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Cut Line: Look out, DJ's swagger is back

By Rex HoggardSeptember 1, 2017, 9:25 pm

NORTON, Mass. – With this week’s scheduled Monday finish at the Dell Technologies Championship, Saturday is the official cut but there’s still enough this and that to fill this week’s edition.

Made Cut

DJ being DJ. Remember that time when Dustin Johnson won three consecutive events? Yeah, that was cool.

Unfortunately for the rest of the field at TPC Boston, it’s starting to look a lot like spring, when Johnson won three straight and arrived at the Masters as an overwhelming favorite before being sidelined by injury.

But now that swagger has returned, with the bomber following his playoff victory over Jordan Spieth last week at the post-season opener on Long Island with a 5-under 66 to take the early lead at the Dell Technologies Championship.

“I feel like the things I've been working on, they are back to working,” Johnson said. “I'm feeling good, so I think that's a big key for me.”

Asked last Sunday if he thought he was now in the race for the Player of the Year Award, Johnson said he would be if he were to win two or three playoffs events. How about all four?

Houston Strong. The devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey has touched millions, including a handful of PGA Tour and LPGA players.

Chris Stroud, who was unable to fly home from New York to Houston last week because of the storm, said his house was transformed into a makeshift shelter for those in his neighborhood who lost power or suffered flood damage.

“We had 20 people come to my house, including kids. They have been there since last Friday. They made a ton of food. I have a generator,” Stroud said. “We were set up for this type of thing, and not thinking we would ever use it like this, but obviously it came in handy.”

As is normally the case when disaster strikes, Stroud joined a growing list of golfers who wanted to help those impacted by the storm by donating $10,000 and 10 percent of his winnings this week at TPC Boston to the relief effort.

Fellow Houston resident Jhonattan Vegas donated $25,000 to the fund created by Houston Texan J.J. Watt; and Stacy Lewis will donate all of her winnings this week at the Cambria Portland Classic to help the community.

And the list didn’t stop there, with the likes of Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia donating for every birdie and eagle they make in the playoffs, proving yet again that the worst of times often brings out the best in us.

Tweet of the week: ‏ @GrahamDeLaet (Graham DeLaet) “[Retired NHL right wing] Shane Doan is Steve Stricker nice. Congrats on a great career. #HOF #rafters #19”

Couple things, that Stricker has become an adjective – as in, he’s such a Steve Stricker – is all at once telling and deserved. That DeLaet, who went toe-to-toe with a Twitter troll last week, remains one of the nicest guys on social media or otherwise, makes him, well, a Steve Stricker.


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

First impressions. There was no room for interpretation, “awful,” said one player on Tuesday after playing the redesigned 12th hole at TPC Boston.

Others weren’t so kind, and that opinion didn’t change as more and more players got a look at architect Gil Hanse’s handiwork.

“I thought it was a great hole before. I personally don't think that it was a very good job re-designing it,” Justin Thomas said. “I thought 12 was one of the better holes on the course, and 13 was a great hole, too.”

Hanse wanted to make the 12th hole more difficult. Check. He wanted to make players think. Check. He wanted the new hole to fit in with the rest of the course. Well, two out of three isn’t that bad.

“The conversation we’ve had with three or four players is, ‘Listen, just give it three or four rounds. Try to figure it out,’” Hanse told Cut Line. “If we build a golf hole that the players can figure out after one round, then we probably haven’t done our job challenging them.”

Maybe the narrative will be different on Monday after a few more trips down the lengthened 12th hole, but given the general distaste that doesn’t seem likely.

Back to Boston? There’s been lots of talk in recent weeks about what the 2019 Tour schedule could look like and one of the common themes is a possible reduction in the number of playoff events.

Along those lines, the Boston-area stop seems like the most likely of the four on the chopping block, a difficult choice made even harder by the fact the tournament is one of the best-attended post-season events.

“There's still a chance that we would still move up here every other year or something. So there's still a lot of options available,” said Spieth, suggesting a move that would put TPC Boston into the rotation to host either The Northern Trust or BMW Championship. “I think a shortened, condensed season ending before football is better for us because it gives us an opportunity to have these end-of-the-season events that are big events for us.”

While most players agree, at least in theory, with a more condensed schedule that doesn’t go head-to-head with football season, it’s worth pointing out that whatever form of contraction the Tour embraces there will be a cost.


Missed Cut

Show up, shut up, clean up. The Tour’s best caddies are a combination of sports psychologist and mathematician, carefully considering the odds as well as his man’s mental state with each shot, but it’s the manual labor part of the gig that recently drew the attention of the circuit’s rule makers.

The Tour sent a memo to caddies in July regarding bunker maintenance and divot repair.

“Recently, a number of players have commented on the lack of consistency related to divot repair and bunker maintenance,” the memo read. “It is the responsibility of every caddie to ensure that all divots are repaired appropriately, that any debris created by a shot is properly cleaned and that all bunkers are maintained in a manner commensurate with a PGA Tour event.”

A “how to” guide was attached to the memo in case caddies needed a refresher course on how to properly rake a bunker. Maybe it’s just Cut Line, but this memo would carry a little more weight if the caddies and Tour weren’t locked in an ongoing legal battle over health care and retirement benefits.

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Koepka: Second-place finishes becoming 'annoying'

By Al TaysMay 28, 2018, 12:02 am

Brooks Koepka didn't go down without a fight.

Trailing Justin Rose by four shots going into the final round of the Fort Worth Invitational, Koepka shot his second 7-under 63 of the week - and made up precisely one shot. He finished solo second at 17 under par, three shots behind Rose.

He could only marvel at the Englishman's performance in closing with a 6-under 64.

"It was pretty impressive," he said. "Justin played well. Hat's off to him. Any time you can come into a lead with four shots and play the way he did today, that's impressive."


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


Although Koepka was pleased with his own play - especially his putting - he said it felt "annoying" to come in second. Again.

"I feel like we've had so many second-place finishes," he said. "Always seem to run into a buzz saw, whatever it is."

Since May of 2016, Koepka has five solo second-place finishes and one T-2. But he also has a U.S. Open title, won last year at Erin Hills. He'll attempt to defend that title June 14-17 at Shinnecock Hills. "It's nice to finally be playing well and get going into the season," he said. "Kind of peaking right where I need to be."

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Minjee Lee birdies 18 to win on her birthday

By Associated PressMay 27, 2018, 10:59 pm

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Minjee Lee's task was simple: A birdie on No. 18 would win her the tournament. It was a manageable par 5, the easiest hole on the course in the final round.

After a good drive, her second shot came closer to trouble than much of the gallery probably realized.

''I almost clipped the tree,'' Lee said. ''I overcut it a little bit, but it finished out in a good position.''

Lee's shot came to rest just to the right of the green, and from there it was a simple chip and putt for the birdie that gave her a one-stroke win over In-Kyung Kim at the LPGA Volvik Championship on Sunday. Lee, who turned 22 on Sunday, won for the first time since 2016. It was the Australian's fourth career victory.

Lee three-putted for a bogey on No. 17, dropping into a tie with Kim, who finished her round about the same time. So Lee needed a birdie to win on 18. The 18th hole was 470 yards Sunday. There were 44 birdies there in the final round.


Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship


''The tee was up,'' she said. ''I was pretty confident that I could get there in two if I had a good drive.''

Lee made her winning putt from about 3 feet. She finished at 4-under 68 and 16 under for the tournament. Kim (67) shot a 32 on the back nine and birdied No. 18, but it wasn't enough to force a playoff at Travis Pointe Country Club.

''I kind of knew that 16 was the number and I mean, I give my best,'' Kim said. ''I make some good shots and birdies.''

Moriya Jutanugarn (65) finished third at 14 under.

Lee took a two-stroke lead into the final round, and that was her margin over playing partner Stacy Lewis before Lewis (71) bogeyed No. 7 and 8. Kim emerged as the biggest threat to Lee when she birdied four of the first five holes on the back nine. Lewis is playing four months' pregnant with her first child.

Kim and Lee were briefly tied at 15 under, but then Lee made a tap-in birdie on the par-5 14th, while Kim bogeyed 15. Lee saved par on 15 despite a wayward drive into a bunker.

''I wasn't sure where I was score-wise then. That par 5 is reachable in two, so I think a lot of people would have made birdie there,'' Lee said. ''The next tee shot I just pulled into the bunker. ... I think that was really important for me to hole that par putt just to keep the momentum going.''

Lee had gone 38 consecutive holes without a bogey before making one on the par-4 17th. That, combined with Kim's birdie on 18, left the two golfers tied, but Lee still had the 18th to come.

Su Oh (68) and Lindy Duncan (69) finished at 13 under, and Megan Khang (67) was another stroke back. Lewis finished at 11 under along with Ariya Jutanugarn (69) and Danielle Kang (70).

Lewis birdied three of the first six holes, but Lee did as well.

''It's hard to get close when somebody does that,'' Lewis said. ''She played great all day and played solid. When she needed to make a par putt, she did, and didn't make any mistakes.''

Lee lost this event by one stroke last year. Shanshan Feng, the 2017 winner , finished tied for 21st this time.

The LPGA has had a different winner in each of its 13 tournaments this year. The U.S. Women's Open starts Thursday at Shoal Creek.

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Spieth: Improvement is 'right around the corner'

By Al TaysMay 27, 2018, 10:50 pm

Not that Dallas native Jordan Spieth didn't enjoy the two-week home game that is the AT&T Byron Nelson and the Fort Worth Invitational - he certainly did. But he's eager to get out of town, too.

"It was a great showing these last couple weeks by the fans," Spieth said after closing with a 2-under 68, a 5-under total and a T-32 finish. "Obviously extremely appreciative here in DFW. Wish I could do more. These couple weeks can be a bit taxing, and it's awesome to kind of have that support to carry you through.

"So, you know, I had a great time these couple weeks on and off the golf course as I always do, but I'm also really excited to kind of get out of town and kind of be able to just go back to the room and have nothing to do at night except for get ready to play the next day."


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


Spieth will have that experience this coming week in Dublin, Ohio, site of the Memorial. He's hopeful of improving on his T-21, T-32 finishes the past two weeks, and he thinks the main thing holding him back - his putting - is ready for a turnaround.

"I think good things are about to come," he said. "I feel a good run coming for the second half of the season. Today was - each day I've felt better and better with the wedges and the putter and the short game; today was no different. My only bogey being just kind of trying to do too much on a par-5; 3-wood into the hazard.

"So, you know, I'm getting into where I'm not making bogeys, and then soon - the not making bogeys is great, and soon I'll get back to the five, six birdies around and shoot some low rounds.

"So I know it's right around the corner."

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Broadhurst fires 63 to easily win Senior PGA

By Associated PressMay 27, 2018, 10:45 pm

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. – Paul Broadhurst wishes he had played this well in his 23 years on the European Tour.

''I know a lot more about my swing now and I guess you get that with age and experience,'' the 52-year-old Englishman said after shooting an 8-under 63 on Sunday to win the Senior PGA Championship by four strokes and match the best 72-hole score in tournament history.

Broadhurst finished at 19-under 265 at Harbor Shores for his second senior major victory. The 63 was the best fourth-round score by a winner. Rocco Mediate also shot 19 under at Harbor Shores in 2016.

Also the 2016 British Senior Open winner, Broadhurst led the field with 26 birdies and passed third-round co-leaders Tim Petrovic and Mark McCarron with a 4-under 31 on the back nine.

Petrovic was second after a 69. McCarron had a 70 to tie for third at 14 under with Jerry Kelly (65).


Full-field scores from the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship


Broadhurst earned a career-high $585,000 for his fourth PGA Tour Champions victory and moved to the top of the money list. He won six times on the European Tour, was a 1991 Ryder Cup player for Europe and has three European Senior Tour victories.

''It was really a special week,'' he said. ''It got a little bit tense out there. I knew I was playing well but I didn't seem to making any progress against Tim Petrovic. He was side-by-side on the back nine it seemed.''

He learned his lead was three strokes standing on the 18th tee when his caddie asked a television announcer.

''So we put my driver away and reached for the rescue club,'' he said. ''If I made a 5 there that would be fine.''

Broadhurst started the round two strokes behind Petrovic and McCarron, birdied the first hole and was tied with Petrovic for the lead by the turn. He took his first lead with a birdie on the 12th hole, led by two after 16 and birdied the final two holes, including a dramatic 40-foot putt for birdie at the 18th hole.

''I guess it would have been a bit of anti-climax if I would have three-putted the last green, but that would have given Tim a chance of holing his second shot,'' he said. ''I actually spoke to my caddie about that going down the last - we don't want to three-putt and five him the opportunity because stranger things have happened in golf. To see it go in the middle of the hole was just a special feeling.''

Petrovic said missed birdie putts on Nos. 7 and 8 were costly, but it might not have mattered with the way Broadhurst was playing.

''In hindsight it was all for naught,'' he said. ''He was so far ahead of us. Hat's off the guy. It was a great week - we just got beat. When he made the putt on 18 ahead of us I almost started clapping in the fairway and waving a white towel. It was well-deserved. That was great playing. He won the championship for sure.''

Broadhurst shot 72 in the first round, started rolling in putts with a 66 in the second round and was 15 under on the weekend. In addition to the leading 26 birdies, he topped the putts per greens in regulations numbers for the tournament as well with a 1.574 average.

''I wasn't aware I made that many birdies,'' he said. ''That's pretty impressive around this course.''

He said his game has long been unpredictable.

''I'm not blessed with a consistent swing like Bernhard Langer, but when it's on, it works,'' he said. ''If I'm putting well, then anything can happen, really.''