Cut Line Spring Cleaning

By Rex HoggardApril 16, 2010, 9:04 pm
On Sunday Phil Mickelson touched hearts and performed heroically to win his third green jacket, Tiger Woods made a sound debut both on and off the golf course and the warm breezes of Harbour Town quickly whisked away seven days of Augusta National pollen. How’s golf doing?

If there’s been a better fortnight in the game in recent memory “Cut Line” isn’t aware of it. So much so, in fact, that this week’s edition is a tad light in the “Missed Cut” department. But then the week is still young.

Made Cut

Phil Mickelson. Anyone who watched Sunday’s high-wire act at the 13th and didn’t feel a jolt of adrenaline needs to seek medical attention. Lefty at his best is a cure for low blood pressure and a third green jacket was the tonic for a golf season that seemed to be held hostage by a pair of distracted headliners and a down economy.

The difference between the “I’m such an idiot” Mickelson at Winged Foot and the guy who pulled victory from the pine straw at Augusta National is indistinguishable, a perfectly paired package of brilliance and bone-headiness. The ultimate tragic hero.

“I wish I could play like him,” said one Tour player at Harbour Town. “With no fear. Like nothing really matters.”

We wish every Tour pro could.

U.S. Golf Association. As if we needed yet another reason to count the days until the first tee shot goes in the air at Pebble Beach – 63 for those keeping score at home – the sometimes dogmatic folks at the USGA pulled the ultimate trump card this week when they offered Tom Watson an exemption into June’s U.S. Open.

If Old Tom’s performance at Turnberry wasn’t enough to seal the deal, Watson hung around much longer than anyone, including Watson, thought possible last week at Augusta National and if one believes in karma the 60-year-old may be too charmed to pass up in office pools everywhere.

Watson played his first Open in 1972, at Pebble, won his most dramatic major in 1982, at Pebble, and finished tied for 27th in 2000 at 50 years old, at Pebble. Simply put, Monterey has never looked so magical.
Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Jerry Rice. The former NFL star may have injected this week’s Nationwide Tour stop in Hayward, Calif., with some rarely-seen life, but we’ve seen these stunts before and aren’t amused.

Rice began his first round with a double bogey, played Nos. 13-17 in 7 over and is 151st in a field of 151. Golf Channel analyst Curt Byrum gave Rice a 1,000-to-1 shot at making the cut and after his first-round struggles those odds seem way too generous.

Michael Jordan learned this lesson playing in the Southern League years ago, athletic ability is no substitute for talent. And marketing stunts do nothing for the competitive credibility of the game.

Tiger Woods. His performance on Monday at Augusta National before a packed house of mainstream media may be the highlight of the week but the world No. 1’s tie for fourth place was better than many expected and a victory of talent, if not toughness.

Woods also deserves a nod for what is a dramatic change in MO. His announcement on Thursday that he plans to play the Quail Hollow Championship in two weeks puts a neat end to what would have been rampant speculation and is one of the most telling examples of the new Tiger.

Normally Woods waits until the last minute, 5 p.m. (ET) the Friday before, to commit to an event, leaving tournament officials little time to make the most of his marquee. But now Quail Hollow officials have time to market the “return II,” and that’s good for the game.
Missed Cut

PGA Tour. Times are tough all over and it’s hard to single out one tournament for special consideration in the great sponsorship chase of 2010, particularly when the post-Masters spot on the schedule is so attractive to other events.

However, the Heritage is different, not because the event has 42 years of history or a “who’s who” list of winners or a quirky cool golf course, but because players look forward to Harbour Town like a 7-year-old pines for Christmas morning.

“As a player it stinks that the (Tour) can't help them out,” said Boo Weekley, a two-time Heritage champion and as good a spokesman as one could find for the Lowcountry staple.

“Why can't the PGA Tour, they help everything else out, why can't they come in here and say, we're going to help you all raise enough money to do this? We are in a crisis right now with the way the market is. Why can't we come back and say, hey, look, we're going to cut back on some prices on this or cut back on the cash? It would be fine.”

New groove rule. Hitting fairways would become important again. Hitting golf shots would matter. Swinging from one’s toes would be less attractive than swing with a purpose. So the reasons went for dialing back the grooves in the modern professional’s short irons. But four months into the experiment the only thing that’s been impacted is the manufacturer’s bottom line.

The new rule cost club makers millions of dollars and yet winning scores have remained the same (Geoff Ogilvy, 22 under at Kapalua; Bill Haas, 30 under at the Bob Hope; Dustin Johnson, 16 under at Pebble Beach; Mickelson, 16 under at the Masters) and hitting fairways – see Mickelson, Phil, 2010 Masters – is still largely an afterthought.

