Cut Line: Slow-heim Cup

By Rex HoggardSeptember 30, 2011, 7:18 pm

Two Cups added up to one full Sunday last week, with the emotionally-charged Solheim version setting the table for overtime at East Lake and Bill Haas’ shot-of-the-year performance.

It was so good that one almost wonders if golf really needs a spot at the Olympic table, but we digress.

Made Cut

Solheim Cup. Cut Line didn’t think the European team had to win this one or risk the matches become irrelevant, but a shootout on Sunday was needed to wrest the event out of a series of one-sided affairs.

Sunday in Ireland delivered both in the form of a fiercely contested win for the home team, to say nothing of the emotional withdrawal of America’s Cristie Kerr.

As for those who questioned Kerr’s injury-induced decision not to play, which cost the U.S. side a point but not the matches, they must not have been paying attention to her pained attempts to warm up Sunday morning.

We would also suggest the Solheim Cup powers consider hosting the event in Ireland every year. The morning viewing meshed nicely with the Tour Championship and getting to celebrate Arthur Guinness Day – that’s right, that Guinness – is always worth a trip to the Emerald Isle.

FedEx Cup. Sure the math could send the easily confused into seizures and the nonstop parade of potential winners was enough to flummox even the Tour’s own statisticians on Sunday, but two players going mano-a-mano for the Tour Championship, the FedEx Cup and a $10 million lifeline delivered all the competitive clarity one could want.

The system is not perfect, and given the nature of the game it may never be, but if the last hour of play at East Lake didn’t captivate then nothing will.

Maybe Haas’ out-of-the-pack victory doesn’t exactly fit the mold of a season-long competition – he was 25th on the points list to begin the week and winless in ’11 until the finale – but wild-card teams win championships all the time and no one ever said the 2007 New York Giants didn’t “deserve” the title . . . wait, scratch that.

Tweet of the Week: @Keegan_Bradley “I do not get why people say using a belly putter or long putter should not be allowed because it’s unfair blah blah. Everyone can use it!”

Blah, blah, blah couldn’t agree more.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

LPGA. So this was all an accounting issue. All involved had to assure the “t’s” were crossed and the “i’s” were dotted. Commissioner Mike Whan just needed the proper paperwork to rubber stamp and young Lexi Thompson could be on her way to tour membership and history.

“Lexi Thompson is a unique talent who has continued to grow, develop and mature both on and off the golf course since turning professional in 2010,” Whan said. “Her overall performance, most recently demonstrated by her win at the Navistar LPGA Classic, has currently placed her among the top 50 in the world on the Rolex Rankings. . . . Therefore, effective at the start of our 2012 season, Lexi will officially become a member of the LPGA Tour.”

But if this was all about procedure, why did it feel so personal? If Thompson was such a “unique talent” why not just concede as much following her victory in Alabama? And, most importantly, what is Cut Line supposed to do with this gross of “Let Lexi Play” t-shirts? That’s what we get for buying in bulk.

Tiger Woods. In the litany of foul balls he’s hit over the last two years or so, this one is, at worst, a misdemeanor – a stop sign he brushed past on his way to greener pastures.

There’s no begrudging either Woods or Joe LaCava for a move made in looper heaven. Where Woods got sideways was not running the impending move past Dustin Johnson, LaCava’s old boss. There are no hard rules when it comes to caddie swaps, but locker-room etiquette calls for the simplest of courtesies, even if by proxy.

Sometime before Sunday afternoon, when LaCava gave Johnson his decision, Woods’ people needed to reach out to Johnson’s people. This isn’t about permission, this is about protocol.

At the Dunhill Links Championship this week, Johnson said he doesn’t have any hard feelings about the split, but just to be safe U.S. Presidents Cup captain Fred Couples may want to avoid that Woods-Johnson fourball pairing at Royal Melbourne.

Missed Cut

Olympic odyssey. Maybe golf was destined for drug testing given the nature of sports today, but Cut Line couldn’t help but cringe recently when news surfaced that the World Anti-Doping Agency is considering a move that would add tobacco to its list of banned substances. It’s a move certain to draw the ire of Tour types if implemented.

On Wednesday, we caught up with Doug Barron, the only player to ever run afoul of the circuit’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs. Barron is currently playing the Nationwide Tour and plans to participate in Tour Q-School this fall following a one-year suspension after testing positive for testosterone, which he was taking under doctor’s orders to regulate a condition for low testosterone.

Barron was granted a “therapeutic use exemption” by the Tour last fall that allowed him to start taking testosterone again.

“I feel so much better, it’s incredible. I have energy back,” Barron said. “The thing is, I haven’t played golf worth a darn. I try my best. It’s tough to get a competitive edge back.”

In short, Barron lost an entire year of his career because the Tour needed to align itself with WADA’s policies for golf to become an Olympic sport. Maybe golf’s inclusion into the 2016 Games will be the boost Tour suits expect it to be, but at what cost?

Slooooow play. Hardly breaking news here, but the glacial pace of play at the Solheim Cup soured many fans on what should have been the LPGA’s moment in the sun.

Three of the four morning matches on Friday exceeded the five-hour, 20-minute allotment for rounds in Ireland. That U.S. captain Rosie Jones wasn’t overly concerned about the languid pace was even more concerning, but this is hardly an LPGA phenomenon.

“If you gave one guy two shots (penalty), the pace of play would pick up 15 percent,” said Joe Ogilvie, one of the PGA Tour’s fastest players. “Give us (distance-finding) lasers – 20 shots a tournament guys have weird angles into pins and take extra time to get yardages. A laser would cut that down by 20 percent.”

Give them golf carts and running shoes for all Cut Line cares, five-plus-hour rounds is too long.

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Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.

Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.