Cut Line: Honda healthy, but not McIlroy

By Rex HoggardMarch 1, 2013, 6:28 pm

It’s Friday and players at this week’s PGA Tour stop haven’t been snowed on, which means we must have started the Florida swing. In honor of the circuit’s shift to the Sunshine State we shed some light on anchoring, an extreme makeover at the Honda Classic and Rory McIlroy’s missing “A” game.

Made Cut

Most improved. Judging PGA Tour events is always an inexact science. Some tournaments consider longevity the sign of success, while others use charitable contributions as the ultimate litmus test.

Depth of field, however, is the most realistic benchmark, which makes this week’s Honda Classic the Tour’s leading candidate for most-improved stop over the last decade.

Consider that before the event moved to PGA National and became associated with Jack Nicklaus and his South Florida charities, the 2006 and ’05 winners received 22 and 25 world ranking points, respectively. Since then the winners have averaged 49.6 points.

The world ranking math may not be perfect, but when it comes to the perfect storm in South Florida they seem to have it right.

Charles is in charge. Well, sort of.

Charles Howell III’s quest to play The Masters, a hometown event for the Augusta, Ga., native, has been gaining momentum since he began the season with three consecutive top-10 finishes, including a playoff loss at the Humana Challenge and a first-round victory over Tiger Woods at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship.

His steady climb has moved him from 119th to start the season to 64th in the world golf ranking. The top 50 in the world through the Shell Houston Open on March 31 earn invitations to the Masters and Howell could help his cause by maintaining his spot on the FedEx Cup points list (he is currently eighth) and earning a spot at next week’s no-cut WGC-Cadillac Championship.

“I know if I want to play in the Masters, I've got to play really good golf coming ahead,” Howell said. “Getting in next week would be a nice step to that, but it will still take a lot of good golf.”

Some rides down Magnolia Lane are tougher than others.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

A time to talk. Maybe you didn’t like the message, and the timing was certainly suspect, but Tour commissioner Tim Finchem’s very public push back on Sunday toward the proposed ban on anchoring was very much pardonable politics.

If a press conference halfway through the championship match at one of the Tour’s marquee events doesn’t exactly qualify as “good timing,” consider the commish’s quandary.

If the player advisory council’s vote last week was any indication, the vast majority of Tour types oppose the ban. Whatever the majority’s motivation – self-preservation, growth of the game concerns, territorial gamesmanship with the U.S. Golf Association and Royal & Ancient Golf Club – it is Finchem’s job to be the voice of the Tour on this issue, which reached the end of its 90-day comment period on Thursday.

The USGA and R&A asked for comments and probably got more than they bargained for, but that’s neither Finchem nor the Tour’s fault.

Tweet of the week: @BubbaWatson “I am with @USGA. Anchoring loses essence of a golf swing. #MaybeIShouldTryAnchoringCauseICan’tPutt

Missed Cut

Imperfect Poults. OK, second sucks – and third. We get it, but Ian Poulter seemed to press the wrong buttons last week on Twitter following his loss to Jason Day in Sunday’s consolation match at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship.

“I would love to have won this afternoon but (third or fourth place) just isn’t the same as playing for a title. When you’re playing over 100 holes in five days,” Poulter tweeted followed by another missive, “I will be honest that 3-4 place match is the least interesting match of the week. No need to play it. Players should be tied for third.”

For the record, there are $115,000 (the prize money) and 60 (FedEx Cup points) differences between third and fourth place at the WGC. It should also be noted that Day didn’t seem to have a problem with Sunday’s undercard.

The WGC’s consolation match certainly lacks the punch found in the finals, but isn’t there something to be said for competitive integrity? Last I checked they still play the NIT.

Missing McIlroy. Four and a half rounds into a season doesn’t exactly feel like the time for in-depth self-examination, yet as world No. 1 Rory McIlroy bolted PGA National on Friday he appeared in search of answers, for his wayward play and battered psyche as well as an aching tooth.

McIlroy told reporters he was “not in a good place mentally” when he walked off the golf course after eight holes at 7 over par for the day. He later released a statement that said he was struggling to concentrate because of a sore wisdom tooth.

However, many longtime observers say McIlroy’s pedestrian play – he now has a missed cut (Abu Dhabi), Day 1 loss (WGC-Match Play) and a withdrawal (Honda Classic) to start 2013 – is the byproduct of his wholesale switch to Nike Golf this offseason.

“Changing balls and clubs at the same time is the death knell. Can’t be done,” said one player manager.

McIlroy has earned the benefit of the doubt. If a good dentist is what the Ulsterman needs to right the ship, let Cut Line make a few recommendations. We’re just not sure the answers he seeks can be found in the dentist’s chair.

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 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 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."