Cut Line: The King still draws a crowd

By Rex HoggardMarch 20, 2015, 8:47 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. – The call of The King draws the game’s top names to Bay Hill, while madness seems to have gripped golf’s version of the big tournament, but not necessarily for all of the right reasons.

Made Cut

The King calls. At 85 years young Arnold Palmer can still command a room, as evidenced by this week’s gathering at Bay Hill.

Despite a less-than-perfect date on the PGA Tour calendar, Bay Hill consistently draws one of the year’s best fields – this year’s event featured all of the top 5 in the World Golf Ranking (Bubba Watson withdrew) – and the circuit kicked in the additional bonus of a three-year exemption for the API champion starting this season.

It’s a solid sign for an event that links to the game’s past so clearly, and a nod to Palmer’s continued influence.

“The young kids don’t know who or what Arnold was, but I was lucky enough to play with him in a major once and see what he meant to the game,” Ernie Els said on Friday.

Strength in numbers. However the class-action lawsuit between the Tour and an expanding group of caddies plays out it has created an impressive amount of unity for a group that doesn’t always appear to be reading from the same script.

On Monday lawyers for the caddies, who claim the Tour has engaged in restraint of trade and anticompetitive conduct involving caddie bibs, amended the lawsuit to include 167 caddies, more than double the original number involved in the case.

Among the additional plaintiffs was Steve Williams, Tiger Woods’ former caddie who told Cut Line, “They [the Tour] treat the caddies like second-class citizens.”

Some may not like the concept, but a new caddie credo is emerging, “show up, keep up and speak up.”

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Match making. The root canal continues for the WGC-Cadillac Match Play, which abandoned the West Coast swing and created a new format this season.

The Tour unveiled a new drawing process this week for the event, which has gone to three days of round-robin group play followed by the Round of 16 starting on Saturday.

The top 16 players in the World Golf Ranking on April 27 will be seeded into the 16 groups followed by a “blind draw” from three pools to determine the remaining three players for each group.

“A number of [media] have been writing for a long time that Wednesday of the Match Play is maybe one of the best days of the year in golf,” Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said two weeks ago at Doral. “You follow that line of thought to what we are going to have in this format, I think it could be really, really good.”

Lost in that concept, however, is the one-and-done element that made Match Play Wednesday so dramatic (see Georgia State’s victory over Baylor in Round 1 of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday).

Tweet of the Week:


Young Jordan was referring to Thursday’s slate of one-point games in Round 1 at the NCAA Tournament and not the new WGC-Match Play format. Let’s hope the Tour’s tinkering didn’t dull golf’s version of the #Madness.

Augusta National or bust. On the first day of spring it’s only fitting to check on Charles Howell III and his annual rite of spring.

Howell grew up a 9-iron from Augusta National and counts the year’s first major as something more than just another stop on the schedule. Despite that affinity, and 16 consecutive years of Tour status, he’s played the Masters just once since 2009.

On cue, Howell began his push to Augusta National recently, tying for fifth at the Farmers Insurance Open and 10th last week at the Valspar Championship.

“The Masters is a funny one because so many years I put myself in a position of trying to qualify for it, but now I’m just trying to play golf and let whatever happens happen,” Howell said. “I know that’s easy to say. I’ve found a way to miss it by the smallest margins every year. Just playing in that event is important to me, playing well would be a bonus.”

Howell shot a 68 on Friday at Bay Hill, but he’ll need to do better than that if he’s going to qualify for the Masters. A victory at Bay Hill or next week in San Antonio would earn him a trip down Magnolia Lane, otherwise he’ll need to crack the top 50 in the World Golf Ranking by March 30.

For Howell, consider it a tradition unlike any other.

Missed Cut

Speed dating. In the crowded landscape of the PGA Tour some dates on the schedule are better than others.

This week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational, for example, has created a home as the anchor event of the Florida swing, but according to various sources officials at Bay Hill wanted to be shifted to two weeks before the Masters.

That slot, however, went to the WGC-Cadillac Match Play, which will be played in Austin, Texas, next year, leaving The King’s tournament to forge its way between two World Golf Championships events.

The World Golf Championships have become a part of the Tour fabric, but would it be asking too much to space them out a little bit more? We hear Southern California in June is sublime.

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Storms halt Barbasol before Lincicome tees off

By Associated PressJuly 20, 2018, 11:29 pm

NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - Brittany Lincicome will have to wait until the weekend to resume her bid to make the cut in a PGA Tour event.

Overnight storms delayed the start of the second round Friday in the Barbasol Championship, and an afternoon thunderstorm suspended competition for good. The round will resume Saturday morning with much of the field still to play.

The second stoppage at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came 20 minutes before Lincicome's scheduled tee time.

Lincicome was near the bottom of the field after opening with a 6-over 78 on Thursday. The first LPGA player since Michelle Wie in 2008 to start a PGA Tour event, she needs a huge rebound to join Babe Zaharias (1945) as the only female players to make the cut.

Troy Merritt had the clubhouse lead at 15 under, following an opening 62 with a 67.

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Third-round tee times for the 147th Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 9:05 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Eighteen major champions made the cut at The Open and will be playing the weekend at Carnoustie, including 60-year-old ageless wonder Bernhard Langer, and both major champs so far this year, Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka.

Twenty-four-year-old Gavin Green will be first off solo Saturday at 4:15 a.m. ET. Reed and Rhys Enoch will follow along 10 minutes later.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, both at even par for the tournament, six shots behind leaders Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner, are in consecutive groups. Mickelson is playing with Austin Cook at 8:05 a.m. and Woods is with South Africa’s Shaun Norris at 8:15 a.m.

Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, both three shots off the lead, are also in consecutive groups. Fowler is at 10 a.m. with Thorbjorn Olesen and Spieth is 10 minutes later with Kevin Chappell. Rory McIlroy, looking to win his first major since the 2014 PGA Championship, is at 10:40 a.m. with Xander Schauffele. McIlroy is two shots behind.

Johnson and Kisner are last off at 11 a.m.

4:15AM ET: Gavin Green

4:25AM ET: Rhys Enoch, Patrick Reed

4:35AM ET: Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Justin Rose

4:45AM ET: Yusaku Miyazato, Tyrrell Hatton

4:55AM ET: Ross Fisher, Keegan Bradley

5:05AM ET: Ryan Fox, Jason Dufner

5:15AM ET: Bryson DeChambeau, Henrik Stenson

5:25AM ET: Tom Lewis, Sam Locke (a)

5:35AM ET: Paul Casey, Chris Wood

5:45AM ET: Bernhard Langer, Rafa Cabrera Bello

6:00AM ET: Paul Dunne, Brett Rumford

6:10AM ET: Masahiro Kawamura, Shubhankar Sharma

6:20AM ET: Cameron Smith, Brendan Steele

6:30AM ET: Marc Leishman, Lee Westwood

6:40AM ET: Byeong Hun An, Kevin Na

6:50AM ET: Julian Suri, Adam Hadwin

7:00AM ET: Gary Woodland, Si-Woo Kim

7:10AM ET: Yuta Ikeda, Satoshi Kodaira

7:20AM ET: Marcus Kinhult, Thomas Pieters

7:30AM ET: Beau Hossler, Haotong Li

7:45AM ET: Cameron Davis, Sean Crocker

7:55AM ET: Louis Oosthuizen, Stewart Cink

8:05AM ET: Phil Mickeslon, Austin Cook

8:15AM ET: Tiger Woods, Shaun Norris

8:25AM ET: Lucas Herbert, Michael Kim

8:35AM ET: Jason Day, Francesco Molinari

8:45AM ET: Sung Kang, Webb Simpson

8:55AM ET: Patrick Cantlay, Eddie Pepperell

9:05AM ET: Matthew Southgate, Brooks Koepka

9:15AM ET: Kyle Stanley, Adam Scott

9:30AM ET: Charley Hoffman, Alex Noren

9:40AM ET: Ryan Moore, Brandon Stone

9:50AM ET: Luke List, Danny Willett

10:00AM ET: Thorbjorn Olesen, Rickie Fowler

10:10AM ET: Jordan Spieth, Kevin Chappell

10:20AM ET: Zander Lombard, Tony Finau

10:30AM ET: Matt Kuchar, Erik Van Rooyen

10:40AM ET: Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele

10:50AM ET: Pat Perez, Tommy Fleetwood

11:00AM ET: Kevin Kisner, Zach Johnson

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Facial hair Fowler's new good-luck charm

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 8:12 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Before, during and after the Fourth of July, Rickie Fowler missed a few appointments with his razor.

He arrived in the United Kingdom for last week’s Scottish Open still unshaved and he tied for sixth place. Fowler, like most golfers, can give in to superstition, so he's decided to keep the caveman look going for this week’s Open Championship.

“There could be some variations,” he smiled following his round on Friday at Carnoustie.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

At this rate, he may never shave again. Fowler followed an opening 70 with a 69 on Friday to move into a tie for 11th place, just three strokes off the lead.

Fowler also has some friendly competition in the beard department, with his roommate this week Justin Thomas also going for the rugged look.

“I think he kind of followed my lead in a way. I think he ended up at home, and he had a little bit of scruff going. It's just fun,” Fowler said. “We mess around with it. Obviously, not taking it too seriously. But like I said, ended up playing halfway decent last week, so I couldn't really shave it off going into this week.”

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Spieth (67) rebounds from tough Round 1 finish

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 7:55 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Guess whose putter is starting to heat up again at a major?

Even with a few wayward shots Friday at Carnoustie, Jordan Spieth made a significant climb up the leaderboard in the second round, firing a 4-under 67 to move just three shots off the lead.

Spieth showed his trademark grit in bouncing back from a rough finish Thursday, when he mis-clubbed on the 15th hole, leading to a double bogey, and ended up playing the last four holes in 4 over.

“I don’t know if I actually regrouped,” he said. “It more kind of fires me up a little.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Spieth missed more than half of his fairways in the second round, but he was able to play his approach shots from the proper side of the hole. Sure, he “stole a few,” particularly with unlikely birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 after errant drives, but he took advantage and put himself in position to defend his claret jug.

Spieth needed only 25 putts in the second round, and he credited a post-round adjustment Thursday for the improvement. The tweak allows his arms to do more of the work in his stroke, and he said he felt more confident on the greens.

“It’s come a long way in the last few months, no doubt,” he said.

More than anything, Spieth was relieved not to have to play “cut-line golf” on Friday, like he’s done each start since his spirited run at the Masters.

“I know that my swing isn’t exactly where I want it to be; it’s nowhere near where it was at Birkdale,” he said. “But the short game is on point, and the swing is working in the right direction to get the confidence back.”