Cut Line: Captain's choice

By Rex HoggardAugust 26, 2011, 7:04 pm

One woman’s genius is another man’s gamble, but then no amount of over-analysis will change the reality that success or failure will ultimately be decided on the field of play. In the short term this much is certain, U.S. Presidents Cup captain Fred Couples seems stuck in the past while his Solheim Cup counterpart Rosie Jones has brazenly ignored the status quo in favor of unproven youth.

The competing styles are as divergent as they are defining, and a perfect place for Cut Line to begin and end this week’s recap.

Made Cut

Rosie Jones. Unlike Couples, who removed the lion’s share of drama from the Presidents Cup selection process and made Tiger Woods one of his wildcard picks, the American Solheim Cup captain went outside the box when she selected rookie Ryann O’Toole for this year’s team.

Cut Line has never been a fan of captains who toe the line and make their picks straight off the points list. With O’Toole, Jones eschewed the safe pick and went with the hot hand that wields a monster driver.

If O’Toole gets shut down later this year in Ireland and the United States falls to Europe expect Jones to become public enemy No. 1 in the American press. Until then, we’ve got her penciled in for “Captain of the Year.”

FedEx Cup playoffs. It’s easy to nitpick – and if one is looking for a conversation starter may we suggest a postseason that includes 125 players, no other major sports league begins its playoffs with 100 percent participation – but from a conceptual point of view it’s difficult to find much fault in the Tour’s grand experiment.

Sure, the Tour probably didn’t put much thought into a postseason without the likes of Tiger Woods but there’s not much commissioner Tim Finchem could do to change that short of a few mulligans and a putting lesson.

Still, considering the pre-playoff alternative, a season-ending Tour Championship with virtually no drama, we’ll take the current model. In the next five weeks the Player of the Year race will be decided, the final 11 spots on the U.S. Presidents Cup team will be finalized (it seems only Tiger Woods is assured a spot at Royal Melbourne right now) and golf fans will go cross-eyed trying to follow the overly complicated points system . . . well, two out of three isn’t bad.

Tweet of the Week: @StewartCink: Note in yardage book from yesterday’s practice round here in N.J., “10th tee shakes violently for about 40 seconds every 1,000 years.”

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Nationwide Tour/Q-School makeover. At ground level this looks like a solution looking for a problem. It seems the only thing that is broken here is an economic model that is about to have serious cash-flow issues when Nationwide pulls the plug on its umbrella sponsorship of the secondary circuit in 2012.

But the Tour continues to dig in on a proposal that would make the Nationwide Tour the primary avenue to a Tour card. During Wednesday’s Player Advisory Council meeting at The Barclays the Tour presented multiple versions of the plan.

At issue is how to seed players from the Nationwide Tour and PGA Tour for a three-event, playoff-like run that would dole out 50 Tour cards. For example, did the regular-season money leader on the Nationwide Tour have a better year than the guy who finishes 126th on the PGA Tour money list? Depends on who you ask.

“They seem to be going forward with it,” said one Tour player with knowledge of the meeting. “It’s still going to be tough to get passed.”

Hurricane Irene. The Tour certainly had good reason to shorten this week’s Barclays to 54 holes with a 100-year storm, not to mention this week’s 1,000-year earthquake, closing in on the New Jersey/New York City area, but the move did rekindle an ongoing debate about the playoff’s East Coast bias.

The postseason features stops in New Jersey, Boston and Atlanta with Chicago’s BMW Championship the closest thing to a Left Coast stop.

“Novel idea, how about a playoff event or two on the West Coast. Weather is perfect this time of year. #NoHurricanes,” Arron Oberholser tweeted on Thursday.

The bad news: the competitive integrity of the first playoff event takes a hit. The good news: the Tour is out of New Jersey.

Open spaces. The U.S. Golf Association’s Mike Davis has not been shy about his affinity for Erin Hills, site of this week’s U.S. Amateur, and set-up kudos are certainly in order following the stroke-play portion of the event.

Gregor Main tied the championship’s 36-hole qualifying record with a 10-under total despite an Erin Hills design that can be stretched to a super-sized 7,760 yards. Still, if 7,700 yards is the answer to the modern game, one has to wonder how courses without the luxury of unlimited real estate will survive on the competitive landscape.

The U.S. Open is scheduled to arrive at Erin Hills in 2017 and we can already hear the player rants. The only good news is that Phil Mickelson won’t have Rees Jones to kick around at Erin Hills.

Missed Cut

PGA Tour. It would seem Camp Ponte Vedra Beach (Fla.) would have their hands full right now, what with the start of a new round of network television negotiations beginning and a radical new Nationwide Tour/Q-School proposal still on the drawing board. Yet the circuit’s fashion police somehow found time to needlessly meddle this week.

Caddies at this week’s Barclays were told they could not wear bright-orange colored shoes, which were given to the bagmen by adidas as part of a promotional campaign to launch the company’s new Tour 360 model.

“I think some people don’t have enough to do around the Tour,” said one caddie. “Last I checked I was an independent contractor.”

Let’s get this straight, caddies can’t wear orange shoes but it is fine for John Daly to show up wearing the living room drapes?

It’s the process, stupid. It’s easy to turn on captain Couples, who made a mini-mockery of the Presidents Cup selection process on Thursday when he decided to forego the prescribed order of things and dole out one of his two captain’s picks to Woods.

“I’ve told him that he’s going to be on the team,” Couples said. “There is no reason for me to wait until Sept. 26 to pick Tiger. He’s the best player in the world forever.”

Fair enough, and truth be told it won’t be until after the matches are played in November that we will know the full extent of Couples’ genius or miss-guided generosity. The real problem seems to be the selection process.

Unlike the Ryder Cup selection process, which was given an extreme makeover courtesy of Paul Azinger before the 2008 matches, the final Presidents Cup qualifying tournament will be the BMW Championship, some nine weeks before the matches are played at Royal Melbourne.

For his captain’s picks Couples has until Sept. 26, the Monday after the Tour Championship which is seven weeks before the matches. By comparison, Azinger had the luxury of making his picks just two weeks before the ’08 Ryder Cup and a system that was weighted heavily in favor of recent-year finishes.

Of course a new system wouldn’t have done Couples much good considering that he made up his mind to make Woods a pick about 30 seconds after being named the 2011 captain. Still, it would have been nice to have some options.

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Koepka: Second-place finishes becoming 'annoying'

By Al TaysMay 28, 2018, 12:02 am

Brooks Koepka didn't go down without a fight.

Trailing Justin Rose by four shots going into the final round of the Fort Worth Invitational, Koepka shot his second 7-under 63 of the week - and made up precisely one shot. He finished solo second at 17 under par, three shots behind Rose.

He could only marvel at the Englishman's performance in closing with a 6-under 64.

"It was pretty impressive," he said. "Justin played well. Hat's off to him. Any time you can come into a lead with four shots and play the way he did today, that's impressive."

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

Although Koepka was pleased with his own play - especially his putting - he said it felt "annoying" to come in second. Again.

"I feel like we've had so many second-place finishes," he said. "Always seem to run into a buzz saw, whatever it is."

Since May of 2016, Koepka has five solo second-place finishes and one T-2. But he also has a U.S. Open title, won last year at Erin Hills. He'll attempt to defend that title June 14-17 at Shinnecock Hills. "It's nice to finally be playing well and get going into the season," he said. "Kind of peaking right where I need to be."

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Minjee Lee birdies 18 to win on her birthday

By Associated PressMay 27, 2018, 10:59 pm

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Minjee Lee's task was simple: A birdie on No. 18 would win her the tournament. It was a manageable par 5, the easiest hole on the course in the final round.

After a good drive, her second shot came closer to trouble than much of the gallery probably realized.

''I almost clipped the tree,'' Lee said. ''I overcut it a little bit, but it finished out in a good position.''

Lee's shot came to rest just to the right of the green, and from there it was a simple chip and putt for the birdie that gave her a one-stroke win over In-Kyung Kim at the LPGA Volvik Championship on Sunday. Lee, who turned 22 on Sunday, won for the first time since 2016. It was the Australian's fourth career victory.

Lee three-putted for a bogey on No. 17, dropping into a tie with Kim, who finished her round about the same time. So Lee needed a birdie to win on 18. The 18th hole was 470 yards Sunday. There were 44 birdies there in the final round.

Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship

''The tee was up,'' she said. ''I was pretty confident that I could get there in two if I had a good drive.''

Lee made her winning putt from about 3 feet. She finished at 4-under 68 and 16 under for the tournament. Kim (67) shot a 32 on the back nine and birdied No. 18, but it wasn't enough to force a playoff at Travis Pointe Country Club.

''I kind of knew that 16 was the number and I mean, I give my best,'' Kim said. ''I make some good shots and birdies.''

Moriya Jutanugarn (65) finished third at 14 under.

Lee took a two-stroke lead into the final round, and that was her margin over playing partner Stacy Lewis before Lewis (71) bogeyed No. 7 and 8. Kim emerged as the biggest threat to Lee when she birdied four of the first five holes on the back nine. Lewis is playing four months' pregnant with her first child.

Kim and Lee were briefly tied at 15 under, but then Lee made a tap-in birdie on the par-5 14th, while Kim bogeyed 15. Lee saved par on 15 despite a wayward drive into a bunker.

''I wasn't sure where I was score-wise then. That par 5 is reachable in two, so I think a lot of people would have made birdie there,'' Lee said. ''The next tee shot I just pulled into the bunker. ... I think that was really important for me to hole that par putt just to keep the momentum going.''

Lee had gone 38 consecutive holes without a bogey before making one on the par-4 17th. That, combined with Kim's birdie on 18, left the two golfers tied, but Lee still had the 18th to come.

Su Oh (68) and Lindy Duncan (69) finished at 13 under, and Megan Khang (67) was another stroke back. Lewis finished at 11 under along with Ariya Jutanugarn (69) and Danielle Kang (70).

Lewis birdied three of the first six holes, but Lee did as well.

''It's hard to get close when somebody does that,'' Lewis said. ''She played great all day and played solid. When she needed to make a par putt, she did, and didn't make any mistakes.''

Lee lost this event by one stroke last year. Shanshan Feng, the 2017 winner , finished tied for 21st this time.

The LPGA has had a different winner in each of its 13 tournaments this year. The U.S. Women's Open starts Thursday at Shoal Creek.

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Spieth: Improvement is 'right around the corner'

By Al TaysMay 27, 2018, 10:50 pm

Not that Dallas native Jordan Spieth didn't enjoy the two-week home game that is the AT&T Byron Nelson and the Fort Worth Invitational - he certainly did. But he's eager to get out of town, too.

"It was a great showing these last couple weeks by the fans," Spieth said after closing with a 2-under 68, a 5-under total and a T-32 finish. "Obviously extremely appreciative here in DFW. Wish I could do more. These couple weeks can be a bit taxing, and it's awesome to kind of have that support to carry you through.

"So, you know, I had a great time these couple weeks on and off the golf course as I always do, but I'm also really excited to kind of get out of town and kind of be able to just go back to the room and have nothing to do at night except for get ready to play the next day."

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

Spieth will have that experience this coming week in Dublin, Ohio, site of the Memorial. He's hopeful of improving on his T-21, T-32 finishes the past two weeks, and he thinks the main thing holding him back - his putting - is ready for a turnaround.

"I think good things are about to come," he said. "I feel a good run coming for the second half of the season. Today was - each day I've felt better and better with the wedges and the putter and the short game; today was no different. My only bogey being just kind of trying to do too much on a par-5; 3-wood into the hazard.

"So, you know, I'm getting into where I'm not making bogeys, and then soon - the not making bogeys is great, and soon I'll get back to the five, six birdies around and shoot some low rounds.

"So I know it's right around the corner."

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Broadhurst fires 63 to easily win Senior PGA

By Associated PressMay 27, 2018, 10:45 pm

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. – Paul Broadhurst wishes he had played this well in his 23 years on the European Tour.

''I know a lot more about my swing now and I guess you get that with age and experience,'' the 52-year-old Englishman said after shooting an 8-under 63 on Sunday to win the Senior PGA Championship by four strokes and match the best 72-hole score in tournament history.

Broadhurst finished at 19-under 265 at Harbor Shores for his second senior major victory. The 63 was the best fourth-round score by a winner. Rocco Mediate also shot 19 under at Harbor Shores in 2016.

Also the 2016 British Senior Open winner, Broadhurst led the field with 26 birdies and passed third-round co-leaders Tim Petrovic and Mark McCarron with a 4-under 31 on the back nine.

Petrovic was second after a 69. McCarron had a 70 to tie for third at 14 under with Jerry Kelly (65).

Full-field scores from the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship

Broadhurst earned a career-high $585,000 for his fourth PGA Tour Champions victory and moved to the top of the money list. He won six times on the European Tour, was a 1991 Ryder Cup player for Europe and has three European Senior Tour victories.

''It was really a special week,'' he said. ''It got a little bit tense out there. I knew I was playing well but I didn't seem to making any progress against Tim Petrovic. He was side-by-side on the back nine it seemed.''

He learned his lead was three strokes standing on the 18th tee when his caddie asked a television announcer.

''So we put my driver away and reached for the rescue club,'' he said. ''If I made a 5 there that would be fine.''

Broadhurst started the round two strokes behind Petrovic and McCarron, birdied the first hole and was tied with Petrovic for the lead by the turn. He took his first lead with a birdie on the 12th hole, led by two after 16 and birdied the final two holes, including a dramatic 40-foot putt for birdie at the 18th hole.

''I guess it would have been a bit of anti-climax if I would have three-putted the last green, but that would have given Tim a chance of holing his second shot,'' he said. ''I actually spoke to my caddie about that going down the last - we don't want to three-putt and five him the opportunity because stranger things have happened in golf. To see it go in the middle of the hole was just a special feeling.''

Petrovic said missed birdie putts on Nos. 7 and 8 were costly, but it might not have mattered with the way Broadhurst was playing.

''In hindsight it was all for naught,'' he said. ''He was so far ahead of us. Hat's off the guy. It was a great week - we just got beat. When he made the putt on 18 ahead of us I almost started clapping in the fairway and waving a white towel. It was well-deserved. That was great playing. He won the championship for sure.''

Broadhurst shot 72 in the first round, started rolling in putts with a 66 in the second round and was 15 under on the weekend. In addition to the leading 26 birdies, he topped the putts per greens in regulations numbers for the tournament as well with a 1.574 average.

''I wasn't aware I made that many birdies,'' he said. ''That's pretty impressive around this course.''

He said his game has long been unpredictable.

''I'm not blessed with a consistent swing like Bernhard Langer, but when it's on, it works,'' he said. ''If I'm putting well, then anything can happen, really.''