Cut Line: A momentous week for golf

By Rex HoggardMay 20, 2016, 9:01 pm

IRVING, Texas – Golf hit for the cycle this week with news that Phil Mickelson has been cleared of any criminal activity in an SEC investigation, Muirfield Golf Club’s membership vote will cost the layout a foreseeable Open, and the world Nos. 2 and 3 remind the golf world that it’s not a one-horse race.

Made Cut

Objects are closer than they appear. It’s been a good week for those who savor parity.

After missing the cut at TPC Sawgrass, Jordan Spieth bounced back with rounds of 64-65 at the AT&T Byron Nelson for a share of the early lead on Friday

During the same news cycle, Rory McIlroy opened with rounds of 67-70 at the Irish Open and is just a stroke off the lead in his quest to win for the first time in 2016.

Jason Day ascended to a new level with his victory last week at The Players and solidified his stranglehold on the top spot in the Official World Golf Ranking, leading some to proclaim the Jason era upon us.

Less than a week later, Spieth and McIlroy proved yet again that golf is at its best when the top players are at their best. Turns out the guys that kept telling us they were close, really were.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Insider moments. It was an eventful week for Phil Mickelson.

On Wednesday, Lefty was named host of the CareerBuilder Challenge, taking over for former U.S. President Bill Clinton in an attempt by the PGA Tour to breathe new life into an event that is wedged into a difficult spot on the international schedule.

Less than 24 hours later, Mickelson was named a “relief defendant” in a Securities and Exchange Commission case against Las Vegas investor and gambler Billy Walters and Thomas Davis, the former chairman of Dean Foods.

Thursday’s filing was vindication of sorts for Mickelson, who agreed to pay back the money he earned ($931,000 plus interest) from his purchase of Dean Foods stock prior to an upcoming spin-off announcement.

“The complaint does not assert that Phil Mickelson violated the securities laws in any way. On that point, Phil feels vindicated,” Mickelson’s lawyer said in a statement. “At the same time, however, Phil has no desire to benefit from any transaction that the SEC sees as questionable.”

Few things can tarnish a reputation, particularly a reputation that has been as carefully crafted as Mickelson’s, like a white-collar crime allegation, but give Lefty credit for mitigating the damage.

Members only. Two hundred and seventy-one years of history are hard to ignore. Despite an avalanche of public opinion against them you have to acknowledge that the 36 percent of Muirfield Golf Club members who voted against allowing females to join the club have the right to run their private course however they see fit.

Yet while some viewed Thursday’s vote, which fell 14 votes shy of passing, to allow women members as a blow to a game that continues to struggle with an elitist reputation, it is the reaction that should give those who want the game to grow encouragement.

The R&A swiftly and decisively removed Muirfield from the Open rotation, sending a strong message to other clubs – most notably Royal Troon, which will host this year’s championship and also doesn’t allow female members.

The members' vote spoke loudly, but the R&A’s reaction made a much more meaningful statement.

Tweet of the week: @Beany25 (Catriona Matthew) “Embarrassed to be a Scottish women golfer from East Lothian after that decision.”

Thursday’s vote set social media abuzz, but Matthew’s take was the most poignant.

Missed Cut

Wentworth woes. Just when it seemed that only PGA Tour events were taking a hit this year because of the crowded golf calendar, the European Tour’s flagship event was beset by a series of high profile no-shows.

McIlroy opted not to play next week’s BMW PGA Championship after three consecutive weeks on the road, including this week’s Irish Open, which he is hosting.

On Thursday, Justin Rose announced he would miss the event at Wentworth because of a back issue, and Ernie Els told Cut Line that he is also skipping the event to spend time with his daughter, who recently celebrated her 17th birthday.

This season’s condensed schedule has taken a toll on the global golf calendar, not just those events inside the Lower 48.

The voice. For many golf fans around the world, Peter Alliss is the voice of golf, all of which makes his comments regarding Thursday’s members vote at Muirfield that much more baffling.

Alliss told The Telegraph, “The fact is if you talked to the wives of members of Muirfield they would be horrified at the prospect of being allowed to join.”

He went on to say that women members wouldn’t want to pay club fees and even suggested that an “open letter” sent to members prior to the vote was written by a woman.

Club officials said the open letter, which was signed by 33 members, likely led to the defeat of the proposal.

“The introduction of lady members is bound to create difficulties,” the letter read, according to The Telegraph. “They are likely over time to question our foursomes play, our match system, the uncompromising challenge our fine links present, our lunch arrangements. It will take a very special lady golfer to be able to do all the things that are expected of them.”

There is no shortage of reasons to question Muirfield’s all-male membership policy, but the most pressing question we have is what are they serving for lunch that the addition of females would ruin?

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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.”