Cut Line: Daly walks away; Tiger steps up

By Rex HoggardNovember 11, 2011, 4:25 pm

SYDNEY – Those who mistakenly refer to this portion of the golf calendar as the “silly season” must not be paying attention. A particularly eventful news cycle has given us Steve Williams unplugged, John Daly unhinged and Tiger Woods unencumbered.

Made Cut

Tiger Woods. Any way you slice it it’s been a good week for the world No. 58. In order he’s doused the flames caused by estranged former caddie Williams, signed a long-missing golf bag endorsement deal, carded his first bogey-free round since Torrey Pines and held his first lead since Augusta National.

On Williams, Woods deftly handled the New Zealander’s racial slur that occurred last week at a function in Shanghai. “Stevie’s certainly not a racist, there’s no doubt about that. It was a comment that shouldn’t have been made and was certainly one that he wished he didn’t make,” Woods said on Tuesday.

On Thursday he carded a flawless 68 followed by a 67 on Day 2 to move into the lead at the Australian Open and announced he has penned an endorsement deal with Fuse Science, a Florida-based sports nutrition company.

“Life goes forward and this is it,” he said.

PGA Tour. It has been the unwieldy elephant in the room for some time. The WGC-HSBC Champions has been a World Golf Championship in name only and the circuit’s fall lineup has, at least until this year, had the feel of a postgame party that no one was invited to.

So news that the Tour is considering a plan that would allow the circuit to begin a new season in the fall was good news on many fronts. The move would allow the HSBC to become an official event without upending the year-end money race and move the Fall Series events into the FedEx Cup portion of the schedule.

Commissioner Tim Finchem told Golfweek magazine that if the Policy Board approves the idea, along with a restructuring of the Nationwide Tour/Q-School process, the new schedule could be in place for the 2013 season.

Next up for Finchem, world peace and Daly’s behavior.


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

The American Presidents Cup bench. Last week U.S. captain Fred Couples said that Steve Stricker, on the shelf since the Tour Championship, “would be fine to play” next week’s matches.

If not, and allowed, he’d consider playing one of his assistant captains. Following Hunter Mahan’s withdrawal from the Australian Open on Friday he may have to press both of his assistants, John Cook and Jay Haas, into action.

Mahan withdrew on Friday after struggling with an ailing right shoulder on Day 1 at The Lakes. Although he sounded like a man who would be ready to play at Royal Melbourne he did leave open the possibility that he may need to be replaced, “If Fred has to call (Couples’ already-identified first alternate Keegan Bradley), then . . .”

Let’s hope that if that call must come it’s in time for Bradley, who wasn’t asked to come to Royal Melbourne and serve as a special assistant just in case, to make the long trek from Florida to Australia.

Lefty’s Hall call. Phil Mickelson sealed his ticket to the World Golf Hall of Fame years ago, yet the question remains – what’s the rush?

At 41 Mickelson is still an active player by any measure, having won this year on the PGA Tour and finishing runner-up at the Open Championship. Induction into the Hall of Fame is time for reflection, something players still looking to pad their resumes are reluctant to do.

By including “active” players the Hall is also doing an injustice to deserving inductees. Consider that Mickelson garnered 72 percent of the vote, while the likes of Ken Venturi and Tony Lema were overlooked, again.

This is an easy fix. If a player isn’t old enough to qualify for a senior discount at the movies he’s not old enough to be considered for the Hall of Fame.


Missed Cut

Indecision ’11. Let’s hope this is the last word on the Tour’s process for determining its end-of-the-year awards and news that the circuit included five candidates for the Player of the Year award seemed obvious enough.

What flummoxed us was news that the ballot also includes five candidates for the Rookie of the Year award. With all due respect to Chris Kirk, Scott Stallings, Brendan Steele and Jhonattan Vegas, this year’s ROY is a one-man race – with an honorable mention going to Masters champion Charl Schwartzel. Keegan Bradley is this year’s top newcomer thanks to two Tour tilts with a PGA Championship high card.

The idea of five “candidates” for the rookie award smacks of a third-grade fun run where everyone earns “participation medals.” If everyone is special no one is.

Tweet of the week I. @BrendanSteele “Happy to be nominated for (Rookie of the Year) but we all know (Keegan Bradley) should get every vote. Unreal year buddy.”

John Daly. Long John seems to have finally exhausted whatever good will remains for him, at least in Australia, following his withdrawal from this week’s Australian Open.

After pumping seven golf balls into a water hazard adjacent The Lakes’ 11th hole on Thursday, Daly bolted the property with his 8-year-old son Patrick in tow. It was his third WD in his past eight tournaments and his 30th early exit in the modern era.

