Cut Line Calm Before the Storm
We’re not saying East Lake is quiet, but there were more cheers for Friday’s Collective Soul concert adjacent the practice tee than for anything that has happened between the ropes. But that’s not to say “Cut Line” was left with an empty notebook.
Ernie Els. Here’s the rub, the big man from South Africa was typecast early. We called him “The Big Easy” when he won his first major in 1994, the nonchalant exterior and syrupy swing belying a smoldering core.
Know this about Theodore Ernest Els: His road to golf’s Hall of Fame was paved with grit, defeat and most of all, perseverance. No one has suffered more at the hands of Tiger Woods’ competitive brilliance than Els, who has finished runner-up to the world No. 1 more times than he cares to count. There were injuries, setbacks and finally the heartbreaking news that his son Ben has autism.
The path to St. Augustine was anything but easy – Els just made it look that way.
Jim “Bones” Mackay. One of the game’s classiest caddies took it to a new level this week, giving up his business-class seat on the U.S. Ryder Cup team’s charter on Sunday to Wales so a rookie looper could enjoy the full experience.
Mackay insisted on taking a seat in the back of the plane when he learned Rickie Fowler’s caddie, Joe Skovron, had been bumped from the flight because of a last-minute plane change that limited the number of business-class seats.
“That’s Bones isn’t it?” Mickelson’s manager Steve Loy said Friday afternoon when told of Mackay’s actions.
With that kind of unselfishness, maybe the Americans aren’t underdogs.
Tweet of the week: @PaulAzinger “Fact: 2008 ten American (Ryder Cup) players in Tour Championship, Europe had one. 2010 USA has nine in Tour Championship, Europe has one. Who’s the favorite.” “Cut Line” is really going to miss Capt. ’Zinger in Wales.
Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)
PGA Tour. It’s nitpicking, really, but tell us again why we couldn’t have flip-flopped last week’s “bye” week and the Tour Championship?
Guys were already running on fumes and East Lake has a TPC Zombie-land feel this week regardless of last week’s R&R, so much so someone should check the Amino Vital for traces of Ambien.
So now nine Americans and one European take that daze to Wales for next week’s Ryder Cup and the luster of both events feels somehow dulled.
“I’m just trying to get through this week,” Jim Furyk said when asked about the Ryder Cup on Thursday.
Someone will win $10 million on Sunday at East Lake, a player of the year will likely be crowned and the news cycle for all these happenings will be about 20 minutes before the world moves on to Wales and the Ryder Cup.
There is such a thing as too much of a good thing.
PGA of America. By this time next week we may be lauding Corey Pavin as a master tactician and heir to the Captain America throne held by Azinger since Valhalla, but it’s tough not to wonder what could have been had Payne Stewart not suffered a far-too-early death and the PGA hadn’t passed on a second go-around for Azinger.
Stewart, who most say would have made a brilliant captain, likely would have captained the U.S. team in 2006 in Ireland, Azinger would have gotten Valhalla and next week in Wales and Davis Love III, the leader in the clubhouse to be named the 2012 skipper, would have rounded out the team.
We hate to Friday-morning quarterback Pavin, but that trifecta would have been hard to ignore, and probably hard to beat.
Colin Montgomerie. No, not the Justin Rose-Paul Casey snub, the former Englishman is taking care of that this week at East Lake. We tag Capt. Colin because the Scot decided to announce he is already locked into his Day 1 lineup and that all 12 of his men will play in the opening frame.
It’s one thing to have a plan, even a good plan, but blind allegiance is dangerous and unproductive. Maybe the Molinari tandem will be the homerun everyone thinks it will be, but does a 5-and-4 morning whipping really justify an afternoon try?
Monty should ask Hal Sutton, the author of the great Tiger Woods-Phil Mickelson experiment, about the ills of getting locked into a plan.
Tiger Woods. It’s been the meanest of seasons for Woods, professionally and personally, but failing to qualify for the Tour Championship for the first time in his career is rock bottom by any measure.
New swing coach Sean Foley says Woods’ swing is coming along nicely and Steve Stricker seems inspired by the chance to be the tonic that cures the world No. 1’s competitive ills.
But there is no sugarcoating it: Between the ropes Woods missed the cut in 2010.
Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational
Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.
The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.
Rose leads Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs
JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose completed the final two holes of his second round early Saturday for a 3-under 69 and a one-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters.
Rose, who had a first-round 62, was among a quarter of the field forced off the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course after weather delays on Friday.
The Englishman, who bogeyed his last hole, had a two-round total of 13-under 131.
Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who completed his 64 on Friday, was in second place.
Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. 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. He has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season.
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