Cut Line: A momentous week for golf

By Rex HoggardMay 20, 2016, 9:01 pm

IRVING, Texas – Golf hit for the cycle this week with news that Phil Mickelson has been cleared of any criminal activity in an SEC investigation, Muirfield Golf Club’s membership vote will cost the layout a foreseeable Open, and the world Nos. 2 and 3 remind the golf world that it’s not a one-horse race.

Made Cut

Objects are closer than they appear. It’s been a good week for those who savor parity.

After missing the cut at TPC Sawgrass, Jordan Spieth bounced back with rounds of 64-65 at the AT&T Byron Nelson for a share of the early lead on Friday

During the same news cycle, Rory McIlroy opened with rounds of 67-70 at the Irish Open and is just a stroke off the lead in his quest to win for the first time in 2016.

Jason Day ascended to a new level with his victory last week at The Players and solidified his stranglehold on the top spot in the Official World Golf Ranking, leading some to proclaim the Jason era upon us.

Less than a week later, Spieth and McIlroy proved yet again that golf is at its best when the top players are at their best. Turns out the guys that kept telling us they were close, really were.

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Insider moments. It was an eventful week for Phil Mickelson.

On Wednesday, Lefty was named host of the CareerBuilder Challenge, taking over for former U.S. President Bill Clinton in an attempt by the PGA Tour to breathe new life into an event that is wedged into a difficult spot on the international schedule.

Less than 24 hours later, Mickelson was named a “relief defendant” in a Securities and Exchange Commission case against Las Vegas investor and gambler Billy Walters and Thomas Davis, the former chairman of Dean Foods.

Thursday’s filing was vindication of sorts for Mickelson, who agreed to pay back the money he earned ($931,000 plus interest) from his purchase of Dean Foods stock prior to an upcoming spin-off announcement.

“The complaint does not assert that Phil Mickelson violated the securities laws in any way. On that point, Phil feels vindicated,” Mickelson’s lawyer said in a statement. “At the same time, however, Phil has no desire to benefit from any transaction that the SEC sees as questionable.”

Few things can tarnish a reputation, particularly a reputation that has been as carefully crafted as Mickelson’s, like a white-collar crime allegation, but give Lefty credit for mitigating the damage.

Members only. Two hundred and seventy-one years of history are hard to ignore. Despite an avalanche of public opinion against them you have to acknowledge that the 36 percent of Muirfield Golf Club members who voted against allowing females to join the club have the right to run their private course however they see fit.

Yet while some viewed Thursday’s vote, which fell 14 votes shy of passing, to allow women members as a blow to a game that continues to struggle with an elitist reputation, it is the reaction that should give those who want the game to grow encouragement.

The R&A swiftly and decisively removed Muirfield from the Open rotation, sending a strong message to other clubs – most notably Royal Troon, which will host this year’s championship and also doesn’t allow female members.

The members' vote spoke loudly, but the R&A’s reaction made a much more meaningful statement.

Tweet of the week: @Beany25 (Catriona Matthew) “Embarrassed to be a Scottish women golfer from East Lothian after that decision.”

Thursday’s vote set social media abuzz, but Matthew’s take was the most poignant.

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Wentworth woes. Just when it seemed that only PGA Tour events were taking a hit this year because of the crowded golf calendar, the European Tour’s flagship event was beset by a series of high profile no-shows.

McIlroy opted not to play next week’s BMW PGA Championship after three consecutive weeks on the road, including this week’s Irish Open, which he is hosting.

On Thursday, Justin Rose announced he would miss the event at Wentworth because of a back issue, and Ernie Els told Cut Line that he is also skipping the event to spend time with his daughter, who recently celebrated her 17th birthday.

This season’s condensed schedule has taken a toll on the global golf calendar, not just those events inside the Lower 48.

The voice. For many golf fans around the world, Peter Alliss is the voice of golf, all of which makes his comments regarding Thursday’s members vote at Muirfield that much more baffling.

Alliss told The Telegraph, “The fact is if you talked to the wives of members of Muirfield they would be horrified at the prospect of being allowed to join.”

He went on to say that women members wouldn’t want to pay club fees and even suggested that an “open letter” sent to members prior to the vote was written by a woman.

Club officials said the open letter, which was signed by 33 members, likely led to the defeat of the proposal.

“The introduction of lady members is bound to create difficulties,” the letter read, according to The Telegraph. “They are likely over time to question our foursomes play, our match system, the uncompromising challenge our fine links present, our lunch arrangements. It will take a very special lady golfer to be able to do all the things that are expected of them.”

There is no shortage of reasons to question Muirfield’s all-male membership policy, but the most pressing question we have is what are they serving for lunch that the addition of females would ruin?

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Perez skips Torrey, 'upset' with Ryder Cup standings

By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 2:19 am

Pat Perez is unhappy about his standing on the U.S. Ryder Cup points list, and his situation won't improve this week.

Perez won the CIMB Classic during the fall portion of this season, and he followed that with a T-5 finish at the inaugural CJ Cup. But he didn't receive any Ryder Cup points for either result because of a rule enacted by the American task force prior to the 2014 Ryder Cup which only awards points during the calendar year of the biennial matches as well as select events like majors and WGCs during the prior year.

As a result, Perez is currently 17th in the American points race - behind players like Patrick Reed, Zach Johnson, Bill Haas and James Hahn, none of whom have won a tournament since the 2016 Ryder Cup - as he looks to make a U.S. squad for the first time at age 42.

"That kind of upset me a little bit, the fact that I'm (17) on the list, but I should probably be (No.) 3 or 4," Perez told Golf Digest. "So it kind of put a bitter taste in my mouth. The fact that you win on the PGA Tour and you beat some good players, yet you don't get any points because of what our committee has decided to do."

Perez won't be earning any points this week because he has opted to tee it up at the European Tour's Omega Dubai Desert Classic. The decision comes after Perez finished T-21 last week at the Singapore Open, and it means that the veteran is missing the Farmers Insurance Open in his former hometown of San Diego for the first time since 2001.

Perez went to high school a few minutes from Torrey Pines, and he defeated a field that included Tiger Woods to win the junior world title on the South Course in 1993. His father, Tony, has been a longtime starter on the tournament's opening hole, and Perez was a runner-up in 2014 and tied for fourth last year.

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Woods favored to miss Farmers Insurance Open cut

By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 1:54 am

If the Las Vegas bookmakers are to be believed, folks in the San Diego area hoping to see Tiger Woods this week might want to head to Torrey Pines early.

Woods is making his first competitive start of the year this week at the Farmers Insurance Open, and it will be his first official start on the PGA Tour since last year's event. He missed nearly all of 2017 because of a back injury before returning with a T-9 finish last month at the Hero World Challenge.

But the South Course at Torrey Pines is a far different test than Albany, and the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook lists Woods as a -180 favorite to miss the 36-hole cut. It means bettors must wager $180 to win $100, while his +150 odds to make the cut mean a bettor can win $150 with a $100 wager.

Woods is listed at 25/1 to win. He won the tournament for the seventh time in 2013, but in three appearances since he has missed the 36-hole cut, missed the 54-hole cut and withdrawn after 12 holes.

Here's a look at the various Woods-related prop bets available at the Westgate:

Will Woods make the 36-hole cut? Yes +150, No -180

Lowest single-round score (both courses par 72): Over/Under 70

Highest single-round score: Over/Under 74.5

Will Woods finish inside the top 10? Yes +350, No -450

Will Woods finish inside the top 20? Yes +170, No -200

Will Woods withdraw during the tournament? Yes +650, No -1000

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Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements

By Rex HoggardJanuary 24, 2018, 12:27 am

SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance announced on Tuesday at Torrey Pines a seven-year extension of the company’s sponsorship of the Southern California PGA Tour event. This comes on the heels of Sony extending its sponsorship of the year’s first full-field event in Hawaii through 2022.

Although these might seem to be relatively predictable moves, considering the drastic makeover of the Tour schedule that will begin with the 2018-19 season, it is a telling sign of the confidence corporations have in professional golf.

“It’s a compliment to our players and the value that the sponsors are achieving,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

Monahan said that before 2014 there were no 10-year title sponsorship agreements in place. Now there are seven events sponsored for 10-years, and another five tournaments that have agreements in place of at least seven years.

“What it means is, it gives organizations like the Century Club [which hosts this week’s Farmers Insurance Open], when you have that level of stability on a long-term basis that allows you to invest in your product, to grow interest and to grow the impact of it,” Monahan said. “You experienced what this was like in 2010 or seen other tournaments that you don’t know what the future is.S o to go out and sell and inspire a community and you can’t state that we have a long-term agreement it’s more difficult.”

Events like this year’s Houston Open, Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, and The National all currently don’t have title sponsors – although officials at Colonial are confident they can piece together a sponsorship package. But even that is encouraging to Monahan considering the uncertainty surrounding next season’s schedule, which will include the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players to March as well as a pre-Labor Day finish to the season.

“When you look back historically to any given year [the number of events needing sponsors] is lower than the typical average,” Monahan said. “As we start looking to a new schedule next year, you get excited about a great schedule with a great group of partners.”

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Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:07 am

SAN DIEGO – Jason Day has withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open, citing a sore back.

Day, the 2015 champion, played a practice round with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, and he is still expected to play in the tournament.

Day was replaced in the pro-am by Whee Kim. 

Making his first start since the Australian Open in November, Day is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker.