Cut Line: Sorenstam, McIlroy need not apologize for opinions

By Rex HoggardApril 5, 2013, 4:39 pm

The major season has officially arrived with this week’s Kraft Nabisco Championship and Cut Line goes for the Grand Slam with a major player (Stacy Lewis), a major misunderstanding (Annika Sorenstam and Michelle Wie), a major concern (2016 Olympic golf course) and a major faux pas (TPC San Antonio).

Made Cut

Stacy Lewis. If the world No. 1 is a tad too vanilla for some, consider that Lewis spent the week before the season’s first major championship not scouting the Mission Hills course for this week’s Kraft Nabisco or searching for answers on a lonely practice tee, but instead giving pep talks and advice to the Arkansas women’s golf team.

In an example of extreme pro bono work, Lewis is listed as a volunteer assistant coach for the Razorbacks and spent last week at the Bryan National Collegiate in Greensboro, N.C.

“It was unbelievable,” Arkansas coach Shauna Estes-Taylor told Cut Line. “The team would tee off at 9:30 (a.m.), but she would be up at 5:30 to work out, spend the day with the team and then head to the range to practice afterward. She has such an unbelievable work ethic.”

After each round, Lewis would talk to the team and the Razorbacks responded, finishing second at the Bryan Collegiate. Guess it’s true that when the world No. 1 talks, people really do listen.

Straight talk. Here’s the rub, writers and wags lament the lack of straight shooters in sports and the parade of ubiquitous clichés – you know: at the end of the day it really is what it is – and yet when a player gives it to us straight we pick them apart like Texas road kill.

The most recent example of this came this week when Rory McIlroy was asked about his current lack of consistency and his decision to play the Texas Open.

“I don't care if I miss 10 cuts in a row if I win a major a year. I don't care. I mean, that's what it's all about is winning the big tournaments,” he said. “When people look back on a person's career, you don't say Jack Nicklaus was so consistent. You could say he finished 19 times second in a major. But what you think about is the 18 majors he won.”

McIlroy’s truth may not sit well with the folks at the Texas Open or in the press center, but that’s not the Ulsterman’s fault.


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Straight talk, II. For many, Annika Sorenstam’s take on Michelle Wie’s wayward career was spot on and nothing that hasn’t been said numerous times over the past few years.

“She has a long way to go, let’s put it that way. There was a time when the LPGA really needed her. I thought she had a lot to bring to the table. Now she’s one out of many,” Sorenstam told Golf.com.

What lands the Swede in MDF is the apparent need for a 180 when her comments began circulating at the Kraft Nabisco.

“(Sorenstam) actually reached out to me last night, said a couple of things got misquoted,” Wie said on Thursday after her first round at Mission Hills. “I thought that was really nice of her to reach out to me. She apologized for what she said, and that's that.”

Perhaps Sorenstam was misquoted in the Q&A and an apology was in order, but if any player has earned the right to offer constructive criticism it is the former world No. 1. No apologies required.

Tweet of the week: @LukeDonad “A member just challenged me to a closet (to) the pin chipping contest, $5 a shot – love when that happens.”

Cut Line has lost his share of “friendly bets” on the golf course, but this much is certain – never, ever get into a money game with a Tour type, particularly a chipping contest with arguably the circuit’s preeminent short-game guru.


Missed Cut

When hard and horrendous collide. TPC San Antonio was the second-toughest golf course on Tour last year (non-major championship category) and lived up to its tough-as-nails reputation on Thursday with about a quarter of the Texas Open field posting scores under par – and that’s not necessarily a good thing.

“Greg Norman designs golf courses to test professional golfers, not to please professional golfers,” Padraig Harrington said following Round 1 on the Norman-designed AT&T Oaks Course.

Although the Irishman was doing his best to be diplomatic, that sounds a lot like a more updated version of “It’s the best course of its kind.”

We used this line in last week’s edition, but it seems apropos to give it another run: “At some point in time golf course architects need to understand that hard and good are not synonymous,” Paul Goydos said.

Blame it on Rio. Gil Hanse is the refreshing exception to Goydos’ take on modern architecture, designing golf courses that can fairly test the world’s best and be enjoyed by the average player. If only he could begin his handiwork at the 2016 Olympic golf course in Brazil.

Another ground breaking deadline came and went this week at the Rio course with little action because of an ongoing land dispute and legal wrangling.

“Clearing continues, ground looks great with trees removed,” Hanse said in a text message to Cut Line. “The equipment (is) on site ready to go once we get the go ahead.”

The original ground breaking was scheduled for last October and officials had hoped to get started on April 1. Although there is still time for an adequate grow-in (18 months) and a professional test event sometime in 2015, organizers are officially on the clock.

Spieth stalls on Moving Day at Australian Open

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 25, 2017, 4:30 am

Moving Day? Not so much for Jordan Spieth in Round 3 of the Emirates Australian Open.

Spieth, the defending champion and also a winner in 2014, continued to struggle with his putter, shooting 1-under 70 on Saturday at the Australian Golf Club in Sydney.

“I was leaving them short yesterday and today it was kind of misreading, over-reading. I missed a lot of putts on the high side – playing wind or more break,” he said. “I just really haven’t found a nice marriage between line and speed to get the ball rolling.”


Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


The world No. 2 started the day eight off the pace and was unable to make a charge. He had three birdies and two bogeys, including a 4 at the par-5 finishing hole.

Spieth praised his ball-striking in the wind-swept conditions, but lamented his putting, which has hampered him throughout the week.

“Ball-striking’s been fantastic. Just gotta get the putts to go,” he said.

Spieth, who is scheduled to compete in next week’s Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas, is still holding out hope for a third title in four years at this event. He fired a brilliant 63 in very windy conditions to prevail in ’14.

“Tomorrow is forecasted as even windier than today so you can still make up a lot of ground,” he said. “A few years ago I shot a final round that was a nice comeback and anything like that tomorrow can still even be enough to possibly get the job done.”

South Korean LPGA stars lead KLPGA team

By Randall MellNovember 24, 2017, 10:32 pm

South Korea’s LPGA team of all-stars took the early lead Friday on the Korean LPGA Tour in a team event featuring twice as much star power as this year’s Solheim Cup did.

Eight of the world’s top 20 players are teeing it up in the ING Life Champions Trophy/ Inbee Park Invitational in Gyeongju. There were only four players among the top 20 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings when the United States defeated Europe in Des Moines, Iowa.

Park led the LPGA team to a 3 ½-to-2 ½ lead on the first day.

Park, who has been recuperating from a back injury for most of the second half of this season, teamed with Jeongeun Lee5 to defeat Hye Jin Choi and Ji Hyun Kim, 5 and 4, in the lead-off four-ball match.

So Yeon Ryu and Park, former world No. 1s and LPGA Rolex Player of the Year Award winners, will be the marquee pairing on Saturday. They will lead off foursomes against Ji Young Kim and Min Sun Kim.

Nine of the 11 South Koreans who won LPGA events this year are competing. Sung Hyun Park and I.K. Kim are the only two who aren’t.

The fourball results:

LPGA’s Inbee Park/ Jeongeun Lee5 def. Hye Jin Choi/Ji Hyun Kim, 5 and 4.

LPGA’s Mirim Lee/Amy Yang def.  Ji Hyun Oh/Min Sun Kim, 3 and 1.

LPGA’s M.J. Hur/Mi Hyang Lee halved Ji Hyun Kim/Ji Young Kim.

KLPGA’s Ha Na Jang/Sun Woo Bae def. Sei Young Kim/Hyo Joo Kim, 5 and 4.

LPGA’s Na Yeon Choi/Jenny Shin halved Jin Young Ko/Da Yeon Lee

LPGA’s In Gee Chun/Eun Hee Ji halved Jeongeun Lee6/Char Young Kim.

NOTE: The KPGA uses numerals after a player’s name to distinguish players with the exact same name.

 

Cut Line: Lyle faces third bout with cancer

By Rex HoggardNovember 24, 2017, 5:40 pm

In this week’s holiday edition, Cut Line is thankful for the PGA Tour’s continued progress on many fronts and the anticipation that only a Tiger Woods return can generate.

Made Cut

The Fighter. That was the headline of a story Cut Line wrote about Jarrod Lyle following his second bout with cancer a few years ago, so it’s both sad and surreal to see the affable Australian now bracing for a third fight with leukemia.

Lyle is working as an analyst for Channel 7’s coverage of this week’s Emirates Australian Open prior to undergoing another stem cell transplant in December.

“I’ve got a big month coming,” Lyle said. “I’m back into hospital for some really heavy-duty treatment that’s really going to determine how things pan out for me.”

Twice before things have panned out for Lyle. Let’s hope karma has one more fight remaining.

Changing times. Last season the PGA Tour introduced a policy to add to the strength of fields, a measure that had long eluded officials and by most accounts was a success.

This season the circuit has chosen to tackle another long-standing thorn, ridiculously long pro-am rounds. While there seems little the Tour can do to speed up play during pro-am rounds, a new plan called a 9&9 format will at least liven things up for everyone involved.

Essentially, a tournament hosting a pro-am with four amateurs can request the new format, where one professional plays the first nine holes and is replaced by another pro for the second nine.

Professionals will have the option to request 18-hole pro-am rounds, giving players who limit practice rounds to just pro-am days a chance to prepare, but otherwise it allows Tour types to shorten what is an admittedly long day while the amateurs get a chance to meet and play with two pros.

The new measure does nothing about pace of play, but it does freshen up a format that at times can seem tired, and that’s progress.

Tweet of the week: @Love3d (Davis Love III‏) “Thanks to Dr. Flanagan (Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center) for the new hip and great care! Can’t wait to get back to (the PGA Tour).”

Love offered the particularly graphic tweet following hip replacement surgery on Tuesday, a procedure that he admitted he’d delayed because he was “chicken.”

The surgery went well and Love is on pace to return to the Tour sometime next spring. As for the possibility of over-sharing on social media, we’ll leave that to the crowd.


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Distance control. The Wall Street Journal provided the octagon for the opening blows of a clash that has been looming for a long time.

First, USGA executive director Mike Davis told The Journal that the answer to continued distance gains may be a restricted-flight golf ball with an a la carte rule that would allow different organizations, from the Tour all the way down to private clubs, deciding which ball to use.

“You can’t say you don’t care about distance, because guess what? These courses are expanding and are predicted to continue to expand,” Davis said. “The impact it has had has been horrible.”

A day later, Wally Uihlein, CEO of Acushnet, which includes the Titleist brand, fired back in a letter to The Journal, questioning among other things how distance gains are putting a financial burden on courses.

“The only people that seem to be grappling with advances in technology and physical fitness are the short-sighted golf course developers and the supporting golf course architectural community who built too many golf courses where the notion of a 'championship golf course' was brought on line primarily to sell real estate,” Uihlein wrote.

For anyone paying attention the last few years, this day was inevitable and the likely start of what will be a drawn out and heated process, but Cut Line’s just not sure anyone wins when it’s over.

Tiger, take II. Tiger Woods’ return to competition next week at the Hero World Challenge was always going to generate plenty of speculation, but that hyperbole reached entirely new levels this week as players began giving personal accounts of the new and improved 14-time major champion.

“I did talk to him, and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years,’” Day said as he prepared for the Australian Open. “If he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.”

Rickie Fowler added to the frenzy when he was asked this month if the rumors that Woods is driving the ball by him, by 20 to 30 yards by some reports, are true?

“Oh, yeah,” he told Golf.com. “Way by.”

Add to all this a recent line that surfaced in Las Vegas that Woods is now listed at 20-1 to win a major in 2018, and it seems now may be a good time for a restraint.

Golf is better with Woods, always has been and always will be, but it may be best to allow Tiger time to find out where his body and game are before we declare him back.


Missed Cut

Searching for answers. Twelve months ago, Hideki Matsuyama was virtually unstoppable and, regardless of what the Official World Golf Ranking said, arguably the best player on the planet.

Now a year removed from that lofty position, which featured the Japanese star finishing either first or second in six of his seven starts as the New Year came and went, Matsuyama has faded back to fifth in the world and on Sunday finished fifth, some 10 strokes behind winner Brooks Koepka, at the Dunlop Phoenix.

“That hurt,” Matsuyama told the Japan Times. “I don’t know whether it’s a lack of practice or whether I lack the strength to keep playing well. It seems there are many issues to address.”

Since his last victory at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, Matsuyama has just two top-10 finishes on Tour and he ended his 2016-17 season with a particularly poor performance at the Presidents Cup.

While Matsuyama’s take seems extreme considering his season, there are certainly answers that need answering.

Video, images from Tiger, DJ's round with Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 24, 2017, 1:33 pm

Updated at 9:50 p.m. ET

Images and footage from Tiger Woods and Dustin Johnson's round Friday at Trump National in Jupiter, Fla., alongside President Donald Trump:



Original story:

Tiger Woods is scheduled to make his return to competition next week at his Hero World Challenge. But first, a (quick) round with the President.

President Donald Trump tweeted on Friday that he was going to play at Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Fla., alongside Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.



Woods and President Trump previously played last December. Trump, who, according to trumpgolfcount.com has played 75 rounds since taking over the presidency, has also played over the last year with Rory McIlroy, Ernie Els and Hideki Matsuyama.