Cut Line: Shots in the Dark

By Rex HoggardMay 27, 2011, 7:21 pm

Tiger Woods hasn’t hit a golf shot since his ninth and final hole on Thursday at The Players Championship, Ryan Palmer didn’t think about a shot on his way to a first-round 65 at the Byron Nelson Championship and Sergio Garcia takes another shot at major championship karma. Just a thought, but if “El Nino” really wants off the Grand Slam schneid he may want to stop antagonizing the golf gods.

Made Cut

Show up, shut up and step up. For all those who believe a caddie is little more than a bag-toting mule, consider the week of the looper.

On the same day Dustin Johnson and Joe LaCava officially teamed to shoot 66 in Round 1 at the Byron Nelson Championship, DJ’s second sub-70 round since Doral, Ryan Palmer turned over the thinking duties to his man James Edmondson on his way to an opening 65 in Texas.

“All I did is get on each tee and waited until (Edmondson) told me what to do,” said Palmer, who has missed three cuts in his last six events.

“He told me what side of the tee box to get on, and what side he wanted me to be on, what target he wanted me to hit, and it was my job to hit the shot. I think there is something there because I was really relaxed and calm and at ease. It came easy.”

Having spent a good portion of his career in the caddie yard, “Cut Line” would also suggest players bring their caddies to the interview room as well. It would make life much more interesting for everyone involved.

New Hope. It has been the bane and benefactor for the PGA Tour’s traditional stop in the California desert for years: a five-day, pro-am format that paid the bills when sponsorship dollars were hard to come by but kept many pros away from the Coachella Valley.

But now with Humana signed on for eight years, Bob Hope Classic officials have the financial stability to dump the unpopular five-day format and at least one of the courses that made the event a “must miss” in recent years.

The new format will allow officials to go to three courses, making sure the widely-panned Classic Club never sneaks back into the rotation. As upgrades go, pencil the Hope in for “most improved” in 2012.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Ernie Els. “Cut Line” certainly appreciates the Big Easy’s pride of ownership for his architectural handiwork at Wentworth, but the ongoing debate over which event is better, The Players Championship or this week’s BMW PGA Championship, seems a tad misplaced.

“This (tournament) is definitely taking the place of the TPC,” Els told Reuters. “I also feel we’ve got a stronger field here and a classic golf course.”

The European Tour’s flagship event has seven of the top-9 players in the Official World Golf Ranking, but the argument that Americans should flock across the pond misses the point on several fronts, not the least of which is a purse this week in Dallas that is $200,000 more than what they are playing for in England.

“Why go elsewhere when we have the best tour in the world and everyone wants to come play here?” one Tour sage wisely asked.

The full Nelson. The punitive action levied on one Hunter Mahan will be more transparent, and probably much more swift, than the plight of perennial bad boy Rory Sabbatini, and for what? An honest answer?

Mahan, who is not playing this week’s Byron Nelson, was asked his feelings about TPC Four Seasons Las Colinas last week: “They should blow up the course and start over. I’m not the only one that thinks it,” he told Golfweek magazine.

An early-week hail storm didn’t help matters, transforming “TPC GUR” into a collection of pitch marks, but the frat brothers’ distaste of the D.A. Weibring redo is well documented, with just four of the top-20 players in the world ranking making the trip to Irving, Texas, this year.

Instead of getting fined for his outburst, Mahan should be praised, “Dallas has a lot of great courses. Las Colinas is what it is. Dallas deserves a world-class field.”

Tiger Woods. It was another eventful week for the artist formerly known as the world’s alpha male.

Five days after withdrawing from The Players Championship because of injury, Woods dropped to 12th in the world, and a day later he antagonized the press with a series of tweets before his Q&A at media day for the AT&T National event. Then 24 hours after that, found himself in the epicenter of more speculation when news broke that his longtime manager Mark Steinberg was leaving sports management giant IMG and possibly taking his high-profile client with him.

In between all that, Woods tempered expectations that he will play next month’s U.S. Open and put his current slide into perspective as only he can: “It took Jack (Nicklaus) over what, 24 years, 23 years to do what he did (win 18 majors). It takes time. I still have plenty of time, and I feel that going forward I'm excited about playing major championships and playing golf again. I just want to be healthy and solid, and I feel like I can give it a go.”

Nobody makes news like Woods, both on and off the golf course.

Missed Cut

Sergio Garcia. Officially it was a hangnail, or some such ailment, that kept the Spaniard from Monday’s British Open qualifying, yet he was healthy enough to shoot a first-round 66 three days later at the Byron Nelson Championship.

Garcia, who once lamented that he was “playing more than the field,” still has a number of avenues to earn a spot at the Open Championship, which he hasn’t missed in 13 years, but given his rocky relationship with the golf gods he shouldn’t count on it.

He did, however, say on Friday he may play the 36-hole qualifier for the U.S. Open if he hadn’t qualified by then. “I think that I'm willing to make a little bit of an effort,” he reasoned. Playing in a major, after all, is really the best way to win one.

Tweet of the week: @TigerWoods “Almost press conference time. I’ll donate $1 million to (the Tiger Woods Foundation) if no one asks me about the leg.”

Not a bad attempt at humor, and it should be noted he donated the $ 1 million despite being asked about his ailing left wheel with the first question at Aronimink Golf Club, but if he wanted to go over the top he should have offered to donate $10 million to every charity if he can make it through just one press conference without being asked to debate something Johnny Miller has said about his swing or his game.

“Johnny knows everything, doesn't he?” Woods smiled.


Follow Rex Hoggard on Twitter @RexHoggardGC

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Sharma closes on Monday, wins Joburg Open

By Associated PressDecember 11, 2017, 12:43 pm

JOHANNESBURG – Shubhankar Sharma won his first European Tour title by a shooting 3-under 69 Monday in the final round of the weather-delayed Joburg Open.

The 21-year-old Indian resumed his round on the eighth green after play was halted early Sunday afternoon because of storms. He parred that hole, birdied No. 9 and made par on every hole on the back nine.

Full-field scores from the Joburg Open

Sharma finished at 23-under 264, three strokes ahead of the pack, and qualified for next year's British Open, too.

''I actually wasn't going to come here about a week ago ... so I'm really happy that I came,'' said Sharma, who shot 61 in the second round. ''I don't think I'm ever going forget my first time in South Africa.''

Erik van Rooyen (66) was second, three strokes ahead of Shaun Norris (65) and Tapio Pulkkanen (68).

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 pm
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Sharma among three Open qualifiers at Joburg Open

By Will GrayDecember 11, 2017, 12:16 pm

Shubhankar Sharma earned his first career European Tour win at the rain-delayed Joburg Open and punched his ticket to The Open in the process.

Sharma returned to Randpark Golf Club Monday morning after storms washed out much of the scheduled final day of play. Beginning the re-start with a four-shot lead, he hung on to win by three over South Africa's Erik Van Rooyen.

Both men can make travel plans for Carnoustie next summer, as this was the second event in the Open Qualifying Series with three spots available for players not otherwise exempt who finished inside the top 10. The final spot went to Shaun Norris, who tied for third with Finland's Tapio Pulkkanen but had a higher world ranking (No. 192) than Pulkkanen (No. 197) entering the week.

The Joburg Open was the final official European Tour event of the year. The next tournament in the Open Qualifying Series will be the SMBC Singapore Open in January, where four spots at Carnoustie will be up for grabs.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 6, Dustin Johnson

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 12:00 pm

Only Dustin Johnson could win four times in 2017 and it still feels as though he underachieved.

That’s unfair, perhaps, but it’s a testament to Johnson’s awesome ability – and his incredible run of form last spring – that observers can’t help but shake the feeling that his year could have been even better.

In February, he rose to the top of the world rankings for the first time, the culmination of a long, bizarre journey in which he often battled himself (through major blunders and, reportedly, drug-related suspensions) as much as his peers. Johnson’s blowout victory at Riviera was his first of three consecutive titles (including two WGCs), as he achieved Tiger-like levels of dominance and rolled into the Masters as the prohibitive favorite.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

Expectations for this star-crossed talent are always different, and so the surprise wasn’t that he blew that major but that he didn’t even give himself a chance. In one of the biggest stunners of the year, Johnson’s manager announced on the eve of the first round that his client had suffered a back injury while slipping on a set of stairs in his rental house. Just like that, the year’s first major was thrown into chaos, with Johnson unable to play – the line of demarcation in his good-but-not-great year.

Though he added a playoff victory at the end of the season, Johnson failed to factor in any of the remaining three majors and was surprisingly inconsistent, perhaps because of swing compensations after the injury.

Would DJ have denied Sergio Garcia a green jacket? Would he have created even more separation at the top of the world rankings? Would he have defended his Player of the Year title? Unfortunately, we’ll never know.

In typical DJ fashion, he left us to ponder what could have been.

Johnson becomes world No. 1, starts season with three straight wins

Article: Johnson officially ascends to No. 1 for first time with Riviera win

DJ on reaching No. 1: 'It's been a long journey'

View from the top: How long will DJ stay at No. 1?

Article: DJ's star once again shines brightest at WGC-Mexico

DJ on win: 'Means a lot' with the pressure of No. 1

DJ breaks it down: How No. 1 won WGC-Mexico

Video: DJ withstands Rahm's rally to win WGC-Match Play final

DJ on beating Rahm: 'I didn't give him anything'

Johnson: 'I definitely didn't play my best today'

Johnson enters Masters as odds-on favorite, withdraws after falling down stairs

Article: After uneasy warmup, DJ withdraws from Masters

Article: Johnson installed as Masters betting favorite

Article: DJ injures back in fall, hopes to play Masters

DJ on Masters WD: 'Want to play ... it sucks'

DJ: 'I was playing the best golf of my career'

DJ welcomes second child with fiancée Paulina Gretzky

DJ, Paulina welcome baby boy before U.S. Open

It's a(nother) boy! DJ-Paulina's gender reveal

This and that: DJ and Paulina in 2017

DJ, Paulina make new music video on ski vacation

DJ, Paulina unwind with Bahamas vacay

DJ: 'Absolutely' no input on Paulina's social media

Watch: Paulina shows off pretty swing at TopGolf

Johnson adds fourth win of season, blows chance at fifth

As good as it gets: DJ-Outduels Spieth at Northern Trust

Johnson's HSBC collapse surprising, but not major

DJ beats Spieth in playoff to earn fourth win of year

Burr: 'For a great win there is an epic collapse'