Cut Line: FedEx Cup not perfect, but delivers

By Rex HoggardSeptember 7, 2012, 3:29 pm

The FedEx Cup playoffs, like the rules that govern the game, may not be perfect, but as the PGA Tour powers through the final turn toward the Tour Championship it is tough not to recognize a post-season, however contrived, that has given us three weeks of power pairings, a peculiar penalty and, if you’re Davis Love III, some painful picks.

Made Cut

Rivalries. Maybe it’s a tad too close for some. Maybe we like our rivalries with a side order of implied distaste and a dollop of mutual distrust. Maybe if Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier would have been chummy Manila wouldn’t have been such a “thrilla.”

But that doesn’t seem to be the way Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy roll.

Last Sunday at TPC Boston during Woods’ post-round scrum with reporters, the Northern Irishman playfully held his cell phone over his head to record the interview which prompted Woods to smile, “Knock it off.” On Thursday the two even agreed to do their post-round interviews together at the BMW and spent much of their opening round at Crooked Stick bantering like a pair of octogenarians playing a Sunday morning four-ball match.

Golf’s dynamic duo is separated by 13 years and 12 majors but there is no mistaking the common bond and mutual respect. Like it or not Woods and McIlroy like each other, at least until Sunday singles at this month’s Ryder Cup and then all bets are off.

Davis Love III. Early Tuesday morning Captain America was strolling down New York’s Broadway Avenue when your correspondent asked how difficult “selection” night was? “It wasn’t really,” he smiled.

That wasn’t entirely true, but at least it was over. According to multiple sources close to Love the call to Hunter Mahan, who did not land one of the captain’s four picks, was emotional. A few moments later Love informed Brandt Snedeker he had made the team to complete the emotional rollercoaster.

“It was more emotional than he thought, both good and bad,” said one of Love’s advisors.

Let the second-guessing begin, it always does. But as Love made his way down Broadway at dawn on Tuesday it was clear he was at ease with his choices – in his mind they were good choices because they were done.

Tweet of the week: @TheChristinaKim (Christina Kim) “Ban, can and damn those things.”

Kim’s tweet was in response to news that the U.S. Golf Association and Royal & Ancient will rule on long putters and anchoring this month. In case you’re still unclear, Kim’s not a fan.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Luke Donald. He’s not the first person to let a “direct message” get away from him and, to be honest, his take on Gil Hanse’s nip/tuck of TPC Boston’s 18th hole last week was shared by many of the frat brothers, although his not-fit-for-primetime language will likely cost him a healthy fine/donation.

What makes the Englishman’s electronic snafu notable is how he handled the fallout. Donald owned the miscue, he didn’t sidestep the issue or claim someone “hacked” his account.

“I made a mistake, unfortunately. I made an error. I sent a message that was not meant to go out on Twitter, and I take full responsibility,” Donald said following his third round last Sunday.

“I realized it immediately, tried to delete it and tried to move on. Unfortunately it got caught up there, and such is life. I didn't mean to put it out there, and I apologize to anyone I offended, especially Gil Hanse.”

The real travesty here may be that golf lost one of its most-creative tweeters. Donald hasn’t posted anything to his account (@LukeDonald) since Sept. 1.

FedEx Cup. It’s not perfect. Truth is it might never be without a few warts, but the product of late has been beyond reproach.

McIlroy’s victory last week in Boston lifted him into the top spot followed by Nick Watney, who won the playoff opener in New York, and Woods in third, a lineup that sets the stage for a potential power showdown in two weeks at the Tour Championship.

Whatever issues playoff golf may have – exaggerated post-season points and a pre-East Lake reset being primary concerns – the faux “Fall Classic” has been successful at wrenching players out of early hibernation. For that we should all be thankful.

Missed Cut

Rules of Golf. These are the facts. During the opening round of the BMW Championship Graeme McDowell, who had holed a 9-iron approach shot for eagle a hole earlier, grazed a leaf while playing out of a bunker on No. 9, his last hole of the day, and was assessed a two-stroke penalty.

“I'm deemed to have touched a loose impediment in a hazard, which is a two-shot penalty,” McDowell said following his opening 68. “Despite the fact that nothing has moved, the lie hasn't improved, I just didn't give the branch enough respect. I've never seen that scenario before.”

Cut Line has, just last month, in fact, during the final round of the PGA Championship when Carl Pettersson ran afoul of the same rule on his first hole which prompted this assessment from Golf Channel’s David Feherty, who was the walking reporter with Pettersson’s group at Kiawah.

“That (rule) is designed so an amateur doesn’t drag his club back and make a channel for themselves. What do you think would happen if a pro did that out there? I think we can account for that,” Feherty said. “Why don’t professional golfers make rules for professional golfers? We’re the only sport that allows amateurs (to make rules).”

Feherty’s emotions may have gotten the better of him at Kiawah, but it is confounding that golf is the only professional sport that ignores intent.

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After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard

On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

He picked up one more No. 2, too.

The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

“It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

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Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

“I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.

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Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.

Best of the rest: A two-time winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.

Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.

Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:

Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry