Cut Line: Ryder Cup talk dominates in Boston

By Rex HoggardSeptember 2, 2016, 10:55 pm

NORTON, Mass. – Our cup is firmly half full this week, with the Ryder Cup comings and goings dominating the first part of the week followed by a return to the FedEx Cup Playoffs and the Deutsche Bank Championship.

Made Cut

Team USA. Davis Love III stayed on point this week, explaining how this Ryder Cup will be different and that it’s the team, not the captain, who will change America’s fortunes in the matches.

“Now it’s time for this top 8 [the automatic qualifiers] to take ownership of this team," Love said Monday. "These eight guys need to pick four more. From No. 1 to No. 8 they need to take ownership of this team."

The new selection system, which will save the final captain’s pick until after the Tour Championship, was designed to give Love the best chance to win, and the U.S. players who have already qualified seemed genuinely inspired by the prospect of ending the side’s swoon.

Soon the picks and pairings will be made and the outcome will rest entirely with the players, but until then the U.S. team is at least saying all the right things.

Case-y in point. It’s been seven years since Paul Casey won a PGA Tour event, a reality that despite the Englishman’s easygoing nature is not always easy to hide.

On Friday at TPC Boston following a first-round 66 that propelled him into a share of third place, Casey was asked if he was hungry for a win.

Casey’s response was not verbal, but perfectly clear as he smiled and nodded his head.

“I've been working hard with [caddie Johnny McLaren] on things like distance control and working on some different shots and on the putting, but it's very much time to try and make that hard work pay off if we can,” he said.

There’s always a fine line between patiently wanting something and applying too much internal pressure. To Casey’s credit, he seems perfectly positioned.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Team Europe. It’s always best to keep the second-guessing to a minimum until after the matches, but Darren Clarke’s captain’s picks this week have left some room for early criticism.

Clarke went heavy on veteran leadership with his first two choices of Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer, which is understandable considering the Europeans already have five rookies on the team, but his third choice, Belgium’s Thomas Pieters, drew a few raised eyebrows.

Pieters certainly earned consideration considering his victory last week in Denmark and a runner-up showing a week before at the Czech Masters, but the decision left Scotland’s Russell Knox off the team and could end up haunting the captain.

Knox has had a breakout season this year on Tour, winning the WGC-HSBC Champions last fall and the Travelers Championship two weeks ago.

Captain’s picks are always a judgment call, but the choice to bypass Knox is curious, particularly if the Europeans don’t win next month.

Some things are better Left unsaid. The Ryder Cup team assembled this week at Gillette Stadium for a team bonding dinner, but the event had an interesting undertone.

Officials held a closest-to-the-pin contest from 78 yards on the field at Gillette Stadium, an event which was reportedly won by Phil Mickelson . . . using right-handed clubs.

“Honestly, it's just not that hard to play golf right-handed,” Mickelson jokingly told “I think the real challenge and enjoyment I get is from trying to play the game left-handed.”

Mickelson, who is a notorious trash-talker, appeared to leave out a few details.

“Phil hit more balls than anyone else, so that’s why,” Brandt Snedeker smiled.

There is also some debate over who really won the contest, with Jimmy Walker telling reporters on Friday, “Davis [Love] hit it closest.”

Lefty’s competitive nature, and the occasional needle, is what makes him so special, but maybe he should save some of his barbs for the Europeans next month for the sake of team chemistry.

Missed Cut

Playing to the crowd. News surfaced this week that the Tour will not renew the top 125 money list exemption, which in itself is not entirely surprising or overly newsworthy, but word also circulated this week that the circuit has floated the idea of reducing the total number of members.

This week the player advisory council debated whether the circuit should consider reducing the number of exemptions from the FedEx Cup points list - the top 125 are currently exempt heading into the following season - and from the Tour’s Finals Series.

The move, which according to various sources was widely dismissed by the PAC, is an attempt to assure those who do get their Tour cards that they have plenty of playing opportunities.

Although the pressure to give every member a chance to play has been mounting in recent years, taking away playing opportunities seems counterintuitive.

Woe is Rory. It hasn’t been the best of seasons for Rory McIlroy and things haven’t gotten much better in the playoffs.

McIlroy switched to a new putting coach last week at The Barclays, Englishman Phil Kenyon, and explained this week that the makeover isn’t a complete overhaul, but it’s close.

On Friday at TPC Boston, the conversation took another poor turn when the Northern Irishman played his first three holes in 4 over par – which included a three-putt at his second hole – and McIlroy’s plan to have his putting game back on track in time for next year’s Masters likely doesn’t bode well for Europe’s Ryder Cup chances.

McIlroy – who did rebound on Friday to shoot an even-par 71 – also has the added pressure of trying to play his way into the Tour Championship. He’s currently 38th in FedEx Cup points. He will figure out his putting woes eventually, he always does, but it’s clear this will take some time.

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Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

“I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

“I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.

Masters victory

Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative

Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ

Green jacket tour

Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket

Man of the people

Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief

Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together

Ace at 17th at Sawgrass

Growing family

Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018

Departure from TaylorMade

Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade

Squashed beef with Paddy

Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'

Victory at Valderrama

Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm
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Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf

By Grill Room TeamDecember 11, 2017, 9:47 pm

Well, this is a one new one.

According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:

“No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”

Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.

“If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.

The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.

“I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”

The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.

Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.

Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.