Cut Line Swing and Jive
What’s not open to debate is the reality of a bona fide Player of the Year race and the motives of an overzealous taxman that may make this year’s Ryder Cup the game’s most expensive exhibition for some participants.
Corey Pavin. Not sure what to make of Team USA’s uniforms (do pinstripes and pastel sweaters really scream ‘come get some?’), but we do have to hand it to Captain America for staying on topic.
Asked last week if Tiger Woods was a lock to play all five matches at next month’s Ryder Cup, Pavin had no problem shutting down the notion that he would play favorites.
“I am going to treat every player the same. The objective is to try to win the Ryder Cup and if in my judgment I think Tiger is to play five matches, or should play four or three, then that is what I will do – that’s my call as captain,” Pavin told BBC Radio.
“For me, it’s how he’s playing golf. That’s my concern as far as the Ryder Cup goes.”
It truly has been a year of firsts for the world No. 1: he missed the cut at Quail Hollow, finished 18 over par at Firestone, will miss the Tour Championship and may spend a portion of his week in Wales cheerleading.
Player of the Year race. Remember when these postseason awards were a foregone conclusion? Woods, or Vijay Singh, would lop up at East Lake, play four largely meaningless rounds and grab the POY hardware on their way to Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson.
Now there are no fewer than a half dozen names that could secure the trophy at East Lake.
You may not like the playoffs, but at least now one can differentiate between the Tour Championship and the Shark Shootout.
Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)
Bye weeks. The lull before the Tour Championship storm is fine, particularly for the handful of players who will jump a charter from Atlanta to Wales on Sunday night to play the Ryder Cup, but why go dark entirely?
It has been a month since many Tour types played any meaningful golf and the circuit has plenty of inventory to plug in this week between all of the Fall Series and opposite-field tournaments.
These events won’t pull any top players, but then they don’t attract from the top of the Tour marquee anyway. Besides, we hear New York (Turning Stone Resort Championship) and Reno (Reno-Tahoe Open) are lovely this time of year.
FedEx Cup playoffs. The Tour’s fourth-year experiment isn’t perfect and, despite the best math and marketing efforts of Camp Ponte Vedra Beach, it may never be. The 2010 edition concludes next week at East Lake without Tiger Woods and, according to many players and pundits, with far too much volatility.
A playoff it isn’t. Nor is it an unequivocal answer to the Player of the Year question. But it is a collection of four solid events in major markets during a time of year that golf is traditionally a sporting after thought.
“It’s called the playoffs, and you have to play well during that time of year,” said Kevin Streelman, considered by some the poster child for a system that is weighted too heavily on the postseason. “It’s just like a wild-card winning the Super Bowl, it’s why we call it the playoffs.”
Tweet of the week: @IanJamesPoulter: “Well another finish in the top 30 on the money list and don’t get in tour championship [sic]. Are the playoffs any good?”
Colin Montgomerie. It’s going to be a sad day when the matches are over and Captain “Doh” rides off into the Welsh sunset. But until then, let’s enjoy the ride.
It seems the Scot has spurned Paul Casey, again. During a press conference recently, Monty was asked who would step in if Lee Westwood, slowed this season by a calf injury, couldn’t play? Either Monty was confused or he should be committed because he said Justin Rose, not seventh-ranked Casey, would get the call.
You want Rose, fine. But why in the world would you lock yourself into a theoretical pick weeks before the matches? Here’s a hypothetical for you, what if Casey wins the Tour Championship, the FedEx Cup, the $10 million lottery and is the last man on earth? Never mind, think we know the answer.
Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs. The United Kingdom taxman has suddenly become very interested in what kind of footwear the U.S. team will be sporting at Celtic Manor.
According to reports, HMRC may tax players like Woods and Phil Mickelson for endorsement income from wearing branded products.
In a related item, Sean Foley has Woods hitting golf balls barefooted on the practice tee at Isleworth. No word yet if it’s a balance drill or tax dodge.
Swing wars. Charlie Wi fired a heated volley in the budding row between Foley, Woods’ new swing coach, and Wi’s instructors Andy Plummer and Mike Bennett, whose “stack and tilt” method was all the rage on Tour a few years back.
“There's an article coming out in Golf Digest, and there was a big problem with Andy and Mike and the person that's working with Tiger (Foley) because the pictures that are in Golf Digest are pretty much straight out of their golf book that they have released,” Wi said last week in Chicago.
“Andy approached (Foley) and said, hey, I don't think it's fair that you're using our material. But he goes, well, you know, they asked me a question and said who do you look up to as teachers, and he said that my first teacher is Andy and Mike, the ‘stack and tilt’ guys, so we'll see when the publication comes out if he did say that or not.
For what it’s worth, we’ve interviewed Foley on numerous occasions, before and after he started working with Woods, and he’s always given the “stack and tilt” tandem a healthy amount of credit for the evolution of his own philosophy.
It all reminds us of something another Tour instructor once told us, if you have to tell people how good you are ... well, you know the rest.
Angela hits Sergio in stride on field at Superdome
Sergio and Angela Garcia's super 2017 keeps getting more ... Super ... Dome. (+1 awful blog lede.)
The couple started the year with Sergio's win at the Masters, then embarked on a whirlwind green jacket media tour, then kicked off El Clasico, then attended Wimbledon, then got married, then announced they were expecting their first child ...
And now, they're throwing each other passes on the New Orleans Saints' home turf at the Superdome.
Man, it must be so cool do that at the Silverdome. ... ... ... I'm sorry, it is the Superdome, brothers.
Newsmaker of the Year: No. 1, Justin Thomas
He won a major, captured the FedExCup and was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year. It should come as no surprise that Justin Thomas holds the top spot on our Newsmakers list for 2017.
Thomas entered the year ranked outside the top 20, and few might have pegged him for a transcendent campaign. But he kicked off January with a win in Hawaii, added another before leaving the Aloha State and never looked back.
Thomas’ seminal moment came in August when he captured the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow for his breakthrough major title. One month after greeting Jordan Spieth behind the final green at Royal Birkdale, this time it was Thomas’ turn to have friends stick around to snap pictures with the trophy that signaled his arrival among golf’s upper echelon.
In addition to racking up the hardware – five in total, including the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in his first start of the new wraparound season – Thomas dazzled with style. His runaway win at the Sony Open included an opening-round 59, and his third-round 63 at Erin Hills marked the first time anyone had ever shot 9 under on a U.S. Open venue.
Thomas’ consistency was rewarded at East Lake, when a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship netted him the season-long title and $10 million prize. It was in the subsequent press conference where he shared the goals list he had written into his cell phone in February, having ticked off nearly every one. It showed a dedicated attention to detail as well the tactical approach with which Thomas had steered his rapid ascent.
Heading into a new year, he’s now very clearly entrenched as one of the world’s best. And as his career progresses, it’s likely we’ll look back at 2017 as the point where Thomas first transformed great potential into eye-popping results.
Win No. 1: Title defense at the CIMB Classic
Win Nos. 2 and 3: The Hawaiian double
Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open
Record Round No. 2: 63 at the U.S. Open
Temporary Slide: Open MC makes it three in a row
Mr. Major (and win No. 4): PGA champ at Quail Hollow
Win No. 5: Dell Technologies Championship
The $10 Million Man: FedExCup champ
Biggest Win of All? Player of the Year
And One to Grow On: Wins at CJ Cup in 2017-18 season
Photo Galleries: Best of ...
Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017
GolfChannel.com counted down the top 10 Newsmakers of the Year as voted on by Golf Channel’s writers, editors, reporters and producers. Check out the list below. And click here for the full collection of articles.
Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge
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.