Cut Line: Hope for America's future in Ryder Cup

By Rex HoggardOctober 3, 2014, 3:30 pm

The PGA Tour’s 15-minute offseason is winding down, the first shot of the 2014-15 season goes in the air Thursday morning at the Open, but the break was hardly event-free. In a “hot stove” edition of Cut Line we take a look back at America’s Ryder Cup woes and the possible future of the WGC-Match Play.

Made Cut

Ole, Ole, Ole. Give the Continent full style points, for the European team’s five-point triumph last week at Gleneagles, and the seamlessness of how 12 players from vastly different backgrounds and countries meld so easily every two years.

All week captain Paul McGinley told anyone who would listen that it was the European template, not his leadership, that united and focused his team. Perhaps, but there was no denying the Irishman put his own stamp on the proceedings.

“Complacency, concentration,” Rory McIlroy offered when asked about the European team’s secret formula, followed by Graeme McDowell’s take, “Wave after wave.”

“When the storm comes, we'll be the rock,” Justin Rose offered.

“Have fun,” Lee Westwood smiled.

It was all part of the larger message and a winning template that McGinley may not have invented, but he certainly perfected it.

Lefty right on mark. Maybe Phil Mickelson should have kept America’s dirty sweater vests behind team room doors. Maybe the man who is so adept at reading a room miscalculated.

But know this about Lefty’s subtle indictment of the current U.S. Ryder Cup system, if eight losses in the last 10 matches have taught us anything it is that the process is broken and only a major change of course can fix it.

Mickelson, the only U.S. player to participate in 10 Ryder Cups, knows this better than anyone. He also knew that Sunday’s post-cup news conference was going to be the biggest stage he would ever have to be an agent of change.

The exchange, which began with Mickelson suggesting that the U.S. go back to the model Paul Azinger used in 2008 at Valhalla, was uncomfortable and even a little contentious, but if his words lead to real change it will have been worth it.

Tweet of the week: @PaulAzinger “Momentum is like the wind. You can’t see it, but it’s very powerful!”

Azinger was referring to the U.S. Ryder Cup team’s start on Day 1 at Gleneagles, but in retrospect considering the groundswell of support for his return to captain the Americans again in 2016 it could become an apropos forecast.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Best intentions. To be clear, the blame for the U.S. team’s loss last week in Scotland should be shared equally between the 12 players – many of whom failed to earn a full point in two foursomes sessions – Tom Watson and PGA of America president Ted Bishop.

Watson was ill equipped for the nuances of a modern Ryder Cup, and Bishop overestimated the legend’s cachet among today’s players. Any other mistakes, either real or perceived, are just background noise.

Lost in the vitriol, however, is the obvious notion that Bishop, Watson & Co. embraced this year’s matches with the best of intentions.

“I think the PGA of America is willing to change from a certain stand point,” Bishop told this week. “We are willing to try to put all the appropriate pieces into place to collectively make a good decision going forward.”

The Watson experiment did not work, but that doesn’t mean their hearts weren't in the right place.

Musical WGCs. Professional golf’s version of March madness has been in a state of perpetual uncertainty since Accenture pulled the plug on its sponsorship earlier this year and the Tour pulled out of Tucson, Ariz.

The circuit reinvented the event for 2015, going to a round-robin format that will include group play for the first three days and moving the championship to TPC Harding Park in San Francisco.

The Tour announced on Tuesday that Cadillac would step in and sponsor the event for one year, a short-term lease the circuit normally tries to avoid, and has made it clear the move to Harding Park is a “one off” transition.

Donald Trump, whose complex at Doral currently hosts the WGC-Cadillac Championship, has expressed interest in swapping out the 72-hole stroke play event for the Match Play, which would suggest a move to south Florida could be in the making.

The only thing that is certain is that the game’s most volatile event is still a tournament in transition.

Missed Cut

Hope returns. In other tournament news, the Tour announced that Humana would be ending its sponsorship of the Coachella Valley event because the company’s “business is changing rapidly.”

Humana was contracted to sponsor the event through 2019 and may have been one of the circuit’s best partnerships considering the tournament’s health care theme and collaboration with The Clinton Foundation.

The loss, however, leaves the Tour with an opportunity to make things right. When Humana took over in 2012 officials stripped Bob Hope’s name from the event.

Hope’s name had been associated with the event since 1965, and whoever steps in after Humana should make it a priority that the comedian returns to the top of the marquee.

Sign-ing off. It wouldn’t be a golf season without a bizarre scorecard snafu, and the LPGA stepped in late to fill the void last week.

At the second stage of Q-School, Holly Clyburn shot a first-round 71 in Venice, Fla., and slid her scorecard to playing partner Justine Lee to sign, but Lee – who was reportedly frustrated after an opening 78 – failed to affix her “John Hancock” and Clyburn was disqualified under Rule 6-6b.

While there are plenty of victim-less crimes in golf, Clyburn’s fate seems entirely unjustifiable. In the age of electronic scoring for a player to be held accountable for another’s miscue is blatantly arcane and capricious.

Clyburn’s career, at least in the short term, is now on hold because of an honest mistake. In this case, the punishment certainly doesn’t match the crime.

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Garcia tosses driver, misses Valero cut

By Will GrayApril 21, 2018, 1:00 am

It wasn't quite to the level of his watery meltdown earlier this month at the Masters, but Sergio Garcia still got frustrated during the second round of the Valero Texas Open - and his driver paid the price.

Garcia had a hand in redesigning the AT&T Oaks Course along with Greg Norman several years ago, but this marked his first return to TPC San Antonio since 2010. After an opening-round 74, Garcia arrived to the tee of the short par-4 fifth hole and decided to get aggressive with driver in hand.

When his shot sailed well left, a heated Garcia chucked the club deep into the bushes that lined the tee box:

It took considerable effort for Garcia to find and retrieve the club amid the branches, and once he did things only got worse. He appeared to shank a chip once he got up to his ball, leading to a bogey on one of the easiest holes on a demanding track.

Garcia closed out his round with four straight pars, and at 2 over he eventually missed the cut by a shot. It marks the first time he has missed consecutive cuts on the PGA Tour since 2003, when he sat out the weekend at the AT&T Byron Nelson, Fort Worth Invitational and Memorial Tournament in successive weeks.

Garcia entered the week ranked No. 10 in the world, and he was the only top-20 player among the 156-man field. He missed the cut at the Masters in defense of his title after carding an octuple-bogey 13 on the 15th hole during the opening round.

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Johnson, Moore co-lead Valero Texas Open through 36

By Associated PressApril 21, 2018, 1:00 am

SAN ANTONIO - Zach Johnson was going nowhere in the Valero Texas Open when it all changed with one putt.

He made an 8-foot par putt on the 13th hole of the opening round to stay at 2 under. He followed with a big drive, a hybrid into 12 feet and an eagle. Johnson was on his way, and he kept right on going Friday to a 7-under 65 and a share of the 36-hole lead with Ryan Moore.

''You just never know. That's the beauty of this game,'' Johnson said. ''I felt like I was hitting some solid shots and wasn't getting rewarded, and you've just got to stay in it. You've got to persevere, grind it out, fight for pars. You just never know.''

Moore had three birdies over his last five holes for a 67 and joined Johnson at 9-under 135.

They had a one-shot lead over Grayson Murray (69) and Andrew Landry (67).

Ben Crane (66), Martin Laird (65) and David Hearn (68) were three shots behind. Billy Horschel and Keegan Bradley shot 71 and were four shots behind at 5-under 139.

Full-field scores from the Valero Texas Open

Valero Texas Open: Articles, photos and videos

Sergio Garcia, who consulted Greg Norman on the design of the AT&T Oaks Course at the TPC San Antonio, had a short stay in his first time at the Texas Open since 2010. Garcia shot an even-par 72, and at one point became so frustrated he threw his driver into the shrubs.

Garcia finished at 2-over 146 and missed the cut.

It was the first time since 2010 that Garcia missed the cut in successive starts. That was the PGA Championship and, 10 weeks later, the Castello Masters in Spain. This time, he missed the cut in the Masters and Texas Open three weeks apart.

Johnson, a two-time winner of the Texas Open, appeared to be headed to a short week until the key par save on the 13th hole, followed by his eagle, par and three straight birdies. He began the second round Friday with five birdies in a six-hole stretch on the back nine, a sixth birdie on the par-4 first hole, and then an eagle on the short par-4 fifth when he holed out from a greenside bunker.

The only sour taste to his second round was a three-putt bogey from about 30 feet on his final hole. Even so, the view was much better than it was Thursday afternoon.

Moore thought he had wasted a good birdie opportunity on the par-5 14th hole when he left his 50-foot eagle putt about 6 feet short. But he made that, and then holed a similar putt from 8 feet for birdie on the next hole and capped his good finish with a 15-foot putt on the 17th.

''That was a huge momentum putt there,'' Moore said of the 14th. ''It was a tough putt from down there with a lot of wind. That green is pretty exposed and ... yeah, really short and committed to that second putt really well and knocked it right in the middle.''

The birdies on the 14th and 15th were important to Moore because he missed a pair of 10-foot birdie tries to start the back nine.

''So it was nice to get those and get going in the right direction on the back,'' he said.

The cut was at 1-over 145, and because 80 players made the cut, there will be a 54-hole cut on Saturday.

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Daly-Allen team grabs Legends of Golf lead on Day 2

By Associated PressApril 20, 2018, 11:14 pm

RIDGEDALE, Mo. - John Daly and Michael Allen took the second-round lead Friday in the cool and breezy Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf.

Daly and Allen shot an 8-under 46 on the Top of the Rock par-3 course with wind gusting to 15 mph and the temperature only in the high-50s at Big Cedar Lodge. They had three birdies on the front nine in alternate-shot play and added five more on the back in better-ball play to get to 13 under.

''Michael and I go back to the South African days in the late 80s and playing that tour,'' Daly said. ''We've been buddies since. He's just fun to play with. We feed off each other pretty good. And if he's not comfortable guinea-pigging on one hole, I'll go first.''

On Thursday, they opened with a 66 on the regulation Buffalo Ridge course. They will rotate to the 13-hole Mountain Top par-3 course on Saturday, and return to Top of the Rock for the final round Sunday.

''I went to high school in Jeff City, so it's cool to have the fans behind us,'' Daly said.

Allen won the PGA Tour Champions team event with David Frost in 2012 and Woody Austin in 2016.

''I'm just here to free up John,'' Allen said. ''It was fun. Luckily, I started making good putts today. We just want to keep the good times rolling.''

Full-field scores from the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf

Defending champions Vijay Singh and Carlos Franco were a stroke back along with Bernhard Langer-Tom Lehman and Paul Broadhurst-Kirk Triplett. Singh and Franco had a 7-under 32 in best-ball play at Mountain Top, and Lehman-Langer and Broadhurst-Tripplet each shot 6-under 48 at Top of the Rock.

''Part of the issue here is all the tees are elevated, so you're up high hitting to a green that's down below and the wind is blowing, and there is more time for that wind to affect it,'' Lehman said. ''If you guess wrong on the wind, you can hit a really good shot and kind of look stupid.''

Former UCLA teammates Scott McCarron and Brandt Jobe were two strokes back at 11 under with Steve Flesch and David Toms and the Spanish side of Jose Maria Olazabal and Miguel Angel Jimenez. McCarron-Jobe had a 47, and Jimenez-Olazabal a 48 at Top of the Rock, and Tom Flesch shot 34 at Mountain Top.

First-round leaders Jeff Maggert and Jesper Parnevik had a 52 at Top of the Rock to fall three shots back at 10 under. Madison, Wisconsin, friends Steve Stricker and Jerry Kelly also were 10 under after a 32 at Mountain Top. Jay Haas aced the 131-yard seventh hole at Mountain Top with a gap wedge. Haas and fellow 64-year-old Peter Jacobsen were 8 under after a 32.

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Football coach hates golf: Don't need practice swearing

By Jason CrookApril 20, 2018, 10:15 pm

Some football coaches are a little more talkative than others. On one side of the spectrum, there's Bill Belichick. On the other sits Washington State football coach Mike Leach.

Leach always delivers the goods, and when asked recently if he liked golf, he didn't hold back:

As wrong as the 57-year-old is on the topic (golf is awesome), the man makes some hilarious points:

• “It’s boring. I don’t care where that ball goes.”

• "Golfers are always practicing their swing. But you know what I never did? I never practice fishing in my living room.”

• "They'll line up over the ball and they'll say they're going to do something that you can't do with a sniper rifle and a scope, but they're going to do it with a stick and a ball."

• “Golf’s pretty much for people that don’t swear effectively enough or need practice. And so there are people that need golf, and I don’t think I do.”

So in conclusion, it's confirmed: Mike Leach - not a golf guy.