Winds Whiffs of Change

By Rex HoggardMay 8, 2009, 4:00 pm
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PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. ' Like The Players, which has been decided the last two years by random gusts of wind, Cut Line is known to follow the currents and this weeks edition is all about the winds of change on the PGA Tour.
 
Made Cut
 
  • TPC Sawgrass: Where The Players Championship ranks in the hierarchy of the games top tournaments really doesnt matter when the first tee shot goes in the air on Thursday, but if the leaderboard heading into the weekend is any indication the golf course is of major quality.
     
    Among the early leaders were bomber Bubba Watson alongside plodder Scott Verplank, veteran David Toms and newcomer John Mallinger, speedster Angel Cabrera and slowpoke Ben Crane.
     
    I think it's suited for pretty much anyone, Tiger Woods said. It's fast, it's running so everybody is going to be hitting the ball in the same spots.
     
    Like Phil Mickelson and southern politics, the only constant at TPC is an utter lack of predictability.
     
  • Rory McIlroy: We continue to be amazed by the Northern Irishman with the textbook swing and a demeanor so easy he seemed almost oblivious to his triple bogey-bogey finish on Day 1 at The Players.
     
    What doesnt amaze is McIlroys decision to forgo special temporary membership on the PGA Tour following a six-event swing that featured five top-20 finishes and enough cash to give him a crack in the top-125 door.
     
    There were hushed rumblings earlier this week on the practice range regarding McIlroys decision, but the jingoistic jabs missed the realities of an increasingly global game.
     
    This debate is a non-starter. If McIlroy takes a Tour card he will be giving up his freedom to play across the globe whenever and where ever he wants, as well sizable sums of appearance fees. Instead, he can keep his European Tour card, cherry pick his U.S. starts and solidify his status as a global player.
     
    We didnt invent the ancient game, not even sure were the best at it anymore despite Paul Azingers handiwork last year at Valhalla, and its not a foregone conclusion that the PGA Tour will remain the center of the professional universe. Just ask McIlroy.
     
    Missed Cut ' Did not finish (MDF)
     
  • PGA Tour: Fresh capital is always good news in these cash-strapped times and the announcement that SBS (Seoul Broadcasting System) had signed on for a decade of fruity drinks with umbrellas at the season opener in Hawaii was a blast of economic fresh air on an otherwise hot and humid day.
     
    Its the timing of the lucrative revelation that was so confusing. Just as Woods was rolling past the halfway house at the circuits marquee event is not the time to be trotting out executives for ceremonial photo ops.
     
    Just a hunch, but Roger Goodell doesnt hold his state of the NFL during halftime at the Super Bowl, and the first round of The Players should be considered a spin-free zone.
     
  • World Order: On Day 1 at The Players there were more rounds under par than at the Bob Hope Classic, and yet world No. 2 Phil Mickelson was not among them. The morning wave scorched the layout thanks to soft greens and near-perfect conditions, and yet world No. 1 Tiger Woods managed to turn a 66 into a 71.
     
    Bizarro world has overtaken the golf world to the extent one half expected Woods to try a few left-handed flop shots because, it makes things fun, and Mickelson to give Stevie Williams a tryout on the bag because, weve got such great chemistry. And the oddities didnt stop at the top of the marquee.
     
    Richard S. was holding down Top Johnson honors over Zach and Dustin, Jeev was running away with the low Singh award over Vijay and Sergio Garcia continued to gush about how much he loves TPC Sawgrass, perhaps the most compelling argument The Players is not a major.
     
    Whats next, John Daly shedding 40 pounds and dialing his game back to 1995? Oh, scratch that.
     

    Missed Cut
     
  • Sea Island PGA Tour event: There are no guarantees in life and a Tour event on the idyllic patch of Georgia coast was always going to have to overcome a litany of hurdles. A pair of recent, and independent, happenings proved to be too high.
     
    Given a different economic environment, a title sponsor would have been a lock for the purposed event, but the downturn slowed the search to a crawl and ultimately proved to be too difficult.
     
    The haymaker, however, likely came last week with the announcement that the HSBC Champions event in China had been bumped to WGC status and would be played around the same time as the Sea Island stop. That Davis Love III, Sea Islands Tour ambassador who would have likely served as the unofficial host of the Sea Island stop, had already qualified for the HSBC didnt help things.
     
    Lost in the minutia is an event that players would have instantly taken to on a course that would have immediately ranked among the best on Tour. A victim of progress it seems.
     
  • Manny Ramirez: Taking a shot at the disgraced slugger may be on the wrong side of the out-of-bounds stakes for Cut Line, but some missteps, however far afield, are too egregious to pass up.
     
    Its hardly a surprise there are performance-enhancing drugs in baseball, but Ramirezs lame decision-making was followed by an even more lame excuse: Recently I saw a physician for a personal health issue. He gave me a medication, not a steroid, which he thought was OK to give me. Unfortunately, the medication was banned under our drug policy. And yet the Dodger didnt challenge his 50-game suspension nor seek relief under the leagues therapeutic-use exemption.
     
    Seems the only truly banned substance in Major League Baseball is truth serum.
     

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  • Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

    By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

    Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

    Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

    Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

    Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

    It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

    The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.

    Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

    By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

    ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

    Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

    ''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

    They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

    ''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

    Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

    ''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

    Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

    Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

    Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

    Getty Images

    Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

    Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

    Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

    Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

    Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

    The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

    Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

    By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

    JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

    Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

    Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.