Cut Line: Florida swing was a great scene setter

By Rex HoggardMarch 29, 2013, 10:40 pm

Before the PGA Tour transitions to Texas and beyond, Cut Line takes a look back at the good (Tiger Woods), the not so good (Phil Mickelson) and the downright ugly (Rory McIlroy) of the Florida swing.

Made Cut

Sunshine and the status quo. Following an eventful West Coast weather-wise, the Florida swing provided some stability (at least there were no snow delays), as well as a bit of competitive clarity and its share of curious moments.

Tiger Woods reestablished himself atop the Oficial World Golf Ranking with signature victories at Doral and Bay Hill and prompted more “is he back?” talk (as if he ever went anywhere).

At the other end of the competitive landscape, Rory McIlroy lost the No. 1 ranking and a few style points after bolting the Honda Classic 26 holes into his week with an ailing wisdom tooth; and Phil Mickelson proved as volatile as ever with his tie for third at the WGC-Cadillac Championship and an unsightly missed cut at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

The Florida swing may no longer be the unofficial start of the Tour season, but it certainly started people talking about the season ahead in 2013.

Timing. For those scoring at home, the next few weeks promise to be eventful whether the Masters lives up to expectations or not.

In no particular order, the USGA and Royal & Ancient will announce a final decision on the proposed anchoring ban (the loose timetable for the announcement has been this spring) and the PGA Tour will rule on the Vijay Singh deer-antler spray doping case.

If Singh is found guilty of violating the Tour’s anti-doping policy the circuit will make the fine public according to its own regulations. If he is deemed to be innocent the Tour will say nothing, although its silence will speak volumes.

And if all that weren’t enough to keep fans tuned in, the Masters is a fortnight away with the promise of something special, again. Few events produce drama with such on-demand regularity, and the powers that be at Augusta National already have things moving in the right direction with news this week that the club’s famous chicken sandwich will return to the Masters menu in 2013.

Even better will be the price for that deep-fried goodness: $3.

Tweet of the week: @JasonDufner “What can I say, I was tired, my back hurt from sitting on the floor, and we were talking about relaxation and focusing. #dufnering”

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Slow study. To be clear, the Tour’s decision to embark on a yearlong study of pace of play will prompt more than a few punch lines (a year to study slow play, really?). But at least Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., has embraced a leadership role in what is considered one of the game’s biggest issues.

What comes from the study – which was explained to the members of the Tour’s player advisory council and policy board last week at Bay Hill – remains to be seen, but at least they are talking.

“Torrey Pines (South Course) is everything that is wrong with our sport. It used to be a nice 7,000-yard golf course; now it’s a monstrous 7,600 yards. Golf courses have gotten too hard for the masses,” said Paul Goydos, one of four player directors on the policy board. “At some point in time golf course architects need to understand that 'hard' and 'good' are not synonymous.”

Lefty wondering. We’ve seen this act before: Lefty spends the weeks leading up to the Masters tinkering and toying with his swing and then flips the switch the moment he motors down Magnolia Lane.

At Bay Hill, Lefty finished his Thursday round with consecutive three-putts and recorded a four-putt (actually, it was a five-putt from the fringe) on his way to a Friday 79 and a missed cut. This week in Houston Mickelson rallied to make the cut on Friday but he was far from sharp.

But know this, as scratchy as Mickelson has appeared this spring his formula is hard to question. Consider that he has not missed a cut at Augusta National since 1997, he has finished outside the top 30 just once since then and has collected three green jackets since 2004. There is always a method to Lefty’s madness.

Missed Cut

Contracts. Because of small print in the deal between the Tour and the Texas Open this year’s Shell Houston Open was moved ahead one week on the schedule, out of its normal spot the week before the Masters, and replaced by the San Antonio stop.

Although the field in Houston didn’t take a hit because of the scheduling switch, it did seem to throw off the flow of what has become a tradition unlike ... well, you know.

Many players, including Mickelson, have used Houston as a tune-up for the year’s first major and organizers at the SHO have embraced the concept and dialed up green speeds at Redstone Golf Club to accommodate the Masters-bound masses.

But this year players and fans are left with an awkward flow which brings Cut Line back to a common concern – the Tour schedule should be based on competitive integrity, not contractual convenience.

Day (68) just one back at Australian Open

By Nick MentaNovember 24, 2017, 6:40 am

Jason Day posted a second-round 68 to move himself just one off the lead held by Lucas Herbert through two rounds at the Emirates Australian Open. Here’s where things stand after 36 holes in Sydney.

Leaderboard: Herbert (-9), Day (-8), Cameron Davis (-7), Anthony Quayle (-6), Matt Jones (-4), Cameron Smith (-4), Nick Cullen (-4), Richard Green (-4)

What it means: Day is in search of his first worldwide victory of 2017. The former world No. 1 last visited the winner’s circle in May 2016, when he won The Players at TPC Sawgrass. A win this week would close out a difficult year for the Aussie who struggled with his game while also helping his mother in her battle with cancer. Day’s last victory on his native soil came in 2013, when he partnered with Adam Scott to win the World Cup of Golf for Australia at Royal Melbourne.

Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open

Round of the day: Herbert followed an opening 67 with a round of 66 to vault himself into the lead at The Australian Golf Club. He made six birdies, including four on his second nine, against a lone bogey to take the outright lead. The 22-year-old, who held the lead at this event last year and captured low-amateur honors in 2014, is coming off a runner-up finish at the NSW Open Championship, which boosted him from 714th to 429th in the Official World Golf Ranking. His 5-under score was matched by Dale Brandt-Richards and Josh Cabban.

Best of the rest: Matt Jones, who won this event over Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott two years ago, turned in 4-under 67. Jones is best known to American audiences for his playoff victory at the 2014 Shell Houston Open and for holding the 36-hole lead at the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, which was eventually won by Day. Jones will start the weekend five shots off the lead, at 4 under par.

Biggest disappointment: Spieth has a lot of work to do this weekend if he expects to be in the title picture for the fourth year in a row. Rounds of 70-71 have him eight shots behind the lead held by Herbert. Spieth made a birdie and a bogey on each side Friday to turn in level par. The reigning champion golfer of the year has finished first, second and first at this event over the last three years.

Storyline to watch this weekend: The Australian Open is the first event of the 2018 Open Qualifying Series. The leading three players who finish in the top 10 and who are not otherwise exempt will receive invites into next summer’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.

Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

"It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’

Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open

Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

“Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

“That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.

The golf world celebrates Thanksgiving

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 6:01 pm

Here's a look, through social media, at how the golf world celebrates Thanksgiving.

Lexi Thompson:

Baking time!!

A post shared by Lexi Thompson (@lexi) on

David Feherty:

Jack Nicklaus:

GC Tiger Tracker:

Steve Stricker:

Golf Channel:

Frank Nobilo:

Ian Poulter:

Tyrone Van Aswegen:

Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017

By Grill Room TeamNovember 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.