Cut Line: Thomas, Presidents Cup eye the future

By Rex HoggardOctober 6, 2017, 8:48 pm

This week’s Safeway Open kicks off a new PGA Tour season, but before we turn the page on the 2016-17 edition it’s worth taking a look at the season’s winners (Justin Thomas) and losers (Presidents Cup).

Made Cut

Season’s greetings. Each fall the realization hits some fans like an alarm clock, the Tour’s off-season is measured in hours, not weeks or months like other sports. And with this recognition comes the predictable level of handwringing.

Some argue that the circuit is somehow doing a disservice to the game by not allowing the season to breath, as if golf would somehow resonate across all lines if the Tour embraced a less-is-more approach.

Lost in these concerns, however, is the fact that the Tour is a business, and like any business the folks in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., aren’t interested in contraction just for the sake of contraction.

As a general rule, successful corporations don’t fold successful divisions, in this case tournaments played in the fall, just for nostalgia purposes; and if sponsors like Safeway, RSM and CIMB are content with the product don’t expect the Tour to turn its back any time soon.

A break would be great, but business is business.

Goal oriented. When Justin Thomas’ historic season finally ended at the Tour Championship, he revealed his list of goals for the season, a lineup of 13 items that largely were achieved.

Missing from that list was winning the PGA Tour Player of the Year Award, which Thomas won on Wednesday following a five-win season that concluded with his claiming the FedExCup.

It took only a few moments before the inevitable question was asked – how will his goals change for next season? Thomas’ answer was an indication of why the 24-year-old has been able to achieve so much in his young career.

“That's something I'll probably spend some time talking to Mr. Nicklaus about or Tiger [Woods] or even Jordan [Spieth], those are the only people I know that have had such success in one season multiple times,” Thomas said. “They've had to deal with resetting their goals and reevaluating.”


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Tweet (or blogs) of the week: In a blog post this week Marc Leishman's wife Audrey described a scene at last week’s Presidents Cup that she correctly contended wasn’t for children.

“There were many times last week that I thought about what the kids were seeing. The crowds booing for good shots and cheering for missed putts. The drinking at 7 a.m.? Screaming ‘Big Easy’ to Ernie Els and begging for his autograph and then yelling at his players,” she wrote.

After four days at Liberty National, Cut Line can attest that there was an element to the New York crowds that didn’t exactly adhere to normal golf etiquette, but with a monsoon of respect for Audrey Leishman, what did she expect?

The Tour - and last year the PGA of America at the Ryder Cup - has made it clear these marquee events need to attract a more broad sports audience. With that additional exposure will come an element that doesn’t understand what those in golf consider appropriate behavior and will push boundaries.

It’s the price the game pays for those new fans.

Points, picks and a task force? Before we move on from last week’s Presidents Cup, the 19-11 loss the U.S. team laid on the International side at Liberty National should serve as an ultimatum for the Tour, which has been adverse to meaningful change at the biennial event.

International captain Nick Price, along with Els and Greg Norman, have been lobbying the Tour for years to reduce the total number of points to 28 to mirror that of the Ryder Cup and give the Rest of World, which is not as deep as the U.S. side, a fighting chance.

But if the circuit is looking for real change, they may take another page out of the U.S. Ryder Cup playbook and give the next International captain (Els) carte blanche to overhaul a system that is clearly broken.

Maybe it’s time for an International task force.

“Everyone who is involved in the cup going forward should get together, talk about it, what the U.S. team has done the last few years, and try and come up with something to get our guys a little more invested in it,” Adam Scott said. “It's getting to that point where we see we've got to do a bit more.”

Whatever is required to make the event more competitive, a reduction in the total number of points is a start but decision makers should also consider an overhaul of the selection process and perhaps more captain’s picks for the Internationals should be everyone’s top priority.


Missed Cut

Minimum mistakes. Following an injury-plagued season, Rory McIlroy considered skipping the FedExCup Playoffs to rest and prepare for next season.

He went on and played the postseason, failing to advance to the Tour Championship for the first time in four years and surprised many when he added last week’s British Masters to his schedule.

It seems the world No. 6 was protecting his European Tour status and his chances to play next year’s Ryder Cup in Paris.

“I want to play the Ryder Cup next year and obviously I’ve got to play my five events in Europe,” McIlroy said last week at the British Masters. “So that was a big factor in that.”

This week’s Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, where he missed the cut, will be McIlroy’s final start of the year, but there’s something inherently wrong with a system that forces a player’s hand when rest is clearly a better option.

The golf world celebrates Thanksgiving

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 6:01 pm

Here's a look, through social media, at how the golf world celebrates Thanksgiving.

Lexi Thompson:

Baking time!!

A post shared by Lexi Thompson (@lexi) on

David Feherty:

Jack Nicklaus:

GC Tiger Tracker:

Steve Stricker:

Golf Channel:

Frank Nobilo:

Ian Poulter:

Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017

By Grill Room TeamNovember 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.

Tributes pour in for legendary caddie Sheridan

By Randall MellNovember 23, 2017, 2:54 pm

Tributes are pouring in as golf celebrates the life of Greg Sheridan after receiving news of his passing.

Sheridan, a long-time LPGA caddie who worked for some of the game’s all-time greats, including Kathy Whitworth and Beth Daniel, died Wednesday in Indian Rocks Beach, Fla., at 63. He was diagnosed in July 2016 with brain and lung cancer.

Sheridan worked the last dozen years or so with Natalie Gulbis, who expressed her grief in an Instagram post on Wednesday:

“Greg…I miss you so much already and it hasn’t even been a day. 15+ seasons traveling the world you carried me & my bag through the highs and lows of golf and life. You were so much more than my teammate on the course…Thank you.”

Sheridan was on Whitworth’s bag for the last of her LPGA-record 88 titles.

“When I first came on tour, I would try to find out how many times Greg won,” Gulbis told Golfweek. “It’s a crazy number, like 50.”

Matthew Galloway, a caddie and friend to Sheridan, summed up Sheridan’s impressive reach after caddying with him one year at the LPGA Founders Cup, where the game’s pioneers are honored.

“Best Greg story,” Galloway tweeted on Thanksgiving morning, “coming up 18 at PHX all the founders were in their chairs. Greg goes, `Yep, caddied for her, her and her.’ Legend.”

In a first-person column for Golf Magazine last year, Gulbis focused on Sheridan while writing about the special bond between players and caddies. She wrote that she won the “looper lottery” when she first hired Sheridan in ’04.

“Greg and I have traveled the world, and today he is like family,” Gulbis wrote. “Sometimes, he’s a psychologist. Last year, my mom got sick and it was a distraction, but he was great. When I used to have boyfriend issues and breakup issues, he was my confidant. In a world where caddies sometimes spill secrets, Greg has kept a respectful silence, and I can’t thank him enough for that. He’s an extension of me.”

Four months after Gulbis wrote the column, Sheridan was diagnosed with cancer.

“The LPGA family is saddened to hear of the loss of long-time tour caddie, Greg Sheridan,” the LPGA tweeted. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and players he walked with down the fairways. #RIP.”

Dean Herden was among the legion of caddies saddened by the news.

“Greg was a great guy who I respected a lot and taught me some great things over the years,” Herden texted to GolfChannel.com.

Here are some of heartfelt messages that are rolling across Twitter:

Retired LPGA great Annika Sorenstam:

LPGA commissioner Mike Whan in a retweet of Gulbis:

Golf Channel reporter and former tour player Jerry Foltz:

Christina Kim:

LPGA caddie Shaun Clews:

LPGA caddie Jonny Scott:

LPGA caddie Kevin Casas:

LPGA pro Jennie Lee:

Fitzpatrick one back in 2018 Euro Tour opener

By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 1:37 pm

HONG KONG – S.S.P. Chawrasia had six birdies and a bogey Thursday for a 5-under 65 and a one-stroke lead at the Hong Kong Open, the first event of the 2018 European Tour season.

Playing in sunny but breezy conditions at the Hong Kong Golf Club, the greens had the players struggling to gauge the approach.

''Very tough conditions today,'' Chawrasia said. ''It's very firm greens, to be honest. I'm just trying to hit the second shot on the green and trying to make it like a two-putt.''


Full-field scores from the UBS Hong Kong Open


Shubhankar Sharma and Matthew Fitzpatrick (both 66) were one shot behind, while seven others were tied for fourth a further stroke behind.

''Hit it great tee to green,'' Fitzpatrick said. ''I think I had like seven or eight chances inside 15 feet, and on a day like today when it's so windy and such a tough golf course, with how tight it is, yeah, it was a good day.''

Justin Rose, who won the title in 2015, shot was 2 under with five birdies and three bogeys.

''I think the course played a couple shots harder than it typically does,'' Rose said. ''I like this course. I think it offers plenty of birdie opportunities.''

Masters champion Sergio GarciaRafa Cabrera Bello and defending champion Sam Brazel (69) were in a group of 16 at 1 under.