Cut Line: Let ams keep their belly putters

By Rex HoggardFebruary 10, 2012, 9:32 pm

No cut this week on the PGA Tour until Saturday, which would seem to coincide with the U.S. Golf Association’s new ruling on anchored putters if recent reports are any indication. But if the belly putter’s demise is on the fast track, there is no end in sight for Fred Couples and what is turning into a game of musical captains’ chairs.

Made Cut

Being short. Full disclosure here, your correspondent is a belly putter user from way back and is more than a little suspicious that the U.S. Golf Association’s sudden interest in longer-than-standard length putters is overly reactionary. Call it the Keegan Bradley accord.

The debate, however, has gained momentum in recent days, particularly with Tiger Woods’ take on long putters and revelations that he has spoken with officials from the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews about a possible rules change.

“I believe it's the art of controlling the body and club and swinging the pendulum motion. That's how it should be played. I'm a traditionalist when it comes to that,” said Woods, who has largely avoided speaking out on controversial issues in the past. “My idea was to have it so that the putter would be equal to or less than the shortest club in your bag.”

That Woods felt comfortable enough taking this issue head on demonstrates how passionate many in the sport are about long putters. But instead of another top-down mandate perhaps the current controversy is an opportunity to finally consider bifurcation of the Rules of Golf.

If the PGA Tour is worried about the evils of the long putter, and the juiced-up golf ball for that matter, then they can, and should, act. But leave the rest of us to break 90 with whatever implements we see fit.

Tseng the queen. Paul Goydos once mused that Tiger Woods was the most underrated player in the game, but as the LPGA Tour begins its season in Australia that crown seems to have been passed to Yani Tseng.

She may have had the most nondescript 12-win, two-major season in the history of golf and, here’s the good part, the 23-year-old began 2012 with designs on improving what she did last season.

“Last year is over,” Tseng said. “This is a new year for me.”

That she could somehow improve on ’11 seems like an afterthought. That it seems unlikely many will notice is just sad.


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Oh, captain. Fred Couples offered an interesting glimpse into the complicated inner workings of the process of selecting future Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup captains this week in Dubai, conceding that he would like to have a turn as a Ryder Cup captain.

“Maybe in the next two or four years I'll get a shot at it, but they are going to name another Presidents Cup captain here in another month and I know they're all pushing for me to do it again, so I'm all for that,” Couples said.

The current captain dynamics are complicated. Following the International side’s loss last year at Royal Melbourne there was a groundswell of support from players to give Greg Norman a third term as captain in 2013 at Muirfield Village in Ohio. Conventional wisdom suggests if Norman returns it would make sense to give Couples a third turn.

However, current U.S. Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III would like to name Couples one of his assistant captains for this year’s matches but must wait to see if the Tour tabs “Boom Boom” for the Presidents Cup chair in ’13, while the PGA of America wouldn’t give Couples the 2014 Ryder Cup captain’s job if his 2013 dance card is full helping prepare for Muirfield Village.

In short, the Tour and the PGA of America are in a blinking contest and it appears Couples is caught in the middle.

Tweet of the week I: @KyleThompsonPGA “I’ve now had three people tell me congrats on my win last week. Sorry, I’m a different Kyle that plays (Titleist). #noKyleStanley”


Missed Cut

Northern Trust Open. With a monsoon of respect to Billy Hurley, Jordan Spieth and Jason Gore, the decision to not extend Mike Weir a sponsor exemption by officials in Los Angeles is curious at best.

Hurley, Spieth and Gore are certainly deserving of an exemption, but when a two-time champion and former major winner doesn’t rate a pass it may be time to reevaluate the system.

The exemption process has always been a political minefield for tournament directors, with some saying it’s the worst part of their job, yet the little left-hander’s snub would make even Republican strategist Karl Rove cringe.

Tweet of the week II: @Southpaw444 (Steve Flesch) “I don’t care what criteria sponsors ‘claim’ to use to determine who gets exemptions, Mike Weir not getting one into (the Northern Trust Open) is a mockery.”

BMW Championship. That Cog Hill has unofficially been cut out of the BMW rotation for the greener fairways of Conway Farms is sad enough, but the real crime here is that the nation’s second-largest market is only a part-time player in the PGA Tour picture.

Conway Farms will replace Cog Hill, the southside muni that quickly fell out of favor with Tour types following Rees Jones’ nip/tuck in 2008, as the venue for the 2013 BMW, but the event is scheduled to be played in Indiana in 2012 and Denver in 2014 and there is speculation it could make a cameo at San Francisco’s Harding Park in the near future.

Perhaps a city that clings to the idea that the Cubs’ next World Series title is just a season away is jaded enough to endure the Second City’s second-class status on Tour, but that doesn’t make it right.

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.

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Wie takes shot at LPGA dress code in crop top

By Grill Room TeamDecember 10, 2017, 5:33 pm

The new LPGA dress code got mixed reviews when it was announced in July, and Michelle Wie is taking full advantage of her offseason with no restrictions.

The 28-year-old former U.S. Women's Open champion is keeping her game sharp while back in her home state of Hawaii, but couldn't help taking a shot at the rules while doing it, posting a photo to Instagram of her playing golf in a crop top with the caption, "Offseason = No dress code fine."

Offseason = No dress code fines #croptopdroptop

A post shared by Michelle Wie (@themichellewie) on

Wie isn't the first to voice her displeasure with the rules. Lexi Thompson posted a similar photo and caption to Instagram shortly after the policy was announced.