Cut Line: Tiger is the new Mr. October

By Rex HoggardOctober 7, 2011, 10:37 pm

No one has ever accused Tiger Woods of being golf’s Mr. October – truth is just six of his 71 PGA Tour tilts were collected in October – but the game’s most polarizing figure delivered on many levels with his first Fall Series appearance this week.

Although rounds of 73-68 were probably not what Woods, or Presidents Cup captain Fred Couples, had in mind, his presence at CordeValle dramatically elevated an event that was little more than an afterthought on the Tour lineup and his persistence, if not his play, gave those pining for a comeback a reason to be optimistic.

Made Cut

Tiger Woods. No one dominates the news cycle like red shirt, and you have to give Woods credit for changing the conversation, although not entirely for the better.

The media masses are no longer fixated on his divorce or shattered endorsement portfolio. The current talking points are about birdies and bogeys, although there are far too many of the latter and not near enough of the former. His second-round 68 featured more putts (29) and fewer fairways hit (six) than his opening effort.

But whatever Woods’ motivations for playing the Frys.com Open, his fall cameo suggests he’s more interested in competitive progress than the historical significance of a particular event. And after the last two years, that’s progress.

John Fry. In a refreshing twist to the old tale of sponsors complaining about weak fields and the PGA Tour sidestepping the elephant on the tee sheet with fast talk and slick video pleas from the commissioner, the patriarch of the northern California stop has a plan to make his Frys.com Open special and all it will take from the Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., brass is an open mind.

Although Fry is famously reluctant to speak with the media, sources familiar with the proceedings have suggested that his plan is to move the event to the ultra-exclusive Institute golf course in 2013 and have the tournament serve as the start of a new season, instead of the anticlimactic end to the current calendar.

Imagine how much better fields will be in the fall if players could get an early jump on the FedEx Cup points list, to say nothing of a possible Masters invitation with a victory?

Tour officials often lament the limited space on the current golf calendar, so Fry offered a solution – create your own calendar.

Tweet of the week I: @JasonGore59 “Three Apples that changed the world: the one that Eve ate, the one that fell on Newton’s head and the one that Steve (Jobs) built. God speed Steve Jobs.”

Just out of curiosity we searched the iTunes “app store” for golf-related apps and got tired of counting somewhere around 500. Jobs didn’t play golf, he just made the game easier for the rest of us.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Crowds. Rounding up the world’s top players for some serious face time is always a noble pursuit – it was, after all, the impetus behind the FedEx Cup playoffs – but a new event in Asia promises to add to an already crowded year-ending calendar.

The Shanghai Masters, known to most players as the Lake Malaren event after the exclusive club that is scheduled to host the tournament through 2015, will be played Oct. 27-30 with a 30-player field. According to various sources, the field will consist of eight Chinese players and 22 “world players,” including the likes of Retief Goosen and Paul Casey.

The IMG-run event will be played the same week as the CIMB Asia Pacific Classic in Malaysia, a limited-field, co-sanctioned PGA Tour tournament. Because the event is co-sanctioned and not televised in the United States, Tour players are not required to request a competing-event release, a reality that will likely hurt the field in Malaysia.

Economics will also take a toll on the field in Malaysia. Last year Ben Crane won $1 million at the CIMB event. The winner of this year’s Lake Malaren stop will net $2 million for his troubles. Good news for the soon-to-be millionaire, not so good for the folks in Malaysia.

Rolex. The watchmaker pulled Woods back into the fold last week with a deal that is reported to be in excess of five years, becoming the first major post-November 2009 endorsement for the former Teflon kid.

Woods’ manager Mark Steinberg with Excel Sports Management said of the deal, “This makes a big statement. I think this shows me where people are with Tiger Woods.”

Cut Line sees where this is heading. Watchmaker Tag Heuer drops Woods in the wake of his November 2009 crash and he signs on with Rolex. What’s next? Trade in his former Gatorade deal for a “Mike’s Hard Lemonade” endorsement? Out with AT&T, in with Verizon and the ultimate marketing campaign, “Can you hear me now?”

Tweet of the week II: @Andres_Gonzales “@TigerWoods putting contest on the putting green . . . NOW!”

Talk about kicking a guy when he’s down.

Missed Cut

Belen Mozo. No one has ever accused Cut Line of being a prude and ESPN: The Magazine’s “Body Issue” is always a must-read . . . or, whatever, but news that the LPGA rookie will be featured in this year’s edition seemed a bit contrived.

Mozo is a fine player but shouldn’t the criteria for entry into the “Body Issue” be based on performance as well as attractiveness and body type?

In 13 events on the LPGA this year the Spaniard’s best finish is a tie for fifth and she missed the cut in seven of her first nine events. Maybe Cut Line is getting old, but we prefer a dollop of substance mixed in with our style.

Fred Couples. How’s that pick looking? Of course, that’s if Couples even noticed Woods’ play in California between updates on Steve Stricker’s ailing neck.

The danger of picking Woods, and strong-arming him into playing a Fall Series event, was the possibility that the captain’s choice would not deliver at CordeValle, which would bring more questions than answers for Captain America.

Last week Couples said of the pick, “I'm just thrilled that Tiger is healthy and ready to play and wants to be on the team.” Left unsaid, but implied, was the captain’s confidence that his man would find his form, but his sluggish start at the Frys.com Open was a clear sign Woods’ action is still a work in progress.

Woods’ mind and body are willing. Unfortunately for Couples, his game has not been as accommodating.

South Korean LPGA stars lead KLPGA team

By Randall MellNovember 24, 2017, 10:32 pm

South Korea’s LPGA team of all-stars took the early lead Friday on the Korean LPGA Tour in a team event featuring twice as much star power as this year’s Solheim Cup did.

Eight of the world’s top 20 players are teeing it up in the ING Life Champions Trophy/ Inbee Park Invitational in Gyeongju. There were only four players among the top 20 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings when the United States defeated Europe in Des Moines, Iowa.

Park led the LPGA team to a 3 ½-to-2 ½ lead on the first day.

Park, who has been recuperating from a back injury for most of the second half of this season, teamed with Jeongeun Lee5 to defeat Hye Jin Choi and Ji Hyun Kim, 5 and 4, in the lead-off four-ball match.

So Yeon Ryu and Park, former world No. 1s and LPGA Rolex Player of the Year Award winners, will be the marquee pairing on Saturday. They will lead off foursomes against Ji Young Kim and Min Sun Kim.

Nine of the 11 South Koreans who won LPGA events this year are competing. Sung Hyun Park and I.K. Kim are the only two who aren’t.

The fourball results:

LPGA’s Inbee Park/ Jeongeun Lee5 def. Hye Jin Choi/Ji Hyun Kim, 5 and 4.

LPGA’s Mirim Lee/Amy Yang def.  Ji Hyun Oh/Min Sun Kim, 3 and 1.

LPGA’s M.J. Hur/Mi Hyang Lee halved Ji Hyun Kim/Ji Young Kim.

KLPGA’s Ha Na Jang/Sun Woo Bae def. Sei Young Kim/Hyo Joo Kim, 5 and 4.

LPGA’s Na Yeon Choi/Jenny Shin halved Jin Young Ko/Da Yeon Lee

LPGA’s In Gee Chun/Eun Hee Ji halved Jeongeun Lee6/Char Young Kim.

NOTE: The KPGA uses numerals after a player’s name to distinguish players with the exact same name.

 

Cut Line: Lyle faces third bout with cancer

By Rex HoggardNovember 24, 2017, 5:40 pm

In this week’s holiday edition, Cut Line is thankful for the PGA Tour’s continued progress on many fronts and the anticipation that only a Tiger Woods return can generate.

Made Cut

The Fighter. That was the headline of a story Cut Line wrote about Jarrod Lyle following his second bout with cancer a few years ago, so it’s both sad and surreal to see the affable Australian now bracing for a third fight with leukemia.

Lyle is working as an analyst for Channel 7’s coverage of this week’s Emirates Australian Open prior to undergoing another stem cell transplant in December.

“I’ve got a big month coming,” Lyle said. “I’m back into hospital for some really heavy-duty treatment that’s really going to determine how things pan out for me.”

Twice before things have panned out for Lyle. Let’s hope karma has one more fight remaining.

Changing times. Last season the PGA Tour introduced a policy to add to the strength of fields, a measure that had long eluded officials and by most accounts was a success.

This season the circuit has chosen to tackle another long-standing thorn, ridiculously long pro-am rounds. While there seems little the Tour can do to speed up play during pro-am rounds, a new plan called a 9&9 format will at least liven things up for everyone involved.

Essentially, a tournament hosting a pro-am with four amateurs can request the new format, where one professional plays the first nine holes and is replaced by another pro for the second nine.

Professionals will have the option to request 18-hole pro-am rounds, giving players who limit practice rounds to just pro-am days a chance to prepare, but otherwise it allows Tour types to shorten what is an admittedly long day while the amateurs get a chance to meet and play with two pros.

The new measure does nothing about pace of play, but it does freshen up a format that at times can seem tired, and that’s progress.

Tweet of the week: @Love3d (Davis Love III‏) “Thanks to Dr. Flanagan (Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center) for the new hip and great care! Can’t wait to get back to (the PGA Tour).”

Love offered the particularly graphic tweet following hip replacement surgery on Tuesday, a procedure that he admitted he’d delayed because he was “chicken.”

The surgery went well and Love is on pace to return to the Tour sometime next spring. As for the possibility of over-sharing on social media, we’ll leave that to the crowd.


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Distance control. The Wall Street Journal provided the octagon for the opening blows of a clash that has been looming for a long time.

First, USGA executive director Mike Davis told The Journal that the answer to continued distance gains may be a restricted-flight golf ball with an a la carte rule that would allow different organizations, from the Tour all the way down to private clubs, deciding which ball to use.

“You can’t say you don’t care about distance, because guess what? These courses are expanding and are predicted to continue to expand,” Davis said. “The impact it has had has been horrible.”

A day later, Wally Uihlein, CEO of Acushnet, which includes the Titleist brand, fired back in a letter to The Journal, questioning among other things how distance gains are putting a financial burden on courses.

“The only people that seem to be grappling with advances in technology and physical fitness are the short-sighted golf course developers and the supporting golf course architectural community who built too many golf courses where the notion of a 'championship golf course' was brought on line primarily to sell real estate,” Uihlein wrote.

For anyone paying attention the last few years, this day was inevitable and the likely start of what will be a drawn out and heated process, but Cut Line’s just not sure anyone wins when it’s over.

Tiger, take II. Tiger Woods’ return to competition next week at the Hero World Challenge was always going to generate plenty of speculation, but that hyperbole reached entirely new levels this week as players began giving personal accounts of the new and improved 14-time major champion.

“I did talk to him, and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years,’” Day said as he prepared for the Australian Open. “If he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.”

Rickie Fowler added to the frenzy when he was asked this month if the rumors that Woods is driving the ball by him, by 20 to 30 yards by some reports, are true?

“Oh, yeah,” he told Golf.com. “Way by.”

Add to all this a recent line that surfaced in Las Vegas that Woods is now listed at 20-1 to win a major in 2018, and it seems now may be a good time for a restraint.

Golf is better with Woods, always has been and always will be, but it may be best to allow Tiger time to find out where his body and game are before we declare him back.


Missed Cut

Searching for answers. Twelve months ago, Hideki Matsuyama was virtually unstoppable and, regardless of what the Official World Golf Ranking said, arguably the best player on the planet.

Now a year removed from that lofty position, which featured the Japanese star finishing either first or second in six of his seven starts as the New Year came and went, Matsuyama has faded back to fifth in the world and on Sunday finished fifth, some 10 strokes behind winner Brooks Koepka, at the Dunlop Phoenix.

“That hurt,” Matsuyama told the Japan Times. “I don’t know whether it’s a lack of practice or whether I lack the strength to keep playing well. It seems there are many issues to address.”

Since his last victory at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, Matsuyama has just two top-10 finishes on Tour and he ended his 2016-17 season with a particularly poor performance at the Presidents Cup.

While Matsuyama’s take seems extreme considering his season, there are certainly answers that need answering.

Trump playing 'quickly' with Tiger, DJ

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 24, 2017, 1:33 pm

Updated at 11:14 a.m. ET

An Instagram user known as hwalks posted photos to her account that included images of Tiger Woods, President Trump and Dustin Johnson Friday at Trump National, as well as video of Woods' swing.


Here are some other social media posts that have surfaced:


Original story:

Tiger Woods is scheduled to make his return to competition next week at his Hero World Challenge. But first, a (quick) round with the President.

President Donald Trump tweeted on Friday that he was going to play at Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Fla., alongside Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.



Woods and President Trump previously played last December. Trump, who, according to trumpgolfcount.com has played 75 rounds since taking over the presidency, has also played over the last year with Rory McIlroy, Ernie Els and Hideki Matsuyama.

Chawrasia leads major champs in Hong Kong

By Associated PressNovember 24, 2017, 1:19 pm

HONG KONG – S.S.P. Chawrasia extended his lead at the Hong Kong Open to two strokes Friday after a 4-under 66 in the second round.

Chawrasia, who had led by one at the Hong Kong Golf Club, is at 9-under 131 overall and took as much as a five-stroke lead at one point.

''Yesterday I was putting very well, and today, also I make some up and downs. I saved a couple of short putts. That's why I think I'm leading by two shots most probably,'' the Indian said. ''The next two days, I'm just looking forward.''


Full-field scores from the UBS Hong Kong Open


Thomas Aiken (64) is second, followed by Alexander Bjork (66), Joakim Lagergren (66), Poom Saksansin (68) and Julian Suri (67) at 5 under 135.

Aiken's round was the lowest of the tournament.

''It is tough out there. The greens are really firm. You've got to hit the fairway,'' Aiken said. ''If you get above the holes, putts can get away from you.''

Justin Rose (69) had six birdies, but three bogeys and a double-bogey at the par 3 12th kept him at 3 under for the tournament.

Masters champion Sergio Garcia (71), playing for the first time in Hong Kong, was at even par, as was defending champion Sam Brazel (71) and 2014 champion Scott Hend (67).

''I have to play better,'' Garcia said. ''The way I felt like I played, it's difficult. This kind of course, you need to play well to shoot a good score.''