Cut Line: Spieth makes big statement after Masters win

By Rex HoggardApril 17, 2015, 4:53 pm

The golf world gets more of Jordan Spieth, less of Tiger Woods and not enough for officials at the Wells Fargo Championship in a supply-and-demand edition of Cut Line.

Made Cut

Winning hearts and minds. As impressive as Jordan Spieth’s week at Augusta National was it may have been the Masters champion’s decision to honor his commitment to play this week’s RBC Heritage that says more about the 21-year-old.

The Heritage is Spieth’s fifth start in six weeks, a run that has included two victories and two runner-up finishes, and few would have been able to second-guess him if he decided to politely pass on a stop at Harbour Town.

Spieth, however, said he never even considered skipping the Heritage, which offered him a sponsor exemption in 2013 when he was scrambling to secure his PGA Tour card.

“Any time you have the Masters champion is unbelievable. He’s such a class act and to honor his commitment ... he has no idea how important that is to the community,” said Steve Wilmot, the RBC Heritage tournament director. “He appreciated the fact we had given him an exemption, and it’s a wonderful gesture on his part.”

They say you learn more about a player in defeat than you do in victory, but in Spieth’s case what he did after a victory may say even more.


Tweet of the week:

 

Thomas, who is sharing a house with Spieth in Hilton Head, has been exposed to Spieth’s penchant for having extended conversations with his golf ball mid-flight since the two first started playing against each other as 14-year-old juniors.

“Typical, yelling for it to go and it flies to about 12 feet,” Thomas told Cut Line on Tuesday. “He used to be worse, honestly. He used to always do it. I don’t know how you would describe that or what causes it.”

If only all golf balls listened as well as Spieth’s.


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Can you hear me now? While news this week the USGA will allow cell phones at the U.S. Open was encouraging, the move feels long overdue nonetheless.

The Tour established its cell phone policy in 2012, and with a few exceptions the plan has allowed the circuit to enhance the tournament experience for fans via live scoring, shot tracking and on-demand video.

“It's a policy we've been looking at for some time at the USGA,” Janeen Driscoll, the USGA’s director of public relations, told Golf.com. “Previously, the use of mobile phones had been a concern to us from a security perspective, but we’ve seen we’re able to control that and that in this day and age, people are accustomed to having [mobile phones on] them for their own personal security.”

Welcome to the new millennium ... in 2015.

The waiting game. The good news: Tiger Woods’ wrist, which he appeared to injure on Sunday at the Masters after hitting a root on the ninth hole, is OK.

The bad news: we still don’t know when Woods will make his next Tour start.

While Woods’ manager Mark Steinberg told ESPN.com his player’s wrist is “fine,” there is still no word on when he might play again. He will not qualify for the WGC-Cadillac Match Play and his next likely start would be The Players, but on Sunday at Augusta National he remained non-committal when asked when he would play again.

“Not going to be for a while,” Woods said. “I have a little time off, and go back to the drawing board, work on it again, and refine what I'm doing.”

Woods has played a limited schedule throughout his career with Hall of Fame results, but considering he’s played just 10 official Tour events the last two years it might be time to adjust that policy.


Missed Cut

When more is less. Although the WGC-Cadillac Match Play’s new home on the schedule appears to be temporary, an increasingly crowded lineup has taken a toll on one of the circuit’s best events.

Last week officials at the Wells Fargo Championship announced that Phil Mickelson and Adam Scott had committed to this year’s event, which will be played the week after The Players and two weeks after the Match Play.

Not on that list was world No. 1 Rory McIlroy, who won the event in 2010 and has played Quail Hollow the last four years, or Woods, who won the tournament in 2007.

It’s seems unlikely either will play what has long been considered a can’t-miss event. For McIlroy the event is played a week before the BMW PGA Championship, the European Tour’s flagship event which would require the Northern Irishman to play four consecutive weeks.

As for Woods, the Charlotte stop is the same week as Tiger Jam in Las Vegas, which benefits his charity foundation.

But then this isn’t a Tiger or a Rory problem, this is a Tour problem. Scheduling can be difficult, but negatively impacting a popular event while you experiment with another tournament can’t be the answer.

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Stock Watch: Strange grumpy; Tiger Time again?

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 1:00 pm

Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.

RISING

Jon Rahm (+9%): This should put his whirlwind 17 months in the proper context: Rahm (38) has earned four worldwide titles in 25 fewer starts – or a full season quicker – than Jordan Spieth (63). This kid is special.

Tommy Fleetwood (+7%): Putting on a stripe show in windy conditions, the Englishman defended his title in Abu Dhabi (thanks to a back-nine 30) and capped a 52-week period in which he won three times, contended in majors and WGCs, and soared inside the top 15 in the world.

Sergio (+3%): Some wholesale equipment changes require months of adjustments. In Garcia’s case, it didn’t even take one start, as the new Callaway staffer dusted the field by five shots in Singapore.

Rory (+2%): Sure, it was a deflating Sunday finish, as he shot his worst round of the week and got whipped by Fleetwood, but big picture he looked refreshed and built some momentum for the rest of his pre-Masters slate. That’s progress.

Ken Duke (+1%): Looking ahead to the senior circuit, Duke, 48, still needs a place to play for the next few years. Hopefully a few sponsors saw what happened in Palm Springs, because his decision to sub in for an injured Corey Pavin for the second and third rounds – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard – was as selfless as it gets.


FALLING

Austin Cook (-1%): The 54-hole leader in the desert, he closed with 75 – the worst score of anyone inside the top 40. Oy.

Phil (-2%): All of that pre-tournament optimism was tempered by the reality of his first missed cut to start the new year since 2009. Now ranked 45th in the world, his position inside the top 50 – a spot he’s occupied every week since November 1993 – is now in jeopardy.

Careful What You Wish For (-3%): Today’s young players might (foolishly) wish they could have faced Woods in his prime, but they’ll at least get a sense this week of the spectacle he creates. Playing his first Tour event in a year, and following an encouraging warmup in the Bahamas, his mere presence at Torrey is sure to leave everyone else to grind in obscurity.

Curtis Strange (-5%): The two-time U.S. Open champ took exception with the chummy nature of the CareerBuilder playoff, with Rahm and Andrew Landry chatting between shots. “Are you kidding me?” Strange tweeted. “Talking at all?” The quality of golf was superb, so clearly they didn’t need to give each other the silent treatment to summon their best.

Brooks Koepka (-8%): A bummer, the 27-year-old heading to the DL just as he was starting to come into his own. The partially torn tendon in his left wrist is expected to knock him out of action until the Masters, but who knows how long it’ll take him to return to game shape.

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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.