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Cut Line: Fowler takes new approach to fall sked

By Rex HoggardNovember 10, 2017, 5:58 pm

We lead off a Veterans Day edition with a look at golf’s ongoing support of America’s heroes, while judgment day may be closing in on Colonial Country Club.

Made Cut

Fall forward. While Cut Line is a big fan of last week’s time change being something of a dew sweeper, it’s Rickie Fowler’s decision to test the fall waters that deserves a closer look.

Fowler said this week at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba, an event he’s playing for the first time, that he wanted to try something new this fall. Instead of playing the WGC-HSBC Champions in China like most top players, he took five weeks off following the Presidents Cup.

“I wanted to look at this fall and winter as a time to create an off-season,” Fowler said. “Enjoy the relaxation and get some time in the gym to get ready to go in January.”

Most players opt for the no-cut options in Asia to start the season, but there is a cost to be paid for that much travel on the back end of what is already a long year.

Whether Fowler’s decision pays off remains to be seen, but there is something to be said for outside-of-the-box thinking.

Veterans Day. Cut Line always appreciates how much support is generated for American heroes during Veterans Day, and it’s also a chance to value how dedicated golf is to giving back to those who gave so much for the nation.

From the Folds of Honor, an Oklahoma-based charity that has raised nearly $100 million for educational scholarships for the families of fallen or disabled American military members, to Birdies for the Brave, which was created by Phil Mickelson and his wife, Amy, to support combat-wounded veterans and has donated over $18 million, the game is uniquely suited to honor and support those who have served and sacrificed.

Earlier this year, Cut Line wrote a feature about Edward Gizara, a former Marine drill instructor who was injured in training and told he’d be paralyzed for the rest of his life. Gizara learned to walk again and now plays golf at least once a week. But more importantly, he runs the Adaptive Golf Program in Savannah, Ga., which is designed to encourage those with disabilities and challenges to play the game.

For Gizara and those like him, every day is Veterans Day.


Tweet of the week: @JustinRose (Justin Rose) “Like buses!!” Rose’s tweet referred to his comment following his victory on Sunday at the Turkish Airlines Open, just a week after the Englishman had won the WGC-HSBC Champions.

“It’s like buses. You wait ages for one, and then two turn up,” he smiled.


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Bidding wars. We’ll match your U.S. Open with a PGA Championship and a Ryder Cup wild card.

Perhaps the negotiations were more complicated than that, but essentially that was the offer the PGA of America gave to San Francisco’s iconic Olympic Club, which had hosted the U.S. Open five times and seemed to be a lock for a future visit.

Instead, club officials agreed to the deal with the PGA and will host the 2028 PGA Championship and ’32 Ryder Cup.

It was clear the draw of the Ryder Cup was what compelled club officials to embrace the PGA’s offer.

“It’s Alabama-Auburn on a Saturday afternoon,” Olympic Club president Dan Dillon told the San Francisco Chronicle.

There’s little doubt Olympic Club is a solid move for the Ryder Cup, which hasn’t been played on the West Coast since 1959, but much can change in 15 years and a decade from now this deal could look much different.

Owning it. It’s easy to criticize, just scroll through your social media feed to prove the point.

What’s often difficult is owning a mistake, particularly for a man like Mike Whan, the LPGA commissioner who admitted this week on Golf Channel that moving the Evian Championship to September was wrong.

Whan was criticized this year over his decision to scrub scores from the first round in France and then to shorten the major championship to 54 holes after multiple weather delays, which have become the norm since the event moved to September.

“The challenges we’ve faced are man-made,” Whan said. “And I’m the man who made them.”

Whan said the tour will move the Evian “back to a summer date,” by 2019. Mistakes are human, but responsibility is often a rare trait.


Missed Cut

Collateral damage. Although the details are still being worked out, it seems the Tour is inching closer to a condensed schedule beginning in 2019. While that may intrigue some it seems these moves won’t occur without a cost.

Recent news that Dean & DeLuca informed organizers at Colonial Country Club that they may not be able to meet their financial obligations to sponsor the tournament in 2018 has created more than a short-term bind.

According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, officials at the annual Tour stop have until Dec. 1 to resolve their sponsorship issues. What that exactly means is unclear, but it doesn’t sound encouraging.

The sweeping schedule changes proposed for ’19 include the PGA Championship moving from August to May and a Labor Day finish for the Tour season, all of which could make the Colonial stop expendable.

In fact, according to one source at the club, Colonial’s board voted on Wednesday to move the annual member-guest tournament from mid-October to May, the same month as the Tour stop.

It’s an altogether stunning development considering the annual Tour stop has been a staple on the schedule since 1946, when Ben Hogan won the first of his five Colonial titles and why the layout is dubbed Hogan’s Alley.

There’s a larger-than-life statue of Hogan overlooking Colonial’s 18th green and The Hawk doesn’t look happy. It’s an apropos image considering the club’s potential Tour fate.

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Like father like son: Bring Your Child to Work Day

By Jay CoffinApril 26, 2018, 7:51 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. – Today is Take Our Sons and Daughters to Work Day at Golf Channel, where everything is fun and games until your child promptly says something that embarrasses you beyond belief. It’s only happened six times today. So far.

My daughter, 12, is in middle school and feels like she’s too big for this sort of shindig. But my son Brady, 11, was all in. The deal was that he could spend the day with me, I’d take him to McDonald’s for lunch, but he had to write a golf story of some sort for GolfChannel.com.

Here is his unedited work, in all its glory:

By BRADY COFFIN

My name is Brady Coffin and I play golf. I started at the age of 4 years old. My two favorite golfers are Jordan Spieth and Tiger Woods. They are really good golfers and every time I watch them they always give me tips.

My dad Jay Coffin is the best editor of Golf Channel and always gave me tips when I first put the golf club in my hand. I had my very first par in Hilton Head when I was 7 years old. I am on the Drive, Chip and Putt commercial and I was in a movie where I played a young Ben Hogan. My favorite golf course is Royal Blue in the Bahamas.

I have won many golf tournaments and I am going to play in another tournament next month. I have made a couple of birdies. I am going to play in the PGA Junior League this summer.

At the Golf Channel I get to meet new people and play many games. One of the amazing people I met was Mr. Damon Hack. He is on the Morning Drive show and was very nice to me. Damon has been playing golf for 25 years and his favorite golfer growing up was Tiger Woods.

He loves working at Golf Channel.

“It gives me the opportunity to talk and write about the sport that I love. It’s a sport that I can play with my boys. It’s a sport that I can watch on television. It’s a sport that teaches great life lessons. I couldn’t ask for a better job,” Damon said to me.

(P.S. I will be better than Jordan Spieth.)

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Not the 'prettiest' 65, but Duval, Furyk will take it

By Ryan LavnerApril 26, 2018, 7:44 pm

AVONDALE, La. – Wearing a polo instead of a dress shirt, working with a caddie and not a producer, David Duval exited the scoring tent, walked toward the group of reporters waiting for him after their 65 and grumbled to teammate Jim Furyk, “The damn media.”

Duval was joking – we think – since he now is one of us on the dark side, a successful and respected TV analyst, after an injury-shortened career in which he battled Tiger Woods, rose to world No. 1, won a major and then experienced such a miserable slump that it drove him into an entirely new line of work.

Now 46, Duval doesn’t play much anymore, only 11 events in the past four years. His last made cut was in July 2015. Earlier this year, he teed it up at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, but only because he and his wife, Susie, enjoy the vibe there. Competitively, he knew he didn’t stand a chance. He had moved back to Colorado, worked two out of the three weeks, and then couldn’t practice the other week because the weather didn’t cooperate. Not surprisingly, he shot three consecutive rounds of 76 or worse.

And that could have been the extent of his season (save for his annual appearance at The Open), but he was drawn to the idea of the team format at the Zurich, to the idea of playing with Jim Furyk, with whom he’s been friends for the past 32 years, dating to their days in junior golf. So Duval reached out, asking the U.S. Ryder Cup captain if he wanted to team up, for old times’ sake.

“This was about being with a friend, reuniting, having our wives together for a few days,” said Duval, who estimated that he’s played more than 100 practice rounds with Furyk over the years. “Expectation-wise, I don’t know what they are for me. I don’t get to participate out here and compete.”


Full-field scores from the Zurich Classic of New Orleans

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But Duval took this start seriously. He almost never travels with his clubs, but he brought them to the Masters, working with his old coach, Puggy Blackmon, between TV appearances and bouncing between Augusta Country Club and Augusta University’s practice facility.

Without any on-camera work since then, he’s spent the past two weeks grinding, even bringing Blackmon to New Orleans for a range session, just like most of the other pros in the field.

“It’s like a normal preparation,” he said. “Maybe not as much as it would be for a typical player, but a lot more than I’ve been able to do in the past.”

Duval has no intentions of diving back into competitive golf full-time, but working as an analyst has given him a new perspective on the game he loves.

“When you don’t play a lot and you don’t have that opportunity, you feel like you have to play perfectly,” he said. “Being on the other side of the desk, you see how many crappy golf shots really, truly get hit, and it’s like, look, you don’t have to be perfect. You just have to hit more good ones than bad ones and go from there.”

That also sums up his and Furyk’s opening round here at the Zurich.

Furyk joked before the event that they’re the rustiest team in the field, but playing best ball, they remained steady in a driving rainstorm, then ran off seven birdies to shoot 65 and sit in the top 10 when they finished their round.

“It wasn’t necessarily the prettiest,” Duval said, “but it was solid. It wasn’t like we had 36 looks at birdie.”

“We ham-and-egged it really good today,” Furyk added. “We got pretty much one of the best scores we could have out of the round.”

The second round could be a different story, of course, with alternate shot. It’s a more nerve-wracking format – especially for two aging warriors without many competitive reps this year – and they figure to find some unusual parts of TPC Louisiana.

But that’s a worry for Friday, because Duval was in the mood to savor his four birdies, his team score of 65 and his ideal start to a work week with his longtime friend.

“I think it was good,” he said, breaking into a wry smile, “especially for me.”

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Finau lifts team to opening 62 on improving ankle

By Ryan LavnerApril 26, 2018, 6:24 pm

AVONDALE, La. – Tony Finau continues to thrive on his injured ankle.

Playing for the first time since the Masters, where he tied for 10th despite a high-ankle sprain, Finau matched partner Daniel Summerhays with six birdies to shoot a combined 10-under 62 in fourballs Thursday at the Zurich Classic.

Finau still isn’t 100 percent – he said he's closer to 70 percent – even after two weeks of rest and physical therapy. During that time he worked with doctors at the University of Utah Orthopedic Center and also the training staff with the Utah Jazz. Before the Zurich, he had played only nine holes.


Full-field scores from the Zurich Classic of New Orleans

Zurich Classic of New Orleans: Articles, photos and videos


“Sometimes simplicity is huge in this game,” he said. “There is not a lot of thoughts in my swing in the first place, so there can’t be that many thoughts when you don’t practice. It served me well today.”

Partnering with Summerhays, his fellow Utah resident and a friend for more than a decade, they combined to make 12 birdies during an opening round that left them only two shots back of the early lead.

Asked afterward how his ankle felt, Finau said: “Feeling a lot better after that 62. A great remedy for something hurting is some good golf.”  

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Woods commits to Wells Fargo and The Players

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 26, 2018, 6:07 pm

Tiger Woods will tee it up each of the next two weeks, having officially committed to both the Wells Fargo Championship and The Players.

Woods' commitment to next week's event in Charlotte was confirmed by multiple Golf Channel sources and first reported during Thursday's "Golf Central."

The 42-year-old later took to Twitter to formally announce that he is ready for another back-to-back stretch:

Woods has not played since a T-32 finish earlier this month at the Masters. A winner at Quail Hollow in 2007, Woods has not made the cut there since a fourth-place showing in 2009 and has not played Wells Fargo since 2012. He missed last year's PGA Championship at Quail Hollow because of injury.

Woods' return to The Players will mark his first trip to TPC Sawgrass since 2015. He won on the Stadium Course in both 2001 and 2013. This will be Woods' second back-to-back of the season, having missed the cut at the Genesis Open before finishing 12th the following week at the Honda Classic.

After starting the year ranked No. 656 in the world, Woods is up to No. 91 in the latest world rankings. He recorded three straight top-12 finishes during the Florida swing, including a runner-up finish alongside Patrick Reed at the Valspar Championship and a T-5 finish at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.