Cut Line: Speeding up play; Phil's driver snafu

By Rex HoggardFebruary 12, 2016, 5:38 pm

In this week’s edition, it was an intriguing start for a new European Tour initiative to speed up play, while a judge’s ruling may have put an end to a push by PGA Tour caddies for better treatment.

Made Cut

Speed II. European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley said his goal in implementing the circuit’s new pace of play policy was to trim 15 minutes off the average round and after just three events it seems he might be on to something.

The tour released results of the new policy following the Middle East swing, with rounds at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship five minutes faster on Thursday and Friday compared to 2015.

Even more impressive was the final group’s pace for Rounds 1 and 2 at the Qatar Masters, which were 19 and 14 minutes faster, respectively.

Five players were issued monitoring penalties and although a second penalty will result in a fine, it’s not the cash (about $2,800) that will prompt players to move quicker as much as it is the looming specter of being publically tagged as a slow player.

All five players who received monitoring penalties – Jordan Spieth (Abu Dhabi, Round 1); Daniel Brooks (Abu Dhabi, Round 2); Benjamin Hebert (Abu Dhabi, Round 4); Eddie Pepperell (Dubai, Round 1); and Gavin Green (Dubai, Round 2) – were released to the public.

Most contend that penalty strokes, not fines, are the only way to speed up play, but announcing the slowpokes is a good start.

Tweet of the week:

It’s 58 days until the Masters starts. You can almost smell the dogwoods.


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Judge & jury. U.S. District Court judge Vince Chhabria dismissed with prejudice – meaning that the same suit cannot be re-filed – a lawsuit filed against the PGA Tour by a group of caddies on Tuesday.

The lawsuit, which focused on alleged breach of contract and antitrust violations, was filed last February and centered on the “bibs” caddies wear during tournament rounds and revenue associated with the advertisements placed on those bibs, which the caddies claim they have been forced to wear without receiving any compensation.

“Even if this contract language might appear susceptible to two different interpretations when considered in isolation, there is only one reasonable interpretation when the language is considered in the context of this case,” Chhabria wrote. “The bib has been the primary part of the ‘uniform’ that the Tour requires caddies to wear.”

An attorney for the caddies told Cut Line he was disappointed with the ruling and hopes to be able to take the case to an appeals court, and Chhabria suggested in his ruling there is room for improved treatment of caddies.

“The caddies’ overall complaint about poor treatment by the Tour has merit, but this federal lawsuit about bibs does not,” Chhabria wrote.

Even if the caddies decide not to pursue an appeal the lawsuit has shed light on the need for better communication and cooperation between the Tour and a group ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt once said were treated like “outside dogs.”

Temp jobs. Speaking of caddies, Spieth returned to work at this week’s AT&T Pebble Pro-Am with a familiar face on the bag, longtime looper Michael Greller.

Greller missed last month’s Singapore Open with an ailing ankle and was replaced by Jay Danzi, Spieth’s manager with Lagardère Unlimited.

The world No. 1 finished one stroke behind champion Young-han Song in Singapore and was asked on Wednesday at Pebble Beach about his runner-up showing.

“Work harder to not finish second and maybe have a caddie that can help close the deal,” joked Spieth, who referred to Danzi as his “previous caddie.”

It’s nice to see Spieth is just as adept with a one-liner as he is with his putter.


Missed Cut

Tough choices. The PGA Tour Latinoamerica informed players last week that two events, the Guatemala Open and Honduras Open, have been moved further into the spring because of concerns over the spread of the Zika virus.

Although the move is understandable considering the level of anxiety the outbreak has caused it will likely lead to more tough choices in the next few weeks.

“We are monitoring it, but those are the first two we felt it was necessary to make a change,” Ty Votaw, the Tour’s executive vice president of communications, told Cut Line.

The next scheduled events on the PGA Tour Latinoamerica are the Colombia Open (Feb. 25-28) and Panama Classic (March 17-20); and the PGA Tour’s Puerto Rico Open will be played in late March.

The Web.com Tour – which began its season with the Panama Championship and Colombia Championship – has numerous events planned in the affected areas, including the Brasil Champions (March 31-April 3), Servientrega Championship in Columbia (April 7-10) and Mexico Championship (April 21-24).

The World Health Organization said on Friday that possible Zika vaccines are at least 18 months away from large-scale trials, which means more adjustments to the international golf schedule are likely.

Signature southpaw. PGA Tour players make tough choices every week with predictably varying results, the only difference when it comes to Phil Mickelson is that he’s so willing to talk about his decisions.

For example, following a 4-under 68 on Thursday at Spyglass Hill Mickelson explained that he switched to a new version of his Callaway driver before Round 1 and regretted it.

“Well, like an idiot I switched drivers, and today I hit a few shots that I haven’t hit,” Mickelson said. “I hit some shots I didn’t care for today. So I’ll go back to my other driver.”

Every player makes choices, whether it’s about equipment or schedules or course strategy, and maybe Lefty’s only misstep is being so honest with the media.

But for a guy who once played a U.S. Open without a driver and a Masters with two drivers in his bag, this feels like another example of Mickelson making things more complicated than they need to be.

Getty Images

Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.

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Rose leads Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose completed the final two holes of his second round early Saturday for a 3-under 69 and a one-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, who had a first-round 62, was among a quarter of the field forced off the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course after weather delays on Friday.

The Englishman, who bogeyed his last hole, had a two-round total of 13-under 131.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who completed his 64 on Friday, was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters. He has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.


Playing with the pros

Tiger, DJ and Faxon

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

Article: After DJ and Tiger, Trump plays golf with Jack

Rory faces criticism

Article: Rory: Round with Trump about respect for presidency

Article: Rory: Round with Trump not a 'political statement'


President at the Presidents Cup


Video: President Trump makes the rounds at Liberty National

Article: President Trump presents trophy to U.S. team

Article: Stricker: 'Great thrill' to get trophy from Trump


Purported round of 73 with Lindsey Graham

Article: Senator tweets Trump shot 73 in windy, wet conditions

Article: Graham offers details on Trump's round of 73


Cart on the green


Article: Trump appears to drive cart on Bedminster green


Presence and protests at U.S. Women's Open


Article: Trump makes presidential history at Women's Open

Article: Trump supporters, protesters clash near Women's Open

Article: UltraViolet takes protest inside Trump National


Photo gallery: President Trump at the U.S. Women's Open


Trump golf properties

Vandalism

Article: Environmental group vandalizes Trump golf course

Article: Man accused of vandalizing four Trump courses

Finances


Article: Two Trump courses in Scotland losing millions

Article: Eric Trump denies Russia helped fund golf courses

Article: Trump company ordered to pay $5.77M in dues dispute

Reportedly fake TIME covers


Article: Trump clubs display fake Time magazine cover


Trump apologizes for voter-fraud story

Report: Trump's voter fraud claim tied to Langer

Langer: Trump 'apologized' for story mix-up


Pros comment on the president

Article: Players defend Trump at Senior PGA Championship

Article: Trump congratulates Daly; Daly congratulates Trump

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 12:30 pm