“It is very disappointing for the tournament. It is certainly unprofessional, and I am extremely bitter and disappointed that he has treated this championship this way,” said Trevor Herden, the Australian Open tournament director. “It is becoming a bit of a habit. . . . It is unacceptable and I certainly hope that all the tours deal with it in the appropriate manner this time.”

Only Australian Craig Parry, who was paired with Daly at The Lakes, seemed in any way supportive of the withdrawal.

“He had the right club, he would have reached the green but the wind was blowing pretty hard from left to right,” he said. “I’m sure everyone would like to walk off at some stage in their career.”

Perhaps everyone has considered taking a dive, but only Daly was indifferent enough to do it.

Tweet of the week II. @PGA_JohnDaly “My playing partner Craig Parry’s words are the facts.”

Has someone hacked JD’s account again?

Spieth stalls on Moving Day at Australian Open

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 25, 2017, 4:30 am

Moving Day? Not so much for Jordan Spieth in Round 3 of the Emirates Australian Open.

Spieth, the defending champion and also a winner in 2014, continued to struggle with his putter, shooting 1-under 70 on Saturday at the Australian Golf Club in Sydney.

“I was leaving them short yesterday and today it was kind of misreading, over-reading. I missed a lot of putts on the high side – playing wind or more break,” he said. “I just really haven’t found a nice marriage between line and speed to get the ball rolling.”


Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


The world No. 2 started the day eight off the pace and was unable to make a charge. He had three birdies and two bogeys, including a 4 at the par-5 finishing hole.

Spieth praised his ball-striking in the wind-swept conditions, but lamented his putting, which has hampered him throughout the week.

“Ball-striking’s been fantastic. Just gotta get the putts to go,” he said.

Spieth, who is scheduled to compete in next week’s Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas, is still holding out hope for a third title in four years at this event. He fired a brilliant 63 in very windy conditions to prevail in ’14.

“Tomorrow is forecasted as even windier than today so you can still make up a lot of ground,” he said. “A few years ago I shot a final round that was a nice comeback and anything like that tomorrow can still even be enough to possibly get the job done.”

South Korean LPGA stars lead KLPGA team

By Randall MellNovember 24, 2017, 10:32 pm

South Korea’s LPGA team of all-stars took the early lead Friday on the Korean LPGA Tour in a team event featuring twice as much star power as this year’s Solheim Cup did.

Eight of the world’s top 20 players are teeing it up in the ING Life Champions Trophy/ Inbee Park Invitational in Gyeongju. There were only four players among the top 20 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings when the United States defeated Europe in Des Moines, Iowa.

Park led the LPGA team to a 3 ½-to-2 ½ lead on the first day.

Park, who has been recuperating from a back injury for most of the second half of this season, teamed with Jeongeun Lee5 to defeat Hye Jin Choi and Ji Hyun Kim, 5 and 4, in the lead-off four-ball match.

So Yeon Ryu and Park, former world No. 1s and LPGA Rolex Player of the Year Award winners, will be the marquee pairing on Saturday. They will lead off foursomes against Ji Young Kim and Min Sun Kim.

Nine of the 11 South Koreans who won LPGA events this year are competing. Sung Hyun Park and I.K. Kim are the only two who aren’t.

The fourball results:

LPGA’s Inbee Park/ Jeongeun Lee5 def. Hye Jin Choi/Ji Hyun Kim, 5 and 4.

LPGA’s Mirim Lee/Amy Yang def.  Ji Hyun Oh/Min Sun Kim, 3 and 1.

LPGA’s M.J. Hur/Mi Hyang Lee halved Ji Hyun Kim/Ji Young Kim.

KLPGA’s Ha Na Jang/Sun Woo Bae def. Sei Young Kim/Hyo Joo Kim, 5 and 4.

LPGA’s Na Yeon Choi/Jenny Shin halved Jin Young Ko/Da Yeon Lee

LPGA’s In Gee Chun/Eun Hee Ji halved Jeongeun Lee6/Char Young Kim.

NOTE: The KPGA uses numerals after a player’s name to distinguish players with the exact same name.

 

Cut Line: Lyle faces third bout with cancer

By Rex HoggardNovember 24, 2017, 5:40 pm

In this week’s holiday edition, Cut Line is thankful for the PGA Tour’s continued progress on many fronts and the anticipation that only a Tiger Woods return can generate.

Made Cut

The Fighter. That was the headline of a story Cut Line wrote about Jarrod Lyle following his second bout with cancer a few years ago, so it’s both sad and surreal to see the affable Australian now bracing for a third fight with leukemia.

Lyle is working as an analyst for Channel 7’s coverage of this week’s Emirates Australian Open prior to undergoing another stem cell transplant in December.

“I’ve got a big month coming,” Lyle said. “I’m back into hospital for some really heavy-duty treatment that’s really going to determine how things pan out for me.”

