Cut Line Crime and Punishment
Ryd-ing high. Following two years of contentious press conferences, snide remarks and general ickiness the powers that be seemed intent on making the 2012 Ryder Cup fun for the entire family with this week’s announcements that Jose Maria Olazabal and Davis Love III will captain their respective squads.
A member of Love’s camp told “Cut Line” after the announcement that this “Captain America” intends to “have fun and he’s going to make sure the players have fun.”
Ollie and DL3 are on the “G rated” side of say, John Calipari and neither will light up the press center. “Cut Line” already misses Monty, but they will bring out the best in the players, and the matches.
Old habits. OK, so Tiger Woods’ Wednesday commitment to the Farmers Insurance Open was hardly worth a double take and two days before the deadline is not exactly what some consider an early warning, but it’s a start and will certainly help tournament officials market the event.
According to Farmers Insurance tournament director Tom Wilson ticket sales were already up 15 percent over last year on “rumors” that Woods would return to Torrey Pines for the first time since 2008, and Team Tiger had dropped as many hints as they could.
“(Woods’ manager Mark Steinberg) gave me as much of a heads up as possible,” Wilson said. “We had an idea, so it’s been nice.”
For the record, Woods would not have been the centerpiece of the event’s marketing campaign even if he would have committed two months ago. That honor, as always, goes to the defending champion – someone named Ben Crane.
Tweet of the Week. @PaulAzinger “Davis and Ollie will be terrific captains. Won’t be the usual finger pointing at captains. Press will have to blame players.”
Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)
Sawgrass saga. How is it that everybody has staked out the high ground in the ongoing Lee Westwood v. Players Championship spat and yet the debate still feels petty and political?
Lee Westwood, the game’s current No. 1, can play whatever schedule he wishes, and if that means skipping the so-called “fifth major” to be better prepared for the established Grand Slams then play away.
The PGA Tour, however, has an obligation to its members and would be ill advised to change its rules, again, to better accommodate non-members. The circuit scrambled late last year to exempt The Players from the 10-tournament maximum for non-members, a not-so-veiled move to keep Westwood and Rory McIlroy in The Players fold.
Still, if everyone is right how come this feels so wrong?
Worlds apart. Greg Norman isn’t going to like this. Ditto for PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem, but professional golf is inching its way toward a global tour.
That is, of course, unless Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., would rather bury its collective head in the Palm Springs sand. Three of the top four players in the world and all four major champions from 2010 are playing on the European Tour this week and the crowded calendar is starting to produce casualties.
This year’s Presidents Cup will be played the same week as the South African Open, a scheduling anomaly that will force the game’s top South Africans to choose between a team event and their national championship. And this is not an isolated incident.
A world tour is coming, just don’t tell Norman.
Crime and punishment? Elliot Saltman, the Challenge Tour player accused of incorrectly marking his ball on at least five different occasions during an event last year, was banned from European Tour play for three months, which, considering the gravity of the accusations, is not exactly the death penalty.
Saltman originally acknowledged his mistakes at the Russian Challenge Cup, where two players paired with the Scot refused to sign his scorecard after the round. He later recanted his admission and was in Abu Dhabi to challenge the ruling.
Five separate violations is not accidental behavior and three months for such a blatant breach seems a tad light. Judge Judy would have come down harder than that. Shame on Saltman. Shame on the European Tour.
RIP common sense. Another viewer, another phone call, another baffling disqualification. But this time it isn’t about Padraig Harrington, who was bounced from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship after a viewer called in a violation from Thursday’s play, or even the viewer with far too much free time.
No, the problem is the convoluted Rules of Golf, which completely ignore intent and common sense.
Just take it from Jack Nicklaus, who told Golf Channel’s “Morning Drive” crew earlier this week, “Probably the whole book of the Rules of Golf should be changed. If you try to figure it out, it should be common sense, yet common sense never seems to prevail.”
Holding out Hope. There will be plenty of indignant ink and even more eye rolling at this week’s Bob Hope Classic, which has become a perennial second fiddle to the European Tour’s Abu Dhabi stop.
But know this about the once-storied event, many of its problems are self inflicted.
The tournament’s ill-advised move to the Classic Club lingers among the rank and file, the five-round pro-am format is the professional golf equivalent of liver and onions and the ousting of George Lopez as tournament host in 2008 was simply baffling.
The Hope may deserve better, but so do the players and fans.
Angela hits Sergio in stride on field at Superdome
Sergio and Angela Garcia's super 2017 keeps getting more ... Super ... Dome. (+1 awful blog lede.)
The couple started the year with Sergio's win at the Masters, then embarked on a whirlwind green jacket media tour, then kicked off El Clasico, then attended Wimbledon, then got married, then announced they were expecting their first child ...
And now, they're throwing each other passes on the New Orleans Saints' home turf at the Superdome.
Man, it must be so cool do that at the Silverdome. ... ... ... I'm sorry, it is the Superdome, brothers.
Newsmaker of the Year: No. 1, Justin Thomas
He won a major, captured the FedExCup and was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year. It should come as no surprise that Justin Thomas holds the top spot on our Newsmakers list for 2017.
Thomas entered the year ranked outside the top 20, and few might have pegged him for a transcendent campaign. But he kicked off January with a win in Hawaii, added another before leaving the Aloha State and never looked back.
Thomas’ seminal moment came in August when he captured the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow for his breakthrough major title. One month after greeting Jordan Spieth behind the final green at Royal Birkdale, this time it was Thomas’ turn to have friends stick around to snap pictures with the trophy that signaled his arrival among golf’s upper echelon.
In addition to racking up the hardware – five in total, including the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in his first start of the new wraparound season – Thomas dazzled with style. His runaway win at the Sony Open included an opening-round 59, and his third-round 63 at Erin Hills marked the first time anyone had ever shot 9 under on a U.S. Open venue.
Thomas’ consistency was rewarded at East Lake, when a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship netted him the season-long title and $10 million prize. It was in the subsequent press conference where he shared the goals list he had written into his cell phone in February, having ticked off nearly every one. It showed a dedicated attention to detail as well the tactical approach with which Thomas had steered his rapid ascent.
Heading into a new year, he’s now very clearly entrenched as one of the world’s best. And as his career progresses, it’s likely we’ll look back at 2017 as the point where Thomas first transformed great potential into eye-popping results.
Win No. 1: Title defense at the CIMB Classic
Win Nos. 2 and 3: The Hawaiian double
Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open
Record Round No. 2: 63 at the U.S. Open
Temporary Slide: Open MC makes it three in a row
Mr. Major (and win No. 4): PGA champ at Quail Hollow
Win No. 5: Dell Technologies Championship
The $10 Million Man: FedExCup champ
Biggest Win of All? Player of the Year
And One to Grow On: Wins at CJ Cup in 2017-18 season
Photo Galleries: Best of ...
Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017
GolfChannel.com counted 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. And click here for the full collection of articles.
Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge
ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.
The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.
They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.
Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.
Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.
Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.
''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''
The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.
In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''
Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.