“It's just an adjustment. And the best players, Tiger and Phil, are still going to be the best players,” said Davis Love III, a member of the Tour’s Policy Board. “The disappointing thing is I played with a young man that's one of the best college golfers, and he's going to play in a Nationwide event in two weeks, he has to switch wedges. That's the problem with it.

“I don't think it's the big deal that they thought it was going to be.”
Tweet of the Week:
@IanPoulter “Not talking about football after being beat by the yids.”

Seems the term “yid” is an anti-Semitic taunt against the fans of Tottenham, which beat Poulter’s beloved Arsenal on Wednesday. Poulter later apologized in a separate Tweet, but a Tottenham Supporters’ Trust spokeswomen told The Sun in the United Kingdom: “He should know better – but we’ve never known an Arsenal fan to be gracious in defeat.”

Ouch, and Stateside we thought that Yankees-Red Sox rivalry could get nasty.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 3, Tiger Woods

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 12:45 pm

After returning to competition at the Hero World Challenge in December 2016, Woods started the new year with an ambitious slate of tournament starts as he eyed his first full season since 2013. But he made it only three rounds, looking rusty en route to a missed cut at Torrey Pines before withdrawing abruptly in Dubai.

The “spasms” that led to that withdrawal turned out to be something far more serious, as Woods underwent his fourth and most invasive back surgery in April, a lumbar fusion. It brought with it an extensive rehabilitation, and at the Presidents Cup in September Woods humored the prospect that he might never again play competitive golf.

At Liberty National he also faced some scrutiny for an off-course incident from months prior. In May he was arrested for suspicion of DUI, an incident that produced a startling roadside video of an intoxicated Woods struggling to follow instructions from the arresting officer after driving erratically.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

While he was not drinking at the time, Woods was found to have a mix of several prescription medications in his system, including multiple painkillers. He checked himself into a private drug treatment program in July to address his dependency issues, and in October he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of reckless driving.

But the incident was barely a memory when Woods again made a return to competition in the Bahamas at the tournament he hosts. This time around he exceeded nearly every expectation, twice shooting 4-under 68 while tying for ninth among the 18-man field. Having re-tooled his swing following fusion surgery, Woods appeared relaxed, happy and healthy while briefly taking the lead during the tournament’s second round.

What lies ahead for Woods in 2018 remains uncertain, as the stop-and-start nature of this past season serves as a cautionary tale. But after a harrowing arrest and another serious surgery, he seems once again focused on his game, intent on chasing down a new crop of elite talent, some of whom are barely more than half his age.

Woods' initial comeback short-lived, leads to another back surgery

Article: Woods undergoes "successful" fourth back surgery

Article: Woods (back spasm) withdraws from Dubai

Article: Players disappointed Woods withdraws from Dubai

Really, again: Tiger undergoes fourth back surgery

Begay on Tiger: Future is 'extremely uncertain'

Woods arrested for DUI, enters diversion program after getting "professional help"

Article: Woods arrested for DUI in May

Article: Police say Woods had 5 drugs in system when arrested

Article: DUI affidavit states Tiger asleep in parked car

Dashcam video released of Tiger's DUI arrest

Begay, Rolfing: Tiger's arrest needs to be wakeup call

Photos: Tiger Woods' car during DUI arrest

Tiger Woods at his 2017 DUI court hearing.

Photos: Tiger Woods in court for DUI hearing

Article: Tiger gets 'professional help' for prescription meds

Tiger Woods at his 2017 DUI court hearing.

Article: Woods pleads in court guilty to reckless driving

Woods goes from unsure of his pro golf future to resuming full golf activities

Article: Doctor clears Woods for full golf activity six months after back surgery

Article: Tiger doesn't know what future holds

Article: Woods back to making full swings

Woods admits he might never return to competition

Making progress: Breaking down Tiger's driver swing

Woods returns to competition for first time since February at Hero World Challenge

Article: Hero comeback a success for healthy Woods

Article: Woods discusses his back: 'No issues at all, none'

Tiger Tracker: Woods finished T-9 in return to competition

Chamblee: 'I was wrong' about some of my Woods skepticism

Tiger, if you were hurting, would you tell us? 'Yeah, I'd tell you'

Woods out and about in 2017

Article: Video, images of Tiger's round with Trump

Article: Woods posts photo as 'Mac Daddy Santa'

Article: Tiger at U.S. Open sitting in Nadal's box

Article: Shirtless Tiger holds up a massive lobster

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 12:30 pm
Getty Images

NBC Sports' Coverage of LPGA Tour in 2017 Most-Viewed Season Ever for NBC Sports

By Golf Channel Public RelationsDecember 13, 2017, 8:45 pm

NBC Sports’ LPGA Tour Coverage Ties 2013 for Most-Watched Year Since 2011

NBC and Golf Channel Boast Top-6 Most-Watched Women’s Golf Telecasts in 2017

Beginning with the dramatic playoff finish at the Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic in January and concluding with Lexi Thompson winning the $1 million Race to the CME Globe, nearly 22 million viewers tuned in to LPGA Tour coverage across Golf Channel and NBC in 2017. This makes 2017 the most-viewed LPGA Tour season across NBC Sports since Golf Channel joined the NBC Sports Group in 2011. Additionally, 2017 tied 2013 as the LPGA Tour’s most-watched year across NBC Sports since 2011. Coverage drew an average of 221,000 viewers per telecast in 2017 (+24% vs. 2016), according to data released by The Nielsen Company.


For the first time ever in televised women’s golf, Sunday’s final round of the RICOH Women’s British Open (Sunday, Aug. 6, 2017, 1.1 million viewers) delivered the most-watched and highest-rated women’s golf telecast of the year. NBC’s Saturday (Day 2) coverage of the Solheim Cup in August placed second with 968,000 viewers, followed by Sunday’s Solheim Cup coverage on NBC with 946,000 viewers. Golf Channel’s live coverage of Sunday’s final day of the Solheim Cup drew 795,000 viewers, the most-watched women’s golf event on cable in eight years.





Avg. Viewers P2+
































  • ANA Inspiration - The LPGA’s first major championship delivered thefifth most-watched LPGA final round in Golf Channel history with 551,000 viewers when So Yeon Ryu defeated Lexi Thompson in a playoff following Thompson being assessed a four-stroke penalty earlier in the final round.
  • KPMG Women’s PGA Championship – The LPGA’s second major was seen by 6.6 million viewers across Golf Channel and NBC, the largest audience for the event on record (2006-17). Sunday’s final round on NBC, which saw Danielle Kang win her first LPGA Tour event over defending champion Brooke Henderson, also was the most-watched telecast in the event’s history with 840,000 average viewers.
  • RICOH Women’s British Open – NBC’s Sunday coverage of the RICOH Women’s British Open delivered the most-watched and highest-rated women’s golf telecast in 2017 (.78 U.S. HH rating, 1.1 million viewers). In total, 7 million unique viewers tuned in to coverage across Golf Channel and NBC, the most-watched RICOH Women’s British Open in the past 10 years and the most-watched among the five women’s major championships in 2017.
  • Solheim Cup – Seen by a total audience of 7.3 million viewers across Golf Channel and NBC, the Solheim Cup posted the largest total audience for women’s golf since the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open on ESPN/NBC. Golf Channel’s live coverage of the final day drew 795,000 average viewers, becoming the most-watched women’s golf telecast on cable in the last eight years, since the final day of the 2009 Solheim Cup.


Golf Channel Digital posted record numbers of LPGA streaming consumption with 11.9 million live minutes streamed across LPGA Tour telecasts in 2017 (+563% vs. 2016).

  • Solheim Cup – Three-day coverage of the Solheim Cup saw 6.3 million minutes streamed across NBC Sports’ Digital platforms, trailing only the 2016 Rio Olympics (9 million) as the most-ever for a women’s golf event airing on Golf Channel / NBC.
  • RICOH Women’s British Open – Four-day coverage of the RICOH Women’s British Open saw 2 million minutes streamed, +773% vs. 2016.

NBC Sports Group combined to air 31 LPGA Tour events in 2017 and a total of 420 hours of coverage, the most in LPGA history. The exclusive cable home to the LPGA Tour, Golf Channel aired coverage of four of five women’s major championships in 2017, with three majors also airing on NBC: the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, RICOH Women’s British Open and The Evian Championship. The biennial Solheim Cup also returned to network television for the first time in 15 years with weekend coverage on NBC.

Source: Nielsen 2017 Live+Same Day DVR vs. prior available data. Persons 2+ avg 000’s and/or Persons 2+ reach w/six-minute qualifier. Digital Metrics from Adobe Reports & Analytics. Details available.

Hensby takes full responsibility for violation

By Rex HoggardDecember 13, 2017, 5:28 pm

The PGA Tour’s Anti-Doping Program manual covers 48 pages of details, from the pressing to the mundane, but for Mark Hensby the key section of the policy could be found on Page 5.

