Cut Line The Crosby Conundrum

By Rex HoggardFebruary 12, 2011, 1:50 am
The Clambake is never a good week to miss the cut because that means one less round on venerable Pebble Beach Golf Links, not that Tiger Woods, who hasn’t played the old Crosby since 2002, seems much interested in the greatest meeting of land and sea.

Made Cut

Common sense. At least that’s what PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem hopes will prevail when the U.S. Golf Association comes up with a solution to the rules issue du jour.

Finchem, who met with the USGA last week to discuss a series of disqualifications resulting from incorrect scorecards, said he expects there will be “a few, little, small” changes to the rule, but also stressed that the Tour will continue to investigate potential violations that are reported from viewers, like the ones that got Camilo Villegas and Padraig Harrington bounced earlier this year.

“We like the fact that people call in. We like the fact people who watch the telecasts get excited about something they see,” Finchem said.

Lucas Glover said it best during an interview this week on Golf Channel’s “Morning Drive:”  “I’d rather be correct than be called a cheater.”

European Ryder Cup. Last year’s captain Colin Montgomerie said of the wildcard selection process, “that was a terrible day for me.” We can only guess how Paul Casey felt that day, having been left off the team despite being ranked seventh in the world at the time.

All of which partially explains why Europe’s 2012 skipper Jose Maria Olazabal went back to a two-pick system. But the more interesting element of the new European selection process is the qualifying window.

The Europeans start collecting points at the European Masters this September, which is similar to the changes made by 2008 U.S. captain Paul Azinger when he weighted his system heavily toward the most recent 12 months going into Valhalla.

It’s tough to argue with Azinger’s results. Now, if only the jackets that run the world golf ranking could come around to the single-calendar concept.

Frank Chirkinian. Credit must also go to Finchem and Jim Nantz for leading the campaign that landed the man known as “the father of televised golf” in the World Golf Hall of Fame.

There are no shortage of curious HOF misses each year, but had Chirkinian, who was diagnosed with lung cancer in September, been inducted into the Hall too late to enjoy the honor, it would have somehow seemed empty.

“He created the template for how golf is televised,” Nantz told Golf Channel insider and Golf World senior writer Tim Rosaforte. “There's not a golf show on the air anywhere that does not have Chirkinian’s finger prints on it.”

Tweet of the week: @geoffogilvy “10 years ago this week I played my first Pebble Beach Pro-Am, and this week to celebrate that milestone I thought I would play my second.”
Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Timing. If urban legend is to be believed, Woods was coming back to the Clambake for the first time since 2002 before fate and timing intervened.

According to multiple Tour sources, former-Woods-sponsor AT&T lobbied to reduce the field size at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am and to have Poppy Hills removed from the Crosby rotation and replaced with the popular Shore Course at Monterey Peninsula Country Club a few years back.

It was all designed to woo Woods back to the Pro-Am and it would have worked, some say, if not for the scandal that gripped golf last year. Amid allegations of serial infidelity AT&T dropped its sponsorship of Woods and likely cost Pebble Beach an encore visit from the former world No. 1.

From the reality-is-stranger-than-fiction department: one of the few people who could actually afford a green fee at Pebble Beach won’t even consider a few “comp” rounds.

New tunes. Darius Rucker of 'Hootie and the Blowfish' fame has penned a song for the PGA Tour called “Together, Anything is Possible.” We can only assume the lyrics “Together, any round can be played in four hours” must have already been taken.

Jones-ing for a rematch. The good news for Brendan Jones is that at 61st in the world ranking he’s probably a lock to make the field for the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, which will be set with Monday’s rankings.

The bad news is if someone withdraws or Tiger Woods drops in the ranking he may get a rematch of the worst kind. Jones went down to Woods, 3 and 2, at the 2009 Match Play in the latter’s first event back following an 8-month hiatus from competitive golf.
Missed Cut

U.S. Golf Association. Or, maybe the “MC” should go to the world golf ranking, but in this case the blemish is best shared.

Last weekend’s announcement that the USGA will rely more on the ranking instead of various money lists for entry into the U.S. Open seemed like an easy enough decision until one talks to the players impacted the most by the current ranking.

“Get rid of the ‘home tour’ bonus, get rid of appearance fees, get rid of the two-year rotation, up the purses in Europe and see where the guys want to play. If you want a legitimate ranking, that’s what you would have to do,” Arron Oberholser said.

There is no easy fix for the current system, and there may not be a remedy considering the fragmented state of the global game, but this much is certain, ignoring the problems and making the curious ranking math even more important is no substitute for real solutions.

European Tour. News that the circuit is set to announce the 2018 Ryder Cup site seemed to dovetail with speculation that the event will go to the highest bidder, a nondescript list that includes one layout that hasn’t been built in Spain.

With a monsoon of respect for the most recent European venues – The Belfry, The K Club and Muddy Manor, eh . . . Celtic Manor – “Cut Line” has two words for the powers that be: Castle Stuart.

The new links just outside of Inverness in northern Scotland looks like it’s been there for 200 years, which is an accomplishment in a country where anything built after 1900 is consider nouveau, has ample space for parking and corporate tents and enough risk/reward holes to make the USGA’s Mike Davis giddy with possibilities.

And for those who worry about the weather in northern Scotland in September we offer a simple question: Could the forecast have been much worse in Scotland last October than in Wales?

Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo

By Grill Room TeamDecember 15, 2017, 1:05 am

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.

Image via tom.lovelady on Instagram.

In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.

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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.