Cut Line: Paddy's Parade

By Rex HoggardMarch 16, 2012, 9:03 pm

There was nothing lucky about Irishman Padraig Harrington’s opening round at the Transitions Championship while John Daly continues to test the boundaries of charity in this week’s St. Patrick’s Day edition of Cut Line.

Faith and begorrah indeed.

Made Cut

St. Paddy’s Day. “It’s nice they named a day after me,” smiled Padraig Harrington, tongue firmly planted in cheek following his opening 61 at Innisbrook.

Harrington hasn’t had much to smile about recently, not that his pedestrian play has darkened the affable Irishman’s optimistic persona. Harrington’s slide from 14th in the World Golf Ranking two years ago to 90th has been less a free-fall and more of a slow decay, but throughout it all he never lost his perspective.

“I have no one else to blame but myself,” Harrington said following his career-low round Thursday. “It is a little frustrating, but I'm working, like everybody else, working to keep a good attitude and be patient and let it happen and look at the positives.”

Compared to driving the snakes out of Ireland, a victory this week for Harrington wouldn’t exactly be parade worthy, but since the Guinness is already flowing it would definitely be worth extending the weekend just in case.

Location, location, location. It’s the golden rule of real estate and, to an even greater extent, hosting PGA Tour events.

Consider sleepy Innisbrook resort, a stop on the circuit that former tournament director Gerald Goodman once described as, “I’m the redneck between a king (Arnold Palmer Invitational) and a bear (Honda Classic which benefits a Jack Nicklaus charity).

But what the Transitions lacks in curb appeal it makes up for with one of the most underrated golf courses on Tour. In a recent Golf Digest poll of Tour players the Copperhead course ranked ninth, the only Florida layout in the top 10 and two spots ahead of TPC Sawgrass.

Proof of Innisbrook’s subtle draw can be found in the World Ranking math. After the World Golf Championships, the Transitions has the second-deepest field on Tour this year behind the Northern Trust Open. For every tournament director who has ever asked how they can improve the quality of their fields, Innisbrook is the answer.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

An ace to agonize over. As soon as the golf ball left the face of Paul Casey’s 8-iron his face twisted into a distorted gaze, “Oh no, not now,” he mumbled.

Just moments before Casey had made a deal with his caddie, the “Wee Man” Craig Connelly, that since they were so far out of the hunt at the WGC-Cadillac Championship they might as well play for something.

“Whatever I win I’ll split with you,” said Casey prior to his tee shot at the par-3 15th hole, which he aced. “I’ve never wanted to not make a hole-in-one so bad in my entire life.”

As Connelly began celebrating his good fortune, and thinking of how he was going to split a Cadillac with his boss, a volunteer informed both player and caddie that the “win a Cadillac” hole was No. 13, not the 15th hole.

“Gutted,” grinned Connelly, who refused to even walk to the 15th green as his boss happily plucked his golf ball out of the hole.

When less is more. Much has been made of Tiger Woods’ early exit last Sunday from Doral and the subsequent news that he’d suffered a mild strain of his left Achilles tendon that may keep him out of next week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational.

The old Woods, the guy who won a U.S. Open on one leg, would never have tapped out with even the slightest chance he could win, but then the old guy didn’t have much use for the long view. Thankfully, the new guy is proving to be more prudent, with an eye toward the majors and protecting his often-injured left leg.

The fishbowl of Woods’ existence has little room for the benefit of the doubt, but it seems the public’s expectations become more unrealistic with each episode.

“I just don’t understand how people have forgotten so quickly that in 13 years he won 14 majors and 80 times,” swing coach Sean Foley told Golf Channel’s “Morning Drive” crew on Friday.

“He very well may know what he’s doing . . . This is one of the greatest players that has ever lived but we’re in a time of growth. It may not look like that to people but that’s what it is.”

World order. On Wednesday Luke Donald met with a group of reporters at the Transitions Championship to answer the obligatory World Golf Ranking questions. With a victory this week at Innisbrook, No. 2 Donald will unseat No. 1 Rory McIlroy atop the ranking.

Shortly after Donald’s Q&A, McIlroy had dinner at the White House and huddled with President Barack Obama to talk swing theory, NCAA basketball and world peace, although not necessarily in that order.

Maybe Woods had it right, second does suck.

Tweet of the week: @SamSaunders87 (Sam Saunders) “(Andres Gonzales) I have heard we are playing golf together (on Friday). Dreams do come true I guess.”

And we guess that when your grandfather is Arnold Palmer the term “dream foursome” requires a subjective amount of creativity.

Missed Cut

Daly dose. When John Daly pumped his supply of golf balls into a lake adjacent the Lakes Course’s 10th hole during the opening round of last year’s Australian Open, his lifetime supply of sponsor exemptions should have gone into the murky depths as well.

“I'm extremely bitter and disappointed that he's treated this championship this way. It's become a bit of a habit,” said Trevor Herden, the Australian Open’s tournament director. “It's unacceptable and I certainly hope that all of the tours deal with it in the appropriate manner this time.”

For Transitions Championship officials the “appropriate manner” was yet another sponsor exemption for a player who has no right to expect such charity. For the record, in six starts at Innisbrook Daly has missed three cuts, withdrawn twice, signed for six scores north of 73 and has never finished better than 55th.

Yet he still gets a freebie while local standout Ted Potter Jr., who actually has a Tour card and a promising career ahead of him, sits at home in Ocala. Whoever said you have one chance to make a good first impression never met JD.

Day, Spieth chasing Davis after Day 1 of Aussie Open

By Jason CrookNovember 23, 2017, 6:50 am

The PGA Tour is off this week but a couple of the circuit’s biggest stars – Jordan Spieth and Jason Day – are headlining the Emirates Australian Open, the first event in The Open Qualifying Series for the 2018 Open at Carnoustie. Here's how things look after the opening round, where Cameron Davis has opened up a two-shot lead:

Leaderboard: Cameron Davis (-8), Taylor MacDonald (-6), Nick Cullen (-5), Jason Day (-5), Brian Campbell (-4), Lucas Herbert (-4), Stephen Leaney (-4), Anthony Quayle (-4)

What it means: Jordan Spieth has won this event three of the last four years, including last year, but he got off to a rocky start on Thursday. Playing in the windy afternoon wave, the world No. 2 bogeyed his first two holes but rebounded with birdies on Nos. 4 and 5. It was more of the same the rest of the way as the 24-year-old carded three more bogeys and four birdies, getting into the clubhouse with a 1-under 70. While it certainly wasn't the start he was hoping for, Spieth didn't shoot himself out of the tournament with 54 holes left to play, he has plenty of time to claw his way up the leaderboard.

Round of the day: With Round 1 in the books, the solo leader, Davis, is the easy pick here. The 22-year-old Aussie who turned pro last year, came out of the gates on fire, birdieing six of his first seven holes, including four in a row on Nos. 4 through 7. He did drop a shot on the ninth hole to go out in 30 but rebounded with three more birdies on the back to card a 8-under 63. Davis, who was born in Sydney and played this year on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada. He will attempt to get his Tour card next month during qualifying in Arizona.

Best of the rest: Making his first start in his home country in four years, Day started on the 10th hole at The Australian Golf Club and made four birdies to one bogey on the back side before adding four more circles after making the turn. Unfortunately for the 30-year-old, he also added an ugly double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole and had to settle for a 5-under 66, good enough to sit T-3. Day, who has dropped to No. 12 in the world rankings, is looking for his first win on any tour since the 2016 Players Championship.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Can the upstart 22-year-old Davis hold off the star power chasing him or will he fold to the pressure of major champions in his rearview mirror? Day (afternoon) and Spieth (morning) are once again on opposite ends of the draw on Friday as they try to improve their position before the weekend.

Shot of the day: It’s tough to beat an ace in this category, and we had one of those on Thursday from Australian Brad Shilton. Shilton’s hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole came with a special prize, a $16k watch.

Quote of the day: “Just two bad holes. Pretty much just two bad swings for the day,” – Day, after his 66 on Thursday. 

Watch: Shilton wins $16k timepiece with hole-in-one

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 2:50 am

Australian Brad Shilton made a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole during the first round of the Australian Open, and he was rewarded handsomely for his efforts - with a Tag Heuer watch worth $16k.

Day gets in early mix with 66 in return to Australia

By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 2:32 am

SYDNEY - Jason Day's first tournament round in Australia in four years was a 5-under 66 to put him among the leaders early Thursday at the Australian Open.

Day's round came unhinged late with a double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole, his second-last of the day. He hit his tee shot into the trees on the left, hit back out to the fairway, missed his approach to the green and then couldn't get up and down.

''That was brutal,'' Day said of the 481-yard hole that played into gusting winds.

But Day recovered quickly to birdie his last to sit three strokes behind fellow Australian and early leader Cameron Davis, who started on the first, had six front-nine birdies and shot 63 at The Australian Golf Club.

In between the two was Australian Taylor MacDonald, who shot 65.

''It was a pretty solid round, I didn't miss many fairways, I didn't miss many greens,'' Day said. ''I'd give myself a seven or eight out of 10.''

Defending champion Jordan Spieth, attempting to win the Australian Open for the third time in four years, was off to a poor start among the afternoon players, bogeying his first two holes.

The Sydney-born Davis played most of this season on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada and will attempt to secure his card in the final round of qualifying from Dec. 7-10 in Chandler, Arizona.

''Everything went to plan,'' Davis said. ''I got off to a great start. I was hitting my spots and was able to keep it together on the back nine.''

NOTES: Australian Brad Shilton had the first ace of the tournament, using a 5-iron for a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole, his second hole of the day. Australian veteran Geoff Ogilvy, the 2006 U.S. Open winner, shot 69. He and Rod Pampling (68) played the first round with Day.

Day: Woods feeling good, hitting it long

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 22, 2017, 9:33 pm

Jason Day says Tiger Woods told him he feels better than he has in three years, which is good news for Woods a week ahead of his return to the PGA Tour at the Hero World Challenge.

Day, a fellow Nike endorser, was asked about Woods during his news conference at the Emirates Australian Open on Wednesday. "I did talk to him," Day said, per a report in the Sydney Morning Herald,"and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years'" Day said.

"He doesn't wake up with pain anymore, which is great. I said to him, 'Look, it's great to be one of the best players ever to live, but health is one thing that we all take for granted and if you can't live a happy, healthy life, then that's difficult.'"

The Hero World Challenge will be played Nov. 30-Dec. 3 in the Bahamas and broadcast on Golf Channel and NBC.

Day, who has had his own health issues, said he could empathize with Woods.

"I totally understand where he's coming from, because sometimes I wake up in the morning and it takes me 10 minutes to get out of bed, and for him to be in pain for three years is very frustrating."

Woods has not played since February after undergoing surgery following a recurrence of back problems.

"From what I see on Instagram and what he's been telling me, he says he's ready and I'm hoping that he is, because from what I hear, he's hitting it very long," Day said.

"And if he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.

"There's no pressure. I think it's a 17- or 18-man field, there's no cut, he's playing at a tournament where last year I think he had the most birdies at."