Cut Line: The long and short of it

By Rex HoggardFebruary 15, 2013, 10:29 pm

From Riviera’s short 10th hole and what many see as a shortsighted decision by the U.S. Golf Association to dump the Public Links championships, to Brandt Snedeker’s long view regarding preventive medicine and even longer delays at the Olympic golf course in Brazil, Cut Line covers the extremes of what was a busy news week.

Made Cut

Short and sweet. Riviera Country Club’s 10th hole is not the best 315 yards in the game but it is the most thought-provoking short par 4 on the play-for-pay circuit. And that’s even more evident in the wake of player push-back this week that suggests the 10th has slowly evolved from an easy “3” to a hard “4.”

“It’s not as fun because it's more of a struggle,” Fred Couples said on Thursday after an opening 68 at the Northern Trust Open.

A firmer, less-forgiving putting surface combined with the addition of a closely mown chipping area in recent years has certainly made the 10th more difficult but it’s impossible for armchair architects not to marvel at the short simplicity of the par 4.

Consider that the last five champions at the Riv are a combined 10 under par on the 10th and the hole ranked 360th out of 526 par 4s on Tour last year. In short, short doesn’t mean easy.

Or put another way, after watching his man make a mess of the 10th on Thursday, Brian Gay’s caddie Kip Henley said it best when he told The Associated Press: “This has got to be one of the top five holes on Tour. Maybe the best. And I'm saying that after my man made triple (bogey).”

The long view. For those who struggle to understand how Brandt Snedeker was able to finish second, second and first on his way to the DL with a sore rib consider the rocky rehab road the second-highest ranked American has been on in recent years.

In 2010 and 2011 Snedeker’s offseason featured major hip surgery and he missed the better part of three months last year with a cracked rib. So when he tweaked his rib earlier this season at the Humana Challenge there was concern. When the ailment resurfaced last week at Pebble Beach that concern lurched into preventive thinking.

“The key is to figure out A) what’s wrong, and B) what’s causing (the pain),” said Snedeker’s swing coach Todd Anderson. “He wants to be sharp and ready for Augusta.”

In this case Snedeker correctly followed the old axiom, no one has ever come back too late from an injury.

Tweet of the week: @BoVanPelt “On the first tee (Thursday) at Riviera my caddie mentions Ben Hogan. I look up and a hawk starts circling the tee. Pretty cool sight.”

Who said Tour pros are insular? Of course, we’re not sure the Hawk would appreciate the sentimentality.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Gone baby gone. Although the lines have certainly been blurred in recent years between a private and public player, news this week that the U.S. Golf Association will retire the U.S. Amateur Public Links and Women’s Public Links after the 2014 championships stirred mixed emotions.

Full disclosure, Cut Line is written most Fridays from a rough-around-the-edges central Florida municipal golf course before a nine-hole round with a bona fide group of “publinks” players that includes a retired New York City police officer, a former OB/GYN and an unemployed mini-tour hopeful (fill in your own punch lines).

Maybe it was time to retire the Publinks, and the addition of a men’s and women’s four-ball championship is intriguing, but the romantic concept of a true public champion earning an invitation to the Masters each year will be missed. Complicating the issue was the glossed-over announcement that left an empty feeling where nostalgia should have been.

“I do think they’ve handled the anchoring, in terms of communicating, so beautifully,” former USGA executive director David Fay said on Thursday’s 'Morning Drive.'

“The Publinks almost had that feeling of trying to sneak one by you. You had the four-ball, which is great, but I feel when you have two newsworthy items they should be treated separately. Otherwise people feel you are trying to hide something.”

The hardest part now is hiding the news from the former NYC cop. He isn’t going to take this well.

Missed Cut

When less is less. Although not a single member of the Q-School/ Tour category earned a spot in this week’s field in Los Angeles via their status (a few are playing Riviera via sponsor exemptions and top-10 finishes last week at Pebble Beach) that is not out of the ordinary.

“Looking back at it, it appears it is very rare (for the Q-School class not to get into a 144-player field). It is tough on the West Coast, but that happens. You have certain events, like the Northern Trust Open, where you have to assume you won’t get in,” Tyler Dennis, the Tour’s vice president of competition, told Cut Line.

While the tight field in Los Angeles can’t be blamed on this year’s shortened season as the Tour transitions to a split-calendar season later this fall, not having the extra start next week because of the move of the Mayakoba Golf Classic to the 2013-14 lineup will have an impact.

The mathematical truth for this year’s Q-School/ Tour graduates is they may be done playing on Tour for a few weeks.

Blame it on Rio. With apologies to the wrestling world, which turned its ire toward golf this week for being nixed out of the Olympics, golf has its own issues as we inch toward the 2016 Games.

The International Golf Foundation voiced concerns this week that construction at the Olympic course has not begun, although a spokesman for the Rio Games said everything was still on schedule for construction to start on the Gil Hanse design in April.

That’s great, but wasn’t construction supposed to begin last October?

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Chamblee comments on Choi's unique step-through swing

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 24, 2018, 3:55 pm

The golf world found itself enamored with a largely unknown journeyman this weekend.

Ho-sung Choi went from 554th in the world to No. 1 in the hearts of all those who swing the golf club just a little bit differently thanks to his run at the Korean Open.

The 44-year-old with the exaggerated step through impact found himself two off the pace through 54 holes and in contention for one of two available invitations to this year's Open Championship at Carnoustie.

Choi fell out of the hunt for tournament title and the Open exemption with a final-round 74, but nonetheless left an impression with his tie for fifth.

Asked about Choi's swing Saturday night, Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee offered the following:

"If Chi Chi Rodriguez and Gary Player had a golf school, what would their first professional golfer swing like? Voila," Chamblee said.

"Both those legends had walk through finishes, but Ho Sung has taken this move to a new level with a borderline pirouette to keep from hanging back.

"In an era when professional golfers get accused of having golf swings that all look alike, I’ve never seen anyone swing quite like Ho Sung Choi.

"I can’t wait to try this on the range tomorrow."

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Wallace holds off Olesen to win BMW International

By Associated PressJune 24, 2018, 3:43 pm

PULHEIM, Germany - England's Matt Wallace shot a 7-under 65 to hold off a record-breaking charge from Thorbjorn Olesen and win the BMW International Open on Sunday.

Wallace finished on 10-under 278 - just ahead of Olesen, Mikko Korhonen and 2008 winner Martin Kaymer, whose chances took a blow with a bogey on the 17th hole.

''I want to keep building on this,'' Wallace said after his third European Tour win. ''Obviously this gives me a lot of confidence to go on and play well and I want to kick on and hopefully do this in the bigger events from now on.''

Full-field scores from the BMW International Open

Olesen had played himself into contention with the lowest round in tournament history, with nine birdies and an eagle for an 11-under 61. It was the lowest round of his European Tour career and it gave the Dane a three-shot lead before the final group had even teed off.

''I was just trying today to go out there and build on my game, see if I could shoot a low score,'' Olesen said. ''Obviously as the round progressed I kept on thinking birdies and trying to make the round better. Finishing with four birdies was pretty nice.''

Wallace turned in 34 but then made five birdies in seven holes from the turn to edge a shot past Olesen. He waited as Kaymer and Korhonen went close with rounds of 68 and 67, respectively.

England's Aaron Rai and Denmark's Lucas Bjerregaard finished joint-fifth with rounds of 69.

Sunghyun Park (left) and Minchel Choi (right). Getty Images

Choi, Park qualify for Carnoustie from Korean Open

By Nick MentaJune 24, 2018, 2:54 pm

Two players - Minchel Choi and Sanghyun Park - qualified for next month's Open Championship at Carnoustie via the Open Qualifying Series on Sunday.

Choi (69) held off Park (66) to win the Korean Open by two shots.

This was the Qualifying Series debut for the Korean Open, whiched awarded Open Championship exemptions to the tournament's top two finishers inside the top eight and ties who were not already qualified.

Choi, the 532nd-ranked player in the Official World Golf Ranking, punched his ticket in his first professional win.

Park, the 146th in the world, is a six-time Korean Tour champion who has already won twice this season. 

Both players will be making their first ever major starts.

“I am absolutely honored to be playing in The Open and I wanted to win this championship to give me [that] opportunity," Choi said. "I cannot believe that I have won today. I am so happy and excited."

“It is a great honor to have qualified for The Open and make my first appearance in the championship," Park added. "I’ve watched The Open on television every single year and I can’t really believe that I have qualified, it is amazing."

The Open Qualifying Series continues next week at the Open de France, where as many as three exemptions will be awarded to the three leading players inside the top 10 and ties who are not already qualified.

The 147th Open will be held at Carnoustie from July 19-22.

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Minjee Lee co-leads Walmart NW Arkansas Championship

By Associated PressJune 24, 2018, 12:25 am

ROGERS, Ark. - Minjee Lee wasn't all that concerned when she missed her first cut of the year this month at the ShopRite LPGA Classic.

The ninth-ranked Australian has certainly looked at ease and back in form at Pinnacle Country Club in her first event since then.

Lee and Japan's Nasa Hataoka each shot 6-under 65 on Saturday to share the second-round lead in the NW Arkansas Championship 13-under 129. Lee is chasing her fifth victory since turning pro three years ago. It's also an opportunity to put any lingering frustration over that missed cut two weeks ago behind her for good.

''I didn't particularly hit it bad, even though I missed the cut at ShopRite, I just didn't really hole any putts,'' Lee said. ''I'd been hitting it pretty solid going into that tournament and even into this tournament, too. Just to see a couple putts roll in has been nice.''

The 22-year-old Lee needed only 24 putts during her opening 64 on Friday, helping her to match the low round of her career. Despite needing 28 putts Saturday, she still briefly took the outright lead after reaching as low as 14 under after a birdie on the par-5 seventh.

Full-field scores from the Walmart Arkansas Championship

Lee missed the green on the par-4 ninth soon thereafter to lead to her only bogey of the day and a tie with the 19-year-old Hataoka, who is in pursuit of her first career win.

Hataoka birdied six of eight holes midway through her bogey-free round on Saturday. It was yet another stellar performance from the Japanese teenager, who has finished in the top 10 in four of her last five tournaments and will be a part of Sunday's final pairing.

''I try to make birdies and try to be under par, that's really the key for me to get a top ten,'' Hataoka said. ''Golf is just trying to be in the top 10 every single week, so that's the key.''

Third-ranked Lexi Thompson matched the low round of the day with a 64 to get to 11 under. She hit 17 of 18 fairways and shot a 5-under 30 on her opening nine, The American is in search of her first win since September in the Indy Women in Tech Championship.

Ariya Jutanugarn and Celine Boutier were 10 under.

First-round leader Gaby Lopez followed her opening 63 with a 75 to drop to 4 under. Fellow former Arkansas star Stacy Lewis also was 4 under after a 72.