Cut Line: Of miss and men-tors

By Rex HoggardMarch 30, 2012, 6:50 pm

This week’s edition celebrates a triumphant threesome that scored a variety of victories, from the meaningful to the metaphorical, and questions professional golf’s new mantra that less is more.

Made Cut

Lindsey Wright. The Australian is one stroke back at an event that still has that new car smell and features the game’s undisputed alpha female, Yani Tseng, looming another shot back. But if nothing has been accomplished at the Kraft Nabisco Championship then why does it feel like Wright should be taking a victory lap through Poppie’s Pond?

In what is arguably the young season’s most forthright and revealing interview, Wright detailed her struggles with depression and anxiety and the feeling that she’s swimming with weights on.

“I could have shot 80 today, and I’d be happy,” Wright said on Thursday from the year’s first major. “I’m sleeping better, I’m happier. I’m very lucky to be feeling that way.”

Far too many valleys and not enough peaks forced Wright to take four months off last year and she even conceded that she may well be done with professional golf for good this fall regardless of her opening 67 at the Kraft.

She may not take the “Champion’s Leap” into Poppie’s Pond on Sunday, but a life swimming without weights seems just as rewarding.

Tiger Woods. On Sunday at Bay Hill he refused to assign any added significance to his 72nd PGA Tour victory other than figuring his five-stroke triumph was “pure joy.”

Perhaps his seventh Bay Hill tilt was little more than another stopover on his way to history, but when it comes time to tally the resume in his golden years, the 2012 Arnold Palmer Invitational will be worth more than the sum of its parts.

After 30 months of controversy and questions Woods did what he does best, change the conversation.

Phil Mickelson. Lefty has become the Masters whisperer, a mentor to the next generation on all things Augusta National, much like he has done at recent Ryder and Presidents Cups and somehow golf is better for it.

Following a scouting trip to Augusta National with Masters rookie Keegan Bradley during the week of the WGC-Cadillac Championship, Mickelson added Brendan Steele to the rotation for this week’s Augusta National looksie.

“Phil is a huge help,” Steele told Golf Channel. “He probably knows the course better than anyone and really showed us a lot.”

That the three-time Masters champion would take the time to show the newcomers the ropes is cool. That the rookies embraced the opportunity is even cooler.

Tweet of the week: @SamSaunders87 “For all concerned my granddad is doing fine and will be good to go on (Monday). Thank you for all of your nice comments and concerns.”

Saunders’ “granddad” is 82-year-old Arnold Palmer who was hospitalized on Sunday because of high blood pressure during the final round at Bay Hill and was released on Monday.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

The Big Miss. Hank Haney’s revelations are nothing short of insightful and co-author Jaime Diaz is at his creative best in the most anticipated golf book since Ben Hogan released “Five Lessons.” But “Miss” lands in MDF territory because of the few occasions when it crosses the fine line between what is professional and what is private.

Haney’s arm-chair psychologist take on Woods’ doomed marriage, for example, seems to violate the unspoken code between swing coach and student.

“Within the realm of coaching there are a number of things that are said in confidence. There are things that players discuss with you that are very confidential, how they are thinking, their life outside of golf that should not be written about,” said Dale Lynch, the swing coach for Geoff Ogilvy, Aaron Baddeley and Matt Goggin.

“If it was just about the golf game that would be OK. The golf swing is on public display and I have no problem commenting on that, but nothing that would be personal.”

Haney largely stayed within those widely accepted boundaries, but as the swing coach learned during his six-year tenure it is the extremes that count when it comes to Woods.

Tweet of the week II: @HankDHaney “No human being is born with thick skin, it thickens with experience. Mine is getting thicker every day.”

Missed Cut

European Solheim Cup. Liselotte Neumann is certainly deserving of being a European captain and news this week that the Swede would lead the Europeans next year was widely applauded, but it still feels as if the Ladies European Tour continues to ignore the elephant in the team room.

On Thursday’s “Morning Drive” Annika Sorenstam cringed at the idea that the European captain’s hat should be hers for as long as she wants it, modestly dismissing the idea and hoping that someday she would get her turn to lead.


No one has meant more to the European side than Sorenstam and Fred Couples has proven that a respected and winning captain never outstays his welcome.

Less is more. Barring the type of breakthrough moment that has eluded him for weeks, Ernie Els will not be in the Masters field for the first time since former president Bill Clinton was in the White House.

For the record, the Big Easy has eschewed the blame game, keeping with a familiar Tour player adage that if he’d played better this wouldn’t be an issue, but that doesn’t alter the nagging feeling that perhaps this is “the big miss.”

“Ryo Ishikawa had (an invitation) from outside the world’s top 50,” Graeme McDowell said. “Surely the green jackets have discussed (Els) at length and decided that for whatever reason, he doesn’t deserve an invitation. But I think if you took a poll among the players as to guys who deserve the invite, he would be top of the list for sure. Disappointing, obviously a blow to the field.”

But this is not an Augusta National problem. Somewhere along the way limited-fields became synonymous with special, and yet somehow the PGA Championship, U.S. and British Opens survive with fields that average 156 players. Weird.

Getty Images

Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys

By Rex HoggardDecember 14, 2017, 7:00 pm

After careful consideration and an exhaustive review of 2017 we present The Rexys, a wildly incomplete and arbitrary line up following one of the most eventful years in golf.

 There will be omissions – just keep your calls, concerns and even e-mails to yourself. We appreciate your patronage, but not your feedback.

It’s Not You, It’s Me Award. You know the deal: You can’t be a part of two until you’re a better one; but on this front it’s really just a desire to find a better two.

It was a tough year for caddies, and not just any caddies. In June, Phil Mickelson split with longtime bagman Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both player and caddie cited the need for “change,” but the move reverberated throughout the game.

“The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.

In the wake of the Lefty/Bones break, Rory McIlroy split with his caddie J.P Fitzgerald, and Jason Day replaced looper/swing coach Colin Swatton on his bag. It all proves yet again that there are only two kinds of caddies, those who have been fired and those who are about to be fired.

Run for the Rose Cup. Sergio Garcia got the green jacket, a lifetime exemption to the game’s most coveted member-member and a long-awaited major, but Justin Rose took home the slightly less prestigious “Rose Cup.”

Following a frenzied afternoon at Augusta National in April, Rose lost to Garcia on the first playoff hole, but he won so much more with his honesty and class.

“You're going to win majors and you're going to lose majors, but you've got to be willing to lose them,” Rose figured following the final round. “You've got to put yourself out there. You've got to hit the top of the leaderboard. There's a lot of pressure out there and if you're not willing to enjoy it, then you're not ready to win these tournaments. I loved it out there.”

Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.

Half-Empty Cup. It was the perfect setting, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and the promise of the Tristate masses descending on this fall’s Presidents Cup.

If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.

For the sixth time in the last seven matches, the U.S. team rolled to a victory of at least three points. This particular edition was even in danger of ending on Saturday afternoon thanks to a particularly dominant performance by a young American squad led by Steve Stricker.

Officials spoke of the purity of the competition and the attention the ’17 cup generated, but however you spin the 19-11 rout, this cup is half empty.

Enigma Award. The actual hardware is simply an oversized question mark and was sent directly to Tiger Woods’ South Florida compound following the most curious of seasons.

While it’s become customary in recent years to consider the uncertain path that awaits the 14-time major winner, this most recent calendar brought an entirely new collection of questions following fusion surgery on his lower back in April, his arrest for DUI on Memorial Day and, finally, a glimmer of hope born from his tie for ninth at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.

When will he play again? Can he compete against the current generation of world-beaters? Can his body withstand the rigors of a full PGA Tour schedule? Should Jim Furyk make him a captain’s pick now or wait to see if he should be driving a vice captain’s golf cart instead?

Little is certain when it comes to Woods, and the over-sized question mark goes to ... the guy in red and black.

After Further Review Chalice. In April, Lexi Thompson endured a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, the byproduct of a surreal ruling that arrived a day late via a viewer e-mail and cost the would-be winner a major championship.

The entire event was so unsavory that the USGA and R&A made not one but two alterations to the rules and created a “working group” to avoid similar snafus in the future.

That working group – it turns out the U.S. Ryder Cup team has some sort of copyright on “task force” – initially issued a decision that introduced a “reasonable judgment” and a “naked eye” standard to video reviews, and last week the rule makers kept the changes coming.

The new protocols on video review will now include an official to monitor tournament broadcasts and ended the practice of allowing fans to call in, or in this case e-mail, possible infractions to officials. The USGA and R&A also eliminated the two-stroke penalty for players who sign incorrect scorecards when the player is unaware of the penalty.

While all this might be a step in the right direction, it does nothing to change Thompson’s fate. The AFR Chalice won’t change the harsh reality, but at least it will serve as a reminder of how she helped altered the rulemaking landscape.

Nothing Runs Like a Deere Award. Nothing gets fans fired up like officials turning fields of fescue rough into hay on the eve of a major championship, and the USGA’s decision to do some 11th-hour trimming at Erin Hills in June certainly caught many by surprise.

Officials said the nip/tuck on four holes was in reaction to a particularly foreboding forecast that never materialized, and the maintenance drew the ire of some players.

“We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” Rory McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here; if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”

The record low scoring at the U.S. Open – winner Brooks Koepka finished with a 16-under total – didn’t help ease the fervor and had some questioning whether the softer side of the USGA has gone a bit too far?

Getty Images

Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 5:28 pm

John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.

That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.

Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.

Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 4:22 pm

Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.

Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.

Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters

Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.

World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.

Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.

Nathaniel Crosby at the 1983 Bing Crosby Pro-Am at Pebble Beach. Getty Images

Crosby selected as 2019 U.S. Walker Cup captain

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 3:19 pm

The USGA announced that former U.S. Amateur champ Nathaniel Crosby will serve as the American captain for the 2019 Walker Cup, which will be played at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England.

Crosby, 56, is the son of entertainment icon and golf enthusiast Bing Crosby. He won the 1981 U.S. Amateur at The Olympic Club as a teenager and earned low amateur honors at the 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He also played in the 1983 Walker Cup, coincidentally held at Royal Liverpool, before embarking on a brief career in professional golf, with his amateur status reinstated in 1994.

"I am thrilled and overwhelmed to be chosen captain of the next USA Walker Cup team," Crosby said in a statement. "Many of my closest friends are former captains who will hopefully take the time to share their approaches in an effort to help me with my new responsibilities."

Crosby takes over the captaincy from John "Spider" Miller, who led the U.S. squad both in 2015 and earlier this year, when the Americans cruised to a 19-7 victory at Los Angeles Country Club.

Crosby is a Florida resident and member at Seminole Golf Club, which will host the 2021 matches. While it remains to be seen if he'll be asked back as captain in 2021, each of the last six American captains have led a team on both home and foreign soil.

Started in 1922, the Walker Cup is a 10-man, amateur match play competition pitting the U.S. against Great Britain and Ireland. The U.S. team holds a 37-9 all-time lead in the biennial matches but has not won in Europe since 2007.