Cut Line: Price is right and playoff progress

By Rex HoggardSeptember 11, 2015, 3:15 pm

A rare bye week on the PGA Tour means no cut this Friday, but we’ve got you covered with more than enough winners, losers and others to carry the golf world through the break.

Made Cut

The right Price. International captain Nick Price is still more than a month away from his second turn as skipper and already he has scored some metaphorical points for the rest of the world.

Price selected Steven Bowditch, an in-form rookie who makes a ton of birdies which is crucial during these international team events, and Sangmoon Bae, a South Korean star-in-waiting who is due to report for 21-months of mandatory military service at the end of this season.

Although Bae was likely a difficult choice given the political volatility of his situation, Price took a gamble that will pay off in home-crowd support and potentially crucial points.

Price also received an assist from one of his veterans. Ernie Els, a staple on nearly every International team since 1996, was in a similar position to Phil Mickelson on the points list but removed any potential urge for the International captain to make a similarly sentimental choice.

“I told Nick, I said, ‘Please don’t think of my experience and all my Presidents Cup play that I’m putting any pressure on you to pick me. Pick who you have to pick. Pick who is best for the team,’” Els said.

This may not be the year the Internationals turn the tide in what has become a biennial blowout, but it won’t be the result of a lack of effort from Price.

Playoff progress. Golf’s version of postseason pressure has always been relative.

For some, just making it to The Barclays, the first playoff stop, is a measure of success and job security, with the drawback for those not advancing to all four postseason events a few weeks off and a full PGA Tour card in 2015-16.

For Hunter Mahan, however, the pressure was very real, if not self-imposed, as he scrambled to keep his playoff hopes alive on Monday. Mahan is the only player to have participated in every postseason event in the FedEx Cup era.

Mahan closed with rounds of 64-70 to tie for fourth place, his first top-5 finish in 2015, and moved from 91st on the point list to 52nd and into next week’s BMW Championship.

“It's the goal of every player to be in the Tour Championship at the end of the year. I'm proud of that and I want to continue that this year,” Mahan said at TPC Boston.

Mahan still has work to do if he’s going to keep his streak alive and earn a spot at East Lake, but the pressure seems to be exactly what he needed to kick start his season.

Tweet of the week:

Horschel was bypassed, again, for a potential captain’s pick at No. 14 on the U.S. point list.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Captain’s choice. To be clear, no one “deserves” to be a captain’s pick. The only way to assure yourself a spot on any team is to qualify, so the idea that someone was somehow slighted by this week’s selections is misguided.

A pick is, with apologies to all of those who carry Walkie Talkies and motor around in customized golf carts, a captain’s most important job.

Captain’s picks rarely emerge as the Man of the Match, but they can turn out to be liabilities – Greg Norman’s selection of Adam Scott during the 2009 matches when the Australian went 1-4 immediately comes to mind – and Jay Haas’ decision to go with a comfort pick in Phil Mickelson feels like the latter.

This isn’t about making room for the next generation or what other players “deserved” a pick ahead of Mickelson, this is about doing what’s best for the American team and given Lefty’s record the last two years it’s hard to say he was the right man.

Postseason swoon. While Mahan was one of four players to move into the top 70 with their play at last week’s Deutsche Bank Championship, Sergio Garcia will also be in the field at Conway Farms, but his journey to the BMW took a vastly different road.

The Spaniard sat out the first two playoff stops and has dropped from 31st to 54th on the point list.

According to Garcia’s manager, he simply wanted some extra time off and that’s certainly his prerogative, but he will need a big week at the BMW if he’s going to advance to East Lake for the fourth consecutive year otherwise he could have simply taken the entire month off.

Missed Cut

Something is rank-ing. Rory McIlroy didn’t play The Barclays and reclaimed the top spot in the Official World Golf Ranking from Jordan Spieth. Spieth missed the cut at the Deutsche Bank Championship and jumped ahead of the Northern Irishman on Monday.

What’s next, Jason Day overtakes both would-be alpha males by playing his final 18 holes left-handed in his next start?

Actually, McIlroy will regain the No. 1 ranking this week despite the world’s best players remaining idle this week.

It’s always tough to criticize the ranking, however complicated it might be, because there’s never been an easier, more straightforward way of determining the world order.

There is still no magic bullet when it comes to the ranking math, but there certainly must be something that makes more sense than the current model.

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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.

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Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.