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.

Getty Images

Watch: Fathauer dunks one off flagstick for eagle

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 17, 2018, 7:45 pm

The NBA All-Star Slam Dunk Contest will take place Saturday night in Los Angeles, but Derek Fathauer kicked things off a little early with this eagle in the third round of the Genesis Open.

Playing his second shot on the par-4 third hole at Riviera Country Club, Fathauer dunked one off the flagstick and into the hole for an eagle-2:

The shot got the the 32-year-old, in search of his first PGA Tour victory, under par for the round and into the mix early on Moving Day.

Getty Images

Luiten in three-way tie at Oman Open

By Associated PressFebruary 17, 2018, 4:17 pm

MUSCAT, Oman - Joost Luiten showed a return to form after a mediocre 2017 as he moved into a three-way tie for the lead in the Oman Open on Saturday.

The Dutchman shot a second straight 6-under 66 - the joint best score of the day - to move to 12-under 204. He was joined at the top by Matthew Southgate (69) and Frenchman Julien Guerrier (66) after the third round at the Greg Norman-designed Al Mouj Golf Club.

England's Chris Wood (69), another man on the comeback trail, was in fourth place at 11 under, but it could have been a lot better if not for a bogey-bogey finish. Adrian Otaegui (66) was a shot behind Wood while pre-tournament favorite, France's Alexander Levy (67), was at 9 under.

The 90th-ranked Luiten credited some hot iron play for his success after a cracked driver set him back last year when he had just two top-10 finishes the whole season.


Full-field scores from the NBO Oman Golf Classic


''I cracked my driver in my first tournament of the year in Abu Dhabi and it took me almost six months to get another one that I really liked. Once you are not driving the ball well, it puts pressure on other parts of your game,'' said the 32-year-old Luiten. ''My iron play did not get me into trouble at all today.''

Southgate was quick off the block with three birdies in his first three holes. But the Englishman then made two bogeys and a double bogey in his next four holes, and a birdie on the ninth saw him make the turn at even-par.

That forced him to think differently for the back nine and he was rewarded with three birdies.

''It was quite funny really,'' Southgate said. ''We birdied the ninth and I walked off and said to my caddie Gary ... 'We've just shot level par, so let's just pretend that we've made nine solid pars and that we haven't holed a putt and haven't made a birdie. Let's just start again on the 10th'.''

The 32-year-old Guerrier started his round with a monster 48-foot birdie putt and had an eagle, six birdies and two bogeys.

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J.Y. Ko increases lead; Lydia focuses on positives

By Associated PressFebruary 17, 2018, 3:33 pm

ADELAIDE, Australia - Jin Young Ko continued her domination of the Women's Australian Open, shooting a 1-under 71 Saturday to increase her lead to four strokes after three rounds.

The South Korean, who led after each of the opening two rounds of the LPGA tournament, had a three-round total of 11-under 205 at Kooyonga Golf Club.

Australian golfer Hannah Green moved into second place after the round of the day, a 66.

Green, 21, is seeking to become the first Australian to claim her national crown since Karrie Webb won the last of her five titles in 2014. Webb, who is playing a part-time schedule in 2018, missed the cut Friday by one stroke.

Green birdied her first three holes on Saturday and then added two more on the eighth and ninth. Two more birdies followed on the back nine with her only dropped shot a bogey on the 17th.


Full-field scores from the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open


"I was very pleased with my ball striking," Green said. "I have put myself in contention so I'm very happy with how things are panning out.

"It was a real shame about Karrie missing the cut, but I know she has got different plans."

South Korea's Hyejin Choi (70), was tied for third, five strokes behind. Australia's top-ranked golfer Minjee Lee was tied for fifth after a 69, six off the lead.

Former No. 1 Lydia Ko shot a 71 and was eight strokes behind.

"It's always nice to be able to start the season on a good note, and I've obviously got tomorrow," Lydia Ko said. "Hopefully, I'll be able to finish off on a high note."

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Cantlay, McDowell, Saunders share lead at Riviera

By Doug FergusonFebruary 17, 2018, 3:51 am

LOS ANGELES - Tiger Woods waited 12 years to get back to Riviera and lasted only two days.

Woods had three straight bogeys early on the back nine Friday and didn't play well enough to make up for his misses. He had a 5-over 76 and missed the cut in the Genesis Open for the first time in nine appearances as a pro.

He was at 6-over 148, one shot worse than his PGA Tour debut as a 16-year-old at Riviera.

''I missed every tee shot left and I did not putt well, didn't feel very good on the greens,'' Woods said. ''And consequently, never made a run. I knew I had to make a run on that back nine, and I went the other way.''

Patrick Cantlay ran off three straight birdies toward the end of his morning round, starting with a tap-in on the par-3 sixth when he missed a hole-in-one by a fraction of an inch, and shot a 69. He was tied with Graeme McDowell (66), the former U.S. Open champion who is trying to work his way back from a two-year slump.

They were at 7-under 135.

Sam Saunders also was at 7 under, making back-to-back birdies until it was too dark to continue. He had three holes remaining in his second round. Ryan Moore bogeyed his final hole for a 68 and was one shot behind at 136.

Rory McIlroy overcame a few short misses on the front nine for a 69 and was at 2-under 140.


Full-field scores from the Genesis Open

Genesis Open: Articles, photos and videos


Cantlay was coming off a three-putt bogey when his tee shot at the par-3 sixth - the hole with a bunker in the middle of the green - landed above the flag and to the right, and then rolled back down the slope just over the right edge of the cup.

''I actually missed a little to the right, but it's a bowl back there so as long as you get the number right, it should be pretty close,'' Cantlay said.

He followed with a short iron into 5 feet for birdie, a 15-foot birdie on the next hole and then a wild drive that led to a bogey on his final hole.

McDowell has gone 59 starts worldwide since his last victory and has fallen out of the top 200 in the world. He had missed four straight cuts dating to late last year, though he felt he was hitting it well in practice. What helped was seeing some good scores.

''All I'm missing is a couple little numbers and a little bit of confidence,'' McDowell said.

Defending champion Dustin Johnson shot a 69 and gets to stick around for the weekend. He was at 1-over 143. Bubba Watson, who won in 2014 and 2016, has fallen out of the top 200 in the world after a two-year drought. He shot a 70 and was at 4-under 138, and then headed for the NBA All-Star weekend to play in the celebrity game.