Cut Line: Travelers reaches out to Newtown

By Rex HoggardJune 21, 2013, 8:57 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Thoughts and therapy on the road from Merion to TPC River Highlands.

Made Cut

The little tournament that could. The Tour doesn’t dole out “most improved” awards to tournaments, but if it did the Travelers Championship would be a perennial contender.

The “small market” stop regularly draws record crowds – in 2012 the Travelers gate was the second-best on Tour behind only the Waste Management Phoenix Open – via a collection of creative campaigns and programs, including a chatter flight from the U.S. Open to Hartford, Conn.

This week, however, the tournament once again exceeded expectations.

Following the horrific shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School last December in Newtown, Conn., about 48 miles from TPC River Highlands, tournament officials reached out to the community and asked what they could do to help.

“We met with a few families and the town and said, ‘What could we possibly do for you?’” said tournament director Nathan Grube. “Some of it is completely off the radar that they have asked to keep private, but there are other parts of it that are great.”

The tournament has pledged to indefinitely fund a First Tee program in Newtown and summer camps beginning this summer.

“We are going to stay in touch with them for years and years and years. We want to be a part of the recovery,” Grube said.

Justin Rose. On Tuesday the U.S. Open champion delivered the iconic “Top 10” list on the 'Late Show with David Letterman' (as an aside, that list wasn’t Dave’s best work).

Two days later Rose picked up where he left off at the Travelers Championship and had some trying to come up with a “Top 10” list of their own as to why he couldn’t become the first player since Ernie Els in 1997 to win the week after hoisting the Open trophy.

Even three bogeys through his first six holes on Thursday couldn’t slow Rose’s momentum. He finished with an opening 67 and has quickly proven himself adept at sidestepping the pitfalls that come with a maiden major.

Even Rose’s curious move to Excel Sports Management from 4 Sports & Entertainment this week was mitigated by the Englishman’s honesty.

“The timing is kind of ironic, I suppose, with everything that's happened,” Rose told Cut Line. “But it’s a decision I made quite some time ago and things take some time to figure themselves out.”

The best players are not always the best people, but in Rose’s case he seems as adept with a microphone as he is with a putter.

Sean Foley. The introspective swing coach knew when he signed on to work with Tiger Woods the fishbowl would be intense, and he has taken the nonstop analysis in stride.

What is lost in many reviews of Foley’s work, however, has been his ability to help a diverse group of players improve. Consider Rose and Hunter Mahan, who teed off in the last group on Sunday at Merion and opened his week at the Travelers with a 62.

“It’s a testament to Sean that what Justin is doing and what I’m doing and what Tiger is doing are completely different things,” Mahan said Thursday. “We all do different things and Sean has been able to help all of us.”

Lost in all the analysis is the only thing those three have in common – winning.


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Merion. Maybe the setup wasn’t perfect, the logistics were less than accommodating and the bottom line not exactly what the USGA would prefer, but from a pure competitive point of view the long awaited return of the U.S. Open to the East Course was a success.

Just ask Zach Johnson, one of the more outspoken critics of the USGA’s setup last week. “Oh, I hope so,” he said when asked if the Open should return to Merion.

The East Course may not be a perfect fit for a regular spot in the U.S. Open rotation, but let’s hope it’s not another 32 years before the national championship returns to Merion.

Slow play. While reporting a story this week on the PGA Tour’s pace-of-policy it occurred to Cut Line that the circuit and its players don’t seem to be having the same conversation.

Officials will tell you it’s a math problem, that 26 groups (with a 156-player field) on an 18-hole golf course adds up to only one thing – slow rounds. But many players contend it’s a policy and implementation problem.

“A guy comes in, makes the cut on the number. An official is standing there and says, ‘You know what, actually you shot 1 over today not even. You had a bad time on (No.) 14 and you missed the cut.’” Lucas Glover said. “He would probably play faster next time.”

We don’t know the answer to the circuit’s slow-play problem but this much is clear, until the Tour and its players start having the same conversation the perception will remain that the pace-of-play problem in golf starts at the top.

Tweet of the week: @PaulGoydosPGA “We’ve been plagued by slow play for years, and it turns out it was a 14 year old that was the problem.”

Goydos actually tweeted that missive in April after Chinese amateur Guan Tianlang was assessed a stroke penalty for slow play at the Masters, but it seems apropos given the ongoing debate on how to speed up play on the PGA Tour.


Missed Cut

Small print. While Cut Line is not litigious, the Tour’s move on June 12 to nix Vijay Singh’s lawsuit following his dust-up with the circuit’s anti-doping policy sets a curious precedent.

Singh sued the Tour in May claiming the circuit “(violated) its duty of care and good faith” after he admitted to using the Ultimate Spray, which contained IGF-1, a growth factor like human growth hormone that is on the circuit’s banned substances list. Although Singh was later absolved of any doping violation, he filed the lawsuit on the eve of this year’s Players Championship.

The Tour moved this month to dismiss the suit in New York Supreme Court, claiming that when players sign their membership application they agree not to sue the Tour and adhere to all aspects of the Tour’s anti-doping policy, which doesn’t have a provision for outside legal action within its appeal guidelines.

The Tour declined to comment on the motion, and a quick survey of players on the TPC River Highlands practice tee on Friday suggests that if the circuit is legally protected from its members that is news to them.

Here’s a line we never thought we’d pen: It may be time to consider a union in golf.

Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

"It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’


Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

“Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

“That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.

The golf world celebrates Thanksgiving

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 6:01 pm

Here's a look, through social media, at how the golf world celebrates Thanksgiving.

Lexi Thompson:

Baking time!!

A post shared by Lexi Thompson (@lexi) on

David Feherty:

Jack Nicklaus:

GC Tiger Tracker:

Steve Stricker:

Golf Channel:

Frank Nobilo:

Ian Poulter:

Tyrone Van Aswegen:

Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017

By Grill Room TeamNovember 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.

Tributes pour in for legendary caddie Sheridan

By Randall MellNovember 23, 2017, 2:54 pm

Tributes are pouring in as golf celebrates the life of Greg Sheridan after receiving news of his passing.

Sheridan, a long-time LPGA caddie who worked for some of the game’s all-time greats, including Kathy Whitworth and Beth Daniel, died Wednesday in Indian Rocks Beach, Fla., at 63. He was diagnosed in July 2016 with brain and lung cancer.

Sheridan worked the last dozen years or so with Natalie Gulbis, who expressed her grief in an Instagram post on Wednesday:

“Greg…I miss you so much already and it hasn’t even been a day. 15+ seasons traveling the world you carried me & my bag through the highs and lows of golf and life. You were so much more than my teammate on the course…Thank you.”

Sheridan was on Whitworth’s bag for the last of her LPGA-record 88 titles.

“When I first came on tour, I would try to find out how many times Greg won,” Gulbis told Golfweek. “It’s a crazy number, like 50.”

Matthew Galloway, a caddie and friend to Sheridan, summed up Sheridan’s impressive reach after caddying with him one year at the LPGA Founders Cup, where the game’s pioneers are honored.

“Best Greg story,” Galloway tweeted on Thanksgiving morning, “coming up 18 at PHX all the founders were in their chairs. Greg goes, `Yep, caddied for her, her and her.’ Legend.”

In a first-person column for Golf Magazine last year, Gulbis focused on Sheridan while writing about the special bond between players and caddies. She wrote that she won the “looper lottery” when she first hired Sheridan in ’04.

“Greg and I have traveled the world, and today he is like family,” Gulbis wrote. “Sometimes, he’s a psychologist. Last year, my mom got sick and it was a distraction, but he was great. When I used to have boyfriend issues and breakup issues, he was my confidant. In a world where caddies sometimes spill secrets, Greg has kept a respectful silence, and I can’t thank him enough for that. He’s an extension of me.”

Four months after Gulbis wrote the column, Sheridan was diagnosed with cancer.

“The LPGA family is saddened to hear of the loss of long-time tour caddie, Greg Sheridan,” the LPGA tweeted. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and players he walked with down the fairways. #RIP.”

Dean Herden was among the legion of caddies saddened by the news.

“Greg was a great guy who I respected a lot and taught me some great things over the years,” Herden texted to GolfChannel.com.

Here are some of heartfelt messages that are rolling across Twitter:

Retired LPGA great Annika Sorenstam:

LPGA commissioner Mike Whan in a retweet of Gulbis:

Golf Channel reporter and former tour player Jerry Foltz:

Christina Kim:

LPGA caddie Shaun Clews:

LPGA caddie Jonny Scott:

LPGA caddie Kevin Casas:

LPGA pro Jennie Lee: