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.

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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.