Cut Line: Bubba goes deep; so does Doral

By Rex HoggardMarch 9, 2012, 11:11 pm

DORAL, Fla. – Eventful week this side of South Beach. Newly crowned world No. 1 Rory McIlroy began his much-anticipated rivalry with former No. 1 Tiger Woods, Gil Hanse landed two of the most-coveted design projects in the game and The Don scored a long-awaited spot on the PGA Tour dance card, with or without an invitation.

Not bad for a no-cut, free-money event.

Made Cut

Worlds apart. The most worldly of all the World Golf Championships has delivered again with a leaderboard that looks like a United Nations office party. The current top 10 features seven different countries and your frontrunners feature a Bubba, a Bjorn and a bunch of intrigue.

Bubba Watson took the lead with a week’s best 62 on a golf course he “don’t really like,” while England’s Justin Rose was paired with the American on Friday, carded a 64 and would have lost in match play, 1 down, to the free-swinging lefty.

“No one quite knows what to expect (from Watson),” Rose said. “I think it’s fascinating to watch.”

The same could be said for the Cadillac, which features the year’s deepest field on the PGA Tour as well as the possibility, again, for another changeover atop the World Golf Ranking on Sunday.

Gil Hanse. He is, by all accounts, the right man for the Olympic job and his insight, and instincts, about the Rio 2016 layout only reinforced that notion.

The architect du jour is clearly more comfortable piloting a bulldozer than he is behind a microphone, but when asked what he hoped to accomplish with the Olympic project he didn’t disappoint.

“We want this to be received well those two weeks, but we really want it also to be something the Brazilians are proud of,” Hanse said. “If it can lead to in 2024 or whatever, you know, there's a Brazilian in contention at the Olympics for a gold medal, then we have done an even better job.”

In short, golf’s Olympic experiment isn’t about gold medals, it’s about growing the game.

Tweet of the week: @McIlroyRory “What a day (Sunday)! Very honored and proud to be the world’s No. 1golfer! Thank you to everyone who has supported me along the way.”

The Ulsterman’s ascension to the top of the World Golf Ranking last week was storybook stuff. Now, if only he can crack the 1 million followers mark. Just 88,000 more to go.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Augusta National. Ryo Ishikawa is certainly deserving of a special invitation into this year’s Masters and the club has been rather clear that would-be participants should never expect a free pass into the year’s first major.

Still, this week’s announcement marks the second time Ishikawa has been granted a special invitation into the Masters while there are always other deserving players each year.

Davis Love III, for example, had played the Masters every year between 1991 and 2007, finished runner-up twice and is destined for the World Golf Hall of Fame yet the U.S. Ryder Cup captain will sit out this year’s event for the fourth time in five years.

International exemptions are nice, but charity should start at home.

Missing the Monster. The famed Monster Grill adjacent Doral’s 18th hole has been a favorite of players, caddies and media for years, but this year the must-stop grill has been reduced to a snack machine.

No word on whether the closure is budget related, but the best burgers on Tour will be missed.

Missed Cut

Jarrod Lyle. Count this as a “bad things happening to good people” deal. The Australian will celebrate the birth of his first child this week and start chemotherapy treatments almost immediately afterward.

Lyle was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia at age 17 but recovered and seven years later was in the field at the British Open. Just weeks after his best finish on the PGA Tour (T-5 at the Northern Trust Open) he was informed by doctors that the cancer had returned.

Lyle is best known in the United States for acing the 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale last year. The Bird’s Nest faithful should save a special celebration for Lyle when he wins his second bout with cancer.

Donald Trump. With all the delicacy of a linebacker The Don elbowed his way into the PGA Tour conversation this week with his purchase of Doral Resort, predictably breaking copious amounts of china along the way.

Trump’s $200 million overhaul of the resort will include a makeover of the famed Blue Monster but at least he tabbed the right man for the job – unassuming Gil Hanse. It was a self-promoting opportunity that The Don couldn’t pass up.

“I'm glad I chose him first. In fact, without my choosing him he would not have gotten the Olympics. They relied on me, believe me,” Trump boasted. “I'm only kidding . . . maybe (it’s) a little true.”

For good measure, Trump also plugged his growing aspirations to host a major championship.

“I'm going to say this off the record even though we are on live television. I'm hearing rumors about getting the U.S. Women's Open (to a property of his in New Jersey),” he announced.

And now Trump is a Tour “partner.” Let the show begin.

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Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

"Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.

Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

"That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

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Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.


A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.

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Mickelson starts fast, fades to 70 at La Quinta

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:07 pm

Phil Mickelson got off to a fast start in his first competitive round of 2018 - for six holes, at least.

The 47-year-old is making his first start since the WGC-HSBC Champions this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, and only his third competitive appearance since the BMW Championship in September. Four birdies over his first six holes indicated that a strong opener might be in the cards, but Mickelson played his subsequent holes in 2 over.

It added up to a 2-under 70 at La Quinta Country Club, typically the easiest of the three courses in rotation this week, and left Mickelson eight shots behind Jon Rahm.

"It was fun to get back out and be competitive," Mickelson told reporters. "I for some reason am stuck on 70 here at La Quinta, whether I get off to a good start or a bad one, I end up shooting the same score."

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

Mickelson stunted his momentum with a tee shot out of bounds on the par-4 eighth hole, but he managed to save bogey and otherwise drove the ball relatively well. Instead, he pointed to his normally reliable iron play as the culprit for his back-nine backslide on a day when more than 120 players in the 156-man field broke par.

Mickelson will now head to the Nicklaus Tournament Course with the Stadium Course on tap for Saturday's third round. While there were several low scores Thursday at La Quinta, Mickelson remains bullish about the birdie opportunities that still lie ahead.

"This isn't the course where I go low on," Mickelson said. "I feel more comfortable on Stadium and Nicklaus. Neither of them are nearly as tight and I tend to score a lot lower on those other two than I do here, historically."

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Rahm (62) shoots career low round at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 10:33 pm

After a banner year in 2017, Jon Rahm found a way to add yet another accolade to his growing list of accomplishments during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Rahm got off to a fast start at La Quinta Country Club, playing his first seven holes in 6 under en route to a 10-under 62. The score marked his career low on the PGA Tour by two shots and gave him an early lead in an event that utilizes a three-course rotation.

La Quinta was the site of Adam Hadwin's 59 during last year's event, and Rahm knew full well that a quick start opened the door to a memorably low score.

"Any time you have that going for you, you get thoughts come in your head, 60, maybe 59," Rahm told reporters. "I knew that if I kept playing good I was going to have more birdie opportunities, and I tried not to get ahead of myself and I was able to do it."

Rahm birdied his first two holes before an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole sparked him to an outward 30. He added four more birdies on the inward half without dropping a shot.

The Spaniard is the highest-ranked player in the field this week, and while many players opted for a two-week stint in Hawaii he instead came home for some practice after opening the new year with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. That decision appears to have paid some early dividends as Rahm gets set to defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

Low scores were plentiful on all three courses during the opening round, and Rahm remained pleased with his effort even though he fell short of matching Hadwin's sub-60 score from a year ago.

"That's golf. You're not going to make every single putt, you're not going to hit every shot perfect," he said. "Overall, you've got to look at the bigger picture. I birdied the last hole, had a couple of great sand saves coming in, shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for."