Cut Line: Florida swing was a great scene setter

By Rex HoggardMarch 29, 2013, 10:40 pm

Before the PGA Tour transitions to Texas and beyond, Cut Line takes a look back at the good (Tiger Woods), the not so good (Phil Mickelson) and the downright ugly (Rory McIlroy) of the Florida swing.

Made Cut

Sunshine and the status quo. Following an eventful West Coast weather-wise, the Florida swing provided some stability (at least there were no snow delays), as well as a bit of competitive clarity and its share of curious moments.

Tiger Woods reestablished himself atop the Oficial World Golf Ranking with signature victories at Doral and Bay Hill and prompted more “is he back?” talk (as if he ever went anywhere).

At the other end of the competitive landscape, Rory McIlroy lost the No. 1 ranking and a few style points after bolting the Honda Classic 26 holes into his week with an ailing wisdom tooth; and Phil Mickelson proved as volatile as ever with his tie for third at the WGC-Cadillac Championship and an unsightly missed cut at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

The Florida swing may no longer be the unofficial start of the Tour season, but it certainly started people talking about the season ahead in 2013.

Timing. For those scoring at home, the next few weeks promise to be eventful whether the Masters lives up to expectations or not.

In no particular order, the USGA and Royal & Ancient will announce a final decision on the proposed anchoring ban (the loose timetable for the announcement has been this spring) and the PGA Tour will rule on the Vijay Singh deer-antler spray doping case.

If Singh is found guilty of violating the Tour’s anti-doping policy the circuit will make the fine public according to its own regulations. If he is deemed to be innocent the Tour will say nothing, although its silence will speak volumes.

And if all that weren’t enough to keep fans tuned in, the Masters is a fortnight away with the promise of something special, again. Few events produce drama with such on-demand regularity, and the powers that be at Augusta National already have things moving in the right direction with news this week that the club’s famous chicken sandwich will return to the Masters menu in 2013.

Even better will be the price for that deep-fried goodness: $3.

Tweet of the week: @JasonDufner “What can I say, I was tired, my back hurt from sitting on the floor, and we were talking about relaxation and focusing. #dufnering”

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Slow study. To be clear, the Tour’s decision to embark on a yearlong study of pace of play will prompt more than a few punch lines (a year to study slow play, really?). But at least Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., has embraced a leadership role in what is considered one of the game’s biggest issues.

What comes from the study – which was explained to the members of the Tour’s player advisory council and policy board last week at Bay Hill – remains to be seen, but at least they are talking.

“Torrey Pines (South Course) is everything that is wrong with our sport. It used to be a nice 7,000-yard golf course; now it’s a monstrous 7,600 yards. Golf courses have gotten too hard for the masses,” said Paul Goydos, one of four player directors on the policy board. “At some point in time golf course architects need to understand that 'hard' and 'good' are not synonymous.”

Lefty wondering. We’ve seen this act before: Lefty spends the weeks leading up to the Masters tinkering and toying with his swing and then flips the switch the moment he motors down Magnolia Lane.

At Bay Hill, Lefty finished his Thursday round with consecutive three-putts and recorded a four-putt (actually, it was a five-putt from the fringe) on his way to a Friday 79 and a missed cut. This week in Houston Mickelson rallied to make the cut on Friday but he was far from sharp.

But know this, as scratchy as Mickelson has appeared this spring his formula is hard to question. Consider that he has not missed a cut at Augusta National since 1997, he has finished outside the top 30 just once since then and has collected three green jackets since 2004. There is always a method to Lefty’s madness.

Missed Cut

Contracts. Because of small print in the deal between the Tour and the Texas Open this year’s Shell Houston Open was moved ahead one week on the schedule, out of its normal spot the week before the Masters, and replaced by the San Antonio stop.

Although the field in Houston didn’t take a hit because of the scheduling switch, it did seem to throw off the flow of what has become a tradition unlike ... well, you know.

Many players, including Mickelson, have used Houston as a tune-up for the year’s first major and organizers at the SHO have embraced the concept and dialed up green speeds at Redstone Golf Club to accommodate the Masters-bound masses.

But this year players and fans are left with an awkward flow which brings Cut Line back to a common concern – the Tour schedule should be based on competitive integrity, not contractual convenience.

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Grillo still hunting follow-up to debut win

By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 10:53 pm

Following a round of 1-under 69 Saturday, Emiliano Grillo will enter Sunday's final round at Colonial four shots behind leader Justin Rose.

Grillo is hunting his first win since he took the 2015 Safeway Open in his rookie debut as a PGA Tour member. 

The young Argentinian finished 11th in the FedExCup points race that season, contending in big events and finishing runner-up at the 2016 Barclays.

In the process, Grillo had to learn to pace himself and that it can be fruitless to chase after success week to week.

"That was a hot run in there," Grillo said Saturday, referring to his rookie year. "I played, in 2016, I played the majors very well. I played the big tournaments very well. I was in contention after two, three days in most of the big events.

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

"I think, you know, I wanted to do better. I pushed for it. Some of the tournaments I ended up being 50th or 60th just because I wanted to play. I wanted to play well so badly. That played against me, so I learned from that. In that rookie year, I learned that."

Grillo was still plenty successful in his sophomore season, advancing to the BMW Championship last fall.

But now he's beginning to regain some of that form that made him such an immediate success on Tour. Grillo has recorded four top-10 finishes year - a T-9 at Mayakoba, a T-8 at Honda, a T-3 at Houston, and a T-9 at Wells Fargo - and will now look to outduel U.S. Open champs in Rose and Brooks Koepka on Sunday at Colonial.

"Well, he's top 10 in the world, so everything he does he does it pretty well," Grillo said of Rose. "You know, he does his own thing. Like I say, he's top 10 in the world. Nothing wrong with his game. ...

"He's in the lead on a Sunday. Doesn't matter where you're playing, he's got to go out and shoot under par. He's got 50 guys behind him trying to reach him, and I'm one of those. I've just got to go out and do what he did today on those first five or six holes and try to get him in the early holes."

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Koepka looking to make hay on Horrible Horseshoe

By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 10:26 pm

The Horrible Horseshoe - Nos. 3, 4 and 5 at Colonial Country Club - annually ranks as one of the toughest three-hole stretches on the PGA Tour.

Consider Brooks Koepka undeterred.

Last year's U.S. Open champ has played the stretch 2 over this week but knows that if he's going to have any chance at catching Justin Rose on Sunday, he's going to need take advantage of the par-5 first and then find a way to pick up shots on the Horseshoe.

"I feel like just need to get off to a good start on this golf course," Koepka said after a third-round 67 Saturday. "If you can get 2 or 3 under through six holes, I think you'll be right there."

Koepka will start the final round four behind Rose, as he looks to win for the first time since his maiden major victory last year.

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

The big-hitter missed nearly four months this year with a wrist injury and is progressing quickly in his comeback despite dislocating his wrist on two different occasions over the last two months.

Koepka missed the cut with partner Marc Turnesa at the Zurich Classic in his competitive return before following up with a tie for 42nd at the Wells Fargo Championship and a tie for 11th at The Players Championship.

Now, thanks to a closing birdie Sunday, he finds himself playing alongside Rose in the final group on Sunday.

"I feel like my game is coming around," he said. "[At Zurich], I was five days into touching clubs. I am finally finding a rhythm and feel like I'm getting really close. ...

"Just want to get off to a good start [tomorrow]. That's really all I am trying to do. You put together a good solid round tomorrow, you never know what can happen. The important thing is we were just trying to get in that final group. I thought the putt on 18 was kind of big to get in that final group and play with Rosey."

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Rose leads Koepka, Grillo by four at Colonial

By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 9:06 pm

On the strength of a 4-under 66 Saturday, Justin Rose will take a four-shot lead over Brooks Koepka and Emiliano Grillo into the final round of the Fort Worth Invitational. Here's where things stand through 54 holes at Colonial Country Club.

Leaderboard: Rose (-14), Koepka (-10), Grillo (-10), Corey Conners (-8), Jon Rahm (-8), Louis Oosthuizen (-8), J.T. Poston (-8), Ryan Armour (-8)

What it means: The fifth-ranked player in the world is 18 holes from his ninth PGA Tour victory and his second this season. Up one to start the third round, Rose extended his lead to as much as five with birdies on four of his first six holes. Through 54 holes, Rose has made 17 birdies and just three bogeys. The 2013 U.S. Open winner and 2016 Olympic gold medalist has a history of winning at iconic venues - Muirfield Village, Aronimink, Cog Hill, Doral, Merion and Congressional - and now looks to add Colonial to the list. He'll be chased on Sunday by Grillo, the young Argentinian who won his first Tour start as a member in 2015, and Koepka, last year's U.S. Open winner who continues to impress in his injury comeback despite ongoing wrist issues.

Round of the day: Corey Conners and Ted Potter both turned in 7-under 63. Potter was bogey-free and Conners came home in 6-under 29 on the back nine.

Best of the rest: Jon Rahm, Louis Oosthuizen, Brian Harman and Michael Thompson all signed for 64. Rahm called his six-birdie start the best 10 holes he's played so far this year.

Biggest disappointment: Jordan Spieth has finished second-first-second in the last three years at this event, but he's yet to find his normal Colonial form through three rounds. Spieth, who said Friday he was capable of shooting "10 or 12 under" over the weekend, shot even-par 70 Saturday. He sits in T-38 at 3 under for the week, 11 back.

Shot of the day: Rory Sabbatini closed out his third round Saturday with this eagle holeout from 134 yards at the 18th.

His colorful scorecard featured three bogeys, two birdies, a double bogey and that eagle. It added up to a 1-over 71. 

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McCarron closes with only bogey, shares lead

By Associated PressMay 26, 2018, 8:49 pm

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. - Scott McCarron, seeking a second senior major title to go with his 2017 Senior Players Championship, made his only bogey of the third round on the final hole to slip into a tie for the lead Saturday with Tim Petrovic in the Senior PGA Championship.

They were at 13 under par after Petrovic, seeking his first major, shot 65. McCarron has shared the lead through three rounds.

England's Paul Broadhurst, the 2016 British Senior Open winner, matched the best third-round score in tournament history with a 64. He was at 11 under.

Miguel Angel Jimenez, coming off his first major championship last week at the Regions Tradition, shot 65 and was 9 under.

Tom Byrum, who made a hole-in-one in shooting a 67, was in a group at 8 under.