Cut Line: Players continue to bypass Byron Nelson

By Rex HoggardMay 16, 2014, 4:17 pm

In this week’s post-Players edition, Cut Line revisits a ruling that was anything but rosy, a big dilemma in Big D and Martin Kaymer’s “brave” comeback.

Made Cut

True champions. One of the more interesting facets of getting into the field at next week’s Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial is a little-known exemption for two players based on a vote by former champions and this year the balloting was particularly interesting.

One spot went to Kevin Tway, the son of PGA Tour veteran Bob and a current member of the circuit. Easy choice.

Turns out, the second pick, Jeff Curl, was an even easier choice for the former champions.

Curl, who is playing the Web.com Tour this year on conditional status, is the son of Rod Curl, who beat Jack Nicklaus to win the 1974 Colonial. Rod Curl approached tournament organizers about getting his son an exemption and lobbied many of the former champions on his son’s behalf.

The younger Curl received more than 30 votes to earn a spot in the field. According to a Colonial official, that’s “unheard of.” For example, if a player gets 15 votes from the former champions he historically has easily earned a spot in the field.

Nice to see democracy alive and well on the Tour.

Brave golf. From the abyss of the last two years and an hour-and-a-half icing that nearly cost him his comeback championship on Sunday, Martin Kaymer moved back among the world’s best with his victory at The Players.

The German had swooned from first in the Official World Golf Ranking to 61st as a result of swing changes and injury and maybe even indifference. We knew Kaymer was a talented player, but at TPC Sawgrass he proved he’s also resilient, winning for the first time anywhere in the world in 17 months.

Even more surprising is what wrested Kaymer off the competitive trash heap.

“You need to hit brave shots,” he announced after Thursday’s course-record tying 63. “Even if you screw up once in a while, it's okay, everybody does that once in a while, but at least you play brave, and that's good playing and that's not playing like a wimp, just trying to get it over with.”

Brave, indeed.


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Great Scott. In a good news/bad news deal, Adam Scott will climb to No. 1 in the rankings from his couch this week.

Kudos to the Australian for playing well enough to move into such a lofty position, but shame on the world ranking for allowing it to happen in such an anticlimactic fashion.

It’s happened before, 11 times actually, and perhaps it’s inevitable in the imperfect world of professional golf, but that doesn’t make it any easier to stomach.

“The rankings are an imperfect science that have a reasonably good result and relative comparative competitive assessment. They do a reasonably good job,” Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said last week.

If that doesn’t sound like a ringing endorsement, it’s because it’s not.

Rose and rulings. Most observers agree that the PGA Tour got it right, that Justin Rose should have been absolved of any wrongdoing last Saturday when his ball moved while playing his third shot from behind the 18th green at TPC Sawgrass.

The new high-definition ruling that was implemented last year may as well have included a pixelated image of the Englishman’s golf ball, reading,  “The ball will not be deemed to have moved if that movement was not reasonably discernible to the naked eye at the time.”

What stings is that it took the Tour more than 12 hours to get the ruling correct and it still didn’t seem to have a good handle on what will become a litmus test for future rulings.

“If it's discernible to the player that it wasn't discernible to the naked eye, I mean, we determined that that's the only way we would have known, through sophisticated technology,” said Mark Russell, the Tour’s vice president of rules and competition.

Nor did Russell seem to have a good handle on the exact definition of “sophisticated equipment.” In Rose’s case, officials got it right. Unfortunately, golf’s already confusing rules seemed to have become even more perplexing.

Tweet of the week:

 

In related news, officials at next week’s Crowne Plaza Invitational will allow caddies into the clubhouse during the tournament and that building is about a third of the size of the sprawling monument at TPC Sawgrass.


Missed Cut

Half Nelson. A short-term memory is a key attribute for any Tour player, but when it comes to this week’s Byron Nelson Championship it seems the rank and file have forgotten far too much.

It is a sad testament to today’s Tour pros that since Nelson died in 2006 the quality of the field that still carries his name has become progressively weaker.

The winner of this week’s event in Dallas will earn 44 world ranking points, compared to the 56 points that Matt Every won in March at the Arnold Palmer Invitational or Matt Kuchar’s 70 points for winning last year’s Memorial.

The Nelson is clearly the distant third major in the Legends Slam category, and that’s not right.

Un-matched. According to various sources, the future of the WGC-Match Play Championship is more uncertain now than it was in February when Jason Day outlasted Victor Dubuisson at Dove Mountain.

Tour officials told a group of player managers last week at The Players that the format is likely to change, with a move to 36 or 54 holes of stroke play qualifying leading into a weekend of match play.

Nor does there seem to be much room on the 2014-15 schedule for pro golf’s version of March madness. The first open date next season isn’t until the week after The Players. Of course, that is if the Tour can land a new title sponsor.

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Stock Watch: Strange grumpy; Tiger Time again?

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 1:00 pm

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

RISING

Jon Rahm (+9%): This should put his whirlwind 17 months in the proper context: Rahm (38) has earned four worldwide titles in 25 fewer starts – or a full season quicker – than Jordan Spieth (63). This kid is special.

Tommy Fleetwood (+7%): Putting on a stripe show in windy conditions, the Englishman defended his title in Abu Dhabi (thanks to a back-nine 30) and capped a 52-week period in which he won three times, contended in majors and WGCs, and soared inside the top 15 in the world.

Sergio (+3%): Some wholesale equipment changes require months of adjustments. In Garcia’s case, it didn’t even take one start, as the new Callaway staffer dusted the field by five shots in Singapore.

Rory (+2%): Sure, it was a deflating Sunday finish, as he shot his worst round of the week and got whipped by Fleetwood, but big picture he looked refreshed and built some momentum for the rest of his pre-Masters slate. That’s progress.

Ken Duke (+1%): Looking ahead to the senior circuit, Duke, 48, still needs a place to play for the next few years. Hopefully a few sponsors saw what happened in Palm Springs, because his decision to sub in for an injured Corey Pavin for the second and third rounds – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard – was as selfless as it gets.


FALLING

Austin Cook (-1%): The 54-hole leader in the desert, he closed with 75 – the worst score of anyone inside the top 40. Oy.

Phil (-2%): All of that pre-tournament optimism was tempered by the reality of his first missed cut to start the new year since 2009. Now ranked 45th in the world, his position inside the top 50 – a spot he’s occupied every week since November 1993 – is now in jeopardy.

Careful What You Wish For (-3%): Today’s young players might (foolishly) wish they could have faced Woods in his prime, but they’ll at least get a sense this week of the spectacle he creates. Playing his first Tour event in a year, and following an encouraging warmup in the Bahamas, his mere presence at Torrey is sure to leave everyone else to grind in obscurity.

Curtis Strange (-5%): The two-time U.S. Open champ took exception with the chummy nature of the CareerBuilder playoff, with Rahm and Andrew Landry chatting between shots. “Are you kidding me?” Strange tweeted. “Talking at all?” The quality of golf was superb, so clearly they didn’t need to give each other the silent treatment to summon their best.

Brooks Koepka (-8%): A bummer, the 27-year-old heading to the DL just as he was starting to come into his own. The partially torn tendon in his left wrist is expected to knock him out of action until the Masters, but who knows how long it’ll take him to return to game shape.

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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.