Cut Line The Crosby Conundrum
Common sense. At least that’s what PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem hopes will prevail when the U.S. Golf Association comes up with a solution to the rules issue du jour.
Finchem, who met with the USGA last week to discuss a series of disqualifications resulting from incorrect scorecards, said he expects there will be “a few, little, small” changes to the rule, but also stressed that the Tour will continue to investigate potential violations that are reported from viewers, like the ones that got Camilo Villegas and Padraig Harrington bounced earlier this year.
“We like the fact that people call in. We like the fact people who watch the telecasts get excited about something they see,” Finchem said.
Lucas Glover said it best during an interview this week on Golf Channel’s “Morning Drive:” “I’d rather be correct than be called a cheater.”
European Ryder Cup. Last year’s captain Colin Montgomerie said of the wildcard selection process, “that was a terrible day for me.” We can only guess how Paul Casey felt that day, having been left off the team despite being ranked seventh in the world at the time.
All of which partially explains why Europe’s 2012 skipper Jose Maria Olazabal went back to a two-pick system. But the more interesting element of the new European selection process is the qualifying window.
The Europeans start collecting points at the European Masters this September, which is similar to the changes made by 2008 U.S. captain Paul Azinger when he weighted his system heavily toward the most recent 12 months going into Valhalla.
It’s tough to argue with Azinger’s results. Now, if only the jackets that run the world golf ranking could come around to the single-calendar concept.
Frank Chirkinian. Credit must also go to Finchem and Jim Nantz for leading the campaign that landed the man known as “the father of televised golf” in the World Golf Hall of Fame.
There are no shortage of curious HOF misses each year, but had Chirkinian, who was diagnosed with lung cancer in September, been inducted into the Hall too late to enjoy the honor, it would have somehow seemed empty.
“He created the template for how golf is televised,” Nantz told Golf Channel insider and Golf World senior writer Tim Rosaforte. “There's not a golf show on the air anywhere that does not have Chirkinian’s finger prints on it.”
Tweet of the week: @geoffogilvy “10 years ago this week I played my first Pebble Beach Pro-Am, and this week to celebrate that milestone I thought I would play my second.”
Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)
Timing. If urban legend is to be believed, Woods was coming back to the Clambake for the first time since 2002 before fate and timing intervened.
According to multiple Tour sources, former-Woods-sponsor AT&T lobbied to reduce the field size at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am and to have Poppy Hills removed from the Crosby rotation and replaced with the popular Shore Course at Monterey Peninsula Country Club a few years back.
It was all designed to woo Woods back to the Pro-Am and it would have worked, some say, if not for the scandal that gripped golf last year. Amid allegations of serial infidelity AT&T dropped its sponsorship of Woods and likely cost Pebble Beach an encore visit from the former world No. 1.
From the reality-is-stranger-than-fiction department: one of the few people who could actually afford a green fee at Pebble Beach won’t even consider a few “comp” rounds.
New tunes. Darius Rucker of 'Hootie and the Blowfish' fame has penned a song for the PGA Tour called “Together, Anything is Possible.” We can only assume the lyrics “Together, any round can be played in four hours” must have already been taken.
Jones-ing for a rematch. The good news for Brendan Jones is that at 61st in the world ranking he’s probably a lock to make the field for the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, which will be set with Monday’s rankings.
The bad news is if someone withdraws or Tiger Woods drops in the ranking he may get a rematch of the worst kind. Jones went down to Woods, 3 and 2, at the 2009 Match Play in the latter’s first event back following an 8-month hiatus from competitive golf.
U.S. Golf Association. Or, maybe the “MC” should go to the world golf ranking, but in this case the blemish is best shared.
Last weekend’s announcement that the USGA will rely more on the ranking instead of various money lists for entry into the U.S. Open seemed like an easy enough decision until one talks to the players impacted the most by the current ranking.
“Get rid of the ‘home tour’ bonus, get rid of appearance fees, get rid of the two-year rotation, up the purses in Europe and see where the guys want to play. If you want a legitimate ranking, that’s what you would have to do,” Arron Oberholser said.
There is no easy fix for the current system, and there may not be a remedy considering the fragmented state of the global game, but this much is certain, ignoring the problems and making the curious ranking math even more important is no substitute for real solutions.
European Tour. News that the circuit is set to announce the 2018 Ryder Cup site seemed to dovetail with speculation that the event will go to the highest bidder, a nondescript list that includes one layout that hasn’t been built in Spain.
With a monsoon of respect for the most recent European venues – The Belfry, The K Club and Muddy Manor, eh . . . Celtic Manor – “Cut Line” has two words for the powers that be: Castle Stuart.
The new links just outside of Inverness in northern Scotland looks like it’s been there for 200 years, which is an accomplishment in a country where anything built after 1900 is consider nouveau, has ample space for parking and corporate tents and enough risk/reward holes to make the USGA’s Mike Davis giddy with possibilities.
And for those who worry about the weather in northern Scotland in September we offer a simple question: Could the forecast have been much worse in Scotland last October than in Wales?
Rose (64) peaking just ahead of the U.S. Open
A former U.S. Open champion appears to be finding his form just three weeks ahead of the year's second major.
Justin Rose ascended to the top of the leaderboard Friday at the Fort Worth Invitational, with rounds of 66-64 pushing him to 10 under par for the week.
Through 36 at Colonial, Rose has marked 12 birdies against just two bogeys.
"Yeah, I did a lot of good things today," Rose said. "I think, you know, the end of my round got a little scrappy, but until the last three holes it was pretty flawless. I think I hit every fairway pretty much and obviously every green to that point. ...
"Yeah, the way I played through, I guess through my first 15 holes today, was about as good as I've played in a long time."
Rose won in back-to-back weeks last fall, stunning Dustin Johnson at the WGC-HSBC Championship and riding that victory right into another at the Turkish Airlines Open.
Now the 2013 U.S. Open winner at Merion feels himself once again rounding into form ahead of this year's Open at Shinnecock. A final-round 66 at The Players gave Rose something to focus on in his recent practice sessions with swing coach Sean Foley, as the two work to shore up the timing of Rose's transition into the downswing.
As for his decision to tee it up at Colonial for the first time since 2010, "It was more the run of form really," Rose explained. "I feel like if I didn't play here it was going to be a little spotty going into the U.S. Open. I felt like I wanted to play enough golf where I would have a good read on my game going into Shinnecock.
"So rather than the venue it was more the timing, but it's obviously it's just such a bonus to be on a great layout like this."
For whatever reason, Rose does tend to play his best golf at iconic venues, having won PGA Tour events at Muirfield Village, Aronimink, Cog Hill, Doral, Merion and Congressional.
Koepka (63): Two wrist dislocations in two months
Brook Koepka's journey back from a wrist injury that kept him out four months hasn't been totally smooth sailing, even if his play has suggested otherwise.
Koepka on Friday fired a 7-under 63 to move up the leaderboard into a tie for third, three shots behind leader Justin Rose through the end of the morning wave at the Fort Worth Invitational.
After a slow start Thursday saw him play his first 13 holes 3 over, Koepka is 10 under with 11 birdies in his last 23 holes at Colonial.
"It doesn't matter to me. I could care less. I'm still going to try as hard as I can," Koepka said. "I don't care how many over or how many under I am. Still going to fight through it."
Just like he's been fighting his wrist the last two months or so. Koepka reinjured his wrist the Wednesday of The Players when he was practicing on the range and had to halt mid-swing after a golf cart drove in front of him. He nonetheless managed to finish T-11.
And that's not the only issue he's had with that wrist during his return.
"We had a bone pop out of place. I didn't tell anybody, but, yeah, they popped it back in," Koepka admitted Friday. "Luckily enough we kind of popped it back into place right away so it wasn't stiff and I didn't have too, too many problems.
"Yeah. I mean, I've dislocated my wrist twice in the last two months. You know, different spots, but, I mean, it's fun. I'll be all right."
Twitter spat turns into fundraising opportunity
Country music star Jake Owen, along with Brandt Snedeker, has turned a spat on Twitter into a fundraising campaign that will support Snedeker’s foundation.
On Thursday, Owen was criticized during the opening round of the Web.com Tour’s Nashville Golf Open, which benefits the Snedeker Foundation, for his poor play after opening with an 86.
In response, Snedeker and country singer Chris Young pledged $5,000 for every birdie that Owen makes on Friday in a campaign called NGO Birdies for Kids.
Although Owen, who is playing the event on a sponsor exemption, doesn’t tee off for Round 2 in Nashville until 2 p.m. (CT), the campaign has already generated interest, with NBC Sports/Golf Channel analyst Peter Jacobsen along with Web.com Tour player Zac Blair both pledging $100 for every birdie Owen makes.
Noren so impressed by Rory: 'I'm about to quit golf'
Alex Noren won the BMW PGA Championship last year, one of his nine career European Tour victories.
He opened his title defense at Wentworth Club in 68-69 and is tied for fourth through two rounds. Unfortunately, he's five back of leader Rory McIlroy. And after playing the first two days alongside McIlroy, Noren, currently ranked 19th in the world, doesn't seem to like his chances of back-to-back wins.
McIlroy opened in 67 and then shot a bogey-free 65 in second round, which included pars on the pair of par-5 finishing holes. Noren walked away left in awe.
"That's the best round I've ever seen," Noren said. "I'm about to quit golf, I think."
Check out the full interview below: