Cut Line: Tiger out of the woods yet?

By Rex HoggardJuly 3, 2015, 7:22 pm

In honor of this weekend’s Fourth of July festivities we present a red, white and blue edition of Cut Line, from Donald Trump’s explosive comments on the campaign trail to golf’s fizzling response.

Made Cut

Out of the Woods. It’s easy to overstate this. Just as easy, in fact, as it was to put too much stock in Tiger Woods’ opening-round 80 at the U.S. Open or that third-round 85 at the Memorial.

The truth is Woods’ opening 66 on Thursday at the Greenbrier Classic will mean little if he doesn’t build on that momentum, but considering the competitive depths he has plunged to in recent weeks it would explain his optimism.

“I made a little bit of progress since last time I played,” Woods said on Wednesday. “Obviously not really saying much, but I'm looking forward to [Thursday]. Really looking forward to competing again and getting out here and playing.”

It’s become dangerously easy to stake Woods’ fortunes to a single round in recent years, but in golf that is short sighted and overly simplistic. But in this case, fans should be optimistic because Tiger is inspired to play, and after the road he’s been down in recent months that’s progress.

Unqualified success. After years of confusion and indifference, the Royal & Ancient seems to have conjured up a qualifying process for the Open Championship that is both understandable and entertaining.

In its second year, the qualifying series began last week at the Travelers Championship with four players – Brian Harman, Graham DeLaet, Carl Pettersson and Luke Donald – earning invitations in two weeks to St. Andrews via their finishes at TPC River Highlands.

Top finishers this week at the Greenbrier Classic – the top 4 players who finish among the top 12 on Sunday who are currently not eligible – and next week at the John Deere Classic. It’s a similar scenario on the European Tour.

Compared to the old International Final Qualifiers, 36-hole events held weeks before the Open at an awkward time in the schedule, the new system strikes a solid balance between competitive integrity and the realities of a global game.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Empty words. Or maybe hollow promises would be a more accurate assessment of how golf’s major players handled Donald Trump’s insensitive remarks this week.

“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re sending people that have lots of problems,” Trump said in his presidential campaign kickoff. “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

After a few days of awkward silence, the PGA Tour, PGA of America, USGA and LPGA issued a joint statement: “While the LPGA, PGA of America, PGA Tour and USGA do not usually comment on Presidential politics, Mr. Trump's comments are inconsistent with our strong commitment to an inclusive and welcoming environment in the game of golf.”

Missing from that statement, however, was any mention of possible sanctions or repercussions for Trump’s comments. No acknowledgement that all four organizations hold championships on Trump’s various golf courses and no suggestion whatsoever that they were considering distancing themselves from the candidate.

Just words. Empty words.

Empty words II. Phil Mickelson has not been charged with a crime nor is he under investigation, according to an ESPN "Outside the Lines" report this week.

But the report did tie Mickelson to Greg Silveira, a former sports gambling handicapper who has pleaded guilty to three counts of money laundering. The money was from a “gambling client,” who according to two unnamed sources in the OTL story is Mickelson.

Last year, Mickelson was tied to iconic sports gambler and entrepreneur Billy Walters in a federal investigation into insider trading, an investigation Lefty has been at least partially cleared.

Yet while Mickelson doesn’t appear to have broken any laws, he may have run afoul of the PGA Tour player handbook.

The code of conduct section of the handbook forbids a player to, “associate with or have dealings with persons whose activities, including gambling, might reflect adversely upon the integrity of the game of golf.”

According to the handbook, a player found in violation of this section “shall be subject to a suspension from tournament play for a minimum period of two seasons.”

While federal officials don’t have any interest in Mickelson, the Tour may want to review it’s own handbook.

Tweet of the week:

Give the 2013-14 Rookie of the Year credit for coming clean, but there is something to be said for discretion being the better part of valor.

Missed Cut

Background noise. Remember when Jordan Spieth won the Masters and turned around three days later and teed it up at the RBC Heritage?

Remember young Jordan was lauded as a refreshing change from the insular Tour player norm for his decision to fulfill his commitment despite the whirlwind that accompanies a first major?

It is interesting that some of those same folks from the gallery who applauded Spieth for his decision to play Harbour Town are now roasting the 21-year-old’s decision to play next week’s John Deere Classic with the single-season Grand Slam on the line at St. Andrews.

Spieth became the sixth player to win the first two legs of the single-season Grand Slam by playing a schedule he felt was right for him, changing that schedule now to acknowledge the gravity of the moment, or worse to appease critics, would not only be foolish, but it simply wouldn’t be Jordan.

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After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard

On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

He picked up one more No. 2, too.

The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

“It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

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Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

“I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.

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Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.

Best of the rest: A two-time winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.

Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.

Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:

Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry