Presidents Cup math: Addition by subtraction

By Rex HoggardMay 17, 2017, 7:19 pm

It was the last question Nick Price was asked, which seemed apropos if not perfectly planned.

In April Price was named the International Presidents Cup team captain for the third time. As he and U.S. captain Steve Stricker were wrapping up a one-year-out news conference last October the conversation predictably turned to the Zimbabwean’s ongoing debate with the PGA Tour to reduce the total number of points in the biennial matches from 30 to 28, which is the same number used for the Ryder Cup.

“Last year [2015], I think it was very, very close. If it continues to be close, we may not need to change, but I honestly believe down the road, we'll probably change it to 28,” Price figured.

Prior to the ’15 matches, which the International team lost by a single point, Price & Co. had persuaded then-Tour commissioner Tim Finchem to reduce the number of available points from 34 to 30, a compromise that – at least from a competitive point of view – seemed to inject new life into the matches.

After fighting for so long to reach that 28-point threshold, which seems to work so well at the Ryder Cup, Price likely based his theory on an eventual shift to fewer points on the fact that Finchem stepped down this year and was replaced by Jay Monahan, who by most accounts is more of a consensus builder than his predecessor.

Asked about the possibility of reducing the number of matches last week at The Players, Monahan certainly didn’t seem opposed to the idea.

“We will look at everything. What happened in Korea put the Presidents Cup in a great spot,” said Monahan, who added that he studies the International team’s standings every Monday morning. “I think [Price] had it right and we all got it right in Korea and that’s an example of talking, discussing, collaborating. That will continue to be a part of everything that we do.”

The ’15 matches were close and compelling, at least for those on the right side of the international dateline, with the cup decided by the final singles match on Sunday when Bill Haas defeated South Korea’s Sangmoon Bae.


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For his part, Adam Scott – the undisputed leader of the International team, having played in the last seven matches – said he’s comfortable with the current point structure, but that doesn’t mean he likes it.

Scott doesn’t necessarily want to win a Presidents Cup - that’s happened just once (1998) since the matches began in 1994 - but like Price he has a passionate desire to assure it’s competitive.

“It was getting to that point of frustration - what are we doing this for? This is not enjoyable. I’ve heard it’s a cycle of strong and weak teams, but this is a long time now,” Scott said. “The decision was up to the Tour and they did what they thought was best and we have to accept it now. But certainly we need to see a competitive match and that was my argument, why wouldn’t you assure yourself a competitive event.”

For Scott and the other members of the International team it’s really a question of diminishing returns and a wildly lopsided event that was becoming increasingly difficult to enjoy.

In 2013 the U.S. team won by three points, four in ’11 and five in ’09. You get the idea.

Scott is one of the game’s most thoughtful and reasonable voices, and he understands better than most that changes to the Presidents Cup format can’t be made in a bubble.

“We can’t just have it our way; there’s another 12 guys on the U.S. team who may not want it different. I’m not saying we’re right and they are wrong, because they play the Ryder Cup as well, but a lot is made of Ryder Cup heroes, whether it’s Patrick Reed who plays amazing or Ian Poulter,” Scott said. “Yet no one on our teams is thought about as a match player. It’s a bit overlooked because the Ryder Cup is such a big deal.”

To Scott’s point, Branden Grace went 5-0-0 at the ’15 matches paired with Louis Oosthuizen, a week that included four-ball victories over Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth and Bubba Watson and J.B. Holmes. Yet no one compares his record to the likes of Reed and Poulter.

Would an International victory in October change that narrative? Maybe not, but it’s certainly not going to diminish his stature if he were to blaze a winning trail for the rest of the world.

In sports, you are what your record says you are, and the Internationals have largely been the Washington Generals to the U.S. side’s Harlem Globetrotters. But if that could change with some simple math and two fewer matches, which the ’15 outcome suggests could, wouldn’t that be best for everyone involved?

“It’s all long-term stuff, it’s not about whether I ever win a Presidents Cup, we’re looking at it from a longevity point of view,” Scott said. “But the last few [matches] for me, guys are just going through the motions and that’s a shame.”

The Tour will likely wait to see how competitive this year’s matches are before any potential changes, but given the likelihood of a more competitive event and a more amenable man in the commissioner’s office Price’s optimism is understandable.

South Korean LPGA stars lead KLPGA team

By Randall MellNovember 24, 2017, 10:32 pm

South Korea’s LPGA team of all-stars took the early lead Friday on the Korean LPGA Tour in a team event featuring twice as much star power as this year’s Solheim Cup did.

Eight of the world’s top 20 players are teeing it up in the ING Life Champions Trophy/ Inbee Park Invitational in Gyeongju. There were only four players among the top 20 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings when the United States defeated Europe in Des Moines, Iowa.

Park led the LPGA team to a 3 ½-to-2 ½ lead on the first day.

Park, who has been recuperating from a back injury for most of the second half of this season, teamed with Jeongeun Lee5 to defeat Hye Jin Choi and Ji Hyun Kim, 5 and 4, in the lead-off four-ball match.

So Yeon Ryu and Park, former world No. 1s and LPGA Rolex Player of the Year Award winners, will be the marquee pairing on Saturday. They will lead off foursomes against Ji Young Kim and Min Sun Kim.

Nine of the 11 South Koreans who won LPGA events this year are competing. Sung Hyun Park and I.K. Kim are the only two who aren’t.

The fourball results:

LPGA’s Inbee Park/ Jeongeun Lee5 def. Hye Jin Choi/Ji Hyun Kim, 5 and 4.

LPGA’s Mirim Lee/Amy Yang def.  Ji Hyun Oh/Min Sun Kim, 3 and 1.

LPGA’s M.J. Hur/Mi Hyang Lee halved Ji Hyun Kim/Ji Young Kim.

KLPGA’s Ha Na Jang/Sun Woo Bae def. Sei Young Kim/Hyo Joo Kim, 5 and 4.

LPGA’s Na Yeon Choi/Jenny Shin halved Jin Young Ko/Da Yeon Lee

LPGA’s In Gee Chun/Eun Hee Ji halved Jeongeun Lee6/Char Young Kim.

NOTE: The KPGA uses numerals after a player’s name to distinguish players with the exact same name.

 

Cut Line: Lyle faces third bout with cancer

By Rex HoggardNovember 24, 2017, 5:40 pm

In this week’s holiday edition, Cut Line is thankful for the PGA Tour’s continued progress on many fronts and the anticipation that only a Tiger Woods return can generate.

Made Cut

The Fighter. That was the headline of a story Cut Line wrote about Jarrod Lyle following his second bout with cancer a few years ago, so it’s both sad and surreal to see the affable Australian now bracing for a third fight with leukemia.

Lyle is working as an analyst for Channel 7’s coverage of this week’s Emirates Australian Open prior to undergoing another stem cell transplant in December.

“I’ve got a big month coming,” Lyle said. “I’m back into hospital for some really heavy-duty treatment that’s really going to determine how things pan out for me.”

Twice before things have panned out for Lyle. Let’s hope karma has one more fight remaining.

Changing times. Last season the PGA Tour introduced a policy to add to the strength of fields, a measure that had long eluded officials and by most accounts was a success.

This season the circuit has chosen to tackle another long-standing thorn, ridiculously long pro-am rounds. While there seems little the Tour can do to speed up play during pro-am rounds, a new plan called a 9&9 format will at least liven things up for everyone involved.

Essentially, a tournament hosting a pro-am with four amateurs can request the new format, where one professional plays the first nine holes and is replaced by another pro for the second nine.

Professionals will have the option to request 18-hole pro-am rounds, giving players who limit practice rounds to just pro-am days a chance to prepare, but otherwise it allows Tour types to shorten what is an admittedly long day while the amateurs get a chance to meet and play with two pros.

The new measure does nothing about pace of play, but it does freshen up a format that at times can seem tired, and that’s progress.

Tweet of the week: @Love3d (Davis Love III‏) “Thanks to Dr. Flanagan (Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center) for the new hip and great care! Can’t wait to get back to (the PGA Tour).”

Love offered the particularly graphic tweet following hip replacement surgery on Tuesday, a procedure that he admitted he’d delayed because he was “chicken.”

The surgery went well and Love is on pace to return to the Tour sometime next spring. As for the possibility of over-sharing on social media, we’ll leave that to the crowd.


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Distance control. The Wall Street Journal provided the octagon for the opening blows of a clash that has been looming for a long time.

First, USGA executive director Mike Davis told The Journal that the answer to continued distance gains may be a restricted-flight golf ball with an a la carte rule that would allow different organizations, from the Tour all the way down to private clubs, deciding which ball to use.

“You can’t say you don’t care about distance, because guess what? These courses are expanding and are predicted to continue to expand,” Davis said. “The impact it has had has been horrible.”

A day later, Wally Uihlein, CEO of Acushnet, which includes the Titleist brand, fired back in a letter to The Journal, questioning among other things how distance gains are putting a financial burden on courses.

“The only people that seem to be grappling with advances in technology and physical fitness are the short-sighted golf course developers and the supporting golf course architectural community who built too many golf courses where the notion of a 'championship golf course' was brought on line primarily to sell real estate,” Uihlein wrote.

For anyone paying attention the last few years, this day was inevitable and the likely start of what will be a drawn out and heated process, but Cut Line’s just not sure anyone wins when it’s over.

Tiger, take II. Tiger Woods’ return to competition next week at the Hero World Challenge was always going to generate plenty of speculation, but that hyperbole reached entirely new levels this week as players began giving personal accounts of the new and improved 14-time major champion.

“I did talk to him, and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years,’” Day said as he prepared for the Australian Open. “If he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.”

Rickie Fowler added to the frenzy when he was asked this month if the rumors that Woods is driving the ball by him, by 20 to 30 yards by some reports, are true?

“Oh, yeah,” he told Golf.com. “Way by.”

Add to all this a recent line that surfaced in Las Vegas that Woods is now listed at 20-1 to win a major in 2018, and it seems now may be a good time for a restraint.

Golf is better with Woods, always has been and always will be, but it may be best to allow Tiger time to find out where his body and game are before we declare him back.


Missed Cut

Searching for answers. Twelve months ago, Hideki Matsuyama was virtually unstoppable and, regardless of what the Official World Golf Ranking said, arguably the best player on the planet.

Now a year removed from that lofty position, which featured the Japanese star finishing either first or second in six of his seven starts as the New Year came and went, Matsuyama has faded back to fifth in the world and on Sunday finished fifth, some 10 strokes behind winner Brooks Koepka, at the Dunlop Phoenix.

“That hurt,” Matsuyama told the Japan Times. “I don’t know whether it’s a lack of practice or whether I lack the strength to keep playing well. It seems there are many issues to address.”

Since his last victory at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, Matsuyama has just two top-10 finishes on Tour and he ended his 2016-17 season with a particularly poor performance at the Presidents Cup.

While Matsuyama’s take seems extreme considering his season, there are certainly answers that need answering.

Trump playing 'quickly' with Tiger, DJ

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 24, 2017, 1:33 pm

Updated at 11:14 a.m. ET

An Instagram user known as hwalks posted photos to her account that included images of Tiger Woods, President Trump and Dustin Johnson Friday at Trump National, as well as video of Woods' swing.


Here are some other social media posts that have surfaced:


Original story:

Tiger Woods is scheduled to make his return to competition next week at his Hero World Challenge. But first, a (quick) round with the President.

President Donald Trump tweeted on Friday that he was going to play at Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Fla., alongside Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.



Woods and President Trump previously played last December. Trump, who, according to trumpgolfcount.com has played 75 rounds since taking over the presidency, has also played over the last year with Rory McIlroy, Ernie Els and Hideki Matsuyama.

Chawrasia leads major champs in Hong Kong

By Associated PressNovember 24, 2017, 1:19 pm

HONG KONG – S.S.P. Chawrasia extended his lead at the Hong Kong Open to two strokes Friday after a 4-under 66 in the second round.

Chawrasia, who had led by one at the Hong Kong Golf Club, is at 9-under 131 overall and took as much as a five-stroke lead at one point.

''Yesterday I was putting very well, and today, also I make some up and downs. I saved a couple of short putts. That's why I think I'm leading by two shots most probably,'' the Indian said. ''The next two days, I'm just looking forward.''


Full-field scores from the UBS Hong Kong Open


Thomas Aiken (64) is second, followed by Alexander Bjork (66), Joakim Lagergren (66), Poom Saksansin (68) and Julian Suri (67) at 5 under 135.

Aiken's round was the lowest of the tournament.

''It is tough out there. The greens are really firm. You've got to hit the fairway,'' Aiken said. ''If you get above the holes, putts can get away from you.''

Justin Rose (69) had six birdies, but three bogeys and a double-bogey at the par 3 12th kept him at 3 under for the tournament.

Masters champion Sergio Garcia (71), playing for the first time in Hong Kong, was at even par, as was defending champion Sam Brazel (71) and 2014 champion Scott Hend (67).

''I have to play better,'' Garcia said. ''The way I felt like I played, it's difficult. This kind of course, you need to play well to shoot a good score.''