Cut Line The Wrap on Woods

By Rex HoggardApril 10, 2010, 2:21 am

AUGUSTA, Ga. – The chairman was right, regarding what was said and left unsaid. Tiger Woods is not bigger than game, but to window dress the first half of the year’s first major with stories of on-course heroics, of which there have been plenty through 36 holes, is akin to bringing a spork to a knife fight.

The time for golf, just golf and nothing but golf is fast approaching, but before the Masters starts on the back nine Sunday history compels “Cut Line” to put a bowtie on the “return.”


Made Cut

Billy Payne. The Augusta National chairman is proving to be as savvy as former regimes were dogmatic, and his unprovoked trip to the metaphorical wood shed with Tiger Woods on Wednesday was every bit a necessary step in the re-entry process as those 45-days of rehabilitation.

We can’t say for certain what Payne’s motives were, nor do we care. What’s important is that someone Woods’ respects, be it begrudgingly or otherwise, drew a line at what is acceptable behavior.

“His future will never again be measured only by his performance against par, but measured by the sincerity of his efforts to change” Payne said in his annual “State of the Masters” address to the media. “I hope he now realizes that every kid he passes on the course wants his swing, but would settle for his smile.”

In a sport that is often dominated by enablers, perhaps the only place that could took a stand.

Woods’ play. The jury is out, will be for a while actually, on whether the new, improved version is changed. But his play on the course is reason No. 1,856 why he will go on to be the greatest who ever played the game.

For 15 years Woods struggled mightily on Day 1 at the Masters – having posted just five under-par rounds and not a single round in the 60s – and with 15-minutes of infamy weighing heavily on him this week 2010 didn’t look like the year he’d finally break strong out of the gate.

So much for neatly crafted theories. His opening 68 could have been better had a few more putts dropped and he called his second-round 70 even better considering the conditions. He also treated the crowd to what may be the shot of the week, a sweeping approach from the left rough at No. 9 on Thursday from 207 yards that set up an 8-foot birdie putt.

“It feels good to be back in contention,” Woods said.

Yes, it does.

Competition committee. Day 1 at the Masters may have been the most eventful in decades, if not ever. Most agreed Thursday’s pins were as kind as Augusta National can offer and there is a good chance the softer side of the Georgia gem didn’t come about by chance.

The best way for a curious public to move beyond the Tiger Show was a leaderboard dotted with legends (Fred Couples and Tom Watson) and headliners (Woods, Phil Mickelson and Lee Westwood) and few places can serve up storylines better than Augusta National.

For a public seeing red, and not the traditional Sunday shade, the best way to change the subject was with some old fashion red on the leaderboard.

Tweet of the Week: @danjenkinsgc “Watson, Couples, Lyle and Langer, all 50 and up, are all under par. Maybe Jack and Arnold should have gone 18.”

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Monday’s media meet-and-greet. Woods’ long-awaited mass Q&A was a clean card by most accounts, with revelations of a previously unknown Achilles injury and a long-awaited answer regarding his association with Canadian Dr. Anthony Galea, who is under investigation for treating his patients with performance-enhancing drugs.

There were, however, questions left unanswered that will continue to haunt Woods no matter how well he plays.

His refusal to say what he was receiving treatment for will only lead to more questions and, holding true to his old form, he continues to be coy about his schedule this year.

What happens between Woods and his wife is no one elses business. What happens between the ropes this year is.

Nike Golf. A Swoosh commercial aired this week with a voiceover from Woods’ father, Earl, who passed away in 2006, that has been widely blasted by the press and public.

Devil’s advocate time, here. Nike Golf has a sizable investment in Woods. An investment that, much like “Cut Line’s” 401k, has been laying dormant for the better part of five months and the company, like Woods, had to move forward.

As for the use of Earl Woods in the ad, although it may seem distasteful to some, would the company have been better off airing a traditional go-fight-win campaign? Wouldn’t that have seemed trite given the circumstances?

Besides, we’re pretty sure Earl wouldn’t have minded.

Missed Cut

Mean people. Above all else Woods has been rather clear on this, he did wrong in his personal life. Terribly, terribly wrong. And not a single patron on Thursday was unaware of his transgressions and yet still someone with plenty of means felt they needed to remind all those on hand why Woods has been out of the game for five months.

To be honest, we were not surprised someone rented a plane and crafted signs that were critical of Woods. More concerning, however, were the messages. One line was pinched from a Jay Leno monologue and the other was less than original. If you’re going to go through all the trouble of buzzing Augusta National, we expect better.

Collective moral flexibility. More than one Tour wife found the reception the world No. 1 received on Thursday a bit more embracing than they would have expected. Forgiveness is one thing, carte blanche support that borders on denial is an entirely different malady.

“I just feel sorry for Elin,” said one Tour wife.

It is a sad testament to our society that Woods’ abilities with a golf club are not mutually exclusive to his inability to control his urges.

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Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys

By Rex HoggardDecember 14, 2017, 7:00 pm

After careful consideration and an exhaustive review of 2017 we present The Rexys, a wildly incomplete and arbitrary line up following one of the most eventful years in golf.

 There will be omissions – just keep your calls, concerns and even e-mails to yourself. We appreciate your patronage, but not your feedback.

It’s Not You, It’s Me Award. You know the deal: You can’t be a part of two until you’re a better one; but on this front it’s really just a desire to find a better two.

It was a tough year for caddies, and not just any caddies. In June, Phil Mickelson split with longtime bagman Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both player and caddie cited the need for “change,” but the move reverberated throughout the game.

“The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.

In the wake of the Lefty/Bones break, Rory McIlroy split with his caddie J.P Fitzgerald, and Jason Day replaced looper/swing coach Colin Swatton on his bag. It all proves yet again that there are only two kinds of caddies, those who have been fired and those who are about to be fired.

Run for the Rose Cup. Sergio Garcia got the green jacket, a lifetime exemption to the game’s most coveted member-member and a long-awaited major, but Justin Rose took home the slightly less prestigious “Rose Cup.”

Following a frenzied afternoon at Augusta National in April, Rose lost to Garcia on the first playoff hole, but he won so much more with his honesty and class.

“You're going to win majors and you're going to lose majors, but you've got to be willing to lose them,” Rose figured following the final round. “You've got to put yourself out there. You've got to hit the top of the leaderboard. There's a lot of pressure out there and if you're not willing to enjoy it, then you're not ready to win these tournaments. I loved it out there.”

Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.

Half-Empty Cup. It was the perfect setting, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and the promise of the Tristate masses descending on this fall’s Presidents Cup.

If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.

For the sixth time in the last seven matches, the U.S. team rolled to a victory of at least three points. This particular edition was even in danger of ending on Saturday afternoon thanks to a particularly dominant performance by a young American squad led by Steve Stricker.

Officials spoke of the purity of the competition and the attention the ’17 cup generated, but however you spin the 19-11 rout, this cup is half empty.

Enigma Award. The actual hardware is simply an oversized question mark and was sent directly to Tiger Woods’ South Florida compound following the most curious of seasons.

While it’s become customary in recent years to consider the uncertain path that awaits the 14-time major winner, this most recent calendar brought an entirely new collection of questions following fusion surgery on his lower back in April, his arrest for DUI on Memorial Day and, finally, a glimmer of hope born from his tie for ninth at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.

When will he play again? Can he compete against the current generation of world-beaters? Can his body withstand the rigors of a full PGA Tour schedule? Should Jim Furyk make him a captain’s pick now or wait to see if he should be driving a vice captain’s golf cart instead?

Little is certain when it comes to Woods, and the over-sized question mark goes to ... the guy in red and black.

After Further Review Chalice. In April, Lexi Thompson endured a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, the byproduct of a surreal ruling that arrived a day late via a viewer e-mail and cost the would-be winner a major championship.

The entire event was so unsavory that the USGA and R&A made not one but two alterations to the rules and created a “working group” to avoid similar snafus in the future.

That working group – it turns out the U.S. Ryder Cup team has some sort of copyright on “task force” – initially issued a decision that introduced a “reasonable judgment” and a “naked eye” standard to video reviews, and last week the rule makers kept the changes coming.

The new protocols on video review will now include an official to monitor tournament broadcasts and ended the practice of allowing fans to call in, or in this case e-mail, possible infractions to officials. The USGA and R&A also eliminated the two-stroke penalty for players who sign incorrect scorecards when the player is unaware of the penalty.

While all this might be a step in the right direction, it does nothing to change Thompson’s fate. The AFR Chalice won’t change the harsh reality, but at least it will serve as a reminder of how she helped altered the rulemaking landscape.

Nothing Runs Like a Deere Award. Nothing gets fans fired up like officials turning fields of fescue rough into hay on the eve of a major championship, and the USGA’s decision to do some 11th-hour trimming at Erin Hills in June certainly caught many by surprise.

Officials said the nip/tuck on four holes was in reaction to a particularly foreboding forecast that never materialized, and the maintenance drew the ire of some players.

“We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” Rory McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here; if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”

The record low scoring at the U.S. Open – winner Brooks Koepka finished with a 16-under total – didn’t help ease the fervor and had some questioning whether the softer side of the USGA has gone a bit too far?

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Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 5:28 pm

John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.

That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.

Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.

Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 4:22 pm

Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.

Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.

Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters

Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.

World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.

Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.

Nathaniel Crosby at the 1983 Bing Crosby Pro-Am at Pebble Beach. Getty Images

Crosby selected as 2019 U.S. Walker Cup captain

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 3:19 pm

The USGA announced that former U.S. Amateur champ Nathaniel Crosby will serve as the American captain for the 2019 Walker Cup, which will be played at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England.

Crosby, 56, is the son of entertainment icon and golf enthusiast Bing Crosby. He won the 1981 U.S. Amateur at The Olympic Club as a teenager and earned low amateur honors at the 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He also played in the 1983 Walker Cup, coincidentally held at Royal Liverpool, before embarking on a brief career in professional golf, with his amateur status reinstated in 1994.

"I am thrilled and overwhelmed to be chosen captain of the next USA Walker Cup team," Crosby said in a statement. "Many of my closest friends are former captains who will hopefully take the time to share their approaches in an effort to help me with my new responsibilities."

Crosby takes over the captaincy from John "Spider" Miller, who led the U.S. squad both in 2015 and earlier this year, when the Americans cruised to a 19-7 victory at Los Angeles Country Club.

Crosby is a Florida resident and member at Seminole Golf Club, which will host the 2021 matches. While it remains to be seen if he'll be asked back as captain in 2021, each of the last six American captains have led a team on both home and foreign soil.

Started in 1922, the Walker Cup is a 10-man, amateur match play competition pitting the U.S. against Great Britain and Ireland. The U.S. team holds a 37-9 all-time lead in the biennial matches but has not won in Europe since 2007.