Cut Line: Just do it?

By Rex HoggardOctober 26, 2012, 3:24 pm

There’s no official event this week on the PGA Tour – no cut, no problem. The beat continues thanks to Rory McIlroy, who made news with clubs that he may or may not be playing next year, and John Daly, who plans to take his talents across the pond in 2013, but not to Q-School.


Made Cut

End of an era. By definition change is not toxic, it’s the ambiguity of the unknown that leads to bouts of nostalgia and trepidation.

Perhaps the PGA Tour’s new qualifying system that begins next year will be an improvement over the current model, but as the circuit inches toward a new era it’s hard not to wonder what was wrong with the old system.

The week’s Web.com Tour Championship, combined with the final stage of Q-School, has always been one of the most compelling tournaments in golf – reality TV without a script.

Consider the leaderboard at this week’s finale in McKinney, Texas, features Tag Ridings, No. 51 on the money list, No. 44 Justin Bolli, No.38 Cliff Kresge, No. 30 Michael Putnam, No. 21 Brad Fritsch and No. 11 Justin Hicks.

You may not know the names but you are keenly aware that all of them are playing for their jobs next year. The new system may be a better way to dole out Tour cards, but it’s hard to imagine how it’s more entertaining.

Tweet of the week: @VijaySinghGolf “Been home for two days now, it feels good to not have to leave again for a while #relaxsingh”

Count that as a hash tag Cut Line never thought he’d see.

Warning signs. As a general rule, our sports heroes disappoint.

It’s become the status quo in recent years that if an athletic accomplishment seemed too good to be true, it normally was. From Alex Rodriguez to Barry Bonds and now Lance Armstrong, who was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles this week following the release of an exhaustive report detailing an amazingly sophisticated doping program.

But for Cut Line that cynical catch-all almost always leads back to Tiger Woods, who likely pushed the Tour to begin testing for performance-enhancing drugs in 2008 and was asked about Armstrong this week in Asia.

“I know we don't do any blood work like some of the other sports do. Right now it's just urine samples, but that's certainly a positive step in the right direction to try and validate our sport,” he said. “This is a sport where we turn ourselves in on mistakes . . . that's one of the neat things about our great game, and I think with the testing, it's only enhanced that respectability throughout all of sport.”

No, Woods is not perfect, but on this he seems to be the moral exception to the deeply disturbing rule.


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Follow the money? Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III doesn’t sidestep trouble this deftly, but then Rory McIlroy is becoming adept at avoiding landmines.

Last week in Asia it wasn’t the continued drama over who he will play for at the 2016 Olympic Games. Instead, the issue du jour for the Ulsterman is whether he plans to bolt Titleist for Nike Golf.

Numerous reports suggest the two-time major champion is poised to sign a 10-year deal with the swoosh worth $250 million at the end of the year, and by the looks of the endorsement landscape it appears Nike Golf is clearing “salary cap” space for such a deal. Although it’s worth noting that sources familiar with McIlroy’s contract with Titleist tell Cut Line he still has multiple years remaining on his current equipment deal.

Market value being the ultimate arbiter, McIlroy deserves whatever mega-deal his management team can conjure up. But this is delicate ground. The game’s historical footnotes are filled with players who made ultimately harmful equipment decisions based on money and not competitive necessity.

As one Tour type told Cut Line, “He needs to ask himself if this is best for his game? Maybe it is, but that has to be the ultimate reason, not the money.”


Missed Cut

Daly edition. Maybe it’s time to place a moratorium on John Daly items and simply accept the fact that he is the embodiment of the self-entitled athlete, but the big man makes it too easy sometimes.

Daly told The Associated Press last week that he plans to focus on the European Tour in 2013, “I have no goals (on the PGA Tour) because I don't get in anything. Everyone turned me down on the West Coast.”

That’s right, Daly plans to play the European Tour because tournament directors on the West Coast didn’t give him sponsor exemptions. Never mind that he hasn’t finished inside the top 125 in earnings since 2005 and yet has refused to play Q-School and try to earn his card the old fashion way.

Of course he did say he would play next year’s finals series, a four-event playoff-like format that will combine the top players from the Web.com Tour and Nos. 126 to 200 in PGA Tour earnings, “If I was exempt.”

The only way for Daly to be exempt into the finals series, however, is via sponsor exemptions, which he doesn’t seem to be getting enough of, or playing this year’s Q-School, which he’s not doing.

Mark this as reason No. 346 why Cut Line already misses the old Q-School.

Getty Images

McCoy earns medalist honors at Web.com Q-School

By Will GrayDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 am

One year after his budding career was derailed by a car accident, Lee McCoy got back on track by earning medalist honors at the final stage of Web.com Tour Q-School.

McCoy shot a final-round 65 at Whirlwind Golf Club in Chandler, Ariz., to finish the 72-hole event at 28 under. That total left him two shots ahead of Sung-Jae Im and guaranteed him fully-exempt status on the developmental circuit in 2018.

It's an impressive turnaround for the former University of Georgia standout who finished fourth at the 2016 Valspar Championship as an amateur while playing alongside Jordan Spieth in the final round. But he broke his wrist in a car accident the day before second stage of Q-School last year, leaving him without status on any major tour to begin the year.

McCoy was not the only player who left Arizona smiling. Everyone in the top 10 and ties will be exempt through the first 12 events of the new Web.com Tour season, a group that includes former amateur standouts Curtis Luck (T-3), Sam Burns (T-10) and Maverick McNealy (T-10).

Players who finished outside the top 10 but inside the top 45 and ties earned exemptions into the first eight events of 2018. That group includes Cameron Champ (T-16), who led the field in driving at this year's U.S. Open as an amateur, and Wyndham Clark (T-23).

Everyone who advanced to the final stage of Q-School will have at least conditional Web.com Tour status in 2018. Among those who failed to secure guaranteed starts this week were Robby Shelton, Rico Hoey, Jordan Niebrugge, Joaquin Niemann and Kevin Hall.

Els honored with Heisman Humanitarian Award

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 11:41 pm

The annual Heisman Trophy award ceremony is one of the biggest moments in any football season, but there was a touching non-football moment as well on Saturday night as Ernie Els received the Heisman Humanitarian Award.

The award, which had been announced in August, recognized Els' ongoing efforts on behalf of his Els for Autism foundation. Els received the award at Manhattan's PlayStation Theater, where Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy.

Els, 47, founded Els for Autism in 2009 with his wife after their son, Ben, was diagnosed with autism. Their efforts have since flourished into a 26-acre campus in Jupiter, Fla., and the creation of the Els Center for Excellence in 2015.

The Heisman Humanitarian Award has been given out since 2006. Past recipients include NBA center David Robinson, NFL running back Warrick Dunn, soccer star Mia Hamm and NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon.

A native of South Africa, Els won the U.S. Open in 1994 and 1997 and The Open in 2002 and 2012. He has won 19 times on the PGA Tour and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011.

Getty Images

Monday finish for Joburg Open; Sharma leads by 4

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 8:57 pm

Rain, lightning and hail pushed the Joburg Open to a Monday finish, with India’s Shubhankar Sharma holding a four-stroke lead with 11 holes to play in Johannesburg.

Play is scheduled to resume at 7:30 a.m. local time.

South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen will have a 3-foot putt for birdie to move within three shots of Sharma wen play resumes at the Randpark Golf Club. Sarma is at 22 under par.

Tapio Pulkkanen of Finland and James Morrison of England are tied for third at 14 under. Pulkkanen has 10 holes remaining, Morrison 11.

The top three finishers who are not already exempt, will get spots in next year’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.

 

 

Stricker, O'Hair team to win QBE Shootout

By Will GrayDecember 10, 2017, 8:55 pm

It may not count in the official tally, but Steve Stricker is once again in the winner's circle on the PGA Tour.

Stricker teamed with Sean O'Hair to win the two-person QBE Shootout, as the duo combined for a better-ball 64 in the final round to finish two shots clear of Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry. It's the second win in this event for both men; Stricker won with Jerry Kelly back in 2009 while O'Hair lifted the trophy with Kenny Perry in 2012.

Stricker and O'Hair led wire-to-wire in the 54-hole, unofficial event after posting a 15-under 57 during the opening-round scramble.

"We just really gelled well together," Stricker said. "With his length the first day, getting some clubs into the greens, some short irons for me, we just fed off that first day quite a bit. We felt comfortable with one another."


Full-field scores from the QBE Shootout


Stricker won 12 times during his PGA Tour career, most recently at the 2012 Tournament of Champions. More recently the 50-year-old has been splitting his time on the PGA Tour Champions and captained the U.S. to a victory at the Presidents Cup in October. O'Hair has four official Tour wins, most recently at the 2011 RBC Canadian Open.

Pat Perez and Brian Harman finished alone in third, four shots behind Stricker and O'Hair. Lexi Thompson and Tony Finau, the lone co-ed pairing in the 12-team event, finished among a tie for fourth.