. loss last month in Scotland. But the alternative is to do nothing and expect better results, and that, by definition, is insane.

Tweet of the week:

The Englishman was responding to a tweet from Associated Press golf writer Doug Ferguson who suggested the secret password for the Ryder Cup task force was “hindsight.” Poults’ clever response is a nod to the U.S. team’s Ryder Cup record the last 10 matches.

Missed Cut

Lost in the desert. According to a report in this week’s Telegraph, the seemingly bottomless pit of gold and goodwill held for Tiger Woods by officials in Dubai and Abu Dhabi has run dry.

The report claims that officials are finished paying Woods appearance fees estimated to range from $2 million to $3 million and will turn their resources to other players.

Woods has played one of the two European Tour stops in the United Arab Emirates eight times since 2001, but now seems poised to miss the Gulf swing.

At those prices, it’s certainly understandable that officials would go bargain shopping. Lost in this move, however, is the impact it will have on a player who is becoming increasingly insular with his schedule.

Woods has never been the type of world traveller that say, Ernie Els has been, but his annual trip to the Middle East was a chance to be a global ambassador, regardless of his motivations.

No one is to blame for the apparent split between the UAE and Team Tiger, but there is certainly no shortage of losers.

Grand Slam-med. Martin Kaymer won this week’s PGA Grand Slam of Golf sandwiched between two particularly devastating hurricanes that battered Bermuda.

This appears to be the final Grand Slam played in Bermuda, which began hosting the event in 2008, and creates an uncertain future for the game’s most exclusive event.

The Grand Slam appears in danger of becoming a victim of golf’s success. Consider that last year’s winner, Adam Scott, won $600,000, an enormous amount for most but well below the going rate a major winner could charge for a two-day corporate outing.

Without an inspiring new venue and a healthy influx of prize money, Kaymer’s victory may end up being a bittersweet walk-off.

Lexi 'applaud's USGA, R&A for rules change

By Randall MellDecember 11, 2017, 5:15 pm

Lexi Thompson’s pain may prove to be the rest of golf’s gain.

David Rickman, the R&A’s executive director of governance, acknowledged on Golf Channel’s "Morning Drive" Monday that the new protocols that will eliminate the use of TV viewer call-ins and emails to apply penalties was hastened by the controversy following Thompson’s four-shot penalty at the ANA Inspiration in early April. The new protocols also set up rules officials to monitor TV broadcasts beginning next year.

“Clearly, that case has been something of a focus point for us,” Rickman said.

Thompson reacted to the new protocols in an Instagram post.

“I applaud the USGA and the R&A for their willingness to revise the Rules of Golf to address certain unfortunate situations that have arisen several times in the game of golf,” Thompson wrote. “In my case, I am thankful no one else will have to deal with an outcome such as mine in the future.”

Thompson was penalized two shots for improperly returning her ball to its mark on a green during Saturday’s round after a viewer emailed LPGA officials during Sunday’s broadcast. She was penalized two more shots for signing an incorrect scorecard for her Saturday round. Thompson ultimately lost in a playoff to So Yeon Ryu.

The new protocols will also eliminate the additional two-shot penalty a player receives for failing to include a penalty when a player was unaware of the penalty.

Shortly after the ANA Inspiration, the USGA and R&A led the formation of a video review working group, which included the PGA Tour, LPGA, European Tour, Ladies European Tour and PGA of America.

Also, just three weeks after Thompson was hit with the four-shot penalty, the USGA and R&A released a new Rules of Golf decision decision (34-3/10) limiting video evidence in two ways:

1. If an infraction can’t be seen with the naked eye, there’s no penalty, even if video shows otherwise.

2. If a tournament committee determines that a player does “all that can be reasonably expected to make an accurate estimation or measurement” in determining a line or position to play from or to spot a ball, then there will be no penalty even if video replay later shows that to be wrong.

While the USGA and R&A said the new decision wasn’t based on Thompson’s ANA incident, LPGA players immediately began calling it the “Lexi Rule.”

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PGA Tour, LPGA react to video review rules changes

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 1:32 pm

The USGA and R&A announced on Monday updates to the Rules of Golf, including no longer accepting call-ins relating to violations. The PGA Tour and LPGA, which were both part of a working group of entities who voted on the changes, issued the following statements:

PGA Tour:

The PGA Tour has worked closely with the USGA and R&A on this issue in recent years, and today's announcement is another positive step to ensure the Rules of Golf align with how the game is presented and viewed globally. The PGA Tour will adopt the new Local Rule beginning January 1, 2018 and evolve our protocols for reviewing video evidence as outlined.


We are encouraged by the willingness of the governing bodies to fully vet the issues and implement real change at a pace much quicker than the sport has seen previously. These new adaptations, coupled with changes announced earlier this year, are true and meaningful advances for the game. The LPGA plans to adopt fully the protocols and new Local Rule as outlined.

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Sharma closes on Monday, wins Joburg Open

By Associated PressDecember 11, 2017, 12:43 pm

JOHANNESBURG – Shubhankar Sharma won his first European Tour title by a shooting 3-under 69 Monday in the final round of the weather-delayed Joburg Open.

The 21-year-old Indian resumed his round on the eighth green after play was halted early Sunday afternoon because of storms. He parred that hole, birdied No. 9 and made par on every hole on the back nine.

Full-field scores from the Joburg Open

Sharma finished at 23-under 264, three strokes ahead of the pack, and qualified for next year's British Open, too.

''I actually wasn't going to come here about a week ago ... so I'm really happy that I came,'' said Sharma, who shot 61 in the second round. ''I don't think I'm ever going forget my first time in South Africa.''

Erik van Rooyen (66) was second, three strokes ahead of Shaun Norris (65) and Tapio Pulkkanen (68).

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 pm