Cut Line: Change is inevitable on PGA Tour

By Rex HoggardApril 27, 2012, 4:45 pm

In honor of this week’s Zurich Classic, Jazz Fest and the bottomless plate of BBQ shrimp, Cut Line is taking a soulful approach to this week’s edition, starting with a call for PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem to embrace the future and the possibility of a new start for the circuit in the “City That Care Forgot.”

Laissez les bon temps roulez.

Made Cut

Hugs. All this time we thought professional football’s popularity in relation to golf was a byproduct of the game’s violence and the inherent loyalties of a team sport when in fact the NFL’s dominance seems born from a softer side that begins at the top.

There it was in HD clarity, over and over again, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell embracing the next pick in Thursday’s draft with emotion that would make Dr. Phil proud.

If the Tour really wants to cut into football’s popularity we suggest marching Finchem out to the 18th green at Q-School this year ready to dole out a Tour card, a Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., cap and a hug.

Peter Dawson. It is, as far as the PGA Tour is concerned, a dead issue. As long as the current regime remains in Ponte Vedra Beach the circuit’s policy to not publish fines or disciplinary actions will remain the status quo, but it is worth revisiting when the chief of the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews decides to swim upstream.

“I have gone on record saying that more public sanctioning would not be a bad thing,” Dawson said this week. “One would have thought more public sanctions would be more likely to lead to a correction of behavior rather than private sanctions.”

For the record, the Tour’s policy is to only publish fines and punishments when a player violates the circuit’s anti-doping program – and only then when the offending drug is considered performance enhancing, not recreational.

Imagine, however, if the Tour published the list of players who had violated its slow play policy. A private monetary fine is one thing, the public scorn of being labeled a snail in print – now that’s preemptive.

Bayou District Foundation. News this week that the plan to create an East Lake-like neighborhood in New Orleans’ City Park is a reason to “second line” on many levels.

The planned Rees Jones-designed course promises to be a dramatic upgrade over the Zurich Classic’s current home. Moving the event to City Park, which is just minutes from downtown and the French Quarter, would improve the event’s appeal to local fans and let’s be honest, there’s little chance Jones could design something worse than the TPC, which ranked 45th out of 52 Tour courses in a player poll last year.

“One of the courses (in City Park) is going to be designed as a championship venue,” said Joe Ogilvie, who has been involved in the City Park initiative since his days on the Tour Policy Board. “I’m guessing that’s the city’s goal (to host the Zurich Classic at City Park). It would be a big bonus if the Zurich moved to City Park, but the project is going to get done either way.”

Even if the Zurich stays put on the wrong side of the Mississippi River the Bayou District Foundation, which has spearheaded the restoration project, has already been a success having transformed the neighborhood surrounding City Park.

Tweet of the week: @WestwoodLee “Retief grey goose (Goosen) on the Robert rocks (Rock) with a slice of Jose Phillpe [sic] lime (Jose-Filipe Lima). Can’t get better than that! #BoozyFourBall.”

Westy may be ranked third in the Official World Golf Ranking, but the Englishman is the undisputed leader in the Twitter index.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Bubba Watson. The in-demand Masters champion got back to work this week in New Orleans and the not-so-bashful-prince deserves style points for honoring his commitment to play the Zurich Classic.

Where Watson seemed to get sideways was during his press conference on Tuesday at TPC Louisiana when he made at least nine references to “the media’s” short attention span and its penchant to distort facts.

While much of the media’s reputation is well deserved and many of Watson’s references were made with tongue firmly planted in cheek, there was a curious and concerning undertone to his comments.

By almost all accounts Watson has been dubbed a media darling since slipping on the green jacket and even before his major breakthrough Cut Line can think of just a single episode – during last year’s French Open when he ran afoul of the local press when he referred to the “big tower” (Eiffel) and “some archway” (Arc de Triomphe) – when he hasn’t been given the benefit of the doubt by the press.

Watson has made a decision to embrace the spotlight, which is certainly his right and infinitely understandable, but he must understand that scrutiny and stardom are not mutually exclusive.

Olympic effort. It is difficult, if not impossible, to question U.S. Golf Association executive director Mike Davis’ U.S. Open handiwork in recent years (see Torrey Pines, 2008), but the organization’s last-minute scramble to add a fairway bunker to the Olympic Club’s 17th hole is at the least a reason to sit up and take notice.

Davis authorized the new hazard on the 17th, which will play as a par 5 for this year’s championship, in a strategic attempt to persuade more players to go for the green in two shots.

Although the idea (the potential for more late-round excitement) is compelling, the execution (less than two months before the Open) is concerning.

Missed Cut

World golf ranking. We’ve wasted no small amount of space in this column railing against the math and madness that is the ranking, but last week’s calculations deserve a “Missed Cut” encore.

At issue is the payment of appearance fees by international tours, a practice that essentially allows events to pay for world ranking points. Consider Lee Westwood’s victory at last week’s Indonesian Masters, a haul that landed him 20 ranking points. On the other side of the globe Ben Curtis ended a title drought at the Texas Open and collected 24 points.

With respect to the Asian Tour, if the difference in field quality between the two events is a mere 4 points the folks in San Antonio may want to consider asking for a bit of a refund for their $6.2 million purse.

One longtime Tour observer suggested a possible fix that would remove whatever points the two highest-ranked players bring to the table in every field each week. It may not be the solution to the pay-for-points problem, but it’s a start.

Getty Images

Sordet opens with 62 to grab lead at Nordea Masters

By Associated PressAugust 16, 2018, 11:23 pm

GOTHENBURG, Sweden - Clement Sordet opened with four straight birdies to shoot 8-under 62 and take the first-round lead of the Nordea Masters on Thursday.

Sordet says ''I wasn't really focusing on the score, I was just enjoying it.''

The Frenchman, who shot his lowest European Tour round, has a two-stroke lead over Scott Jamieson of Scotland and Lee Slattery of England.

Hunter Stewart is the highest-placed American after a 5-under 65 left him on a four-way tie for fourth with Christofer Blomstrand, Tapio Pulkkanen and Richard Green.

Defending champion Renato Paratore's hopes of becoming the first player to successfully retain the title look in doubt after the Italian shot 9-over 79 at Hills Golf Club.

Getty Images

Peterson confirms plans to play Finals

By Will GrayAugust 16, 2018, 9:17 pm

After flirting with retirement for much of the summer, John Peterson confirmed that he will give it one more shot in the upcoming Tour Finals.

Peterson, 29, had planned to walk away from the game and begin a career in real estate in his native Texas if he failed to secure PGA Tour status before his medical extension expired. His T-13 finish last month at The Greenbrier appeared to be enough to net the former NCAA champ at least conditional status, but a closer look at the numbers revealed he missed out by 0.58 points in his last available start.

Full-field scores from Wyndham Championship

Wyndham Championship: Articles, photos and videos

But Peterson was buoyed by the support he received from his peers at The Greenbrier, and when he got into the Barbasol Championship as a late alternate he decided to make the trip to the tournament. He tied for 21st that week in Kentucky, clinching enough non-member FedExCup points to grant him a spot in the four-event Finals.

Last month Peterson hinted that he would consider playing in the Finals, where 25 PGA Tour cards for the 2018-19 season will be up for grabs, and Thursday he confirmed in an Instagram post that he will give his pro career "one last push."

The Finals kick off next week in Ohio with the Nationwide Children's Hospital Championship and will conclude Sept. 20-23 with the Tour Championship. Peterson will be looking to rekindle his results from 2013, when he finished T-5 or better at each of the four Finals events while earning fully-exempt status as the top money earner.

Getty Images

Lyle honored with sand sculpture at Wyndham

By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 16, 2018, 9:00 pm

Jarrod Lyle passed away last week at the age of 36 after losing his third battle with cancer.

And after a PGA Championship filled with tributes to the Australian, the Wyndham Championship found its own way to keep his legacy alive at the North Carolina Tour stop.

Next to the Wyndham Championship and PGA Tour logos carved into the sand on site at Sedgefield Country Club is Lyle's name and the "Leuk the Duck" mascot. The duck has become synonymous with Challenge, an organization that supports kids with cancer.

Fellow Aussie Stuart Appleby posted the display on social media:

View this post on Instagram

(Pic update) Brighter is better

A post shared by StuartAppleby (@stuartappleby59) on

Lyle was also remembered in a more traditional manner on the first tee, where his bag and trademark yellow bucket hat were prominently displayed.

Getty Images

Yin (64) steps into spotlight on Day 1 in Indy

By Randall MellAugust 16, 2018, 7:49 pm

American fans will be quick to embrace a young new winner with the U.S. ranks shrinking in women’s golf this summer.

With some of its biggest stars dealing with injuries, swoons or away on maternity leave, the American game could use a boost.

And here comes Angel Yin . . .

She is a major talent looking to break through this week at the Indy Women in Tech Championship. Still a teenager at 19, she moved into early position Thursday to try to win her first title.

With a spectacular start, Yin looked as if she might give the game a pair of 59s on the same day, with Brandt Snedeker posting one at the Wyndham Championship. Yin birdied eight of the first nine holes at Brickyard Crossing Golf Course in Indianapolis before cooling on the back nine. She still shot 8-under-par 64, good for the early lead.

“It just felt good,” Yin said. “Everything was working.”

Yin was knocking down flagsticks on the outward nine.

“I had nine putts on the front nine, which is incredible,” Yin said. “Never had that many little putts.”

With Brickyard Crossing a big hitter’s park, Yin took advantage. She’s one of the longest hitters on tour, ranking fifth in driving distance (272.2 yards per drive).

Full-field scores from Indy Women in Tech Championship

Yin has made runs at winning this year. She tied for fourth at the Mediheal Championship in April. She finished third at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at the end of June, but then missed the cut in three of her next four starts, including the Ricoh Women’s British Open in her last start.

“I was really happy how everything came together [today], because I have been playing well,” Yin said. “I just haven't been scoring.”

Yin introduced herself to the world stage making the American Solheim Cup team last year. She wowed fans and teammates alike bombing her driver in an impressive rookie debut.

“She is fearless,” two-time Rolex Player of the Year Stacy Lewis said going into last year’s Solheim Cup. “The shots she can hit, nobody else can hit. She probably doesn’t quite know how to manage it yet, is the only thing holding her back.”

While Yin is seeking her first professional title, she has won as a pro. She claimed the Omega Dubai Ladies Classic on the Ladies European Tour at the end of last season.

Ying has been a big deal in Southern California for a while now. At 13, she qualified for the U.S. Women’s Open at Blackwolf Run. At 14, she won a junior qualifier to get into the ANA Inspiration and made the cut. At 15, she Monday qualified to get into the LPGA’s Kia Classic. At 16, she won the AJGA’s Annika Invitational, finished runner up in the U.S. Girls’ Junior and played on the U.S. Junior Solheim Cup team.