Cut Line Fresh Faces Old Aces

By Rex HoggardMarch 5, 2011, 12:42 am

2007 Honda Classic

Fresh from the West Coast “Cut Line” enjoyed fertile ground in search of this week’s winners and losers – from the USGA’s homerun with Mike Davis to John Daly’s foul ball lawsuit the Florida Swing is shaping up to be an interesting four weeks.

 

 

 

Made Cut

Honda Classic. The PGA Tour doesn’t dole out “Comeback Tournament” awards but if it did the Honda would be the runaway champion – think “The King’s Speech” at the Oscars without the inappropriate language.

There was a time, not that long ago, when the South Florida stop was little more than a real-estate shill for the likes of Mirasol and TPC Herron Bay. A time when the Honda was a good reason to do some laundry back at home and get ready for Doral or Bay Hill.

Since then the tournament has added a new course (PGA National), new energy (tournament director Ken Kennerly), a new date (wedged between World Golf Championships in Arizona and Doral) and an old draw (Jack Nicklaus), to move from worst to first, some would argue, on the Florida Swing.

And the Honda has done it without the top-ranked player in the field – they missed ending that streak by one week when Martin Kaymer bounced Lee Westwood, who is playing the Honda, from the top spot on Monday – which may also put the event in the running for the circuit’s “Best Supporting Actor” award.

Mike Davis. The U.S. Golf Association doesn’t always get it right, the 2004 U.S. Open at Shinnecock immediately comes to mind, but on this the association batted for the cycle when they named Davis the USGA’s seventh executive director.

What Davis lacks in business acumen, and make no mistake the U.S. Open is a business, he more than makes up for in institutional knowledge and creativity. The USGA also deserves credit for adjusting the job description to keep Davis involved in the setup of Open courses.

USGA president Jim Hyler said the organization would be “idiots” if they tried to keep him out of the Open mix and Tom Meeks, who Davis replaced as senior director of rules and competitions six years ago, concurred: “They need Mike there. They don’t want to lose any of that continuity. . . . It’s a slam dunk.”

An apropos and interesting choice of words by Meeks considering the only airtime the 5-foot-9 Davis sees these days is in the 18th-hole tower at the U.S. Open.

Jack Nicklaus. Officially the Golden One holds his “State of the Bear” news conference later this summer at his Memorial Tournament but he met with scribes this week to talk Tiger, the 1986 Masters and the current world order.

Among the highlights of the Q&A:

-On his 1986 Masters victory. “I don't care where I go, I always run into somebody who says, ‘You know, I was in an airport in '86, I cancelled my airplane and sat there and watched it because I couldn't leave.’ Or I had to stop this or I had to stop that. Amazing the number of people that just told me those kind of stories.”

-On the current parity in golf. “When I was playing, there were three or four guys that always wanted to be No. 1. We didn't have a No. 1 ranking in those days but they always wanted to be No. 1. But there was always that group that was scared of winning and they were afraid that, gee, if I come down the stretch and I win this golf tournament, you know, what is it going to mean to me? They sort of backed away from it. I think there's going to be that, though in everything. You always have people that are afraid of success.”

-On Woods reaching his record of 18 majors: “I'm very surprised that he has not popped back. I still think he'll break my record.”

Rory McIlroy. Golf scribes lament the onset of the “one-size-fits-all tour” and then dismantle a player when he has the guts to step outside the lines.

Whether you agree with young McIlroy’s comments or not, his self-bylined opus in this week’s SI Golf Plus is his opinion, and a good read.

Maybe McIlroy is ill advised to poke a sleeping Tiger with lines like, “I wasn’t playing against Tiger Woods when he had that aura. . . . There still is to some extent, but when you’re on the golf course you simply block it out. But Tiger is not playing as well as he was even a couple of years ago, never mind going back to the late 1990s and early 2000s.” But his opinion and his honesty are refreshing, not risqué.

Tweet of the week. Ogilviej (Joe Ogilvie): “Breaking news: PGA Tour has decided to grant Bubba Watson exclusive rights to refer to himself in the third person.”


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Johnny Miller. The status quo dismisses it as Johnny just being Johnny, but the outspoken NBC Sports analyst played it close to the white stakes during last week’s “State of the Game Live” special from the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship when he was asked about Tiger Woods’ recent struggles.

“It’s a little bit like a Mike Tyson story to be honest with you,” Miller said. “Sort of invincible, scared everybody, performed quickly under pressure. Until a Buster Douglas came along. . . .His life crumbled. It's like Humpty Dumpty. He was on the high wall, way above all the other players, and had a great fall, and there's pieces all over the place trying to put them together.”

We always enjoy Miller’s candid take on the game, but on this it must be clarified – Woods hit a fire-hydrant and a tree. Tyson was accused of hitting Robin Givens. Big difference.


Missed Cut

PGA Tour. After 41 years the circuit seems to have fallen out of love. It’s not you, Harbour Town, it’s me. It’s time to move on. Hope we can still be friends. Have you ever met the Champions Tour? Great guy.

At least that was the read last week when Tour vice president Ty Votaw said it was “imperative” for the Heritage to secure a title sponsor. No translation needed, find some deep pockets or find a way to split up the record collection because we’re done.

“Cut Line” is not a relationship expert, but our gut says Dr. Phil would call that dysfunctional.

Dove Mountain. Speaking of unrequited love, the desert outpost seems to be on the way out as host of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship.

Just three years ago the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club had that new course smell sponsors love, complete with clear skies that made muddy La Costa seem like a bad dream. But word around the WGC last week was Accenture and the Tour were ready to move on (must have been the jumping cholla).

Last Sunday’s snow and sleet did little to help Dove Mountain’s future. Woods once declared, “It’s not raining in Tucson,” when the Match Play was suffering through yet another storm at La Costa. We couldn’t help but think last Sunday amid the wintery proceedings that it wasn’t snowing in Hilton Head.

John Daly. Seems like just yesterday Daly was lamenting the lack of sponsor exemptions being thrown his way, blasting the fine folks at the Bob Hope Classic and Waste Management Phoenix Open for not sending him an invitation.

But “Long John” is doing little to help chances by pressing ahead with his lawsuit against PGA National Resort, site of this week’s Honda Classic, following an incident at the 2007 event when a fan snapped a photo of Daly during his backswing which led to an injury. He’s asking for $15,000 in damages, or 150 FedEx Cup points, whichever is easier.

Can’t help but think that maybe more tournaments would be willing to give the big man a freebie, but he’d have to sign a “hold harmless” clause along with his scorecard after each round.

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Twitter spat turns into fundraising opportunity

By Rex HoggardMay 25, 2018, 6:30 pm

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.

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Noren so impressed by Rory: 'I'm about to quit golf'

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 25, 2018, 5:33 pm

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:

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Bubba gets to drive dream car: K.I.T.T. from 'Knight Rider'

By Grill Room TeamMay 25, 2018, 4:42 pm

Bubba Watson is a known car aficionado.

He purchased the original General Lee from the 1980’s TV show “Dukes of Hazzard” – later saying he was going to paint over the Confederate flag on the vehicle’s roof.

He also auctioned off his 1939 Cadillac LaSalle C-Hawk custom roadster and raised $410,000 for Birdies for the Brave.

He showed off images of his off-road Jeep two years ago.

And he even bought a car dealership near his hometown of Milton, Fla.

While recently appearing on the TV show “Jay Leno’s Garage,” the former “Tonight Show” host surprised Watson with another one of his dream cars: K.I.T.T.

The 1982 Pontiac Trans Am was made famous in the ‘80s action show “Knight Rider.”

Though, Bubba didn’t get to keep this one, he did get to drive it.

Bubba Watson gets behind the wheel of his dream car—the KITT from Knight Rider from CNBC.

Getty Images

Cut Line: USGA readies for Shinnecock 'mulligan'

By Rex HoggardMay 25, 2018, 3:26 pm

In this week’s Memorial weekend edition, the European team adheres to the Ryder Cup secret formula, the USGA readies for the ultimate mulligan at next month’s U.S. Open and a bizarre finish at the Florida Mid-Am mystifies the Rules of Golf.

Made Cut

Cart golf. When the U.S. side announced the creation of a Ryder Cup task force following the American loss at Gleneagles in 2014, some Europeans privately – and publicly – snickered.

The idea that the secret sauce could be found in a meeting room did stretch the bounds of reason, yet two years later the U.S. team emerged as winners at Hazeltine National and suddenly the idea of a task force, which is now called a committee, didn’t seem so silly.

To Europe’s credit, they’ve always accomplished this cohesion organically, pulling together their collective knowledge with surprising ease, like this week when European captain Thomas Bjorn rounded out his vice captain crew.

Lee Westwood, Graeme McDowell, Padraig Harrington and Luke Donald (a group that has a combined 47-40-13 record in the matches) were all given golf cart keys and will join Robert Karlsson as vice captains this year in Paris.

Perhaps it took the Americans a little longer to figure out, but Bjorn knows it’s continuity that wins Ryder Cups.



Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

The USGA’s mulligan. The U.S. Open is less than a month away and with it one of the most anticipated returns in recent major championship history.

The last time the national championship was played at Shinnecock Hills was in 2004 and things didn’t go well, particularly on Sunday when play had to be stopped to water some greens that officials deemed had become unplayable. This week USGA executive director Mike Davis was asked about the association’s last trip to the Hamptons and, to his credit, he didn’t attempt to reinvent history.

“Looking back at 2004, and at parts of that magnificent day with Retief (Goosen) and Phil Mickelson coming down to the end, there are parts that we learned from,” Davis said. “I’m happy we got a mulligan this time. We probably made a bogey last time, maybe a double bogey.”

Put another way, players headed to next month’s championship should look forward to what promises to be a Bounce Back Open.

Tweet of the week:

Homa joined a chorus of comments following Aaron Wise’s victory on Sunday at the AT&T Byron Nelson, which included an awkward moment when his girlfriend, Reagan Trussell, backed away as Wise was going in for a kiss.

“No hard feelings at all,” Wise clarified this week. “We love each other a ton and we're great. It was a funny moment that I think we'll always be able to look back at, but that's all it really was.”


Missed Cut

Strength of field. The European Tour gathers this week in England for the circuit’s flagship event, the BMW PGA Championship, and like the PGA Tour’s marquee stop, The Players, the event appears headed for a new spot on the calendar next year.

As the PGA Tour inches closer to announcing the 2018-19 schedule, which will feature countless new twists and turns including the PGA Championship’s move to May and The Players shift back to March, it also seems likely the makeover will impact the European Tour schedule.

Although the BMW PGA currently draws a solid field, with this week’s event sporting a higher strength of field than the Fort Worth Invitational on the PGA Tour, it’s likely officials won’t want to play the event a week after the PGA Championship (which is scheduled for May 16-19 next year).

In fact, it’s been rumored that the European Tour could move all eight of its Rolex Series events, which are billed as “unmissable sporting occasions,” out of the FedExCup season window, which will end on Aug. 25 next year.

Although the focus has been on how the new PGA Tour schedule will impact the U.S. sports calendar, the impact of the dramatic makeover stretches will beyond the Lower 48.

Rules of engagement. For a game that at times seems to struggle with too much small print and antiquated rules, it’s hard to understand how things played out earlier this month at the Florida Mid-Amateur Championship.

In a story first reported by GolfChannel.com, Jeff Golden claimed he was assaulted on May 13 by Brandon Hibbs – the caddie for his opponent, Marc Dull, in the championship’s final match. Golden told police that Hibbs struck him because of a rules dispute earlier in the round. Hibbs denied any involvement, and police found no evidence of an attack.

The incident occurred during a weather delay and Golden conceded the match to Dull after the altercation, although he wrote in a post on Twitter this week that he was disappointed with the Florida State Golf Association’s decision to accept his concession.

“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.”

Because of the conflicting statements, it’s still not clear what exactly happened that day at Coral Creek Club, but the No. 1 rule in golf – protecting the competition and the competitors – seems to have fallen well short.