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 Frys.com 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 GolfChannel.com 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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Davies leads Inkster after Day 1 of Senior LPGA Champ.

By Associated PressOctober 16, 2018, 1:10 am

FRENCH LICK, Ind. - Laura Davies opened with a 4-under 68 despite finishing with two bogeys Monday, giving her a one-shot lead over Juli Inkster after Round 1 of the Senior LPGA Championship.

Davies, who earlier this year won the inaugural U.S. Senior Women's Open, had a lost ball on the par-5 18th hole on The Pete Dye Course at French Lick Resort. She still salvaged a bogey in chilly, windy weather that had the 55-year-old from England bundled up in a blanket between shots.

Inkster, runner-up to Davies at the Senior Women's Open, made eagle on the closing hole for a 69.

Jane Crafter was at 70. Defending champion Trish Johnson opened with a 73.

Temperatures were in the high 40s, but the damp air and wind made it feel even colder.

Inkster made a bogey on the 17th hole by missing the green with a 9-iron.

''As old as I am, I still get made and I crushed that drive on 18,'' said Inkster, who followed with a 3-wood to 15 feet to set up her eagle.

The 54-hole event concludes Wednesday.

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Miller to retire from broadcast booth in 2019

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 15, 2018, 9:14 pm

After nearly 30 years in the broadcast booth, Johnny Miller is ready to hang up his microphone.

Following a Hall of Fame playing career that included a pair of major titles, Miller has become one of the most outspoken voices in the game as lead golf analyst for NBC Sports. But at age 71 he has decided to retire from broadcasting following the 2019 Waste Management Phoenix Open.

“The call of being there for my grandkids, to teach them how to fish. I felt it was a higher calling,” Miller told GolfChannel.com. “The parents are trying to make a living, and grandparents can be there like my father was with my four boys. He was there every day for them. I'm a big believer that there is a time and a season for everything.”

Miller was named lead analyst for NBC in 1990, making his broadcast debut at what was then known as the Bob Hope Desert Classic. He still remained competitive, notably winning the 1994 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am at age 46, but made an indelible mark on the next generation of Tour pros with his frank and candid assessment of the action from some of golf’s biggest events.

Miller’s broadcasting career has included 20 U.S. Opens, 14 Ryder Cups, nine Presidents Cups, three Open Championships and the 2016 Olympics. While he has teamed in the booth with Dan Hicks for the past 20 years, Miller’s previous on-air partners included Bryant Gumbel, Charlie Jones, Jim Lampley and Dick Enberg.

His farewell event will be in Phoenix Jan. 31-Feb. 3, at a tournament he won in back-to-back years in 1974-75.

“When it comes to serving golf fans with sharp insight on what is happening inside the ropes, Johnny Miller is the gold standard,” said NBC lead golf producer Tommy Roy. “It has been an honor working with him, and while it might not be Johnny’s personal style, it will be fun to send him off at one of the PGA Tour’s best parties at TPC Scottsdale.”

Miller was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1998 after a playing career that included wins at the 1973 U.S. Open at Oakmont and The Open in 1976 at Royal Birkdale. Before turning pro, he won the 1964 U.S. Junior Amateur and was low amateur at the 1966 U.S. Open at Olympic, where he tied for eighth at age 19.

Born and raised in San Francisco, Miller now lives in Utah with his wife, Linda, and annually serves as tournament host of the PGA Tour’s Safeway Open in Napa, Calif.

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Randall's Rant: Tiger vs. Phil feels like a ripoff

By Randall MellOctober 15, 2018, 7:45 pm

Usually, you have to buy something before you feel like you were ripped off.

The wonder in the marketing of Tiger vs. Phil and “The Match” is how it is making so many people feel as if they are getting ripped off before they’ve shelled out a single penny for the product.

Phil Mickelson gets credit for this miscue.

Apparently, the smartest guy in the room isn’t the smartest marketing guy.

He was a little bit like that telemarketer who teases you into thinking you’ve won a free weekend getaway, only to lead you into the discovery that there’s a shady catch, with fine print and a price tag.

There was something as slippery as snake oil in the original pitch.

In Mickelson’s eagerness to create some excitement, he hinted back during The Players in May about the possibility of a big-money, head-to-head match with Woods. A couple months later, he leaked more details, before it was ready to be fully announced.

So while there was an initial buzz over news of the Thanksgiving weekend matchup, the original pitch set up a real buzzkill when it was later announced that you were only going to get to see it live on pay-per-view.

The news landed with a thud but no price tag. We’re still waiting to see what it’s going to cost when these two meet at Shadow Creek in Las Vegas, but anything that feels even slightly inflated now is going to further dampen the original enthusiasm Mickelson created.

Without Woods or Mickelson putting up their own money, this $9 million winner-take-all event was always going to feel more like a money grab than real competition.

When we were expecting to see it on network or cable TV, we didn’t care so much. Tiger's and Phil’s hands would have felt as if they were reaching into corporate America’s pockets. Now, it feels as if they’re digging into ours.

Last week, there was more disappointing news, with the Las Vegas Review-Journal reporting that tickets won’t be sold to the public, that the match at Shadow Creek will only be open to select sponsors and VIPs.



Now there’s a larger insult to the common fan, who can’t help but feel he isn’t worthy or important enough to gain admittance.

Sorry, but that’s how news of a closed gate landed on the heels of the pay-per-view news.

“The Match” was never going to be meaningful golf in any historical sense.

This matchup was never going to rekindle the magic Tiger vs. Phil brought in their epic Duel at Doral in ’05.

The $9 million was never going to buy the legitimacy a major championship or PGA Tour Sunday clash could bring.

It was never going to be more than an exhibition, with no lingering historical significance, but that was OK as quasi silly-season fare on TV on Thanksgiving weekend (Nov. 23), the traditional weekend of the old Skins Game.

“The Match” still has a chance to be meaningful, but first and foremost as entertainment, not real competition. That’s what this was always going to be about, but now the bar is raised.

Pay per view does that.

“You get what you pay for” is an adage that doesn’t apply to free (or already-paid for) TV. It does to pay per view. Expectations go way up when you aren’t just channel surfing to a telecast. So the higher the price tag they end up putting on this showdown, the more entertaining this has to be.

If Phil brings his “A-Game” to his trash talking, and if Tiger can bring some clever repartee, this can still be fun. If the prerecorded segments wedged between shots are insightful, even meaningful in their ability to make us understand these players in ways we didn’t before, this will be worthwhile.

Ultimately, “The Match” is a success if it leaves folks who paid to see it feeling as if they weren’t as ripped off as the people who refused to pay for it. That’s the handicap a history of free golf on TV brings. Welcome to pay-per-view, Tiger and Phil.

Celia Barquin Arozamena Iowa State University athletics

Trial date set for drifter charged with killing Barquin Arozamena

By Associated PressOctober 15, 2018, 7:28 pm

AMES, Iowa – A judge has scheduled a January trial for a 22-year-old Iowa drifter charged with killing a top amateur golfer from Spain.

District Judge Bethany Currie ruled Monday that Collin Richards will stand trial Jan. 15 for first-degree murder in the death of Iowa State University student Celia Barquin Arozamena.

Richards entered a written not guilty plea Monday morning and waived his right to a speedy trial. The filing canceled an in-person arraignment hearing that had been scheduled for later Monday.

Investigators say Richards attacked Barquin on Sept. 17 while she was playing a round at a public course in Ames, near the university campus. Her body was found in a pond on the course riddled with stab wounds.

Richards faces life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted.