Cut Line: 'Tis the season

By Rex HoggardDecember 3, 2011, 12:29 am

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – There is no cut at Tiger Woods’ 18-man member-member at Sherwood Country Club or the PGA Tour Qualifying School Tournament, although there will be those wishing there were after a few more days in the Coachella Valley, but Cut Line carries on.

Besides, if this segment of the schedule is supposed to be the game’s silly season, why does it feel so serious?

Made Cut

Tiger Woods. It seems rumors of his demise have been greatly exaggerated, at least that’s the vibe within “Team Tiger” and beyond. In order, Woods finished third at the Australian Open, secured the winning point for the American side at the Presidents Cup and signed a new bag deal.

A win this week at his Chevron World Challenge, where he is leading by three strokes through two windy rounds, would make the off-season taste a little better but either way the progress he’s talked about on the practice tee in south Florida is starting to manifest itself when it counts.

“I know I’m playing better and it’s nice to see my position on the leaderboard equate to it,” Woods said on Friday.

Comebacks are curious things, and rarely do they go to script, but it’s impossible to ignore “red shirt’s” momentum.

Q-School. No, not that institution that is akin to professional dental surgery, but the eclectic collection of players who have braved heavy winds and even weightier pressure this week in the California desert.

Ty Tryon, Sam Saunders and Doug Barron may not earn their Tour cards this week, but they’ve proven why the Fall Classic is the best in reality TV.

Sweeping changes have been proposed for the current Nationwide Tour/Q-School model that will, essentially, water down the current version of the Fall Classic. Maybe these alterations are for the best, but the Darwinistic simplicity and drama of Q-School will be missed.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Rory McIlroy. Tough to criticize the Ulsterman for his decision to play next year’s Irish Open instead of the AT&T National, which will be played at Congressional, but the entire affair has the feel of a missed opportunity.

After McIlroy lapped the field at Congressional in June at the U.S. Open, an encore would have added an entirely new level of interest to the AT&T, but his attendance in Ireland will be, as one newspaper explained, “a mega-boon.”

In truth, this isn’t a Rory problem so much as it is a scheduling problem. When personal loyalties are pitted against professional advancement no one wins.

World Cup. Ever since the event lost its World Golf Championship affiliation in 2007, the World Cup has been dying a slow death. News that the event’s sponsor was not pleased with the product only accelerated that truth.

Omega president Stephen Urquhart vented publicly following last week’s event, which featured the first American victory in 11 years, saying, “China is too immature a market to put the World Cup where it should be. It's too early for China to support by itself a tournament on this scale.”

There is a seemingly obvious fix for the current cup concerns, however. Following the International side’s defeat at last month’s Presidents Cup, some suggested the “Rest of the World” players could benefit from playing another team event during even years.

During Ryder Cup years, the World Cup could pit the top 12 players from the southern hemisphere against those from the northern hemisphere who were not from the United States or Europe.

It’s a dramatic change to the current format, but so is extinction.

Missed Cut

The death of ball-striking. Professional golf is a putting contest, has been since long before driver heads and golf balls were put on HGH, or whatever it is they do to make traditional courses obsolete, but as Cut Line scrolled through the season-ending statistics, one line jarringly proved that point.

Just once in the last four seasons has the man who has won the ball-striking category – a combination of driving accuracy, length and greens in regulation –  kept his Tour card

Boo Weekley led this year’s ball-striking field and finished 180th in earnings. Charles Warren was last year’s front-runner and was 149th on the money list. Ditto for 2008 leader Joe Durant (129th in cash). Jonathan Byrd in 2009 is the lone exception and he was a pedestrian 67th in earnings.

Ben Hogan once reasoned that too much importance was given to putting. Maybe the “Hawk” was onto something.

Robert Allenby. He was a flyer pick for International captain Greg Norman, spent the week before the matches complaining about the greens at the Australian Open and was the only player at Royal Melbourne to get blanked (0-4-0). So it only makes sense that the Australian would do some soul searching and blame anyone who was within a sand wedge of his locker for his performance.

The issue escalated into a heated exchange with Geoff Ogilvy – who Allenby teamed with in Saturday foursomes at Royal Melbourne and is one of the game’s most endearing and respectful players – at the Australian PGA.

Two years ago at Harding Park Allenby accused Anthony Kim of carousing late into the night before his Sunday singles match, which he soundly lost to Kim, 5 and 3.

We suggest Allenby find a 2-for-1 special on perspective, and a mirror while he’s at it.

Tweet of the week: @geoffogilvy “Warms the heart to see Robert (Allenby) playing so well this week (at the Australian PGA).”

Battling mono, Kaufman tied for lead at CME

By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 2:05 am

NAPLES, Fla. – Kim Kaufman’s bout with mononucleosis might leave fellow tour pros wanting to catch the fever, too.

A couple months after Anna Nordqvist battled her way into contention at the Women’s British Open playing with mono, and then thrived at the Solheim Cup with it, Kaufman is following suit.

In her first start since being diagnosed, Kaufman posted an 8-under-par 64 Saturday to move into a four-way tie for the lead at the CME Group Tour Championship. It was the low round of the day. She’s bidding to win her first LPGA title.

“I’ve been resting at home for two weeks,” Kaufman said. “Didn’t do anything.”

Well, she did slip on a flight of stairs while recuperating, hurting her left wrist. She had it wrapped Saturday but said that’s mostly precautionary. It didn’t bother her during the round.

CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship

“I’m the only person who can take two weeks off and get injured,” Kaufman joked.

Kaufman, 26, left the Asian swing after playing the Sime Darby Malaysia, returning to her home in South Dakota, to see her doctor there. She is from Clark. She was told bed rest was the best thing for her, but she felt good enough to make the trip to Florida for the season-ending event.

“We had some really cold days,” Kaufman said. “We had some snow. I was done with it. I was coming down here.”

How does she feel?

“I feel great,” she said. “I’m a little bit shaky, which isn’t great out there, but it’s great to be here doing something. I was going a little bit stir crazy [at home], just kind of fighting through it.”

Kaufman made eight birdies in her bogey-free round.

New-look Wie eyes CME Group Tour Championship title

By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 1:32 am

NAPLES, Fla. – Michelle Wie is sporting a new look that even has fellow players doing double takes.

Bored during her six-week recovery from an emergency appendectomy late this summer, Wie decided to cut and die her hair.

She went for golden locks, and a shorter style.

“I kind of went crazy after being in bed that long,” Wie said. “I just told my mom to grab the kitchen scissors and just cut all my hair off.”

Wie will get to sport her new look on a big stage Sunday after playing herself into a four-way tie for the lead at the CME Group Tour Championship. With a 6-under-par 66, she is in contention to win her fifth LPGA title, her first since winning the U.S. Women’s Open three years ago.

CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship

Wie, 28, fought her way back this year after two of the most disappointing years of her career. Her rebound, however, was derailed in late August, when she withdrew from the final round of the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open to undergo an emergency appendectomy. She was out for six weeks.

Before the surgery, Wie enjoyed getting back into contention regularly, with six finishes of T-4 or better this season. She returned to the tour on the Asian swing in October.

Fellow tour pros were surprised when she came back with the new look.

“Definitely, walk by people and they didn’t recognize me,” Wie said.

Wie is looking to continue to build on her resurgence.

“I gained a lot of confidence this year,” she said. “I had a really tough year last year, the last couple years. Just really feeling like my old self. Really feeling comfortable out there and having fun, and that's when I play my best.”

You Oughta Know: LPGA's Sunday scenarios

By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 1:17 am

NAPLES, Fla. – The CME Group Tour Championship is loaded with pressure-packed subplots Sunday at Tiburon Golf Club.

Here’s what You Oughta Know about the prizes at stake:

Race to the CME Globe

Lexi Thompson and Sung Hyun Park are 1-2 in CME Globe points. They are best positioned Sunday to take home the $1 million jackpot in the season-long competition.

Thompson and Park are tied for fifth in the tournament, one shot off the lead. If either of them wins, she will take home the jackpot.

The way it’s unfolding Thompson is a good bet to take home the jackpot by merely finishing ahead of Park, unless they both stumble badly on Sunday.

Ariya Jutanugarn is tied for the lead. She must win to take home the jackpot, but she would also need Thompson to finish ninth or worse and Park to finish eighth or worse and nobody else among the top 12 in points to make a bold Sunday charge.

Stacy Lewis is one shot off the lead with a longshot chance at the jackpot. She must win the tournament while Thompson finishes 26th or worse, Park finishes 12th or worse and nobody else among the top 12 in points makes a bold Sunday charge.

So Yeon Ryu, Shanshan Feng and Brooke Henderson are among others who still have a shot at the $1 million prize, but they have fallen back in the pack and need bold Sunday charges to take home the jackpot.

Rolex Player of the Year

The Rolex Player of the Year Award remains a four-player race.

Ryu (162), Feng (159), Park (157) and Thompson (147) all have a chance to win the award.

Park and Thompson are best positioned to make Sunday moves to overtake Ryu.

Park needs to finish sixth or better to win the award outright; Thompson needs to win the tournament to win the award.

It’s simple math.

The top 10 in the tournament will be awarded points.

1st - 30 points

2nd – 12 points

3rd – 9 points

4th – 7 points

5th – 6 points

6th – 5 points

7rd – 4 points

8th – 3 points

9th – 2 points

10th – 1 point

Vare Trophy

Thompson took a 69.147 scoring average to Naples. Park needs to finish nine shots ahead of Thompson to have a shot at the trophy.

Money-winning title

Park leads the tour in money winnings with $2,262,472. Ryu is the only player who can pass her Sunday, and Ryu must win the tournament to do so. Ryu is tied for 32nd, five shots off the lead. If Ryu wins the tournament, she also needs Park to finish worse than solo second.

Rolex world No. 1 ranking

World No. 1 Feng, No. 2 Park and No. 3 Ryu are separated by just three hundredths of a point.

Because they are so close, the scenarios for overtaking Feng are head spinning.

At No. 4, Thompson is a full average ranking point behind Feng, but she could become the sixth different player this season to move to No. 1. Thompson, however, has to win Sunday to have a chance to do so, and then it will depend on what Feng, Park and Ryu do. Again, the scenarios are complex.

Cook leads RSM Classic by three at Sea Island

By Associated PressNovember 19, 2017, 12:28 am

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. - PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook shot a 4-under 66 on Saturday to increase his lead to three strokes in the RSM Classic.

Cook, a shot ahead after a second-round 62, had five birdies and a bogey - his first of the week - to reach 18-under 194 with a round left at Sea Island Golf Club's Seaside Course.

''Putting is key right now,'' Cook said. ''Been able to make a lot of clutch putts for the pars to save no bogeys. Hitting the ball pretty much where we're looking and giving ourselves good opportunities on every hole.''

Former University of Georgia player Chris Kirk was second after a 64.

''I'm really comfortable here,'' Kirk said. ''I love Sea Island. I lived here for 6 1/2 years, so I played the golf course a lot, SEC Championships and come down here for the RSM Classic. My family and I, we come down here a few other times a year as well.''

Brian Gay was another stroke back at 14 under after a 69.

''I love the course,'' Gay said. ''We keep getting different wind directions so it's keeping us on our toes. Supposed to be another completely different wind direction tomorrow, so we're getting a new course every day.''

RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the RSM Classic

J.J. Spaun had a 62 to get to 13 under.

''I just kind of played stress-free golf out there and kept the golf ball in front of me,'' Spaun said. ''I had a lot of looks and scrambled pretty well, even though it was only a handful of times, but pretty overall pleased with how I played today.''

Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. The 26-year-old former Arkansas player earned his PGA Tour card through the Tour.

''I think with an extra year on the Web this past year, I really grew mentally and with my game, just kind of more confidence,'' Cook said. ''I was able to put myself in contention on the more this year than I have in the past. I think I've just, you know, learned from experiences on the Web to help me grow out here.''

He planned to keep it simple Saturday night.

''I've got my parents here and my in-laws are both here as well as my wife,'' Cook said. ''Go home and just have a good home-cooked meal and just kind of enjoy the time and embrace the moment.''

Kirk won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2015 at Colonial.

''It's nice to be back in contention again,'' Kirk said. ''It's been a little while for me. But I felt great out there today, I felt really comfortable, and so hopefully it will be the same way tomorrow and I'll keep my foot on the pedal and stay aggressive, try to make some birdies.''