Cut Line Controversy Ave

By Rex HoggardJanuary 30, 2010, 6:48 am

SAN DIEGO – If PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem thought his press conference earlier this year in Hawaii was a tad edgy, wait until next week’s players meeting in Los Angeles.

From legally questionable wedges to logically challenged policies on Tour members playing overseas, the commish may be longing for the warm embrace of the press by the time the rank-and-file are finished with him. Because as “Cut Line” has learned this week, there are no easy answers on the modern Tour.

Made Cut

John Daly. Nope, those rounds of 79-71 at Torrey Pines weren’t nearly good enough to keep the big man around for the weekend, but his moment of emotional clarity Friday afternoon was a welcome addition to a turbulent career.

“I’m tired of embarrassing myself. I just can’t do it anymore,” Daly said Friday while filming an upcoming episode of the Golf Channel series “Being John Daly.”

If you believe JD is going to hang up his FootJoys we’ve got some underwater SoCal real estate, both financially and geologically, that we’d like to show you. Daly has far too much talent to call it career and, let’s be honest, not a vast amount of marketable skills outside the ropes.

He did, however, show an encouraging sign of humility and reason when he was asked about playing next month’s AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am on a sponsor exemption.

“I’m not going to take that spot from anybody else,” Daly said.

No, he’s not finished. In fact, it seems Daly could finally be getting it.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish

Ping Eye 2 wedges. Never in the history of the game has 20-year-old technology caused such a buzz.

What largely seemed to be a non-issue ignited when Tour veteran Scott McCarron said Phil Mickelson’s use of the Ping Eye 2’s, U-groove clubs which have been grandfathered into use via a legal settlement between the PGA Tour, U.S. Golf Association and Ping, was akin to cheating.

In golf the “c” word doesn’t wash off very easily, and on Friday McCarron didn’t back down, “I didn’t say Phil was cheating. I said anyone using one of those clubs is cheating.”

On Tour the issue has a “healthcare” edge to it, dividing the circuit into two camps – those who are disappointed Mickelson is using the club and those who are angry with the Tour for not doing something about an arcane rule.

“I don’t have a tenth of the talent that Phil has and I would never even consider using that club,” Jay Williamson said.

While Tom Pernice Jr. was among the latter, saying: “Finchem needs to have everybody playing under equal guidelines. . . . It’s not the player’s fault by any means. Everybody is playing within the rules.”

Either way, Torrey’s Poa greens aren’t the bumpiest things Mickelson has had to navigate this week, but in Lefty’s defense there’s no reason to think he is trying to gain a competitive advantage. Truth is, anyone with an eBay account has access to the same technology. At least while supplies last.

Conflicting event releases. Next week’s inaugural meeting of this year’s Player Advisory Council promises to be a lively meet and greet.

After the Ping Eye 2 issue, expect players to tackle the Tour’s policy on conflicting event releases which came to a head last week when nine Tour members, including Anthony Kim who grew up at PGA West, were granted releases to play the European Tour’s Abu Dhabi Championship opposite the Bob Hope Classic.

Nine players were also granted releases for this week’s European Tour stop, including Kenny Perry, while this week’s stop at Torrey Pines, which has struggled to secure a long-term title sponsor, has just two Americans ranked inside the top 21 in the world (Mickelson and Lucas Glover, No. 21).

“(Finchem) has a magic wand but is reluctant to use it,” Joe Ogilvie said. “You have a sponsorless event in need of players and it kind of slaps your partner in the face (by giving releases).

Ogilvie said European players, like Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter, should be allowed releases, but Americans like Kim and Perry should not. Instead he suggests the Tour should give these players special attention in marketing material to make up for lost revenue from the money they would have received in appearance fees.

Sounds like a slippery slope, but drastic times may require a little sliding.

Missed Cut

Jim Thorpe. The Champions Tour icon was sentenced to one-year in prison for failing to pay more than $2 million in income taxes, and the disconnect between the three-time Tour winner’s plight and that of Doug Barron is concerning.

On one hand we have a journeyman who underwent testosterone treatment because his testosterone levels had dropped to that of an 80-year-old man. As a result he was suspended from playing any major tour for a year.

On the other hand we have Thorpe who has been sideways with the IRS before and is now bound for prison. But the reality is the senior scofflaw will likely be back between the ropes long before Barron.

On the PGA Tour, justice truly is blind.

Accenture. Hard to blame the financial services company for its fall from golf grace, but it’s still impossible to ignore how far the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship has tumbled.

Last year the event was the center of the golf universe when Tiger Woods made his much-anticipated comeback after knee surgery. This year it looks as if both Woods and Mickelson, Nos. 1 and 2, are out.

At this rate officials should rename next month’s Match Play, golf’s version of the “Big Dance,” the NIT.

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.