Cut Line: Keeping it Rio

By Rex HoggardMay 6, 2016, 10:02 pm

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – In this week’s edition of Cut Line, Jordan Spieth has fully recovered from his Masters meltdown, Tiger Woods is still in recovery mode and Zac Blair recovers nicely after head butting his putter on Friday at the Wells Fargo Championship.

Made Cut

View from 45. At 45 years old Phil Mickelson’s priorities are vastly different than those of his PGA Tour frat brothers.

The focus now is on majors, specifically that missing piece of his Grand Slam puzzle, the U.S. Open, and cementing his legacy as one of the game’s most accomplished players.

Consider his take on this year’s exceedingly busy schedule for many of the game’s top players with the addition of the Olympics. Lefty is currently not qualified for Rio, although he made it clear he’d like to change that, and sees the potential traffic jam of tournaments as an opportunity.

“The way I see it is that around the Olympics, if I can play well in the next two months and somehow get on the team, what a great opportunity to compete in the Olympics,” said Mickelson, who is back in the hunt at the Wells Fargo Championship just three shots off the lead. “And if I don't, I've never had a three-week stretch of a break over the summer. So we'll end up going on a family vacation so it's a win-win the way I see it.”

Have to appreciate half-full Phil keeping things in perspective.

Moving on. It’s good theater to think Jordan Spieth has spent the weeks since rinsing his title chances into Rae’s Creek quietly tucked away in a dark room with just his thoughts, lamenting his missed Masters moment.

The reality is Spieth spent a week in the Bahamas on a buddys trip and even a few days this week getting to know Oakmont, site of this year’s U.S. Open.

“I’ve got ladies at the grocery stores putting their hand on me and going, ‘Really praying for you. How are you doing?’” Spieth said Tuesday. “I’m like, ‘My dog didn’t die. I’ll be OK. I’ll survive. It happens.’”

Now, the fact Spieth already has a green jacket in his closet certainly helps dull the sting of his Masters loss and that stunning quadruple-bogey 7 on the par-3 12th hole on Sunday.

But even if Spieth didn’t have his two-pack of major titles to ease his pain, chances are the game’s most level-headed 22-year-old would still be just fine.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Deep end of the pool. Like it or not, drug testing – real drug testing, not the light version used by the PGA Tour since it began its program in 2008 – is a part of sports today.

With millions of dollars at stake each week the temptation to bend the rules is too great as we’ve seen in nearly every other sport, and the only way to combat that threat, be it real or perceived by the public, is a comprehensive, completely transparent anti-doping program.

That program arrived on Friday for players potentially bound for the Olympics later this year.

One hundred and twenty players (60 men, 60 women) were placed into the Olympic testing pool that includes blood testing (the Tour’s policy does not have blood testing), out-of-competition testing (the Tour’s policy allows for this but it doesn’t seem to be used much, if at all) and a whereabouts requirement.

Most involved in golf have held that the game, unlike other sports, is above doping, which may be true, but for the first time there is a program in place to prove it.

Will he, won’t he? Another deadline passed and Tiger Woods remained on the sidelines, this time passing on next week’s Players Championship. Woods hasn't made a start since last year’s Wyndham Championship.

Speculation has reached a fever pitch in recent weeks as Woods appears to inch closer to his comeback following multiple back procedures last year, fueled by reports of the former world No. 1 booking accommodations for the Memorial and registering for the U.S. Open.

Davis Love III, arguably Woods’ biggest advocate for a comeback considering his position as this year’s U.S. Ryder Cup captain, brought some sanity to the conversation earlier this week when he was asked about Tiger’s chances as a potential pick

“He needs to play,” Love said. “Hopefully, Tiger gets back and starts playing. He has to play enough to, one, to get going, and two, to impress everybody. It's not just me.”

Eventually there will be an announcement that Woods is returning to the PGA Tour but that won’t be the end of his comeback, it will be the beginning.

Tweet of the week: @z_blair (Zac Blair) “For the record my putter is very very slightly bent... Not broken. And I'm gonna drop some blowsnakes next week with it!”

Blair was disqualified from the Wells Fargo Championship after he missed a birdie putt on the fifth hole, hit himself in the head with the offending implement and then putted out for par with the club.

Blair sent out an impressive mea culpa on Twitter: “Going forward I’m going to do my best to not let my emotions get in the way out on the golf course.”

Nobody wants that kind of outburst on the course, but give Blair credit for handling the situation with class and humility.

Missed Cut

Pro-am party. During Tuesday’s mandatory players meeting at the Wells Fargo Championship the agenda, as it often does, turned to weekly pro-am days and how to improve them.

The idea has been floated to have two professionals per group, one playing the front nine and the other finishing the round with the amateur partners.

“It would give the amateurs a chance to get to know more players and the players could use the extra time to get ready for the tournament,” said one player who asked not to be identified.

But the idea doesn’t seem to have much traction among players on the policy board and player advisory council despite a general consensus that pro-am days are too long.

Pro-am days are an important part of any tournament’s business and give the Tour access to countless corporate decision makers, but if there are ways to improve the product for both the players and the amateurs, that should be a top priority.

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Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.

Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

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

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

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.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

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 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.