Cut Line Commish In Dubai Out
Without the worry of weather woes, however, “Cut Line” forges ahead following a hurried week of surprise introductions and even more surprising omissions.
Wanted. New LPGA commish. Must be pragmatic, polite, connected and insightful with some experience in the golf industry preferred.
Enter Michael Whan, a boyish-looking 44-year-old with Scottish roots which will come in handy as he attempts to play into a two-club economic headwind with a tour that weathered perhaps its most turbulent year.
Whan was off to a good start, bolting his New York introduction party for a meeting of tournament owners in California. Next order of business: lure Annika Sorenstam out of retirement, get Michelle Wie off the victory schneid and convince papa Tiger that Sam Alexis Woods is plenty old enough to give LPGA Q-School a whirl.
Youth. A couple of good Fall Series weeks are hardly reason to declare golf reinvented, but Rickie Fowler and Jamie Lovemark – to say nothing of Rory McIlroy, Ryo Ishikawa, Kyle Stanley and Michael Sim – are making 20 look like the new 30 on Tour.
It’s best, however, to avoid unrealistic comparisons. Contrary to the Japanese media’s claim, Ishikawa is not the next Tiger Woods. As for Fowler, one observer compared him to a bold, young Lanny Wadkins (not bad company considering Wadkins gets his Hall of Fame nod on Monday), while Stanley has the work ethic and single-minded focus of Vijay Singh, and Lovemark the daring confidence of Phil Mickelson (either the younger or older version).
As for McIlroy, he may be the most complete player in the group at the moment. Now, if only he could decide which side of the big pond he wants to conquer next year.
Seve Ballesteros. Treatment following four brain surgeries is going well and the Spaniard’s recent interview on the BBC showed a man drained by the medical process but nowhere close to dormie.
“The medical results are very good, but it is necessary he rests,” Ballesteros’ nephew, Ivan, wrote in an e-mail this week.
We’ve seen this match before, the fearless Spaniard 1 down in a match and he gets up-and-down from a parking lot to secure the title. It never gets old or uninspiring.
Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)
Charles Barkley. Still not sure his swing is any better now than it was before he started working with Hank Haney, although in Haney’s defense it wasn’t from a lack of effort or insight, but Sir Charles is nothing if not the master of the hilariously obvious.
During an interview this week on “The Late Show with David Letterman,” Barkley passed the buck when he was asked about the state of his game.
“I think Hank’s the problem,” he smiled. “He teaches Tiger Woods, really? You gonna rest your hat on that. Anybody can help Tiger. But I’m the problem here.”
Pinehurst tinkering. By some estimates No. 2 had lost some of its charm and championship quality over the years and it’s hard to imagine a better tandem to give the grande dame a nip/tuck than the uber-architectural pairing of Ben Crenshw and Bill Coore.
According to reports, the makeover will ready the course for the 2014 U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open and will not feature much additional length, which is a new concept in major championship once overs.
Yet the concern is that Donald Ross spent a lifetime tinkering No. 2 to perfection and as much as we like the Coore/Crenshaw portfolio (not for nothing, but Sugarloaf Mountain in central Florida is quietly the area’s best layout) it’s hard to imagine anyone recapturing that magic.
Race to Dubai. The R2D got the MC not because economic circumstances robbed the big finish of 25 percent of its bank, but because it’s created a system that has left one of the European Tour’s top players inexplicably on the bench this week.
Francesco Molinari, No. 12 on the tour’s R2D standings and 45th in the world ranking, is enjoying this week’s action at both Euro Tour events (Volvo World Match Play and Singapore Open) like the rest of us, on the television, because of some seriously convoluted and confusing eligibility requirements.
Although Molinari was offered a last-minute exemption when Chris Wood withdrew from the Match Play on Monday, he declined because he wouldn’t have been able to properly prepare. The point is, he shouldn’t need a freebie to protect his status this late in the R2D race.
And if all that wasn’t enough, players at this week’s Match Play event at Finca Cortesin Golf Club in Spain are having to ride buggies from greens to far-flung tees at least 10 times. What would Coore and Crenshaw think?
Nationwide Tour. Some promotions are better than others, a tough lesson Michael Sim learned following his third victory on the Nationwide Tour on Aug. 23.
Since his “battlefield promotion,” the Aussie has managed just two Tour starts, the Turning Stone Resort Championship, which he played on a sponsor exemption, and this week’s Viking Classic, which will likely be the only event he will qualify for with his “promotion” status.
