Cut Line: Tiger's tricks

By Rex HoggardFebruary 17, 2012, 7:34 pm

This week’s Cut Line is quintessential West Coast, from the celebrated (Phil Mickelson’s Clambake Slam) to the ubiquitous gridlock (slow-and-go progress to solidify future venues for the BMW Championship), the Left Coast never felt so familiar.

Made Cut

Something Lefty. News earlier this week that NFL legend Randy Moss was coming out of retirement seemed strangely apropos considering that a day earlier Phil Mickelson had emerged from his own retirement-like state at Pebble Beach.

It at least partially explains the golf world’s affinity for Lefty that he could wrest himself free of a prolonged slump at just the right moment on Sunday paired with Tiger Woods, who he lapped by 11 strokes on his way to his fourth Clambake title.

At 41 years young Mickelson, who held the lead in Los Angeles through 18 holes, may not be the marathon man he once was, but for majors and major matchups he is still one of the best who ever played the game.

A perfect 10. The more-is-more crowd may want to look away the next few days or face the reality that the architectural solution to lower scores is not more tee boxes and additional real-estate.

At 315 yards, Riviera Country Club’s 10th hole was the fifth shortest par 4 on Tour last year yet played to an over-par average (4.025). Bomb and gouge types should note that of the 190 players who attempted to drive the small, tilted putting surface just three succeeded in 2011.

“(No.) 10 is the easiest par 5 we play all year,” Steve Flesch told Cut Line, only half jokingly.

In short, sometimes shorter is better.

Anti-tweet of the week: Patrick Cantlay “I don't really like it, to be perfectly honest.  I just like doing my own thing.  I'm fine if no one knows what I'm thinking or no one knows what I'm doing on Friday afternoon at 1:57. I'm just cool with being myself and kind of doing my own thing.”

Cantlay was responding to a question about why he doesn’t use any type of social media. We’d give the amateur a “hashtag high-five (#Hi5)” for his honesty but . . . well, just forget it.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Belly up. If Cut Line is reading the smoke signals correctly, longer than standard length putters are headed the way of the Dodo bird as early as next year if the alarmists are to be believed.

The U.S. Golf Association and Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews are tasked with maintaining the integrity of the game, hardly an easy gig, but this move seems a tad reactionary.

“My thought is they've picked the wrong thing to fight against and they've done it about 15 years too late,” Tom Lehman told Golfweek magazine. “To make an issue about this when they should have made an issue about the balls or clubs 15, 20 years ago is ridiculous.”

Cut Line blames all of this on Jason Dufner. Had he closed the deal last year at Atlanta Athletic Club, and beaten long-putter wielding Keegan Bradley, should we be preparing eulogies for the long putter?

The BMW’s wild ride. Tour types have been busy trying to rework a deal with the city of San Francisco that would bring the BMW Championship, the penultimate playoff event, to Harding Park in 2013 or ’14.

Chicago’s Conway Farms will host the 2013 BMW according to various reports and Colorado’s Cherry Hills is scheduled to be the venue for the 2014 edition.

A revised agreement would bring another marquee event to San Francisco in 2017, ’18 or ’19, with the likely candidate being the 2017 Presidents Cup, an event Harding Park hosted in 2009.

“We are in the process of finalizing an amendment that would move a Tour playoff event to 2016 but also add two (Champions Tour) Schwab Cups,” Phil Ginsburg, San Francisco’s Recreation and Park general manager, told the San Francisco Chronicle.

Sounds like Ginsburg & Co. should be holding out for a better offer: we’ll take two Schwab Cups, a Presidents Cup, a playoff event to be named later and a year’s supply of Ghirardelli chocolate.

Missed Cut

Hoping for the best. On paper the new Tournament of Hope has all the markings of a can’t-miss stop:  a solid mission (HIV/AIDS awareness), world ranking points and a South African home that would surely draw that nation’s top players.

The small print, however, leaves one less than enthusiastic about the tournament’s chances, starting with the news that the event would not be afforded World Golf Championships status, which was originally announced last April by the Sunshine Tour.

Nor will the TOH have a $10 million purse, which was also previously announced, and although it will count as an official event on the European and Sunshine tours it will not on the PGA Tour.

The event would also create even more scheduling concerns. The 2013 Tournament of Hope would be played the same week of Tiger Woods’ World Challenge outside Los Angeles, an unofficial tournament that also receives Official World Golf Ranking points.

The PGA Tour already has one lightly regarded, faux WGC on the schedule (HSBC Champions), do we really need another?

Loose lips . . . Tiger Woods blasted former swing coach Hank Haney earlier this year when it was announced he would be writing a book about his years with the game’s most-dominant player, calling Haney’s decision to write the book “unprofessional'.

Following last Sunday’s head-to-head loss to Mickelson, long considered Woods’ primary rival, he should have a bigger issue with Butch Harmon, who was Woods’ swing coach when he turned professional.

“I explained to (Mickelson) some things to be aware of when playing with Tiger,” Harmon said. “If Tiger putts out first the gallery is going to start moving ahead, so if you have a chance to putt out first it’s in your best interest to do so. If it’s close on the back nine, Tiger will sometimes hit 3-wood on purpose to make you wait. Tiger’s not doing anything illegal; it’s just a little bit of gamesmanship.”

Mickelson, who began working with Harmon in April 2007, has outplayed Woods eight times and tied him once in the duo’s last dozen head-to-head pairings.

Haney’s book may be “unprofessional,” but for Woods, Harmon’s storytelling may just seem uncool.

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Fleetwood rallies to defend Abu Dhabi title

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 pm

The 2018 European Tour season has begun just as the 2017 one ended: with Tommy Fleetwood's name atop the standings.

Facing the most difficult conditions of the week, Fleetwood charged down the stretch to shoot a 7-under 65 in the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, good enough for a two-shot win and a successful title defense.

Abu Dhabi was the start of Fleetwood's resurgence a year ago, the first of two European Tour victories en route to the season-long Race to Dubai title. This time around the Englishman started the final round two shots off the lead but rallied with six birdies over his final nine holes to reclaim the trophy.

Fleetwood was five shots behind countryman Ross Fisher when he made the turn, but he birdied the par-5 10th and then added four birdies in a five-hole stretch from Nos. 12-16. The decisive shot came on the final hole, when his pitch from the left rough nestled within a few feet of the hole for a closing birdie.

Fleetwood's 22-under total left him two shots ahead of Fisher and four shots clear of Rory McIlroy and Matthew Fitzpatrick. After entering the week ranked No. 18, Fleetwood is expected to move to at least No. 12 in the world when the new rankings are published.

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Garcia cruises to five-shot win in Singapore

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:10 pm

SINGAPORE - Sergio Garcia played 27 holes on the last day without dropping a shot to win the Singapore Open by five strokes Sunday in an ominous display of his newfound self-belief as he prepares to defend his Masters title.

Still brimming with confidence after claiming his first major title at Augusta National last year, Garcia started his new season with a runaway victory at the Sentosa Golf Club, finishing at 14-under 270.

Returning to the course just after dawn to complete his third round after play was suspended on Saturday because of lightning strikes, Garcia finished his last nine holes in 4 under for a round of 66 to take a one-shot lead into the final round.

With organizers desperate to avert the constant threat of more bad weather and finish the tournament on time, Garcia promptly returned to the first tee shortly after and fired a flawless 3-under 68, cruising to victory with 10 straight pars as his rivals floundered in the stifling humidity.

''It may have looked easy, but it wasn't easy. You still have to hit a lot of good shots out there,'' Garcia said. ''It's always great to start with a win, to do it here at this golf course against a good field in Asia on conditions that weren't easy. Hopefully I can ride on this momentum.''

Garcia's closest rivals at the end were Japan's Satoshi Kodaira (71) and South African Shaun Norris (70). Both birdied the last hole to share second spot but neither was ever close enough on the last day to challenge the leader.

Full-field scores from the Singapore Open

''I could not reach Sergio. I was thinking, 12 or 13 under for the win, but he went beyond that,'' Kodaira said.

Jazz Janewattananond (71) and his fellow Thai Danthai Bonnma (73) finished equal fourth at 8 under, earning themselves a spot in this year's British Open, while American Sean Crocker, who was given an invitation to the event after turning pro late last year, also won a place at Carnoustie by finishing in a tie for sixth.

Garcia made just three bogeys in 72 holes and his victory provided the 38-year-old with the 33rd title of his professional career and his sixth on the Asian Tour.

He has also won three titles in the last 12 months, including the Masters, and his game looks to be in better shape now than it was a year ago.

He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for Augusta National because of the steamy conditions and the testing stop-start nature of the tournament, which is regularly stopped because of inclement weather.

Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore a year ago, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

"I'm extremely happy with how the week went. It was a tough day and a tough week, with the stopping and going. Fortunately, the weather held on. Still, it was hard to play 27 holes under this heat and I can't wait to get a cold shower,'' Garcia said. ''I came with some good confidence and wishing that I will play well. I hit the ball solid the whole week and didn't miss many shots.''

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Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 3:21 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.

Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.

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Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

“I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

“The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.