Cut Line The WD edition

By Rex HoggardJune 12, 2010, 12:39 am

A week seemingly defined by withdrawals was dominated by one player (Erik Compton) who refused to take a knee and 18 others who rewarded St. Jude Classic officials with a metaphorical knee to the gut.

Made Cut

Erik Compton. When we spotted the two-time heart transplant recipient on the Muirfield Village practice tee just before dusk last Sunday he didn’t have the look of a man bound for the U.S. Open. Fresh from a final-round 82 and exhausted, if he made it back to his hotel room we would have considered it a victory of sorts.

But on Monday afternoon, following 36 holes of Open qualifying and a three-hole playoff, Compton beat the odds, again, and will play in his first national championship.

Compton’s tale got even better on Wednesday when we called him and were greeted with the following message, “My phone is at the bottom of the ocean. Leave your name and number so I can call you back.”

Compton’s phone fell overboard during a recent fishing trip in south Florida. Seems about right for a pro who plays his best golf when he appears in over his head.

Tiger Woods. OK, the world No. 1 may be getting a hefty appearance fee to go back Down Under to defend his Australian Masters title, although chances are not as many zeros as he got pre-No. 27, but his impact on the game is undeniable.

Dale Lynch, swing coach for the likes of Aaron Baddeley and Geoff Ogilvy who is also involved in a golf course project in Australia, said Woods’ appearance last year spiked interest across the country, and his early commitment to this year’s championship will give organizers that much more time to market his appearance.

His current issues aside, Woods is good for the game and his early commitment is worth a kudo.

U.S. Golf Association. During a recent conversation with USGA executive David Fay about the association’s shift toward public access venues for the U.S. Open, he pointed out the importance of holding the national championship at publically-owned facilities like Bethpage, Torrey Pines and Chambers Bay in 2015. He also made it clear the expansion was not complete.

“The only missing component would be a privately owned stand-alone golf course and that may be resolved very quickly,” Fay said.

Cog Hill outside Chicago and Erin Hills in Wisconsin both fit that description and have been rumored as possible sites for a future U.S. Open. Expect an announcement on this as early as next week.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Revisionist. We like Justin Rose, hard not to, but the Englishman had months to punch his ticket into next week’s Open, to say nothing of 36 holes on Monday in Columbus, Ohio, and those who used Rose’s Open miss as a chance to question the USGA’s entry policies are revisionist, at best, and opportunist, at worst.

“I keep saying this until I'm blue in the face,' Fay told the Associated Press. 'It's not the best field in golf. It never pretended to be. It's the most democratic championship. In a perfect world, we wouldn't have special exemptions. But if you can keep half the field open to qualifiers ... that's why we have 9,000 entries.”

Haven’t had a chance yet, but when we ask Rose, we bet he will agree.

Missed Cut

Withdrawals. Some took umbrage with the smattering of withdrawals following Monday morning’s opening round of U.S. Open qualifying, but we have less of a concern with Pat Perez bolting central Ohio after his a.m. 73 than with the 18 players who opted out of playing this week’s St. Jude Classic at the last minute.

The timing and uncertainty of Open qualifying – not to mention the logistics of a West Coast Open – can make committing to the Memphis stop a challenge, but when the list of available alternates dips all the way to Jay Delsing, a journeyman who hasn’t played more than eight events in a season since 2007, it might be time for the Tour to step in. As one long-time Tour manager put it, “The Tour, tournament organizers, volunteers and charities deserve better than this.”

Odds makers. “Cut Line” is no stranger to the Ladbrokes betting house tucked just down North Street from the Old Course in St. Andrews but we won’t be making any bets this year if this is the best the odds makers can do.

Ladbrokes has Woods and Phil Mickelson listed as co-favorites for next week’s U.S. Open, 8-to-1. OK, Woods won convincingly the last time the Open was played adjacent Carmel Bay and Lefty may currently be the best player in golf, if not World Ranking math, but we have to wonder if our friends across the pond have been out of pocket for the last seven months.

The big left-hander is a five-time Open bridesmaid and Woods is not looking exactly like the guy who lapped the field in 2000. At 26-to-1 we have two words for you – Dustin Johnson.

John Daly. According to court documents obtained by the Palm Beach (Fla.) Post the big man has filed a lawsuit against PGA National, the PGA Tour and the Children’s Healthcare Charity, the non-profit organization and primary charity of the Honda Classic.

According to the lawsuit Daly suffered a rib injury when a woman walked in front of him while he was swinging to take a picture of him during the 2007 Honda Classic. According to the report Daly is seeking $100 million in damages.

This from the same man who just days ago Tweeted: “Headed toward Memphis this weekend. Ready to get settled and get ready for a great tournament and for some great children – St. Judes.”

But please, no pictures.

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Langer not playing to pass Irwin, but he just might

By Tim RosaforteJanuary 16, 2018, 1:40 pm

Bernhard Langer goes back out on tour this week to chase down more than Hale Irwin’s PGA Tour Champions record of 45 career victories. His chase is against himself.

“I’m not playing to beat Hale Irwin’s record,” Langer told me before heading to Hawaii to defend his title at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai. “I play golf to play the best I can, to be a good role model, and to enjoy a few more years that are left.”

Langer turned 60 on Aug. 27 and was presented a massage chair by his family as a birthday gift. Instead of reclining (which he does to watch golf and football), he won three more times to close out a seven-win campaign that included three major championships. A year prior, coming off a four-victory season, Langer told me after winning his fourth Charles Schwab Cup that surpassing Irwin’s record was possible but not probable. With 36 career victories and 11 in his last two years, he has changed his tone to making up the nine-tournament difference as “probable.”

“If I could continue a few more years on that ratio, I could get close or pass him,” Langer told me from his home in Boca Raton, Fla. “It will get harder. I’m 60 now. It’s a big challenge but I don’t shy away from challenges.”

Bernhard Langer, Hale Irwin at the 1991 Ryder Cup (Getty Images)

Langer spent his off-season playing the PNC Father/Son, taking his family on a ski vacation at Big Sky in Yellowstone, Montana, and to New York for New Year’s. He ranks himself as a scratch skier, having skied since he was four years old in Germany. The risk of injury is worth it, considering how much he loves “the scenery, the gravity and the speed.”

Since returning from New York, Langer has immersed himself into preparing for the 2018 season. Swing coach Willy Hoffman, who he has worked with since his boyhood days as an as assistant pro in Germany, flew to Florida for their 43rd year of training.

“He’s a straight shooter,” Hoffman told me. “He says, 'Willy, every hour is an hour off my life and we have 24 hours every day.'"

As for Irwin, they have maintained a respectful relationship that goes back to their deciding singles match in the 1991 Ryder Cup. Last year they were brought back to Kiawah Island for a corporate appearance where they reminisced and shared the thought that nobody should ever have to bear what Langer went through, missing a 6-footer on the 18th green. That was 27 years ago. Both are in the Hall of Fame.

"I enjoy hanging out with Hale," Langer says.

Langer’s chase of Irwin’s record is not going to change their legacies. As Hoffman pointed out, “Yes, (Bernhard) is a rich man compared to his younger days. He had no money, no nothing. But today you don’t feel a difference when you talk to him. He’s always on the ground.”

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McIlroy: Ryder Cup won't be as easy as USA thinks

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 16, 2018, 1:18 pm

The Americans have won their past two international team competitions by a combined score of 38-22, but Rory McIlroy isn’t expecting another pushover at the Ryder Cup in September.

McIlroy admitted that the U.S. team will be strong, and that its core of young players (including Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler) will be a force for the next decade. But he told reporters Tuesday at the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship that course setup will play a significant role.

“If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said, referring to the Americans’ 17-11 victory in 2016. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”

At every Ryder Cup, the home team has the final say on course setup. Justin Rose was the most outspoken about the setup at Hazeltine, saying afterward that it was “incredibly weak” and had a “pro-am feel.” 

And so this year’s French Open figures to be a popular stop for European Tour players – it’s being held once again at Le Golf National, site of the matches in September. Tommy Fleetwood won last year’s event at 12 under.

“I’m confident,” McIlroy said. “Everything being all well and good, I’ll be on that team and I feel like we’ll have a really good chance.

“The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that. The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.” 

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Floodlights may be used at Dubai Desert Classic

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 16, 2018, 12:44 pm

No round at next week’s Dubai Desert Classic will be suspended because of darkness.

Tournament officials have installed state-of-the-art floodlighting around the ninth and 18th greens to ensure that all 132 players can finish their round.

With the event being moved up a week in the schedule, the European Tour was initially concerned about the amount of daylight and trimmed the field to 126 players. Playing under the lights fixed that dilemma.

“This is a wonderful idea and fits perfectly with our desire to bring innovation to our sport,” European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley said. “No professional golfer ever wants to come back the following morning to complete a round due to lack of daylight, and this intervention, should it be required, will rule out that necessity.”

Next week’s headliners include Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson. 

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Ortiz takes Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

Former Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Tour Player of the Year.

McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.