Cut Line Hope-less Feeling
Among this week’s early exits are LPGA commissioner Mike Whan and a desert exodus that has “Cut Line” wondering what’s next for the Bob Hope Classic?
Robert the Great. It may not sit well with the “Little League Dads,” and it will likely never lead to sporting immortality, but with a shoulder shrug Robert Garrigus showed why he’s one of the most refreshing players on the PGA Tour.
“That's how it goes. That's golf. I've lost about 133 golf tournaments, and it's not that big a deal,” Garrigus said following his missed 3-footer on the second playoff hole at last week’s Tournament of Champions.
From the depths of self-imposed drug rehab comes an enlightening perspective that transcends trophies and missed tap-ins.
Island hopping. It is, essentially, the best two-for-one on Tour. Play the season opener on Maui and then jump the short flight to Honolulu for the year’s first full-field event (Sony Open). It’s a good gig if you can get it, but the math has not always added up.
This year, however, the logistics of the Hawaiian two-fer have resulted in a stronger than normal field in Honolulu. Twenty-three of the 33 2010 winners who began their year at Kapalua signed on to play this week’s soggy Sony.
“If I win and go to Kapalua, I'm here (Sony Open). I don't see why you wouldn't play,” Jim Furyk said.
Of course, that shift may also have something to do with the frigid truth that there is currently snow on the ground in 49 of the 50 states.
Statute of limitations. “Cut Line” was rather clear on this last week, Camilo Villegas violated the Rules of Golf at the Tournament of Champions and it doesn’t matter if it came to light via a fellow competitor, Twitter, e-mail or smoke signal the integrity of the competition was rightfully upheld.
But the timing of Villegas’ subsequent disqualification, some 12 hours after he’d signed his scorecard, that has some demanding change. As is often the case, however, there is no easy fix. In fact, building in a “buffer” to avoid a similar situation in the future creates an entirely new set of problems.
“The whole reason the (Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews) and (U.S. Golf Association) have rejected it is there are too many ramifications if you do that,” Mike Davis, the USGA’s senior director of rules and competition, told “Cut Line.”
“If you gave Camilo a four-stroke penalty (and let him play) the problem with that is all the ramifications it has. You may all of a sudden screw up a cut. It could be the U.S. Amateur and you just played 36 holes of stroke play and your entire bracket could get messed up. Nobody likes these continued call ins, but to change it in this one instance would cause so many problems.”
Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)
Magic Whan. It’s been a busy 2011 for LPGA commissioner Mike Whan, and the circuit is more than a month shy of its season opener.
Whan told the rank and file to hold off on booking their flights to the Tres Marias Championship in Mexico amid security concerns and now he has denied more non-member starts to teen phenom Alexis Thompson.
“We agreed for security reasons we are not convinced today that (the Tres Marias Championship) is a go,” Whan said. “We may have to move it back or postpone.”
As for Thompson, the 15-year-old wanted 12 sponsor exemptions instead of the current maximum of six. Whan said no, but did allow for non-members to compete in Monday qualifying. Thompson is a great talent, but if she wants more starts she should petition the tour for membership.
Magic Whan II. The new LPGA chief isn’t batting 1.000, at least not when it comes to a proposed event that will pay players what is essentially Monopoly money.
Whan’s plan to award “mock” money to players at the inaugural Founders Cup with the actual purse going to charity is best described as the wrong execution of the right idea. Although Whan said he will pay players a stipend to help cover their expenses, the sacrifice is too great when your average LPGA player can expect somewhere between 12 and 15 starts.
Besides, if anyone in golf should be doing some pro bono work it’s the suits in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. According to reports Tour commissioner Tim Finchem earned $5.3 million in base pay and bonuses in 2008, enough to rank him third on the ’08 money list.
Tweet of the Week: @natalie_gulbis “1-11-11. Hope everyone has a great day!” she Tweeted . . . on Jan. 12.
Hope-less. The Bob Hope Classic is one of three Tour events that currently doesn’t have a title sponsor, and if the current trend continues that won’t change anytime soon.
As has become something of a tradition some of the Tour’s stars will play the European Tour’s Abu Dhabi Championship, including Phil Mickelson, next week instead of the Hope. Tour members must be granted a “conflicting event release” to play overseas the same week as a Tour event. For next week’s Hope the Tour has issued nine releases, the same as last year.
Although eight of those players hold duel membership on the PGA and European tours, on the ground in California it still adds up to one of the weakest fields on Tour. As tournament patriarch Bob Hope once said, “If you haven’t got any charity in your heart, you have the worst kind of heart trouble.”
Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia
Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.
Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.
Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.
Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.
It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.
The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.
Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son
ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.
Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.
''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''
They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.
''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''
Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.
''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''
Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.
Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.
Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.
Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?
Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.
Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”
Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.
Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.
The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.
Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters
JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.
Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.
Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.