Cut Line: Woods enjoying Congressional's difficulty

By Rex HoggardJune 29, 2012, 8:01 pm

BETHESDA, Md. – A particularly heated week at Congressional got off to a sizzling start with consecutive hurried news days that featured everything from a new umbrella sponsor for the PGA Tour’s secondary circuit to a Ryder Cup assistant captains announcement that seemed a month late.

No wonder Adam Scott overslept on Thursday and nearly missed his tee time. He was exhausted.

Made Cut

The imperfect host. Welcome to my tournament, now go home.

OK, so AT&T National host Tiger Woods isn’t to blame for a Congressional course that has been set up on the cruel side of demanding, in fact he wasn’t even part of last year’s scoring barrage at the U.S. Open that many feel led to this week’s demanding conditions.

“A little retribution for what happened last year,” Woods smiled on Thursday. “Don't be mad at me, I didn't play (the 2011 U.S. Open).”

But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t savor this week’s conditions or his renewed chances to win his second AT&T National title and his second consecutive tournament at Congressional.

“It’s a great test,” he said following a steady 68 on Day 2 to move to within a field goal of the lead.

Of all the titles Woods wears, he’d take champion over gracious host every time.

(Assistant) Captain Cool. For Davis Love III this was easy – whatever Fred Couples is having, the U.S. Ryder Cup captain will have two and DLIII saw no reason to postpone the inevitable.

On Wednesday at Congressional Love named Couples and Mike Hulbert the first of his four assistant captains for this fall’s matches. The unprecedented move to name a sitting Presidents Cup captain as a Ryder Cup assistant was easily explained given Couples’ recent cup run.

Couples is 2-0 as a Presidents Cup captain and connects with Tiger Woods, who is crucial in any team match, better than anyone.

Of course, Love may want to keep Couples – who informed the media masses last month that he would be alongside Love later this year at Medinah – away from an open microphone for the next few months. When Cut Line jokingly asked when Couples planned to announce the next two captains, Love joked, “I hope I told him the right two names.”

A Royal point. Following consecutive major victories for Northern Irishmen last year Peter Dawson, the chief executive of the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, was asked if it was time to bring a British Open back to Royal Portrush, the only course in Northern Ireland to host the world’s oldest major.

“Portrush is a terrific golf course, may well be strong enough for an Open, but as we all know, there are other issues of infrastructure, accommodation, roads, what would the commercial success be that need consideration,” Dawson said last July.

After two days of perfectly Open weather on the venerable links and record crowds at this week’s Irish Open Dawson should have enough answers to move from the theoretical to the practical. Royal Portrush is more than just a worthy Open venue, it’s the right thing to do.


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

A dot.com do-over. News this week that Web.com, a Jacksonville, Fla.-based Internet services company, has signed on to be the umbrella sponsor of the PGA Tour’s secondary circuit is an accomplishment of Herculean proportions given the current state of the economy.

Yet Cut Line couldn’t help but pause when one Tour official accidentally, and understandably, referred to “Buy.com” during the announcement, bringing back memories of the circuit’s failed experiment with the Internet retailer a decade ago.

That arrangement ended prematurely amid a flurry of lawsuits and accusations and gave way to nearly a decade of stability with Nationwide as the umbrella sponsor.

Many involved said that this time will be different, and on Wednesday it certainly felt that way. For the sake of hundreds of aspiring Tour players we hope they are right.

Internal alarm clocks. Adam Scott would not have been the first player penalized for missing his tee time on Thursday at the AT&T National, but he may have been the first for punching his internal snooze button.

Scott, who told The Associated Press that he has the uncanny ability of telling his body when he needs to wake up, awoke at 7:20 a.m. and faced a 45-minute commute from Georgetown for his 8:02 a.m. tee time at Congressional.

He arrived at 7:55, rushed to the 10th tee – his first hole of the day – without warming up and avoided a two-stroke penalty for being late for his tee time. In a related item, Scott’s caddie Steve Williams said his man’s opening-day 75 was the best 4-over-almost-late card of his career.

Tweet of the week: @BobEstesPGA (Bob Estes) “Sometimes it feels like we spend as much time walking backward to the new back tees as we do actually playing golf.”

Congressional is one our favorite courses, but not the best of routings. On Thursday, Cut Line paced off 217 uphill steps from the 17th green to the 18th tee. As Phil Mickelson might say, that fails Routing 101.


Missed Cut

Change for the sake of change. It was curious timing that one day after the Tour announced it was still mulling a new plan to dramatically transform its qualifying process, making the Web.com Tour the primary path to the big leagues, news of Web.com’s 10-year deal was unveiled.

