Cut Line: Big comings and goings this week

By Rex HoggardJuly 31, 2015, 11:15 pm

GAINESVILLE, Va. – The good news for Tiger Woods: He opened with rounds of 68-66 to put himself into contention at the Quicken Loans National. The bad news: If he were to win at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club it wouldn’t be enough to move him into the top 100 in the Official World Golf Ranking because of a relatively weak field.

The host with the most headlines this week’s Cut Line.


Made Cut

The power of patience. For months Woods has told anyone who would ask that the “process” was coming along. That the new “baseline shift” was still a work in progress.

For the majority of two days at the Quicken Loans National it appears Tiger finally may have reached that tipping point between progress and good play.

For the second time in his last three starts Woods pieced together back-to-back sub-70 rounds to move into contention at his own event and open the possibility that 2015 may not be another lost season.

“It takes a little time sometimes and you have to be patient with it and I know what I’m doing out there,” said Woods, whose second-round 66 moved him to within three strokes of the lead. “People want the immediate fix, the one tip that’s going to work for the rest of their life. It doesn’t work that way.”

Woods bristled at the notion that his two-round total of 8 under is an indication that he’s back. Maybe not, but he’s certainly better.

All for one. In the hyper-competitive world of professional golf it’s often easy to overlook the fact that being fair is just as important as being first.

Consider the plight of Sangmoon Bae, the 29-year-old two-time PGA Tour winner who was ordered back home to South Korea when a court denied his request to defer his mandatory military service last week.

In response to Bae’s plight, the Tour policy board on Monday approved an adjustment to its regulations that will now treat mandatory military service similar to the way medical exemptions are handled when it comes to future status.

The new Tour provision will give commissioner Tim Finchem the discretion to grant an eligibility extension for a “mandatory obligation,” like military service or religious obligation, which will assure that Bae will have status when he returns from his 21 months in the South Korean military.

“It makes sense given anyone’s situation,” said Jason Bohn, one of four player directors on the policy board who approved the adjustment to the Tour’s policy. “He has no control over the situation he has been put in and I think looking out for PGA Tour members is a good thing.”

Tweet of the week: @skovy14 (Rickie Fowler’s caddie Joe Skovron): “Just gave him the yardage and got out of the way.”

Skovron was referring to Fowler’s hole-in-one on the par-3 ninth hole on Thursday at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club. For the record it was a “choked down 7-iron” for Fowler’s second ace on Tour. As an added benefit, The Players champion sent a few cases of beer to the media center to celebrate. Have to give him credit, he knows his audience.


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

An unscheduled stop. On Thursday the Tour released its 2015-16 schedule, a 47-event mass of moving parts due to golf’s return to the Olympics next year.

While everyone knew next year’s schedule was going to be different, even difficult for some, seeing it on paper was certainly an eye-opening experience.

Among the post-U.S. Open moving parts will be the Travelers Championship, which was moved from the week after the U.S. Open in June to the week after the PGA Championship in July; and the John Deere Classic, which will be played the same week as the men’s Olympic tournament in Rio in August.

For many tournaments the moves were less than ideal but the Tour made sure to lay the groundwork for the impending changes early and explain the importance of golf’s return to the Olympics.

“When we started talking about this to the Tour everybody bought in that the Olympics were going to grow the game and everybody was on the same page,” said Travelers Championship tournament director Nathan Grube.

Everyone, it seems, is rowing in the same metaphorical direction for the 2016 Games, but quietly some are hoping the waters aren’t quite as choppy when golf again finds itself in the Olympics in 2020.

Tough choices. It’s a crowded schedule for Tour players and you can’t compete in every event, but given Woods’ significance to the game it is surprising to see the relatively weak field assembled this week for Tiger’s Quicken Loans National.

Sunday’s winner at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club will receive 34 world ranking points, well below the norm for the event and squarely in the bottom half of Tour events.

Of the 36 stand-alone Tour events that have been played this season only one, the John Deere Classic (30), awarded fewer points to the champion.

The calendar has not been kind to the Quicken Loans and this year’s move to Robert Trent Jones likely didn’t help attract a better field, but the host deserves better.


Missed Cut

Being The Don. Whether you agree with his politics doesn’t matter, Donald Trump’s circus-like appearance on Thursday at the Women’s British Open was ill-advised.

Presidential politics can be an unsavory business and Trump has certainly added to that reality during his bid for the White House, which makes his cameo at Turnberry, which he owns and is the site of this week’s Open, perplexing.

Trump spent a small fortune to purchase the iconic seaside layout and he certainly has a vested interest in the success of this week’s championship.

“Everyone’s asking me to be here,” Trump said. “The tour has asked me. The world’s asked me to be here, and I have a big stake in this land.”

But given his polarizing nature and how his recent remarks regarding immigration have caused such a stir in golf it was an easily avoidable distraction.

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CareerBuilder Challenge: Tee times, TV schedule, stats

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 1:10 pm

The PGA Tour shifts from Hawaii to Southern California for the second full-field event of the year. Here are the key stats and information for the CareerBuilder Challenge. Click here for full-field tee times.

