Cut Line: Shanghai'd

By Rex HoggardOctober 28, 2011, 5:04 pm

It’s no surprise that a week after the PGA Tour kinda sorta wrapped up its season at Disney and Luke Donald was joined in the winner’s circle by cartoon characters that the Englishman’s stellar year was somehow undercut by the circuit’s Mickey Mouse decision to delay the release of its year-ending award ballots.

Both decisions bookend this week’s Cut Line which goes globetrotting with stops in Shanghai, Malaysia and Spain.

Made Cut

‘King Luke.’ The rank and file can take all the time they need to come to this seemingly obvious conclusion, but Cut Line doesn’t need to see what happens at next week’s faux World Golf Championship to call this election.

Donald posted four worldwide victories in 2011, missed just two cuts around the globe in 24 events and finished inside the top 10 in 75 percent of all his starts.

And for those who need a dollop of style with their substance, Donald won the BMW PGA Championship, a marquee European Tour stop, in May to unseat Lee Westwood atop the world golf ranking; birdied six of his last nine holes last at Disney to win his second Tour title of the season and clip Webb Simpson for the cash crown; and won the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in February without ever being pushed to the 18th hole.

Asked late Sunday if Donald was his choice for the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year award Steve Flesch put it best: “Absolutely,” he said. “King Luke rules the golfing world.”

Tell us again why “Luke Donald Disease” is a bad thing?

Tweet of the week: @AndrewColtart “Surely once and for all, it’s possible to be the best player in the world and not win a major! Well done Luke (Donald).”

El Nino. At this time last year, Sergio Garcia was a glorified cheerleader for the European team at The Ryder Cup. Following his victory last week in Spain he is making an early climb to a spot on the varsity squad next year at Medinah.

You remember Medinah, right? The site of the 1999 PGA Championship and the Spaniard’s unofficial “Hello, world” moment.

“Sergio is great for the game,” Golf Channel colleague Frank Nobilo tweeted this week. “Sometimes he plays the villain unjustly but (he is) charismatic.”

Garcia is currently three strokes back after two rounds at the Andalucia Masters and at this pace he may end up leading the Europeans into Chicago next fall – which is good news for golf, if not U.S. captain Davis Love III.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Rules roundup. It was good to see the U.S. Golf Association and Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews inject a measure of common sense into the latest round of rules adjustment – although Webb Simpson is probably thinking it’s about six months too late – but we’d just like to see golf’s ruling bodies expedite their journey into the realm of reason.

Among the items Cut Line would like the blue blazers to look at is the antiquated idea behind stroke-and-distance penalties and the use of range finders. The two largest problems when trying to grow the game are cost and how long it takes to play a round of golf.

The USGA and R&A can’t do much about three-figure green fees, but converting the miles of out of bounds into simple hazards, which would carry a one-stroke penalty and simple drop, would be an easy fix to speed things up.

Similarly, electronic distance-measuring devices could also help things along, particularly at the game’s highest levels which seem to set the, um . . . pace for everyone else.

“Give us lasers,” Joe Ogilvie said. “There are 20 shots a tournament where guys are going to have weird angles into holes. A laser would cut down the amount of time it takes to figure out yardages from those weird angles by 20 percent.”

The Great Wall. One needs to look no further than the fall schedule to understand Asia’s growing importance in the game. There are no fewer than a half dozen marquee events the next few weeks in Asia, including this week’s tournaments in Shanghai and Malaysia, and they are all anchored by next week’s WGC-HSBC Champions in China.

China, however, is turning into something of the “Wild (Far) East” for many in the game. Earlier this week, Jack Nicklaus voiced his frustration in trying to build golf courses in the area saying, “China, for example, is shut down right now golf-wise.”

Golf may end up being just another export China would rather do without.

Missed Cut

Conflict of interest. There’s a marquee event going on this week in Asia that features the cream of the professional crop playing for silly money, and the rumor is the PGA Tour also is playing some sort of event in the area this week as well. Ba-da-boom.

We kid, but the folks at the CIMB Asia Pacific Classic are not laughing at the turf tussle that likely cost their field some Q rating. The IMG-run Shanghai Masters didn’t set out to undercut the CIMB event, but a $2 million winner’s check has lured many of the game’s top players away from the co-sanctioned stop in Malaysia this week.

The 48-player CIMB field features just four players ranked inside the top 50 of the world golf ranking, compared to 14 at the 30-man Shanghai stop, and the Malaysia field, which is open to the “top 25 available players from the final FedEx Cup points list,” includes just six players from inside the top 25 in this year’s standings.

We’re all for free-market economics and survival of the fittest, but Asia is a big place. Isn’t there enough room for every one?

Ballotgate. The PGA Tour’s executive vice president of communication and international affairs Ty Votaw called it an “oversight.” Donald dubbed it “sketchy at best.” Cut Line is going to go with yucky.

Whatever you call the snafu that prompted the Tour to delay the release of this year’s season-ending ballots, the result is a blatant violation of the smell test.

On Wednesday’s “Morning Drive” Votaw said the decision to delay sending out ballots for the Player of the Year award until after next week’s WGC-HSBC Champions was out of “fairness to the voting body so that the same information is possessed by all voting members when the ballots are sent out.”

Lost in that logic is the Tour’s policy not to include any results or statistical information on the season-ending ballot, only the names of potential candidates for Player, Rookie and Comeback Player of the Year.

It’s also worth noting that the deadline to return the ballots remains the same (Dec. 9), which would have allowed players to consider results from the HSBC event as well as November’s Presidents Cup regardless of the delay.

Ballotgate is a clerical error not a conspiracy and the electorate can make it all right with a strong Donald vote for POY in December. Word is, ballots will be tallied by a special accounting firm that’s based out of Area 51.

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Suspended Hensby offers details on missed drug test

By Will GrayDecember 12, 2017, 11:30 pm

One day after receiving a one-year suspension from the PGA Tour for failing to provide a sample for a drug test, Mark Hensby offered details on the events that led to his missed test in October.

Hensby, 46, released a statement explaining that the test in question came after the opening round of the Sanderson Farms Championship, where the Aussie opened with a 78. Frustrated about his play, Hensby said he was prepared to give a blood sample but was then informed that the test would be urine, not blood.

"I had just urinated on the eighth hole, my 17th hole that day, and knew that I was probably unable to complete the urine test for at least a couple more hours," Hensby said. "I told this gentleman that I would complete the test in the morning prior to my early morning tee time. Another gentleman nearby told me that 'they have no authority to require me to stay.' Thus, I left."

Hensby explained that he subsequently received multiple calls and texts from PGA Tour officials inquiring as to why he left without providing a sample and requesting that he return to the course.

"I showed poor judgment in not responding," said Hensby, who was subsequently disqualified from the tournament.

Hensby won the 2004 John Deere Classic, but he has missed six cuts in seven PGA Tour starts over the last two years. He will not be eligible to return to the Tour until Oct. 26, 2018.

"Again, I made a terrible decision to not stay around that evening to take the urine test," Hensby said. "Obviously in hindsight I should have been more patient, more rational and taken the test. Call me stupid, but don't call me a cheater. I love the game. I love the integrity that it represents, and I would never compromise the values and qualities that the game deserves."

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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