Cut Line: Don't call it a comeback

By Rex HoggardAugust 5, 2011, 7:11 pm

“Don’t call it a comeback, I’ve been here for years.” -LL Cool J, “Mama said knock you out”

Tiger Woods returned from a three-month, injury-induced hiatus on Thursday at Firestone. A day earlier Rory McIlroy, dubbed by many Woods’ heir apparent, suggested he’s ready to come back to America.

In many ways, it was like neither one had ever left.

Made Cut

Tiger Woods. Win, lose or draw his return at Akron is a step in the right direction and his flirtation with playing the Greenbrier Classic is the most positive sign to date that he is hungry to play, and win, again.

Although the second-year event pulled a solid field this year and is quickly becoming a must-stop for many Tour types, it is not the kind of tournament that Woods would have even considered playing just 12 months ago. But according to Greenbrier owner Jim Justice, Team Tiger reached out to him before the British Open about the possibility and it was a last-minute decision by Woods’ doctors that ultimately nixed the idea.

Some have speculated that Woods has lost some of his competitive edge and passion for the game in recent years, but if a late-summer trip to West Virginia doesn’t scream “all in,” we don’t know what does.

Coming (back) to America. We hardly had time to miss Rory McIlroy, although the thought of a “playoff” run without the game’s most dominant newcomer stretches the boundaries of competitive integrity. But news this week that he was “leaning towards” bringing his skills to South Beach was likely a reason to celebrate in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

That it was a brutal weather week at Royal St. George’s that put the Ulsterman over the top for a return to the PGA Tour will only be more fodder for the United Kingdom press.

According to McIlroy’s manager Chubby Chandler the U.S. Open champion will likely buy a home in the West Palm Beach, Fla., area and probably only change the second half of his schedule, specifically the addition of the four-event FedEx Cup playoffs.

The news was music to Tour officials’ ears as the circuit enters the early stages of network contract talks and could use a McIlroy “trump card” at the negotiating table.


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

When more may be less. On Monday David Toms climbed the steep hill to Atlanta Athletic Club’s 15th tee and was immediately asked what club he intended to hit. “It won’t be a 5-wood,” he quickly shot back.

At 265 yards, the par-3 15th won’t be a “5-wood” hole for many players during next week’s PGA Championship. In 2001 Toms aced the 15th on Saturday with a 5-wood. But that was back when the hole played to a modest 227 yards. Back before things got out of hand. Back when AAC played to about 7,200 yards. This time around the Georgia gem can be stretched to some 7,500 yards.

“First time I played the course I thought 10 over (par) may win (the PGA),” said Gary Woodland, who, for the record, is statistically the Tour’s third-longest driver of the golf ball.

It’s always interesting to Cut Line that nine out of 10 Tour players will tell you the 10th hole at Riviera Country Club is among the Tour’s best. The Riv’s 10th is exactly 50 yards longer than AAC’s 15th. The Riv’s 10th is a par 4.

Tweet of the week: @HankDHaney “The wipe won 45 (percent) of the time.”

Haney was responding to a question about Tiger Woods’ comments on Thursday at Firestone following a first-round 68.

“My swing was more of a wipey swing, just kind of wiping it out there, so I wasn't getting a full transfer of energy, so now I'm swinging easier,” Woods said. “I am not even hitting it hard yet, and that's what's fun. I'm hitting it farther without any more effort.”

It may have been a “wipey swing,” but on this Haney is correct. Those stats don’t lie.


Missed Cut

PGA of America. File this one in the too little, too late category. The PGA announced this week it plans to honor Larry Nelson with the Distinguished Service Award on Wednesday in Atlanta.

Nelson is certainly a worthy recipient, but if the PGA really wanted to honor Nelson they would have made him a Ryder Cup captain when they had a chance.

Whatever the politics that kept Nelson out of the captain’s chair, it is impossible to imagine a more qualified and deserving candidate. His 9-3-1 Ryder Cup mark is stellar and with three majors on the resume he was infinitely qualified.

We like to refer to the matches as a battle and the captains as commanders, and yet when the PGA had a chance to appoint someone who has led men into an actual battle (Vietnam) they whiffed. But the Distinguished Service Award should be a fine consolation prize.

Freddie, Freddie, Freddie. Maybe U.S. Presidents Cup captain Fred Couples likes what he saw out of Tiger Woods on Thursday at Firestone (68), or maybe the news that the former world No. 1 would play the Australian Open the week before this year’s matches in Melbourne, Australia, or maybe he just wasn’t paying attention when 2009 U.S. Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin made the same mistake before last year’s matches.

Whatever the reason, Couples jumped down a slippery slope on Friday when he told Golf Channel’s David Marr that he would use a captain’s pick on Woods if he needed to, as long as Woods was healthy.

OK, this is hardly groundbreaking stuff, but why – given that Couples has until Sept. 26 to make his decision – would a captain back himself into a selection corner? Woods is currently 26th on the U.S. points list, which is to say there are currently 15 players who have, in theory, done more to deserve a pick.

Woods’ body of work certainly justifies a pick, but what’s the rush?

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Goat visor propels Na to Colonial lead

By Will GrayMay 25, 2018, 1:29 am

Jason Dufner officially has some company in the headwear free agency wing of the PGA Tour.

Like Dufner, Kevin Na is now open to wear whatever he wants on his head at tournaments, as his visor sponsorship with Titleist ended earlier this month. He finished T-6 at the AT&T Byron Nelson in his second tournament as a free agent, and this week at the Fort Worth Invitational he's once again wearing a simple white visor with a picture of a goat.

"I bought it at The Players Championship for $22 with the 30 percent discount that they give the Tour players," Na told reporters. "It's very nice."

Perhaps a change in headwear was just what Na needed to jumpstart his game. Last week's result in Dallas was his first top-35 finish in his last six events dating back to February, and he built upon that momentum with an 8-under 62 to take a one-shot lead over Charley Hoffman after the first round at Colonial Country Club.

While many sports fans know the "GOAT" acronym to stand for "Greatest Of All Time," it's a definition that the veteran Na only learned about earlier this year.

"I do social media, but they kept calling Tiger the GOAT. I go, 'Man, why do they keep calling Tiger the GOAT? That's just mean,'" Na said. "Then I realized it meant greatest of all time. Thinking of getting it signed by Jack (Nicklaus) next week (at the Memorial)."

Marc Dull (Florida State Golf Association)

Golden: Dull rude, caddie 'inebriated' at Florida Mid-Am

By Ryan LavnerMay 25, 2018, 1:03 am

Jeff Golden has offered more detail on what transpired at the Florida Mid-Amateur Championship, writing in a long statement on Twitter that Marc Dull’s caddie was “inebriated” before he allegedly sucker-punched Golden in the face.

In a story first reported by GolfChannel.com, Charlotte County Police responded to a call May 13 after Golden claimed that he’d been assaulted by his opponent’s caddie in the parking lot of Coral Creek Club, where he was competing in the Mid-Am finals. Golden told police that the caddie, Brandon Hibbs, struck him because of a rules dispute earlier in the round. Hibbs denied any involvement, and police found no evidence of an attack.

Golden posted a 910-word statement on the alleged incident on his Twitter account on Thursday night. He said that he wanted to provide more detail because “others have posed some valid questions about the series of events that led to me withdrawing” from what was an all-square match with two holes to play.

Golden wrote that both Dull and Hibbs were rude and disruptive during the match, and that “alcohol appeared to be influencing [Hibbs’] behavior.”

Dull, who caddies at Streamsong Resort in Florida, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“I’ve never seen an opposing caddie engage in so much conversation with a competitor,” Golden wrote. “On the eighth hole I had become extremely frustrated when my opponent and caddie were talking and moving. I expressed my disappointment with their etiquette to the rules official in our group.”

On the ninth hole, Golden informed the official that he believed Hibbs had broken the rules by offering advice on his putt. Golden won the hole by concession to move 2 up at the turn, and Hibbs removed himself from the match and returned to the clubhouse.

Golden wrote that after the penalty, the match “turned even nastier, with more negative comments from my opponent on the 10th tee.” He added that he conceded Dull’s 15-foot birdie putt on No. 10 because he was “sick of the abuse from my opponent, and I wanted the match to resemble what you would expect of a FSGA final.”

Though there were no witnesses to the alleged attack and police found little evidence, save for “some redness on the inside of [Golden’s] lip,” Golden wrote that the inside of his mouth was bleeding, his face was “throbbing” and his hand was also injured from bracing his fall. X-rays and CT scans over the past week all came back negative, he said.

Golden reiterated that he was disappointed with the FSGA’s decision to accept his concession in the final match. He had recommended that they suspend the event and resume it “at a later time.”

“The FSGA has one job, and that’s to follow the Rules of Golf,” Golden wrote. “Unfortunately, there’s no rule for an inebriated ‘ex-caddie’ punching a player in a match-play rain delay with no witnesses.”

Asked last week about his organization’s alcohol policy during events, FSGA executive director Jim Demick said that excessive consumption is “highly discouraged, but it falls more broadly under the rules of etiquette and player behavior.”

Dull, 32, was back in the news Wednesday, after he and partner Chip Brooke reached the finals of the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship. They lost to high schoolers Cole Hammer and Garrett Barber, 4 and 3.

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D. Kang, M. Jutanugarn in four-way tie at Volvik

By Associated PressMay 25, 2018, 12:50 am

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Amy Olson crossed paths with her coach, Ron Stockton, on her walk to the 18th tee at the Volvik Championship.

''Make it another even $20,'' Stockton said.

The coach was already prepared to give his client $35 for making seven birdies - $5 each - and wanted to take her mind off the bogey she just had at 17.

Olson closed the first round with a 6-under 66, putting her into the lead she ended up sharing later Thursday with Moriya Jutanugarn , Caroline Masson and Danielle Kang.

Do small, cash incentives really help a professional golfer?

''Absolutely,'' said Olson, who graduated from North Dakota State with an accounting degree. ''He'll tell you I'm a little bit of a hustler there.''

Olson will have to keep making birdies - and petty cash - to hold her position at Travis Pointe Country Club.

Jessica Korda, Minjee Lee, Nasa Hataoka, Lindy Duncan, Morgan Pressel, Megan Khang and Jodi Ewart Shadoff were a stroke back at 67 and six others were to shots back.

Ariya Jutanugarn, the Kingsmill Championship winner last week in Virginia, opened with a 69.

The Jutanugarn sisters are Korda are among six players with a chance to become the LPGA Tour's first two-time winner this year.

Moriya Jutanugarn won for the first time in six years on the circuit last month in Los Angeles.

''What I feel is more relaxed now,'' she said. ''And, of course I like looking forward for my next one.''

Olson, meanwhile, is hoping to extend the LPGA Tour's streak of having a new winner in each of its 12 tournaments this year.


Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship


She knows how to win. It just has been a while since it has happened.

Olson set an NCAA record with 20 wins, breaking the mark set by LPGA Hall of Famer Juli Inkster, but has struggled to have much success since turning pro in 2013.

She has not finished best finish was a tie for seventh and that was four years ago. She was in contention to win the ANA Inspiration two months ago, but an even-par 72 dropped her into a tie for ninth place.

If the North Dakota player wins the Volvik Championship, she will earn a spot in the U.S. Open at Shoal Creek in Alabama. If Olson finishes second or lower in the 144-player field, she will enjoy an off week with her husband, Grant, who coaches linebackers at Indiana State.

''I'll make the best of it either way,'' she said.

Olson was at her best in the opening round on the front nine, closing it with four birdies in a six-hole stretch. Her ball rolled just enough to slowly drop in the cup for birdie on the par-3, 184-yard 13th. She had three birdies in five-hole stretch on the back, nearly making her second hole-in-one of the year at the par-3, 180-yard 16th. A short putt gave her a two-stroke lead, but it was cut to one after pulling and misreading a 6-foot putt to bogey the 17th.

Even if she doesn't hold on to win the tournament, Olson is on pace to have her best year on the LPGA Tour. She is No. 39 on the money list after finishing 97th, 119th, 81st and 80th in her first four years.

''Two years ago, I started working with Ron Stockton and whenever you make a change, it doesn't show up right away,'' Olson said. ''That first year was tough, but we've turned a corner and I've just found a lot of consistency in the last year. And, it's a lot of fun to go out there and play golf a little more stress free.''

Stockton helped her stay relaxed, walking along the ropes during her morning round.

''Maybe some people feel a little more pressure when their coach is there,'' she said. ''I'm like, 'Great. If he sees the mistake, he knows what can go wrong and we can go fix it.' So, I like having his eyes on me.''

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Club pro part of 6-way tie atop Sr. PGA

By Associated PressMay 25, 2018, 12:04 am

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. - Nevada club professional Stuart Smith shot a 5-under 66 on Thursday for a share of the first-round lead in the Senior PGA Championship.

Smith closed his morning round with a double bogey on the par-4 18th, and Scott McCarron, Tim Petrovic, Wes Short Jr., Barry Lane and Peter Lonard matched the 66 in the afternoon.

One of 41 club pros in the field at Harbor Shores for the senior major, Smith is the director of golf at Somersett Country Club in Reno.


Full-field scores from the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship


McCarron won the Senior Players Championship last year for his first senior major.

Defending champion Bernhard Langer is skipping the event to attend son Jason's high school graduation, and Steve Stricker is playing the PGA Tour event in Texas.