Cut Line: PGA task force step in right direction

By Rex HoggardOctober 10, 2014, 4:37 pm

In this season-opening edition of Cut Line, the PGA of America embraces change for the Ryder Cup, Jarrod Lyle endears himself to even more fans and officials at the Frys.com Open err with a missing exemption.

Made Cut

Ryder Cup reclamation. As bad as the U.S. Ryder Cup team’s five-point loss at Gleneagles may have been there is a measure of solace to be drawn from that losing legacy.

Earlier this week it was revealed that the PGA of America is creating a task force to examine every inch of the Ryder Cup process, from how captains and players are selected to the schedule of events during the matches.

“Basically we are giving the task force a blank canvas on all things on the Ryder Cup to give the PGA some input,” PGA president Ted Bishop told GolfChannel.com. “The PGA is willing to take a step back and listen to some people that are involved in the process.”

The task force, which will be announced within the next week, will include former and current players, former captains and PGA officials; and numerous sources have indicated the blue-ribbon panel could include the likes of Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Paul Azinger.

If Gleneagles turns out to be rock bottom for the American side the silver lining will be it prompted some much needed change.

The survivor. Jarrod Lyle gave golf fans reason No. 326 to admire his persistence as well as his play.

Lyle returned to the PGA Tour this week following a second bout with leukemia thanks to a 6-under 66 at Monday’s qualifying event. The Australian birdied the second extra hole to earn his first PGA Tour start in 29 months.

“I was getting a little emotional on Tuesday just talking to guys on the range and thanking everyone for their support,” Lyle told GolfChannel.com. “Hopefully, I will be a little better than I was in Melbourne (where he made his competitive return at the Australian Masters late last year).”

That Lyle didn’t receive a sponsor exemption into the Frys.com Open defies logic (see Missed Cut below). That the man who has endured numerous bouts with chemotherapy and a bone-marrow transplant returned to the big leagues in competitive style is simply apropos.

Tweet of the week: @Oliver_Wilson “It’s starting to sink in that I actually won the Dunhill Links (Championship). Keep believing people, anything is possible.”

For Wilson, one of the game’s most likeable players, it may take some additional time to fully sink in that he finally found the winner’s circle. The Dunhill was his 181st start on the European Tour and his first victory on the circuit.


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (DMF)

Leaving the swoosh. News this week that Cindy Davis is stepping down as president of Nike Golf sent a ripple through the equipment sector.

Golf executives come and go, but Davis’ tenure at Nike Golf was all at once dynamic and deliberate.

During an interview with Davis earlier this year she explained the nuances of balancing growth with sustainability, and under the 52-year-old’s leadership Nike Golf has delivered profitable growth every year since 2009, according to Nike executives.

Davis was also the first female to take the helm of a major golf equipment company and led many initiatives at Nike Golf, most recently the high profile signing of Rory McIlroy to a multi-year endorsement contract.

But then bringing the world No. 1 into the swoosh fold may turn out to be low-hanging fruit compared with the void the iconic brand must now fill to replace Davis.

Tweet of the week II: @PaulAzinger “(Question for Ian Poulter) With (the Ryder Cup) only two years away, are you shaking in your skates at the prospect of losing RC 2016?”

Poulter’s response on Thursday’s “Morning Drive” was, “Bring it on.” We love ‘Zinger’s passion for the matches, but let’s not poke the bear just yet. Just ask Michael Jordan.


Missed Cut

Sponsor enigma. It is the most difficult job a tournament director may have and most players will concede that receiving a sponsor exemption is a luxury not a right.

But it’s hard not to Monday morning quarterback the decision by officials at this week’s Frys.com Open for not offering an exemption to Lyle, the feel-good story of the young season.

The two-time cancer survivor requested an exemption but was turned down. Instead, officials went with the likes of Andy Miller, who made his last Tour start in 2003 and is the son of tournament host Johnny Miller, for one of their exemptions.

For his part Lyle, who earned a spot in the field via Monday qualifying, took the high road.

“I know it’s just the way these things work,” Lyle said. “I would have loved to have got (an exemption) but I went and did the next best thing.”

There are a lot of reasons tournament directors dole out exemptions, but when Lyle’s journey, and the exposure it is sure to deliver, isn’t good enough to rate a spot in the field it may be time to take a new look at an old system.

Breaking bad. When Heath Slocum set out at 10:15 a.m. (ET) for Day 1 at the Frys.com Open it marked the end of an offseason that lasted exactly 24 days.

Yeah, it’s opening day ...

Of all the pieces that fell into place when the Tour transitioned to its split-calendar schedule last season, the absence of anything even close to a true offseason remains the square peg on the circuit’s board full of circular holes.

“It’s just so quick to restart after the Ryder Cup,” Matt Kuchar said this week. “It doesn’t feel like there’s any break. A one-week break is not a break.”

If absence makes fans’ hearts grow fonder then the Tour is in danger of running afoul of another cliché – familiarity could indeed breed contempt.

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After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard


On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

He picked up one more No. 2, too.

The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

“It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

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Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

“I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.

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Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.

Best of the rest: A two-time Web.com winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Web.com Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.

Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.

Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:

Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry