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?

Getty Images

McCoy earns medalist honors at Q-School

By Will GrayDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 am

One year after his budding career was derailed by a car accident, Lee McCoy got back on track by earning medalist honors at the final stage of Tour Q-School.

McCoy shot a final-round 65 at Whirlwind Golf Club in Chandler, Ariz., to finish the 72-hole event at 28 under. That total left him two shots ahead of Sung-Jae Im and guaranteed him fully-exempt status on the developmental circuit in 2018.

It's an impressive turnaround for the former University of Georgia standout who finished fourth at the 2016 Valspar Championship as an amateur while playing alongside Jordan Spieth in the final round. But he broke his wrist in a car accident the day before second stage of Q-School last year, leaving him without status on any major tour to begin the year.

McCoy was not the only player who left Arizona smiling. Everyone in the top 10 and ties will be exempt through the first 12 events of the new Tour season, a group that includes former amateur standouts Curtis Luck (T-3), Sam Burns (T-10) and Maverick McNealy (T-10).

Players who finished outside the top 10 but inside the top 45 and ties earned exemptions into the first eight events of 2018. That group includes Cameron Champ (T-16), who led the field in driving at this year's U.S. Open as an amateur, and Wyndham Clark (T-23).

Everyone who advanced to the final stage of Q-School will have at least conditional Tour status in 2018. Among those who failed to secure guaranteed starts this week were Robby Shelton, Rico Hoey, Jordan Niebrugge, Joaquin Niemann and Kevin Hall.

Els honored with Heisman Humanitarian Award

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 11:41 pm

The annual Heisman Trophy award ceremony is one of the biggest moments in any football season, but there was a touching non-football moment as well on Saturday night as Ernie Els received the Heisman Humanitarian Award.

The award, which had been announced in August, recognized Els' ongoing efforts on behalf of his Els for Autism foundation. Els received the award at Manhattan's PlayStation Theater, where Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy.

Els, 47, founded Els for Autism in 2009 with his wife after their son, Ben, was diagnosed with autism. Their efforts have since flourished into a 26-acre campus in Jupiter, Fla., and the creation of the Els Center for Excellence in 2015.

The Heisman Humanitarian Award has been given out since 2006. Past recipients include NBA center David Robinson, NFL running back Warrick Dunn, soccer star Mia Hamm and NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon.

A native of South Africa, Els won the U.S. Open in 1994 and 1997 and The Open in 2002 and 2012. He has won 19 times on the PGA Tour and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011.

Getty Images

Monday finish for Joburg Open; Sharma leads by 4

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 8:57 pm

Rain, lightning and hail pushed the Joburg Open to a Monday finish, with India’s Shubhankar Sharma holding a four-stroke lead with 11 holes to play in Johannesburg.

Play is scheduled to resume at 7:30 a.m. local time.

South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen will have a 3-foot putt for birdie to move within three shots of Sharma wen play resumes at the Randpark Golf Club. Sarma is at 22 under par.

Tapio Pulkkanen of Finland and James Morrison of England are tied for third at 14 under. Pulkkanen has 10 holes remaining, Morrison 11.

The top three finishers who are not already exempt, will get spots in next year’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.



Stricker, O'Hair team to win QBE Shootout

By Will GrayDecember 10, 2017, 8:55 pm

It may not count in the official tally, but Steve Stricker is once again in the winner's circle on the PGA Tour.

Stricker teamed with Sean O'Hair to win the two-person QBE Shootout, as the duo combined for a better-ball 64 in the final round to finish two shots clear of Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry. It's the second win in this event for both men; Stricker won with Jerry Kelly back in 2009 while O'Hair lifted the trophy with Kenny Perry in 2012.

Stricker and O'Hair led wire-to-wire in the 54-hole, unofficial event after posting a 15-under 57 during the opening-round scramble.

"We just really gelled well together," Stricker said. "With his length the first day, getting some clubs into the greens, some short irons for me, we just fed off that first day quite a bit. We felt comfortable with one another."

Full-field scores from the QBE Shootout

Stricker won 12 times during his PGA Tour career, most recently at the 2012 Tournament of Champions. More recently the 50-year-old has been splitting his time on the PGA Tour Champions and captained the U.S. to a victory at the Presidents Cup in October. O'Hair has four official Tour wins, most recently at the 2011 RBC Canadian Open.

Pat Perez and Brian Harman finished alone in third, four shots behind Stricker and O'Hair. Lexi Thompson and Tony Finau, the lone co-ed pairing in the 12-team event, finished among a tie for fourth.