Cut Line: Tour goes long, very long for playoffs

By Rex HoggardAugust 26, 2016, 3:48 pm

Cue Jim Mora: Playoffs? Playoffs?!? You kidding me? Golf’s postseason returns and this week’s Cut Line examines what’s new, and what should change, for this year’s playoffs.

Made Cut

A final golden moment. Justin Rose joked before leaving Rio that he planned to keep his gold medal draped around his neck for the foreseeable future, going so far as to suggest that it could even make a decent putting aid.

All jokes aside, however, the Englishman kept to his promise this week at The Barclays, where he arrived at Bethpage wearing his Olympic prize, drawing plenty of well-wishers and even a hardy hug from fellow Englishman Paul Casey.

And in case some think Rose is milking the moment, the truth is, he seemed more interested in hauling golf’s Olympic torch forward than basking in his victory.

“I was at a Zurich outing on Monday and [Rose] was there, and he goes: ‘Just for future reference, I want you to know that people that aren't golf fans who have never watched golf before, now that it's in the Olympics, received it very well,’” said Jason Day, who was among those who passed on Rio.

Rose was committed to golf’s return to the Games from the outset, which made his victory so apropos and his new role of Olympic ambassador a perfect fit.

Hard Knox. It’s safe to say most American fans are not familiar with Russell Knox, but unless European Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke suffers a debilitating bout of temporary insanity that will likely change at this year’s matches.

The Scot won his first PGA Tour event last fall against a world-class field at the WGC-HSBC Champions and added his second earlier this month at the Travelers Championship, yet is still considered in some circles a long-shot to be one of Clarke’s three captain’s picks.

Armchair captains point to a European squad that already has five rookies poised to make the team on points and that Clarke might be reluctant to add another first-timer with one of his picks.

“I don’t see Russell as a rookie,” Paul Casey told Golfweek magazine this week. “He’s been out here long enough and besides, rookies aren’t scared anymore. Rookies aren’t what they used to be.”

If nothing else, Casey’s comments should ring familiar for Clarke. In 2010, European captain Colin Montgomerie didn’t pick the then eighth-ranked player in the world – Casey. The Continent won those matches at Celtic Manor, but Casey’s snub has haunted both player and captain ever since.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Medal Mea Culpa. The questions were as predictable as they were pointed.

One by one, those who chose not to make the trip to Rio for this year’s Olympics were asked if they regretted the decision considering that golf’s return to the Games was widely considered a success.

Some of the answers were surprisingly honest.

“At the time I made the decision, it was the right decision for me. And I told you guys in that press conference, it was the hardest thing I've had to do,” Jordan Spieth said. “The potential for regret was going to be there and it certainly was while I was watching, so that's why I tweeted out, ‘I'm looking forward to setting it as a goal to be there in 2020.’”

Some of the responses were a bit more guarded.

“I don't have any regrets. The decision was the decision. It was based on family and you don't have any regrets whenever you base your stance on something bigger than yourself,” Day said.

All, however, echoed a familiar theme. In 2020, when golf returns to the Olympics in Tokyo, it’s safe to say participation, at least for the top male golfers, will improve.

The Flux Cup. It’s been a decade since the Tour began its post-season experiment, and while most seem to have embraced the basic tenets of the playoffs – which were essentially to bring the game’s top players together during a time of year when interest in golf is normally waning – the FedEx Cup is still a work in progress.

New to this season is a reduction in how many points will be awarded during the four playoff events, from five times the amount awarded at regular season, non-major, non-WGC events to four times the normal amount.

The move was designed to reduce the amount of volatility in the ranks and put more of a focus on a player’s regular season performance. Whether the changes enhance the playoffs is a matter of taste – we would rather see more playoff movement, but we will withhold judgment until after this year’s post-season. What is clear after a decade of trial and error is that the Tour is not content with the status quo.

Missed Cut

One size doesn’t fit all. It’s a common theme on Tour that bigger is always better, but the circuit’s tendency for long golf courses has been pushed to the extreme for this year’s playoffs.

Starting with this week’s stop at Bethpage Black, the average length of the four playoff courses is 7,349 yards, with the New York gem coming in at 7,468 yards which is still shy of the sprawling Crooked Stick layout which was extended by 70 yards since 2012 to 7,567.

East Lake, site of the finale, is the runt of the bunch at 7,154 yards but plays to a par of 70.

The distance players hit the golf ball today requires the additional real-estate, but if you’re trying to identify the best players the Tour should consider throwing in an occasional Harbour Town or Colonial to mix things up.

The likes of Bethpage and Crooked Stick will always have a place in the modern game, but it’s time the Tour learns that not everyone loves vanilla.

Tweet of the week: @ColtKnost “@realDonaldTrump can you build one of those walls around Bethpage Black to keep the short hitters out. We don't belong!”

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.

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Rose leads Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose completed the final two holes of his second round early Saturday for a 3-under 69 and a one-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, who had a first-round 62, was among a quarter of the field forced off the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course after weather delays on Friday.

The Englishman, who bogeyed his last hole, had a two-round total of 13-under 131.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who completed his 64 on Friday, was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters. He has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.

Playing with the pros

Tiger, DJ and Faxon

Article: Video, images from Tiger, DJ's round with Trump

Article: After DJ and Tiger, Trump plays golf with Jack

Rory faces criticism

Article: Rory: Round with Trump about respect for presidency

Article: Rory: Round with Trump not a 'political statement'

President at the Presidents Cup

Video: President Trump makes the rounds at Liberty National

Article: President Trump presents trophy to U.S. team

Article: Stricker: 'Great thrill' to get trophy from Trump

Purported round of 73 with Lindsey Graham

Article: Senator tweets Trump shot 73 in windy, wet conditions

Article: Graham offers details on Trump's round of 73

Cart on the green

Article: Trump appears to drive cart on Bedminster green

Presence and protests at U.S. Women's Open

Article: Trump makes presidential history at Women's Open

Article: Trump supporters, protesters clash near Women's Open

Article: UltraViolet takes protest inside Trump National

Photo gallery: President Trump at the U.S. Women's Open

Trump golf properties


Article: Environmental group vandalizes Trump golf course

Article: Man accused of vandalizing four Trump courses


Article: Two Trump courses in Scotland losing millions

Article: Eric Trump denies Russia helped fund golf courses

Article: Trump company ordered to pay $5.77M in dues dispute

Reportedly fake TIME covers

Article: Trump clubs display fake Time magazine cover

Trump apologizes for voter-fraud story

Report: Trump's voter fraud claim tied to Langer

Langer: Trump 'apologized' for story mix-up

Pros comment on the president

Article: Players defend Trump at Senior PGA Championship

Article: Trump congratulates Daly; Daly congratulates Trump

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 12:30 pm