Cut Line: Fowler takes new approach to fall sked

By Rex HoggardNovember 10, 2017, 5:58 pm

We lead off a Veterans Day edition with a look at golf’s ongoing support of America’s heroes, while judgment day may be closing in on Colonial Country Club.

Made Cut

Fall forward. While Cut Line is a big fan of last week’s time change being something of a dew sweeper, it’s Rickie Fowler’s decision to test the fall waters that deserves a closer look.

Fowler said this week at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba, an event he’s playing for the first time, that he wanted to try something new this fall. Instead of playing the WGC-HSBC Champions in China like most top players, he took five weeks off following the Presidents Cup.

“I wanted to look at this fall and winter as a time to create an off-season,” Fowler said. “Enjoy the relaxation and get some time in the gym to get ready to go in January.”

Most players opt for the no-cut options in Asia to start the season, but there is a cost to be paid for that much travel on the back end of what is already a long year.

Whether Fowler’s decision pays off remains to be seen, but there is something to be said for outside-of-the-box thinking.

Veterans Day. Cut Line always appreciates how much support is generated for American heroes during Veterans Day, and it’s also a chance to value how dedicated golf is to giving back to those who gave so much for the nation.

From the Folds of Honor, an Oklahoma-based charity that has raised nearly $100 million for educational scholarships for the families of fallen or disabled American military members, to Birdies for the Brave, which was created by Phil Mickelson and his wife, Amy, to support combat-wounded veterans and has donated over $18 million, the game is uniquely suited to honor and support those who have served and sacrificed.

Earlier this year, Cut Line wrote a feature about Edward Gizara, a former Marine drill instructor who was injured in training and told he’d be paralyzed for the rest of his life. Gizara learned to walk again and now plays golf at least once a week. But more importantly, he runs the Adaptive Golf Program in Savannah, Ga., which is designed to encourage those with disabilities and challenges to play the game.

For Gizara and those like him, every day is Veterans Day.


Tweet of the week: @JustinRose (Justin Rose) “Like buses!!” Rose’s tweet referred to his comment following his victory on Sunday at the Turkish Airlines Open, just a week after the Englishman had won the WGC-HSBC Champions.

“It’s like buses. You wait ages for one, and then two turn up,” he smiled.


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Bidding wars. We’ll match your U.S. Open with a PGA Championship and a Ryder Cup wild card.

Perhaps the negotiations were more complicated than that, but essentially that was the offer the PGA of America gave to San Francisco’s iconic Olympic Club, which had hosted the U.S. Open five times and seemed to be a lock for a future visit.

Instead, club officials agreed to the deal with the PGA and will host the 2028 PGA Championship and ’32 Ryder Cup.

It was clear the draw of the Ryder Cup was what compelled club officials to embrace the PGA’s offer.

“It’s Alabama-Auburn on a Saturday afternoon,” Olympic Club president Dan Dillon told the San Francisco Chronicle.

There’s little doubt Olympic Club is a solid move for the Ryder Cup, which hasn’t been played on the West Coast since 1959, but much can change in 15 years and a decade from now this deal could look much different.

Owning it. It’s easy to criticize, just scroll through your social media feed to prove the point.

What’s often difficult is owning a mistake, particularly for a man like Mike Whan, the LPGA commissioner who admitted this week on Golf Channel that moving the Evian Championship to September was wrong.

Whan was criticized this year over his decision to scrub scores from the first round in France and then to shorten the major championship to 54 holes after multiple weather delays, which have become the norm since the event moved to September.

“The challenges we’ve faced are man-made,” Whan said. “And I’m the man who made them.”

Whan said the tour will move the Evian “back to a summer date,” by 2019. Mistakes are human, but responsibility is often a rare trait.


Missed Cut

Collateral damage. Although the details are still being worked out, it seems the Tour is inching closer to a condensed schedule beginning in 2019. While that may intrigue some it seems these moves won’t occur without a cost.

Recent news that Dean & DeLuca informed organizers at Colonial Country Club that they may not be able to meet their financial obligations to sponsor the tournament in 2018 has created more than a short-term bind.

According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, officials at the annual Tour stop have until Dec. 1 to resolve their sponsorship issues. What that exactly means is unclear, but it doesn’t sound encouraging.

The sweeping schedule changes proposed for ’19 include the PGA Championship moving from August to May and a Labor Day finish for the Tour season, all of which could make the Colonial stop expendable.

In fact, according to one source at the club, Colonial’s board voted on Wednesday to move the annual member-guest tournament from mid-October to May, the same month as the Tour stop.

It’s an altogether stunning development considering the annual Tour stop has been a staple on the schedule since 1946, when Ben Hogan won the first of his five Colonial titles and why the layout is dubbed Hogan’s Alley.

There’s a larger-than-life statue of Hogan overlooking Colonial’s 18th green and The Hawk doesn’t look happy. It’s an apropos image considering the club’s potential Tour fate.

Day, Spieth chasing Davis after Day 1 of Aussie Open

By Jason CrookNovember 23, 2017, 6:50 am

The PGA Tour is off this week but a couple of the circuit’s biggest stars – Jordan Spieth and Jason Day – are headlining the Emirates Australian Open, the first event in The Open Qualifying Series for the 2018 Open at Carnoustie. Here's how things look after the opening round, where Cameron Davis has opened up a two-shot lead:

Leaderboard: Cameron Davis (-8), Taylor MacDonald (-6), Nick Cullen (-5), Jason Day (-5), Brian Campbell (-4), Lucas Herbert (-4), Stephen Leaney (-4), Anthony Quayle (-4)

What it means: Jordan Spieth has won this event three of the last four years, including last year, but he got off to a rocky start on Thursday. Playing in the windy afternoon wave, the world No. 2 bogeyed his first two holes but rebounded with birdies on Nos. 4 and 5. It was more of the same the rest of the way as the 24-year-old carded three more bogeys and four birdies, getting into the clubhouse with a 1-under 70. While it certainly wasn't the start he was hoping for, Spieth didn't shoot himself out of the tournament with 54 holes left to play, he has plenty of time to claw his way up the leaderboard.

Round of the day: With Round 1 in the books, the solo leader, Davis, is the easy pick here. The 22-year-old Aussie who turned pro last year, came out of the gates on fire, birdieing six of his first seven holes, including four in a row on Nos. 4 through 7. He did drop a shot on the ninth hole to go out in 30 but rebounded with three more birdies on the back to card a 8-under 63. Davis, who was born in Sydney and played this year on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada. He will attempt to get his Web.com Tour card next month during qualifying in Arizona.

Best of the rest: Making his first start in his home country in four years, Day started on the 10th hole at The Australian Golf Club and made four birdies to one bogey on the back side before adding four more circles after making the turn. Unfortunately for the 30-year-old, he also added an ugly double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole and had to settle for a 5-under 66, good enough to sit T-3. Day, who has dropped to No. 12 in the world rankings, is looking for his first win on any tour since the 2016 Players Championship.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Can the upstart 22-year-old Davis hold off the star power chasing him or will he fold to the pressure of major champions in his rearview mirror? Day (afternoon) and Spieth (morning) are once again on opposite ends of the draw on Friday as they try to improve their position before the weekend.

Shot of the day: It’s tough to beat an ace in this category, and we had one of those on Thursday from Australian Brad Shilton. Shilton’s hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole came with a special prize, a $16k watch.

Quote of the day: “Just two bad holes. Pretty much just two bad swings for the day,” – Day, after his 66 on Thursday. 

Watch: Shilton wins $16k timepiece with hole-in-one

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 2:50 am

Australian Brad Shilton made a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole during the first round of the Australian Open, and he was rewarded handsomely for his efforts - with a Tag Heuer watch worth $16k.

Day gets in early mix with 66 in return to Australia

By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 2:32 am

SYDNEY - Jason Day's first tournament round in Australia in four years was a 5-under 66 to put him among the leaders early Thursday at the Australian Open.

Day's round came unhinged late with a double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole, his second-last of the day. He hit his tee shot into the trees on the left, hit back out to the fairway, missed his approach to the green and then couldn't get up and down.

''That was brutal,'' Day said of the 481-yard hole that played into gusting winds.

But Day recovered quickly to birdie his last to sit three strokes behind fellow Australian and early leader Cameron Davis, who started on the first, had six front-nine birdies and shot 63 at The Australian Golf Club.

In between the two was Australian Taylor MacDonald, who shot 65.

''It was a pretty solid round, I didn't miss many fairways, I didn't miss many greens,'' Day said. ''I'd give myself a seven or eight out of 10.''

Defending champion Jordan Spieth, attempting to win the Australian Open for the third time in four years, was off to a poor start among the afternoon players, bogeying his first two holes.

The Sydney-born Davis played most of this season on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada and will attempt to secure his Web.com card in the final round of qualifying from Dec. 7-10 in Chandler, Arizona.

''Everything went to plan,'' Davis said. ''I got off to a great start. I was hitting my spots and was able to keep it together on the back nine.''

NOTES: Australian Brad Shilton had the first ace of the tournament, using a 5-iron for a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole, his second hole of the day. Australian veteran Geoff Ogilvy, the 2006 U.S. Open winner, shot 69. He and Rod Pampling (68) played the first round with Day.

Day: Woods feeling good, hitting it long

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 22, 2017, 9:33 pm

Jason Day says Tiger Woods told him he feels better than he has in three years, which is good news for Woods a week ahead of his return to the PGA Tour at the Hero World Challenge.

Day, a fellow Nike endorser, was asked about Woods during his news conference at the Emirates Australian Open on Wednesday. "I did talk to him," Day said, per a report in the Sydney Morning Herald,"and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years'" Day said.

"He doesn't wake up with pain anymore, which is great. I said to him, 'Look, it's great to be one of the best players ever to live, but health is one thing that we all take for granted and if you can't live a happy, healthy life, then that's difficult.'"

The Hero World Challenge will be played Nov. 30-Dec. 3 in the Bahamas and broadcast on Golf Channel and NBC.

Day, who has had his own health issues, said he could empathize with Woods.

"I totally understand where he's coming from, because sometimes I wake up in the morning and it takes me 10 minutes to get out of bed, and for him to be in pain for three years is very frustrating."

Woods has not played since February after undergoing surgery following a recurrence of back problems.

"From what I see on Instagram and what he's been telling me, he says he's ready and I'm hoping that he is, because from what I hear, he's hitting it very long," Day said.

"And if he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.

"There's no pressure. I think it's a 17- or 18-man field, there's no cut, he's playing at a tournament where last year I think he had the most birdies at."