Cut Line: Beantown or bust

By Rex HoggardSeptember 2, 2011, 11:04 pm

NORTON, Mass. – As the sun set on a rare PGA Tour Friday without a 36-hole cut, this week’s axe at the Deutsche Bank Championship falls on Saturday, Cut Line dug deep to fill the void.

Fortunately for your correspondent, Rocco Mediate’s misguided attempt at tough love and Phil Mickelson’s tough equipment choice make for low-hanging fruit.

Made Cut

Phil Mickelson. Asked on Friday afternoon if they would ever consider using a belly putter one Tour type deadpanned, “I hope not.” For many, longer-than-standard-length putters are the tools of desperate men, yet watching Lefty wield a belly putter on Day 1 at the Deutsche Bank Championship it was impossible not to consider the harm in the alternative – doing nothing.

If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again hoping for a different result, consider Mickelson’s bold move this week a call to reason. The man who had slipped to 133rd on Tour on putts from 10 to 15 feet felt it was time for a change, regardless of perceptions or misguided sentimentality. Whether one is a purest or forever in search of a putting fix, you can’t fault Lefty’s reasoning.

“Look, I’m willing to try new things. I’ve hit two drivers, no drivers in Opens. I don’t mind trying something different,” Mickelson said on Thursday.

Considering Mickelson’s haphazard opening effort with the long stick – 13 putts, including five one-putts, on his first nine followed by 16 putts coming in – we’d humbly suggest he consider a two-putter rotation – one short, one long.

Tweet of the week: @Keegan_Bradley “Phil looks so good with (the) belly putter! He’d putt well with a hockey stick . . .”

In Bradley’s defense, it only looked like Mickelson was putting with a hockey stick on TPC Boston’s back nine. #16putts

Tiger Woods. U.S. Presidents Cup captain Fred Couples asked the former alpha male to add an odd fall event to his lineup, anyone who has ever read a book on swing theory says he needs “reps,” and the Tour has been hounding him for years to play more. Done, done and done.

Whatever the ends are for Woods to play the Open the means are worthwhile, regardless of where he finishes. Slice up this week’s news conference at Notah Begay III’s charity event until two plus two make 18, but the only things worth noting were that Woods’ mind and body are finally willing.

“I’ve been hurt for a very long time. Back to 2007 when I ruptured my ACL, it was a very tough road,” he said. “It’s been years since I actually felt good. Sometimes you get out of bed in the morning and it’s tough. Now it’s fun, I can spring out of bed and go to practice.”

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

FedEx Cup playoffs. The 2009 postseason – when Woods and Mickelson went head-to-head at East Lake with the latter winning the Tour Championship and the former hoisting the season-long trophy – may end up being the circuit’s playoff high-water mark, but it’s hard to argue that the current system isn’t an improvement over the subdued monotony that came before 2007.

That’s not to say the circuit couldn’t attempt a nip/tuck of the current playoff system. The Tour has avoided tinkering with the points system for two seasons following a 2008 postseason that most considered too explosive.

Troy Matteson, the Day 1 leader at TPC Boston, was on the wrong side of the ’08 rollercoaster, dropping from 97th to 124th, and out of the Deutsche Bank, following a missed cut at The Barclays.

That was the same year that Vijay Singh won the first two playoff events (Barclays and Deutsche Bank) and Camilo Villegas won the last two (BMW and Tour Championship) and the $10 million lottery ticket went to the big Fijian.

Matteson, however, would like to see a little bit of that ’08 unpredictability back in the postseason.

“I want it to be as volatile as it can be,” said Matteson, who at 97th in FedEx Cup points could use a big swing this week to get him into the BMW Championship. “(2008), that was the year it was the most volatile, and then they started tapering it back from there. I wish it was even more so the other way (volatile) so you could move further.”

We’re guessing Villegas probably doesn’t share Matteson’s affinity for the ’08 playoff ride, but then volatility . . . eh, variety is the spice of life.

Missed Cut

U.S. Golf Association. The closed shop that is the U.S. Walker Cup team selection process has again thrown a baffling haymaker and cost another deserving amateur a spot on the national team.

This time it was John Peterson who received the snub despite a resume that includes a NCAA individual crown and the seventh spot in the amateur rankings. It’s been eight years since Brandt Snedeker felt a similar sting, but he still gets worked up over it.

“I’m a proponent of a points system. I feel like there are some politics involved, that’s not fair to an 18, 19, 20 year old kid. It’s hard to take,” said Snedeker, who won the 2003 U.S. Amateur Public Links and was a first-team All-American and yet failed to make the U.S. squad. “They say (Peterson) was kind of outspoken, but we’ve all said stuff we didn’t mean at 18, 19, 20 years old. It just doesn’t seem fair.”

If only the Walker Cup selection process was as outspoken.

First-pitch throes. It will be a moment Keegan Bradley will never forget. No, not his maiden major at Atlanta Athletic Club last month, but his chance-of-a-lifetime toss to open the Boston-New York series on Tuesday at storied Fenway Park.

Two nights later, Phil Mickelson threw out the first pitch in the rubber match between the Red Sox and Yankees. Again, a once-in-a-life deal.

For Red Sox Nation, however, the PGA Tour may not want to make too much of the fact that Boston lost Games 1 and 3 to the Yankees, but won Game 2 on Wednesday, 9-5, the night former Red Sox Mo Vaughn and John Valentin tossed out the first pitch.

These guys may be good, but they are not the best of luck for Boston.

Rocco Mediate. Mediate is among the best quotes in the game, but on this the Tour funnyman should have opted for a more measured answer. It wasn’t his sharp criticism of Woods’ swing under both current swing coach Sean Foley and his former instructor Hank Haney so much as it was his utter disregard of the facts.

“I love the way he plays, but I'm disgusted with what's going on with him because it's sad for our game,” Mediate told the San Francisco Chronicle.

“The physical motion is wrong. To get that stress off his body is a piece of cake – the guys working with him just don't know. Sean knows some stuff, but what's going on with Tiger is not correct. That's why he keeps breaking and that's why the ball keeps going sideways.”

Foley, who has been working with Woods for a year but has only 12 Tour starts with him because of injury and a scandal-induced hiatus, declined comment when asked his reaction to Mediate’s remarks.

“Rocco is entitled to his opinion and I respect that. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions but no one is entitled to their own facts. Tiger's record while I helped him speaks for itself. The last three years I was with Tiger he won 45 percent of his starts, he finished in the top 10 in 85 percent of his tournaments,” Haney told

“The assertion by Rocco that my teaching somehow contributed to Tiger's decline is frankly absurd and clearly not supported by the facts.”

We love Mediate, but he may want to stick with punch lines, not unwarranted punches.

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Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.

Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.