Cut Line: Don't call it a comeback

By Rex HoggardAugust 5, 2011, 7:11 pm

“Don’t call it a comeback, I’ve been here for years.” -LL Cool J, “Mama said knock you out”

Tiger Woods returned from a three-month, injury-induced hiatus on Thursday at Firestone. A day earlier Rory McIlroy, dubbed by many Woods’ heir apparent, suggested he’s ready to come back to America.

In many ways, it was like neither one had ever left.

Made Cut

Tiger Woods. Win, lose or draw his return at Akron is a step in the right direction and his flirtation with playing the Greenbrier Classic is the most positive sign to date that he is hungry to play, and win, again.

Although the second-year event pulled a solid field this year and is quickly becoming a must-stop for many Tour types, it is not the kind of tournament that Woods would have even considered playing just 12 months ago. But according to Greenbrier owner Jim Justice, Team Tiger reached out to him before the British Open about the possibility and it was a last-minute decision by Woods’ doctors that ultimately nixed the idea.

Some have speculated that Woods has lost some of his competitive edge and passion for the game in recent years, but if a late-summer trip to West Virginia doesn’t scream “all in,” we don’t know what does.

Coming (back) to America. We hardly had time to miss Rory McIlroy, although the thought of a “playoff” run without the game’s most dominant newcomer stretches the boundaries of competitive integrity. But news this week that he was “leaning towards” bringing his skills to South Beach was likely a reason to celebrate in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

That it was a brutal weather week at Royal St. George’s that put the Ulsterman over the top for a return to the PGA Tour will only be more fodder for the United Kingdom press.

According to McIlroy’s manager Chubby Chandler the U.S. Open champion will likely buy a home in the West Palm Beach, Fla., area and probably only change the second half of his schedule, specifically the addition of the four-event FedEx Cup playoffs.

The news was music to Tour officials’ ears as the circuit enters the early stages of network contract talks and could use a McIlroy “trump card” at the negotiating table.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

When more may be less. On Monday David Toms climbed the steep hill to Atlanta Athletic Club’s 15th tee and was immediately asked what club he intended to hit. “It won’t be a 5-wood,” he quickly shot back.

At 265 yards, the par-3 15th won’t be a “5-wood” hole for many players during next week’s PGA Championship. In 2001 Toms aced the 15th on Saturday with a 5-wood. But that was back when the hole played to a modest 227 yards. Back before things got out of hand. Back when AAC played to about 7,200 yards. This time around the Georgia gem can be stretched to some 7,500 yards.

“First time I played the course I thought 10 over (par) may win (the PGA),” said Gary Woodland, who, for the record, is statistically the Tour’s third-longest driver of the golf ball.

It’s always interesting to Cut Line that nine out of 10 Tour players will tell you the 10th hole at Riviera Country Club is among the Tour’s best. The Riv’s 10th is exactly 50 yards longer than AAC’s 15th. The Riv’s 10th is a par 4.

Tweet of the week: @HankDHaney “The wipe won 45 (percent) of the time.”

Haney was responding to a question about Tiger Woods’ comments on Thursday at Firestone following a first-round 68.

“My swing was more of a wipey swing, just kind of wiping it out there, so I wasn't getting a full transfer of energy, so now I'm swinging easier,” Woods said. “I am not even hitting it hard yet, and that's what's fun. I'm hitting it farther without any more effort.”

It may have been a “wipey swing,” but on this Haney is correct. Those stats don’t lie.

Missed Cut

PGA of America. File this one in the too little, too late category. The PGA announced this week it plans to honor Larry Nelson with the Distinguished Service Award on Wednesday in Atlanta.

Nelson is certainly a worthy recipient, but if the PGA really wanted to honor Nelson they would have made him a Ryder Cup captain when they had a chance.

Whatever the politics that kept Nelson out of the captain’s chair, it is impossible to imagine a more qualified and deserving candidate. His 9-3-1 Ryder Cup mark is stellar and with three majors on the resume he was infinitely qualified.

We like to refer to the matches as a battle and the captains as commanders, and yet when the PGA had a chance to appoint someone who has led men into an actual battle (Vietnam) they whiffed. But the Distinguished Service Award should be a fine consolation prize.

Freddie, Freddie, Freddie. Maybe U.S. Presidents Cup captain Fred Couples likes what he saw out of Tiger Woods on Thursday at Firestone (68), or maybe the news that the former world No. 1 would play the Australian Open the week before this year’s matches in Melbourne, Australia, or maybe he just wasn’t paying attention when 2009 U.S. Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin made the same mistake before last year’s matches.

Whatever the reason, Couples jumped down a slippery slope on Friday when he told Golf Channel’s David Marr that he would use a captain’s pick on Woods if he needed to, as long as Woods was healthy.

OK, this is hardly groundbreaking stuff, but why – given that Couples has until Sept. 26 to make his decision – would a captain back himself into a selection corner? Woods is currently 26th on the U.S. points list, which is to say there are currently 15 players who have, in theory, done more to deserve a pick.

Woods’ body of work certainly justifies a pick, but what’s the rush?

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Suspended Hensby offers details on missed drug test

By Will GrayDecember 12, 2017, 11:30 pm

One day after receiving a one-year suspension from the PGA Tour for failing to provide a sample for a drug test, Mark Hensby offered details on the events that led to his missed test in October.

Hensby, 46, released a statement explaining that the test in question came after the opening round of the Sanderson Farms Championship, where the Aussie opened with a 78. Frustrated about his play, Hensby said he was prepared to give a blood sample but was then informed that the test would be urine, not blood.

"I had just urinated on the eighth hole, my 17th hole that day, and knew that I was probably unable to complete the urine test for at least a couple more hours," Hensby said. "I told this gentleman that I would complete the test in the morning prior to my early morning tee time. Another gentleman nearby told me that 'they have no authority to require me to stay.' Thus, I left."

Hensby explained that he subsequently received multiple calls and texts from PGA Tour officials inquiring as to why he left without providing a sample and requesting that he return to the course.

"I showed poor judgment in not responding," said Hensby, who was subsequently disqualified from the tournament.

Hensby won the 2004 John Deere Classic, but he has missed six cuts in seven PGA Tour starts over the last two years. He will not be eligible to return to the Tour until Oct. 26, 2018.

"Again, I made a terrible decision to not stay around that evening to take the urine test," Hensby said. "Obviously in hindsight I should have been more patient, more rational and taken the test. Call me stupid, but don't call me a cheater. I love the game. I love the integrity that it represents, and I would never compromise the values and qualities that the game deserves."

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Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

“I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

“I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.

Masters victory

Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative

Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ

Green jacket tour

Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket

Man of the people

Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief

Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together

Ace at 17th at Sawgrass

Growing family

Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018

Departure from TaylorMade

Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade

Squashed beef with Paddy

Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'

Victory at Valderrama

Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm