Cut Line: Best byes edition

By Rex HoggardSeptember 9, 2011, 7:10 pm

No PGA Tour cut this “bye” week, but your correspondent had little trouble filling space thanks to the surgical success of one of the game’s original “bash brothers” and a courtly birthday fit for a King.

Made Cut

J.B. Holmes. It was billed as “non-life threatening,” but anytime an athlete undergoes surgery of the brain or neck it’s concerning, just ask an Indianapolis Colts fan, any Colts fan will do.

But according to his manager, Holmes sailed through a procedure last week to correct an ailment called Chiari malformations, a structural defect on his cerebellum which had been causing dizziness, headaches and problems with his balance and coordination since May.

Holmes left Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins Hospital early Monday and tweeted Thursday that he was already back home in Orlando, Fla., recovering.

If Holmes’ rehabilitation goes according to schedule he could be chipping and putting in 30 days and hitting full shots before Thanksgiving which would mean he’d be ready to start the 2012 season in January.

“He’s excited because now he has a definitive answer about what was wrong and he can move forward,” said Terry Reilly, Holmes’ manager with Wasserman Media Group.

We don’t want to rain on the Colts’ 2011-12 parade, but it looks like Holmes will be back on the field before a certain signal caller whose name rhymes with Meyton Panning.

The King. On Saturday, Arnold Palmer will celebrate his 82nd birthday in Atlantic City, N.J., with his “normal foursome” from Latrobe (Pa.) Country Club, what we can only assume is the standard celebration destination for any octogenarian, right?

Before the big day, however, Palmer said he plans to spend some time hitting balls on the practice tee at Latrobe and working on his game. “I still enjoy working at it. I still go out and practice and enjoy playing with friends,” Palmer told Golf Channel’s “Morning Drive” on Friday between stories of previous birthdays with former president Dwight Eisenhower.

With apologies to the Dos Equis man, it would seem the King is the most interesting man in the world.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Vivendi Seve Trophy. The matches, which are viewed across the pond as a Ryder Cup dry run, are often compelling and will double this year as a tribute to the late Seve Ballesteros, but the choice of captains did send us tumbling out of our shoebox-sized cubicle.

The GB&I team, which will not include the likes of world Nos. 1 and 4 Luke Donald and Rory McIlroy, respectively, will be captained by Paul McGinley, who many consider a future European Ryder Cup captain, while the team from the Continent will be led by Jean Van de Velde.

OK, the Sept. 15-18 matches are being played in Paris, but sending a group out with the forlorn Frenchman at the helm is akin to hiring soft-hitting former shortstop Mario Mendoza to be a big league batting coach.

We love Van de Velde, who has always been one of the game’s best quotes, but we're just not sure he’s captain material.

FedEx Cup points. At the turn of this year’s playoffs it’s difficult not to concede that the current model is a vast improvement over the pre-2007 version of the Tour’s finale, but if points are going to become the measure of success and relative failure it’s time to end the circuit’s use of earnings as a secondary gauge.

When the playoffs began, the Tour said the points list would differ little from the money list, which is still used to determine who retains their Tour cards. Yet when the postseason began there were seven players who, although inside the top 125 in earnings, were outside of the top 125 on the points list and missed the playoffs.

The most egregious variation was Bobby Gates, who was 117th in earnings through the final regular-season event (Wyndham Championship) but 152nd in FedEx Cup points. It’s a difference of 35 spots largely due to differences in points vs. earnings at various events.

It’s also worth noting that Tiger Woods finished the regular season 113th in earnings but outside the top 125, and outside the playoffs, in points (No. 132).

If points are the new normal, fine. But to avoid fan confusion, and competitive inconsistencies, it’s time to make points the ultimate benchmark, for the FedEx Cup and a player’s future status.

Tweet of the week: @StewartCink “Well a third straight missed cut (at the Deutsche Bank Championship) means my 2011 FedEx Cup season is in the books. Now I think I’ll burn that book.”

Missed Cut

ESPN. As a rule, Cut Line normally avoids taking television types to task because there are usually so many competing programming interests at play it’s difficult to fairly assign blame, but on this the “Mother Ship” whiffed.

Because of a heavy weekend sports schedule – particularly, college football and U.S. Open tennis – ESPN will air the Walker Cup matches on There is a scheduled encore telecast on Sunday on ESPN2 (3-5 p.m. ET), but in the meantime one of the year’s most-compelling events, and one of the deepest U.S. teams in recent history, will be relegated to the dot-com hinterlands.

And we thought NCAA champion John Peterson’s Walker Cup snub was going to be the match’s most-glaring faux pas.

Phil Mickelson. On paper Lefty’s experiment with a belly putter last week at TPC Boston was hardly a bust. Despite ranking in the middle of the pack in most statistical categories, Mickelson recorded just two three-putts and his tie for 10th place was his best finish since his runner-up showing at the Open Championship.

Still, more than one Tour type questioned Lefty’s motives with the belly putter, some pointing out that you don’t win 39 career titles and four majors with a pedestrian flat stick.

“I think he’s trying to prove a point like he did with the grooves,” said one player at the Deutsche Bank Championship in reference to Mickelson’s use of non-conforming-but-legal Ping wedges during the 2009 Farmers Insurance Open.

But if Mickelson is trying to prove a point, what did Keegan Bradley do at the PGA Championship?

Battling mono, Kaufman tied for lead at CME

By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 2:05 am

NAPLES, Fla. – Kim Kaufman’s bout with mononucleosis might leave fellow tour pros wanting to catch the fever, too.

A couple months after Anna Nordqvist battled her way into contention at the Women’s British Open playing with mono, and then thrived at the Solheim Cup with it, Kaufman is following suit.

In her first start since being diagnosed, Kaufman posted an 8-under-par 64 Saturday to move into a four-way tie for the lead at the CME Group Tour Championship. It was the low round of the day. She’s bidding to win her first LPGA title.

“I’ve been resting at home for two weeks,” Kaufman said. “Didn’t do anything.”

Well, she did slip on a flight of stairs while recuperating, hurting her left wrist. She had it wrapped Saturday but said that’s mostly precautionary. It didn’t bother her during the round.

CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship

“I’m the only person who can take two weeks off and get injured,” Kaufman joked.

Kaufman, 26, left the Asian swing after playing the Sime Darby Malaysia, returning to her home in South Dakota, to see her doctor there. She is from Clark. She was told bed rest was the best thing for her, but she felt good enough to make the trip to Florida for the season-ending event.

“We had some really cold days,” Kaufman said. “We had some snow. I was done with it. I was coming down here.”

How does she feel?

“I feel great,” she said. “I’m a little bit shaky, which isn’t great out there, but it’s great to be here doing something. I was going a little bit stir crazy [at home], just kind of fighting through it.”

Kaufman made eight birdies in her bogey-free round.

New-look Wie eyes CME Group Tour Championship title

By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 1:32 am

NAPLES, Fla. – Michelle Wie is sporting a new look that even has fellow players doing double takes.

Bored during her six-week recovery from an emergency appendectomy late this summer, Wie decided to cut and die her hair.

She went for golden locks, and a shorter style.

“I kind of went crazy after being in bed that long,” Wie said. “I just told my mom to grab the kitchen scissors and just cut all my hair off.”

Wie will get to sport her new look on a big stage Sunday after playing herself into a four-way tie for the lead at the CME Group Tour Championship. With a 6-under-par 66, she is in contention to win her fifth LPGA title, her first since winning the U.S. Women’s Open three years ago.

CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship

Wie, 28, fought her way back this year after two of the most disappointing years of her career. Her rebound, however, was derailed in late August, when she withdrew from the final round of the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open to undergo an emergency appendectomy. She was out for six weeks.

Before the surgery, Wie enjoyed getting back into contention regularly, with six finishes of T-4 or better this season. She returned to the tour on the Asian swing in October.

Fellow tour pros were surprised when she came back with the new look.

“Definitely, walk by people and they didn’t recognize me,” Wie said.

Wie is looking to continue to build on her resurgence.

“I gained a lot of confidence this year,” she said. “I had a really tough year last year, the last couple years. Just really feeling like my old self. Really feeling comfortable out there and having fun, and that's when I play my best.”

You Oughta Know: LPGA's Sunday scenarios

By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 1:17 am

NAPLES, Fla. – The CME Group Tour Championship is loaded with pressure-packed subplots Sunday at Tiburon Golf Club.

Here’s what You Oughta Know about the prizes at stake:

Race to the CME Globe

Lexi Thompson and Sung Hyun Park are 1-2 in CME Globe points. They are best positioned Sunday to take home the $1 million jackpot in the season-long competition.

Thompson and Park are tied for fifth in the tournament, one shot off the lead. If either of them wins, she will take home the jackpot.

The way it’s unfolding Thompson is a good bet to take home the jackpot by merely finishing ahead of Park, unless they both stumble badly on Sunday.

Ariya Jutanugarn is tied for the lead. She must win to take home the jackpot, but she would also need Thompson to finish ninth or worse and Park to finish eighth or worse and nobody else among the top 12 in points to make a bold Sunday charge.

Stacy Lewis is one shot off the lead with a longshot chance at the jackpot. She must win the tournament while Thompson finishes 26th or worse, Park finishes 12th or worse and nobody else among the top 12 in points makes a bold Sunday charge.

So Yeon Ryu, Shanshan Feng and Brooke Henderson are among others who still have a shot at the $1 million prize, but they have fallen back in the pack and need bold Sunday charges to take home the jackpot.

Rolex Player of the Year

The Rolex Player of the Year Award remains a four-player race.

Ryu (162), Feng (159), Park (157) and Thompson (147) all have a chance to win the award.

Park and Thompson are best positioned to make Sunday moves to overtake Ryu.

Park needs to finish sixth or better to win the award outright; Thompson needs to win the tournament to win the award.

It’s simple math.

The top 10 in the tournament will be awarded points.

1st - 30 points

2nd – 12 points

3rd – 9 points

4th – 7 points

5th – 6 points

6th – 5 points

7rd – 4 points

8th – 3 points

9th – 2 points

10th – 1 point

Vare Trophy

Thompson took a 69.147 scoring average to Naples. Park needs to finish nine shots ahead of Thompson to have a shot at the trophy.

Money-winning title

Park leads the tour in money winnings with $2,262,472. Ryu is the only player who can pass her Sunday, and Ryu must win the tournament to do so. Ryu is tied for 32nd, five shots off the lead. If Ryu wins the tournament, she also needs Park to finish worse than solo second.

Rolex world No. 1 ranking

World No. 1 Feng, No. 2 Park and No. 3 Ryu are separated by just three hundredths of a point.

Because they are so close, the scenarios for overtaking Feng are head spinning.

At No. 4, Thompson is a full average ranking point behind Feng, but she could become the sixth different player this season to move to No. 1. Thompson, however, has to win Sunday to have a chance to do so, and then it will depend on what Feng, Park and Ryu do. Again, the scenarios are complex.

Cook leads RSM Classic by three at Sea Island

By Associated PressNovember 19, 2017, 12:28 am

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. - PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook shot a 4-under 66 on Saturday to increase his lead to three strokes in the RSM Classic.

Cook, a shot ahead after a second-round 62, had five birdies and a bogey - his first of the week - to reach 18-under 194 with a round left at Sea Island Golf Club's Seaside Course.

''Putting is key right now,'' Cook said. ''Been able to make a lot of clutch putts for the pars to save no bogeys. Hitting the ball pretty much where we're looking and giving ourselves good opportunities on every hole.''

Former University of Georgia player Chris Kirk was second after a 64.

''I'm really comfortable here,'' Kirk said. ''I love Sea Island. I lived here for 6 1/2 years, so I played the golf course a lot, SEC Championships and come down here for the RSM Classic. My family and I, we come down here a few other times a year as well.''

Brian Gay was another stroke back at 14 under after a 69.

''I love the course,'' Gay said. ''We keep getting different wind directions so it's keeping us on our toes. Supposed to be another completely different wind direction tomorrow, so we're getting a new course every day.''

RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the RSM Classic

J.J. Spaun had a 62 to get to 13 under.

''I just kind of played stress-free golf out there and kept the golf ball in front of me,'' Spaun said. ''I had a lot of looks and scrambled pretty well, even though it was only a handful of times, but pretty overall pleased with how I played today.''

Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. The 26-year-old former Arkansas player earned his PGA Tour card through the Tour.

''I think with an extra year on the Web this past year, I really grew mentally and with my game, just kind of more confidence,'' Cook said. ''I was able to put myself in contention on the more this year than I have in the past. I think I've just, you know, learned from experiences on the Web to help me grow out here.''

He planned to keep it simple Saturday night.

''I've got my parents here and my in-laws are both here as well as my wife,'' Cook said. ''Go home and just have a good home-cooked meal and just kind of enjoy the time and embrace the moment.''

Kirk won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2015 at Colonial.

''It's nice to be back in contention again,'' Kirk said. ''It's been a little while for me. But I felt great out there today, I felt really comfortable, and so hopefully it will be the same way tomorrow and I'll keep my foot on the pedal and stay aggressive, try to make some birdies.''