Force wasn't with Couples for Ryder Cup captaincy

By Rex HoggardFebruary 20, 2015, 8:08 pm

Davis Love III appears poised to get a second chance for Ryder Cup glory as a captain, Vijay Singh and Retief Goosen are looking to spark the second half of their careers and Riviera is proving to be second to none in this week’s edition of Cut Line.

Made Cut

Throwback Thursday. As the top of the game continues to trend younger and younger – think Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and Jason Day – it was refreshing to see a pair of veterans atop the Northern Trust Open leaderboard Thursday.

Vijay Singh and Retief Goosen shared the first-round lead following opening rounds of 66. Combined, the two front-runners are 97 years old and Singh won his first Tour title (1993) the same year Spieth was born.

The face of golf is getting younger every week, but on the right golf courses and on the right week it’s encouraging that it’s not always a young man’s game.

Tweet of the week: @GrahamDeLaet (Graham DeLaet) “If I were doing a bucket list for someone, my top 5 non-major courses on Tour: Riviera, Colonial, Muirfield Village, Innisbrook, Harbour Town.”

Personally, we would trade Muirfield Village for, say, Sea Island or Quail Hollow, but a solid list nonetheless.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Tough task. The 11-member U.S. Ryder Cup task force was charged with coming up with something new, something that would end America’s ills in the biennial matches and give the event a much needed boost of parity.

Whether Davis Love III, who ias expected to be named the 2016 U.S. captain on Tuesday, will be that new beginning remains to be seen, but without any further details it’s hard not to consider the move an opportunity lost.

Love was a solid captain in 2012 – he did, after all, build a four-point lead heading into Sunday singles play – but it remains unclear why Fred Couples didn’t get a closer look.

On Feb. 4, Couples told that he spoke with PGA of America chief executive Pete Bevacqua in December, planned to talk with president Derek Sprague soon and was excited about the opportunity to captain a Ryder Cup team.

That was two days after the last task force meeting. Maybe Couples did get a fair look, but the timing would suggest otherwise.

Fair play. Attorneys for a group of caddies who filed a lawsuit against the PGA Tour earlier this month in U.S. District Court in San Francisco on Thursday withdrew a motion for an injunction to protect the caddies.

Lawyers originally filed the motion for injunctive relief after hearing “rumblings” that the Tour was asking players to dismiss caddies who were involved in a potential lawsuit, but Thursday’s filing indicated the circuit has taken a softer stance.

“[The Tour] has informed the players on the PGA Tour, Champions Tour, and Tour that the Tour is in no way suggesting or requiring that any member take any action against any caddie solely as a result of the lawsuit,” Thursday’s filing read.

It’s encouraging that the Tour caddies don’t need the courts to protect them, but it’s also an indication of how contentious this lawsuit could get.

Missed Cut

Short but not sweet. Each year the Tour arrives at Riviera and the golf world marvels at the meanest short hole in tournament golf.

At just 315 yards, Riv’s 10th hole provokes a disproportionate level of anxiety among the game’s best and brightest.

“I'm so scared to death of the hole,” Bubba Watson said Thursday. “It just looks worse and worse, as I get older, it looks worse. It's very difficult.”

No. 10’s advantage seems to be largely psychological considering that it ranked 439th last year on Tour in difficulty, playing to a 4.025 average. It’s a perception that will only grow given this year’s hard and fast conditions.

The 10th may be the best short par 4 on Tour, but players have long, and unpleasant, memories when it comes to one of the circuit’s most confined holes.

Tweet of the week II: @BenCraneGolf (Ben Crane) “Scariest short Par 4 on Tour. Borderline unfair when firm.”

Straight from the “middle of the now,” Crane delivered a perfectly measured assessment of Riviera ‘s10th hole after a ShotLink snapshot of Scott Piercy’s misadventure on the par 4 (he made a double-bogey-6) went viral on Thursday.

Worlds away. It was hardly surprising that Tiger Woods won’t play the Honda Classic. The former world No. 1 announced last week that he wouldn’t return to the Tour until his “game is tournament-ready,” and expecting him to turn things around so quickly was unrealistic.

Still, by skipping the Honda Classic, Woods was guaranteed not to move back into the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking, which meant he would not qualify for the WGC-Cadillac Championship.

Getting his game back in shape is a priority, but it’s no less shocking when Woods – who has built a Hall of Fame career on his play in the WGC's alone (he has 18 WGC victories) – isn’t in the deepest field of the new year.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.

Masters victory

Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative

Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ

Green jacket tour

Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket

Man of the people

Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief

Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together

Ace at 17th at Sawgrass

Growing family

Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018

Departure from TaylorMade

Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade

Squashed beef with Paddy

Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'

Victory at Valderrama

Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm
Getty Images

Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf

By Grill Room TeamDecember 11, 2017, 9:47 pm

Well, this is a one new one.

According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:

“No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”

Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.

“If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.

The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.

“I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”

The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.

Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.

Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.

PGA Tour suspends Hensby for anti-doping violation

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 8:02 pm

Mark Hensby has been suspended for one year by the PGA Tour for violating the Tour’s anti-doping policy by failing to provide a sample after notification.

The Tour made the announcement Monday, reporting that Hensby will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.

The statement reads:

The PGA Tour announced today that Mark Hensby has violated the Tour Anti-Doping Policy for failing to provide a drug testing sample after notification and has been suspended for a period of one year. He will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.

Hensby, 46, won the John Deere Classic in 2004. He played the Tour this past year, playing just 14 events. He finished 142nd on the money list. He once ranked among the top 30 in the Official World Golf Ranking but ranks No. 1,623 today.

The Sunshine Tour recently suspended player Etienne Bond for one year for failing a drug test. Players previously suspended by the PGA Tour for violating the anti-doping policy include Scott Stallings and Doug Barron.

The PGA Tour implemented revisions to its anti-doping program with the start of the 2017-18 season. The revisions include blood testing and the supplementation of the Tour’s prohibited list to include all of the substances and methods on the World Anti-Doping Agency prohibited list. As part of this season’s revisions, the Tour announced it would also begin reporting suspensions due to recreational drug use.

The Tour said it would not issue further comment on Hensby's suspension.