Tom Watson proves age is just a number

By Rex HoggardJuly 5, 2013, 7:55 pm

The final salvos in the anchoring debate appear to have been lobbed this week and following months of debate and double talk this much is certain: There were no winners. Not the PGA Tour, not the USGA and R&A and certainly not golf.

Made Cut

Old Tom. He will be disconnected with today’s top players. He’s not familiar with the modern game. The Ryder Cup is a much different animal since he last led a team of Americans to victory across the pond in 1993.

There was no shortage of reasons to second-guess when the PGA of America took a flyer and named Tom Watson the U.S. captain for next year’s Ryder Cup, yet the sweet-swinging 63-year-old seems to have embraced those notions of relic resistance and proved that he is still spry enough to compete with some of those he will be leading next fall. All in the same week.

Watson began his week by naming Andy North one of his assistant captains. North has worked as an analyst for ESPN since 1993 and last played a PGA Tour event in 2006.

Watson followed that news with rounds of 68-69 to make the cut at The Greenbrier Classic. Whether or not he can recognize Bubba Watson in a crowded clubhouse, he’s still good enough to play the big left-hander to a draw through two rounds.


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Grand Slammed. Whatever it is Inbee Park is vying for next month at the storied Old Course at St. Andrews this much is certain: A victory at the Women’s British Open would be grand. Cut Line will leave the rest of the story to the historians and Webster’s Dictionary.

The debate since Park won the U.S. Women’s Open last Sunday on Long Island is whether a victory at the Women’s British would complete the Grand Slam – it was, after all, the “Impregnable Quadrilateral” that Bobby Jones collected in 1930 – or simply set the stage for the fifth and final leg of the women’s major season at the Evian Championship?

Because the LPGA elevated the Evian to major status for the first time this season, the absolutist seem to have the upper hand in this conversation. But with or without an Evian title at year’s end, Park’s season will be historic. Some would even say grand.

Compromise. The USGA and R&A didn’t like the way an anchored stroke looked so they deemed it illegal. What wasn’t so clear following last week’s decision by the PGA Tour and PGA of America is why the rule makers were so inflexible on the idea that golfers at the recreational level should be given extra time to make the transition.

Both the Tour and PGA urged the rule makers to consider extending the anchoring-ban deadline at the grassroots level (to say, 2024), but the suggestion was quickly dismissed.

It is a sign of how far the USGA has come on this issue that in the fall of 1989 following Orville Moody’s victory at the U.S. Senior Open using a long putter it was the “art form” of putting and not the technical definition of a stroke that seemed to quiet calls to ban anchoring.

“Putting is a very individual art form,” then-USGA executive director David Fay told Golf Journal. “To inhibit a golfer’s individual style would take some of the fun out of the game, and that’s not why we make rules.”

Tweet of the week: @OgilvieJ (Joe Ogilvie): “Here’s the inconvenient truth: If professional golfers made the Rules of Golf, anchoring would’ve been banned for pros 30 years ago.”


Missed Cut

No Blanks. With a PGA Tour card comes a frequent-flyer card; it’s part of the gig. Players learn airports, favorable routes for direct flights and, above all, how to make your way through a TSA line as smoothly as possible.

All of which makes Kris Blanks’ run-in with TSA so baffling. The 40-year-old was catching a flight from West Palm Beach, Fla., to Charlotte, N.C., last Sunday when TSA officials discovered a fully loaded .40-caliber Glock 27 pistol in his carry-on bag.

Blanks told authorities that he had forgotten to remove the gun from his bag after a “road trip” and that he did not have a concealed-weapon permit. He was released early Sunday on a $3,000 bond.

We’re all entitled to mistakes but after a lifetime of wandering around airports Cut Line can’t help but offer some pro bono advice to the likeable journeyman – don’t mess with TSA. 

Asterisks. The Tour had no choice but to follow the USGA and R&A’s new rule on anchoring. The alternative was two sets of rules and too much confusion. Where the circuit chunked the chip shot, however, is the implementation of the rule.

The anchoring ban goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2016, some three months into the 2015-16 Tour season, but by most indications the circuit will not deviate from the USGA/R&A timetable.

One member of the player advisory council told Cut Line that if the Tour went with the new rule early (specifically in the fall of 2015) it would expose the circuit to possible legal action.

Fair enough, but for a Tour that detests asterisks almost as much as attorney’s fees, the decision to play a single season under two sets of rules seems all at once convenient and confusing. And wasn’t avoiding confusion what this was all about?

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Stock Watch: Strange grumpy; Tiger Time again?

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 1:00 pm

Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.

RISING

Jon Rahm (+9%): This should put his whirlwind 17 months in the proper context: Rahm (38) has earned four worldwide titles in 25 fewer starts – or a full season quicker – than Jordan Spieth (63). This kid is special.

Tommy Fleetwood (+7%): Putting on a stripe show in windy conditions, the Englishman defended his title in Abu Dhabi (thanks to a back-nine 30) and capped a 52-week period in which he won three times, contended in majors and WGCs, and soared inside the top 15 in the world.

Sergio (+3%): Some wholesale equipment changes require months of adjustments. In Garcia’s case, it didn’t even take one start, as the new Callaway staffer dusted the field by five shots in Singapore.

Rory (+2%): Sure, it was a deflating Sunday finish, as he shot his worst round of the week and got whipped by Fleetwood, but big picture he looked refreshed and built some momentum for the rest of his pre-Masters slate. That’s progress.

Ken Duke (+1%): Looking ahead to the senior circuit, Duke, 48, still needs a place to play for the next few years. Hopefully a few sponsors saw what happened in Palm Springs, because his decision to sub in for an injured Corey Pavin for the second and third rounds – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard – was as selfless as it gets.


FALLING

Austin Cook (-1%): The 54-hole leader in the desert, he closed with 75 – the worst score of anyone inside the top 40. Oy.

Phil (-2%): All of that pre-tournament optimism was tempered by the reality of his first missed cut to start the new year since 2009. Now ranked 45th in the world, his position inside the top 50 – a spot he’s occupied every week since November 1993 – is now in jeopardy.

Careful What You Wish For (-3%): Today’s young players might (foolishly) wish they could have faced Woods in his prime, but they’ll at least get a sense this week of the spectacle he creates. Playing his first Tour event in a year, and following an encouraging warmup in the Bahamas, his mere presence at Torrey is sure to leave everyone else to grind in obscurity.

Curtis Strange (-5%): The two-time U.S. Open champ took exception with the chummy nature of the CareerBuilder playoff, with Rahm and Andrew Landry chatting between shots. “Are you kidding me?” Strange tweeted. “Talking at all?” The quality of golf was superb, so clearly they didn’t need to give each other the silent treatment to summon their best.

Brooks Koepka (-8%): A bummer, the 27-year-old heading to the DL just as he was starting to come into his own. The partially torn tendon in his left wrist is expected to knock him out of action until the Masters, but who knows how long it’ll take him to return to game shape.

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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.