Timing is partially to blame, with his third victory coming just as the Tour’s playoffs began, but it must really be a tough economy when promotions come with that much small print.
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.
Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys
After careful consideration and an exhaustive review of 2017 we present The Rexys, a wildly incomplete and arbitrary line up following one of the most eventful years in golf.
There will be omissions – just keep your calls, concerns and even e-mails to yourself. We appreciate your patronage, but not your feedback.
It’s Not You, It’s Me Award. You know the deal: You can’t be a part of two until you’re a better one; but on this front it’s really just a desire to find a better two.
It was a tough year for caddies, and not just any caddies. In June, Phil Mickelson split with longtime bagman Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both player and caddie cited the need for “change,” but the move reverberated throughout the game.
“The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.
In the wake of the Lefty/Bones break, Rory McIlroy split with his caddie J.P Fitzgerald, and Jason Day replaced looper/swing coach Colin Swatton on his bag. It all proves yet again that there are only two kinds of caddies, those who have been fired and those who are about to be fired.
Run for the Rose Cup. Sergio Garcia got the green jacket, a lifetime exemption to the game’s most coveted member-member and a long-awaited major, but Justin Rose took home the slightly less prestigious “Rose Cup.”
Following a frenzied afternoon at Augusta National in April, Rose lost to Garcia on the first playoff hole, but he won so much more with his honesty and class.
“You're going to win majors and you're going to lose majors, but you've got to be willing to lose them,” Rose figured following the final round. “You've got to put yourself out there. You've got to hit the top of the leaderboard. There's a lot of pressure out there and if you're not willing to enjoy it, then you're not ready to win these tournaments. I loved it out there.”
Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.
Half-Empty Cup. It was the perfect setting, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and the promise of the Tristate masses descending on this fall’s Presidents Cup.
If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.
For the sixth time in the last seven matches, the U.S. team rolled to a victory of at least three points. This particular edition was even in danger of ending on Saturday afternoon thanks to a particularly dominant performance by a young American squad led by Steve Stricker.
Officials spoke of the purity of the competition and the attention the ’17 cup generated, but however you spin the 19-11 rout, this cup is half empty.
Enigma Award. The actual hardware is simply an oversized question mark and was sent directly to Tiger Woods’ South Florida compound following the most curious of seasons.
While it’s become customary in recent years to consider the uncertain path that awaits the 14-time major winner, this most recent calendar brought an entirely new collection of questions following fusion surgery on his lower back in April, his arrest for DUI on Memorial Day and, finally, a glimmer of hope born from his tie for ninth at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.
When will he play again? Can he compete against the current generation of world-beaters? Can his body withstand the rigors of a full PGA Tour schedule? Should Jim Furyk make him a captain’s pick now or wait to see if he should be driving a vice captain’s golf cart instead?
Little is certain when it comes to Woods, and the over-sized question mark goes to ... the guy in red and black.
After Further Review Chalice. In April, Lexi Thompson endured a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, the byproduct of a surreal ruling that arrived a day late via a viewer e-mail and cost the would-be winner a major championship.
The entire event was so unsavory that the USGA and R&A made not one but two alterations to the rules and created a “working group” to avoid similar snafus in the future.
That working group – it turns out the U.S. Ryder Cup team has some sort of copyright on “task force” – initially issued a decision that introduced a “reasonable judgment” and a “naked eye” standard to video reviews, and last week the rule makers kept the changes coming.
The new protocols on video review will now include an official to monitor tournament broadcasts and ended the practice of allowing fans to call in, or in this case e-mail, possible infractions to officials. The USGA and R&A also eliminated the two-stroke penalty for players who sign incorrect scorecards when the player is unaware of the penalty.
While all this might be a step in the right direction, it does nothing to change Thompson’s fate. The AFR Chalice won’t change the harsh reality, but at least it will serve as a reminder of how she helped altered the rulemaking landscape.
Nothing Runs Like a Deere Award. Nothing gets fans fired up like officials turning fields of fescue rough into hay on the eve of a major championship, and the USGA’s decision to do some 11th-hour trimming at Erin Hills in June certainly caught many by surprise.
Officials said the nip/tuck on four holes was in reaction to a particularly foreboding forecast that never materialized, and the maintenance drew the ire of some players.
“We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” Rory McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here; if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”
The record low scoring at the U.S. Open – winner Brooks Koepka finished with a 16-under total – didn’t help ease the fervor and had some questioning whether the softer side of the USGA has gone a bit too far?
Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'
John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.
That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.
Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.
Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid
Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.
Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.
Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.
World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.
Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.