Cut Line New Eras Old Errors
Lee Westwood. You may not like the math or the method by which the Englishman scaled the World Golf Ranking, but you can’t dismiss the man.
If Westwood’s curious climb doesn’t move you, an ascent that was complicated by an injury that saw him pass Tiger Woods for the top spot from the DL, the journey is certainly noteworthy. Mired in an inexplicable slump, Westwood plummeted to 266th in the ranking seven years ago and trailed Woods by more than 10 average ranking points at this time last year (16.17 to 5.92).
It’s a shame the PGA Tour nixed the Comeback Player of the Year award, and that Westwood isn’t a circuit member, because the Englishman’s climb back would have likely retired the trophy for good.
Erik Compton. It is fall which means the two-time heart transplant recipient is doing what he does best – beating the odds.
Compton cruised out of the first stage of Tour Q-School last week, carding rounds of 66-69-70-70 to tie for fourth place, and is scheduled to play second stage later this month in north Florida. Although he’s made it to final stage just once, the motivational magician is confident with his game, and his health.
“I’m geared up for this time of year,” he said.
In journalism school the professors were clear on this, root for the story not the player. With Compton it’s often a tough distinction to make.
Tweet of the week: @McIlroyRory “And the winner is (European Caddie of the Year) . . . @Graeme_McDowell’s caddie Ken Comboy.” Almost as good as his man’s U.S. Open trophy. Almost.
Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)
Hyundai Tournament of Champions. The car maker stepped in to give the season-opener some breathing room this week, penning a sponsorship deal through at least 2013, and Mark Rolfing, the new host of the event and a Maui native, has energized the proceedings.
Whether the makeover can save the Hawaiian swing is now up to the top of the marquee. Neither Tiger Woods, who has not qualified for the winners-only tournament yet, nor Phil Mickelson have played Kapalua since 2005 and the event has felt more like spring training than opening day the last few years.
But it hasn’t been the sponsor or the name that has kept the elite away, it’s been the fierce Kona winds. And there’s not much Rolfing or Hyundai can do to change that.
TPC Harding Park. Or whatever the new corporate copyright that was hung on the San Fran gem last week.
Fine, the move will likely improve conditioning at the facility and assure the PGA Tour returns, in some form or fashion, to the storied muni on a regular basis, but “Cut Line” can’t resist the urge to shower off the latest branding bath.
What’s next? TPC Congressional? TPC Bethpage Black? TPC Blue Monster at Doral? Oh wait, scratch that.
Turning Stone Resort. The popular fall stop will be missed yet the temperature of the fallout suggests it may have been inevitable.
The Tour doesn’t do ultimatums (See Martin, Casey), particularly when they are delivered at the point of a bayonet, to pinch a line from former Augusta National chairman Hootie Johnson.
According to numerous reports, Turning Stone Resort CEO Ray Halbritter – the same executive who gave himself a sponsor exemption into his own event this year before widespread criticism prompted him withdraw – told the Tour he wanted a stand-alone date in either June, July or August and either two weeks before or after a major.
Luckily for the folks at Augusta National we can only surmise that Halbritter didn’t like the weather in upstate New York the first week of April.
U.S. Golf Association. It has been among major championship golf’s greatest mysteries ever since Tiger Woods limped to the stage to hoist the 2008 U.S. Open trophy that Torrey Pines wasn’t immediately penciled in as a once-a-decade stop for the national championship.
Even more concerning was a report last week in the San Diego Union-Tribune that the USGA is in no apparent hurry to lock the SoCal layout into a regular spot in the national championship rotation.
“We’re not going to sit around waiting for a call to go to the prom,” Tom Wornham, the former president of the Century Club who now is the co-chair, told the Union-Tribune.
You may not like the architectural significance of the South Course, or the thought of back-to-back West Coast Opens, Pebble Beach is scheduled to host the 2019 championship, but if the ’08 event wasn’t enough to justify a return trip to Torrey Pines your standards are too high.
Rules snafus. First there was Dustin Johnson, who didn’t read Whistling Straits’ local rules sheet and gave us “Glory’s Last Shame,' and now Ryuji Imada and Nick Faldo take self-inflicted pain to a new level.
Imada was penalized 26 strokes for 13 violations of a local rule at last week’s Mission Hills Star Trophy and Faldo was disqualified for picking up his ball after missing a putt during the pro-am.
Two quick questions, when did “putting out” become optional and local rules sheets become junk mail?
Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'
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
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.
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.
Crosby selected as 2019 U.S. Walker Cup captain
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.
Rose (62) sets blistering pace in Indonesia
JAKARTA, Indonesia – Justin Rose shot a 10-under 62 Thursday to take a two-stroke lead after the first round of the Indonesian Masters.
Rose, starting on the back nine at Royale Jakarta Golf Club, had five birdies to go out in 31, then birdied four of five holes midway through his final nine and another birdie on his last hole in the $750,000 tournament.
Gunn Charoenkul (64) was in second place and Kim Giwhan and Phachara Khongwatmai (both 65) were tied for third.
Brandt Snedeker shot 72. Ranked 51st in the world, the American is aiming for a strong finish in Jakarta to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.