Cut Line: Do what you Love

By Rex HoggardOctober 19, 2012, 8:56 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – They call it “island time” in this slice of the Golden Isles, a gentle, languid pace that moves with all the urgency of swaying moss – and the golf seems to have taken a cue from the laidback landscape this week.

From McGladrey Classic host Davis Love III’s measured return to normalcy, to the U.S. Golf Association’s slow slide toward a resolution on the long putter debate, Cut Line goes off the clock for this week’s edition.


Made Cut

More than a caddie. There are no caddies in the World Golf Hall of Fame but let Cut Line be the first, or 10th, to unofficially nominate looping legend Fanny Sunesson for induction.

No, Sunesson never hit a shot that mattered, never holed a winning putt, never held a lead at a major championship, but as news surfaced this week that she has retired from the caddie yard because of an ailing back Henrik Stenson, her boss until late last year, put her worth in context.

“Her knowledge, her preparation, the way she carried herself on the golf course, you knew that if you didn’t have a piece of information, no one else in the field had it,” Stenson said. “When she was with me I always felt comfortable and she stayed with me the whole time, even when I wasn’t playing well. We were always a team.”

Sunesson’s resume would certainly be St. Augustine, Fla., ready, with four major championship victories with Nick Faldo along with the 2009 Players Championship and 2007 WGC-Accenture Match Play with Stenson.

And if all that wasn’t enough, imagine the induction party. Caddies always throw the best parties.

Tweet of the week: @NickFaldo006 (Nick Faldo) “As we strode down the 14th fairway (at the) Open in 1990 two (shots) ahead, to break the tension Fanny asks, ‘Are you thinking of getting a dog?’”

Moving on from Medinah. Late Thursday night, hours after he’d signed for a first-round 65 at The McGladrey Classic, Davis Love III was putting the finishing touches on a party for Tour players and their families at his home when someone asked his plans for Friday morning?

“Paddle boarding,” he smiled, however wearily.

It would have been easy, and perfectly understandable, for Love to go “underground” in the wake of last month’s Ryder Cup loss (there is still an APB out for Hal Sutton), but that’s not really his style.

Instead Love played the next two events after Medinah and arrived home to St. Simons Island this week with a full plate of hosting duties, including his final policy board meeting as a player director during Monday and Tuesday’s pairings party at his house.

The full slate was probably helpful considering America’s Sunday collapse at Medinah. “(Zach Johnson) asked if I was over the Ryder Cup yet and I said, ‘No, I don’t think I’ll ever get over it.’ It was so much fun to be part of that team,” Love said on Thursday.

Love will always be “that captain” to middle America, but to so many others he is much more than the sum of his Medinah parts.


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

A true farm system. The PGA Tour seemed to inch closer to a more detailed development system this week with news that the Canadian Tour would become the PGA Tour Canada, complete with access to the Web.com Tour for the circuit’s top players.

Like the PGA Tour Latinoamérica, which debuted this year, the top 5 players from the Canada circuit’s money list will graduate to the Web.com Tour and the next five will receive exemptions to the final stage of Q-School.

It is curious, however, that an organization that once seemed void of an atlas, (considering that three of the four World Golf Championships are played within the confines of the Lower 48) has forgotten that charity starts at home.

The global development of the game is encouraging, but what of the thousands of young American golfers who would welcome the same chance as their colleagues in South America and Canada?

For American college players who don’t ace their first Q-School test, the alternative is a year north or south of the border. Give the Tour credit for growing the game, but it just seems like they missed a step along the way.

The long journey for long putters.The U.S. Golf Association and Royal & Ancient Golf Club seem to be inching toward a resolution on long putters, and anchoring.

On Monday USGA executive director Mike Davis made a presentation to the Tour’s Policy Board at Sea Island. Although an official statement from the USGA suggests that the ruling bodies are still deliberating on the issue, one source who attended Monday’s meeting told Cut Line that “they’ve made up their mind (to ban) and just want someone to agree with them.”

An announcement is still expected before the end of the year, but we’d like to offer a little advice – when removing Band-Aids it’s best to be quick about it.


Missed Cut

Left field. During a conference call earlier this week, officials for the Tiger Woods World Challenge noted that this year’s field would feature 13 Ryder Cup players, which prompted one golf scribe to ask, “You couldn’t talk Phil (Mickelson) into playing?”

Without pause Woods deadpanned, “It was his decision.” Rarely does Tiger offer so much insight with such an economy of words.

Earlier this year Woods raised some media eyebrows when word spread that Mickelson tried to arrange a pre-Masters practice round at Augusta National with the world No. 2 but Woods declined.

Some viewed the invitation as a peace offering to thaw what is widely considered an icy relationship, but if Lefty really wanted to make nice he would make the drive up the SoCal coast and play the World Challenge for the first time since 2002.

A Mickey Mouse moment. According to one source who has seen the tentative 2013-2014 schedule, the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic is not on next year’s calendar.

Although there is still time, and according to tournament officials a desire, to round up a new sponsor for next season, removing Disney from its status as the final regular-season event removes a level of prestige that came along with it. Not to mention an added expense with the former fall series events forced to increase their purses to FedEx Cup levels ($6 million), all making the “Happiest Place on Earth” a much more difficult sell.

“We’ve decided the best thing is to put all of our focus on the 2012 event, and after that we will look to the future,” Disney tournament director Kevin Weickel said this week.

Perhaps this is no more than economic Darwinism, but losing a Tour stop that’s been around since 1971 would be like, well, standing in line at Space Mountain for an hour.

Luke List, Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood and Tiger Woods at the 2018 Honda Classic Getty Images

Honda leaders face daunting final day

By Randall MellFebruary 25, 2018, 12:46 am

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – The winner may need a cut man in his corner more than he needs a caddie on his bag in Sunday’s finish to the Honda Classic.

Smelling salts might come in handy, too.

“It just feels like you are getting punched in the face every single hole here,” Daniel Berger said of the test PGA National’s Champion Course offers. “Every single shot is so hard.”

Final rounds have been especially rough and tumble since the Honda Classic moved to PGA National in 2007.

That usually makes Sundays here as much about who can figuratively take a punch as who can throw one.

Luke List will have his jaw tested after taking sole possession of the lead Saturday with a second consecutive round of 4-under-par 66, but he can take comfort in the fact that punishment is doled plentifully around here.

“Just realizing that everyone is facing the same obstacles out there is huge,” List said. “You're not alone out there, if you make a bogey or a bad swing here or there.”

At 7-under 203, List is one shot ahead of a pair of major championship winners, Justin Thomas (65) and Webb Simpson (66). He is two ahead of Tommy Fleetwood (67), the reigning European Tour Player of the Year, and Jamie Lovemark (68).

List, 33, is seeking his first PGA Tour title in his 104th start. He will have to hold off some heavyweights, including Tiger Woods (69), who is seven shots back but feeling like he has a chance again. Woods closed with a 62 here six years ago when he finished second to Rory McIlroy.

“You never know what can happen the last few holes here,” Woods said. “A lot of things can happen and have happened in the past.”

Amen.


Full-field scores from the Honda Classic

Honda Classic: Articles, photos and videos


Crazy things have happened here.

Three years ago, Padraig Harrington was five shots down with eight holes to play and won. He made two double bogeys in the final round but ended up beating Berger in a playoff.

Berger, by the way, was nine shots back entering the final round.

That was the year Ian Poulter took a share of lead into Sunday, hit five balls in the water and still finished just a shot out of the playoff.

Last year, Rickie Fowler made four bogeys and a double bogey in the final round and still won by four shots.

List will have a heavyweight playing alongside him in the final pairing, with 24-year-old Justin Thomas looking to claim his eighth PGA Tour title. Thomas was last season’s PGA Tour Player of the Year.

List has never held a 54-hole lead in a PGA Tour event.

“You guys build up certain players,” List said. “I know I'll be an underdog going against Justin Thomas and guys like that, which is fine.”

There is some inspiration for List in what Ted Potter Jr. did two weeks at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. Potter, largely unknown even though he already had a PGA Tour title to his credit, held off stars Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day in the final round to win. 

Thomas earned the right to play alongside List in the final pairing Sunday with his 65, which equaled the low round of the tournament.

Thomas makes his home in nearby Jupiter and knows the punishment the Champion Course can dish out.

“It's a difficult course,” Thomas said. “If you let it get to you, it can be frustrating, but if you go into it understanding and realizing it's difficult, you just kind of embrace it and deal with it.”

Thomas played the Bear Trap’s trio of daunting holes (Nos. 15-17) in 2 under on Saturday. He birdied the 15th and 17th holes.

Fleetwood got in contention Saturday with a pair of eagles. He’s a four-time European Tour winner.

“I would love to get my first win on the PGA Tour this week,” he said. “It’s just great to be out here. It's great to be playing on courses like this that are such a test of every part of your game.”

Alex Noren, a nine-time European Tour winner, is also seeking his first PGA Tour title. He is three shots back. He lost in a playoff to Day at the Farmers Insurance Open last month.

Though this is just Noren’s second start at the Honda Classic, he knows how wildly momentum can swing on the Champion Course. He shot 65 Saturday after shooting 75 on Friday.

“I’m a few back, but anything can happen,” Noren said.

That’s the theme around here.

Getty Images

Thomas: Winning hometown Honda would 'mean a lot'

By Ryan LavnerFebruary 24, 2018, 11:53 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Justin Thomas is trying to join Rickie Fowler as a winner of his hometown event.

Thomas will play in the final group alongside Luke List on Sunday at the Honda Classic after matching the low round of the week with a 5-under 65. He is at 6-under 204, one shot back of List.

The reigning PGA Tour Player of the Year is one of several residents of nearby Jupiter. After Fowler won last year, Thomas (who missed the cut) returned to the course to congratulate his neighbor on his fourth Tour title.

“I hope I give him the opportunity or the choice to come back,” Thomas said. “But I’ve got a lot of golf in front of me before I worry about him coming here.”


Full-field scores from the Honda Classic

Honda Classic: Articles, photos and videos


More important to Thomas, however, is winning this event, which is played at PGA National, one of the most difficult non-major courses on Tour.

“It would mean a lot,” he said. “It means a lot to win any golf tournament, but it would mean more because of how prestigious this golf tournament is and the list of winners that have won this event, how strong of a field it is, how difficult of a golf course.

“A decent number of my wins have been on easier golf courses, so it would be cool to get it done at a place like this.”

Getty Images

Woods paired with hotshot rookie Burns at Honda

By Ryan LavnerFebruary 24, 2018, 11:38 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Rookie Sam Burns will be in the biggest spot of his career Sunday – playing alongside Tiger Woods.

Burns, the reigning Nicklaus Award winner who turned pro after two standout years at LSU, will go off with Woods at 12:45 p.m. at the Honda Classic.

Burns, 20, who earned his Web.com Tour card via Q-School, is playing this week on a sponsor exemption, his fourth of the season. He is 13th on the Web.com money list this year, after a tie for second two weeks ago in Colombia.


Full-field scores from the Honda Classic

Honda Classic: Articles, photos and videos


Burns and Woods are tied for 11th, at even-par 210.

Sunday is an important round for Burns, who can earn a spot into the Valspar Championship with a top-10 finish here.

Getty Images

List leads Honda; Thomas one back

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 24, 2018, 11:25 pm

Luke List, one of a legion of PGA Tour players who live in Jupiter, just two exits up I-95 from PGA National, shot a 4-under 66 on Saturday to take a one-shot lead after three rounds of the Honda Classic. Here's how things stand going into the final round at PGA National:

Leaderboard: Luke List (-7), Justin Thomas (-6), Webb Simpson (-6), Tommy Fleetwood (-5), Jamie Lovemark (-5), Alex Noren (-4) 

What it means: Leader List has played well this season, with no finish lower than T-26 in six starts. Thomas, of course, is the reigning Player of the Year. The next best pedigree among the leaders belongs to Simpson, winner of the 2012 U.S. Open and three other PGA Tour titles.

Round of the day: Thomas and Noren both shot 5-under 65s. Thomas made two of his six birdies in the Bear Trap (at the par 3s, Nos. holes 15 and17), while Noren played that stretch (15-17) in 1 over. Noren made his hay elsewhere, including an eagle at the last that canceled out his two bogeys.


Full-field scores from the Honda Classic

Honda Classic: Articles, photos and videos


Best of the rest: List, Simpson and Kelly Kraft all shot 66.

Biggest disappointment: After an opening 76, Jimmy Walker probably thought he was back on track with a 68 that allowed him to make the cut. Alas, the improvement was temporary, as he ballooned back to a 74 on Saturday.

Shot of the day: Tommy Fleetwood hit a fairway wood from 282 yards to within 8 feet of the cup on the 18th hole. He then made the putt for his second eagle of the day.

Quote of the day: "The course played a fair bit easier with not as much wind." - Thomas

Biggest storyline going into Sunday: List may be in the lead, but most eyes will be on Thomas, a five-time winner last year who has yet to lift a trophy in 2018. And of course, more than a few people will be keeping tabs on Tiger Woods. He'll begin the day seven shots back, trying to channel Tiger of 2012 - when he posted a 62 on Sunday at PGA National (which was good only for a runner-up finish to Rory McIlroy).