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.

Getty Images

Snedeker starts slow in effort to snag Masters invite

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.

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.

Nathaniel Crosby at the 1983 Bing Crosby Pro-Am at Pebble Beach. Getty Images

Crosby selected as 2019 U.S. Walker Cup captain

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 3:19 pm

The USGA announced that former U.S. Amateur champ Nathaniel Crosby will serve as the American captain for the 2019 Walker Cup, which will be played at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England.

Crosby, 56, is the son of entertainment icon and golf enthusiast Bing Crosby. He won the 1981 U.S. Amateur at The Olympic Club as a teenager and earned low amateur honors at the 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He also played in the 1983 Walker Cup, coincidentally held at Royal Liverpool, before embarking on a brief career in professional golf, with his amateur status reinstated in 1994.

"I am thrilled and overwhelmed to be chosen captain of the next USA Walker Cup team," Crosby said in a statement. "Many of my closest friends are former captains who will hopefully take the time to share their approaches in an effort to help me with my new responsibilities."

Crosby takes over the captaincy from John "Spider" Miller, who led the U.S. squad both in 2015 and earlier this year, when the Americans cruised to a 19-7 victory at Los Angeles Country Club.

Crosby is a Florida resident and member at Seminole Golf Club, which will host the 2021 matches. While it remains to be seen if he'll be asked back as captain in 2021, each of the last six American captains have led a team on both home and foreign soil.

Started in 1922, the Walker Cup is a 10-man, amateur match play competition pitting the U.S. against Great Britain and Ireland. The U.S. team holds a 37-9 all-time lead in the biennial matches but has not won in Europe since 2007.

Rose (62) sets blistering pace in Indonesia

By Associated PressDecember 14, 2017, 3:06 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia – Justin Rose shot a 10-under 62 Thursday to take a two-stroke lead after the first round of the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, starting on the back nine at Royale Jakarta Golf Club, had five birdies to go out in 31, then birdied four of five holes midway through his final nine and another birdie on his last hole in the $750,000 tournament.

Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters

Gunn Charoenkul (64) was in second place and Kim Giwhan and Phachara Khongwatmai (both 65) were tied for third.

Brandt Snedeker shot 72. Ranked 51st in the world, the American is aiming for a strong finish in Jakarta to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

Getty Images

LaCava: Woods wouldn't talk after H.O.R.S.E. match

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 2:27 pm

The competitive streak within Tiger Woods knows no bounds - even on the basketball court, according to caddie Joe LaCava.

LaCava has been on Woods' bag since 2011, and he recently shared a story on "Inside the Ropes" on Sirius/XM PGA Tour Radio about a clash between the two men over a seemingly friendly game of H.O.R.S.E. Actually, it turned into nine straight games (and nine straight wins) for LaCava, who exploited a weakness in Woods' on-court strategy while leaning on a mid-length jumper of his own:

"The thing with him was if I missed a shot, which I missed plenty of shots, but if I missed the shot he'd go back down to the 3 (point line) because he liked to make the 3," LaCava said. "But it's harder obviously to make a 3, and I'd go right back to the baseline 12-footer, and he couldn't make it."

It's a short list of people who have beaten Woods nine times in any athletic pursuit, let alone in a row. But for LaCava, the fallout from his afternoon of on-court dominance was less than subtle.

"He did not talk to me the rest of the day," LaCava explained. "I didn't even get the old text, 'Dinner is ready,' because I stay across at the beach house. I didn't even get that text that night. I had to get take-out. He didn't announce he wasn't (talking), he just did it. I'm telling you, nine games in a row. Like I said, he's so competitive, even at something like that."