Cut Line: Mid-term time for Tiger, anchoring

By Rex HoggardApril 26, 2013, 7:37 pm

This week’s stop in New Orleans marks the turn for the 2013 season, the 18th regular-season event out of 36. The eventful first half has been dominated by a surprisingly contentious debate over the use of long putters, long weather delays on the PGA Tour and a long awaited return to form for Tiger Woods.

Made Cut

Tiger Woods. Winning three of your first six PGA Tour starts and finishing tied for fourth at the year’s first major qualifies as a solid start, regardless of how inflated the expectations may be.

But Woods aced the first half of 2013 outside the ropes as well, going public with his first relationship since his 2010 divorce and quietly solidifying his place as one of the game’s preeminent philanthropists.

The Tiger Woods Foundation announced this week it will manage the Deutsche Bank Championship, officially making TWF president and CEO Greg McLaughlin the busiest man in golf.

The playoff stop has benefited the TWF since its inception in 2003 and becomes the third event managed by Woods’ foundation, joining July’s AT&T National and the World Challenge in Thousand Oaks, Calif., in the fall.

“We had been involved since Day 1 and for us it was a great opportunity to build on what we had done on the charity front,” said McLaughlin, who estimates he spent 180 days on the road last year. “From Deutsche Bank’s point of view they felt the timing was right after 10 years to expand the relationship.”

The red, white and blue. Prior to Martin Laird’s victory at the Shell Houston Open, American players had swept the first 13 events of 2013 and Stacy Lewis became the first player from the U.S. to claim the top spot in the Rolex Rankings on the LPGA since 2010.

Woods also wrested the top spot in the Official World Golf Ranking away from Rory McIlroy, ending an international run at No. 1 that featured Martin Kaymer, Lee Westwood and Luke Donald.

Adam Scott’s victory at the Masters has been the lone bump in the road this season for the U.S., but even at Augusta National Brandt Snedeker teed off in the final group on Sunday and Matt Kuchar and Woods both finished inside the top 10.

It would have been hard to imagine such a start last September following America’s Sunday meltdown at Medinah.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Rory McIlroy. However unrealistic the expectations may have been, the Ulsterman set the stage for disappointment when he was introduced as Nike Golf’s newest staff member in rock concert news conference in Abu Dhabi.

What followed was a missed cut in Abu Dhabi, a first-round loss at the WGC-Accenture Match Play and an ill-advised withdrawal from the Honda Classic.

McIlroy rallied with a runner-up showing at the Shell Houston Open and a steady, if not spectacular, week at Augusta National (T-25), but after the way he finished 2012 his start to 2013 is best characterized as an incomplete.

Luckily for the world No. 2, he has historically played his best golf in the second half.

Mother Nature. Golf is an outdoor game, but that harsh, cold and often wet reality was driven home this year.

From the high winds that sent the season-opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions into a Tuesday finish to February’s snow storm at the WGC-Accenture Match Play, eight events have been impacted by inclement weather this season.

Marine layers (Torrey Pines), frost (TPC Scottsdale) and what felt like a monsoon (Bay Hill) have kept Tour meteorologists busy and players well-layered to protect themselves against the elements.

As Jim Furyk told Cut Line at the Match Play, “There is a reason we don’t play in cold weather. Follow the sun, isn’t that it?”

Missed Cut

Due process. As Draconian as the sports world’s anti-doping policy may seem, a player is still innocent until proven guilty, which is why the protracted investigation of Vijay Singh’s apparent violation of the PGA Tour’s performance-enhancing drug policy has been largely accepted.

Lady justice may be blind, but no one ever accused the old girl of being fast.

But it’s been 13 weeks since Singh admitted to using deer-antler spray, which reportedly contains a substance that is banned by the Tour’s doping policy. Even if the process went the distance through a series of hearings and appeals, three months of legal wrangling seems a tad excessive.

This week a Tour official told that no decision has been reached in the case, and it may be time to consider the possibility that Singh will not be found in violation of the circuit’s anti-doping policy. Not that we will ever know if that’s the case, the Tour doesn’t report non-violations.

Tweet of the week: @JasonDufner “What can I say, I was tired, my back hurt from sitting on the floor, and we were talking about relaxation and focusing. #dufnering”

Unfortunately for Dufner, the viral buzz caused by “Dufnering” has been the lone highlight of a surprisingly inconsistent year.

Cooperation. Political gridlock came to golf in the outward loop of the 2013 season.

It’s become clear the USGA and R&A got more than they bargained for when they opened the floor for public comment regarding a proposed rule to ban anchoring. In chorus, the PGA Tour and PGA of America came out against the ban and bifurcation went from being a solid Scrabble answer to a real possibility.

“Bifurcation seems destined if (the proposed ban) is implemented,” PGA president Ted Bishop wrote in a column in March. “It has become one of the most divisive issues that modern-day golf has seen.”

R&A chief executive Peter Dawson fired back this week, “I'm disappointed at the way that campaign was conducted. It put rule-making on to the negotiating table. People have taken positions that they will now have to back off from or maintain. The negotiating table is no place for rule-making. Obviously, feelings are strong. We shall have to see where it goes.”

