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.

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Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''

Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

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The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

“What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

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Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

“I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.