Cut Line: Reality check

By Rex HoggardJuly 1, 2011, 7:14 pm

NEWTOWN SQUARE, Pa. – Erik Compton won’t be around for the weekend at Aronimink Golf Club, but he will have plenty of chances next year as a PGA Tour member after an inspiring Nationwide Tour victory last week that transcends birdies and bogeys; while Bubba Watson also didn’t make it to the weekend in France and couldn’t be happier.

Made Cut

Robert Garrigus. In sport we love reclamation projects – the deeper the abyss the bigger the headline – and no one in golf has completed a climb quite like Garrigus. From drug-addicted “waste” to Tour winner, Garrigus’ rise from pothead to Tour pro was recently documented in a revealing Golf World story.

Among the highlights of the report was this quote from Garrigus that likely didn’t sit well in Camp Ponte Vedra Beach: “Oh yeah, there were plenty of guys on the Nationwide Tour who smoked (marijuana) in the middle of the round. We always talked about it. You could go in the Porta John and take your drags.”

On Thursday at Aronimink, Garrigus didn’t seem overly concerned with the potential fallout from the Tour or his fellow players: “I can handle it,” he said.

If that kind of honesty is a bit too unfiltered for the Tour, all one really needs to know about the 33-year-old is that he’s one of the most engaging and genuine players in the game regardless of his history. “I hit the ball 300 yards and I smile a lot,” he reasoned.

The only difference between John Daly and Garrigus, besides those two majors, is that Garrigus has faced down his demons and is a better person for it.

Erik Compton. “Erik the Great” looked like a two-time heart transplant patient at Aronimink, struggling to matching rounds of 76 to miss the cut less than a week after winning his first Nationwide Tour event in Mexico.

AT&T National was Compton’s fifth consecutive tournament and he was looking forward to some rest, as well as an annual checkup on his third heart next week in Miami. Moreover, at second on the Nationwide Tour money list he was cherishing the idea of not having to play Q-School.

“I’m going to do nothing (in the fall),” he smiled widely. “It’s a great feeling.”

Yes, it is.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

The tournament formerly known as the Bob Hope Classic. Considering that self-deprecation was a Hope hallmark, the late comedian would have likely made a punch-line out of the news that his name had been removed from the tournament’s marquee.

“They wanted to name it the Humana Bob Hope Challenge, but they ran out of vowels.” Ba-da-boom.

Instead, officials went with the Humana Challenge after a lengthy debate according to many reports. Eight years of financial security, not to mention the impact of having former president Bill Clinton involved, is certainly worth the tradeoff, but that doesn’t make dropping Hope’s name from the title any easier to stomach.

“It’s a tough one,” Joe Ogilvie said. “You want to make sponsors happy and Hope was the type of guy who would want what’s best for the event. This makes the tournament go on.”

In short, thanks for the memories.

Barclays, Bethpage and bad courses. First the good news: Barclays signed on for another four years to sponsor the PGA Tour’s stop in metro New York City and, as previously reported, pulled storied Bethpage Black into its rotation of courses.

The bad news: Much-maligned Liberty National will also return to The Barclays lineup in 2013, a course that Robert Allenby was asked to assess after the first round in 2009, “They set it up very well. That's as good as I can go on the course.”

And while the move to Bethpage (2012 and 2016) is an upgrade by any measure, the bigger concern is the fate of public golf in the U.S. Open rota. Former U.S. Golf Association executive director David Fay made it his mission to bring municipal golf to the national championship table, but the USGA continues to balk at a return to Torrey Pines, site of what was arguably the decade’s best Open in 2008, and now Bethpage has sent an interesting message – don’t call us, we’ll call you.

Missed Cut

A Bubba in Paris. We regularly hear how shameful it is that more Americans don’t take their games around the globe, but after Bubba Watson’s week in France the globe may change its tune about America’s insular ways.

Following a first-round 74 on Friday at the French Open, Watson appeared to already have one foot on a plane bound for the States. “I think this might be the only time I play in Europe. I miss my home,” he said.

But it wasn’t so much Watson’s homesickness as it was his cluelessness that ruffled French feathers – calling the Eiffel Tower “that big tower,” the Arc de Triomphe “this arch I drove round in a circle” and the Louvre as “a building starting with ‘L.’”

There’s a fine line between charmingly unschooled and ugly American, and Watson seems to have blown through that stop sign.

Tweet of the week: @KipHenley (caddie for Brian Gay) “AT&T in Philly where the fans can be tough. They booed Santa Claus, who boos Santa? What’s wrong with you if you boo Santa?”

Tim Finchem. On the scorecard the commish batted something close to .500 this week following news that Barclays has re-upped to sponsor the playoff opener and he was optimistic that FedEx would remain the umbrella sponsor of the circuit’s season-long playoff race, but his reasoning behind why it may not be best for Rory McIlroy, among others, to play more in the United States sounded more like spin than solution.

When asked if the Tour would consider a rule that would exempt top-10 players in the Official World Golf Ranking into whatever event they wished to play regardless of membership status, Finchem said it was a “possibility.”

But he also reasoned, “We increasingly look at things on a global basis, not just an our-tournament basis. If we’re successful in changing rules so that an international player can play four or five more times here, that’s great for those weeks here, (but) it means that he’s not going to play three or four times someplace else.”

Although altruistic, Finchem’s logic misses the point that the Tour is still battling difficult economic headwinds and is quickly approaching a new round of contract negotiations with the television networks. Having McIlroy & Co. around a little more often could only help those talks.

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Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

"A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

"If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

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Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

"I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"

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The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

"It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

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DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

"It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

"I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

"If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

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LPGA lists April date for new LA event

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.