Cut Line: Why take Presidents Cup back to Australia?

By Rex HoggardOctober 16, 2015, 9:10 pm

Despite a shorter offseason than the lifespan of an average housefly, the PGA Tour gets back to work this week with a surprising number of hot-stove topics, from a truly courageous comeback to a questionable move to send the Presidents Cup back to Australia.

Made Cut

The comeback continues. Last June, Jarrod Lyle cut short his comeback from leukemia just 10 tournaments into the season. On Thursday, the affable Australian resumed his quest to reestablish himself on the Tour.

Lyle opened with a 3-under 69 on Day 1 at the Open in his first event back since last May’s Crowne Plaza Invitational.

He admits now that he probably came back too early last year. After confirming with doctors in Australia that he’s still cancer-free, he begins the 2015-16 season on a mission.

Lyle has 10 events to earn $283,825 and retain his Tour card on a major medical exemption and complete what would be one of the most inspiring comebacks in modern golf.

The Price of progress. It wasn’t the ending Nick Price had hoped for, but Sunday’s finish at the Presidents Cup, the event coming down to the last hole in the last match, was a reason for the two-time International captain to be optimistic.

Price’s contention that fewer points, like the Ryder Cup, adds up to a more competitive event was at least partially proven by his team’s one-point loss and the final-day theatrics.

Still, Price wasn’t overly optimistic that the Tour would continue to tinker with the format in an attempt to maintain that newfound competitiveness.

“It’s going to be hard now to make any more changes, because he [Tour commissioner Tim Finchem] is going to say it’s so exciting,” Price said. “In all honesty, if you look at what the Ryder Cup has, that 28 points and no restrictions on who is playing, that’s been some real excitement. I think we need to give this another chance.”

It’s doubtful the Tour will reduce the total number of points available from 30 to 28, but it’s going to be an interesting exit interview between Finchem and Price.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Road games. Last week’s Presidents Cup in Korea drew thousands of fans (officials estimated attendance at 25,000 on Sunday), which is what one would expect from the event’s first trip to Asia.

Growing the game has always been a part of the Presidents Cup’s DNA, perhaps the only thing the U.S. vs. the rest of the world matches have in common with the Ryder Cup, which made last week’s news that the event will return to Australia in 2019 curious.

Golf Channel Insider Tim Rosaforte reported this week that officials in South Africa balked at the $29 million price tag to host the event for the second time, which opened the door for Australia in ’19.

But if officials really want to use the matches to grow the game in emerging markets it should have taken the circus on the road to South America or back to Asia, which are both widely considered “emerging markets.”

Australia, whether the event is played at Royal Melbourne or elsewhere, is arguably the event’s best road venue, but drawing a crowd isn’t the same as drawing interest.

Tweet of the week: @EuropeanTour “Due to the adverse weather forecast Round 3 will be a shotgun start at 8:00 [a.m.], with the leaders teeing off from the first hole.”

There was no word on which holes officials plan to use for the longest drive contest and closest to the pin.

Missed Cut

Waiting to exhale. Eighteen days - that’s how long the Tour’s offseason lasted. That’s hardly enough time for FedEx Cup champion Jordan Spieth to count the $23 million in cash and bonuses he earned last season and nowhere near long enough for fans to miss the game.

It’s an old argument that has been compounded in recent years by the circuit’s wraparound schedule and the Tour’s contention that if fans want to tune out for a few months they are welcome to pick up the action in January in Hawaii.

But this goes beyond fan interest. It will be the players who will suffer burnout. World No. 3 Rory McIlroy is in the field this week in California but his appearance is a “make good” agreement with the Tour for playing an event in Europe a few years back.

Justin Rose is the only other top-10 player at the season opener, and don’t expect the fields to get much deeper this fall. With the exception of the WGC-HSBC Champions, a no-cut event that counts as a start on the European Tour, the fall events are the season’s weakest fields according to the Official World Golf Ranking.

On this the players are speaking with their feet, and the quality of the product is suffering.

Tough crowd. There is no shortage of postseason awards doled out by the Tour, but the circuit’s decision to not present the Courage Award is curious.

The award was created in 2012 to replace the Comeback Player of the Year Award and is given to a player who “through courage or perseverance has overcome extraordinary adversity [such as personal tragedy or a debilitating injury or illness].”

Two candidates quickly come to mind in Lyle and Steven Bowditch, who advanced to the Tour Championship for the first time and played for the International Presidents Cup team after nearly being forced from the game with clinical depression.

But it seems neither player qualified for the Courage Award, which is selected by the commissioner and four player directors and appears to have a ridiculously high standard.

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After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard

On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

He picked up one more No. 2, too.

The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

“It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

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Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

“I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.

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Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.

Best of the rest: A two-time winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.

Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.

Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:

Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry