Cut Line: Analyzing the Ryder Cup task force changes

By Rex HoggardFebruary 27, 2015, 3:59 pm

In an all task-force edition, Cut Line examines the good (Davis Love III), the bad (Fred Couples) and the ugly (fall schedule fallout) of the group’s sweeping changes.

Made Cut

Task masters. While some have dismissed the task force as an overreaction to another American loss, the alternative was not an option.

Whether the changes the PGA of America initiated – everything from a legacy program for future captains to a revamped points structure – produce positive results really doesn’t matter since the only other option was to continue the status quo and hope for better.

“Look, Europe is a very talented team and they are very well structured and they have great leadership. Some of those guys play better in the Ryder Cup than they’ve ever played individually,” task force member Phil Mickelson told GolfChannel.com. “They were beating us when we were a better team, and now they are arguably a better team.

“For us to compete we have to bring out our best golf. We have to play together as a team; we have to be put in positions to succeed. We can’t have challenges to overcome and expect us to beat such a good team.”

Opening Day. With a nod to the realities of the PGA Tour’s wrap-around schedule, the Frys.com Open – which kicked off the circuit’s 2014-15 season in October – and Hyundai Tournament of Champions – the first event of the new year – felt more like soft openings than a big kickoff.

By comparison, consider this week’s Honda Classic where Danny Lee, currently No. 49 on the FedEx Cup point list, is making his 13th start of the season while world No. 1 Rory McIlroy is embarking on his debut.

This week’s field includes 27 of the top 50 players in the Official World Golf Ranking, including the winners of three of last year’s four majors, and is another measure of how far the Honda Classic has come in the last decade since moving to PGA National.

From a second-tier event bouncing from bad golf course to bad golf course, to the Tour’s unofficial opening day, not a bad climb.

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Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Captain obvious. While it’s now clear that Davis Love III was an overwhelming favorite to captain the 2016 U.S. Ryder Cup team – according to various sources the only member of the task force that didn’t vote for Love was Love – it’s still not clear why Fred Couples was never seriously considered.

“When they all got home, they said, ‘We need you to do this,’” Couples told Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte in November.

Just days later, however, at the task force’s first meeting Love quickly emerged as the only choice.

“I don’t think it’s a question of why it’s not Fred, or why it’s not someone else. It’s why it’s Davis. He seemed to be the right person at the right time for what the Ryder Cup is trying to do,” PGA chief executive Pete Bevacqua told GolfChannel.com. “When you are talking to the players and captains he was the person who emerged. It felt like an obvious choice.”

Maybe Freddie lacked the organizational skills to lead America into a new era, as some observers have opined, and it’s clear Love was the players’ choice, but if Couples really wasn’t the answer to the U.S. side’s woes Cut Line isn’t sure what the question was.

Law and disorder. The busiest offices at Tour headquarters this week weren’t the rules staff or agronomy department. If the recent frenzied give-and-take is any indication, it has been the legal department that is putting in the overtime lately.

The Tour is dealing with lawsuits on two fronts and last week both cases heated up, with attorneys for the circuit challenging Vijay Singh’s ongoing deposition phase with as many as nine additional Champions Tour players with “affiliations” with S.W.A.T.S., the company that provided Singh with the deer-antler spray that sparked his brush with the Tour’s anti-doping policy.

Attorneys for the Tour also informed lawyers for the caddies in an ongoing class action lawsuit that the circuit plans to request a change of venue, from the Northern District of California to the Middle District of Florida, where the Tour is headquartered.

We live in a litigious world, but it’s getting to a stage where success on Tour will be measured in billable hours, not points lists or money earned.


Missed Cut

Fall-ing away. One of the more subtle yet telling moves made by the Ryder Cup task force was to rework the points structure for Team USA qualifying.

Amid the small print came the realization that the Tour’s fall events are irrelevant, as evidenced by the fact that none of the money earned during the fall will be reflected on the Ryder Cup points list.

Players will earn 1 point for every $2,000 won in the World Golf Championships and The Players in 2015 and 1 point for every $1,000 earned in this year’s majors.

Beginning in January 2016, players will earn 1 point for every $1,000 in “stand-alone sanctioned events” and 2 points for every $1,000 earned in next year’s majors.

Lost in that structure, however, are the fall events in the Tour’s wrap-around schedule.

“If you count money for those last three or four months, you're giving the bottom half of the Tour a three‑month head start over ultimately the top guys,” Mickelson explained. “So you wanted to start that money in 2015 but the money list on the Tour list starts in September or October. So it was getting confusing.”

Perhaps, but what’s truly confusing is Love’s involvement in a make-over that robs fall events of any relevance. It’s a move that hurts events like the McGladrey Classic, which Love hosts.

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How to watch The Open on TV and online

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 5:40 am

You want to watch the 147th Open? Here’s how you can do it.

Golf Channel and NBC Sports will be televising 182 hours of overall programming from the men's third major of the year at Carnoustie

In addition to the traditional coverage, the two networks will showcase three live alternate feeds: marquee groups, featured holes (our new 3-hole channel) and spotlight action. You can also watch replays of full-day coverage, Thursday-Sunday, in the Golf Channel app, NBC Sports apps, and on GolfChannel.com.  

Here’s the weekly TV schedule, with live stream links in parentheses. You can view all the action on the Golf Channel mobile, as well. Alternate coverage is noted in italics:

(All times Eastern; GC=Golf Channel; NBC=NBC Sports; GC.com=GolfChannel.com or check the GLE app)

Monday, July 16

GC: 7-9AM: Morning Drive (stream.golfchannel.com)

GC: 9-11AM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

GC: 7-9PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


Tuesday, July 17

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


Wednesday, July 18

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


Thursday, July 19

GC: Midnight-1:30AM: Midnight Drive (stream.golfchannel.com)

GC: Day 1: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


Friday, July 20

GC: Day 2: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


Saturday, July 21

GC: Day 3: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

NBC: Rd. 3: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 3-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


Sunday, July 22

GC: Day 4: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

NBC: Rd. 4: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-2:30PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-2:30PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-2PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-2PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 2:30-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

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The Open 101: A guide to the year's third major

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 5:30 am

Take a look at some answers to frequently asked questions about The Open:

What's all this "The Open" stuff? I thought it was the British Open.

What you call it has historically depended on where you were. If you were in the U.S., you called it the British Open, just as Europeans refer to the PGA Championship as the U.S. PGA. Outside the U.S. it generally has been referred to as The Open Championship. The preferred name of the organizers is The Open.

How old is it?

It's the oldest golf championship, dating back to 1860.

Where is it played?

There is a rotation – or "rota" – of courses used. Currently there are 10: Royal Birkdale, Royal St. George's, Royal Liverpool and Royal Lytham and St. Annes, all in England; Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland and St. Andrews, Carnoustie, Royal Troon, Turnberry and Muirfield, all in Scotland. Muirfield was removed from the rota in 2016 when members voted against allowing female members, but when the vote was reversed in 2017 it was allowed back in.

Where will it be played this year?

At Carnoustie, which is located on the south-eastern shore of Scotland.

Who has won The Open on that course?

Going back to the first time Carnoustie hosted, in 1931, winners there have been Tommy Armour, Henry Cotton (1937), Ben Hogan (1953), Gary Player (1968), Tom Watson (1975), Paul Lawrie (1999), Padraig Harrington (2007).

Wasn't that the year Hogan nearly won the Slam?

Yep. He had won the Masters and U.S. Open that season, then traveled to Carnoustie and won that as well. It was the only time he ever played The Open. He was unable to play the PGA Championship that season because the dates conflicted with those of The Open.

Jean Van de Velde's name should be on that list, right?

This is true. He had a three-shot lead on the final hole in 1999 and made triple bogey. He lost in a playoff to Lawrie, which also included Justin Leonard.

Who has won this event the most?

Harry Vardon, who was from the Channel Island of Jersey, won a record six times between 1896 and 1914. Australian Peter Thomson, American Watson, Scot James Braid and Englishman J.H. Taylor each won five times.

What about the Morrises?

Tom Sr. won four times between 1861 and 1867. His son, Tom Jr., also won four times, between 1868 and 1872.

Have players from any particular country dominated?

In the early days, Scots won the first 29 Opens – not a shocker since they were all played at one of three Scottish courses, Prestwick, St. Andrews and Musselburgh. In the current era, going back to 1999 (we'll explain why that year in a minute), the scoreboard is United States, nine wins; South Africa, three wins; Ireland, two wins; Northern Ireland, two wins; and Sweden, one win. The only Scot to win in that period was Lawrie, who took advantage of one of the biggest collapses in golf history.

Who is this year's defending champion?

That would be American Jordan Spieth, who survived an adventerous final round to defeat Matt Kuchar by three strokes and earn the third leg of the career Grand Slam.

What is the trophy called?

The claret jug. It's official name is the Golf Champion Trophy, but you rarely hear that used. The claret jug replaced the original Challenge Belt in 1872. The winner of the claret jug gets to keep it for a year, then must return it (each winner gets a replica to keep).

Which Opens have been the most memorable?

Well, there was Palmer in 1961and '62; Van de Velde's collapse in 1999; Hogan's win in 1953; Tiger Woods' eight-shot domination of the 2000 Open at St. Andrews; Watson almost winning at age 59 in 2009; Doug Sanders missing what would have been a winning 3-foot putt at St. Andrews in 1970; Tony Jacklin becoming the first Briton to win the championship in 18 years; and, of course, the Duel in the Sun at Turnberry in 1977, in which Watson and Jack Nicklaus dueled head-to-head over the final 36 holes, Watson winning by shooting 65-65 to Nicklaus' 65-66.

When I watch this tournament on TV, I hear lots of unfamiliar terms, like "gorse" and "whin" and "burn." What do these terms mean?

Gorse is a prickly shrub, which sometimes is referred to as whin. Heather is also a shrub. What the scots call a burn, would also be considered a creek or stream.

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Four players vying for DJ's No. 1 ranking at Open

By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 8:41 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Four players have an opportunity to overtake Dustin Johnson for world No. 1 this week.

According to Golf Channel world-rankings guru Alan Robinson, Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm each can grab the top spot in the world ranking.

Thomas’ path is the easiest. He would return to No. 1 with either a win and Johnson finishing worse than solo third, or even a solo runner-up finish as long as Johnson finishes worse than 49th.


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Twenty years after his auspicious performance in The Open, Rose can get to No. 1 for the first time with a victory and Johnson finishing worse than a two-way tie for third.

Kopeka can rise to No. 1 if he wins consecutive majors, assuming that his good friend posts worse than a three-way tie for third.

And Rahm can claim the top spot with a win this week, a Johnson missed cut and a Thomas finish of worse than solo second.   

Johnson’s 15-month reign as world No. 1 ended after The Players. He wasn’t behind Thomas for long, however: After a tie for eighth at the Memorial, Johnson blew away the field in Memphis and then finished third at the U.S. Open to solidify his position at the top.