Cut Line: Killing caddie races kills fun

By Rex HoggardAugust 16, 2013, 3:11 pm

Cut Line bids farewell to the 2013 regular season with a mathematical and emotional breakdown of the Wyndham Championship field, a pros/cons look at the PGA Tour’s rumored buyout of the European circuit and a plea for Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., to reset the FedEx Cup points reset.

Made Cut

Greater Greensboro. Wyndham Championship tournament director Mark Brazil will tell you the field at his event has steadily improved in recent years, although he prefers to make that assessment based on star power and not statistics.

“I love counting big names, household names, that’s the way I gauge it. I don’t gauge it on rankings,” Brazil said. “You get a Fred Couples here, he’s not ranked, but he’s still one of the top draws. A guy like Padraig Harrington, name recognition is huge.”

It is curious, however, that the Official World Golf Ranking math makes a compelling argument that since the Greensboro, N.C., stop moved into the pre-FedEx Cup playoffs spot in 2007 business has steadily improved.

In 2006, the last year the event was played in October, the Wyndham champion received 18 world Ranking points. The ’07 winner, Brandt Snedeker, received 24 points. That total jumped to 30 points in ’08, 32 in ’09, 38 in ’11 and 42 in ’12. This week’s champion is projected to receive 44 points.

In this case Brazil’s heart and his head tell the same story.

Bethpage and beyond. Right there behind Sasquatch and Nessie is the U.S. Golf Association’s baffling reluctance to put Bethpage’s Black Course and Torrey Pines’ South Course back into the U.S. Open rotation as a genuine mystery.

The 2008 Open at Torrey Pines may arguably be this generation’s best major, and Bethpage, although soaked for both Opens it hosted, is a perfect combination of qualify golf and prime location.

The USGA’s slow play on both venues has prompted the PGA of America to be a bit more proactive. Golfweek magazine reported this week that the PGA plans to name Bethpage the venue for the 2024 Ryder Cup and 2019 PGA Championship; and sources have told Cut Line that the association is vying to bring the year’s fourth major to Torrey Pines.

While the PGA deserves credit for outside-the-box thinking, may we suggest they hold off on any official announcement until, say ... next year’s U.S. Open. You know, for maximum coverage and all.

Tweet of the week: @Keegan_Bradley “Pains me to say (Jason Dufner) did a good job on (Howard Stern). I was hoping he’d be horrible and rushed outta there.”

No one was more surprised than Cut Line that Dufner handled his post-PGA media blitz almost as effortlessly as he negotiated his way around Oak Hill. #MediaDarling

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

NFL (No Fun League). PGA Tour officials say it’s a question of caddie safety, but the circuit’s move to ban caddie races at the Waste Management Open and Crown Plaza Invitational seems more like a wet blanket.

Players and caddies have been advised that the races at TPC Scottsdale’s 16th hole and Colonial’s 13th hole will no longer be allowed because, “It was a situation where we developed a little concern about caddies’ safety. Running 150 yards puts caddies at risk for injury,” Andy Pazder, the Tour’s executive vice president and chief of operations, told Cut Line.

We concede that no one wants to see a steady diet of lumbering loopers and that there are plenty of caddies who are more likely to break a bone than a land-speed record, but a game that is still considered too stuffy for its own good doesn’t need more rules.

“It’s Phoenix where they scream ‘Noonan’ while your man is hitting. It’s not a funeral,” one longtime Tour looper told Cut Line.

One world. Most say reports this week that the PGA Tour is looking to buy the European Tour were a bit premature, but as one longtime observer pointed out, “I wouldn’t be surprised if it is being considered. You know how it is with these things, where there is smoke ...”

Nor did Tour commissioner Tim Finchem – who called the reports “inaccurate” – put an end to speculation with his statement regarding the potential takeover.

“I have stated publicly on several occasions, the integration of professional golf can create additional value for our players, sponsors and fans ... Such integration has been ongoing since 1994,” Finchem said.

There is “up side” for both parties if such a mega-merger occurred. The financially challenged European Tour would be reinvigorated by the Tour’s deep pockets, and Finchem & Co. would get a stronger foothold in Asia and a piece of the Ryder Cup, which is jointly owned by the PGA of America and European Tour.

But the “down side” of such a move would also be significant, including a loss of identity for the European circuit and the probability that there would be fewer playing opportunities on both sides of the Atlantic divide.

Perhaps globalization is inevitable, but we’re not sure this is what Greg Norman had in mind when he first floated the idea of a world tour.

Missed Cut

Resets. Through the magic of mathematical creativity, Tiger Woods’ commanding, 767-point lead over Matt Kuchar in the FedEx Cup points race will be cut to 250-points following Sunday’s reset heading into the playoffs.

Officials consider this a necessity to maintain a competitive balance throughout the post-season, but it feels more like contrived marketing.

Last year, it was Rory McIlroy who was pencil whipped by the circuit’s new math after the Ulsterman won two playoff events (Deutsche Bank Championship and BMW Championship) and finished tied for 10th at the Tour Championship only to watch Brandt Snedeker – who went runner-up (Barclays), sixth (Deutsche Bank), T-37 (BMW) and first (Tour Championship) in the playoffs – slip away with the FedEx Cup and a not-so-small fortune.

“I think it's worked well, and the right people have won,” Finchem said last year at East Lake.

Perhaps, but it still feels like Woods will have to beat the other 124 playoff-bound players and the Tour’s calculators to complete a season that, by all accounts, is second to none.

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Garwood (64) leads Dick's Sporting Goods Open

By Associated PressAugust 17, 2018, 9:53 pm

ENDICOTT, N.Y. - Doug Garwood birdied the final three holes for an 8-under 64 and the first-round lead Friday in the Dick's Sporting Goods Open.

The 55-year-old Garwood had nine birdies and a bogey, playing his final nine holes - the front nine at En-Joie Golf Club - in 6-under 31.

''Drove it well, hit the irons well, pitched well, putted well, thought well,'' Garwood said. ''I got to a point I was just making birdies and I kind of lost track of how it was going,'' Garwood said. ''That's always a good thing.''

He won the 2016 SAS Championship for his lone PGA Tour Champions title.

Full-field scores from the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open

"I haven't been playing great this year, but I've been working hard on my game and things I've been working on are paying off,'' Garwood said. ''My golf, I take it a shot at a time, don't think about too far in advance because you really can't control, you know, the 13th hole tomorrow. It's just about the tee shot on No. 1.''

Michael Bradley and Marco Dawson shot 65, Woody Austin and Clark Dennis followed at 66, and Bob Estes and Tom Gillis were at 67.

''It was a good day,'' Bradley said. ''I've traditionally not driven the ball well here and you've got to drive the ball good here to shoot a good score. I drove the ball well and made a few putts, so that was that.''

Kenny Perry, the 3M Championship winner two weeks ago in Minnesota, had a 68. Bernard Langer and Miguel Angel Jimenez each shot 70. Langer won the 2014 tournament. Jimenez is coming off a victory at St. Andrews in the British Senior Open.

Defending champion Scott McCarron had a 72. Kevin Sutherland also had a 72. He shot the only 59 in PGA Tour Champions history in the 2014 event. John Daly, the winner of the PGA Tour's 1992 B.C. Open at En-Joie, opened with a 73.

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Kaymer: Don't deserve Ryder Cup spot even with win

By Randall MellAugust 17, 2018, 9:50 pm

Martin Kaymer is one of the most decorated Europeans of this generation, and one of the most thoughtfully honest as well, as he is demonstrating yet again at this week’s Nordea Masters.

Kaymer, a two-time major championship winner, has helped the Euros win three of the last four Ryder Cups. He won the singles match that clinched Europe’s historic comeback win at Medinah in 2012.

But with his run into contention Friday in Sweden, Kaymer told Sky Sports TV he didn’t believe that even a victory would make him worthy of playing for captain Thomas Bjorn’s Ryder Cup team in Paris next month.

“Do you think I deserve to be on the game after the way I've been playing, and with just one win in Sweden?” he said. “Is that enough? I don't think so.”

Kaymer shot a 3-under 67 at the Nordea Masters, leaving him tied for seventh, five shots off the lead and in position to make a run at his 12th European Tour title. He is hoping to capitalize on the opportunity in a season that has left him unsatisfied. He missed three of his previous four cuts coming to Sweden and has just two top-10 finishes this year.

Kaymer made some thoughtful observations about the nature of golf’s challenges in the same week that LPGA star Lexi Thompson opened up about a personal struggle to build a life about more than golf.

At 33, Kaymer said he feels as if he’s still just beginning to understand the game’s effect on him. Here is what he shared with reporters about that on the eve of the Nordea Masters:

“I'm on the seventh hole, hopefully. You need some time to get to know and place yourself in the world of golf.

Full-field scores from the Nordea Masters

“In the beginning you can't know, you have zero experience. Then you play around the world and measure your game with the best in the world. Then you see good results and in my case underestimate yourself a little.

“All of a sudden you win a major. You play a vital role in Ryder Cups. You win your second major. Then you need to adjust, because it's sometimes overwhelming and not understandable. It cannot only be talent, you need to ask yourself how you actually got here.

“That realization took me a long time. That's why I would say I'm on the seventh hole, maybe seventh green.

“It's just understanding who you are, what you do, what kind of life you live. For example, when you try to have a relationship with anyone -- it doesn't matter what kind of relationship -- people see you not for who you are as a person but as the athlete, what you have, what kind of success you had.

“I never understood that, because I don't want to be treated that way, but I also understood by now that is who I am, because I am that athlete. I am the guy who makes a lot of money.

“I never wanted to be seen that way, because I was raised different, and I wanted to be normal. But you are not normal when you do what I did. It took me a long time to understand, but now I can handle it better.”

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S.H. Park eyes Indy title, LPGA awards after 'best round of year'

By Randall MellAugust 17, 2018, 9:20 pm

Sung Hyun Park’s hot finish Friday gives her more than a chance to win the Indy Women in Tech Championship.

It gives her a chance to keep Ariya Jutanugarn from running away with the LPGA’s most important awards and honors heading into the final third of the season.

Park’s 9-under 63 left her tied for the lead with Lizette Salas (69) at 13 under overall in the rain-suspended second round at Brickyard Crossing Golf Course in Indianapolis.

“My best round of the year,” Park said through a translator.

Jutanugarn, the Rolex world No. 1, put up a 65 and sits four behind the leaders.

Park is No. 4 in the world rankings and feeling good about her weekend chances.

“I’m going to do really well,” she said. “I feel really good about my game.”

Jutanugarn has won an LPGA best three times this season, including the U.S. Women’s Open. She is dominating, statistically. She leads the tour in money winnings ($2,161,185), Rolex Player of the Year points, scoring average (69.44), putts per greens in regulation (1.72) and birdies (327).

Full-field scores from Indy Women in Tech Championship

Park is looking to equal Jutanugarn’s victory total for the season. Park won the Volunteers of America Texas Classic and also a major this year, the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.

Park could overtake Jutanugarn as Rolex world No. 1 with a victory, depending on what Jutanugarn does this weekend.

Park shared Rolex Player of the Year honors with So Yeon Ryu last season, with Jutanugarn winning the award the year before.

Notably, Jutanugarn is giving her driver a rare appearance this week, putting it in her bag in both the first and second rounds at the friendly confines of Brickyard Crossing.

“I like the way [the holes] set up, because I’m ab le to hit driver a few holes,” Jutanugarn said. “I missed some, but I hit a few pretty good ones, too.”

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Podcast: Welcome our guest - Tiger Tracker

By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 17, 2018, 7:47 pm

Host Will Gray calls him “The man, the myth, the legend.”

GCTiger Tracker, aka “TT,” makes his highly anticipated first guest appearance in a Golf Channel podcast, pontificating on everything from Tiger Woods’ run at the PGA Championship at Bellerive to the overall nature of Tiger’s comeback and what breakthroughs may lie ahead.

Tiger Tracker, Golf Channel’s mystery man, continues to rigorously protect his identity as the foremost Twitter tracker of all things Tiger, but he does open up on his intense relationship with his growing legion of followers and his “trigger finger” when it comes to blocking those unworthy of his insight.

“I’m more of a lover than a hater of Tiger Woods, but I’m a tracker,” TT tells Gray. “I call it like I see it.”

Tracker goes deep on what he sees as his role in continuing to document Tiger’s comeback, including a sense of kinship in this journey.

“I had 142,000 followers on the Monday of the Bahamas [late last year], and as we speak now, 296,000, more than double in that short span,” Tracker says. “That shows you what he’s been able to do, what we’ve been able to do together. Let’s be honest about that.”

Listen in below: