Cut Line: Phil's feelin' it

By Rex HoggardJanuary 13, 2012, 9:33 pm

No need for a caucus or a primary, the PGA Tour has their man for another four years, and beyond, but Tim Finchem’s inauguration gift is more trouble in paradise. Why is it that “aloha” is starting to sound more and more like “goodbye” for the circuit?

Made Cut

The return of touchy, feely. Fresh from one of his worst putting years as a professional, which sent Phil Mickelson spiraling outside the top 100 in most putting categories and into the unorthodox clutches of a long putter, it is encouraging to hear Lefty is going back to something a little more unscientific.

“Phil has committed himself to playing more freely and mentally to getting away from mechanics,” said Mickelson’s swing coach Butch Harmon, who spent last week in Scottsdale, Ariz., working with the left-hander.

Eschewing mechanics may not be the answer, but a free-swinging Lefty is an entertaining Lefty.

Four more years. No, this isn’t a plea to keep President Barack Obama in the White House. It is in response to the PGA Tour Policy Board’s decision to extend commissioner Tim Finchem’s time in the Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., big house.

The board extended Finchem’s contract through 2016 and although he’s not always been the most transparent commissioner – his dogged reluctance to publish player fines continues to be a curious diversion from the pro sport status quo – the former lobbyist is credited with guiding the circuit through one of its most challenging chapters.

Despite a prolonged recession and Tiger Woods’ 2009 scandal, Finchem maintained a full schedule, extended the circuit’s contracts with NBC Sports and CBS Sports through the next decade and, according to various reports, is close to renewing FedEx as the sponsor of the season-long points race and signing Hyundai to replace Nationwide as the umbrella sponsor of the secondary circuit.

Nor does this seem to be Finchem’s swan song. Although he will be 69 when his current contract expires, he didn’t sound like a man who is easing happily toward his golden years late Wednesday when Cut Line caught up with him.

“When I first became commissioner after five or six years people would ask me how long I wanted to do this,” Finchem said. “I don’t have a particular time frame in mind. I think it has to do with what’s best for the organization. ... I’m getting a little older so you have to ask yourself those questions a little more often, but I’m not worried about that right now.”

Magic Whan. The LPGA, for so long a “sell” item on the golf landscape, may be the leading candidate for comeback player of the year in 2012.

The circuit released its ’12 schedule this week to widespread acclaim. The 27-event lineup includes four more events than the 2011 schedule and a total purse that is nearly $7 million more than last year.

“We’re going in the right direction, and the best news is that I don’t think we are done yet,” said Mike Whan, the circuit’s second-year commissioner. “It is fun announcing this schedule, but it’s more exciting to me knowing there is more just around the corner.”

Seems rumors of the LPGA’s death were greatly exaggerated.

Tweet of the week: @JasonGore59 “Thank you everyone! Absolutely amazing!”

Gore was referring to a Twitter campaign that landed him a coveted sponsor exemption into the Northern Trust Open. It’s time, tweeps, to turn your considerable powers to something even more pressing – #SlowPlay.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Imperfect paradise. Much was made of the less-than-stellar field at last week’s Hyundai Tournament of Champions and an extended conversation with a Tour official made Cut Line realize that sometimes there is just no painting around warts.

For 10 minutes the official outlined why the half-dozen or so no-shows skipped Kapalua. By all accounts they were excused absences, from Lucas Glover’s paddle-boarding miscue to an assortment of New Year’s newborns.

So the question remains, other than outlawing paddle boarding and baby making how do you improve on a no-cut, free-money event held in paradise on a golf course with more room to miss than a Texas driving range?

That there is no material answer may be the most concerning thing of all.

Tweet of the week II: @Elkpga (Steve Elkington) “Possible pairing for AT&T. Is Tiger (Woods) and (Tim) Tebow? Awkward. What do they talk about for three days?”

Missed Cut

The slow standard. Carping about slow play on Tour has become a cliché, like spotless black courtesy cars and anything John Daly does, but last week’s display at Kapalua renewed calls for something to be done.

Despite a 27-man field and a tee sheet of twosomes, the weekend telecast consistently went long because of the languid pace of play. “It’s not that hard, be ready when it’s your turn. Slow play is killing our sport,” world No. 1 Luke Donald tweeted.

Some complain that Tour officials are to blame for not issuing fines, but monetary penalties will not solve this. If the circuit wanted to get tough on slow play, they would assess one-shot penalties for every violation after an initial warning and publish the names of habitual offenders.

Writing checks is easy. Being saddled as a snail, well that doesn’t wash off.

Cross signals from the Crosby. Cyberspace is abuzz over which amateur, Tim Tebow or Tony Romo, Tiger Woods will be paired with when he makes his Tour debut next month at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. Remember the days when we would get worked up over which pro Woods was going to be paired with?

Fitzpatrick one back in 2018 Euro Tour opener

By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 1:37 pm

HONG KONG – S.S.P. Chawrasia had six birdies and a bogey Thursday for a 5-under 65 and a one-stroke lead at the Hong Kong Open, the first event of the 2018 European Tour season.

Playing in sunny but breezy conditions at the Hong Kong Golf Club, the greens had the players struggling to gauge the approach.

''Very tough conditions today,'' Chawrasia said. ''It's very firm greens, to be honest. I'm just trying to hit the second shot on the green and trying to make it like a two-putt.''

Full-field scores from the UBS Hong Kong Open

Shubhankar Sharma and Matthew Fitzpatrick (both 66) were one shot behind, while seven others were tied for fourth a further stroke behind.

''Hit it great tee to green,'' Fitzpatrick said. ''I think I had like seven or eight chances inside 15 feet, and on a day like today when it's so windy and such a tough golf course, with how tight it is, yeah, it was a good day.''

Justin Rose, who won the title in 2015, shot was 2 under with five birdies and three bogeys.

''I think the course played a couple shots harder than it typically does,'' Rose said. ''I like this course. I think it offers plenty of birdie opportunities.''

Masters champion Sergio GarciaRafa Cabrera Bello and defending champion Sam Brazel (69) were in a group of 16 at 1 under.

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

What it means: 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.

Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open

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.