Cut Line: Venues, victories and very peculiar calls

By Rex HoggardJuly 24, 2015, 1:30 pm

The calm before the PGA Championship storm is upon us but that doesn’t mean there’s a dearth of winners and losers to fill out this week’s Cut Line.

Made Cut

Rule of three. While the public and some players continue to stew over everything that went wrong at last month’s U.S. Open (and there was plenty to stew over at Chambers Bay), the USGA went a long way to changing the conversation with Wednesday’s unveiling of the 2022-’24 Open venues.

Although it was not exactly a surprise, Pinehurst will host the ’24 Open – marking the fourth time the national championship is played on the No. 2 course – and The Country Club in Brookline, Mass., was named the venue for the ’22 championship.

The biggest news, however, was Los Angeles Country Club being awarded the ’23 Open to become just the sixth Left Coast course to host the national championship. It will mark the third West Coast Open venue in five years (the 2021 championship will be played at Torrey Pines) and continue an interesting shift for the USGA away from the traditional Eastern staples.

Tweet of the Week: Actually, this week’s social media snapshot comes via FaceBook and caddie Damon Green, who posted a picture (below) of Jordan Spieth drinking from the claret jug won by Zach Johnson.

Count this as reason No. 642 to admire Spieth, whose bid to become just the second player to win the Masters, U.S. Open and Open Championship came up agonizingly short on Monday in St. Andrews.

Despite the obvious heartbreak, the 21-year-old was waiting to congratulate Johnson after he won the four-hole playoff and, as this picture suggests, had no problem joining the celebration afterward.


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Time for a Hall call. There seems to be plenty of blame to go around following last week’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony at St. Andrews.

Laura Davies was unable to attend the ceremony because of travel issues after she tied for 47th place at the U.S. Women’s Open.

Maybe the Hall could have tried harder to get Davies to the ceremony. Maybe Davies could have taken greater precautions to avoid the empty seat on the stage, but it seems the real issue here would be the easiest fix.

The current Hall of Fame criteria allows a player to be considered for induction at 40 years old. Given the length of current careers – Davies is 51 – it seems like a good time to adjust that minimum (55 sounds like a good number) and possibly avoid a similar scenario in the future.

Slow play. Maybe the wheels of justice grind slowly for good reason, but as the PGA Tour digs in for another protracted legal battle it’s hard not to see some of this maneuvering as a delay tactic.

On Thursday a U.S. District Court judge denied the Tour’s motion to change venue in its ongoing lawsuit with a group of caddies.

After months of motions and discovery, judge Vince Chhabria needed only about 40 minutes to deny the circuit’s request to move the case to Florida’s middle district, which is closer to the Tour’s headquarters in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

The next legal speed bump will be an Oct. 1 hearing on the Tour’s impending motion to dismiss the lawsuit and on it will go. We understand why lady justice must be blind, but does she need to be so slow?

Missed Cut

Olympic effort. As the 2016 Tour schedule continues to come into focus, it’s also becoming clearer how much of an impact next year’s Olympic Games will have on professional golf.

The Games will be played Aug. 11-14 in Brazil, leaving Tour officials to dramatically overhaul the second half of next year’s schedule, a nip/tuck that will see the Travelers Championship moved from its normal spot behind the U.S. Open to the week after the PGA Championship in early August.

Sources also suggest the John Deere Classic will be played the same week as the men’s competition in Rio followed by the Wyndham Championship.

None of these moves are ideal, although everyone involved is putting a positive spin on the overhaul, and should prompt officials to begin proactive planning to avoid a similar fire drill in 2020 when the Games are played in Japan.

Moon ball. Duty and honor are concepts Cut Line can understand. What we struggle to fathom, however, is a shortsighted and dogmatic adherence to the rules, like in the case of Sangmoon Bae.

Bae was informed this week that a South Korean court had denied his request for an extension to delay his mandatory military service.

South Korean men between the ages of 18 and 35 years must complete two years of military service because the country technically remains at war with North Korea.

Bae is the second-highest ranked South Korean in the world (107th) and is currently qualified for next year’s Olympic Games in Rio. Perhaps more compelling is the 29-year-old’s potential status on this year’s International Presidents Cup team.

The two-time Tour winner is currently 23rd on the International points list and a strong candidate for a captain’s pick considering that this year’s matches will be played in South Korea.

The value of Bae to the South Korean military is understandable, but just imagine his worth to the nation as a Presidents Cup player and Olympian?

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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.