Cut Line: Bubba goes deep; so does Doral

By Rex HoggardMarch 9, 2012, 11:11 pm

DORAL, Fla. – Eventful week this side of South Beach. Newly crowned world No. 1 Rory McIlroy began his much-anticipated rivalry with former No. 1 Tiger Woods, Gil Hanse landed two of the most-coveted design projects in the game and The Don scored a long-awaited spot on the PGA Tour dance card, with or without an invitation.

Not bad for a no-cut, free-money event.

Made Cut

Worlds apart. The most worldly of all the World Golf Championships has delivered again with a leaderboard that looks like a United Nations office party. The current top 10 features seven different countries and your frontrunners feature a Bubba, a Bjorn and a bunch of intrigue.

Bubba Watson took the lead with a week’s best 62 on a golf course he “don’t really like,” while England’s Justin Rose was paired with the American on Friday, carded a 64 and would have lost in match play, 1 down, to the free-swinging lefty.

“No one quite knows what to expect (from Watson),” Rose said. “I think it’s fascinating to watch.”

The same could be said for the Cadillac, which features the year’s deepest field on the PGA Tour as well as the possibility, again, for another changeover atop the World Golf Ranking on Sunday.

Gil Hanse. He is, by all accounts, the right man for the Olympic job and his insight, and instincts, about the Rio 2016 layout only reinforced that notion.

The architect du jour is clearly more comfortable piloting a bulldozer than he is behind a microphone, but when asked what he hoped to accomplish with the Olympic project he didn’t disappoint.

“We want this to be received well those two weeks, but we really want it also to be something the Brazilians are proud of,” Hanse said. “If it can lead to in 2024 or whatever, you know, there's a Brazilian in contention at the Olympics for a gold medal, then we have done an even better job.”

In short, golf’s Olympic experiment isn’t about gold medals, it’s about growing the game.

Tweet of the week: @McIlroyRory “What a day (Sunday)! Very honored and proud to be the world’s No. 1golfer! Thank you to everyone who has supported me along the way.”

The Ulsterman’s ascension to the top of the World Golf Ranking last week was storybook stuff. Now, if only he can crack the 1 million followers mark. Just 88,000 more to go.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Augusta National. Ryo Ishikawa is certainly deserving of a special invitation into this year’s Masters and the club has been rather clear that would-be participants should never expect a free pass into the year’s first major.

Still, this week’s announcement marks the second time Ishikawa has been granted a special invitation into the Masters while there are always other deserving players each year.

Davis Love III, for example, had played the Masters every year between 1991 and 2007, finished runner-up twice and is destined for the World Golf Hall of Fame yet the U.S. Ryder Cup captain will sit out this year’s event for the fourth time in five years.

International exemptions are nice, but charity should start at home.

Missing the Monster. The famed Monster Grill adjacent Doral’s 18th hole has been a favorite of players, caddies and media for years, but this year the must-stop grill has been reduced to a snack machine.

No word on whether the closure is budget related, but the best burgers on Tour will be missed.

Missed Cut

Jarrod Lyle. Count this as a “bad things happening to good people” deal. The Australian will celebrate the birth of his first child this week and start chemotherapy treatments almost immediately afterward.

Lyle was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia at age 17 but recovered and seven years later was in the field at the British Open. Just weeks after his best finish on the PGA Tour (T-5 at the Northern Trust Open) he was informed by doctors that the cancer had returned.

Lyle is best known in the United States for acing the 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale last year. The Bird’s Nest faithful should save a special celebration for Lyle when he wins his second bout with cancer.

Donald Trump. With all the delicacy of a linebacker The Don elbowed his way into the PGA Tour conversation this week with his purchase of Doral Resort, predictably breaking copious amounts of china along the way.

Trump’s $200 million overhaul of the resort will include a makeover of the famed Blue Monster but at least he tabbed the right man for the job – unassuming Gil Hanse. It was a self-promoting opportunity that The Don couldn’t pass up.

“I'm glad I chose him first. In fact, without my choosing him he would not have gotten the Olympics. They relied on me, believe me,” Trump boasted. “I'm only kidding . . . maybe (it’s) a little true.”

For good measure, Trump also plugged his growing aspirations to host a major championship.

“I'm going to say this off the record even though we are on live television. I'm hearing rumors about getting the U.S. Women's Open (to a property of his in New Jersey),” he announced.

And now Trump is a Tour “partner.” Let the show begin.

American Junior Golf Association

Junior golfer's amazing run: ace, albatross, birdie

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 11:03 pm

While most of the golf world had its attention focused on Scotland and The Open Championship at Carnoustie on Thursday, the REALLY remarkable performance of the day was taking place in Halifax, Mass.

There, in an American Junior Golf Association tournament, a 16-year-old Thai player made a hole-in-one and an albatross on consecutive holes.

According to the AJGA, Conor Kelly holed a 5-iron shot on the 198-yard, par-3 eighth hole. It was his first hole-in-one. He then holed a 4-iron second shot from 220 yards on the 480-yard ninth holer for the albatross. (We're gonna go out on a limb and say it was his first albatross.)

Certainly a nice way to make the turn - but Kelly wasn't finished. He birdied the par-4 10th for a 1-2-3 sequence on his scorecard. For the day, he shot a 5-under 67 in the AJGA Junior Golf Hub Championship at the Country Club of Halifax.

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McIlroy, Rahm betting co-favorites after Open Round 1

By Will GrayJuly 19, 2018, 10:10 pm

They're both three shots off the lead, but after starting The Open with rounds in the 60s Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm are now betting co-favorites to lift the claret jug at Carnoustie.

McIlroy is four years removed from his Open triumph at Royal Liverpool, while Rahm remains in search of his first major title. Both carded rounds of 2-under 69 in Scotland to sit three shots off the lead of Kevin Kisner. While McIlroy started the tournament at 16/1 and Rahm at 20/1, they're now dead even at 10/1 in updated odds at the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook.

Kisner started the week at 200/1, but after an opening-round 66 he's quickly been trimmed to 25/1. Tony Finau sits one shot behind Kisner and is now listed behind only McIlroy and Rahm at 12/1 after starting the tournament at 60/1.

On the other side of the coin, consensus pre-tournament betting favorite Dustin Johnson fell from 12/1 to 100/1 following an opening 76 while Masters champ Patrick Reed shot a 4-over 75 to plummet from 30/1 to 200/1. Trailing by five shots following an opening-round 71, Tiger Woods' odds remained unchanged at 25/1 as he seeks a 15th career major title.

Here's a look at the revised betting odds heading into the second round at Carnoustie:

10/1: Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm

12/1: Tony Finau

14/1: Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler

20/1: Francesco Molinari

25/1: Tiger Woods, Alex Noren, Henrik Stenson, Kevin Kisner

30/1: Jordan Spieth, Zach Johnson, Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka

40/1: Ryan Moore, Jason Day

50/1: Erik Van Rooyen, Brandon Stone, Matt Kuchar

60/1: Danny Willett, Thomas Pieters, Marc Leishman, Thorbjorn Olesen, Russell Henley, Matthew Southgate

80/1: Webb Simpson, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Brendan Steele, Kevin Na

100/1: Dustin Johnson, Zander Lombard, Sung Kang, Paul Casey, Louis Oosthuizen, Xander Schauffele, Chris Wood, Pat Perez, Luke List, Charley Hoffman

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Despite 78, Lincicome savors PGA Tour experience

By Randall MellJuly 19, 2018, 9:41 pm

Two bad holes derailed Brittany Lincicome in her historic start Thursday at the Barbasol Championship, but they couldn’t wipe the smile off her face afterward.

It might have been the most fun she ever had shooting a 78.

Lincicome joined Babe Zaharias, Shirley Spork, Annika Sorenstam, Suzy Whaley and Michelle Wie as the only women to tee it up in a PGA Tour event when she striped her opening tee shot down the middle Thursday at Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville, Ky.

A double bogey at her ninth hole and a triple at her 16th might have spoiled her chances at joining Zaharias as the only women to make a 36-hole cut in a PGA Tour event, but it didn’t spoil her experience.

“I did what I wanted to do, with having fun,” Lincicome said. “I think I nailed that part pretty well.

“I love playing with the guys. It's so much fun, being inside the ropes with them. Hopefully, I can get a good one tomorrow.”

Lincicome, 32, held her own for 16 holes, playing them in 1 over par, but those two big numbers left her tied for last place when she signed her scorecard, though other players remained on the course.

At 6 over, Lincicome is 13 shots behind the leader, probably seven or eight shots off the projected cut line, but she savored the experience. She arrived wanting to inspire young girls to dream big, and to bring some extra attention to a title sponsor who means so much to her. She represents Pure Silk, part of the Barbasol family.

Sam Ryder, who joined Conrad Shindler playing alongside Lincicome, was impressed with the way Lincicome carried herself.

“I would play with her every day if she wanted to,” said Ryder, who opened with a 68. “She's just a great person.

“Even though I know she's probably a little disappointed with her final score, she had a smile on her face all day.”

Lincicome, an eight-time LPGA winner, made her first birdie at her 12th hole, dropping a 30-foot putt, but she wasn’t happy with her putter much of the day. She missed three other good birdie chances, a 4-footer at her eighth hole, an 8-footer at her 10th and a 12-footer at the last.

“Pretty happy with my game overall,” Lincicome said. “I had two bad holes, but I drove it well. I did all the things I said I needed to do, but my putter let me down today.”

After piping her first drive, Lincicome opened with three consecutive pars.

“I was actually calmer than I thought I was going to be,” she said. “I thought I was going to be a nervous wreck. After the first tee shot, I was pretty happy that I found the fairway.”

Lincicome said Ryder and Shindler made her feel welcome. So did the crowds.

“It was great,” she said. “I could feel the energy of the crowd support me. Every time I hit a good driver or good shot, they would cheer for me, which was great.

“Conrad and Sam were so nice. I couldn't have asked for a better pairing. They were very welcoming, and we were interacting, they were asking me questions, and it was great.”

On Tuesday, Lincicome said a key to her play would be hitting fairways. She did that, hitting 10 of 14, but she was taking in longer clubs than she does in LPGA events, with Keene Trace set up at 7,168 yards. That’s 600 yards longer than she played last week at the LPGA’s Marathon Classic, where she finished second. She hit just 8 greens in regulation in this PGA Tour start.

Lincicome is nicknamed “Bam Bam.” She is one of the LPGA’s longest drivers, but she was typically 30 to 40 yards behind Ryder and Shindler after hitting her driver. She averaged 259 yards per drive, Ryder 289 yards.

“She had a couple birdie putts that she could have made,” Ryder said. “If she made a couple of those, might've been a little bit different, just to get a little bit of momentum. Who knows?”

Lincicome’s biggest challenges were the par 3s.

At the 18th, playing 195 yards, she mis-hit her tee shot, knocking it in the water, short of the green. She took a penalty, moved up to a forward tee, dropped and hit into a right greenside bunker. She got up and down from there for a 5.

At the seventh, playing 198 yards, she missed wild right and deep. From a tough spot in the rough, she left her pitch short of the green. She chipped her third past the hole and to the fringe, where she took three putts from 20 feet.

Afterward, Lincicome wasn’t dwelling on the bad shots. She was focused on going to sign autographs for all the fans waiting for her, including all the little girls who came out to see her.

“I need to go back over there and sign,” she said. “Any time I can influence a child, especially a girl, obviously I want to get them involved with the LPGA, as much as possible.”

Her overall assessment of her day?

“It was a great experience,” she said.

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Watch: Full replays of The Open coverage

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 8:55 pm

NBC Sports and Golf Channel are showcasing nearly 50 hours of live coverage of the 147th Open. Missed anything? Well, you can catch up right here. Click on the links below for replays from Carnoustie, broken down into daily segments:

Thursday, Day 1 (Times ET)

Noon-4PM (Watch): Tiger Woods was up and down in the afternoon, as winds picked up a little and no one could catch Kevin Kisner. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Woods, Russell Knox and Hideki Matsuyama.

1:30-8:25AM (Watch): Defending champion Jordan Spieth got off to a good start, while Kevin Kisner (66) set the early pace. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm and Chris Wood.