Cut Line Awards and Conspiracies
In Europe the answer was a split decision, while on this side of the pond the polling seemed a bit more sinister. In the twilight of 2010 it is balloting, not birdies and bogeys, that highlight this week’s made and missed cuts.
European Tour co-Player of the Year. As a rule, ties are about as un-American as nationalized healthcare and FIFA, but the European circuit’s move last week to name Martin Kaymer and Graeme McDowell co-Players of the Year was brilliant.
Both won majors, both starred on the European Ryder Cup team, although McDowell’s point-clinching match may have been the year’s best drama (Team Division), and both collected multiple titles. Toss a euro in the air to decide who had the best year and you couldn’t go wrong.
In fact, the move could create an interesting trend. Imagine the possibilities of Ryder Cup co-captains? May we suggest Colin Montgomerie and Sandy Lyle.
Youth. If the Rickie Fowler-Rory McIlroy PGA Tour Rookie of the Year row has got you sideways take solace in the reality of a pair of legitimate young stars.
Even more encouraging is the Tour’s grasp of what the current crop of Gen-Xers could mean for the circuit. In years past, the danger was to dub the rookie du jour the “next Tiger Woods.” Fowler and McIlroy, however, have the potential to be something else, something special, even without the aid of 14 major championships.
“I've never in my tenure seen so much buzz and interest about rookies and young players,” Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said this week. “It has led us to conclude that we really need to focus on that dynamic as we go into 2011, and it will be our primary promotional focus to get people to pay attention to how well the veterans continue to play, and the young stars.”
Good idea, young vs. old has the potential for more parity then say, the United States vs. Europe.
Tweet of the Week. @WestwoodLee “Just been to the dentist and got to have two more appointments. Who’d have thought it with my teeth?”
We may have to retire the “Tweet of the Week” option and simply have everyone pick up the Englishman’s direct feed.
Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)
Tiger Woods. The swing, by almost all accounts, is better. The game trending in the right direction. And Sunday’s playoff loss to McDowell was less about what Woods didn’t do than it was about what the Northern Irishman was able to accomplish.
Either way, the bow Woods put on 2010 gave reason for the golf world to be optimistic. But the Sunday success at Sherwood does solidify a chilling message that golf still needs Woods more than the world No. 2 needs golf.
A 2.7 final-round rating for the Chevron World Challenge, which was played opposite a compelling Sunday NFL lineup, was slightly higher than this year’s Open Championship. When the claret jug and St. Andrews can’t top a silly season cash grab something is not right.
Improved fields. A designated tournaments proposal wasn’t the answer, and “Cut Line” is willing to wager his weekly milk money that the circuit’s “voluntary” effort to convince Tour types to play more will be about as popular as a PGA rules official at Whistling Straits.
Curious that the Tour is asking for more participation, yet created a season-long format that encourages less play.
“The FedEx Cup has made me play fewer tournaments,” Stewart Cink said last week at the Chevron. “You don’t have to play in the fall. Before you had to play (some of the fall events) to get into the Tour Championship.”
As for what he thought the magic bullet may be to improve fields at wanting events Cink, a former Policy Board member, offered the most-pointed response to date.
“Whatever the Wells Fargo Championship does is the magic bullet,” Cink said. “They’ve got it all – great course, services. It’s like any other business, you have to spend money.”
PGA Tour Rookie of the Year. Rickie Fowler is good for the game – polite, engaging and infinitely talented – and in 2010 he may have been the circuit’s “True Rookie of the Year,” but no amount of political correctness or justification can change the fact that Rory McIlroy should have won the award.
McIlroy was the only rookie to win on Tour this season and his final-round 62 at Quail Hollow should top any list of best rounds of the year. He also finished third in two majors and just four spots behind Fowler on the money list in 12 fewer events.
On Sunday at Chevron, McIlroy tried to temper the fallout by saying Fowler deserved the award because he was a “true” rookie, an argument that rings a tad hollow considering that Todd Hamilton collected the award in 2004 after a lucrative and lengthy career in Japan.
Whatever the rank-and-file’s reason for voting Fowler the ROY – Lee Westwood suggested it was in response to McIlroy’s decision to forfeit his Tour membership next year – it was misguided.
Rose (64) peaking just ahead of the U.S. Open
A former U.S. Open champion appears to be finding his form just three weeks ahead of the year's second major.
Justin Rose ascended to the top of the leaderboard Friday at the Fort Worth Invitational, with rounds of 66-64 pushing him to 10 under par for the week.
Through 36 at Colonial, Rose has marked 12 birdies against just two bogeys.
"Yeah, I did a lot of good things today," Rose said. "I think, you know, the end of my round got a little scrappy, but until the last three holes it was pretty flawless. I think I hit every fairway pretty much and obviously every green to that point. ...
"Yeah, the way I played through, I guess through my first 15 holes today, was about as good as I've played in a long time."
Rose won in back-to-back weeks last fall, stunning Dustin Johnson at the WGC-HSBC Championship and riding that victory right into another at the Turkish Airlines Open.
Now the 2013 U.S. Open winner at Merion feels himself once again rounding into form ahead of this year's Open at Shinnecock. A final-round 66 at The Players gave Rose something to focus on in his recent practice sessions with swing coach Sean Foley, as the two work to shore up the timing of Rose's transition into the downswing.
As for his decision to tee it up at Colonial for the first time since 2010, "It was more the run of form really," Rose explained. "I feel like if I didn't play here it was going to be a little spotty going into the U.S. Open. I felt like I wanted to play enough golf where I would have a good read on my game going into Shinnecock.
"So rather than the venue it was more the timing, but it's obviously it's just such a bonus to be on a great layout like this."
For whatever reason, Rose does tend to play his best golf at iconic venues, having won PGA Tour events at Muirfield Village, Aronimink, Cog Hill, Doral, Merion and Congressional.
Koepka (63): Two wrist dislocations in two months
Brook Koepka's journey back from a wrist injury that kept him out four months hasn't been totally smooth sailing, even if his play has suggested otherwise.
Koepka on Friday fired a 7-under 63 to move up the leaderboard into a tie for third, three shots behind leader Justin Rose through the end of the morning wave at the Fort Worth Invitational.
After a slow start Thursday saw him play his first 13 holes 3 over, Koepka is 10 under with 11 birdies in his last 23 holes at Colonial.
"It doesn't matter to me. I could care less. I'm still going to try as hard as I can," Koepka said. "I don't care how many over or how many under I am. Still going to fight through it."
Just like he's been fighting his wrist the last two months or so. Koepka reinjured his wrist the Wednesday of The Players when he was practicing on the range and had to halt mid-swing after a golf cart drove in front of him. He nonetheless managed to finish T-11.
And that's not the only issue he's had with that wrist during his return.
"We had a bone pop out of place. I didn't tell anybody, but, yeah, they popped it back in," Koepka admitted Friday. "Luckily enough we kind of popped it back into place right away so it wasn't stiff and I didn't have too, too many problems.
"Yeah. I mean, I've dislocated my wrist twice in the last two months. You know, different spots, but, I mean, it's fun. I'll be all right."
Twitter spat turns into fundraising opportunity
Country music star Jake Owen, along with Brandt Snedeker, has turned a spat on Twitter into a fundraising campaign that will support Snedeker’s foundation.
On Thursday, Owen was criticized during the opening round of the Web.com Tour’s Nashville Golf Open, which benefits the Snedeker Foundation, for his poor play after opening with an 86.
In response, Snedeker and country singer Chris Young pledged $5,000 for every birdie that Owen makes on Friday in a campaign called NGO Birdies for Kids.
Although Owen, who is playing the event on a sponsor exemption, doesn’t tee off for Round 2 in Nashville until 2 p.m. (CT), the campaign has already generated interest, with NBC Sports/Golf Channel analyst Peter Jacobsen along with Web.com Tour player Zac Blair both pledging $100 for every birdie Owen makes.
Noren so impressed by Rory: 'I'm about to quit golf'
Alex Noren won the BMW PGA Championship last year, one of his nine career European Tour victories.
He opened his title defense at Wentworth Club in 68-69 and is tied for fourth through two rounds. Unfortunately, he's five back of leader Rory McIlroy. And after playing the first two days alongside McIlroy, Noren, currently ranked 19th in the world, doesn't seem to like his chances of back-to-back wins.
McIlroy opened in 67 and then shot a bogey-free 65 in second round, which included pars on the pair of par-5 finishing holes. Noren walked away left in awe.
"That's the best round I've ever seen," Noren said. "I'm about to quit golf, I think."
Check out the full interview below: