Cut Line: Court for Vijay; Rest for Rory

By Rex HoggardMay 19, 2017, 8:35 pm

Saturday is Moving Day in golf, but there’s already been plenty of movement this week, including the PGA Tour’s season-long points race entering its second decade with momentum, Vijay Singh finally get his moment in court and distance-measuring devices making their professional debut.

Made Cut

FedEx future. Lost within the frenzied happenings of what turned out to be a busy week at TPC Sawgrass was the PGA Tour’s announcement that FedEx had signed on to sponsor the circuit’s season-long points race through 2027.

When that current contract is completed it will mark 21 years for the playoffs, which means there’s a good chance there will be a Tour player whose only point of reference in professional golf is the season-long competition.

Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said last week there’s already 68 percent of the Tour whose earliest memories of pro golf involve the playoffs, and as the event inches toward that 21-year mark that association is only going to grow.

“What we forget, here we are at The Players after 40-plus years, you go to other events that have been around a long, long time, the cup is only in its 11th year,” Monahan said. “It’s still embryonic, but you get out 20 years and look at the trajectory of big events over time and it starts morphing and growing. That’s where strength is created. We always knew it would take time.”

After last week’s announcement, time is certainly on the Tour’s side.

Tweet of the week: @Lexi (Lexi Thompson) “Honored to announce my partnership w/ [SEAL Legacy Foundation] by fulfilling a lifelong dream & skydiving w/ 4 Navy SEALs into my Pro-Am.”

Although Thompson’s entrance from 10,000 feet for her pro-am on Wednesday at the Kingsmill Championship was impressive, her decision to team with the SEAL Legacy Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing support to families of wounded and fallen U.S. Navy SEALs, was truly inspired.



Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Down Range. In March, the USGA and R&A unveiled a list of proposed changes to the Rules of Golf that included the possible use of distance-measuring devices (DMDs) in competitions.

At this week’s BMW Charity Pro-Am on the Web.com Tour, players are being allowed to use distance-measuring devices during competition rounds. The rule maker’s reasoning for the proposed change was that, “distance is public information a player may get from anyone; and on most courses, this information is found on sprinkler heads, markers, posts, etc.”

Officially, the idea that by allowing the use of DMDs it will also help speed up play, which has become a particularly hot take in recent months, is not mentioned in the USGA’s announcement, but it has been implied.

This week’s event on the Web.com Tour will be an interesting test of that theory, but if player reaction to the concept of DMDs speeding up play is any indication the powers-that-be shouldn’t have high expectations.

Holding court. On the same day Vijay Singh moved into contention at last week’s Players with a second-round 68, a New York Supreme Court judge ruled that his lawsuit against the Tour should go to trial.

Four years after suing the Tour for what Singh claimed was the circuit’s reckless administration of its anti-doping program, judge Eileen Bransten paved the way to a possible legal showdown when she partially denied the Tour’s request for summary judgment regarding Singh’s claims the circuit breached its implied covenant by suspending him for his use of deer-antler spray before consulting with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

“We are very pleased. We think this is a great victory for Vijay and all the members of the PGA Tour,” Singh’s lawyer Jeff Rosenblum said. “I think it’s a victory for all pro golfers and future pro golfers that the Tour will be held accountable for its actions when it acts unreasonably and unfairly.”

At the heart of this issue is the damage that Singh claims was done to his reputation by the Tour’s decision to suspend him, a sanction that was later withdrawn after the circuit consulted with WADA.

Any time golf ends up in court it’s not great, but as Rosenblum points out, the lawsuit is a chance for the Tour to refine an anti-doping policy that – without the protections provided athletes in other sports by unions and collective bargaining agreements – probably needs some tweaks.


Missed Cut

More rehab for Rors. When he bolted TPC Sawgrass last week following a tie for 35th, Rory McIlroy was cautiously optimistic the rib ailment that slowed him at The Players was nothing serious and an MRI on Monday confirmed that there was no new injury.

But news on Friday that McIlroy, who missed seven weeks because of a rib injury earlier this year, would skip next week’s BMW PGA Championship was still unsettling.

“Having had a reaction to my earlier rib injury, I have been advised to take a conservative approach to my recovery . . .,” McIlroy said in a statement. “It’s a disappointing decision to have to make, but I have to ensure I make a full recovery. I will now continue the process of preparing my game for the U.S. Open and the rest of the season.”

Although the cup still seems half full for the world No. 2, back injuries have taken a toll on the game’s best this season, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson missing the Masters with an ailing back and Tiger Woods announcing in April he’d undergone his fourth back surgery. If the collective isn’t as calm as McIlroy we’ve certainly come by our anxiety honestly.

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Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys

By Rex HoggardDecember 14, 2017, 7:00 pm

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?

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Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 5:28 pm

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

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 4:22 pm

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.


Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters


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.

Nathaniel Crosby at the 1983 Bing Crosby Pro-Am at Pebble Beach. Getty Images

Crosby selected as 2019 U.S. Walker Cup captain

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 3:19 pm

The USGA announced that former U.S. Amateur champ Nathaniel Crosby will serve as the American captain for the 2019 Walker Cup, which will be played at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England.

Crosby, 56, is the son of entertainment icon and golf enthusiast Bing Crosby. He won the 1981 U.S. Amateur at The Olympic Club as a teenager and earned low amateur honors at the 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He also played in the 1983 Walker Cup, coincidentally held at Royal Liverpool, before embarking on a brief career in professional golf, with his amateur status reinstated in 1994.

"I am thrilled and overwhelmed to be chosen captain of the next USA Walker Cup team," Crosby said in a statement. "Many of my closest friends are former captains who will hopefully take the time to share their approaches in an effort to help me with my new responsibilities."

Crosby takes over the captaincy from John "Spider" Miller, who led the U.S. squad both in 2015 and earlier this year, when the Americans cruised to a 19-7 victory at Los Angeles Country Club.

Crosby is a Florida resident and member at Seminole Golf Club, which will host the 2021 matches. While it remains to be seen if he'll be asked back as captain in 2021, each of the last six American captains have led a team on both home and foreign soil.

Started in 1922, the Walker Cup is a 10-man, amateur match play competition pitting the U.S. against Great Britain and Ireland. The U.S. team holds a 37-9 all-time lead in the biennial matches but has not won in Europe since 2007.