Cut Line: Lyle continues to inspire in Web.com return

By Rex HoggardJuly 25, 2014, 4:05 pm

In the lull between major championship storms, we search for new ways to describe Jarrod Lyle’s inspiring return to golf, and a reason why Bubba Watson’s search history appears to be half empty.

Made Cut

Lyle’s legacy. In many ways it was like he’d never left.

For Jarrod Lyle, his opening 67 at the Midwest Classic on Thursday felt like old times, four birdies, 14 pars, that familiar welcoming smile.

There were no outward signs of the scars left by the graft-versus-host disease he will likely deal with the rest of his life, the byproduct of the stem cell transplant that allowed him to beat leukemia for the second time, or the hours of chemotherapy he had to endure.

It was the best possible start for Lyle, who began the first of three rehabilitation starts on the Web.com Tour this week as he prepares to return to the PGA Tour this fall for the first time since being diagnosed in early 2012.

“I always said through my treatment that if I never hit another golf shot I could walk away from the game and be happy," Lyle said. "I wasn't going to live or die by playing golf. I live and die by my family (wife Briony and daughter Lusi). It means the world to me to have them both here and supporting me in my golf again. I'll do anything for those two.”

Lyle’s fate as a professional golfer remains unknown, but his status as an inspiring tale was solidified long ago.

Pool party. For all those who continue to question the International Golf Federation’s decision to use 72-hole, individual stroke play as the format for the 2016 Olympic Games, this week’s International Crown will only rekindle that debate.

The first-year team event will include pool play the first three days with each team playing two best-ball matches against every country in its pool. The top two countries in each pool – plus one wild card – will advance to Sunday’s final round of singles play.

While the format may be on the Mensa side of confusing, it could create a few compelling match ups and even some rare Saturday drama. As for the Olympic dream, that ship – at least as it relates to the ’16 Games – has sailed. But it’s never too soon to start a campaign for the 2020 Games.


Tweet of the week: @bencranegolf (Ben Crane) “Being at a tournament and not starting in it is a new experience. Makes me love/appreciate the game more. Going to qualify outright next year.”

There are a lot of reasons to respect Crane’s decision to fly from Oregon to England for a chance to play in the Open Championship (which he did not). Perspective just makes it that much more endearing.


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Another Monty moment. European Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley may have been a consensus choice for many of his potential players, but for those of us who carry notebooks for a living there may never be another captain like Colin Montgomerie.

The outspoken Scot made the 2010 matches particularly entertaining thanks to a steady diet of juicy sound bites, and this week at the Senior Open Championship in Wales he gave the U.S. team some early bulletin board material.

“If (Bernhard) Langer and I were paired together in the foursomes, we’d feel we could bring a point home for Europe,” Montgomerie said. “We’d need to sit out the four-ball (matches) though – we’d be knackered.”

Considering Montgomerie and Langer’s solid play on the Champions Tour this season – they’ve combined to win five times, including the last two senior majors – perhaps they could make a game of it against America’s best.

The U.S. team may not like Monty’s take, but they can’t be surprised he would say it.


Missed Cut

Being Bubba. Considering the level of background noise and vitriol that permeates sports today it’s not surprising to discover a professional athlete who has elected to tune out.

“Sometimes you can get too much bad talk or negative talk where you think you're the worst golfer in the world. Next week I could probably win; this week I'll probably miss the cut. It fluctuates,” said Bubba Watson after explaining that he had removed the internet from his phone.

“I'm trying to stay away from negative and positive, just remain even keel. As long as my wife loves me and my child thinks daddy is the greatest, then I'm good to go.”

Cut Line often wonders why more players don’t follow a similar path. But where Watson drew a few double takes was when he was asked if he ever read the positive comments about him.

“There's not been one positive thing. I'm waiting on that one. Then I'll start reading. Well, I can't read yet, but I'll start,” he said.

Which prompted a quick Google search:

“He swings out of his shoes with a pink-shafted driver, his golf ball traveling distances that are awed and admired. Bubba Golf, it is called, often with disbelief and wonder.”
-ESPN.com, April 13, 2014

“This wasn’t Bubba golf as much as it was simply great golf.”
-Associated Press, Feb. 16, 2014 (following his victory at the Northern Trust Open)

“Even after Saturday’s 74 left him tied with Spieth, Watson remained unfazed on his way to a sixth PGA Tour. It seems Bubba has grown up.”
-GolfChannel.com, April 13, 2014

“Watson swings with an individuality and majesty that belongs with other mind-blowing athletic motions, like Tim (The Freak) Lincecum's pitching delivery or sprinter Usain Bolt's stride.”
-Golf Digest, August 2009

“For Watson, the tears pour because when blessings flow, he often asks the question, why? ... With gifts that great, the better question is, why not?”
-Golfweek.com, April 13, 2014

All of which makes your scribe wonder what exactly Watson was searching for before he nixed the Internet from his phone?

