Cut Line: A good walk spoiled

By Rex HoggardFebruary 8, 2013, 5:23 am

Remember when the old Crosby Clambake was all about clowning celebs and idyllic images of Stillwater Cove? The serenity that is the Monterey Peninsula was overshadowed this week by the pall of deer-antler spray, a sponsor exemption snafu and an anchoring reality that is starting to set in on the Champions Tour.

Catch a moonbeam, everybody.

Made Cut

Class act. Most years a Tour or Q-School grad having a good West Coast is little more than water-cooler talk, but the condensed realities of this year’s schedule have made a quick start stop-the-presses compelling.

Because the Tour transitions to a split-calendar schedule this year – a net loss of what were the Fall Series events to the start of the 2013-14 calendar compounded by the move of the Mayakoba Golf Classic, normally played opposite the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, from the West Coast swing to the fall – this week’s AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am is likely the last chance for those graduates to earn FedEx Cup points before the first reshuffle on Feb. 25.

In Cliffs Notes form, a bad reshuffle means few, if any, starts in Florida.

All of this makes this week’s start at Pebble Beach that much more important for the likes of Steve LeBrun and Luke List, who have dropped the most, 36 and 33 spots respectively, on the reshuffle points list through the Waste Management Phoenix Open. So far the big winners in the reshuffle shuffle are Nicholas Thompson, up 33 spots on the list, Doug LaBelle (26) and Scott Langley (25).  

Of course the good news for LeBrun, List & Co. is they do get to play Pebble Beach, they’re just not sure when they’ll get to play again on Tour.

Clambake kudos. With apologies to Harbour Town and Torrey Pines, this week’s lineup for the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am is the best walk on the PGA Tour (non-April in Augusta edition).

That the walk only got better in 2010 when officials added the Monterey Peninsula course to the rotation almost gives the event an embarrassment of riches. Almost.

Now if only officials can swap out Spyglass Hills for venerable Cypress Point, which last hosted the Clambake in 1990, we could call it a cool trifecta and players would start complaining that five hour-plus pro-am rounds are too short.

Tweet of the week: @KipHenley (Brian Gay’s caddie) “When the weather works out there is not a better place on earth to be an outdoor butler than Pebble.”

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Anchors away. Less than a month away from the close of the 90-day comment period on the pending ban on anchored strokes, the Champions Tour held a meeting of its Players Advisory Council on Thursday in south Florida with great interest.

Of particular concern for the over-50 circuit is the long putters use by some of its most marketable players, including Fred Couples and Bernhard Langer, and what impact the possible ban could have on the senior tour’s bottom line.

“I want to talk to Fred and Bernhard and size up if they are going to find another way (to putt) or whether they are going to pack up their tents and go home,” said John Cook, one of four player directors on the Champions Tour Policy Board.

Cut Line caught up with Langer on Thursday and discovered Cook may not like the German’s answer: “I would certainly try (to putt) another way,” Langer said. “It depends on what happens and we’re still in the question phase, but if I don’t enjoy the game anymore than I would stop playing.”

For those scoring at home that would be a vote frighteningly close to “pack up their tents and go home.”

Missed Cut

Swat-ed. Give S.W.A.T.S. founder Mitch Ross credit for going on John Maginnes’ show on Sirus/XM Radio this week, but the man behind Sports with Alternatives to Steroids, the company that produces the deer-antler spray that has landed Vijay Singh in the anti-doping penalty box, did little to help his cause during the 30-minute Q&A.

“Your body produces IGF-1 every day, it’s in food – meat and milk. You cannot ban a natural occurring substance,” Ross said. “(Deer) antler velvet is not on any banned substance list, NFL, baseball, but it was on the (PGA Tour green sheet, Aug. 2011). I didn’t know this and neither did Vijay.”

Although the body does produce IGF-1, the list of banned substances is filled with naturally occurring items – testosterone being the easiest example – and Doug Barron, the only player ever suspended under the Tour’s anti-doping policy, can attest to its legality when the science doesn’t match the scrutiny.

It’s also worth pointing out that IGF-1, which is described as a growth factor, like human growth hormone, has been on the Tour’s list of banned substances since testing began in 2008 and the 2011 green sheet item was entitled “anti-doping warning.”

Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, not their own facts.

Pebble Beach head fake. Anyone who has tried to dissect the Tour player’s handbook can attest to how convoluted and confusing it can be. By comparison, the U.S. tax code is “Green eggs and ham” simple. But the small print that lured Billy Hurley to the Monterey Peninsula only to discover that he’d been pencil whipped qualifies as a legitimate snafu.

Hurley tweeted earlier this week that he had received an exemption into the Pro-Am, but when he arrived at Pebble Beach he learned that the exemption in question was for players inside the top 150 on last year’s money list. Hurley is playing this season based on finishing inside the top 150 in FedEx Cup points but was 151st in earnings.

Tournament officials paid Hurley’s travel cost and, let’s be honest, a few days on the Monterey Peninsula is better than a poke in the eye, but the episode pointed out how confusing the Tour’s regulations can be. Even for tournament directors.

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Winning on Kerr's mind this week and beyond

By Randall MellMarch 24, 2018, 2:11 am

Cristie Kerr moved into position Friday to do more than win the 21st LPGA title of her career.

She moved into position to claim an LPGA Hall of Fame point this week.

Yes, winning is foremost on her mind at the Kia Classic, where she took the lead with an 8-under-par 64 in the second round, she’s on a larger quest, too.

After turning 40 last fall, Kerr was asked what her goals are.

“The Hall of Fame is attainable, if I stick with it,” she said.

Kerr is five shots ahead of Lizette Salas (67), In-Kyung Kim (69), Hee Young Park (70) and Caroline Hedwall (70).

It’s a good time for Kerr to get on a hot streak, with the year’s first major championship, the ANA Inspiration, next week. She has long been one of the best putters in the women’s game, but her ball-striking is impressive this week. She hit 17 greens in regulation Thursday, and she hit 16 on Friday.

“I like winning,” Kerr said. “I like challenging myself. Definitely doesn't get any easier as you get older, with the travel and recovery time. I got up this morning and I'm like, `Man, why does my hamstring hurt?’ From working around this hilly golf course.”

Kerr acknowledged Friday that her body is more vulnerable to time’s realities, but her mind isn’t.

Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

“The golf ball doesn't know an age,” Kerr said. “I've always said that. As long as I stay hungry, going to just keep playing.”

Kerr won two weeks after her 40th birthday last fall, boosting her LPGA Hall of Fame point total to 22. She is five points short of eligibility for induction. A player earns one point for an LPGA victory and two points for a major championship title. So there’s a lot of Hall of Fame ground to gain this week and next.

It’s a long-term goal that motivates Kerr to take care of her body.

“I don't think the golf changes,” Kerr said. “I think, physically, it gets harder as you get older. Like I said, I've got tape on my hamstring. I strained it, just a little bit yesterday, walking around this golf course. It's tough as you get older, just being fresh and rested. I put more focus into that as I've gotten older. I still practice, but off the course I try to get more rest.”

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Big names chasing Kerr into the weekend at Kia Classic

By Associated PressMarch 24, 2018, 1:55 am

CARLSBAD, Calif. - Cristie Kerr shot an 8-under 64 on Friday in the Kia Classic to take a five-stroke lead into the weekend.

The 40-year-old Kerr had eight birdies in her second straight bogey-free round to reach 13-under 131 at rain-softened Aviara.

''I like winning. I like challenging myself,'' Kerr said. ''Definitely doesn't get any easier as you get older with the travel and recovery time. I got up this morning and I'm like, 'Man, why does my hamstring hurt?' From working around this hilly golf course. The golf ball doesn't know an age. I've always said that. As long as I stay hungry, going to just keep playing.''

She has 20 LPGA victories, winning at Aviara in 2015. She won twice last year and helped the U.S. beat Europe in her ninth Solheim Cup appearance.

''It's tough as you get older just being fresh and rested,'' Kerr said. ''I put more focus into that as I've gotten older. I still practice, but off the course I try to get more rest.''

Lizette Salas, In-Kyung Kim, Hee Young Park and Caroline Hedwall were tied for second. Salas shot 67, Kim 69, and Park and Hedwall 70.

''I really like this golf course. I really like the environment,'' said Salas, the former University of Southern California player from Azusa. ''My family gets to come out. So much confidence at the beginning of the week, and definitely showed the first two days.

Jeong Eun Lee was 7 under after a 69, and defending ANA champion So Yeon Ryu had a 70 to get to 6 under.

Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

Ariya Jutanugarn (72), Brooke Henderson (70) and 2016 winner Lydia Ko (71) were 5 under. Shanshan Feng (68) was another stroke back, and Singapore winner Michelle Wie (72) was 1 under.

Lexi Thompson was 2 over after a 74, making the cut on the number in the final event before the major ANA Inspiration next week at Mission Hills.

Kerr opened with birdies on the par-5 10th and par-3 11th, added birdies on the par-4 16th, 18th and second, and ran off three in a row on the par-3 sixth, par-4 seventh and par-5 eighth.

''I don't think you can fall asleep on one shot,'' Kerr said. ''It's a really good golf course. I think I play better on courses that demand the focus, so I think that's why I've played well here in the past. ... I'm trying not to put limits on myself right now. I've got some good things going on with my swing.''

She has long been one best putters and green-readers in the world.

''I can see the subtleties that a lot of people can't,'' Kerr said. ''It's a gift from God being able to do that. I've always had that, so I'm lucky.''

Laura Davies withdrew after an opening 82. The 54-year-old Davies tied for second last week in the Founders Cup in Phoenix, playing through painful left Achilles and calf problems.

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DJ hits 489-yard drive, but it doesn't count for history

By Rex HoggardMarch 24, 2018, 12:22 am

AUSTIN, Texas – Dustin Johnson is no stranger to big drives, but even for DJ this one was impressive.

Trailing in his Day 3 match at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, Johnson launched a drive at the par-5 12th hole that traveled 489 yards, but that number comes with an asterisk.

“He got lucky it hit the road,” smiled Kevin Kisner, who was leading the world No. 1, 3 up, at the time. “I thought he would make an eagle for sure, he only had 80 yards [to the hole]. He didn’t hit a very good putt.”

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Full bracket | Scoring | Group standings

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Johnson’s drive, which was 139 yards past Kisner’s tee shot, is the longest recorded on the PGA Tour in the ShotLink era, surpassing Davis Love III’s drive of 476 yards in 2004 at the Tournament of Champions.

The drive will not go into the record books, however, because the Tour doesn’t count statistics from the Match Play.

It should also be noted, Kisner halved the 12th hole with a birdie and won the match, 4 and 3, to advance to the round of 16.

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Durant leads Champions event in Mississippi

By Associated PressMarch 24, 2018, 12:21 am

BILOXI, Miss. - Joe Durant had three straight birdies in a back-nine burst and a shot 6-under 66 on Friday to take the first-round lead in the PGA Tour Champions' Rapiscan Systems Classic.

Durant birdied the par-4 11th and 12th and par-5 13th in the bogey-free round at breezy and rain-softened Fallen Oak. Because of the wet conditions, players were allowed to lift, clean and place their golf balls in the fairway.

''It just sets up nice to my eye,'' Durant said. ''It's a beautiful golf course and it's very challenging. The tee shots seem to set up well for me, but the greens are maybe as quick as I've ever seen them here. You really have to put the ball in the right spots. I played very nice today. With the wind swirling like it was, I'm really happy.''

He won the Chubb Classic last month in Naples, Florida, for his third victory on the 50-and-over tour.

Full-field scores from the Rapiscan Systems Classic

''Done this long enough, Friday's just one day,'' Durant said. ''Especially in a three-day tournament, you've got to go out and shoot three good numbers. Fortunate to put one on the board, but I know I have to back it up with a couple of good days because you can get passed very quickly out here.''

Mark Calcavecchia was a stroke back. He won last month in Boca Raton, Florida

''It's probably my best round I've ever had here and it was a tough day to play,'' Calcavecchia said. ''The greens are just lightning fast. They're pretty slopey greens, so very difficult to putt.''

Steve Stricker was third at 68. He took the Tucson, Arizona, event three weeks ago for his first senior victory.

''Just getting it around and managing my game I think like I always do,'' Stricker said. ''You get in the wrong position here with the greens being so fast and you're going to be in trouble. I did that a couple times today.''

Billy Mayfair, Billy Andrade and David McKenzie shot 69. Jerry Kelly, the winner of the season-opening event in Hawaii, was at 70 with Wes Short Jr., Glen Day, Gene Sauers and Jesper Parnevik.

Bernhard Langer opened with a 71, and two-time defending champion Miguel Angel Jimenez had a 72.

Vijay Singh, coming off his first senior victory two weeks ago in Newport Beach, California, had a 73.