Cut Line Kings Captains and Little Guys
Arnold Palmer. Because he made charisma cool. Because he has a drink named after him. Because he can hang with presidents as easily as he can kibitz with the rank-and-file.
Because you still get chills watching those old black-and-whites from the 1960 U.S. Open at Cherry Hills. Because you still show up at the first tee at Bay Hill each week looking to take someone’s money. Because once a year at the Arnold Palmer Invitational you light up the press room with your wit and your wisdom.
But mostly because golf as we know it wouldn’t exist without you.
For all that, we fudge the record books and give The King one last weekend between the ropes for a cool 575 made cuts.
The little guy. Mark Wilson roared out of the gates on familiar turf on Friday and finds himself tied for the lead with Tiger Woods at the BMW Championship. We liked this story the first time we saw it, when the lead role was played by Heath Slocum and the back drop was Lower Manhattan.
Say what you will about the playoffs, but on consecutive weeks we’ve had Woods, Padraig Harrington and Steve Stricker rubbing elbows with the Wilsons and Slocums of the world. It may not be the “Duel in the Sun,” but it’s pretty good.
The NCAA Basketball Tournament has Gonzaga, Major League Baseball has the Tampa Bay Rays and golf has a group of unassuming plodders to keep things honest, and interesting.
Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)
Cog Hill. Tour golf fits the Southside fixture like baseball at Wrigley Field, and Rees Jones’ tinkering seems to be to most players’ liking. A single-minded focus to move on to something bigger and better, however, makes one wonder.
Cog Hill officials moved heaven and tons of earth in an attempt to woo a U.S. Open to the public facility and there have been rumblings that the club would push hard to host the 2016 Olympic Games if golf and Chicago get the IOC nod next month. Not so fast.
There’s nothing wrong with Cog Hill’s Dubsdread layout that some well-handled chainsaws can’t fix and before we move on to the Olympics or U.S. Open, the traffic problems on South Archer Avenue must be fixed.
Asked if Cog Hill should host a U.S. Open Zach Johnson paused for a long moment, “I’m not sure.” It wasn’t a slight against the club or course, just a sign they might be moving too fast.
Vijay Singh/Camilo Villegas/Sergio Garcia. The three-ball that ruled last year’s FedEx Cup playoffs are headed for, or are already enjoying, an early offseason.
Singh, who coasted to the Cup title last year, didn’t make it to Chicago for Round 3; Villegas, who gave the Fijian a run with victories in the last two playoff events in 2008, is 22 spots on the wrong side of East Lake and tied for 30th at Cog Hill; and Garcia, whose duel with Singh at The Barclays last year was the highlight of the postseason, is two rounds away from the sidelines.
To be fair, Singh has been hurt this year, Garcia is hurting emotionally after a high-profile split with his girlfriend and Villegas has simply been hard on the eyes. Not even the Yankees make it to the World Series every year.
Greg Norman.The Australian blamed his ex-wife for not winning more major championships. Are we to understand that current wife Chris Everet plucked Adam Scott from the depths of a lost year? Doubtful.
Maybe Norman was being loyal to a friend or is hoping the heat of the Presidents Cup will give Scott the spark he’s been missing. If so, both are misguided, albeit plausible, ideas.
What flummoxed “Cut Line” is Norman’s disregard for Rory Sabbatini and the long-held tradition of calling a player that is being passed over to help soften the blow. U.S. captain Fred Couples made an emotional call to Brian Gay on Tuesday and sent Dustin Johnson a three-part text message on Monday explaining his picks and assuring the hard-hitting two-time Tour winner that he will be on a team soon enough.
Nearly a month before the matches Norman’s already under fire. He should ask Nick Faldo how clumsy captaincies go.
American LPGA players. This may sound jingoistic, but we glanced at the leaderboard today and wondered why the Pan-Asian Open is being played in Arkansas?
Some have tried to make this a tour problem, while others want to pin the blame on the Asian players. Both miss the mark. Despite the success of the U.S. Solheim Cup team last month, the home team has been something of a red, white and bust in individual events.
At one point on Friday, the leaderboard at the P&G Beauty NW Arkansas Championship featured just a single American in the top 15. It was easy for players to pin all of the tour’s woes on Carolyn Bivens, but players on the PGA Tour would likely have a different take on things – play better.
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.