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McIlroy 'happy to be back', can 'empathize' with Tiger

By Associated PressJanuary 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – After a long layoff from golf, Rory McIlroy has some newfound sympathy for Tiger Woods.

The 28-year-old Northern Irishman is making a comeback at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship after ending his season early last year. He has not played a round since the final day of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Oct. 8.

McIlroy, a four-time major champion who has slipped to No. 11 in the world rankings, last won the Tour Championship on the PGA Tour in September 2016. He injured a rib in his first outing of 2017 – at the South African Open – and felt its after-effects throughout the year.

McIlroy, who has seven top-five finishes in his last eight starts in Abu Dhabi, said Tuesday he felt mentally low because of his physical issues.

''Honestly, I was excited to be done. I could have shut it down after the PGA Championship very easily and taken the rest of the year off, but I didn't. I played six events after that, played OK and had a chance to win one of them,'' McIlroy said. ''But I was just excited to take that time off and get myself just sort of a re-set.''

Last week, McIlroy also revealed that he has a minor, non-threatening heart condition that needs regular check-ups.

''After that 3-plus months of a re-set, I'm very happy to be back. I felt like I needed it physically and mentally. I just felt like it was a little bit of a sabbatical. I've been out here for 10 years, and I want to get ready for the next 10.''

McIlroy compared his situation to what Woods has been going through.

''I've only been through, maybe, not even 5 percent of what he's had to go through. And you can tell from where he was to where he is now mentally, because of physically where he is ... he's a totally different person,'' McIlroy said. ''Of course, I empathize with him, and I know he was in a dark place there for a while. It's just so great to see him out of that and back and excited to be playing golf again.''

The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship will be the first of back-to-back events for McIlroy, who is also playing next week in Dubai.

''I think the next two weeks will be a big learning curve, just to see where I'm at,'' McIlroy said. ''I'm obviously coming into the events trying to play as well as I can and trying to compete and trying to win, but I think there will definitely be things I'll have to work on going into that stretch in the States.''

The tournament, which starts Thursday, has attracted some big names, including top-ranked Dustin Johnson, No. 6 Justin Rose, No. 9 Henrik Stenson, No. 14 Paul Casey and No. 15 Matt Kuchar. No. 18 Tommy Fleetwood is the defending champion.

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Pre-tourney caution be damned: Stenson rides camel

By Grill Room TeamJanuary 16, 2018, 3:29 pm

If you were under the impression Henrik Stenson's days of engaging in pre-tournament hijinks at HSBC-sponsored events were over, then you don't know the Swedish Superman.

Ahead of this week's HSBC Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, the 2016 champion golfer of the year decided to have some fun riding (and pretend-spanking) a camel:

If you can't imagine any reason Stenson wouldn't get on a camel, we will point you to the WGC-HSBC Champions back in October, when Stenson, Dustin Johnson, Haotong Li and Hideki Matsuyama took place in this hire-wire act:

Two weeks later, Stenson revealed a rib injury, and a report from the U.K.'s Telegraph stated "that not only was the Shanghai caper to blame, but that Stenson is annoyed about being persuaded to do it in the first place."

Stenson brushed back at that report in this Instagram post, saying that his "comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal."

I’m disappointed to have to pre-emptively withdraw from the Nedbank Golf Challenge Hosted by Gary Player, I was looking forward to this important year-end event on the European Tour. At this point I am back home in Orlando waiting to do a scan on my ribs and get the necessary rest. I am still hoping for a quick recovery and have not ruled out playing in Dubai next week at this point. My comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal. The plan as of now will be to participate in the DP World Championship if my body is back to 100%. H

A post shared by Henrik Stenson (@henrikstenson) on

And it would appear he genuinely meant those comments, at least enough to get on a camel.

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Spieth, McIlroy to support Major Champions Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:25 pm

Nick Faldo announced Tuesday the creation of the Major Champions Invitational.

The event, scheduled for March 12-14, is an extension of the Faldo Series and will feature both male and female junior players at Bella Collina in Montverde, Fla.

Jordan Spieth, Rory Mcllroy, Annika Sorenstam, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Jerry Pate and John Daly have already committed to supporting the event, which is aimed at mentoring and inspiring the next generation of players.  

“I’m incredibly excited about hosting the Major Champions Invitational, and about the players who have committed to support the event,” Faldo said. “This event will allow major champions to give something back to the game that has given them so much, and hopefully, in time, it will become one of the most elite junior golf events in the world.”

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Rosaforte: Woods plays with Obama, gets rave reviews

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:15 pm

Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte reports on Tiger Woods’ recent round at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., alongside President Barack Obama.

Check out the video, as Rosaforte says Woods received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon.