Cut Line: Park attempting Tigeresque feat

By Rex HoggardJune 28, 2013, 5:30 pm

In this week’s esoteric edition, we ask the metaphysical question, “If Inbee Park wins the single-season Grand Slam, will anyone notice?” and wonder if the PGA Tour will get credit for the right execution of the wrong idea next week when it tackles the anchoring debate.

Made Cut

InBee-lievable. If a player on the PGA Tour – pick a player, any player will do – was vying for the third leg of the single-season Grand Slam there would be Twitter accounts to track what that player had for breakfast, yet the phenomenal Park toils in relative obscurity on her march to history.

Perhaps she prefers it that way, but her bashfulness doesn’t diminish the depth of her accomplishments. Park has won five of her 12 starts this season, including victories at the season’s first two majors (Kraft Nabisco Championship and Wegmans LPGA Championship) and is back in the mix at the U.S. Women’s Open after an opening 68.

To consider Park’s season Tigeresque may be low-balling her accomplishments. Consider that just once in his career (2002) Woods began his year with victories at the season’s first two majors.

If the two best words in sports are “Game 7,” Cut Line would humbly submit that the second-best phrase in sporting lexicon is “Grand Slam.”

Open audition. Cut Line can’t be the only one captivated this week by views of Sebonack Golf Club and the play at the U.S. Women’s Open.

The Jack Nicklaus-Tom Doak design is a must-see for architecture fans and the USGA seems to have gone with a more user-friendly setup – evidenced by a host of red numbers on the leaderboard following Day 1.

Although Cut Line is no fan of the Long Island Expressway, and with Shinnecock Hills returning to the U.S. Open rotation in 2018 there doesn’t seem to be a market for another New York-area venue, Sebonack should join the short list of “Best courses to never host an Open.”


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Rory McIlroy. It is the Ulsterman’s honesty that has made him so endearing to fans and media, but that doesn’t make his comments this week at The Irish Open any less concerning.

The world No. 2 referred to himself as “lost” and “suffocated” following an opening 2-over 74, which he followed with a 72 to miss the cut at Carton House, and although he’s been here before, the current slump seems to be taking a more profound toll.

“At the moment, no aspects of my game are strong and I’m just feeling a bit lost at the moment,” he told reporters this week. “It feels good on the range and I can hit all the shots but when I get out on the course it really does not seem to be there.”

McIlroy will play his way out of his current slide; he’s too talented to think otherwise. But at 24 years old we have to worry how many more of these peaks and valleys his psyche can endure.

May we suggest a session with pop psychologist Stuart Smalley of SNL fame: “Rory you are good enough, smart enough, and, doggonit, people like you.”

Ban-ing together. The powers at the PGA of America indicated this week that the association would follow the PGA Tour’s lead on the anchoring ban which was adopted earlier this year by the USGA and R&A, although PGA president Ted Bishop left the door open for a more contentious outcome.

“As we have seen over the past few months, the Rules of Golf can affect recreational golf in addition to play at the elite level,” Bishop told Golf Digest. “The PGA of America will continue to confer with the PGA Tour on the subject ... and the PGA of America will reserve any public comments on this matter until after the PGA Tour policy board meets.”

The Tour’s policy board is scheduled to meet next Monday and Tuesday at The Greenbrier and sources have told Cut Line the circuit will accept the ban and deal with the inevitable legal fallout.

Nine Tour players who currently use anchored putters – including Adam Scott, Tim Clark and Carl Pettersson – have already retained Boston-area attorney Harry Manion and one should expect a legal challenge in the coming weeks, but in this case the circuit seems destined to accept the lesser of two evils.

Going against the ban, as some have suggested, would create a confusing bifurcation of the Rules of Golf where players are allowed to anchor for most of the season but would be forced to switch for the U.S. Open, Open Championship and probably the Masters.

The USGA and R&A made a principled stand against anchoring, but it will be the Tour that will be left to pay the price.


Missed Cut

Nick Faldo. With all due respect to the Englishman, his claim this week that Tiger Woods is “not in a good mental place” and that’s he’s “woken up and realized this is a hard sport and he is a mere mortal, after all,” makes Cut Line question what tour the erstwhile world beater has been watching?

While Woods wasn’t at his best at the Memorial (T-65) or the U.S. Open (T-32), he still has four victories this season, more than double anyone else, and has finished outside the top 10 just seven times in his last 19 stroke-play events on the PGA Tour.

The elbow injury is concerning and maybe former swing coach Hank Haney was onto to something when he recently suggested that the world No. 1 doesn’t prepare for majors with the intensity that he once did (priorities change, it’s natural), but to contend that Woods is not as mentally tough as he once was ignores his body of work – both past and present.

Si Woo Kim. Congrats to the PGA Tour rookie who turned 18 Friday and officially was awarded his Tour card. Now he has six events, more or less, to keep it.

Kim tied for 20th at last year’s Q-School to earn his spot on Tour, but because of regulations he couldn’t become a member until he turned 18. So far this season he’s missed one cut (AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am) and withdrew from the Puerto Rico Open.

That leaves him six open events to play his way into the top 125 in FedEx Cup points (or earnings) to avoid another trip through the qualifying process.

Yeah ... happy birthday.

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Stock Watch: Spieth searching for putting form

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 16, 2018, 1:50 pm

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

RISING

Patton Kizzire (+8%): By today’s accelerated standards, he’s a late bloomer, having reached the Tour at age 29. Well, he seems right at home now, with two wins in his last four starts.

Rory (+7%): Coming off the longest break of his career, McIlroy should have no excuses this year. He’s healthy. Focused. Motivated. It’s go time.

Chris Paisley (+5%): The best part about his breakthrough European Tour title that netted him $192,000? With his wife, Keri, on the bag, he doesn’t have to cut 10 percent to his caddie – she gets the whole thing.

Brooke Henderson (+3%): A seventh-place finish at the Diamond Resorts Invitational doesn’t sound like much for a five-time winner, but this came against the men – on a cold, wet, windy, 6,700-yard track. She might be the most fun player to watch on the LPGA. 

New European Ryder Cuppers (+2%): In something of a Ryder Cup dress rehearsal, newcomers Tommy Fleetwood and Tyrrell Hatton each went undefeated in leading Europe to a come-from-behind victory at the EurAsia Cup. The competition come September will be, um, a bit stiffer.



FALLING

Jordan’s putting (-1%): You can sense his frustration in interviews, and why not? In two starts he leads the Tour in greens in regulation … and ranks 201st (!) in putting. Here’s guessing he doesn’t finish the year there.

Brian Harman’s 2018 Sundays (-2%): The diminutive left-hander now has five consecutive top-10s, and he’s rocketing up the Ryder Cup standings, but you can’t help but wonder how much better the start to his year might have been. In the final pairing each of the past two weeks, he’s a combined 1 under in those rounds and wasn’t much of a factor.

Tom Hoge (-3%): Leading by one and on the brink of a life-changing victory – he hadn’t been able to keep his card each of the past three years – Hoge made an absolute mess of the 16th, taking double bogey despite having just 156 yards for his approach. At least now he’s on track to make the playoffs for the first time.

Predicting James Hahn’s form (-4%): OK, we give up: He’d gone 17 events without a top-15 before his win at Riviera; 12 before his win at Quail Hollow; and seven before he lost on the sixth playoff hole at Waialae. The margins between mediocre play and winning apparently are THAT small.

Barnrat (-5%): Coming in hot with four consecutive top-10s, and one of only two team members ranked inside the top 50 in the world, Kiradech Aphibarnrat didn’t show up at the EurAsia Cup, going 0-3 for the week. In hindsight, the Asian team had no chance without his contributions. 

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Langer not playing to pass Irwin, but he just might

By Tim RosaforteJanuary 16, 2018, 1:40 pm

Bernhard Langer goes back out on tour this week to chase down more than Hale Irwin’s PGA Tour Champions record of 45 career victories. His chase is against himself.

“I’m not playing to beat Hale Irwin’s record,” Langer told me before heading to Hawaii to defend his title at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai. “I play golf to play the best I can, to be a good role model, and to enjoy a few more years that are left.”

Langer turned 60 on Aug. 27 and was presented a massage chair by his family as a birthday gift. Instead of reclining (which he does to watch golf and football), he won three more times to close out a seven-win campaign that included three major championships. A year prior, coming off a four-victory season, Langer told me after winning his fourth Charles Schwab Cup that surpassing Irwin’s record was possible but not probable. With 36 career victories and 11 in his last two years, he has changed his tone to making up the nine-tournament difference as “probable.”

“If I could continue a few more years on that ratio, I could get close or pass him,” Langer told me from his home in Boca Raton, Fla. “It will get harder. I’m 60 now. It’s a big challenge but I don’t shy away from challenges.”


Bernhard Langer, Hale Irwin at the 1991 Ryder Cup (Getty Images)


Langer spent his off-season playing the PNC Father/Son, taking his family on a ski vacation at Big Sky in Yellowstone, Montana, and to New York for New Year’s. He ranks himself as a scratch skier, having skied since he was four years old in Germany. The risk of injury is worth it, considering how much he loves “the scenery, the gravity and the speed.”

Since returning from New York, Langer has immersed himself into preparing for the 2018 season. Swing coach Willy Hoffman, who he has worked with since his boyhood days as an as assistant pro in Germany, flew to Florida for their 43rd year of training.

“He’s a straight shooter,” Hoffman told me. “He says, 'Willy, every hour is an hour off my life and we have 24 hours every day.'"

As for Irwin, they have maintained a respectful relationship that goes back to their deciding singles match in the 1991 Ryder Cup. Last year they were brought back to Kiawah Island for a corporate appearance where they reminisced and shared the thought that nobody should ever have to bear what Langer went through, missing a 6-footer on the 18th green. That was 27 years ago. Both are in the Hall of Fame.

"I enjoy hanging out with Hale," Langer says.

Langer’s chase of Irwin’s record is not going to change their legacies. As Hoffman pointed out, “Yes, (Bernhard) is a rich man compared to his younger days. He had no money, no nothing. But today you don’t feel a difference when you talk to him. He’s always on the ground.”

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McIlroy: Ryder Cup won't be as easy as USA thinks

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 16, 2018, 1:18 pm

The Americans have won their past two international team competitions by a combined score of 38-22, but Rory McIlroy isn’t expecting another pushover at the Ryder Cup in September.

McIlroy admitted that the U.S. team will be strong, and that its core of young players (including Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler) will be a force for the next decade. But he told reporters Tuesday at the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship that course setup will play a significant role.

“If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said, referring to the Americans’ 17-11 victory in 2016. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”

At every Ryder Cup, the home team has the final say on course setup. Justin Rose was the most outspoken about the setup at Hazeltine, saying afterward that it was “incredibly weak” and had a “pro-am feel.” 

And so this year’s French Open figures to be a popular stop for European Tour players – it’s being held once again at Le Golf National, site of the matches in September. Tommy Fleetwood won last year’s event at 12 under.

“I’m confident,” McIlroy said. “Everything being all well and good, I’ll be on that team and I feel like we’ll have a really good chance.

“The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that. The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.” 

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Floodlights may be used at Dubai Desert Classic

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 16, 2018, 12:44 pm

No round at next week’s Dubai Desert Classic will be suspended because of darkness.

Tournament officials have installed state-of-the-art floodlighting around the ninth and 18th greens to ensure that all 132 players can finish their round.

With the event being moved up a week in the schedule, the European Tour was initially concerned about the amount of daylight and trimmed the field to 126 players. Playing under the lights fixed that dilemma.

“This is a wonderful idea and fits perfectly with our desire to bring innovation to our sport,” European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley said. “No professional golfer ever wants to come back the following morning to complete a round due to lack of daylight, and this intervention, should it be required, will rule out that necessity.”

Next week’s headliners include Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson.