Cut Line: No excuse for O'Grady, Garcia comments

By Rex HoggardMay 24, 2013, 3:04 pm

In this week’s edition we remember the historic statement Annika Sorenstam made 10 years ago at Colonial, the metaphorical comments made by a handful of PGA Tour players against the ban on anchoring and the insensitive remarks of Sergio Garcia and European Tour chief George O’Grady.

Made Cut

Conviction. In retrospect, some 10 years down the line, the decision to extend a sponsor invitation to Annika Sorenstam has a “low hanging fruit” feel to it.

A decade removed from that historic week and the impact on the game is still immeasurable – as evidenced by young girls walking around Colonial this week sporting “Go Annika” buttons – but at the time the decision was not exactly a tap in.

“There was debate,” said Dee Finley, the Colonial’s tournament chairman at the time. “We talked about and expected some pushback . . . Players do have their opinions and we didn’t anticipate a large pushback but we were concerned. That was probably No. 1 on our concern list.”

There was player pushback, albeit muted and largely anonymous, but when Sorenstam opened with a 1-over 71 in front of record crowds, whatever second-thoughts Finley & Co. had faded into the Texas hills.

“I think Mr. (Ben) Hogan would have approved,” Finley said.

Taking a stance. Whether you agree with Tim Clark, Carl Pettersson and the other Tour members who have formed a coalition to possibly challenge the ban on anchoring or not, their decision to not go quietly should be applauded not argued.

A lawsuit, if it comes to that, would be at least partially motivated by self-preservation, but there is more to this than simply being able to ply your trade with what has been an accepted implement for the better part of three decades.

“It bothers me that guys that have no stake in the game decide how guys are going to make a living doing,” said Brian Harman, who is not part of the group that is represented by Boston attorney Harry Manion. “We have no say in the way that they make those rules. I don’t see how that’s fair.”

This isn’t about where the butt of a putter rests so much as it is where the power to rule the game resides. For centuries the USGA and R&A’s stewardship of the game has been unchallenged and for good reason. But that doesn’t mean that it might not be time to modernize the rule making process for a modern game.

Tweet(s) of the week: @Griffin_Flesch (Steve Flesch’s son) “Happy Birthday (Steve Flesch). Only four years until the Champions Tour!”

And dad’s response: “But who’s counting right? Thanks Pal. Now go practice!”

Kids say the darndest things.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Bunker mentalities. Maybe there really was a genuine desire for dialogue, and maybe the pushback the USGA and R&A received from various corners had already been anticipated, analyzed and discarded; but the rule maker’s decision to press ahead with the ban on anchoring leaves some – most notably Clark & Co. – feeling disenfranchised.

The rule makers have proven to be exceptional caretakers of the game for centuries and USGA executive director Mike Davis deserves credit for his leadership, if not his convictions.

“If you’re in governance and do nothing because you’re scared of the ramifications, you shouldn’t be in governance,” Davis said this week.

Still, whether you agree with the ban on anchoring or not it’s hard to accept the idea that this is what’s best for the game right now.

Reluctant seniors. They are all independent contractors, regardless of age, but Corey Pavin and Tom Lehman’s decision to skip this week’s Senior PGA Championship, the Champions Tour’s first major of 2013, and play the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial is curious.

Both are past champions at Hogan’s Alley and consider the classic layout a place where they can still compete on the “big tour.”

“There was a thought process. It wasn’t a very long process,” said Pavin, who is making his 30th consecutive start in Fort Worth. “I love being here, and I would rather play here . . . I feel like I can compete on this golf course. It is one of the few on the Tour that I feel like I can, so that’s why I’m here.”

That both players are former U.S. Ryder Cup captains, which is run by the PGA of America, and have played well at the Senior PGA – Lehman won the event in 2010 and Pavin finished tied for eighth in 2011 – also complicates things.

Both players have earned the benefit of the doubt in their careers, but in this case it seems like the Senior PGA deserved a little more consideration.

Missed Cut

Ignorance. It seems American sensitivities on race and tolerance have been lost in translation somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean, but that doesn’t absolve Garcia or O’Grady.

Maybe Garcia didn’t know his racially insensitive comment about Tiger Woods at an awards dinner on Tuesday in London was offensive, but he should have. Ditto for O’Grady, who in an attempt to mitigate the damage caused by the Spaniard’s comments only made things worse.

“We accept all races on the European Tour, we take it very strongly; most of Sergio’s friends happen to be very, er, are colored athletes in the United States,” O’Grady told Sky Sports on Thursday.

Cut Line doesn’t want to hear from our foreign friends about being an insular American anymore.

Open Qualifying Series kicks off with Aussie Open

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 4:24 pm

The 147th Open is nearly eight months away, but there are still major championship berths on the line this week in Australia.

The Open Qualifying Series kicks off this week, a global stretch of 15 event across 10 different countries that will be responsible for filling 46 spots in next year's field at Carnoustie. The Emirates Australian Open is the first event in the series, and the top three players among the top 10 who are not otherwise exempt will punch their tickets to Scotland.

In addition to tournament qualifying opportunities, the R&A will also conduct four final qualifying events across Great Britain and Ireland on July 3, where three spots will be available at each site.

Here's a look at the full roster of tournaments where Open berths will be awarded:

Emirates Australian Open (Nov. 23-26): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

Joburg Open (Dec. 7-10): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

SMBC Singapore Open (Jan. 18-21): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

Mizuno Open (May 24-27): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

HNA Open de France (June 28-July 1): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

The National (June 28-July 1): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

Dubai Duty Free Irish Open (July 5-8): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

The Greenbrier Classic (July 5-8): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open (July 12-15): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

John Deere Classic (July 12-15): Top player (not otherwise exempt) among top five and ties

Stock Watch: Lexi, Justin rose or fall this week?

By Ryan LavnerNovember 21, 2017, 2:36 pm

Each week on, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.


Jon Rahm (+9%): Just imagine how good he’ll be in the next few years, when he isn’t playing all of these courses for the first time. With no weaknesses in his game, he’s poised for an even bigger 2018.

Austin Cook (+7%): From Monday qualifiers to Q-School to close calls on the, it hasn’t been an easy road to the big leagues. Well, he would have fooled us, because it looked awfully easy as the rookie cruised to a win in just his 14th Tour start.

Ariya (+6%): Her physical tools are as impressive as any on the LPGA, and if she can shore up her mental game – she crumbled upon reaching world No. 1 – then she’ll become the world-beater we always believed she could be.  

Tommy Fleetwood (+4%): He ran out of gas in Dubai, but no one played better on the European Tour this year than Fleetwood, Europe’s new No. 1, who has risen from 99th to 18th in the world.   

Lexi (+1%): She has one million reasons to be pleased with her performance this year … but golf fans are more likely to remember the six runners-up and two careless mistakes (sloppy marking at the ANA and then a yippy 2-footer in the season finale) that cost her a truly spectacular season.


J-Rose (-1%): Another high finish in Dubai, but his back-nine 38, after surging into the lead, was shocking. It cost him not just the tournament title, but also the season-long race.  

Hideki (-2%): After getting blown out at the Dunlop Phoenix, he made headlines by saying there’s a “huge gap” between he and winner Brooks Koepka. Maybe something was lost in translation, but Matsuyama being too hard on himself has been a familiar storyline the second half of the year. For his sake, here’s hoping he loosens up.

Golf-ball showdown (-3%): Recent comments by big-name stars and Mike Davis’ latest salvo about the need for a reduced-flight ball could set up a nasty battle between golf’s governing bodies and manufacturers.

DL3 (-4%): Boy, the 53-year-old is getting a little too good at rehab – in recent years, he has overcome a neck fusion, foot injury, broken collarbone and displaced thumb. Up next is hip-replacement surgery.

LPGA Player of the Year (-5%): Sung Hyun Park and So Yeon Ryu tied for the LPGA’s biggest prize, with 162 points. How is there not a tiebreaker in place, whether it’s scoring average or best major performance? Talk about a buzzkill.

Titleist's Uihlein fires back at Davis over distance

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 12:59 am

Consider Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein unmoved by Mike Davis' comments about the evolution of the golf ball – and unhappy.

In a letter to the Wall Street Journal, the outlet which first published Davis' comments on Sunday, Uihlein took aim at the idea that golf ball distance gains are hurting the sport by providing an additional financial burden to courses.

"Is there any evidence to support this canard … the trickle-down cost argument?” he wrote (via “Where is the evidence to support the argument that golf course operating costs nationwide are being escalated due to advances in equipment technology?"

Pointing the blame elsewhere, Uihlein criticized the choices and motivations of modern architects.

"The only people that seem to be grappling with advances in technology and physical fitness are the short-sighted golf course developers and the supporting golf course architectural community who built too many golf courses where the notion of a 'championship golf course' was brought on line primarily to sell real estate," he wrote.

The Titleist CEO even went as far as to suggest that Tiger Woods' recent comments that "we need to do something about the golf ball" were motivated by the business interersts of Woods' ball sponsor, Bridgestone.

"Given Bridgestone’s very small worldwide market share and paltry presence in professional golf, it would seem logical they would have a commercial motive making the case for a reduced distance golf ball," he added.

Acushnet Holdings, Titleist's parent company, announced in September that Uihlein would be stepping down as the company's CEO at the end of this year but that he will remain on the company's board of directors.

Class of 2011: The groups before The Group

By Mercer BaggsNovember 20, 2017, 9:00 pm

We’ve been grouping things since the beginning, as in The Beginning, when God said this is heaven and this is earth, and you’re fish and you’re fowl.

God probably wasn’t concerned with marketing strategies at the time and how #beastsoftheearth would look with a hashtag, but humans have evolved into such thinking (or not evolved, depending on your thinking).

We now have all manner of items lumped into the cute, the catchy and the kitschy. Anything that will capture our attention before the next thing quickly wrests said attention away.

Modern focus, in a group sense in the golf world, is on the Class of 2011. This isn’t an arbitrary assembly of players based on world ranking or current form. It’s not a Big Pick A Number.

There’s an actual tie that binds as it takes a specific distinction to be part of the club. It’s a group of 20-somethings who graduated from high school in the aforementioned year, many who have a PGA Tour card, a handful of who have PGA Tour wins, and a couple of who have major titles.

It’s a deep and talented collective, one for which our knowledge should continue to expand as resumes grow.

Do any “classes” in golf history compare? Well, it’s not like we’ve long been lumping successful players together based on when they completed their primary education. But there are other notable groups of players, based primarily on birthdate, relative competition and accomplishment.

Here’s a few on both the men’s and women’s side:

BORN IN 1912

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Feb. 4, 1912 Byron Nelson 52 5
May 27, 1912 Sam Snead 82 7
Aug. 13, 1912 Ben Hogan 64 9

Born six months within one another. Only a threesome, but a Hall of Fame trio that combined for 198 PGA Tour wins and 21 majors.

BORN IN 1949

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Sept. 4, 1949 Tom Watson 39 8
Dec. 5, 1949 Lanny Wadkins 21 1
Dec. 9, 1949 Tom Kite 19 1

Only 96 days separate these three Hall of Fame players. Extend the reach into March of 1950 and you'll get two-time U.S. Open winner Andy North.

BORN IN 1955

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Jan. 30, 1955 Curtis Strange 17 2
Jan. 30, 1955 Payne Stewart 11 3
Feb. 10, 1955 Greg Norman 20 2

Another trio of Hall of Fame players. Strange and Stewart were born on the same day with Norman 11 days later. Fellow PGA Tour winners born in 1955: Scott Simpson, Scott Hoch and Loren Roberts.


Birthdate Player LPGA wins Major wins
Feb. 22, 1956 Amy Alcott 29 5
Oct. 14, 1956 Beth Daniel 33 1
Oct. 27, 1956 Patty Sheehan 35 6
Jan. 6, 1957 Nancy Lopez 48 3

A little arbitrary here, but go with it. Four Hall of Famers on the women's side, all born within one year of each other. That's an average (!) career of 36 tour wins and nearly four majors.


Birthdate Player Euro (PGA Tour) wins Major wins
April 9, 1957 Seve Ballesteros 50 (9) 5
July 18, 1957 Nick Faldo 30 (9) 6
Aug. 27, 1957 Bernhard Langer 42 (3) 2
Feb. 9, 1958 Sandy Lyle 18 (6) 2
March 2, 1958 Ian Woosnam 29 (2) 1

The best 'class' of players Europe has to offer. Five born within a year of one another. Five Hall of Fame members. Five who transformed and globalized European golf.


Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Sept. 12, 1969 Angel Cabrera 3 2
Oct. 17, 1969 Ernie Els 19 4
May 12, 1970 Jim Furyk 17 1
May 12, 1970 Mike Weir 8 1
June 16, 1970 Phil Mickelson 42 5

Not a tight-knit group, but a little more global bonding in accordance to the PGA Tour's increased international reach. Add in worldwide wins – in excess of 200 combined – and this group is even more impressive.

BORN IN 1980

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Jan. 9, 1980 Sergio Garcia 10 1
July 16, 1980 Adam Scott 13 1
July 30, 1980 Justin Rose 8 1

Could be three future Hall of Fame members here.

Editor's note: Golf Channel's editorial research unit contributed.