Cut Line: Examining golf's 'C' word, Garcia's incident

By Rex HoggardJanuary 17, 2014, 6:42 pm

Nothing gets Cut Line’s laptop buzzing like the “C” word, and although suggestions this week that Sergio Garcia cheated were wildly unfounded and utterly inaccurate the Spaniard did rekindle the debate over instant replay and viewer call-ins to secure his spot among this week’s winners and losers.

Made Cut

Open dialogue. Give credit to the U.S. Golf Association, which seemed a little slow to respond last year when the then-proposed ban on anchoring went from being an idea to a lightning rod, for stepping in to fill in the blanks regarding Pinehurst and this year’s championship fortnight.

USGA executive director Mike Davis plans to meet with LPGA players in March at the Founders Cup to answer questions regarding the U.S. Women’s Open, which will be played a week after the U.S. Open on the venerable No. 2 course.

“I have questions and so do some of the players, about practice, when can we practice?” LPGA commissioner Mike Whan told’s Randall Mell this week.

“What happens if there’s a playoff and they’re playing on Monday? What about course setup? Are the landing areas into the greens going to be pretty beat up? Is the range going to be OK for us? How much access are we going to get? How comfortable is the USGA going to be with us trying to create more awareness for us in week two during week one? What about accommodations? Is it going to be difficult for us and our players to find accommodations, especially the weekend before?”

Perhaps the USGA, and more so the Royal & Ancient, didn’t stay on topic during last year’s heated anchoring debate, but it appears that Davis & Co. certainly learned from that episode.

The Answer. Although it is still early, for the sake of historical fairness Rory McIlroy deserves kudos for his solid start in Abu Dhabi this week.

The Northern Irishman opened with rounds of 70-67 and is tied for fourth midway through his 2014 debut. If that doesn’t exactly sound like a reason to celebrate, consider that at this point last year he’d signed for matching 75s in Abu Dhabi and was headed home from his less-than-auspicious debut as a Nike Golf staff player.

After ending 2013 with three top-10 finishes in his last five starts, including his only victory of the year at the Australian Open, McIlroy seems to be on his way to finding the answers to all those questions that dogged him last season.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

After further review. Seems PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem is not the only person with a growing distaste for instant replay and viewer call-ins.

Sergio Garcia was likely swayed into that camp after getting sideways with armchair rules officials everywhere on Thursday in Abu Dhabi.

The incident involved footage of Garcia taping down a mark on the 18th green during Thursday’s opening round at the European Tour event. After being alerted to the possible violation by viewers, European Tour officials had Garcia show them what happened and he was absolved of any wrongdoing.

What was not caught on film was Garcia fixing a pitch mark on the green, only the final stages of taping down the damage which prompted the call ins and a host of misleading reports that suggested he had cheated.

“It's fine to call in when you can see that someone has cheated. But to say that about someone without knowing all the facts is wrong,” Garcia said. “Being related to that word is the most disgusting thing that can happen to any golfer. So it was a little disappointing. I'm happy it was cleared up and I was able to play today.”

In golf “cheating” is the one word that doesn’t wash off and Garcia was understandably disturbed by the episode. But what El Nino doesn’t grasp is that the system worked as it should. The viewers questioned, officials investigated and life went on.

As for the background noise, you would think the iconoclastic Garcia would have learned to ignore that by now.

Tweet of the week: @StewartCink “Apparently my glowing head has received some attention today. It’s nice to be (in) the spotlight.”

Cink’s dome, complete with its distinct tan line, became a social media sensation following a particularly unflattering shot of the former Open Championship winner last week at the Sony Open. May we suggest a visor, and lots and lots of sunscreen?

Missed Cut

Show me the money. In the uber-competitive world of hosting professional events the dirty little secret is that not all tournaments are created equal.

For PGA Tour stops the guidelines are clear. Tournament directors can offer enormous purses and quality golf courses to woo the top players. Period. In Europe, however, organizers are also allowed to sweeten the pot with appearance fees that regularly drift into the seven figure neighborhood for the world’s best.

The problem with this “money talks” duplicity is that these European Tour events, like this week’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, are essentially paying for World Ranking Points, as well as a handsome marquee.

Consider this week’s stop in Abu Dhabi will award 48 World Ranking points to the winner, compared to just 40 for the champion at the Humana Challenge. In fact, of the three PGA Tour events played in 2014 none offered as many ranking points as players will receive in Abu Dhabi, and it will be a similar story in a few weeks in Dubai when world No. 1 Tiger Woods makes his ’14 debut.

There is too much riding on the World Ranking these days to allow points to go to the highest bidder.

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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.