Differences of opinion on such a polarizing issue were to be expected, but it seems Dawson was only interested in supportive comments.

Watch: Fleetwood gets emotional with family after Race to Dubai win

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 19, 2017, 5:30 pm

Tommy Fleetwood took home the season-long Race to Dubai title on Sunday after a T-21 finish at the DP World Tour Championship.

He was, understandably, emotional after learning his fate while sitting with his wife and baby following a career year in which he won the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship and the French Open and finished fourth at the U.S. Open.

Luckily for us, cameras were rolling:

Matsuyama after Koepka rout: 'Huge gap between us'

By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 4:22 pm

Hideki Matsuyama offered a blunt assessment after finishing 10 shots behind Brooks Koepka at the Japan Tour's Dunlop Phoenix event.

Koepka waxed the field en route to successfully defending his title in Japan, shooting a 20-under par total that left him nine shots clear of a runner-up group that included PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Xander Schauffele. Koepka's score was one shot off the tournament record, and his margin for victory eclipsed Tiger Woods' eight-shot romp in 2004.

Matsuyama appeared set to make a final-round charge after a birdie on No. 2 was followed by an ace on the par-3 third hole. But he played the next eight holes in 3 over and eventually finished alone in fifth place following a 2-under 69. Afterwards, he stacked his game up against that of Koepka in a telling comment to the Japan Times.

"I feel there's a huge gap between us," Matsuyama said.

The Japanese phenom entered the week ranked No. 4 in the world, though he will be passed in the next rankings by Jon Rahm following the Spaniard's win in Dubai. Matsuyama won twice this year on the PGA Tour, including the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, but he has largely struggled since missing out on a maiden major title at the PGA Championship, where he tied for fifth.

Matsuyama was a runner-up to Koepka at the U.S. Open earlier this summer, and the 25-year-old seems headed back to the drawing board before defending his title at the Hero World Challenge in two weeks.

"I don't know whether it's a lack of practice or whether I lack the strength to keep playing well," Matsuyama said. "It seems there are many issues to address."

McCormick to caddie for Spieth at Aussie Open

By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 2:21 pm

When Jordan Spieth returns next week to defend his title at the Australian Open, he will do so without his regular caddie on the bag.

Spieth and Michael Greller have combined to win 14 tournaments and three majors, including three events in 2017. But Greller's wife, Ellie, gave birth to the couple's first child on Oct. 13, and according to a report from the Australian Herald Sun he will not make the intercontinental trip to Sydney, where Spieth will look to win for the third time in the last four years.

Instead, Spieth will have longtime swing coach and native Aussie Cameron McCormick on the bag at The Australian Golf Club. McCormick, who won PGA Teacher of the Year in 2015, is originally from Melbourne but now lives in Texas and has taught Spieth since he was a rising star among the junior golf ranks in Dallas.

While Greller has missed rounds before, this will be the first time as a pro that Spieth has used a different caddie for an entire event. Greller was sidelined with an injury last year in Singapore when Spieth's agent, Jay Danzi, took the bag, and trainer Damon Goddard has subbed in twice when Greller was sick, including this year at the Dean & DeLuca Invitational.

Spieth's torrid 2015 season traced back to his win at The Australian in 2014, and he returned to Oz last year where he won a playoff at Royal Sydney over Cameron Smith and Ashley Hall.

Rahm wins finale, Fleetwood takes Race to Dubai

By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 1:42 pm

Jon Rahm captured the final tournament on the European Tour calendar, a result that helped Tommy Fleetwood take home the season-long Race to Dubai title.

Rahm shot a final-round 67 to finish two shots clear of Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Shane Lowry at the DP World Tour Championship. It's the second European Tour win of the year for the Spaniard, who also captured the Irish Open and won on the PGA Tour in January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

"I could not be more proud of what I've done this week," Rahm told reporters. "Having the weekend that I've had, actually shooting 12 under on the last 36 holes, bogey-free round today, it's really special."

But the key finish came from Justin Rose, who held the 54-hole lead in Dubai but dropped back into a tie for fourth after closing with a 70. Rose entered the week as one of only three players who could win the Race to Dubai, along with Sergio Garcia and Fleetwood, who started with a lead of around 250,000 Euros.

DP World Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the DP World Tour Championship

With Fleetwood in the middle of the tournament pack, ultimately tying for 21st after a final-round 74, the door was open for Rose to capture the title thanks to a late charge despite playing in half the events that Fleetwood did. Rose captured both the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open, and was one round away from a two-trophy photo shoot in Dubai.

Instead, his T-4 finish meant he came up just short, as Fleetwood won the season-long race by 58,821 Euros.

The title caps a remarkable season for Fleetwood, who won the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship as well as the French Open to go along with a pair of runner-up finishes and a fourth-place showing at the U.S. Open.

"I find it amazing, the season starts in November, December and you get to here and you're watching the last shot of the season to decide who wins the Race to Dubai," Fleetwood said at the trophy ceremony. "But yeah, very special and something we didn't really aim for at the start of the year, but it's happened."