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Cut Line: Betting on golf's future

By Rex HoggardMay 18, 2018, 5:34 pm

In this week’s edition, the PGA Tour bets big on sports gambling, the 2018-19 schedule promises big changes, and the USGA and R&A decide to engage crowd sourcing on what promises to be a big debate.

Made Cut

Mark your calendars. Although the Tour didn’t release next season’s schedule at The Players, many of the main pieces are already in place and there seems to be no shortage of winners and losers.

On the right side of the schedule cut, expect The Players move back to March to be embraced by many players, who never felt the course played the way it was designed in May. The folks in Memphis will also enjoy an upgrade, with the annual stop taking over for Bridgestone as the season’s final World Golf Championship, which assures the event an improved field.

Although it’s still early and Tour commissioner Jay Monahan told last weekend at TPC Sawgrass that the circuit is “looking at everything,” it seems likely a few spring events will be negatively impacted by the schedule makeover.

Specifically, the Arnold Palmer Invitational and Valspar Championship will find themselves in the middle of a six-week run that includes The Players and two World Golf Championships.

The Tour is billing the 2018-19 schedule as a fresh new look at the sports landscape, but some events will face some old problems.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Trouble in Big D. The AT&T Byron Nelson unveiled a new home this week, with the tournament’s move to Trinity Forest Golf Club, but the Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw design didn’t exactly debut to rave reviews.

To be fair, the event’s former home, TPC Four Seasons Resort, wasn’t exactly a must-play stop, but if early reviews are any indication, the tournament traded an unpopular course in a prime location for an equally unpopular track in an unpopular location.

Things won’t get much better next season, when the Nelson appears slated to be played the week before the PGA Championship and two weeks before the Fort Worth Invitational.

Having the two Dallas-Fort Worth events in back-to-back weeks gave players a reason to play both. The new option will be to play the week before a major on a less-than-popular course. Not a great option.

Bet on it. As many predicted, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a federal ban on sports betting in most states this week, opening a door the Tour has long embraced.

Depending on how things play out – and to be clear, the Supreme Court didn’t legalize sports betting, it simply gave the states the right to decide – fans will be able to bet on their favorite player as early as August at The Northern Trust, which will be played in New Jersey, which has already passed sports betting legislation.

The Tour sees sports betting as a way to engage new fans in different ways and, like other sports leagues, also recognizes a potential new revenue stream. But there are pitfalls.

The Tour initiated integrity training this season for players, caddies and officials, and is pushing to make whatever legislation may come from the ruling as transparent as possible. recently asked Monahan if the possibility of betting on Tour golf made him nervous:

“It’s happening now, right? You’d be naïve to say that no, it doesn’t make me nervous,” Monahan said. “But you do everything you can to try and protect your players and ultimately if we’re participating with our data we feel like we’re going to do it in a way to protect our fans.

“Like everything else, there are things that are beyond your control. All you can do is lean into it and have the right program in place. I think we’re in a good place.”

Missed Cut

The end of insight. They say a wise man is quick to listen but slow to speak. At least they used to say that, before politics became polarizing to the point of indifference and the invention of the fiery hot take.

Fans of golf should have been encouraged by this week’s announcement that the USGA and R&A have teamed to create something called the Distance Insights project.

“The topic of increased distance and its effects on the game have been discussed for well over a century. We believe that now is the time to examine this topic through a very wide and long lens, knowing it is critical to the future of the game,” said USGA CEO Mike Davis in a statement. “We look forward to delving deeply into this topic and learning more, led by doing right by golf, first and foremost.”

The project will engage various industry stakeholders through 2018, with plans to deliver a report in 2019. The idea appears to be a common sense, objective assessment of the modern game. If only the golf world wasn’t already polarized by what promises to be a paralyzing debate.

Tweet of the week:

Flesch’s point is scientifically valid. If only the direction golf should go on this topic from here were as straightforward.

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Furyk: Not a 'good idea' to team Tiger, Phil at Ryder Cup

By Ryan LavnerJune 25, 2018, 1:12 pm

Those hoping for another Tiger Woods-Phil Mickelson partnership at the Ryder Cup might be sorely disappointed.

U.S. captain Jim Furyk all but slammed the door on the reboot Monday on Golf Channel’s “Morning Drive.” Speaking at the CVS Health Charity Classic, Furyk laughed off the idea and said that it wouldn’t be a “good idea” for him to team them again.

“It worked out so well the first time,” he said, chuckling, referring to the 2004 matches, where captain Hal Sutton paired the sport’s two biggest stars and watched them go 0-2 en route to a lopsided team defeat at home.

Colin Montgomerie, who was also on the set and a member of that ’04 European squad, chimed in: “It was a great decision for Europe!”

Woods and Mickelson’s relationship has improved in recent years, since they were part of the task force that morphed into the Ryder Cup committee. They even played a practice round together this year at the Masters. But Furyk seemed to suggest even that wouldn’t be enough to put them together again in Paris.

“I hope they’re both watching, because they just fell off the couch laughing,” Furyk said. “I wouldn’t guess that would be a good idea as a captain, I’m just saying.”

Both Mickelson and Woods are outside the top 8 automatic qualifiers. Mickelson is currently ranked 10th, while Woods is now 39th.

Woods has already been named a vice captain for this year’s matches, though Furyk said that Woods had broached the topic of being a playing vice captain as early as January. Furyk added that he hasn’t discussed what Woods would need to show him over the course of the year to be considered for a captain’s pick.

“He hasn’t played as big of a schedule as everybody else,” Furyk said, “but when he has played, he’s played pretty well. Definitely an eye-opener for everyone.”

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Grandma hopes sick JT has some 's***-kicking antibiotics'

By Grill Room TeamJune 25, 2018, 1:08 pm

Justin Thomas tied for 56th at the Travelers Championship, still recovering from a brutal test at the U.S. Open and, apparently, battling an illness.

Thomas is next competing at this week's French Open, along with the likes of Jon Rahm, Tommy Fleetwood, Sergio Garcia and a host of potential Ryder Cup foes.

Count his grandmother as one who is pulling – really, really pulling – for his physical recovery.

Grandmothers are the best. And as you can make out from the top of the text exchange, she finally figured out what was on JT’s pants in Round 1 at Shinnecock Hills.

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What's in the bag: Travelers champion Watson

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 25, 2018, 12:22 pm

Bubba Watson won the Travelers Championship for a third time in his career. Here's a look inside his bag:

Driver: Ping G400 LST (7.6 degrees), with Grafalloy Bi-Matrix Prototype X shaft

Fairway wood:  Ping G (13.2 degrees), with Fujikura Tour Spec 8.2 X shaft

Irons: Ping iBlade (2), Ping S55 (4-PW), with True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100 shafts

Wedges: Ping Glide 2.0 (52 degrees, 55 degrees, 63 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100 shafts

Putter: Ping PLD Anser

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x

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Travelers purse payout: Bubba, Cink close low, earn big

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 25, 2018, 12:06 pm

Bubba Watson shot 63 on Sunday to win the Travelers Championship. He took home the trophy, but he wasn't the only player to earn a big payday. Here's how the purse was paid out at TPC River Highlands:

1 Bubba Watson -17 $1,260,000
T2 Stewart Cink -14 $462,000
T2 Beau Hossler -14 $462,000
T2 J.B. Holmes -14 $462,000
T2 Paul Casey -14 $462,000
T6 Kevin Tway -13 $234,500
T6 Brian Harman -13 $234,500
T6 Russell Henley -13 $234,500
T9 Chase Seiffert -12 $189,000
T9 Bryson DeChambeau -12 $189,000
T9 Anirban Lahiri -12 $189,000
T12 Rory McIlroy -11 $147,000
T12 Ryan Blaum -11 $147,000
T12 Jason Day -11 $147,000
T15 Charley Hoffman -10 $115,500
T15 Patrick Cantlay -10 $115,500
T15 Danny Lee -10 $115,500
T15 Kyle Stanley -10 $115,500
T19 Brooks Koepka -9 $79,000
T19 Fabian Gomez -9 $79,000
T19 David Lingmerth -9 $79,000
T19 Zach Johnson -9 $79,000
T19 Emiliano Grillo -9 $79,000
T19 Matt Jones -9 $79,000
T19 Jamie Lovemark -9 $79,000
T26 Sam Ryder -8 $49,700
T26 Si Woo Kim -8 $49,700
T26 Richy Werenski -8 $49,700
T26 Blayne Barber -8 $49,700
T26 Steve Marino -8 $49,700
T26 Peter Malnati -8 $49,700
T26 Patrick Rodgers -8 $49,700
T33 Alex Cejka -7 $39,550
T33 Tyler Duncan -7 $39,550
T33 Kevin Streelman -7 $39,550
T36 Seamus Power -6 $35,175
T36 James Hahn -6 $35,175
T38 Scott Stallings -5 $30,800
T38 Russell Knox -5 $30,800
T38 Brandon Harkins -5 $30,800
T38 Lanto Griffin -5 $30,800
T42 Adam Hadwin -4 $24,500
T42 J.J. Henry -4 $24,500
T42 Jordan Spieth -4 $24,500
T42 Mackenzie Hughes -4 $24,500
T42 Brett Stegmaier -4 $24,500
T47 Billy Hurley III -3 $17,578
T47 Vaughn Taylor -3 $17,578
T47 Sam Saunders -3 $17,578
T47 Kelly Kraft -3 $17,578
T47 Keegan Bradley -3 $17,578
T47 J.J. Spaun -3 $17,578
T47 Wesley Bryan -3 $17,578
T47 Denny McCarthy -3 $17,578
T47 Scott Brown -3 $17,578
T56 Ryan Armour -2 $15,680
T56 Keith Mitchell -2 $15,680
T56 Ken Duke -2 $15,680
T56 Justin Thomas -2 $15,680
T56 Hunter Mahan -2 $15,680
T61 John Huh -1 $14,910
T61 Martin Laird -1 $14,910
T61 Steve Wheatcroft -1 $14,910
T61 James Driscoll -1 $14,910
T61 Tom Lovelady -1 $14,910
T61 Nick Hardy -1 $14,910
T67 Daniel Berger E $14,350
T67 Trey Mullinax E $14,350
T69 Cameron Tringale 1 $14,000
T69 Kyle Thompson 1 $14,000
T69 Ethan Tracy 1 $14,000
T72 Dominic Bozzelli 2 $13,650
T72 Martin Flores 2 $13,650
74 Padraig Harrington 4 $13,440