Cut Line: Amid turmoil, McIlroy seeks consistency

By Rex HoggardMay 30, 2014, 8:01 pm

DUBLIN, Ohio – At a place that is known for its inclement weather, it’s apropos that Rory McIlroy seems to have weathered various storms in recent months and is ready to move on with his stellar career, while changes to the Tour Finals promise to bring more headwinds to the new qualifying system.

Made Cut

Changing the conversation. It wasn’t the Friday he expected.

Bogey, birdie, double bogey, double bogey, double bogey, bogey. When Rory McIlroy turned on Friday at the Memorial it all added up to a 43, the fourth consecutive event he’s shot 40 or worse over nine holes, but considering the path the Ulsterman has been on the last two weeks, he chose the high road.

“It’s not disastrous,” he said after a second-round 78 left him inside the top 25. “I’m still hitting a lot of good shots.”

All things considered, McIlroy was content to consider this most recent valley an opportunity, not an obstacle.

On the eve of last week’s BMW PGA Championship, he announced he’d broken off his engagement to tennis star Caroline Wozniacki. Four days later he was hoisting the trophy at the European Tour’s flagship event for his first victory of 2014.

As if all that wasn’t enough to deal with, McIlroy injured his left knee during Thursday’s first round at the Memorial and has spent much of the week limping around Muirfield Village. Actually, he continues to say he “twerked” his knee. He really needs to Google that.

Jaime Diaz. During an age of increasingly blurred lines between journalism and uninformed vitriol from every corner of the blogosphere it was a rare moment to savor on Wednesday at Muirfield Village.

Diaz, the editor-in-chief for Golf World magazine, was honored this week as the 2014 Memorial Journalism Award winner for a career that started in 1989 at Golf Digest and included stops at The New York Times and Sports Illustrated.

“Jaime and I have worked together many times over the years,” Nicklaus said in his address to a large crowd gathered for the ceremony. “The respect I have for Jaime transcends his ability as a writer. He has always been someone I trust and I think he has the best interests of the game in mind.”

Amid the den of the modern media buzz, Diaz, like Nicklaus did on the golf course, still transcends the noise and nonsense with class and creativity.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Left wondering. With the countdown to Pinehurst winding down, this week’s Memorial is a crucial litmus test for Phil Mickelson, who is mired in arguably the worst slump of his career.

“I do feel after the last 10 days of practice that my game is sharper than it has been all year,” Mickelson said Wednesday. “If I don't have the results, I've got to look at something else.”

After a fast start Thursday, Lefty stumbled home, playing his final three holes in 5 over par for a 72. On Friday, Mickelson balanced three bogeys against five birdies to easily make the cut but was still looking for answers as he headed into the weekend.

Mickelson still has two weeks to figure things out in time for Pinehurst, but as baseball great Yogi Berra once opined, “It’s getting late early.”

Unintended consequences. Of all the elements that went into the decision to ban anchoring last year, it seems clear the U.S. Golf Association and Royal & Ancient never considered how the implementation of the rule change would impact those on the ground.

Consider that for Keegan Bradley, who became the first player to win a major championship (2011 PGA Championship) using an anchored putter, the January 2016 anchoring ban deadline has loomed large for more than a year.

“It weights on your mind. You’ve got almost like a ticking clock in your head,” he said Thursday at the Memorial, where he made the transition to a non-anchored putter.

But he also knew the move would draw plenty of unwanted attention, so when he decided to go with a non-anchored putter he tried to keep it “under the radar.” A first-round 67, however, nixed those plans and he spent Thursday afternoon answering questions he’d hoped to avoid.

“The negatives are just simple; mentally I’m aware that people are watching me,” Bradley said. “That’s the hardest part.”

From 30,000 feet, the USGA and R&A’s decision was easy, clinical even. But down in the weeds things will be much more complicated.

