Cut Line: Tiger's HOF induction on hold; eyes Riv return

By Rex HoggardApril 1, 2016, 7:35 pm

Fifty becomes the new 40 for potential World Golf Hall of Famers, Tiger Woods talks of Tinsel Town return and more trouble surfaces for Australian golf in this week’s edition.

Made Cut

Good Hall call. When the World Golf Hall of Fame overhauled its selection system in 2014 the creation of a 16-person committee was the centerpiece of what was a dramatic change.

Left unchanged, however, was the minimum age for selection, which was 40 years old for both male and female candidates.

The problem with setting the bar so early is that many of today’s top players remain active and competitive well into their 40s and even 50s.

Davis Love III, who is not a member of the Hall of Fame but with 21 PGA Tour titles is a likely future inductee, won last fall at the Wyndham Championship at 51 and has shown no signs of going quietly into his golden years.

Nor is it likely that Tiger Woods, who turned 40 last December, has much interest at the moment in taking his place in the Hall.

But change continued with this week’s news that the minimum age for Hall of Fame consideration has been bumped up to 50, proving once and for all that like wine, Tour players actually do get better with age.

One more year. The Tour announced last week that commissioner Tim Finchem had been given a one-year extension to remain in charge in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., but the 68-year-old said he doesn’t plan to hang around that long.

Finchem said he still has a handful of projects he’d like to wrap up before he sails into retirement, and that deputy commissioner Jay Monahan was already handling the circuit’s day-to-day operations.

Finchem, who took over as commissioner in 1994, said he could do the job for another six years, but that it was time to allow another, younger, perspective to take over.

The reality is the policy board would have likely given Finchem another half dozen years in the big chair if he wanted to stay given his track record, but knowing when to step down is a sign of a truly astute leader.

Tweet of the week:

Cut Line normally doesn’t celebrate the arrival of newborns, but Zachariah’s birth is truly a win-win for the Englishman, who can now play the Masters after telling reporters he wouldn’t make the transatlantic trip for the year’s first major if his son hadn’t arrived this week.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

California dreaming. The Los Angeles-area Tour stop was Tiger Woods’ first start in the big leagues back in 1992 and given his ties to southern California it was not a surprise that he announced this week he will become the host of the event.

What some might find surprising is Woods’ newfound commitment to Los Angeles.

Woods has played the event 11 times, including twice as an amateur, but he hasn’t been back to Riviera since 2006 and hasn’t shown much interest in a return trip in recent years.

But Woods’ involvement in the event, which will also have a new sponsor in 2017 (Hyundai), has changed that outlook.

“It means a lot to contribute to a community that has supported me and my foundation for more than 20 years,” Woods said in a statement. “I’m committed to playing in my foundation’s events, and it will be exciting to return to Riviera.”

R&R. When Jason Day completed his final round last September at the Tour Championship it was the beginning of what amounted to a 2 1/2-month hiatus from golf.

By comparison, Jordan Spieth capped his historic season with a global tour that included stops in China, Australia, the Bahamas, Abu Dhabi and Singapore.

Spieth has played 11 events since the end of last season, a crowded dance card that many say has led to his relatively pedestrian play the last few weeks (to be fair, he did win the Tournament of Champions by eight strokes to start the year).

Although Day did participate in the Presidents Cup in October, he’s played just six stroke-play events since last year at East Lake, and has now won back-to-back Tour events including last week’s WGC-Dell Match Play and is the preemptive favorite heading into the Masters.

Players map out schedules based on all number of reasons and it’s hard to blame Spieth for wanting to see the world, but the facts speak for themselves – one player embraced rest and relaxation and is now the world No. 1. The other is Spieth.

Missed Cut

Trouble in Oz. News this week the Australian Masters has been placed in indefinite limbo was all at once curious and concerning.

The event, which dates to 1979, is owned by IMG. Officials said they are in the process of “reimagining” the tournament, and it will not be played this year.

That two of the top six players in the World Golf Ranking are Australian and the sport, at least at the highest level, has never been more popular or healthier Down Under is what’s surprising. Australians like Adam Scott have done their part to support the Aussie Masters, as well as the Open and PGA. It’s time for the organizers and sponsors to do the same.

Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo

By Grill Room TeamDecember 15, 2017, 1:05 am

Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Really good at golf. Really good at vacationing.

With #SB2K18 still months away, Thomas and Spieth headlined a vacation to Cabo San Lucas, and this will shock you but it looks like they had a great time.

Spring break veteran Smylie Kaufman joined the party, as did Thomas' roommate, Tom Lovelady, who continued his shirtless trend.

The gang played all the hits, including shoeless golf in baketball jerseys and late nights with Casamigos tequila.

Image via tom.lovelady on Instagram.

In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.

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Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys

By Rex HoggardDecember 14, 2017, 7:00 pm

After careful consideration and an exhaustive review of 2017 we present The Rexys, a wildly incomplete and arbitrary line up following one of the most eventful years in golf.

 There will be omissions – just keep your calls, concerns and even e-mails to yourself. We appreciate your patronage, but not your feedback.

It’s Not You, It’s Me Award. You know the deal: You can’t be a part of two until you’re a better one; but on this front it’s really just a desire to find a better two.

It was a tough year for caddies, and not just any caddies. In June, Phil Mickelson split with longtime bagman Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both player and caddie cited the need for “change,” but the move reverberated throughout the game.

“The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.

In the wake of the Lefty/Bones break, Rory McIlroy split with his caddie J.P Fitzgerald, and Jason Day replaced looper/swing coach Colin Swatton on his bag. It all proves yet again that there are only two kinds of caddies, those who have been fired and those who are about to be fired.

Run for the Rose Cup. Sergio Garcia got the green jacket, a lifetime exemption to the game’s most coveted member-member and a long-awaited major, but Justin Rose took home the slightly less prestigious “Rose Cup.”

Following a frenzied afternoon at Augusta National in April, Rose lost to Garcia on the first playoff hole, but he won so much more with his honesty and class.

“You're going to win majors and you're going to lose majors, but you've got to be willing to lose them,” Rose figured following the final round. “You've got to put yourself out there. You've got to hit the top of the leaderboard. There's a lot of pressure out there and if you're not willing to enjoy it, then you're not ready to win these tournaments. I loved it out there.”

Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.

Half-Empty Cup. It was the perfect setting, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and the promise of the Tristate masses descending on this fall’s Presidents Cup.

If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.

For the sixth time in the last seven matches, the U.S. team rolled to a victory of at least three points. This particular edition was even in danger of ending on Saturday afternoon thanks to a particularly dominant performance by a young American squad led by Steve Stricker.

Officials spoke of the purity of the competition and the attention the ’17 cup generated, but however you spin the 19-11 rout, this cup is half empty.

Enigma Award. The actual hardware is simply an oversized question mark and was sent directly to Tiger Woods’ South Florida compound following the most curious of seasons.

While it’s become customary in recent years to consider the uncertain path that awaits the 14-time major winner, this most recent calendar brought an entirely new collection of questions following fusion surgery on his lower back in April, his arrest for DUI on Memorial Day and, finally, a glimmer of hope born from his tie for ninth at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.

When will he play again? Can he compete against the current generation of world-beaters? Can his body withstand the rigors of a full PGA Tour schedule? Should Jim Furyk make him a captain’s pick now or wait to see if he should be driving a vice captain’s golf cart instead?

Little is certain when it comes to Woods, and the over-sized question mark goes to ... the guy in red and black.

After Further Review Chalice. In April, Lexi Thompson endured a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, the byproduct of a surreal ruling that arrived a day late via a viewer e-mail and cost the would-be winner a major championship.

The entire event was so unsavory that the USGA and R&A made not one but two alterations to the rules and created a “working group” to avoid similar snafus in the future.

That working group – it turns out the U.S. Ryder Cup team has some sort of copyright on “task force” – initially issued a decision that introduced a “reasonable judgment” and a “naked eye” standard to video reviews, and last week the rule makers kept the changes coming.

The new protocols on video review will now include an official to monitor tournament broadcasts and ended the practice of allowing fans to call in, or in this case e-mail, possible infractions to officials. The USGA and R&A also eliminated the two-stroke penalty for players who sign incorrect scorecards when the player is unaware of the penalty.

While all this might be a step in the right direction, it does nothing to change Thompson’s fate. The AFR Chalice won’t change the harsh reality, but at least it will serve as a reminder of how she helped altered the rulemaking landscape.

Nothing Runs Like a Deere Award. Nothing gets fans fired up like officials turning fields of fescue rough into hay on the eve of a major championship, and the USGA’s decision to do some 11th-hour trimming at Erin Hills in June certainly caught many by surprise.

Officials said the nip/tuck on four holes was in reaction to a particularly foreboding forecast that never materialized, and the maintenance drew the ire of some players.

“We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” Rory McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here; if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”

The record low scoring at the U.S. Open – winner Brooks Koepka finished with a 16-under total – didn’t help ease the fervor and had some questioning whether the softer side of the USGA has gone a bit too far?

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Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 5:28 pm

John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.

That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.

Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.

Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 4:22 pm

Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.

Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.

Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters

Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.

World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.

Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.