Cut Line: Captains Outrageous

By Rex HoggardNovember 14, 2014, 7:05 pm

Miguel Angel Jimenez’s bid to captain a European Ryder Cup team may be lost in translation, John Daly’s take that Phil Mickelson could someday become a “playing captain” for the U.S. side needs no interpretation, and Lefty’s message was crystal clear when he signed on to be an assistant coach … for Arizona State.

Made Cut

Win one for Lefty. Phil Mickelson endured a disproportionate amount of criticism following his remarks on Sunday at September’s Ryder Cup.

After one too many losses in the biennial event Lefty used the postmatch platform to question the U.S. side’s philosophy, which is clearly not working, more so than captain Tom Watson.

Know this about the southpaw - above all else Mickelson is a competitor, which is what drove him to question the American system and was on display this week when he announced he would serve as an interim assistant golf coach for Arizona State.

Mickelson will join his brother, Tim who is the head coach of the Sun Devils’ golf team, on the sidelines and, more importantly, on the recruiting trail.

He will also get some valuable time behind the wheel of a golf cart as he nears his day as a Ryder Cup captain. Lefty isn’t a coup leader, just a competitor.

Ko-ngratulations. The name on the trophy says LPGA Player of the Year, but it may as well declare Lydia Ko this season’s top newcomer in all of golf.

Ko, who at 17 became the youngest to win the LPGA’s Louise Suggs Award, won twice in her first full season as a professional and became the circuit’s youngest millionaire. All told, she has 13 top-10 finishes and moved to No. 3 in the world ranking.

With a monsoon of respect for Chesson Hadley, the PGA Tour’s rookie of the year, and whoever wins the European Tour’s top newcomer trophy, Ko was the class of this year’s freshman class.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

The pace of progress. While there are no easy answers, give credit to the USGA for tackling golf’s 400-pound pace-of-play elephant this week.

The USGA’s pace-of-play summit will not likely present any quick fixes, the association’s findings did shed some light on slow play.

For example, according to preliminary data the amount of time it takes to play a round increases when green speeds exceed 11 on the Stimpmeter; and that increasing intervals between tee times to 11 minutes has shaved 14 minutes off the average LPGA round this season.

That the summit covered 16 hours of meetings over two days is the punch line to a bad joke, but at least the USGA is trying to make a difference, however languid the pace may be.

A final “Ror.” Rory McIlroy hasn’t hit a shot that mattered since the Dunhill Links Championship in early October and will close out his season next week at the European Tour’s finale in Dubai, and yet he is still a virtual lock to win the circuit’s season-long race.

A few years back the PGA Tour reinvented the wheel when Vijay Singh arrived at the Tour Championship needing only to remain upright for four days to win the FedEx Cup. Let’s hope the European Tour doesn’t follow Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.’s lead and try to Rory-proof its system.

Although McIlroy didn’t play the first three final-series events his lead in the Race to Dubai standings is such that he will likely lock up the title this week.

So what.

It may not be the drama officials would have liked, but when you’ve won two of the season’s four major championships, a World Golf Championships event and the European Tour’s flagship event (BMW PGA) no amount of small print or mathematical madness should dull that dominance.

Tweet of the week: Jason Dufner tweeted a photo of himself this week with an elephant, which seemed odd considering he is an “avid Auburn fan,” according to his own Twitter account. I wonder where he’s seen one of those before?



Missed Cut

Why not MAJ? While the PGA of America continues to dissect its options for future Ryder Cup captains, the European team seemed to narrow its list of possible captains to exclude anyone without a Rosetta Stone membership.

Consider that Miguel Angel Jimenez’s bid to captain the next European team took a hit when Sergio Garcia questioned the Spaniard’s sometimes-spotty English.

“Becoming a captain is different,” Garcia said. “From the time you get appointed there is more than a year and a half of activities, engagements, interviews and so on that a new captain has to deal with. So it is important that everyone he speaks to over that period understands exactly what he is saying because words can be misinterpreted.”

The language barrier may have been what cost K.J. Choi a chance to captain next year’s International Presidents Cup team in Korea, but it seems baffling the same concerns would keep Jimenez out of the big chair.

Besides, golf’s most interesting man really doesn’t have to say anything to get his point across.

My captain. Give “JD” credit for outside-the-box thinking, but when John Daly opined this week that Mickelson and Tiger Woods should be considered for the role of playing captains for future Ryder Cups he caused a few double takes.

It seems inevitable Woods and Mickelson will remain competitive late enough into their careers to wear two hats at the matches, but there is a reason why there hasn’t been a playing captain since Arnold Palmer in 1963.

The matches have become golf’s most scrutinized event, and the gig demands a two-year commitment from captains that would preclude a player from a normal competitive schedule.

While there are no such things as bad ideas in the overhaul of the U.S. Ryder Cup system, let’s just stick a pin in that playing-captain concept.

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Watch: Moore does impressions of Tiger, Poults, Bubba

By Grill Room TeamJuly 16, 2018, 10:36 pm
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Johnson begins Open week as 12/1 betting favorite

By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 5:15 pm

Dustin Johnson heads into The Open as the top-ranked player in the world, and he's also an understandable betting favorite as he looks to win a second career major.

Johnson has not played since the U.S. Open, where he led by four shots at the halfway point and eventually finished third. He has three top-10 finishes in nine Open appearances, notably a T-2 finish at Royal St. George's in 2011.

Johnson opened as a 12/1 favorite when the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook first published odds for Carnoustie after the U.S. Open, and he remains at that number with the first round just three days away.

Here's a look at the latest odds on some of the other top contenders, according to the Westgate:

12/1: Dustin Johnson

16/1: Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose

20/1: Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood, Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm

25/1: Jason Day, Henrik Stenson, Tiger Woods

30/1: Sergio Garcia, Francesco Molinari, Paul Casey, Alex Noren, Patrick Reed

40/1: Hideki Matsuyama, Marc Leishman, Branden Grace, Tyrrell Hatton

50/1: Phil Mickelson, Ian Poulter, Matthew Fitzpatrick

60/1: Russell Knox, Louis Oosthuizen, Matt Kuchar, Bryson DeChambeau, Zach Johnson, Tony Finau, Bubba Watson

80/1: Lee Westwood, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Thomas Pieters, Xander Schauffele

100/1: Shane Lowry, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker, Ryan Fox, Thorbjorn Olesen

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Woods needs top-10 at Open to qualify for WGC

By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 4:34 pm

If Tiger Woods is going to qualify for the final WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club, he'll need to do something he hasn't done in five years this week at The Open.

Woods has won eight times at Firestone, including his most recent PGA Tour victory in 2013, and has openly stated that he would like to qualify for the no-cut event in Akron before it shifts to Memphis next year. But in order to do so, Woods will need to move into the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking after this week's event at Carnoustie.

Woods is currently ranked No. 71 in the world, down two spots from last week, and based on projections it means that he'll need to finish no worse than a tie for eighth to have a chance of cracking the top 50. Woods' last top-10 finish at a major came at the 2013 Open at Muirfield, where he tied for sixth.

Updated Official World Golf Ranking

There are actually two OWGR cutoffs for the Bridgestone, July 23 and July 30. That means that Woods could theoretically still add a start at next week's RBC Canadian Open to chase a spot in the top 50, but he has said on multiple occasions that this week will be his last start of the month. The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational will be played Aug. 2-5.

There wasn't much movement in the world rankings last week, with the top 10 staying the same heading into the season's third major. Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm. Defending Open champ Jordan Spieth is ranked sixth, with Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Tommy Fleetwood rounding out the top 10.

Despite taking the week off, Sweden's Alex Noren moved up three spots from No. 14 to No. 11, passing Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Paul Casey.

John Deere Classic champ Michael Kim went from No. 473 to No. 215 in the latest rankings, while South African Brandon Stone jumped from 371st to 110th with his win at the Scottish Open.

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Spieth takes familiar break ahead of Open defense

By Rex HoggardJuly 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – As his title chances seemed to be slipping away during the final round of last year’s Open Championship, Jordan Spieth’s caddie took a moment to remind him who he was.

Following a bogey at No. 13, Michael Greller referenced a recent vacation he’d taken to Mexico where he’d spent time with Michael Phelps and Michael Jordan and why he deserved to be among that group of singular athletes.

Spieth, who won last year’s Open, decided to continue the tradition, spending time in Cabo again before this week’s championship.

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“I kind of went through the same schedule,” Spieth said on Monday at Carnoustie. “It was nice to have a little vacation.”

Spieth hasn’t played since the Travelers Championship; instead he attended the Special Olympics USA Games earlier this month in Seattle with his sister. It was Spieth’s first time back to the Pacific Northwest since he won the 2015 U.S. Open.

“I went out to Chambers Bay with [Greller],” Spieth said. “We kind of walked down the 18th hole. It was cool reliving those memories.”

But most of all Spieth said he needed a break after a particularly tough season.

“I had the itch to get back to it after a couple weeks of not really working,” he said. “It was nice to kind of have that itch to get back.”