Cut Line: Budding Woods-McIlroy rivalry good for game

By Rex HoggardAugust 22, 2014, 3:36 pm

This week’s edition focuses on opportunities, from the looming possibility of a great rivalry between Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy to what added up to a lost season for many of the PGA Tour’s up-and-coming players.

Made Cut

Rivalries. While it certainly lacks the subtle discomfort that defined Tiger Woods’ decade-long rivalry with Phil Mickelson, and maybe it’s a little too chummy for some, but there is no denying that Tiger’s budding rivalry with Rory McIlroy is good for golf.

Woods and McIlroy joined Jimmy Fallon on "The Tonight Show" on Monday where the two traded friendly barbs, and Tiger even referred to the current world No. 1 as the “little fella.”

Not to be outdone, McIlroy shot back when Fallon asked the Northern Irishman what was going through his head before he hit the ball, “I just try to pretend to be Tiger Woods. What would Tiger do?” he smiled.

While this has been a largely one-sided rivalry with McIlroy winning all four of his majors since Woods last hoisted a Grand Slam trophy, the implications and possibilities are clear.

Woods has always been at his best when he has been pushed, and no one in his career has had the potential to push as hard as McIlroy.

Fit for kings. While it may not have the ring of Turnberry or Royal Birkdale, news this week that the Ladies’ Golf Union will hold the 2017 Women’s British Open at Kingsbarns Golf Links is an inspired choice.

After stops at some of the game’s most storied venues in recent years, the event was played at Royal Birkdale this year and St. Andrews in 2013, officials have wisely colored outside the lines to bring Kingsbarns into the fold.

What the Fife-area layout lacks in history, and some purists will argue that it is not a true links course, it makes up for with stunning views of the North Sea and proximity with the course located just 10 minutes from St. Andrews’ city center.

There is only one real rule when hosting a major championship – location, location, location.

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Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

A course half full. According to a release issued by Rio 2016 this week the golf course that will host the Olympic Games is 59 percent complete.

According to Cut Line’s math that’s 10.6 holes which seems like progress – we’ve played plenty of 10.6-hole rounds in our day – but this update doesn’t exactly fill folks with confidence that the Gil Hanse design will be at its best when golf returns to the Games in August 2016.

The release went on to say the grass needs “around 11 months to grow.” But last month Rio 2016 unveiled a “tentative” test event calendar and golf’s “test” event, which will likely be a PGA Tour Latinoamerica tournament, was scheduled to begin Aug. 15, 2015.

Construction on the Olympic course began in April 2013, which adds up to a layout that is 59 percent complete after 15 months of work with a “test” event scheduled in less than 12 months.

You do that math.

Playing through. In the hectic final moments of the PGA Championship officials made the curious decision to have Rory McIlroy and Bernd Wiesberger join Rickie Fowler and Phil Mickelson in the day’s penultimate group and play the 72nd hole as a foursome.

With darkness fast approaching there was nothing surprising about having McIlroy and Wiesberger hit their drives on the par 5. Where things get curious is when the two were instructed by officials to also hit their second shots before Mickelson and Fowler completed the hole.

“I was OK with Rory hitting up off the tee and checked with Phil prior to them doing that and he was OK with that,” Fowler said this week. “But we had no intentions or didn't say anything or were going to allow them to hit their second shots into the green, so I'm not sure where the guys at the PGA got that idea.”

“It is what it is and kind of unfortunate. It would have been nice to hit my putt and have a little bit of a better look at it.”

Fowler said he was still waiting to talk with PGA officials about the decision, and added that it likely didn’t have any impact on the outcome of the event. Wanting to finish the year’s final major before nightfall is understandable, but major championships are no place to start cutting corners.

Missed Cut

Lost opportunities. With the Tour’s first full wrap-around regular season in the books, accountants in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., can start crunching the numbers, and there is one total that is particularly troubling.

The final 10 players from last year’s new qualifying system averaged 17.6 starts during the 2013-14 season, and, even more concerning, not one of those 10 finished inside the top 125 on the FedEx Cup point list.

Compare that total to the same group in 2012, a combination of Q-School and the Tour graduating class, which averaged 19.8 starts and featured three players advancing to the playoffs.

The issue of limited playing opportunities for the Tour Finals graduates has been a hot topic all year, and officials have zeroed in on a number of factors, including a large number of players using the “major medical exemption” category this year.

“We have had an uptick (in the major medical category), and it has put some pressure on the access to the Tour players coming up; as has the last year or two, the use of the one-time exemption for all-time money,” Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said this week at The Barclays. “So we are just evaluating it.”

That, however, doesn’t exactly add up either. There were 23 players listed in the major medical category this year compared to 18 in 2012.

Whatever the issue the circuit needs to find an answer. The future of the Tour may depend on it.

The company line. Finchem was also asked, again, about the Tour’s curious decision to comment on Dustin Johnson’s non-suspension late last month.

Johnson announced he was “taking a leave of absence from professional golf” and a day later reported that he had been suspended for failing a drug test, his third failed drug test according to the report. The Tour, which has a policy of not commenting on disciplinary issues, responded saying that Johnson had not been suspended.

“We reserve the right to comment on anything we want to comment about if we think it’s important to do so. In that case, we felt like the information that had floated in the media was incorrect and needed to be corrected,” Finchem said Tuesday.

The Tour continues to cling to the “go ahead and ask, we won’t tell” policy despite strategies by every other major professional sports organization to make disciplinary action public.

In this the circuit seems more interested in protecting its brand than its players. While Tour officials continue to claim otherwise, full disclosure and transparency is a powerful deterrent.

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CareerBuilder purse payouts: Rahm wins $1.062 million

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 12:50 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry on the fourth hole of sudden death to win the CareerBuilder Challenger. Here's a look at how the purse was paid out in La Quinta, Calif.:

1 Jon Rahm -22 $1,062,000
2 Andrew Landry -22 $637,200
T3 Adam Hadwin -20 $306,800
T3 John Huh -20 $306,800
T3 Martin Piller -20 $306,800
T6 Kevin Chappell -19 $205,025
T6 Scott Piercy -19 $205,025
T8 Brandon Harkins -18 $171,100
T8 Jason Kokrak -18 $171,100
T8 Sam Saunders -18 $171,100
T11 Harris English -17 $135,700
T11 Seamus Power -17 $135,700
T11 Jhonattan Vegas -17 $135,700
T14 Bud Cauley -16 $106,200
T14 Austin Cook -16 $106,200
T14 Grayson Murray -16 $106,200
T17 Andrew Putnam -15 $88,500
T17 Peter Uihlein -15 $88,500
T17 Aaron Wise -15 $88,500
T20 Ricky Barnes -14 $57,754
T20 Stewart Cink -14 $57,754
T20 Brian Harman -14 $57,754
T20 Beau Hossler -14 $57,754
T20 Charles Howell III -14 $57,754
T20 Zach Johnson -14 $57,754
T20 Ryan Palmer -14 $57,754
T20 Brendan Steele -14 $57,754
T20 Nick Taylor -14 $57,754
T29 Lucas Glover -13 $36,706
T29 Russell Knox -13 $36,706
T29 Nate Lashley -13 $36,706
T29 Tom Lovelady -13 $36,706
T29 Kevin Streelman -13 $36,706
T29 Hudson Swafford -13 $36,706
T29 Richy Werenski -13 $36,706
T36 Jason Dufner -12 $27,189
T36 Derek Fathauer -12 $27,189
T36 James Hahn -12 $27,189
T36 Chez Reavie -12 $27,189
T36 Webb Simpson -12 $27,189
T36 Tyrone Van Aswegen -12 $27,189
T42 Bronson Burgoon -11 $18,983
T42 Ben Crane -11 $18,983
T42 Brian Gay -11 $18,983
T42 Chesson Hadley -11 $18,983
T42 Patton Kizzire -11 $18,983
T42 Hunter Mahan -11 $18,983
T42 Kevin Na -11 $18,983
T42 Rob Oppenheim -11 $18,983
T50 Alex Cejka -10 $14,025
T50 Corey Conners -10 $14,025
T50 Michael Kim -10 $14,025
T50 Kevin Kisner -10 $14,025
T50 Sean O'Hair -10 $14,025
T50 Sam Ryder -10 $14,025
T50 Nick Watney -10 $14,025
T57 Robert Garrigus -9 $13,039
T57 Tom Hoge -9 $13,039
T57 David Lingmerth -9 $13,039
T57 Ben Martin -9 $13,039
T57 Trey Mullinax -9 $13,039
T57 Brett Stegmaier -9 $13,039
T63 Scott Brown -8 $12,449
T63 Wesley Bryan -8 $12,449
T63 Brice Garnett -8 $12,449
T63 Sung Kang -8 $12,449
T67 Talor Gooch -7 $12,095
T67 Tom Whitney -7 $12,095
T69 Matt Every -6 $11,623
T69 Billy Hurley III -6 $11,623
T69 Smylie Kaufman -6 $11,623
T69 Keith Mitchell -6 $11,623
T69 Rory Sabbatini -6 $11,623
T69 Chris Stroud -6 $11,623
75 John Peterson -5 $11,210
76 Abraham Ancer -4 $11,092
77 Ben Silverman 4 $10,974
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After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard

On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

He picked up one more No. 2, too.

The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

“It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

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Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

“I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.