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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  • Watch: Fleetwood gets emotional with family after Race to Dubai win

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 19, 2017, 5:30 pm

    Tommy Fleetwood took home the season-long Race to Dubai title on Sunday after a T-21 finish at the DP World Tour Championship.

    He was, understandably, emotional after learning his fate while sitting with his wife and baby following a career year in which he won the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship and the French Open and finished fourth at the U.S. Open.

    Luckily for us, cameras were rolling:

    Matsuyama after Koepka rout: 'Huge gap between us'

    By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 4:22 pm

    Hideki Matsuyama offered a blunt assessment after finishing 10 shots behind Brooks Koepka at the Japan Tour's Dunlop Phoenix event.

    Koepka waxed the field en route to successfully defending his title in Japan, shooting a 20-under par total that left him nine shots clear of a runner-up group that included PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Xander Schauffele. Koepka's score was one shot off the tournament record, and his margin for victory eclipsed Tiger Woods' eight-shot romp in 2004.

    Matsuyama appeared set to make a final-round charge after a birdie on No. 2 was followed by an ace on the par-3 third hole. But he played the next eight holes in 3 over and eventually finished alone in fifth place following a 2-under 69. Afterwards, he stacked his game up against that of Koepka in a telling comment to the Japan Times.

    "I feel there's a huge gap between us," Matsuyama said.

    The Japanese phenom entered the week ranked No. 4 in the world, though he will be passed in the next rankings by Jon Rahm following the Spaniard's win in Dubai. Matsuyama won twice this year on the PGA Tour, including the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, but he has largely struggled since missing out on a maiden major title at the PGA Championship, where he tied for fifth.

    Matsuyama was a runner-up to Koepka at the U.S. Open earlier this summer, and the 25-year-old seems headed back to the drawing board before defending his title at the Hero World Challenge in two weeks.

    "I don't know whether it's a lack of practice or whether I lack the strength to keep playing well," Matsuyama said. "It seems there are many issues to address."

    McCormick to caddie for Spieth at Aussie Open

    By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 2:21 pm

    When Jordan Spieth returns next week to defend his title at the Australian Open, he will do so without his regular caddie on the bag.

    Spieth and Michael Greller have combined to win 14 tournaments and three majors, including three events in 2017. But Greller's wife, Ellie, gave birth to the couple's first child on Oct. 13, and according to a report from the Australian Herald Sun he will not make the intercontinental trip to Sydney, where Spieth will look to win for the third time in the last four years.

    Instead, Spieth will have longtime swing coach and native Aussie Cameron McCormick on the bag at The Australian Golf Club. McCormick, who won PGA Teacher of the Year in 2015, is originally from Melbourne but now lives in Texas and has taught Spieth since he was a rising star among the junior golf ranks in Dallas.

    While Greller has missed rounds before, this will be the first time as a pro that Spieth has used a different caddie for an entire event. Greller was sidelined with an injury last year in Singapore when Spieth's agent, Jay Danzi, took the bag, and trainer Damon Goddard has subbed in twice when Greller was sick, including this year at the Dean & DeLuca Invitational.

    Spieth's torrid 2015 season traced back to his win at The Australian in 2014, and he returned to Oz last year where he won a playoff at Royal Sydney over Cameron Smith and Ashley Hall.

    Rahm wins finale, Fleetwood takes Race to Dubai

    By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 1:42 pm

    Jon Rahm captured the final tournament on the European Tour calendar, a result that helped Tommy Fleetwood take home the season-long Race to Dubai title.

    Rahm shot a final-round 67 to finish two shots clear of Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Shane Lowry at the DP World Tour Championship. It's the second European Tour win of the year for the Spaniard, who also captured the Irish Open and won on the PGA Tour in January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

    "I could not be more proud of what I've done this week," Rahm told reporters. "Having the weekend that I've had, actually shooting 12 under on the last 36 holes, bogey-free round today, it's really special."

    But the key finish came from Justin Rose, who held the 54-hole lead in Dubai but dropped back into a tie for fourth after closing with a 70. Rose entered the week as one of only three players who could win the Race to Dubai, along with Sergio Garcia and Fleetwood, who started with a lead of around 250,000 Euros.


    DP World Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the DP World Tour Championship


    With Fleetwood in the middle of the tournament pack, ultimately tying for 21st after a final-round 74, the door was open for Rose to capture the title thanks to a late charge despite playing in half the events that Fleetwood did. Rose captured both the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open, and was one round away from a two-trophy photo shoot in Dubai.

    Instead, his T-4 finish meant he came up just short, as Fleetwood won the season-long race by 58,821 Euros.

    The title caps a remarkable season for Fleetwood, who won the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship as well as the French Open to go along with a pair of runner-up finishes and a fourth-place showing at the U.S. Open.

    "I find it amazing, the season starts in November, December and you get to here and you're watching the last shot of the season to decide who wins the Race to Dubai," Fleetwood said at the trophy ceremony. "But yeah, very special and something we didn't really aim for at the start of the year, but it's happened."