Cut Line: Main characters

By Rex HoggardOctober 14, 2011, 9:00 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Count this Fall Series as a victory for unintended consequences, not that tournament organizers from San Martin, Calif., to Lake Buena Vista, Fla., are lamenting their good fortune.

For the first time since 2003 the season-long money race – the preferred measure of success in golf before points became all the rage a few years back – will come down to the final event. It has become a Fall Series to remember, not that many recall previous editions.

From Tiger Woods’ fall cameo last week in California to Luke Donald and Webb Simpson’s impending cash title bout, the little series that couldn’t finally delivered.

Made Cut

Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic. Chances are Donald was going to play Disney all along, he just wanted Simpson to make the first move. Classic match play.

When Simpson, who trails Donald by $69,000 on the money list, opened with a 7-under 63 on Thursday at the McGladrey Classic, Donald’s choice was clear – if he wanted to make history and win both the PGA Tour and European Tour’s cash crowns he’d have to play Disney. Simpson followed the Englishman onto the commitment list Friday afternoon setting up a rare showdown.

Just once since 1990 has the money list lead changed hands in the final week of the season when Tom Lehman won the 1996 Tour Championship and overtook Phil Mickelson by $82,000.

It’s nothing short of windfall for the Fall Series, which has been downsized from seven events in 2007 to four this season and faces a difficult economic reality on the post-Tour Championship schedule.

“It shows the value of the Fall Series,” Disney tournament director Kevin Weickel said. Open. The six-hole playoff was solid stuff, but there is no escaping the value of a tie for 30th place. That’s where Woods finished at CordeValle, not that it mattered to the masses who trailed his every move last week.

Ratings for the broadcast were up 165 percent over last year, and even the media attention created by Sunday’s wrangle with infamous hot dog hurler Brandon Kelly was a marketing type’s perfect incident – no injuries, plenty of exposure.

The proved that even a struggling Woods can carry an event and has ignited a familiar debate.

“That’s why I’ve always been a proponent of the one-in-four rule (which would require players to participate in every Tour stop at least once every four years),” said one player at the McGladrey Classic. “Imagine if the folks at John Deere knew they were going to get Tiger once over the course of a (four-year) contract? That’d be huge.”

You won’t find anyone at Frys that would disagree.

Tweet of the week I: @LukeDonald “There was never really a decision to be made, I have a chance of making history. See you all at Disney next week. #bringiton”

Trash talk Twitter style.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Zack Miller. Although the Tour rookie faded on Friday, his opening 63 at Sea Island Resort was his first silver lining in months and exposed the assembled scribes to one of the game’s sneaky-good interviews.

When asked about a particularly solid stretch early Thursday (Nos. 13-16) which he played in 5 under, the self-deprecating stylist described his birdie at the 13th hole: “I hit to a foot, and that's right around the range where I can get it almost every time,” he deadpanned.

Miller also chronicled his time on the Korean Tour: “They provided caddies for you, and they're all women, so it was a little different. It was kind of nice. We didn't talk much, but it was actually quite enjoyable.”

Good guy that Miller, but he may be taking that “show up, shut up and keep up” thing a tad too far.

Tweet of the week: @elkpga (Steve Elkington) “Tim Finchem’s World Golf events, FedEx Cup has washed out everything great about following the Tour . . . (Player of the Year), Vardon Trophy, money winner.”

Missed Cut

Almost famous. It was over before the processed meat hit the putting surface, a surreal moment followed in short order by a quick surrender. Brandon Kelly, 31, said he was motivated to charge onto the seventh green at CordeValle last Sunday and toss a hot dog in Woods’ direction because of the movie “Drive.” Kelly may have missed the point of that movie.

Kelly was quickly carted off by authorities who charged the California resident with a misdemeanor because of the lack of alcohol involved, an aggravating element by any measure in Cut Line’s book.

It’s the lack of alcohol, and presence of premeditation, that concerns your correspondent. A drunken lapse we can accept, an elaborate scheme is concerning. Today it’s a hot dog, tomorrow you’re dealing with flying Italian sausages and assorted lunch meats. Where does it all end?

Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic II. Sponsor exemptions, particularly for late-season events, are delicate, and often dubious, decisions. Tournament officials must balance the competing interest of the player with the needs of the tournament. However, Disney’s choice to grant Tom Lehman a freebie into next week’s finale is as senseless as it is surprising.

Although one of the game’s most well-spoken and engaging pros, Lehman is a part-time PGA Tour player at best having participated in just four events this season as he makes his way on the Champions Tour.

In Disney’s defense Lehman is more of an attraction than an Adam Hardwin or Bud Cauley, a pair of up and comers attempting to play their way onto the Tour, or any number of regulars vying to stay inside the top 125, but it’s not exactly a bulletproof choice when it comes to the competitive integrity of an event.

Sponsors spend a lot of money for those exemptions, we just wish they spent more time thinking about who they give them to.

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Football coach hates golf: Don't need practice swearing

By Jason CrookApril 20, 2018, 10:15 pm

Some football coaches are a little more talkative than others. On one side of the spectrum, there's Bill Belichick. On the other sits Washington State football coach Mike Leach.

Leach always delivers the goods, and when asked recently if he liked golf, he didn't hold back:

As wrong as the 57-year-old is on the topic (golf is awesome), the man makes some hilarious points:

• “It’s boring. I don’t care where that ball goes.”

• "Golfers are always practicing their swing. But you know what I never did? I never practice fishing in my living room.”

• "They'll line up over the ball and they'll say they're going to do something that you can't do with a sniper rifle and a scope, but they're going to do it with a stick and a ball."

• “Golf’s pretty much for people that don’t swear effectively enough or need practice. And so there are people that need golf, and I don’t think I do.”

So in conclusion, it's confirmed: Mike Leach - not a golf guy.

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Quiros takes 1-shot lead in Morocco

By Associated PressApril 20, 2018, 8:22 pm

RABAT, Morocco - Alvaro Quiros shot a solid 2-under 70 in windy conditions to push into a one-shot lead after two rounds of the Trophee Hassan II in Morocco on Friday.

Quiros fought the elements, carding seven birdies and five bogeys to move to 7 under overall and take the outright lead at the halfway point of the European Tour event.

The Spaniard was one clear of Andrew Dodt, who moved into contention with a 4-under 68 at the Royal Golf Dar Es Salam course. Dodt dropped two shots in his first six holes but the Australian recovered from that shaky start to collect four birdies and an eagle.

Full-field scores from the Trophee Hassan II

Erik van Rooyen of South Africa was another shot back in third on 5 under after his 71.

Bradley Dredge of Wales, who shared the first-round lead with Quiros, slipped off the pace with a 1-over 73. He's tied for fourth with Austin Connelly of Canada (71), 4 under par and three shots behind Quiros.

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Bogey-free Moore shares Valero lead

By Will GrayApril 20, 2018, 8:20 pm

Amid the swirling winds on a difficult track at the Valero Texas Open, Ryan Moore has yet to blink.

Moore was one of only two players among the 156-man field to go bogey-free during the opening round at TPC San Antonio, and he's now the only player still boasting a clean scorecard after a second-round 67 that included five birdies and the rest pars. At 9 under, the veteran shares the lead with Zach Johnson and was three shots clear of any other player at the end of the morning wave.

"Really, around this golf course what matters is the right distance," Moore told reporters. "You can get in some pretty tough spots if you're long and short. So I kind of hit it the right distance all day, gave myself plenty of good birdie opportunities and didn't stress myself out too much with too many up-and-downs."

While many players struggle to find a true offseason, Moore took nearly three months off between starts at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba and Waste Management Phoenix Open. During that time he shed nearly 20 pounds thanks to changes to his diet and teamed up with a new swing coach, Drew Steckel, in December.

The results have been solid if not spectacular, as Moore tied for fifth at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and finished T-16 last week at the RBC Heritage.

"It's been solid golf, especially the last few weeks. I haven't got a ton out of it," Moore said. "The putter just wasn't there. So this week, just got a little more comfortable with the putter and knocked a few putts in that kind of matter early in my rounds, and it's going in. That's kind of what's been missing lately."

Moore had a breakthrough season in 2016 that included his victory at the John Deere Classic and spot on the Ryder Cup team, but he hasn't sniffed career win No. 6 since a T-3 finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions 16 months ago. Should he keep a clean card this weekend in San Antonio, his chances to end that victory drought appear bright.

"I played some really nice golf yesterday, I just controlled the ball nicely all the way around and was bogey-free yesterday, so thought, 'Let's go try and do that again,'" Moore said. "So to play in tough, windy conditions, to go bogey-free (again), it was some good solid golf."

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Former champ Z. Johnson surges at Valero

By Will GrayApril 20, 2018, 7:31 pm

Midway through his opening round at the Valero Texas Open, Zach Johnson appeared far closer to a missed cut than a spot on the leaderboard.

Johnson initially struggled in the winds at TPC San Antonio, playing his first 13 holes in 3 over. But he eagled No. 14 and closed with three more birdies to post a 2-under 70, then went unconscious during a second-round 65 where he made six birdies over his first 10 holes.

It added up to a 9-under total at the halfway point, and instead of packing his bags the two-time major champ now shares the lead with Ryan Moore.

"You just never know. That's the beauty of this game," Johnson told reporters. "I didn't have anything going putting-wise. I felt like I was hitting some solid shots and wasn't getting rewarded, and you've just got to stay in it. You've got to persevere, grind it out, fight for pars. Shoot, I made some good pars all while being 3 over. You just never know."

Johnson won this event in both 2008 and 2009, but that was when it was held across town at La Cantera Golf Club. Since the switch to TPC San Antonio in 2010, he has only one top-10 finish and two missed cuts, including last year's early exit with consecutive rounds of 74.

But Friday he played like a man unaware of the venue shift, with four straight birdies on Nos. 12-15 and a hole-out eagle from the greenside bunker on the par-4 fifth hole. His closing bogey on No. 9 was his first dropped shot in the last 25 holes.

"The confidence is there, and when you can step on the tee with this kind of wind, you trust your clubs and trust your ball, that's pretty important," Johnson said. "I felt good. It was hard, I'm not going to deny that. That was one of the better 27-hole stretches that I've had in a long time."

Johnson's 65 was his first sub-70 score since an opening-round 69 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, a span of 12 stroke-play rounds. The veteran has made every cut in 11 starts this season, but his T-8 finish at the RSM Classic in November remains his only top-10 finish.

"I felt really good coming into the week," Johnson said. "Confidence was there, it just wasn't showing up on the scorecard."