Cut Line: Vive La Highest Bidder

By Rex HoggardMay 20, 2011, 9:44 pm

The best part about France landing the 2018 Ryder Cup is a potential Jean Van de Velde captaincy and ... well, at least it’s not Celtic Manor. Other than that, news that the biennial slugfest is bound for Le Golf National is another sign that cash, not the competition, is king when it comes to the European selection process.

Made Cut

Tiger Woods. Make no mistake, Woods’ Tweet-nouncement “Bummed that my left leg has me on the sidelines, but I want, and expect, to be at the U.S. Open. Will do all I can to get there,” is not exactly the clean bill of health everyone wants, but it is progress, if not for the patient then at least the process.

Golf is at its best when Woods is, but a front-nine 42 and another trip to the trainer’s table doesn’t do anyone any good, especially Woods. He seems likely to miss the Memorial, which he has won four times, but now, more than anything, he needs rest, not reps.

Special delivery. News that FedEx re-upped to sponsor the Tour’s Memphis stop may seem like a bullet item on a slow news day, but for those who read Tour tea leaves it’s a sign of progress.

That FedEx wants to stay in the golf business, at least through 2014, may indicate the shipping giant’s interest in re-upping as the umbrella sponsor of the Tour’s season-long points race.

By comparison, commissioner Tim Finchem sounded like bachelor No. 4 when asked if he envisioned FedEx staying on as umbrella sponsor through 2013 and beyond on Sunday at TPC Sawgrass: “I would say generally yes, but I wouldn't say . . . don't hold me to that.”

Yes, maybe, don’t know. Got that?

Tweet of the week: @PaulAzinger “Crticizing @IanJamesPoulter for teeing off on the 18th the way he did (in fading light on Saturday at TPC Sawgrass) is unfounded. Every player on Tour would have done the same thing.”

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Caddie carousel. First it was Bobby Brown and Dustin Johnson, now it’s Adam Scott and Tony Navarro. Unemployment hovers around 10 percent in the United States in large part to the growing number of canned caddies, or so it seems.

There is some good news. We hear Navarro may get a tryout on Johnson’s bag and Brown landed on his feet this week with up-and-coming rookie Kyle Stanley.

Reminds us of the old caddie-yard adage: there are two kinds of caddies – those who have just been fired, and those who are about to be.

No sunshine. Word that Paul Goydos was “semi-seriously” thinking about retiring is bad news on many levels.

Mr. Sunshine, as he was once dubbed for his drab demeanor, is a Tour original, funny, insightful and honest to a fault. A fixture in Tour media centers, one scribe once quipped that it’s hard to get most players into the press tent, but impossible to get Goydos out.

Let’s hope his third-place finish at The Players changes Goydos’ mind. Where else would we get lines like this gem, “Tiger Woods has never won a major (after trailing through 54 holes). Big deal, neither have I.”
Missed Cut

2018 Ryder Cup. In all fairness, the PGA of America’s system isn’t that much better – what else could possibly explain repeated trips back to Valhalla and Whistling Straits – but Europe’s insistence that the Ryder Cup goes to the highest bidder isn’t doing anyone any favors.

Le Golf National may be a fine facility and maybe the Continent deserves to host the grudge match, but imagine the possibilities of a Ryder Cup played on the Old Course, or Turnberry, or any of the great links courses in the United Kingdom.

If the U.S. Open can go to Merion in 2013, the European powers that be can swallow a “discount” Ryder Cup for the good of the game.

No sunshine II. Gareth Tindall quietly announced he will step down as the commissioner of the Sunshine Tour earlier this month. Tindall, you may recall, went on record earlier this year when news of a new World Golf Championship in South Africa broke, saying, “The significance of what we've done is potential, and the U.S. tour might slag me for this, but essentially we are starting the world tour. It's been a matter of time.”

That news, however, seemed to be a tad premature. Asked in Hilton Head about the specifics of the new event, which will be called the Tournament of Hope, PGA Tour chief of operations Andy Pazder declined to comment on any specifics.

At issue is sponsorship of the $10 million event, no easy hurdle given the current economic headwinds, the date and the venue. Besides that, everything is moving along swimmingly.

TPC Sawgrass’ 17th hole. As an element of the sum of the Stadium Course’s parts, the island-greened 17th hole is an infinitely enjoyable “A ticket” ride. As the starting line for a sudden-death playoff, Pete Dye’s pool is wanting.

The “fifth major” debate aside, if the Tour wants The Players to be considered one of the game’s top events they may want to look into a three-hole playoff, like the formats used at the PGA Championship and Open Championship, that begins on the 16th hole and ends at No. 18.

Twice in recent years the winner has been decided by a gust of wind (2008) and a grainy putt (2011). That doesn’t exactly scream Grand Slam.
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Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

"A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

"If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

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Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

"I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"

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The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

"It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

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DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

"It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

"I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

"If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

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LPGA lists April date for new LA event

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.