Cut Line: To play or not to play? That is the question

By Rex HoggardAugust 7, 2015, 8:52 pm

Golf began its countdown to the 2016 Olympics this week with plenty of talk about gold medals, while the PGA Tour seems to be missing a golden opportunity to make the Presidents Cup more competitive.

Made Cut

Olympic effort. Wednesday marked exactly one-year until the opening ceremony and golf’s return to the Olympics for the first time in 112 years.

Officials celebrated the occasion with a media tour of New York City and a press conference at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational with a few potential Olympic golfers.

“It's been good for the game of golf worldwide,” said Henrik Stenson, who currently leads the Swedish contingent in the Olympic Golf Rankings.

“We've seen a lot more support in some emerging markets around the world for golf. With it being an Olympic sport, that really makes a difference in a lot of places.”

There are still hurdles for golf’s Olympic organizers (see Adam Scott item below), but after a rocky introduction that included concerns over the golf course and the format, the conversation has finally turned to the competition and what that will mean long after the medals are awarded.


11th hour heroics. Mired in perhaps his worst year on the PGA Tour, Graeme McDowell opened with a 4-under 66 on Thursday at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

It matched G-Mac’s lowest round of the year on Tour and the timing couldn’t have been better with the Northern Irishman languishing at 159th on the FedEx Cup point list with just two regular-season events remaining.

Lee Westwood, currently No. 114 on the season-long list, also helped his chances with an opening 68, as did Victor Dubuisson (68), who is currently outside the top 200 in the FedEx Cup standings.

The Tour’s post-season experiment continues to search for an identity during much of the year, but the excitement transcends traditional sporting boundaries when it comes to a genuine playoff push.


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Feeling the Rors. For three days now Rory McIlroy has been spoon feeding his fans a steady diet of social media tidbits as the golf world awaits word on whether the world No. 1 will play next week’s PGA Championship.

Following a series of tweets and Instagram posts the last few days – posts that ranged from pictures of him working out to a snapshot of his plane headed to the United States – all signs point to McIlroy being in the field at Whistling Straits for the season’s final major championship.

“He’s progressing well through rehabilitation,” Sean O’Flaherty, a member of McIlroy’s management team, told Cut Line.

Despite the Ulsterman’s social media updates, it does seem to be a bit of a mixed message if, and that appears to be a big if, he chooses not to play the PGA.


Tweet of the week:


Straits and narrow. While there remains over 1,000 bunkers at Whistling Straits and they will all be considered bunkers for next week’s PGA Championship, just as they were in 2010 when the championship was played at the Pete Dye design, they will not all be in play next week.

Specifically the bunker down the right side of the 18th hole, the same hazard where Dustin Johnson grounded his club during the final round in 2010, will only be “partially” in play.

“The actual bunker that Dustin was in, part of the bunker is still visible but some of it is indeed covered with a structure,” PGA chief championships officer Kerry Haigh told Cut Line via an e-mail this week. “There still remains a lot of bunkers not covered and in play.”

Haigh said the PGA built more grandstands and brought “many parts of the championship infrastructure on to the golf course with views of golf holes or Lake Michigan.”

As a public service reminder, the bunkers that do remain uncovered at Whistling Straits are still bunkers. That is all.


Missed Cut

Wrestling with Rio. To be clear, Adam Scott is one of the game’s most forthright and well-spoken stars and it seems the Australian has come by his opinion regarding golf’s return to the Olympics after much thought.

That said, Scott’s decision to dig in regarding the Games seems shortsighted.

This week Scott told the Australian Associated Press that, “it’s absolutely a possibility I won’t go [to the Olympics] as it is not a priority in my schedule.”

Scott went a step further, calling golf’s return to the Olympics a “fun exhibition” and explaining, “[An Olympic medal] is nothing I have ever dreamed of having and it really doesn’t have any significance for golf.”

Few, if any, would argue that the ultimate accomplishment in golf is a major championship, but it is baffling how Scott seems to have overlooked the impact a gold medal can have not only on a career but to an entire country.


Presidential problems. International Presidents Cup captain Nick Price remains optimistic that the Tour, and specifically commissioner Tim Finchem, will agree to a requested format change for this year’s matches.

Price, along with former captain Greg Norman and Ernie Els, have been lobbying Finchem to decrease the number of team matches to something closer to the Ryder Cup format, but the Tour has been surprisingly slow to respond.

“[U.S. Presidents Cup captain Jay Haas] says winning never gets old. Losing certainly does,” Price said this week. “Just looking at the record of the Presidents Cup, we're 1-9-1. I think all of us on the team feel that a points change would really make it more exciting and more competitive.”

Price said he planned to meet with Finchem this week at Firestone and was hopeful the Tour would agree with his requested changes.

While Price’s optimism is encouraging, it would appear that the longer the Tour takes to make a decision the more likely it is they will stick with the status quo.

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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