Cut Line: Historic moments for Tiger, PGA of America

By Rex HoggardNovember 28, 2014, 7:30 pm

The PGA of America makes history with the election of a new secretary, the LPGA ends a historic year and Tiger Woods resumes his historic march with a new “swing consultant.”

Made Cut

The right person. Suzy Whaley didn’t set out to make history. The Connecticut club professional never intended to be a trailblazer, but then pioneers rarely do.

Whaley’s sweeping election to secretary of the PGA of America last Saturday made her the first female elected to serve as an officer for the association and puts her in line to become president in four years.

For Whaley, however, her decision to run for office was a chance to take what she does every day at TPC River Highlands – everything from player development to her creative junior programs – to a national level.

“For me it wasn’t about making history. For me it was about being a candidate that felt we could be a part of a team and part of a plan that could truly help us move forward,” Whaley told Cut Line.

Regardless of gender, the PGA is better prepared to move forward then they were a week ago.

That’s a wrap. Fitting that a day after Whaley broke through the PGA’s grass ceiling the LPGA wrapped up what many consider its best season.

What already qualified as an embarrassment of riches for commissioner Michael Whan ended with a roar when rookie of the year Lydia Ko won the CME Group Tour Championship and Stacy Lewis claimed the Player of the Year title.

Along the way Michelle Wie (U.S. Women’s Open) and Lexi Thompson (Kraft Nabisco Championship) joined the major championship club and Lewis and Inbee Park traded the top spot in the Rolex ranking with compelling regularity.

It was a best-case scenario for Whan and Co. with equal parts parity and star power. The challenge now? Doing it all again in 2015.


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

No. 5 for Tiger. News late last week that Tiger Woods had teamed with a new set of eyes – in this case “swing consultant” Chris Como – was as surprising as it was sensational.

While the jury is still out on Como, by most accounts the Texas-based coach is an intellectual and an idyllic fit for the former world No. 1.

“He speaks Tiger’s language and his biomechanics background fits perfectly with what he is interested in,” said one longtime PGA Tour swing coach.

But there was some concern that Como, who was virtually unknown in general golf circles before last week, may be a tad too technical for a player who has, by some accounts, become too technical in recent years.

Still, the 37-year-old swing coach was saying all the right things and if he can keep Woods off the “DL” – he’s played a full season just three times in the last seven years – Tiger’s fifth different swing as a professional will be viewed as at least a step in the right direction.

“The idea of having a person rely on a teacher is bad,” Como told Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte. “You have to know about yourself, rely on yourself.”


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Missed Cut

When a rookie is not a rookie. Brooks Koepka completed a memorable season on the European Tour by winning that circuit’s Rookie of the Year Award.

Koepka, who won this month’s Turkish Airlines Open, now moves on to the PGA Tour where he begins his first full season in the United States, just not as a rookie year.

Because of the Tour’s small print the young American will not be a rookie in 2015, a technicality that will keep him from sweeping the rookie of the year awards on both sides of the pond.

It likely doesn’t matter to Koepka, but it is a shame when convoluted rules get in the way of a good story.

Monday morning quarterback. PGA of America officials raised a few eyebrows last week when they revealed that had this year’s PGA Championship gone to a Monday finish it would have cost the association an estimated $750,000.

Instead, officials rushed things along in diminishing light and the threat of poor weather by making the final two groups essentially play the final hole as a foursome.

“It’s all about the competition first and foremost. If it goes into Monday, so be it,” PGA CEO Pete Bevacqua told Cut Line. “There’s always a possibility you are going to be playing into Monday. Was it rushed? Certainly. [But] we were happy with the ending.”

Judging by Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler’s reaction to the finish, it’s likely they were even less pleased with the “rushed” finish.

Cut Line is a fan of any move that speeds up play, but considering what was on the line at Valhalla the impromptu two-minute drill may have been a tad much.

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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.