Cut Line Bye BMW Hello Super Bowl
The Tour Championship may not be golf’s Super Bowl, just ask Tiger Woods, but it’s interesting exclamation point on three hurried weeks and a reason, finally, to look forward to East Lake.
Merion/Walker Cup. The two-day match likely slipped under many fans’ radar, and that’s a shame.
Forget about the United States’ walkover, which gives the red, white and bling a clean sweep of all the game’s major Cups right now, the event itself has been described as the purest in all golf, featured an impressive swansong for Rickie Fowler, who went 4-0 before turning pro, and showcased a classic American layout.
Jason Gore once told “Cut Line” he considered giving up Tour life not long ago and reapplying for his amateur status in hopes of playing in another Walker Cup, and if one watched any of the proceedings last week you could see why.
We also got a taste of Merion, that classic gem that had been made an afterthought by the modern game. Short and quirky with devilish greens, the U.S. Golf Association will take some attendance lumps at a Merion Open but it will be worth every penny.
As for the future of American golf, that 16 ½-9 ½ thumping says it all.
Dismantling of the grass ceiling. Some say Shoal Creek and the 1990 PGA debacle forced golf to take a hard look at its exclusionary practices, at least on the major championship level. Condoleeza Rice’s recent actions may force the game’s powers to take another hard look at the Alabama layout.
The world learned last week that Rice had become a member of the Birmingham club. While there may be too much bad blood to bring Shoal Creek back into the Grand Slam fold, Rice’s name has also surfaced as a potential member at Augusta National.
The move could also spur action at other clubs that have been excluded from the major championship conversation because of membership issues like Chicago’s Butler National and Cypress Point in California. Rice’s move may not be a game-changer, but it certainly makes the game much more inclusive.
Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)
Brandt Snedeker. It was an ugly and utterly unexpected moment for the Tennessee towhead. A two-putt from 12 feet last week at Cog Hill’s 18th hole and he’s playing next week’s Tour Championship, four unsightly swipes later he was out of the playoffs.
Snedeker cost himself at least $90,125, the two-stroke difference between a T-6 and his eventual tie for 10th and a guaranteed $2,000 for last place at East Lake, as well as starts in the Masters, U.S. Open and British Open, but he earned a ton of currency with the half dozen scribes and two dozen autograph seekers, or where they mourners, who he dutifully accommodated outside the clubhouse.
We once asked Roberto De Vicenzo, the author of perhaps the game’s most-glaring gaffe at the 1968 Masters, if he would do things different if he could. “No,” he said. “For 30 years it made me cry. Now, it makes me smile.”
Chicago golf. The landscape of Chicago has suddenly become very interesting. Although the $5.2 million makeover Cog Hill underwent before this year’s BMW Championship was met with mixed reviews, at best, the USGA had to like the eventual champion as well as the scoring.
Although Tiger Woods finished at 19 under, only three other players finished with double digit under-par totals on a course that didn’t play anywhere near the tips and with little rough. And Rees Jones also gave USGA set-up man Mike Davis plenty of teeing options.
Chicagoland now has two viable Open options, Cog Hill and Olympia Fields, and from what we saw of Medinah’s No. 3 course last week the PGA Championship now has a comfy second home in the “Second City.”
A generation on scholarship. The playoffs aren’t perfect, and no amount of creative math will change that. Golf has four Super Bowls and they are played in April, June, July and August. But the Tour now has a feverish finish that’s worth watching, with all the pieces of the marquee in place and a Tour Championship that, however contrived, means something.
Woods won the BMW Championship by eight strokes and had his lead cut from 1,504 points to 250 points, as good a reason as any to mail a calculator to Ponte Vedra Beach. But without the heavy-handed reset, East Lake would be about as suspenseful as an Atlanta Braves game.
The Tour also found a cure for mediocrity, as evidenced by a comment in a recent edition of Golfweek magazine by Brett Quigley. “I know I controlled my own destiny, but it’s still a little frustrating. I made the cut both (playoff) weeks and dropped 26 positions,” Quigley said.
We like Quigley, truth is it’s hard not to, but a tie for 67th (Barclays) and 61st (Deutsch Bank Championship) is, by definition, mediocre play and should not be rewarded. And that may be the best endorsement of the Tour’s current model we’ve heard.
Jim Thorpe. The Champions Tour staple pled guilty to two counts of failure to pay income taxes last week.
Thorpe agreed to pay all taxes (more than $1.5 million), interest and penalties to the Internal Revenue Service for 2002-2004. It’s the second time he’s run afoul of the IRS. In 1993 and 1994 Thorpe had 'significant' income, but the IRS had no record of tax returns having been filed. At the time Thorpe said he had two accountants and he thought they were handling his taxes.
An old Tour saw comes to mind. All Tour players are Republicans, until they miss a cut and then they become Democrats.
Rose leads halted Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs
JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters when bad weather stopped play Friday during the second round.
The Englishman, who shot a 10-under 62 on Thursday, had completed 13 holes and was 5 under on the day at the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course.
Kiradech Aphibarnrat (64) was in second place.
Brandt Snedeker withdrew wit on the 11th hole at 2 under for the day after shooting an opening 72.
There was no reason given for his withdrawal, but the American has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.
Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump
Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.
Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.
None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.
Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.
An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.
In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.
Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.
Playing with the pros
Tiger, DJ and Faxon
President at the Presidents Cup
Purported round of 73 with Lindsey Graham
Cart on the green
Presence and protests at U.S. Women's Open
Trump golf properties
Reportedly fake TIME covers
Trump apologizes for voter-fraud story
Pros comment on the president
Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017
GolfChannel.com is counting down the top 10 Newsmakers of the Year as voted on by Golf Channel’s writers, editors, reporters and producers. Check out the list below, including future release dates. And click here for the full collection of articles.
No. 1: Dec. 18
Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo
Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Really good at golf. Really good at vacationing.
With #SB2K18 still months away, Thomas and Spieth headlined a vacation to Cabo San Lucas, and this will shock you but it looks like they had a great time.
Spring break veteran Smylie Kaufman joined the party, as did Thomas' roommate, Tom Lovelady, who continued his shirtless trend.
The gang played all the hits, including shoeless golf in baketball jerseys and late nights with Casamigos tequila.
In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.