Twice before things have panned out for Lyle. Let’s hope karma has one more fight remaining.

Changing times. Last season the PGA Tour introduced a policy to add to the strength of fields, a measure that had long eluded officials and by most accounts was a success.

This season the circuit has chosen to tackle another long-standing thorn, ridiculously long pro-am rounds. While there seems little the Tour can do to speed up play during pro-am rounds, a new plan called a 9&9 format will at least liven things up for everyone involved.

Essentially, a tournament hosting a pro-am with four amateurs can request the new format, where one professional plays the first nine holes and is replaced by another pro for the second nine.

Professionals will have the option to request 18-hole pro-am rounds, giving players who limit practice rounds to just pro-am days a chance to prepare, but otherwise it allows Tour types to shorten what is an admittedly long day while the amateurs get a chance to meet and play with two pros.

The new measure does nothing about pace of play, but it does freshen up a format that at times can seem tired, and that’s progress.

Tweet of the week: @Love3d (Davis Love III‏) “Thanks to Dr. Flanagan (Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center) for the new hip and great care! Can’t wait to get back to (the PGA Tour).”

Love offered the particularly graphic tweet following hip replacement surgery on Tuesday, a procedure that he admitted he’d delayed because he was “chicken.”

The surgery went well and Love is on pace to return to the Tour sometime next spring. As for the possibility of over-sharing on social media, we’ll leave that to the crowd.


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Distance control. The Wall Street Journal provided the octagon for the opening blows of a clash that has been looming for a long time.

First, USGA executive director Mike Davis told The Journal that the answer to continued distance gains may be a restricted-flight golf ball with an a la carte rule that would allow different organizations, from the Tour all the way down to private clubs, deciding which ball to use.

“You can’t say you don’t care about distance, because guess what? These courses are expanding and are predicted to continue to expand,” Davis said. “The impact it has had has been horrible.”

A day later, Wally Uihlein, CEO of Acushnet, which includes the Titleist brand, fired back in a letter to The Journal, questioning among other things how distance gains are putting a financial burden on courses.

“The only people that seem to be grappling with advances in technology and physical fitness are the short-sighted golf course developers and the supporting golf course architectural community who built too many golf courses where the notion of a 'championship golf course' was brought on line primarily to sell real estate,” Uihlein wrote.

For anyone paying attention the last few years, this day was inevitable and the likely start of what will be a drawn out and heated process, but Cut Line’s just not sure anyone wins when it’s over.

Tiger, take II. Tiger Woods’ return to competition next week at the Hero World Challenge was always going to generate plenty of speculation, but that hyperbole reached entirely new levels this week as players began giving personal accounts of the new and improved 14-time major champion.

“I did talk to him, and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years,’” Day said as he prepared for the Australian Open. “If he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.”

Rickie Fowler added to the frenzy when he was asked this month if the rumors that Woods is driving the ball by him, by 20 to 30 yards by some reports, are true?

“Oh, yeah,” he told Golf.com. “Way by.”

Add to all this a recent line that surfaced in Las Vegas that Woods is now listed at 20-1 to win a major in 2018, and it seems now may be a good time for a restraint.

Golf is better with Woods, always has been and always will be, but it may be best to allow Tiger time to find out where his body and game are before we declare him back.


Missed Cut

Searching for answers. Twelve months ago, Hideki Matsuyama was virtually unstoppable and, regardless of what the Official World Golf Ranking said, arguably the best player on the planet.

Now a year removed from that lofty position, which featured the Japanese star finishing either first or second in six of his seven starts as the New Year came and went, Matsuyama has faded back to fifth in the world and on Sunday finished fifth, some 10 strokes behind winner Brooks Koepka, at the Dunlop Phoenix.

“That hurt,” Matsuyama told the Japan Times. “I don’t know whether it’s a lack of practice or whether I lack the strength to keep playing well. It seems there are many issues to address.”

Since his last victory at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, Matsuyama has just two top-10 finishes on Tour and he ended his 2016-17 season with a particularly poor performance at the Presidents Cup.

While Matsuyama’s take seems extreme considering his season, there are certainly answers that need answering.

Video, images from Tiger, DJ's round with Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 24, 2017, 1:33 pm

Updated at 9:50 p.m. ET

Images and footage from Tiger Woods and Dustin Johnson's round Friday at Trump National in Jupiter, Fla., alongside President Donald Trump:



Original story:

Tiger Woods is scheduled to make his return to competition next week at his Hero World Challenge. But first, a (quick) round with the President.

President Donald Trump tweeted on Friday that he was going to play at Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Fla., alongside Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.



Woods and President Trump previously played last December. Trump, who, according to trumpgolfcount.com has played 75 rounds since taking over the presidency, has also played over the last year with Rory McIlroy, Ernie Els and Hideki Matsuyama.