Cut Line: Kirk rebounds at Crowne; Rory sinks in Ireland

By Rex HoggardMay 29, 2015, 6:26 pm

In this week’s meteorological edition of Cut Line, an “Irish” gale blows Rory McIlroy off course at Royal County Down, Chris Kirk rebounds from an imperfect storm at TPC Sawgrass and the PGA Tour endures another soggy week in Texas.

Made Cut

Sawgrass inspiration. How a player handles defeats is often much more telling than what follows a victory and Kirk certainly proved a point last Sunday at Colonial.

Following a closing-round 75 at The Players, where he started the final round with a one-stroke lead but faded into a tie for 13th place, the Crowne Plaza Invitational was Kirk’s next start.

After beginning the final 18 holes three shots back, Kirk played his last four holes in 1 under for his fourth PGA Tour title and a healthy measure of redemption.

“It looks like he doesn’t have pulse out there, but he does. He does get nervous,” said Scott Hamilton, Kirk’s swing coach. “Sawgrass was a good learning experience for him and he used that to deal with the pressure on Sunday at Colonial.”

Losing is never easy, but channeled the proper way it can make things easier the next time.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Weather warning I. In 2011 after closing rounds of 74-73 at Royal St. George’s, McIlroy revealed that links golf, in particular links weather, was not exactly his thing.

“I'm not a fan of golf tournaments that the outcome is predicted so much by the weather. It's not my sort of golf,” McIlroy said at the time. “I’m looking forward to getting back and playing in Akron [WGC-Bridgestone Invitational], playing the PGA [Championship] and getting back into some nice conditions.”

The world No. 1 seemed to put that miscue behind him with his victory last July at Royal Liverpool, but an opening-round 80 at the Irish Open in difficult conditions reminded observers that while McIlroy’s game is largely above reproach, he’s still vulnerable to the elements.

Clarifications. When U.S. Golf Association executive director Mike Davis recently suggested that Chambers Bay, site of this year’s U.S. Open, was a test that would require an additional level of preparation many Tour types bristled at the notion.

“What’s Mike Davis’ handicap?” asked McIlroy following his victory at the Wells Fargo Championship.

This week at the opening of the Jack Nicklaus room at the USGA Museum, Davis expanded on his comments, telling Golf Digest: “This is going to be my 26th U.S. Open, and I’ve noticed that players just don’t play as much golf there [at the Open site].

“They’ll play nine holes a day, rely on their caddies instead of coming in early to play three or four rounds the week before like they did in the past . . . it’s just the way things have become. And what I wanted to communicate is that the advantage really goes to the player who knows the course inside and out. There is so much bounciness to that course that you just can’t learn it quickly.”

While Davis’ extended explanation dulls the edges of his original comments, it still doesn’t indemnify his thoughts on Chambers Bay. The best player the third week of June should win, not the player with the most extra credit.

Missed Cut

Weather warning II. As bad as things looked at Royal County Down on Day 2 at the Irish Open, it was continued storms in Texas that most impacted play this week.

Some 4 1/2 inches of rain fell Thursday night at the AT&T Byron Nelson, delaying second-round play for three hours and swamping an already soaked TPC Four Seasons Resort. Officials even had to shorten one of the layout’s holes, the 406-yard, par-4 14th, to 100 yards (par 3) because of water in the fairway.

It’s the second consecutive week of wet and wild conditions for the Tour’s Texas swing which doesn’t bode well for next week’s Memorial, which has endured notoriously bad weather for years.

Tweet of the week:


Olympic effort. While the 2015-16 Tour schedule continues to be a work in progress, early indications suggest next year’s hodgepodge of events will be a confusing mess of conflicting events and crowded calendars.

Although the circuit continues to piece together the later portion of the 2016 line up, according to various sources things will become compacted early with the movement of the WGC-Dell Match Play to the last week of March, two weeks before the Masters.

Because of the Olympic Games, which will be played in Brazil Aug. 11-14, the PGA Championship will be held two weeks earlier than normal, July 28-31, and will be one of two majors played in a three-week span.

It also means there will likely be a Tour event played the week of the men’s Olympic Games and allow for just a six-week window to play the four FedEx Cup playoff events and Ryder Cup.

Officials wanted to grow the game with golf’s return to the Olympics and one thing is certain, there will be an increase of rounds played late next summer. At least at the highest level.

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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.