Finchem rebuffs Price's proposed Presidents Cup change

By Rex HoggardAugust 2, 2013, 10:45 pm

If Inbee Park’s quest to win the single-season Grand Slam falls in the Scottish forest, would anyone hear it? If American dominance in the Presidents Cup is wrong, does PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem want to be right? And finally, if the U.S. Golf Association brings its new four-ball championship to golf’s field of dreams, will the golf masses come?

All these questions and more in a “dog days” edition of Cut Line.

Made Cut

Cup half full. The PGA Tour is poised to unveil the new selection process for this year’s World Cup, notable primarily because of adjustments made to attract more countries to the event.

Under the new process, similar to the system that will be used for the 2016 Olympics, the 60-player field will be filled based on the world golf ranking through Sept. 23.

Countries with up to four players within the top 15 in the world ranking can send all four to the event in November. Conversely, a country with just one player who qualifies could send a single player to compete.

This year’s World Cup will feature an individual competition as well as a team component that will be determined via an aggregate score.

Oh yeah, this year’s event is being played at Royal Melbourne, so ... they have that going for them.

Early heat. While we are still not thrilled with the demise of the U.S. Amateur Public Links, give the USGA credit for opening with a strong group of venues for the newly minted U.S. Amateur Four-Ball championships.

The venerable Olympic Club will host the inaugural men’s championship in 2015 while Oregon’s Bandon Dunes – may we suggest Pacific Dunes and Pacific Trails – will be the site of the women’s event.

The folks in Far Hills, N.J., may have gone one better for the 2016 championships, with storied Winged Foot hosting the men and Florida’s Streamsong Resort, the new darling of golf course raters everywhere, will be the venue for the women.

On this the USGA adhered to the No. 1 rule in golf – location, location, location.

Tweet of the week: @KyleThompsonPGA (Kyle Thompson) “If I had to catch my own fish to eat ... I’d be really skinny.”

Feel like there’s a metaphor in there somewhere.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Status quo. According to International Presidents Cup captain Nick Price, he asked Finchem to consider a format change for this year’s matches but the commish balked.

Price asked to reduce the number of team matches to four, like they do at the Ryder Cup, instead of the six foursome and fourball matches that are played on Days 1 and 2 at the Presidents Cup.

“The Europeans put out the eight best players they can. It would be really interesting to see if the Ryder Cup was played under the Presidents Cup points system what the outcome would be,” Price said this week. “(Finchem) didn't think it needed a change. Ernie (Els) and I were really disappointed with the outcome.”

Parity, the U.S. leads the series 7-1-1, doesn’t seem to be high on Finchem’s “to do” list.

Unsolicited advice. There is nothing better than an open microphone and Gary Player. There are few who can light up an interview room like the Black Knight, but he may have fanned one out of bounds when he suggested Rory McIlroy’s struggles on the golf course this year stem from his budding relationship with Caroline Wozniacki.

“When you’re in love as a young man naturally golf seems to take second place for a while. It’s natural. love is still the greatest thing that ever happens in our lives,” Player told My Sporting Life. “But the thing is for a man like Rory with talent galore he’s got to make sure he has a woman like I’ve got, who has been married [to me] for 56 years, that has only encouraged me to do well and made sacrifices. He’s got to be intelligent and find the right wife. If he finds the right wife, if he practices and if he’s dedicated, he could be the man.”

Lost in Player’s however well intended assessment is the fact that McIlroy’s personal choices didn’t seem to be an issue last year, when he won the PGA Championship by eight strokes, dominated the FedEx Cup playoffs and was a hero for the European Ryder Cup team, all with Wozniacki on his arm.

Tweet of the week II: @andyroddick (yes, that Andy Roddick) “I'm so sick of people bagging on McIlroy and Caroline. They're both very bright and nice people. Let them live and stop looking for stories.”

Missed Cut

Apathy. The possibility of a good old single-season Grand Slam doesn’t seem to have ignited the faithful the way it once did.

According to Golf Channel’s Randall Mell, 40 people were on hand at St. Andrews when Inbee Park began her quest for history early Thursday at the Women’s British Open. There were more fans than that in the practice range stands on Thursday as Tiger Woods warmed up for his first round at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

We know it was early and cold and Thursday, but Cut Line expects better from the Scottish masses, which are normally the most golf savvy crowds in the game. Park deserves better.

Spin. Not sure it really matters to the juniors who will benefit, but Sergio Garcia’s media move to donate $1,000 for every birdie and $2,000 for every eagle to the local First Tee chapter at every host city of the event he's playing smacks of spin control.

Garcia created a media maelstrom earlier this season when he made an offensive remark about Tiger Woods at a European Tour awards dinner. 

It should be pointed out that Garica’s charitable efforts back home in Spain are the stuff of legend and the various First Tee programs could certainly use the additional funding, but there is no way to ignore the notion that this most recent move is simply a blatantly clumsy attempt at changing the conversation.

Getty Images

Farmers inks 7-year extension through 2026

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:04 am

SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance has signed a seven-year extension to serve as the title sponsor for the PGA Tour event at Torrey Pines, it was announced Tuesday. The deal will run through 2026.

“Farmers Insurance has been incredibly supportive of the tournament and the Century Club’s charitable initiatives since first committing to become the title sponsor in 2010,” PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

Farmers Insurance Open: Articles, photos and videos

“We are extremely grateful for the strong support of Farmers and its active role as title sponsor, and we are excited by the commitment Farmers has made to continue sponsorship of the Farmers Insurance Open for an additional seven years.

In partnership with Farmers, the Century Club – the tournament’s host organization – has contributed more than $20 million to deserving organizations benefiting at-risk youth since 2010. 

Getty Images

Woods impresses DeChambeau, Day on Tuesday

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 11:27 pm

SAN DIEGO – Bryson DeChambeau played with Tiger Woods for the first time Tuesday morning, and the biggest surprise was that he wasn’t overcome by nerves.

“That’s what I was concerned about,” DeChambeau said. “Am I just gonna be slapping it around off the tee? But I was able to play pretty well.”

So was Woods.

DeChambeau said that Woods looked “fantastic” as he prepares to make his first PGA Tour start in a year.

“His game looks solid. His body doesn’t hurt. He’s just like, yeah, I’m playing golf again,” DeChambeau said. “And he’s having fun, too, which is a good thing.”

Woods arrived at Torrey Pines before 7 a.m. local time Tuesday, when the temperature hadn’t yet crept above 50 degrees. He warmed up and played the back nine of Torrey Pines’ South Course with DeChambeau and Jason Day.

“He looks impressive; it was good to see,” Day told afterward. “You take (Farmers) last year and the Dubai tournament out, and he hasn’t really played in two years. I think the biggest thing is to not get too far ahead, or think he’s going to come back and win straight away.

Farmers Insurance Open: Articles, photos and videos

“The other time he came back, I don’t think he was ready and he probably came back too soon. This time he definitely looks ready. I think his swing is really nice, he’s hitting the driver a long way and he looks like he’s got some speed, which is great.”

Woods said that his caddie, Joe LaCava, spent four days with him in South Florida last week and that he’s ready to go.

“Before the Hero I was basically given the OK probably about three or four weeks prior to the tournament, and I thought I did pretty good in that prep time,” Woods told, referring to his tie for ninth in the 18-man event.

“Now I’ve had a little more time to get ready for this event. I’ve played a lot more golf, and overall I feel like I’ve made some nice changes. I feel good.”

Woods is first off Torrey Pines’ North Course in Wednesday’s pro-am, scheduled for 6:40 a.m. local time. 

Getty Images

With blinders on, Rahm within reach of No. 1 at Torrey

By Rex HoggardJanuary 23, 2018, 10:10 pm

SAN DIEGO – The drive over to Torrey Pines from Palm Springs, Calif., takes about two and a half hours, which was plenty of time for Jon Rahm’s new and ever-evolving reality to sink in.

The Spaniard arrived in Southern California for a week full of firsts. The Farmers Insurance Open will mark the first time he’s defended a title on the PGA Tour following his dramatic breakthrough victory last year, and it will also be his first tournament as the game’s second-best player, at least according to the Official World Golf Ranking.

Rahm’s victory last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, his second on Tour and fourth worldwide tilt over the last 12 months, propelled the 23-year-old to No. 2 in the world, just behind Dustin Johnson. His overtime triumph also moved him to within four rounds of unseating DJ atop the global pecking order.

It’s impressive for a player who at this point last year was embarking on his first full season as a professional, but then Rahm has a fool-proof plan to keep from getting mired in the accolades of his accomplishments.

“It's kind of hard to process it, to be honest, because I live my day-to-day life with my girlfriend and my team around me and they don't change their behavior based on what I do, right?” he said on Tuesday at Torrey Pines. “They'll never change what they think of me. So I really don't know the magnitude of what I do until I go outside of my comfort zone.”

Head down and happy has worked perfectly for Rahm, who has finished outside the top 10 in just three of his last 10 starts and began 2018 with a runner-up showing at the Sentry Tournament of Champions and last week’s victory.

According to the world ranking math, Rahm is 1.35 average ranking points behind Johnson and can overtake DJ atop the pack with a victory this week at the Farmers Insurance Open; but to hear his take on his ascension one would imagine a much wider margin.

“I've said many times, beating Dustin Johnson is a really, really hard task,” Rahm said. “We all know what happened last time he was close to a lead in a tournament on the PGA Tour.”

Farmers Insurance Open: Articles, photos and videos

Rahm certainly remembers. It was just three weeks ago in Maui when he birdied three of his first six holes, played the weekend at Kapalua in 11 under and still finished eight strokes behind Johnson.

And last year at the WGC-Mexico Championship when Rahm closed his week with rounds of 67-68 only to finish two strokes off Johnson’s winning pace, or a few weeks later at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play when he took Johnson the distance in the championship match only to drop a 1-up decision to the game’s undisputed heavyweight.

As far as Rahm has come in an incredibly short time - at this point last year he ranked 137th in the world - it is interesting that it’s been Johnson who has had an answer at every turn.

He knows there’s still so much room for improvement, both physically and mentally, and no one would ever say Rahm is wanting for confidence, but after so many high-profile run-ins with Johnson, his cautious optimism is perfectly understandable.

“I'll try to focus more on what's going on this week rather than what comes with it if I win,” he reasoned when asked about the prospect of unseating Johnson, who isn’t playing this week. “I'll try my best, that's for sure. Hopefully it happens, but we all know how hard it is to win on Tour.”

If Rahm’s take seems a tad cliché given the circumstances, consider that his aversion to looking beyond the blinders is baked into the competitive cake. For all of his physical advantages, of which there are many, it’s his keen ability to produce something special on command that may be even more impressive.

Last year at Torrey Pines was a quintessential example of this, when he began the final round three strokes off the lead only to close his day with a back-nine 30 that included a pair of eagles.

“I have the confidence that I can win here, whereas last year I knew I could but I still had to do it,” he said. “I hope I don't have to shoot 30 on the back nine to win again.”

Some will point to Rahm’s 60-footer for eagle at the 72nd hole last year as a turning point in his young career, it was even named the best putt on Tour by one publication despite the fact he won by three strokes. But Rahm will tell you that walk-off wasn’t even the best shot he hit during the final round.

Instead, he explained that the best shot of the week, the best shot of the year, came on the 13th hole when he launched a 4-iron from a bunker to 18 feet for eagle, a putt that he also made.

“If I don't put that ball on the green, which is actually a lot harder than making that putt, the back nine charge would have never happened and this year might have never happened, so that shot is the one that made everything possible,” he explained.

Rahm’s ability to embrace and execute during those moments is what makes him special and why he’s suddenly found himself as the most likely contender to Johnson’s throne even if he chooses not to spend much time thinking about it.

Getty Images

Rahm focusing on play, not shot at No. 1

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 9:06 pm

SAN DIEGO – Jon Rahm’s meteoric rise in the world rankings could end with him reaching No. 1 with a win this week at Torrey Pines.

After winning last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, his fourth title in 51 weeks, Rahm has closed the gap on Dustin Johnson – less than 1.5 average points separates them.

With Johnson not playing this week, the 23-year-old Spaniard has a chance to reach the top spot for the first time, but only if he defends his title at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Farmers Insurance Open: Articles, photos and videos

“Beating Dustin Johnson is a really, really hard task. It’s no easy task,” he said Tuesday. “We still have four days of golf ahead and we’ll see what happens. But I’ll try to focus more on what’s going on this week rather than what comes with it if I win.

“I’ll try my best, that’s for sure. Hopefully it happens, but we all know how hard it is to win on Tour.”

Rahm has already become the fourth-youngest player to reach No. 2 in the world, behind Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy.