Did You Miss the Cut

By Rex HoggardFebruary 26, 2010, 10:15 pm
The party at TPC Scottsdale’s 16th hole never stops, except for those who miss the cut or miss the point, and there were plenty of both during a week that featured the first public comments by Tiger Woods since “Black Friday” and a brave first step for a Tour favorite.

Made Cut

Chris Smith. The Tour veteran returned to work last week in Mexico eight months after the death of his wife in a car crash. Forget results because the scorecard couldn’t begin to touch how meaningful this first step was for Smith.

“It’s great to be back out here but this might be my only chance to play this year. I’ve got way too much to do at home to worry about playing golf,” Smith told Golf Channel’s Jerry Foltz.

Smith, an original in a game often dominated by the status quo, once reasoned that most other sports assign numbers to players so why not golf? Smith took 15, while good friend Jerry Kelly opted for 13. We’d like to suggest a new number for the part-time player, full-time father – No. 1.

The free market. If the populace is prone to vote with their pocket books than consider last week’s Allianz Championship the ultimate market correction.

Officials at the Champions Tour event made general admission free, a risky move that resulted in a spike in attendance, from about 9,000 on Friday last year to nearly 16,000 last week, and concession sales that doubled over 2009.

By comparison, Northern Trust Open officials upped the ante for walk-up tickets by $20, from $30 and $50, and felt the pinch at the gate. Which brings to mind the old campaign slogan for President Bill Clinton: It’s the economy stupid.

Pastels. We normally leave the fashion to those with better credentials, that is to say anyone that doesn’t buy their coats off-the-rack, but Ian Poulter’s Tour breakthrough last week in Tucson was the perfect combination of style and substance.

We’re not suggesting a Sunday leaderboard should resemble a catwalk, but a little color – say something between John Daly’s Loudmouth pants and Steve Stricker’s muted earth tones – couldn’t hurt.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

TPC tabs. Whatever your take on the timing and content of last Friday’s “Hello, again, world” event held by Tiger Woods at TPC Sawgrass, give the world No. 1 credit for not cutting any corners.

According to the Jacksonville Times-Union, the Woods camp will pick up the tab for last week’s press event, including the cost of the room in the TPC clubhouse, about $5,000, and the overtime for an estimated 30 sheriff’s deputies to secure the property.

As for all that lost marketing that Accenture endured because of the timing of the Woods’ event, chances are that check is not in the mail.

Tweet of the Week. Actually, it’s not a Tweet just an observation of the list of folks @Rorsmcilroy (Rory McIlroy) is following. It’s a list that includes California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenager, Lady Gaga, Tony Hawk and Kim Kardashian. You can tell a lot by who a person is following, we’re just not sure what all that means.

Missed Cut

Wednesday pre-qualifiers. The Tour started holding pre-qualifiers a few years ago in an attempt to weed out those players who had little or no chance to qualify via the traditional Monday qualifier, but an episode cropped up this week that stretches the reason of that rule.

Erik Compton, a two-time heart transplant recipient and one-man motivational dynamo, was nixed out of this week’s pre-qualifier for the Honda Classic because he’d missed the commitment deadline.

Shame on Compton for missing the deadline, but the truth is his playing record should exempt him from the Wednesday filter. Before being sidelined for his second heart transplant, he was a Nationwide Tour regular, he narrowly missed making it to the final stage of Q-School last year and tied for 40th last week in Mexico after winning that event’s Monday qualifier.

Flawed logic. Pundits who are demanding a pound of flesh by way of a Tour-mandated suspension of Woods for his actions are adding two plus two and getting five.

The arguments go that if John Daly and Jim Thorpe can be suspended by the circuit for their actions, surely Woods’ run-in with the Isleworth fire hydrant and revelations of his serial infidelity would qualify as detrimental to the game.

Missing, of course, in that logic is the fact that Thorpe (failure to pay taxes) and Daly (public intoxication) broke laws. Woods only broke hearts.
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After Further Review: Woods wisely keeping things in perspective

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 19, 2018, 3:17 am

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

On Tiger Woods' career comeback ...

Tiger Woods seems to be the only one keeping his comeback in the proper perspective. Asked after his tie for fifth at Bay Hill whether he could ever have envisioned his game being in this shape heading into Augusta, he replied: “If you would have given me this opportunity in December and January, I would have taken it in a heartbeat.” He’s healthy. He’s been in contention. He’s had two realistic chances to win. There’s no box unchecked as he heads to the Masters, and no one, especially not Woods, could have seen that coming a few months ago. – Ryan Lavner

On Tiger carrying momentum into API, Masters ...

Expect Jordan Spieth to leave Austin with the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play trophy next week.

After all, Spieth is seemingly the only top-ranked player who has yet to lift some hardware in the early part of 2018. Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas have all gotten it done, as have Jason Day, Phil Mickelson and most recently Rory McIlroy.

Throw in the sudden resurgence of Tiger Woods, and with two more weeks until the Masters there seem to be more azalea-laden storylines than ever before.

A Spieth victory in Austin would certainly add fuel to that fire, but even if he comes up short the 2015 champ will certainly be a focus of attention in a few short weeks when the golf world descends upon Magnolia Lane with no shortage of players able to point to a recent victory as proof that they’re in prime position to don a green jacket. – Will Gray

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Davies not giving up on win, HOF after close call

By Randall MellMarch 19, 2018, 3:06 am

PHOENIX – Laura Davies knows the odds are long now, but she won’t let go of that dream of making the LPGA Hall of Fame.

At 54, she was emboldened by her weekend run at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup. She tied for second, five shots behind Inbee Park.

“The more I get up there, I might have a chance of winning again,” Davies said. “I'm not saying I will ever win, but today was close. Maybe one day I can go closer.”

Davies is a World Golf Hall of Famer, but she has been sitting just outside the qualification standard needed to get into the LPGA Hall of Fame for a long time. She needs 27 points, but she has been stuck on 25 since her last victory in 2001. A regular tour title is worth one point, a major championship is worth two points.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Over her career, she has won 20 LPGA titles, four of them major championships. She was the tour’s Rolex Player of the Year in 1996. She probably would have locked up Hall of Fame status if she hadn’t been so loyal to the Ladies European Tour, where she won 45 titles.

Though Davies didn’t win Sunday in Phoenix, there was more than consolation in her run into contention.

“Now people might stop asking me when I'm going to retire,” she said.

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Davies impresses, but there's no catching Park

By Randall MellMarch 19, 2018, 2:40 am

PHOENIX – Inbee Park won the tournament.

Laura Davies won the day.

It was a fitting script for the Bank of Hope Founders Cup on Sunday, where nostalgia stirs the desert air in such a special way.

Two of the game’s all-time best, LPGA Hall of Famer Inbee Park and World Golf Hall of Famer Laura Davies, put on a show with the tour’s three living founders applauding them in the end.

Park and Davies made an event all about honoring the tour’s past while investing in its future something to savor in the moment. Founders Marilynn Smith, Shirley Spork and Marlene Hagge Vossler cheered them both.

For Park, there was meaningful affirmation in her 18th LPGA title.

In seven months away from the LPGA, healing up a bad back, Park confessed she wondered if she should retire. This was just her second start back. She won feeling no lingering effects from her injury.

“I was trying to figure out if I was still good enough to win,” Park said of her long break back home in South Korea. “This proved to me I can win and play some pain-free golf.”

At 54, Davies kept peeling away the years Sunday, one sweet swing after another. She did so after shaking some serious nerves hitting her first tee shot.

“It’s about as nervous as I’ve ever felt,” Davies said. “I swear I nearly shanked it.”

Davies has won 45 Ladies European Tour events and 20 LPGA titles, but she was almost 17 years removed from her last LPGA title. Still, she reached back to those times when she used to rule the game and chipped in for eagle at the second hole to steady herself.

“It calmed me down, and I really enjoyed the day,” Davies said.

With birdies at the ninth and 10th holes, Davies pulled from three shots down at day’s start to within one of Park, sending a buzz through all the fans who came out to root for the popular Englishwoman.

“People were loving it,” said Tanya Paterson, Davies’ caddie. “We kept hearing, `Laura, we love you.’ It was special for Laura, showing she can still compete.”

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Davies relished giving all the young players today, who never saw how dominant she once was, some flashes from her great past.

“Yesterday, after I had that 63, a lot of the younger girls came up and said, `Oh, great playing today,”’ Davies said. “It was nice, I suppose, to have that. I still am a decent player, and I actually used to be really good at it. Maybe that did give them a glimpse into what it used to be like.”

She also relished showing certain fans something.

“Now, people might stop asking me when I'm going to retire,” she said.

Davies was the LPGA’s Rolex Player of the Year in 1996, when she won two of her four major championships. She was emboldened by the way she stood up to Sunday pressure again.

In the end, though, there was no catching Park, who continues to amaze with her ability to win coming back from long breaks after injuries.

Park, 29, comes back yet again looking like the player who reigned at world No. 1 for 92 weeks, won three consecutive major championships in 2013 and won the Olympic gold medal two years ago.

“The reason that I am competing and playing is because I want to win and because I want to contend in golf tournaments,” Park said.

After Davies and Marina Alex mounted runs to move within one shot, Park pulled away, closing ferociously. She made four birdies in a row starting at the 12th and won by five shots. Her famed putting stroke heated up, reminding today’s players how nobody can demoralize a field more with a flat stick.

“I just felt like nothing has dropped on the front nine,” Park said. “I was just thinking to myself, `They have to drop at some point.’ And they just started dropping, dropping, dropping.”

Yet again, Park showed her ability to win after long breaks.

In Rio de Janeiro two years ago, Park the Olympic gold medal in her first start back after missing two months because of a ligament injury in her left thumb. She took eight months off after Rio and came back to win the HSBC Women’s World Championship last year, in just her second start upon returning.

“I'm really happy to have a win early in the season,” Park said. “That just takes so much pressure off me.”

And puts it on the rest of the tour if she takes her best form to the year’s first major at the ANA Inspiration in two weeks.



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Rose: 'Never' has Rory putted as well as Bay Hill

By Ryan LavnerMarch 19, 2018, 1:20 am

ORLANDO, Fla. – Justin Rose didn’t need to ponder the question for very long.

The last time Rory McIlroy putted that well was, well …?

“Never,” Rose said with a chuckle. “Ryder Cup? He always makes it look easy when he’s playing well.”

And the Englishman did well just to try and keep pace.

After playing his first six holes in 4 over par, Rose battled not just to make the cut but to contend. He closed with consecutive rounds of 67, finishing in solo third, four shots back of McIlroy at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Full-field scores from the Arnold Palmer Invitational

Arnold Palmer Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

Rose said this weekend was the best he’s struck the ball all year. He just didn’t do enough to overtake McIlroy, who finished the week ranked first in strokes gained-putting and closed with a bogey-free 64.

“Rory just played incredible golf, and it’s great to see world-class players do that,” Rose said. “It’s not great to see him make putts because he was making them against me, but when he is, he’s incredibly hard to beat. So it was fun to watch him play.”