Cut Line Match Play Edition

By Rex HoggardFebruary 26, 2011, 4:59 am

The cut comes early in the Arizona desert, particularly for the likes of Tiger Woods and Ian Poulter. But the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship can still provide some drama for those inclined to brave an inclement forecast to see a bomber’s bout between J.B. Holmes and Bubba Watson.

Made Cut

J.B. Holmes. Five consecutive weeks on the road, two cross-country flights in two days and a golf course as foreign as a three-shot par 5 couldn’t derail Holmes, nor could three of the week’s toughest opponents (Camilo Villegas, Ernie Els and Jason Day).

The man from Campbellsville, Ky., has run through the Match Play field and set the stage for what may well be the week’s most entertaining match with Bubba Watson early Saturday in the quarterfinals.

WGC-Match Play TV Schedule
(All times Eastern)

Golf Channel_new

Sat: 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
Sun: 9 a.m.-1 p.m.

NBC Sports
Sat: 2-6 p.m.

Sun: 2-6 p.m.

Now, if only they’d move a major to Arizona, Holmes would start looking like a first-vote Hall-of-Famer.

West Coast. If the Wild West Coast Swing is any indicator, we should expect first-time winners at all the majors, no Monday finishes and a tough summer for the top of the game’s star marquee.

Among the highlights of the West Coast Swing was Jhonattan Vegas’ magical two weeks starting at the Bob Hope Classic, Bubba Watson’s breakthrough – and breakdown – at Torrey Pines against Phil Mickelson and Mark Wilson’s quiet march to star status.

Of course, the Tour may be sending out APB’s for its stars following the Left Coast run – Tiger Woods failed to contend at Torrey Pines or Tucson; Mickelson wasn’t a factor after San Diego and the Elite Eight at the Match Play include just two players who have won majors.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Match Play on the move. Lots of talk this week about the WGC-Match Play heading to greener, or at least warmer, pastures. Most insiders say the tournament will move, the only question is where?

“Cut Line” would like to suggest Riviera Country Club. The Northern Trust Open is already run by the Tour’s Championship Management division, which also runs the WGCs, the golf course is a match play match and the Riv’s location is the perfect tonic for Dove Mountain’s end-of-the-road seclusion.

Harbor Town in Hilton Head, S.C., would also be a win-win for the Tour. The Lowcountry stop seems stymied in its search for a sponsor and the quirky-cozy layout could be set up for speed and scoring. And if all that isn’t enough, the shrimp and grits are to die for.

Match play. The format, not the tournament. It is the professional game’s ultimate love-hate relationship. We revel in close duels like Martin Kaymer and Hunter Mahan’s shootout on Friday but recoil when the top seeds tumble like they did this week.

In order, Woods, Mickelson and Lee Westwood all made early exits, leaving surprisingly quiet galleries strangely wanting for the safety of 72 holes of stroke play.

Tweet of the Week: “Bubba did good today! It’s been a great week so far. Fun match tomorrow with (J.B. Holmes).”

“Cut Line” would agree, but then nobody asked “Cut Line.”

Missed Cut

Tiger Woods. No, it’s not that 19-hole first-round flameout that landed Woods on the wrong side of the weekend axe, it is an apparent detachment from competitive reality.

On the one hand, the world No. 3 says his new swing is coming along but he needs “reps,” and yet even after a short week in the Arizona desert he wasn’t interested in adding to his schedule heading into the Masters.

At this rate he will motor down Magnolia Lane with 13 competitive rounds under his belt this year at best. Not exactly ideal when change is afoot.

“Tiger is lacking two things: competitive rounds and confidence,” said one Tour fraternity brother. “Until he realizes that the more he puts his swing under the gun and tests its nuances and dependability in tournaments and not at the ‘bubble’ known as Isleworth, he’s never going to be able to trust it enough to know it’s going to hold up when it really matters.”

Tweet of the Week II. @HankDHaney: “For all the talk of Tiger’s poor driving the last six years I have never seen him drive it out of play with a match or tournament on the line.”

Woods’ record with Haney (a 51 percent winning clip on the PGA Tour the last 3 ½ years) should end all debates, not snarky comments.

World Golf Championships. On Tuesday, world No. 1 Lee Westwood scaled a familiar soap box, chiding the powers that be for being insular or without a third-grader’s grasp of global geography.

To date, 37 WGC's have been played, just six of those outside the Lower 48, and that’s not counting the WGC-HSBC Champions which doesn’t award official money.

The idea was to grow the game globally, or maybe just quiet Greg Norman. Instead the only thing the WGC’s have grown is the Tour’s bottom line.

Ian Poulter. First the Englishman was petulant in his Round 1 match against Stewart Cink, chiding a ShotLink crew for making noise and barking obscenities at the sixth green when he failed to hole his bogey putt (at least he didn’t spit on the putting surface).

Then he complained that his tee time, first off on Wednesday, was not befitting the event’s defending champion before storming out of Tucson. Never mind that he was the 12th-seeded player when the field was set on Feb. 14. Never mind that even as defending champion there is no guarantee he would make it back this year if he didn’t stay inside the top 64 in the world.

We’ve seen this act before but thought it had been cleaned up when Sergio Garcia took a sabbatical last year.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 1, Justin Thomas

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 1:00 pm

He won a major, captured the FedExCup and was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year. It should come as no surprise that Justin Thomas holds the top spot on our Newsmakers list for 2017.

Thomas entered the year ranked outside the top 20, and few might have pegged him for a transcendent campaign. But he kicked off January with a win in Hawaii, added another before leaving the Aloha State and never looked back.

Thomas’ seminal moment came in August when he captured the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow for his breakthrough major title. One month after greeting Jordan Spieth behind the final green at Royal Birkdale, this time it was Thomas’ turn to have friends stick around to snap pictures with the trophy that signaled his arrival among golf’s upper echelon.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

In addition to racking up the hardware – five in total, including the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in his first start of the new wraparound season – Thomas dazzled with style. His runaway win at the Sony Open included an opening-round 59, and his third-round 63 at Erin Hills marked the first time anyone had ever shot 9 under on a U.S. Open venue.

Thomas’ consistency was rewarded at East Lake, when a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship netted him the season-long title and $10 million prize. It was in the subsequent press conference where he shared the goals list he had written into his cell phone in February, having ticked off nearly every one. It showed a dedicated attention to detail as well the tactical approach with which Thomas had steered his rapid ascent.

Heading into a new year, he’s now very clearly entrenched as one of the world’s best. And as his career progresses, it’s likely we’ll look back at 2017 as the point where Thomas first transformed great potential into eye-popping results.

Win No. 1: Title defense at the CIMB Classic

Article: Thomas (64) rallies to defend CIMB title

Win Nos. 2 and 3: The Hawaiian double

Article: Thomas refuses to let disastrous hole derail TOC win

Article: Worst week ever ends with another title at Sony Open

Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open

Article: Thomas becomes youngest player to shoot 59

Take a look: Thomas’ scorecard from his amazing 59

Record Round No. 2: 63 at the U.S. Open

Article: Thomas sets U.S. Open record with 9-under 63

Temporary Slide: Open MC makes it three in a row

Watch: Thomas loses club, makes 9, misses Open cut

Mr. Major (and win No. 4): PGA champ at Quail Hollow

Article: Thomas joins the club – the major club

Win No. 5: Dell Technologies Championship

Article: Thomas wins the battle of buddies over Spieth

The $10 Million Man: FedExCup champ

Biggest Win of All? Player of the Year

And One to Grow On: Wins at CJ Cup in 2017-18 season

Article: Thomas caps torrid 12-month run with CJ Cup win

Photo Galleries: Best of ...

Best of: Justin Thomas and Jillian Wisniewski

Best of: Justin Thomas through the years

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 12:30 pm

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.