How to watch (all rounds on Golf Channel):

Thursday, Rd. 1: 3-7PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Friday, Rd. 2: 3-7PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Saturday, Rd. 3: 3-7PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Sunday, Rd. 4: 3-7PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream


Purse: $5.9 million ($1,062,000 to winner)

Courses: PGA West, Stadium Course, La Quinta, Calif. (72-7,113); PGA West, Nicklaus Tournament Course, La Quinta, Calif. (72-7,159); La Quinta Country Club, La Quinta, Calif. (72-7,060) NOTE: All three courses will be used for the first three rounds but only the Stadium Course will be used for the final round.

Defending champion: Hudson Swafford (-20) - defeated Adam Hadwin by one stroke to earn his first PGA Tour win.


Notables in the field

Phil Mickelson

* This is his first start of 2018. It's the fourth consecutive year he has made this event the first one on his yearly calendar.

* For the second year in a row he will serve as the tournament's official ambassador.

* He has won this event twice - in 2002 and 2004.

* This will be his 97th worldwide start since his most recent win, The Open in 2013.


Jon Rahm

* Ranked No. 3 in the world, he finished runner-up in the Sentry Tournament of Champions.

* In 37 worldwide starts as a pro, he has 14 top-5 finishes.

* Last year he finished T-34 in this event.


Adam Hadwin

* Last year in the third round, he shot 59 at La Quinta Country Club. It was the ninth - and still most recent - sub-60 round on Tour.

* In his only start of 2018, the Canadian finished 32nd in the Sentry Tournament of Champions.


Brian Harman

* Only player on the PGA Tour with five top-10 finishes this season.

* Ranks fifth in greens in regulation this season.

* Finished third in the Sentry Tournament of Champions and T-4 in the Sony Open in Hawaii.


Brandt Snedeker

* Making only his third worldwide start since last June at the Travelers Championship. He has been recovering from a chest injury.

* This is his first start since he withdrew from the Indonesian Masters in December because of heat exhaustion.

* Hasn't played in this event since missing the cut in 2015.


Patrick Reed

* Earned his first career victory in this event in 2014, shooting three consecutive rounds of 63.

* This is his first start of 2018.

* Last season finished seventh in strokes gained: putting, the best ranking of his career.

(Stats provided by the Golf Channel editorial research unit.) 

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Teenager Im wins Web.com season opener

By Will GrayJanuary 16, 2018, 10:23 pm

South Korea's Sungjae Im cruised to a four-shot victory at The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic, becoming just the second teenager to win an event on the Web.com Tour.

Im started the final day of the season-opening event in a share of the lead but still with six holes left in his third round. He was one shot behind Carlos Ortiz when the final round began, but moved ahead of the former Web.com Player of the Year thanks to a 7-under 65 in rainy and windy conditions. Im's 13-under total left him four clear of Ortiz and five shots ahead of a quartet of players in third.

Still more than two months shy of his 20th birthday, Im joins Jason Day as the only two teens to win on the developmental circuit. Day was 19 years, 7 months and 26 days old when he captured the 2007 Legend Financial Group Classic.

Recent PGA Tour winners Si Woo Kim and Patrick Cantlay and former NCAA champ Aaron Wise all won their first Web.com Tour event at age 20.

Other notable finishes in the event included Max Homa (T-7), Erik Compton (T-13), Curtis Luck (T-13) and Lee McCoy (T-13). The Web.com Tour will remain in the Bahamas for another week, with opening round of The Bahamas Great Abaco Classic set to begin Sunday.

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Mickelson grouped with Z. Johnson at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 16, 2018, 8:28 pm

He's not the highest-ranked player in this week's field, but Phil Mickelson will likely draw the biggest crowd at the CareerBuilder Challenge as he makes his first start of 2018. Here are a few early-round, marquee groupings to watch as players battle the three-course rotation in the Californian desert (all times ET):

12:10 p.m. Thursday, 11:40 a.m. Friday, 1:20 p.m. Saturday: Phil Mickelson, Zach Johnson

Mickelson is making his fourth straight trip to Palm Springs, having cracked the top 25 each of the last three times. In addition to their respective amateur partners, he'll play the first three rounds alongside a fellow Masters champ in Johnson, who tied for 14th last week in Hawaii and finished third in this event in 2014.


11:40 a.m. Thursday, 1:20 p.m. Friday, 12:50 p.m. Saturday: Jon Rahm, Bubba Watson

At No. 3 in the world, Rahm is the highest-ranked player teeing it up this week and the Spaniard returns to an event where he finished T-34 last year in his tournament debut. He'll play the first two rounds alongside Watson, who is looking to bounce back from a difficult 2016-17 season and failed to crack the top 50 in two starts in the fall.


11:40 a.m. Thursday, 1:20 p.m. Friday, 12:50 p.m. Saturday: Patrick Reed, Brandt Snedeker

Reed made the first big splash of his career at this event in 2014, shooting three straight rounds of 63 en route to his maiden victory. He'll be joined by Snedeker, whose bid for a Masters bid via the top 50 of the world rankings came up short last month and who hasn't played this event since a missed cut in 2015.


1:10 p.m. Thursday, 12:40 p.m. Friday, 12:10 p.m. Saturday: Patton Kizzire, Bill Haas

Kizzire heads east after a whirlwind Sunday ended with his second win of the season in a six-hole playoff over James Hahn in Honolulu. He'll play alongside Haas, who won this event in both 2010 and 2015 to go with a runner-up finish in 2011 and remains the tournament's all-time leading money winner.

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Mackay still a caddie at heart, even with a microphone

By Doug FergusonJanuary 16, 2018, 7:34 pm

HONOLULU – All it took was one week back on the bag to remind Jim ''Bones'' Mackay what he always loved about being a caddie.

It just wasn't enough for this to be the ultimate mic drop.

Mackay traded in his TV microphone at the Sony Open for the 40-pound bag belonging to Justin Thomas.

It was his first time caddying since he split with Phil Mickelson six months ago. Mackay was only a temporary replacement at Waialae for Jimmy Johnson, a good friend and Thomas' regular caddie who has a nasty case of plantar fasciitis that will keep him in a walking boot for the next month.

''The toughest thing about not caddying is missing the competition, not having a dog in the fight,'' Mackay said before the final round. ''There's nothing more rewarding as a caddie, in general terms, when you say, 'I don't like 6-iron, I like 7,' and being right. I miss that part of it.''

The reward now?

''Not stumbling over my words,'' he said. ''And being better than I was the previous week.''

He has done remarkably well since he started his new job at the British Open last summer, except for that time he momentarily forgot his role. Parts of that famous caddie adage – ''Show up, keep up, shut up'' – apparently can apply to golf analysts on the ground.

During the early hours of the telecast, before Johnny Miller came on, Justin Leonard was in the booth.

''It's my job to report on what I see. It's not my job to ask questions,'' Mackay said. ''I forgot that for a minute.''

Leonard was part of a booth discussion on how a comfortable pairing can help players trying to win a major. That prompted Mackay to ask Leonard if he found it helpful at the 1997 British Open when he was trying to win his first major and was paired with Fred Couples in the final round at Royal Troon.

''What I didn't know is we were going to commercial in six seconds,'' Mackay said. ''I would have no way of knowing that, but I completely hung Justin out to dry. He's now got four seconds to answer my long-winded question.''

During the commercial break, the next voice Mackay heard belonged to Tommy Roy, the executive golf producer at NBC.

''Bones, don't ever do that again.''

It was Roy who recognized the value experienced caddies could bring to a telecast. That's why he invited Mackay and John Wood, the caddie for Matt Kuchar, into the control room at the 2015 Houston Open so they could see how it all worked and how uncomfortable it can be to hear directions coming through an earpiece.

Both worked as on-course reporters at Sea Island that fall.

And when Mickelson and Mackay parted ways after 25 years, Roy scooped up the longtime caddie for TV.

It's common for players to move into broadcasting. Far more unusual is for a caddie to be part of the mix. Mackay loves his new job. Mostly, he loves how it has helped elevate his profession after so many years of caddies being looked upon more unfavorably than they are now.

''I want to be a caddie that's doing TV,'' he said. ''That's what I hope to come across as. The guys think this is good for caddies. And if it's good for caddies, that makes me happy. Because I'm a caddie. I'll always be a caddie.''

Not next week at Torrey Pines, where Mickelson won three times. Not a week later in Phoenix, where Mackay lives. Both events belong to CBS.

And not the Masters.

He hasn't missed Augusta since 1994, when Mickelson broke his leg skiing that winter.

''That killed me,'' he said, ''but not nearly as much as it's going to kill me this year. I'll wake up on Thursday of the Masters and I'll be really grumpy. I'll probably avoid television at all costs until the 10th tee Sunday. And I'll watch. But it will be, within reason, the hardest day of my life.''

There are too many memories, dating to when he was in the gallery right of the 11th green in 1987 when Larry Mize chipped in to beat Greg Norman. He caddied for Mize for two years, and then Scott Simpson in 1992, and Mickelson the rest of the way. He was on the bag for Lefty's three green jackets.

Mackay still doesn't talk much about what led them to part ways, except to say that a player-caddie relationship runs its course.

''If you lose that positive dynamic, there's no point in continuing,'' he said. ''It can be gone in six months or a year or five years. In our case, it took 25 years.''

He says a dozen or so players called when they split up, and the phone call most intriguing was from Roy at NBC.

''I thought I'd caddie until I dropped,'' Mackay said.

He never imagined getting yardages and lining up putts for anyone except the golfer whose bag he was carrying. Now it's for an audience that measures in the millions. Mackay doesn't look at it as a second career. And he won't rule out caddying again.

''It will always be tempting,'' he said. ''I'll always consider myself a caddie. Right now, I'm very lucky and grateful to have the job I do.''

Except for that first week in April.