Cut Line: Taking long view on Beem, Tiger, Portrush

By Rex HoggardOctober 23, 2015, 3:15 pm

In a “long view” edition of Cut Line, Royal Portrush’s time arrives after a half-century wait, while Tiger Woods’ time on the bench remains uncertain.

Made Cut

Royal return. After a 68-year hiatus the game’s oldest championship will return to one of the game’s best golf courses.

The R&A announced on Monday that the 2019 Open Championship will be played at Royal Portrush, the Northern Irish gem that last hosted the event in 1951.

Although it took plenty of leg work to bring Portrush back into the Open fold – including a dramatic restructuring of the course that includes two new holes to replace the 17th and 18th, which will be used for the championship’s corporate village – those who lobbied for the event, most notably high-profile locals Darren Clarke and Rory McIlory, proved to be too persuasive to ignore.

As an aside, if you’re looking for an early favorite to win the ’19 Open may we suggest McIlroy, who as a 16-year-old set the Royal Portrush course record with a 61.

That’s Rich. Depending on how things play out next fall at the Ryder Cup, Rich Beem probably shouldn’t expect a Christmas card from U.S. captain Davis Love III.

That is, of course, if Ian Poulter makes next year’s European team and does what Ian Poulter does best, which is beat Americans in the biennial event.

Poulter, who dropped out of the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking and lost his spot in next month’s WGC-HSBC Champions, needed to play the Hong Kong stop to maintain his European Tour status and remain eligible for next year’s Ryder Cup.

Beem, who was already in Hong Kong preparing to play the event on a sponsor exemption, gave up his spot in the field so Poulter could play.

“I saw Rich in the hotel this morning, so I went over and said, ‘That's awfully kind of you to do this,’” said Poulter after an opening 3-under 67 on Thursday. “He didn't have to, but he was nice enough to do it, and yeah, I have to thank him for that.”

If the odd turn of events leads to another historic Ryder Cup for Poulter, and another European victory, Beem shouldn’t expect the same level of gratitude from Love and the U.S. team.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Good news, bad news. Tiger Woods resurfaced this week at an event he had planned to play before being sidelined by his second back surgery earlier this year.

That’s the good news. The bad is that it’s about as close to a competition as he will get for some time.

“I'll start my rehab soon, but it's a long and tedious process. The last time, it took me a long time to come back,” Woods said at the Bridgestone America’s Golf Cup in Mexico. “Some of the guys who have had it [microdiscectomy surgery] done said it took them over a year to be pain free. I hope it doesn't take me that long to be pain free.”

Woods said he’s facing a “long and tedious rehab” and that he’s hopeful he can return to the Tour “early in 2016.” While that’s probably not what fans want to hear from the former world No. 1, after numerous starts and stops in recent years another extended break may be his only chance to finally break free from the DL.

Tweet of the week:

Everybody loves the long ball, even Koepka who is one of the PGA Tour’s longest, and this week’s World Long Drive Championship was certainly entertaining, but some purists used the event to lament what they see as continued out-of-control distance gains.

Tour statistics, however, suggest otherwise. Although the driving distance leaders have varied the last five years – from J.B. Holmes’ circuit-leading 318-yard average in 2011, to Luke List’s 306 yards in ’13 and last season’s 317-yard average by Dustin Johnson – the overall Tour average has remained surprisingly flat over that period.

In 2011, the circuit average was 290 yards, compared to 289 yards last season, suggesting that while the long ball is still entertaining, it is, at least at the highest level, not the uncontrollable force some think it to be.

Missed Cut

Travel warnings. Players were warned in an email from the Tour on Thursday of potential risks associated with a recent typhoid outbreak and poor air quality in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, site of next week’s CIMB Classic.

According to the email obtained by Cut Line, there have been more than 30 cases of typhoid reported in Kuala Lumpur since the beginning of August, and players were also warned of poor air quality due to severe drought conditions.

While this is the cost of doing business in far-flung locales, and according to officials hasn’t led to rash of withdrawals, what is curious is that the Tour didn’t send a similar warning to any caddies.

Communication between the circuit and caddies has broken down this year since a lawsuit was filed in February in U.S. District Court by a group of caddies against the Tour.

Legal proceedings have a tendency to cool relationships, but issues of public safety should be above the fray.

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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.

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Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.