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Cut Line: It's about time

By Rex HoggardOctober 27, 2017, 6:55 pm

In this week’s edition, the USGA breaks new ground at an old venue, Tiger Woods enjoy a breakout week and the European Tour introduces a breakthrough concept to speed up play.

Made Cut

Beach bound. It’s no surprise that the USGA announced this week that it will return to Pebble Beach for the 2027 U.S. Open, but it certainly qualified as a pleasant revelation that the association will bring the ’23 Women’s Open to the iconic venue.

While the ’27 U.S. Open will mark the seventh time the seaside layout will host the men’s championship, the ’23 Women’s Open will be the first time that the event is played at Pebble Beach.

“Pebble is just a special place. It’s tough, it’s long, it will be good to be able to be at the same course where the men have played,” said Paula Creamer, the winner of the 2010 U.S. Women’s Open. “Now that we have an event there I think the crowd will be huge.”

And now that the USGA has the women’s championship scheduled for Pebble Beach it might be time to expand that thinking and pull some other traditional men’s venues into the women’s mix. Yes, we’re talking to you, Shinnecock Hills.

Hero or bust? On Monday, Tiger Woods continued to entice his fans via social media, this time posting a video of his once-signature “stinger” iron shot with the caption, “Return of the stinger. #StarWars;” and on Tuesday he was spotted playing a round of golf at the Medalist Golf Club in Hobe Sound, Fla.

“His swing was smooth,” Ian Baker-Finch told “He looked normal.”

Woods also attended Game 2 of the World Series on Wednesday in Los Angeles and posted on Twitter, “I last went to the #WorldSeries with my Dad in 1988, also game 2. Amazing to be back almost 30 years later. Let’s go Dodgers!”

As to when Woods might return to competition, that remains unknown, but his former swing coach Hank Haney suggested on social media that December’s Hero World Challenge, a limited-field and unofficial event, would be the most likely option.

“Hero World Challenge is where and when; why wouldn’t he play there? Only thing that keeps him from playing there is a set back,” Haney tweeted.

Oh, and on Friday, Woods pleaded guilty to reckless driving, a lesser charge stemming from his Labor Day arrest for DUI, and entered a diversion program. So, all things considered, a good week.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Grass ceilings. Emily Nash did everything that was asked of her. She played from the correct set of tees. She carried her own bag. She shot a 3-over 75 to lap the field by four strokes.

But most importantly, she played by the rules. All of the rules, no matter how antiquated and absurd they may seem.

Nash, a junior at Lunenburg High School, won the Central Massachusetts Division 3 boys’ golf tournament, but according to state rules she wasn’t awarded the trophy or invited to next week’s state tournament as an individual. Her score only counted toward the team total.

Event director Kevin Riordan said he was simply enforcing the rules and that he planned to buy Nash a winner’s trophy; while the player who finished runner-up, and was declared the winner, offered to give the actual trophy to Nash, who politely declined the offer.

The rule is ridiculous and should be changed for a litany of reasons, but the incident should also be celebrated. From Nash’s respect for the rules to the reactions from players and officials, the moment was a real-world demonstration of everything that makes golf different.

On the clock. The European Tour has always been the pointy end of the spear when it comes to golf’s ongoing struggles with slow play, and news this week that the Continent is poised to take the fight to the next level should come as no surprise.

The tour announced that the former Austrian Open will be renamed the Shot Clock Masters and will feature, yep, you guessed it, a shot clock for every player on every shot.

The circuit tinkered with the shot clock idea this year at the GolfSixes event, but for next June’s tournament each player in the 120-man field will be timed and violators will be issued one-shot penalties.

The first player to play in each group will have 50 seconds and the other players will have 40 seconds to hit. Fans shouldn’t expect to see a similar event on the PGA Tour anytime soon, but it certainly has plenty of support on this side of the transatlantic divide.

“I think it would be very interesting,” world No. 1 Dustin Johnson said this week when asked about a “shot clock” event in the United States. “You'd see a lot of guys getting penalties on our Tour. Yeah, that would be quite fun, actually. I'd have plenty of time but there's a lot of guys that wouldn't. They would be getting a penalty on every hole.” 

Missed Cut

Tweet of the week: Speaking of the European Tour’s advantage over the U.S. circuit, the Continent’s social media platforms have set a new standard in the game for the last few years, but they curiously missed the mark with an item this week featuring the caption “Welcome to Day 1 . . . #HSBCChampions.” Missing from the short clip was Russell Knox, who won the event two years ago.

“Any reason why you missed the 2015 winner?” asked Knox in a separate post. The Scot was not qualified for this year’s event, but he’s still a former champion. Brendan Steele added via Twitter, “That’s bad.”

Well, it’s certainly not good.

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Wie has hand surgery, out for rest of 2018

By Randall MellOctober 18, 2018, 9:43 pm

Michelle Wie will miss the rest of this season after undergoing surgery Thursday to fix injuries that have plagued her right hand in the second half of this year.

Wie announced in an Instagram post that three ailments have been causing the pain in her hand: an avulsion fracture, bone spurs and nerve entrapment.

An avulsion fracture is an injury to the bone where it attaches to a ligament or tendon.