“The collector may allow you to delay reporting to the testing area for unavoidable obligations; however, you will be monitored from the time of notification until completion of the sample collection process,” the policy reads. “A failure to report to the testing area by the required time is the same as a doping violation under the program.”

Hensby, a 46-year-old former Tour winner from Australia, didn’t read that section, or any other part of the manual. In fact, he said he hasn’t received the circuit’s anti-doping manual in years. Not that he uses that as an excuse.

To be clear, Hensby doesn’t blame his anti-doping plight on anyone else.

“At the end of the day it’s my responsibility. I take full responsibility,” he told

Like Doug Barron, Scott Stallings and even Vijay Singh before him, Hensby ran afoul of the Tour’s anti-doping policy because, essentially, of a clerical error. There were no failed tests, no in-depth investigations, no seedy entourages who sent Hensby down a dark road of performance-enhancing drug use.

Just a simple misunderstanding combined with bad timing.

Hensby, who last played a full season on Tour in 2003, had just completed the opening round of the Sanderson Farms Championship when he was approached by a member of the Tour’s anti-doping testing staff. He was angry about his play and had just used the restroom on the 17th hole and, he admits, was in no mood to wait around to take the urine test.

“Once I said, ‘Can I take it in the morning,’ [the Tour’s anti-doping official] said, ‘We can’t hold you here,’” Hensby recalled. “I just left.”

Not one but two officials called Hensby that night to ask why he’d declined to take the test, and he said he was even advised to return to the Country Club of Jackson (Miss.) to take the test, which is curious because the policy doesn’t allow for such gaps between notification of a test and the actual testing.

According to the policy, a player is considered in violation of the program if he leaves the presence of the doping control officers without providing the required sample.

A Tour official declined to comment on the matter citing the circuit’s policy not to comment on doping violations beyond the initial disclosure.

A week later, Hensby was informed he was in violation of the Tour’s policy and although he submitted a letter to the commissioner explaining the reasons for his failure to take the test he was told he would be suspended from playing in any Tour-sanctioned events (including events on the Tour) for a year.

“I understand now what the consequences are, but you know I’ve been banned for a performance-enhancing drug violation, and I don’t take performance-enhancing drugs,” Hensby said.

Hensby isn’t challenging his suspension nor did he have any interest in criticizing the Tour’s policy, instead his message two days after the circuit announced the suspension was focused on his fellow Tour members.

“I think the players need to read that manual really, really well. There are things I wasn’t aware of and I think other players weren’t aware of either,” he said. “You have to read the manual.”

It was a similar message Stallings offered following his 90-day suspension in 2015 after he turned himself in for using DHEA, an anabolic agent that is the precursor to testosterone production and banned by the Tour.

“This whole thing was a unique situation that could have been dealt with differently, but I made a mistake and I owned up to it,” Stallings said at the time.

Barron’s 2009 suspension, which was for a year, also could have been avoided after he tested positive for supplemental testosterone and a beta-blocker, both of which were prescribed by a doctor for what were by many accounts legitimate health issues.

And Singh’s case, well that chapter is still pending in the New York Supreme Court, but the essential element of the Fijian’s violation was based on his admitted use of deer-antler spray, which contained a compound called IGF-1. Although IGF-1 is a banned substance, the World Anti-Doping Agency has ruled that the use of deer-antler spray is not a violation if an athlete doesn’t fail a drug test. Singh never failed a test.

The Tour’s anti-doping history is littered with cases that could have been avoided, cases that should have been avoided. Despite the circuit’s best educational efforts, it’s been these relatively innocent violations that have defined the program.

In retrospect, Hensby knows he should have taken the test. He said he had nothing to hide, but anger got the best of him.

“To be honest, it would have been hard, the way I was feeling that day, I know I’m a hothead at times, but I would have probably stayed [had he known the consequences],” he admitted. “You’ve got to understand that if you have too much water you can’t get a test either and then you have to stay even longer.”

Hensby said before his run in with the anti-doping small print he wasn’t sure what his professional future would be, but his suspension has given him perspective and a unique motivation.

“I was talking to my wife last night, I have a little boy, it’s been a long month,” said Hensby after dropping his son, Caden, off at school. “I think I have a little more drive now and when I come back. I wasn’t going to play anymore, but when I do come back I am going to be motivated.”

He’s also going to be informed when it comes to the Tour’s anti-doping policy, and he hopes his follow professionals take a similar interest.