Cut Line Windy City blown away by IOC
While millionaires playing for a $10 million Christmas bonus proved to be compelling television, slightly-less-wealthy pros playing for their jobs is as real as it gets. Keeping track of earnings, as opposed to the long-form calculations needed to track FedEx Cup points, is simple and eternal – cash a check or check the “help wanted” ads.
FedEx Cup: The points system is confusing, the concept stretches the definition of playoffs and this year’s Cup featured more doomsday scenarios than a BCS title game, yet despite it all, or maybe because of it, we ended up with a tense final turn at East Lake and a dream photo op for Tour types – Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson sharing the same stage ... and smiling.
It’s tough to contrive special, but the Tour did it with Woods taking home his second FedEx Cup trophy in three years and Mickelson giving us a reason to pine for next season with his second Tour Championship triumph in 10 years.
Note to Tour commissioner Tim Finchem: if there is any loot left from FedEx, the math geeks who came up with this year’s point structure should get a little something extra in next week’s paycheck.
Ken Green: He lost his brother, his girlfriend, his dog and his right leg, but Green has not lost his desire to play professional golf again or his ability to inspire.
On Monday a large group of Green’s friends gathered in Danbury, Conn., for a charity tournament to raise money to help pay Green’s escalating medical bills. Among those on hand were fellow Champions Tour players Fred Funk, Andy Bean, Scott Simpson, Chip Beck, Bob Tway and Brad Bryant.
The tournament raised $200,000 for Green, and his energy raised the hopes that he could become the first golfer to play professionally with a prosthetic.
Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)
Golf’s Olympic bid: Neither President Barack Obama nor Oprah Winfrey could sway the International Olympic Committee’s decision – which begs the question, who was missing? Gandhi? The Dalai Lama? Brian Urlacher? – and Chicago’s bid for the 2016 Olympic Games went to Rio de Janeiro.
Although golf’s Olympic bid will not be known for another week, the decision was at least a logistical hit for the game’s Gold Medal aspirations.
If golf gets the IOC nod, the game’s best and brightest will be asked to work the games in between starts at the PGA Championship at Baltusrol in New Jersey, the Ryder Cup at Hazeltine National in Minnesota and whatever version of the FedEx Cup playoffs is around. Imagine the SkyMiles.
And if you think golf took a hit, imagine the mood in Chicago. Now all the Windy City hopeful have to look forward to in the fall of 2016 is another September swoon by the Cubs.
Tiger Woods: According to various reports, the world No. 1 turned down an invitation to pose in 'ESPN the Magazine''s upcoming “Bodies” issue, a thinly-veiled rip-off of 'Sports Illustrated''s swimsuit issue.
While we understand Woods’ reluctance to pose in the buff, we can’t help but think if not Woods then who? The “Bodies” issue already will feature LPGA players Sandra Gal, Anna Grzebien and Christina Kim.
No Henrik Stenson? The big Swede must want to save his “beefcake” shots for World Golf Championship audiences.
While ESPN searches for a Woods replacement, we offer a list of players nobody wants to see in the issue: Tim “Lumpy” Herron, Angel “El Pato” Cabrera and John “El Wacko” Daly.
Bay Hill: We learned this week that Arnold Palmer & Co. will dial down the course for next year’s Arnold Palmer Invitational, playing the layout as designed as a par 72. Similarly, Jack Nicklaus smoothed the rough edges of Muirfield Village for this year’s Memorial, which begs the question : When did the King and the Bear go soft?
First they agreed to ceremonial spots on the first tee at Augusta National, now this.
Sponsorship madness: The Tour doesn’t have long to bask in the warm glow of success following last week’s Tour Championship. The circuit is facing an uphill sponsorship battle starting in 2010, when 11 title or presenting sponsors come due for renewal by season’s end.
Among the most glaring holes in the Tour docket will be replacement checkbooks for Torrey Pines, formerly the Buick Invitational, and the Heritage, a Tour staple since 1968.
We will miss the likes of Warrick Hills, the long-time home of the now-defunct Buick Open, but Torrey and Harbour Town are special. One can all but guarantee Woods and Mickelson at Torrey, and Hilton Head Island features one of the Tour’s best courses and most-relaxed vibes. If the Tour can’t sell that, where are we?
“I’m optimistic,” said Heritage tournament director Steve Wilmot. “I’ve reached out to players and agents. I might need Boo (Weekley) to make a sales call.”
Now there’s a sales call “Cut Line” would like to sit in on.
Slow play: Woods and Padraig Harrington, locked in competition, were put on the clock by Tour officials. No, we are not talking about “Stopwatch-gate” at Firestone. The high-profile duo was timed again on Saturday at East Lake.
The “clocking” followed news that the Tour had stiffened penalties for slow-play violations this year, doubling annual cumulative fines (which start at $20,000) for frequent violators ($40,000 for a second consecutive year, $80,000 for a third consecutive, $160,000 for a fourth consecutive year, etc.).
The new rule suggests a chronic problem that, considering the vast amounts of money available to even the most rank-and-file member, will not be fixed with fines. If the Tour wants to take a bite out of slow play, slap one-stroke penalties on habitual offenders and publish the names of the Tour’s slowest players. Missed cuts and embarrassment can be powerful deterrents.
Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational
Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.
The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.
Rose leads Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs
JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose completed the final two holes of his second round early Saturday for a 3-under 69 and a one-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters.
Rose, who had a first-round 62, was among a quarter of the field forced off the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course after weather delays on Friday.
The Englishman, who bogeyed his last hole, had a two-round total of 13-under 131.
Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who completed his 64 on Friday, was in second place.
Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters. He has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season.
Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump
Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.
Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.
None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.
Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.
An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.
In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.
Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.
Playing with the pros
Tiger, DJ and Faxon
President at the Presidents Cup
Purported round of 73 with Lindsey Graham
Cart on the green
Presence and protests at U.S. Women's Open
Trump golf properties
Reportedly fake TIME covers
Trump apologizes for voter-fraud story
Pros comment on the president
Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017
GolfChannel.com is counting down the top 10 Newsmakers of the Year as voted on by Golf Channel’s writers, editors, reporters and producers. Check out the list below, including future release dates. And click here for the full collection of articles.
No. 1: Dec. 18