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I think John Mayer once said, “Someday, everything will make perfect sense. So for now, laugh at the confusion, smile through the tears, be strong and keep reminding yourself that everything happens for a reason.” A lot of people have been asking me what’s been going on with my hand and I haven’t shared much, because I wasn’t sure what was going on myself. After countless MRI’s, X-rays, CT scans, and doctor consultations, I was diagnosed with having a small Avulsion Fracture, bone spurring, and nerve entrapment in my right hand. After 3 cortisone injections and some rest following the British Open, we were hoping it was going to be enough to grind through the rest of the season, but it just wasn’t enough to get me through. So I made the decision after Hana Bank to withdraw from the rest of the season, come back to the states, and get surgery to fix these issues. It’s been disheartening dealing with pain in my hand all year but hopefully I am finally on the path to being and STAYING pain free! Happy to announce that surgery was a success today and I cannot wait to start my rehab so that I can come back stronger and healthier than ever. Huge thank you to Dr. Weiland’s team at HSS for taking great care of me throughout this process and to all my fans for your unwavering support. It truly means the world to me. I’ll be back soon guys!!!! Promise

A post shared by Michelle Wie (@themichellewie) on

Dr. Andrew Weiland, an attending orthopedic surgeon at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, performed the procedure.

“It’s been disheartening dealing with pain in my hand all year, but, hopefully, I am finally on the path to being and staying pain free,” Wie wrote.

Wie withdrew during the first round of the Ricoh Women’s British Open with the hand injury on Aug. 2 and didn’t play again until teeing it up at the UL International Crown two weeks ago and the KEB Hana Bank Championship last week. She played those events with what she hoped was a new “pain-free swing,” one modeled after Steve Stricker, with more passive hands and wrists. She went 1-3 at the UL Crown and tied for 59th in the limited field Hana Bank.

“After 3 cortisone injections and some rest following the British Open, we were hoping it was going to be enough to grind through the rest of the season, but it just wasn’t enough to get me through,” she wrote.

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Wie, who just turned 29 last week, started the year saying her top goal was to try to stay injury free. She won the HSBC Women’s World Championship in March, but her goal seemed doomed with a diagnosis of arthritis in both wrists before the year even started.

Over the last few years, Wie has dealt with neck, back, hip, knee and ankle injuries. Plus, there was an emergency appendectomy that knocked her out of action for more than a month late last season. Her wrists have been an issue going back to early in her career.

“I don’t think there is one joint or bone in her body that hasn’t had some sort of injury or issue,” Wie’s long-time swing coach, David Leadbetter, said earlier this year.

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Woods receives his Tour Championship trophy

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 18, 2018, 8:57 pm

We all know the feeling of giddily anticipating something in the mail. But it's doubtful that any of us ever received anything as cool as what recently showed up at Tiger Woods' Florida digs.

This was Woods' prize for winning the Tour Championship. It's a replica of "Calamity Jane," Bobby Jones' famous putter. Do we even need to point out that the Tour Championship is played at East Lake, the Atlanta course where Jones was introduced to the game.

Woods broke a victory drought of more than five years by winning the Tour Championhip. It was his 80th PGA Tour win, leaving him just two shy of Sam Snead's all-time record.

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Garcia 2 back in storm-halted Andalucia Masters

By Associated PressOctober 18, 2018, 7:08 pm

SOTOGRANDE, Spain  -- Ashley Chesters was leading on 5-under 66 at the Andalucia Valderrama Masters when play was suspended because of darkness with 60 golfers yet to complete their weather-hit first rounds on Thursday.

More than four hours was lost as play was twice suspended because of stormy conditions and the threat of lightning at the Real Club Valderrama in southern Spain.

Full-field scores from the Andalucia Valderrama Masters

English journeyman Chesters collected six birdies and one bogey to take a one-shot lead over Gregory Bourdy of France. Tournament host and defending champion Sergio Garcia was on 68 along with fellow Spaniards Alvaro Quiros and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, and Australia's Jason Scrivener.

''It's a shame I can't keep going because the last few holes were the best I played all day. Considering all the delays and everything, I'm very happy with 5 under,'' Chesters said. ''The forecast for the rest of the week is not very good either so I thought I'll just make as many birdies as I can and get in.''

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Caddies drop lawsuit; Tour increases healthcare stipend

By Rex HoggardOctober 18, 2018, 3:33 pm

After nearly four years of litigation, a group of PGA Tour caddies have dropped their lawsuit against the circuit.

The lawsuit, which was filed in California in early 2015, centered on the bibs caddies wear during tournaments and ongoing attempts by the caddies to improve their healthcare and retirement options.

The caddies lost their class-action lawsuit in U.S. District Court and an appeal this year.

Separately, the Association of Professional Tour Caddies, which was not involved in the lawsuit but represents the caddies to the Tour, began negotiating with the circuit last year.

“I told the guys, if we really want a healthy working relationship with the Tour, we need to fix this and open the lines of communication,” said Scott Sajtinac, the president of the APTC.

In January 2017, Jay Monahan took over as commissioner of the Tour and began working with the APTC to find a solution to the healthcare issue. Sajtinac said the Tour has agreed to increase the stipend it gives caddies for healthcare beginning next year.

“It took a year and a half, but it turned out to be a good result,” Sajtinac said. “Our goal is to close that window for the guys because healthcare is such a massive chunk of our income.”

In a statement released by the Tour, officials pointed out the lawsuit and the “potential increase to the longtime caddie healthcare subsidy” are two separate issues.

“Although these two items have been reported together, they are not connected. The PGA Tour looks forward to continuing to support the caddies in the important role they play in the success of our members,” the statement said.

Caddies have received a stipend from the Tour for healthcare for some time, and although Sajtinac wouldn’t give the exact increase, he said it was over 300 percent. Along with the APTC’s ability to now negotiate healthcare plans as a group, the new stipend should dramatically reduce healthcare costs for caddies.

“It’s been really good,” said Sajtinac, who did add that there are currently no talks with the Tour to created a retirement program for caddies. “Everybody is really excited about this.”