Cut Line On the Right Track

By Rex HoggardMarch 20, 2010, 1:28 am

The last time Tiger Woods returned to golf after an emotional hiatus following the death of his father at the 2006 U.S. Open he missed the cut. How things go next month at Augusta National remain to be seen, but given his earlier-than-anticipated announcement this week “Cut Line” is going to give him the competitive benefit of the doubt.

Made Cut

Tiger Woods. Opinions vary on whether the embattled world No. 1 is a new man following months of seclusion and therapy. The jury is still out on that. But if there is a 12-step re-entry process Tuesday’s initial step is encouraging for no other reason than it removed more question marks than it added.

That he announced “Return 2010” more than three weeks before he takes the field at Augusta National is a dramatic coloring outside the lines for Woods, and that he seems to have made a competitive sacrifice for logistical and practical reasons indicates damage control is almost as much a priority as golf ball control.

“I would imagine he's going to be a little rusty. He has not played a round of golf since November I think. Doesn't matter who you are. You are going to be competitively, you know, under the gun. You're going to be a little bit rusty,” Steve Stricker said.

For a star who has lost a healthy amount of luster in recent months, a little competitive rust may be a welcome reprieve.

Ben Crenshaw/Pinehurst. In the ego-driven business of golf course design it was refreshing last week to read Gentle Ben’s take on the tweaks he has planned for venerable Pinehurst No. 2.

Crenshaw, alongside design partner Bill Coore, were hired to nip/tuck the southern gem, but in an encouraging interview last week it was clear that when it comes to No. 2 less is more.

“The course is still there, it’s a museum piece,” Crenshaw told the Fayetteville Observer. “It’s a lot of golfers’ favorite course in the United States. It’s always been known as a wonderful strategic test of golf.”

Crenshaw, perhaps more than any of his fraternity brothers, understands that Donald Ross made tinkering an art form at No. 2, it’s why he lived there almost until the time of his death in 1948. Modern amenities are fine, but too much gloss can turn any “Mona Lisa” into “Dogs Playing Poker.”

South Carolina legislature. State politicos voted Wednesday to keep a measure in the budget that would allow for a $10 million loan to Beaufort County if the Tour is unable to find a replacement sponsor for the 2011 Heritage on Hilton Head Island.

There have been plenty down economy victims on the Tour schedule, the Buick Open being the most recent loss, but the Heritage has been a Lowcountry staple since 1969 and is one of the circuit’s best tournaments, to say nothing of one of the most-appreciated golf courses.

In honor of two-time Heritage champion Boo Weekley, may we suggest the Bass Pro Shops Heritage.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

“Random tee times.” Padraig Harrington is one of the most thoughtful, and entertaining, interviews in the game and to hear the Irishman speak last week it was little surprise he jumped at the chance to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day at the White House on Wednesday.

It is the shenanigans of the Tour leprechauns we are not keen with. At Doral last week Harrington said he’d take the chance of getting an afternoon first-round tee time for the opportunity to meet President Obama, who he presented with a set of golf clubs.

By luck, or design, Harrington ended up with a p.m. spot on the tee sheet. Fortunate? Sure, but Irish luck only goes so far. That Harrington is leading only makes it that much harder to stomach on a Tour that has always played by one set of rules.

As for Harrington “CL” has just one question, is there a Guinness tap in the Oval Office?

Micro-economics. As expected Computer Associates walked away from its spot in the World Golf Championships rotation after last week’s reported $12M bash at Doral.

Cut Line is hardly on texting terms with Warren Buffett, truth be told we’re grinding these days trying to turn our 201k into a 401k, but given the current economic headwinds and a tournament that was largely overshadowed by who was not there (Woods), why didn’t the Tour consider a “blue light” special for a sponsor that has gone the distance since 2007?

If there are Fortune 500 companies lined up to sign $12 million annual checks for an event without a Wednesday pro-am, great. If not, how about a little discount selling to get things moving again? Maybe a “buy two WGCs, get the third one half price” action?

Tweet of the week. @DanJenkins (Golf Digest columnist Dan Jenkins) “Tiger Watch. Masters field votes to give Tiger victory, focus attention on next tournament.”

A tad cynical, but funny.

Missed Cut

Tim Finchem. Less than 24 hours before Woods came out of the self-imposed woods, the commish said, “Tiger has indicated to us that he will give us reasonable notice, because we know we have got some preparation to do. I don't have the specific date when he’s going to come back.”

Although the Masters is run by Augusta National, not the Tour, it would seem either the commish is woefully out of the TW loop, a frightening thought, or he wasn’t completely forthcoming, an even more frightening thought. You choose.

John Daly. Just when we thought we’d heard the last of the big man for a few news cycles we get a link to Daly’s newest business venture,

The pies are being marketed to golf tournaments and existing restaurants. The line comes with a variety of promotional material and posters as well as a new slogan, “Grip it & Eat it.”

What’s next?, “Grip it & Snip it.”

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After Further Review: Woods wisely keeping things in perspective

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 19, 2018, 3:17 am

Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On Tiger Woods' career comeback ...

Tiger Woods seems to be the only one keeping his comeback in the proper perspective. Asked after his tie for fifth at Bay Hill whether he could ever have envisioned his game being in this shape heading into Augusta, he replied: “If you would have given me this opportunity in December and January, I would have taken it in a heartbeat.” He’s healthy. He’s been in contention. He’s had two realistic chances to win. There’s no box unchecked as he heads to the Masters, and no one, especially not Woods, could have seen that coming a few months ago. – Ryan Lavner

On Tiger carrying momentum into API, Masters ...

Expect Jordan Spieth to leave Austin with the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play trophy next week.

After all, Spieth is seemingly the only top-ranked player who has yet to lift some hardware in the early part of 2018. Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas have all gotten it done, as have Jason Day, Phil Mickelson and most recently Rory McIlroy.

Throw in the sudden resurgence of Tiger Woods, and with two more weeks until the Masters there seem to be more azalea-laden storylines than ever before.

A Spieth victory in Austin would certainly add fuel to that fire, but even if he comes up short the 2015 champ will certainly be a focus of attention in a few short weeks when the golf world descends upon Magnolia Lane with no shortage of players able to point to a recent victory as proof that they’re in prime position to don a green jacket. – Will Gray

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Davies not giving up on win, HOF after close call

By Randall MellMarch 19, 2018, 3:06 am

PHOENIX – Laura Davies knows the odds are long now, but she won’t let go of that dream of making the LPGA Hall of Fame.

At 54, she was emboldened by her weekend run at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup. She tied for second, five shots behind Inbee Park.

“The more I get up there, I might have a chance of winning again,” Davies said. “I'm not saying I will ever win, but today was close. Maybe one day I can go closer.”

Davies is a World Golf Hall of Famer, but she has been sitting just outside the qualification standard needed to get into the LPGA Hall of Fame for a long time. She needs 27 points, but she has been stuck on 25 since her last victory in 2001. A regular tour title is worth one point, a major championship is worth two points.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Over her career, she has won 20 LPGA titles, four of them major championships. She was the tour’s Rolex Player of the Year in 1996. She probably would have locked up Hall of Fame status if she hadn’t been so loyal to the Ladies European Tour, where she won 45 titles.

Though Davies didn’t win Sunday in Phoenix, there was more than consolation in her run into contention.

“Now people might stop asking me when I'm going to retire,” she said.

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Davies impresses, but there's no catching Park

By Randall MellMarch 19, 2018, 2:40 am

PHOENIX – Inbee Park won the tournament.

Laura Davies won the day.

It was a fitting script for the Bank of Hope Founders Cup on Sunday, where nostalgia stirs the desert air in such a special way.

Two of the game’s all-time best, LPGA Hall of Famer Inbee Park and World Golf Hall of Famer Laura Davies, put on a show with the tour’s three living founders applauding them in the end.

Park and Davies made an event all about honoring the tour’s past while investing in its future something to savor in the moment. Founders Marilynn Smith, Shirley Spork and Marlene Hagge Vossler cheered them both.

For Park, there was meaningful affirmation in her 18th LPGA title.

In seven months away from the LPGA, healing up a bad back, Park confessed she wondered if she should retire. This was just her second start back. She won feeling no lingering effects from her injury.

“I was trying to figure out if I was still good enough to win,” Park said of her long break back home in South Korea. “This proved to me I can win and play some pain-free golf.”

At 54, Davies kept peeling away the years Sunday, one sweet swing after another. She did so after shaking some serious nerves hitting her first tee shot.

“It’s about as nervous as I’ve ever felt,” Davies said. “I swear I nearly shanked it.”

Davies has won 45 Ladies European Tour events and 20 LPGA titles, but she was almost 17 years removed from her last LPGA title. Still, she reached back to those times when she used to rule the game and chipped in for eagle at the second hole to steady herself.

“It calmed me down, and I really enjoyed the day,” Davies said.

With birdies at the ninth and 10th holes, Davies pulled from three shots down at day’s start to within one of Park, sending a buzz through all the fans who came out to root for the popular Englishwoman.

“People were loving it,” said Tanya Paterson, Davies’ caddie. “We kept hearing, `Laura, we love you.’ It was special for Laura, showing she can still compete.”

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Davies relished giving all the young players today, who never saw how dominant she once was, some flashes from her great past.

“Yesterday, after I had that 63, a lot of the younger girls came up and said, `Oh, great playing today,”’ Davies said. “It was nice, I suppose, to have that. I still am a decent player, and I actually used to be really good at it. Maybe that did give them a glimpse into what it used to be like.”

She also relished showing certain fans something.

“Now, people might stop asking me when I'm going to retire,” she said.

Davies was the LPGA’s Rolex Player of the Year in 1996, when she won two of her four major championships. She was emboldened by the way she stood up to Sunday pressure again.

In the end, though, there was no catching Park, who continues to amaze with her ability to win coming back from long breaks after injuries.

Park, 29, comes back yet again looking like the player who reigned at world No. 1 for 92 weeks, won three consecutive major championships in 2013 and won the Olympic gold medal two years ago.

“The reason that I am competing and playing is because I want to win and because I want to contend in golf tournaments,” Park said.

After Davies and Marina Alex mounted runs to move within one shot, Park pulled away, closing ferociously. She made four birdies in a row starting at the 12th and won by five shots. Her famed putting stroke heated up, reminding today’s players how nobody can demoralize a field more with a flat stick.

“I just felt like nothing has dropped on the front nine,” Park said. “I was just thinking to myself, `They have to drop at some point.’ And they just started dropping, dropping, dropping.”

Yet again, Park showed her ability to win after long breaks.

In Rio de Janeiro two years ago, Park the Olympic gold medal in her first start back after missing two months because of a ligament injury in her left thumb. She took eight months off after Rio and came back to win the HSBC Women’s World Championship last year, in just her second start upon returning.

“I'm really happy to have a win early in the season,” Park said. “That just takes so much pressure off me.”

And puts it on the rest of the tour if she takes her best form to the year’s first major at the ANA Inspiration in two weeks.



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Rose: 'Never' has Rory putted as well as Bay Hill

By Ryan LavnerMarch 19, 2018, 1:20 am

ORLANDO, Fla. – Justin Rose didn’t need to ponder the question for very long.

The last time Rory McIlroy putted that well was, well …?

“Never,” Rose said with a chuckle. “Ryder Cup? He always makes it look easy when he’s playing well.”

And the Englishman did well just to try and keep pace.

After playing his first six holes in 4 over par, Rose battled not just to make the cut but to contend. He closed with consecutive rounds of 67, finishing in solo third, four shots back of McIlroy at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Full-field scores from the Arnold Palmer Invitational

Arnold Palmer Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

Rose said this weekend was the best he’s struck the ball all year. He just didn’t do enough to overtake McIlroy, who finished the week ranked first in strokes gained-putting and closed with a bogey-free 64.

“Rory just played incredible golf, and it’s great to see world-class players do that,” Rose said. “It’s not great to see him make putts because he was making them against me, but when he is, he’s incredibly hard to beat. So it was fun to watch him play.”