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.

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Stock Watch: Strange grumpy; Tiger Time again?

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 1:00 pm

Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.

RISING

Jon Rahm (+9%): This should put his whirlwind 17 months in the proper context: Rahm (38) has earned four worldwide titles in 25 fewer starts – or a full season quicker – than Jordan Spieth (63). This kid is special.

Tommy Fleetwood (+7%): Putting on a stripe show in windy conditions, the Englishman defended his title in Abu Dhabi (thanks to a back-nine 30) and capped a 52-week period in which he won three times, contended in majors and WGCs, and soared inside the top 15 in the world.

Sergio (+3%): Some wholesale equipment changes require months of adjustments. In Garcia’s case, it didn’t even take one start, as the new Callaway staffer dusted the field by five shots in Singapore.

Rory (+2%): Sure, it was a deflating Sunday finish, as he shot his worst round of the week and got whipped by Fleetwood, but big picture he looked refreshed and built some momentum for the rest of his pre-Masters slate. That’s progress.

Ken Duke (+1%): Looking ahead to the senior circuit, Duke, 48, still needs a place to play for the next few years. Hopefully a few sponsors saw what happened in Palm Springs, because his decision to sub in for an injured Corey Pavin for the second and third rounds – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard – was as selfless as it gets.


FALLING

Austin Cook (-1%): The 54-hole leader in the desert, he closed with 75 – the worst score of anyone inside the top 40. Oy.

Phil (-2%): All of that pre-tournament optimism was tempered by the reality of his first missed cut to start the new year since 2009. Now ranked 45th in the world, his position inside the top 50 – a spot he’s occupied every week since November 1993 – is now in jeopardy.

Careful What You Wish For (-3%): Today’s young players might (foolishly) wish they could have faced Woods in his prime, but they’ll at least get a sense this week of the spectacle he creates. Playing his first Tour event in a year, and following an encouraging warmup in the Bahamas, his mere presence at Torrey is sure to leave everyone else to grind in obscurity.

Curtis Strange (-5%): The two-time U.S. Open champ took exception with the chummy nature of the CareerBuilder playoff, with Rahm and Andrew Landry chatting between shots. “Are you kidding me?” Strange tweeted. “Talking at all?” The quality of golf was superb, so clearly they didn’t need to give each other the silent treatment to summon their best.

Brooks Koepka (-8%): A bummer, the 27-year-old heading to the DL just as he was starting to come into his own. The partially torn tendon in his left wrist is expected to knock him out of action until the Masters, but who knows how long it’ll take him to return to game shape.

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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.