The new qualifying plan, you see, was supposed to make the secondary circuit more attractive to a potential umbrella sponsor by aligning the two tours more closely and putting more focus on the three-event finals series. But on Wednesday it sounded as though the new plan was just a bonus, not a be-all, for the new deal.

“Certainly we think it's very beneficial, but that decision had already been made by the Tour when we engaged,” said David Brown, CEO and president of Web.com. “So it was nice to have but not a fundamental part of our decision-making process.”

If that’s the case, then why are we changing?

South Korean LPGA stars lead KLPGA team

By Randall MellNovember 24, 2017, 10:32 pm

South Korea’s LPGA team of all-stars took the early lead Friday on the Korean LPGA Tour in a team event featuring twice as much star power as this year’s Solheim Cup did.

Eight of the world’s top 20 players are teeing it up in the ING Life Champions Trophy/ Inbee Park Invitational in Gyeongju. There were only four players among the top 20 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings when the United States defeated Europe in Des Moines, Iowa.

Park led the LPGA team to a 3 ½-to-2 ½ lead on the first day.

Park, who has been recuperating from a back injury for most of the second half of this season, teamed with Jeongeun Lee5 to defeat Hye Jin Choi and Ji Hyun Kim, 5 and 4, in the lead-off four-ball match.

So Yeon Ryu and Park, former world No. 1s and LPGA Rolex Player of the Year Award winners, will be the marquee pairing on Saturday. They will lead off foursomes against Ji Young Kim and Min Sun Kim.

Nine of the 11 South Koreans who won LPGA events this year are competing. Sung Hyun Park and I.K. Kim are the only two who aren’t.

The fourball results:

LPGA’s Inbee Park/ Jeongeun Lee5 def. Hye Jin Choi/Ji Hyun Kim, 5 and 4.

LPGA’s Mirim Lee/Amy Yang def.  Ji Hyun Oh/Min Sun Kim, 3 and 1.

LPGA’s M.J. Hur/Mi Hyang Lee halved Ji Hyun Kim/Ji Young Kim.

KLPGA’s Ha Na Jang/Sun Woo Bae def. Sei Young Kim/Hyo Joo Kim, 5 and 4.

LPGA’s Na Yeon Choi/Jenny Shin halved Jin Young Ko/Da Yeon Lee

LPGA’s In Gee Chun/Eun Hee Ji halved Jeongeun Lee6/Char Young Kim.

NOTE: The KPGA uses numerals after a player’s name to distinguish players with the exact same name.

 

Cut Line: Lyle faces third bout with cancer

By Rex HoggardNovember 24, 2017, 5:40 pm

In this week’s holiday edition, Cut Line is thankful for the PGA Tour’s continued progress on many fronts and the anticipation that only a Tiger Woods return can generate.

Made Cut

The Fighter. That was the headline of a story Cut Line wrote about Jarrod Lyle following his second bout with cancer a few years ago, so it’s both sad and surreal to see the affable Australian now bracing for a third fight with leukemia.

Lyle is working as an analyst for Channel 7’s coverage of this week’s Emirates Australian Open prior to undergoing another stem cell transplant in December.

“I’ve got a big month coming,” Lyle said. “I’m back into hospital for some really heavy-duty treatment that’s really going to determine how things pan out for me.”

Twice before things have panned out for Lyle. Let’s hope karma has one more fight remaining.

Changing times. Last season the PGA Tour introduced a policy to add to the strength of fields, a measure that had long eluded officials and by most accounts was a success.

This season the circuit has chosen to tackle another long-standing thorn, ridiculously long pro-am rounds. While there seems little the Tour can do to speed up play during pro-am rounds, a new plan called a 9&9 format will at least liven things up for everyone involved.

Essentially, a tournament hosting a pro-am with four amateurs can request the new format, where one professional plays the first nine holes and is replaced by another pro for the second nine.

Professionals will have the option to request 18-hole pro-am rounds, giving players who limit practice rounds to just pro-am days a chance to prepare, but otherwise it allows Tour types to shorten what is an admittedly long day while the amateurs get a chance to meet and play with two pros.

The new measure does nothing about pace of play, but it does freshen up a format that at times can seem tired, and that’s progress.

Tweet of the week: @Love3d (Davis Love III‏) “Thanks to Dr. Flanagan (Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center) for the new hip and great care! Can’t wait to get back to (the PGA Tour).”

Love offered the particularly graphic tweet following hip replacement surgery on Tuesday, a procedure that he admitted he’d delayed because he was “chicken.”

The surgery went well and Love is on pace to return to the Tour sometime next spring. As for the possibility of over-sharing on social media, we’ll leave that to the crowd.


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Distance control. The Wall Street Journal provided the octagon for the opening blows of a clash that has been looming for a long time.

First, USGA executive director Mike Davis told The Journal that the answer to continued distance gains may be a restricted-flight golf ball with an a la carte rule that would allow different organizations, from the Tour all the way down to private clubs, deciding which ball to use.

“You can’t say you don’t care about distance, because guess what? These courses are expanding and are predicted to continue to expand,” Davis said. “The impact it has had has been horrible.”

A day later, Wally Uihlein, CEO of Acushnet, which includes the Titleist brand, fired back in a letter to The Journal, questioning among other things how distance gains are putting a financial burden on courses.

“The only people that seem to be grappling with advances in technology and physical fitness are the short-sighted golf course developers and the supporting golf course architectural community who built too many golf courses where the notion of a 'championship golf course' was brought on line primarily to sell real estate,” Uihlein wrote.

For anyone paying attention the last few years, this day was inevitable and the likely start of what will be a drawn out and heated process, but Cut Line’s just not sure anyone wins when it’s over.

Tiger, take II. Tiger Woods’ return to competition next week at the Hero World Challenge was always going to generate plenty of speculation, but that hyperbole reached entirely new levels this week as players began giving personal accounts of the new and improved 14-time major champion.

“I did talk to him, and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years,’” Day said as he prepared for the Australian Open. “If he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.”

Rickie Fowler added to the frenzy when he was asked this month if the rumors that Woods is driving the ball by him, by 20 to 30 yards by some reports, are true?

“Oh, yeah,” he told Golf.com. “Way by.”

Add to all this a recent line that surfaced in Las Vegas that Woods is now listed at 20-1 to win a major in 2018, and it seems now may be a good time for a restraint.

Golf is better with Woods, always has been and always will be, but it may be best to allow Tiger time to find out where his body and game are before we declare him back.


Missed Cut

Searching for answers. Twelve months ago, Hideki Matsuyama was virtually unstoppable and, regardless of what the Official World Golf Ranking said, arguably the best player on the planet.

Now a year removed from that lofty position, which featured the Japanese star finishing either first or second in six of his seven starts as the New Year came and went, Matsuyama has faded back to fifth in the world and on Sunday finished fifth, some 10 strokes behind winner Brooks Koepka, at the Dunlop Phoenix.

“That hurt,” Matsuyama told the Japan Times. “I don’t know whether it’s a lack of practice or whether I lack the strength to keep playing well. It seems there are many issues to address.”

Since his last victory at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, Matsuyama has just two top-10 finishes on Tour and he ended his 2016-17 season with a particularly poor performance at the Presidents Cup.

While Matsuyama’s take seems extreme considering his season, there are certainly answers that need answering.

Video, images from Tiger, DJ's round with Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 24, 2017, 1:33 pm

Updated at 9:50 p.m. ET

Images and footage from Tiger Woods and Dustin Johnson's round Friday at Trump National in Jupiter, Fla., alongside President Donald Trump:



Original story:

Tiger Woods is scheduled to make his return to competition next week at his Hero World Challenge. But first, a (quick) round with the President.

President Donald Trump tweeted on Friday that he was going to play at Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Fla., alongside Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.



Woods and President Trump previously played last December. Trump, who, according to trumpgolfcount.com has played 75 rounds since taking over the presidency, has also played over the last year with Rory McIlroy, Ernie Els and Hideki Matsuyama.

Chawrasia leads major champs in Hong Kong

By Associated PressNovember 24, 2017, 1:19 pm

HONG KONG – S.S.P. Chawrasia extended his lead at the Hong Kong Open to two strokes Friday after a 4-under 66 in the second round.

Chawrasia, who had led by one at the Hong Kong Golf Club, is at 9-under 131 overall and took as much as a five-stroke lead at one point.

''Yesterday I was putting very well, and today, also I make some up and downs. I saved a couple of short putts. That's why I think I'm leading by two shots most probably,'' the Indian said. ''The next two days, I'm just looking forward.''


Full-field scores from the UBS Hong Kong Open


Thomas Aiken (64) is second, followed by Alexander Bjork (66), Joakim Lagergren (66), Poom Saksansin (68) and Julian Suri (67) at 5 under 135.

Aiken's round was the lowest of the tournament.

''It is tough out there. The greens are really firm. You've got to hit the fairway,'' Aiken said. ''If you get above the holes, putts can get away from you.''

Justin Rose (69) had six birdies, but three bogeys and a double-bogey at the par 3 12th kept him at 3 under for the tournament.

Masters champion Sergio Garcia (71), playing for the first time in Hong Kong, was at even par, as was defending champion Sam Brazel (71) and 2014 champion Scott Hend (67).

''I have to play better,'' Garcia said. ''The way I felt like I played, it's difficult. This kind of course, you need to play well to shoot a good score.''