Cut Line: Lyle continues to inspire in Web.com return

By Rex HoggardJuly 25, 2014, 4:05 pm

In the lull between major championship storms, we search for new ways to describe Jarrod Lyle’s inspiring return to golf, and a reason why Bubba Watson’s search history appears to be half empty.

Made Cut

Lyle’s legacy. In many ways it was like he’d never left.

For Jarrod Lyle, his opening 67 at the Midwest Classic on Thursday felt like old times, four birdies, 14 pars, that familiar welcoming smile.

There were no outward signs of the scars left by the graft-versus-host disease he will likely deal with the rest of his life, the byproduct of the stem cell transplant that allowed him to beat leukemia for the second time, or the hours of chemotherapy he had to endure.

It was the best possible start for Lyle, who began the first of three rehabilitation starts on the Web.com Tour this week as he prepares to return to the PGA Tour this fall for the first time since being diagnosed in early 2012.

“I always said through my treatment that if I never hit another golf shot I could walk away from the game and be happy," Lyle said. "I wasn't going to live or die by playing golf. I live and die by my family (wife Briony and daughter Lusi). It means the world to me to have them both here and supporting me in my golf again. I'll do anything for those two.”

Lyle’s fate as a professional golfer remains unknown, but his status as an inspiring tale was solidified long ago.

Pool party. For all those who continue to question the International Golf Federation’s decision to use 72-hole, individual stroke play as the format for the 2016 Olympic Games, this week’s International Crown will only rekindle that debate.

The first-year team event will include pool play the first three days with each team playing two best-ball matches against every country in its pool. The top two countries in each pool – plus one wild card – will advance to Sunday’s final round of singles play.

While the format may be on the Mensa side of confusing, it could create a few compelling match ups and even some rare Saturday drama. As for the Olympic dream, that ship – at least as it relates to the ’16 Games – has sailed. But it’s never too soon to start a campaign for the 2020 Games.


Tweet of the week: @bencranegolf (Ben Crane) “Being at a tournament and not starting in it is a new experience. Makes me love/appreciate the game more. Going to qualify outright next year.”

There are a lot of reasons to respect Crane’s decision to fly from Oregon to England for a chance to play in the Open Championship (which he did not). Perspective just makes it that much more endearing.


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Another Monty moment. European Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley may have been a consensus choice for many of his potential players, but for those of us who carry notebooks for a living there may never be another captain like Colin Montgomerie.

The outspoken Scot made the 2010 matches particularly entertaining thanks to a steady diet of juicy sound bites, and this week at the Senior Open Championship in Wales he gave the U.S. team some early bulletin board material.

“If (Bernhard) Langer and I were paired together in the foursomes, we’d feel we could bring a point home for Europe,” Montgomerie said. “We’d need to sit out the four-ball (matches) though – we’d be knackered.”

Considering Montgomerie and Langer’s solid play on the Champions Tour this season – they’ve combined to win five times, including the last two senior majors – perhaps they could make a game of it against America’s best.

The U.S. team may not like Monty’s take, but they can’t be surprised he would say it.


Missed Cut

Being Bubba. Considering the level of background noise and vitriol that permeates sports today it’s not surprising to discover a professional athlete who has elected to tune out.

“Sometimes you can get too much bad talk or negative talk where you think you're the worst golfer in the world. Next week I could probably win; this week I'll probably miss the cut. It fluctuates,” said Bubba Watson after explaining that he had removed the internet from his phone.

“I'm trying to stay away from negative and positive, just remain even keel. As long as my wife loves me and my child thinks daddy is the greatest, then I'm good to go.”

Cut Line often wonders why more players don’t follow a similar path. But where Watson drew a few double takes was when he was asked if he ever read the positive comments about him.

“There's not been one positive thing. I'm waiting on that one. Then I'll start reading. Well, I can't read yet, but I'll start,” he said.

Which prompted a quick Google search:

“He swings out of his shoes with a pink-shafted driver, his golf ball traveling distances that are awed and admired. Bubba Golf, it is called, often with disbelief and wonder.”
-ESPN.com, April 13, 2014

“This wasn’t Bubba golf as much as it was simply great golf.”
-Associated Press, Feb. 16, 2014 (following his victory at the Northern Trust Open)

“Even after Saturday’s 74 left him tied with Spieth, Watson remained unfazed on his way to a sixth PGA Tour. It seems Bubba has grown up.”
-GolfChannel.com, April 13, 2014

“Watson swings with an individuality and majesty that belongs with other mind-blowing athletic motions, like Tim (The Freak) Lincecum's pitching delivery or sprinter Usain Bolt's stride.”
-Golf Digest, August 2009

“For Watson, the tears pour because when blessings flow, he often asks the question, why? ... With gifts that great, the better question is, why not?”
-Golfweek.com, April 13, 2014

All of which makes your scribe wonder what exactly Watson was searching for before he nixed the Internet from his phone?

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Molinari moves to No. 6 in world with Open win

By Will GrayJuly 23, 2018, 12:31 pm

After breaking through for his first career major title, Francesco Molinari reached some rarified air in the latest installment of the Official World Golf Rankings.

The Italian's two-shot win at Carnoustie moved him up nine spots to No. 6 in the world, not surprisingly a new career high. But it's also a quick ascent for Molinari, who has now won three of his last six worldwide starts and was ranked No. 33 in the world after missing the cut at The Players Championship two months ago.

A share of second place helped Xander Schauffele jump from No. 24 to No. 18 in the updated standings, while the same result meant Kevin Kisner went from No. 33 to No. 25. Justin Rose and Rory McIlroy both went up one spot after T-2 finishes to No. 2 and No. 7, respectively - a new career high for Rose.

The drama in the rankings unfolded at No. 50, as Tiger Woods moved up 21 spots to exactly No. 50 following his T-6 finish. While some projections had him moving to 51st, Woods was able to sneak into the top 50 just in time to qualify for a return to the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, as the top 50 in the rankings both this week and next qualify for Akron.

That includes Zach Johnson, last year's runner-up who was not yet qualified but moved from No. 52 to No. 49 this week. It also includes Kevin Chappell, who went from 61st to 47th with a T-6 finish in Scotland.

Despite missing the cut at Carnoustie, Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1 for another week followed by Rose, Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm. Molinari is now at No. 6, with McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler and Jason Day rounding out the top 10.

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Simpson overtakes DeChambeau in Ryder Cup race

By Will GrayJuly 23, 2018, 12:09 pm

A T-12 finish at The Open allowed Webb Simpson to move past Bryson DeChambeau into the eighth and final automatic qualifying spot in the U.S. Ryder Cup points race with just three weeks to go.

Simpson finished the week at 3 under, five shots behind winner Francesco Molinari. Adding another strong result to his win at TPC Sawgrass and T-10 finish at the U.S. Open, he's now edged in front of DeChambeau by less than 41 points. But with players earning one point per $1,000 each of the next two weeks and 1.5 points per $1,000 at the PGA Championship, the race is far from over.

Jordan Spieth's T-9 finish strengthened his position at No. 6, as the top six players are essentially assured of qualifying automatically. Rickie Fowler held onto his spot at No. 7, while Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner both moved onto the bubble following T-2 finishes at Carnoustie. After a T-6 finish, Tiger Woods jumped from 31st to 20th.

Here's a look at the updated American standings, with the top eight after the PGA qualifying automatically and captain Jim Furyk adding four picks in September:

1. Brooks Koepka

2. Dustin Johnson

3. Patrick Reed

4. Justin Thomas

5. Bubba Watson

6. Jordan Spieth

7. Rickie Fowler

8. Webb Simpson

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9. Bryson DeChambeau

10. Phil Mickelson

11. Xander Schauffele

12. Matt Kuchar

13. Kevin Kisner

14. Tony Finau

15. Brian Harman

On the European side, Molinari was already in position to qualify automatically but is now assured of a spot on Thomas Bjorn's roster this fall. Fellow major champs Justin Rose and Rory McIlroy also solidified their footing with runner-up performances.

Here's a look at how things look for the Europeans, with the top four from each list after the PGA Championship qualifying automatically:

European Points

1. Francesco Molinari

2. Justin Rose

3. Tyrrell Hatton

4. Tommy Fleetwood

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Thorbjorn Olesen

Russell Knox

Eddie Pepperell

World Points

1. Jon Rahm

2. Alex Noren

3. Rory McIlroy

4. Paul Casey

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Matthew Fitzpatrick

Sergio Garcia

Ian Poulter

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Weather extends Barbasol to Monday finish

By Associated PressJuly 23, 2018, 12:25 am

NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - A thunderstorm has suspended the fourth round of the PGA Tour's Barbasol Championship until Monday morning.

Sunday's third stoppage of play at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came with the four leaders - Hunter Mahan, Robert Streb, Tom Lovelady and Troy Merritt at 18 under par - and four other contenders waiting to begin the round.

The tournament will resume at 7:30 a.m. on Monday. Lightning caused one delay, and play was stopped earlier in the afternoon to clear water that accumulated on the course following a morning of steady and sometimes-heavy rain.

Inclement weather has plagued the tournament throughout the weekend. The second round was completed Saturday morning after being suspended by thunderstorms late Friday afternoon.

The resumption will mark the PGA Tour's second Monday finish this season. Jason Day won the Farmers Insurance Open in January after darkness delayed the sixth playoff hole, and he needed just 13 minutes to claim the victory.

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Watch: Spectator films as Woods' shot hits him

By Will GrayJuly 23, 2018, 12:07 am

It was a collision watched by millions of fans on television, and one that came at a pivotal juncture as Tiger Woods sought to win The Open. It also gave Colin Hauck the story of a lifetime.

Hauck was among dozens of fans situated along the left side of the 11th hole during the final round at Carnoustie as the pairing of Woods and Francesco Molinari hit their approach shots. After 10 holes of nearly flawless golf, Woods missed the fairway off the tee and then pulled his iron well left of the target.

The ball made square contact with Hauck, who hours later tweeted a video showing the entire sequence - even as he continued to record after Woods' shot sent him tumbling to the ground:

The bounce initially appeared fortuitous for Woods, as his ball bounded away from thicker rough and back toward the green. But an ambitious flop shot came up short, and he eventually made a double bogey to go from leading by a shot to trailing by one. He ultimately shot an even-par 71, tying for sixth two shots behind Molinari.

For his efforts as a human shield, Hauck received a signed glove and a handshake from Woods - not to mention a firsthand video account that will be sure to spark plenty of conversations in the coming years.