Missed Cut

Qualified confusion. Let’s call this the wrong execution of the right idea. Tour officials told players Thursday it was revamping the four-event Finals just one year into the experiment. The goal of the changes is to shift more importance back to regular-season performance, but the result will be even more confusion at the new PGA Tour qualifying events.

The move also left players confused about the Tour’s intentions. Numerous players told Cut Line they had been informed by officials just two weeks ago there would be no changes to this year’s Tour Finals.

There is also the issue that the Tour deviated from the model that was approved by the Tour player advisory council, according to one member of the PAC; and the fact that the change comes 10 events into a 21-event regular season.

To put that in context, imagine the NBA announcing midway through the regular season that the format for the playoffs would now be a best-of-nine series.

Tweet of the week: This week’s tweet is actually an avatar change by Wozniacki (@CaroWozniacki). She switched to a picture of herself dressed as a witch and stirring a pot.

Draw your own conclusions. #WitchyWoman?

Daly dose. Just when we thought John Daly no longer had the ability of shock and awe, he brings another showstopper.

In an interview this week with Yahoo!, Daly said he has lost an estimated $55 million to $57 million gambling during his eventful life.

“I had a lot of fun doing it,” he said in the interview.

To put that number in context, his losses add up to an average hit of $110,000 for every Tour event Long John has played in his career.

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Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 3:21 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.

Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.

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Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

“I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

“The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.

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Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook hit a hybrid into the fairway bunker on the par-4 18th on a breezy Saturday afternoon at La Quinta Country Club, then chunked a wedge and raced a chip 20 feet past the hole.

Kip Henley, the longtime PGA Tour caddie who guided Cook to a breakthrough victory at Sea Island in November, stepped in to give the 26-year-old former Arkansas star a quick pep talk.

''Kip said, 'Let's finish this like we did on the first day at the Nicklaus Course.' We made a big par putt on 18 there and he said, 'Let's just do the same thing. Let's get this line right and if you get the line right it's going in.'''

It did, giving Cook an 8-under 64 and a one-stroke lead in the CareerBuilder Challenge going into the final round on the Stadium Course at PGA West. Fellow former Razorback Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were tied for second, and Jon Rahm and Scott Piercy were a another stroke back after a tricky day in wind that didn't get close to the predicted gusts of 40 mph.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

''I know that I wouldn't have wanted to play the Stadium today,'' Cook said. ''I think we got a great draw with the courses that we got to play on the days that we got to play them.''

Cook played the final six holes on the front nine in 6 under with an eagle and four birdies.

''Starting on my fourth hole, I was able to make a birdie and kind of get the ball rolling and it never really stopped rolling,'' Cook said. ''Kip and I were doing really good at seeing the line on the greens.''

After a bogey on 10, he birdied 11, 12 and 15 and parred the final three to get to 19-under 197.

''I think that tonight the nerves, the butterflies, all that will kind of be a little less,'' Cook said. ''I've been in the situation before and I was able to finish the job on Sunday. I think it would be a little different if I didn't play like I did on Sunday at Sea Island.''

He's making his first start in the event.

''I came in from Hawaii on Monday, so I only had two days to prepare for three courses,'' Cook said.

Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 at the Stadium. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. Winless on the PGA Tour, they will join Cook in the final threesome.

''Piller's a good guy and we have played a lot together and same with Cookie,'' said Landry, the only player without a bogey after 54 holes. ''Hope the Hogs are going to come out on top.''

Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium to reach 17 under. The third-ranked Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.

''A little bit of a survival day,'' Rahm said.

The wind was more of a factor on the more exposed and tighter Stadium Course.

''The course is firming up,'' Rahm said. ''I know if we have similar wind to today, if we shoot something under par, you'll be way up there contesting it over the last few holes.''

Piercy had a 66 at the Stadium.

''I controlled my ball really well today,'' he said.

Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on the Nicklaus Course, and Harkins shot 68 at the Stadium.

Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.

Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. He had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over.

John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine - and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.

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Phil misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 am

Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.

He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.

How rare is his missing the cut there?

The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.

The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.

Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.

Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.