Cut Line: For Nicklaus, family trumps all his achievements

By Rex HoggardMarch 27, 2015, 5:05 pm

The Golden Bear collects more golden moments, this time on Capitol Hill, while Cut Line examines the PGA Tour’s Saturday curse and a 54-hole title drought that has been two months in the making.

Made Cut                                                                                       

Mr. Nicklaus goes to Washington. Let’s just make it a cool 19 majors for the Golden Bear.

On Tuesday, Jack Nicklaus became the third golfer awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, the United States’ highest civilian honor, in the Capitol Rotunda.

Speaker of the House John Boehner called Nicklaus the “gold standard,” the Ohio State marching band performed and CBS Sports commentator Jim Nantz spoke of Nicklaus' win at the 1986 Masters, the last of his 18 major championships.

But it was Nicklaus’ five children and 22 grandchildren, who were all in attendance, who the World Golf Hall of Famer counted as his greatest accomplishment.

Nicklaus’ oldest son, Jack Nicklaus II, recalled a phone call the two had after the youngster had won a junior tournament.

“When I was done, there was a short silence and I thought it was about time to hang up,” remembered Nicklaus II. “Then he asked, ‘Jackie boy, would you like to know how your dad did? I just won the U.S. Open.’”

We measure our athletes by what they accomplish in the field of play – 18 majors, 73 PGA Tour titles. It’s telling that Nicklaus measures success with another set of numbers – five children, 22 grandchildren and one happy wife.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Blown saves. Like the New York Mets, the Tour is in desperate need of a closer.

It’s been two months since a 54-hole leader converted that advantage to victory, a run that dates back to Bill Haas at the Humana Challenge. Last Sunday Henrik Stenson, then the third-ranked player in the world, blew a two-stroke advantage through three days.

Ditto for Ryan Moore at the Valspar Championship, J.B. Holmes at the WGC-Cadillac Championship and Ian Poulter at the Honda Classic.

“They haven't played well enough. I'm not just a pretty face,” smiled Stenson when asked last Saturday about the 54-hole phenomenon.

Twenty-four hours later the Swede learned an even simpler explanation: Winning on the PGA Tour is hard.

“Steady improvement.” That was Notah Begay’s take on the progress Tiger Woods has made back home in South Florida the last few weeks.

Of course, whether that translates into a start at next month’s Masters, Begay couldn’t say, figuring his friend was “50-50” to play the year’s first major championship.

“I think his golf game as a whole is in a great place,” Begay said. “ I think it was good for him to take a step back, to reassess a variety of different things and do things on his timeline.”

Whether that timeline includes a drive down Magnolia Lane remains unknown to Begay, and probably even Woods.

Missed Cut

Don’t mess with ... Forget about the 31 players who failed to break 80, the handful (12) who were able to break par and even the 25 “others” (a score higher than double bogey) posted on Day 1 at the Valero Texas Open.

The only thing you need to know about Thursday’s action at TPC San Antonio could be summed up in 140 characters.

“I shot a million today but have to applaud the golf course set up. Mother Nature was in control today, but the golf course played fair,” tweeted Brian Harman, who actually shot a respectable 79 on a rough and wind-blown day.

The scoring split – the morning’s average was 78.61, nearly four strokes higher then the afternoon average (74.86) when the winds subsided slightly – supports Harman’s measured take.

Still, this is the same layout that played to a 73.286 scoring average and ranked as the eighth-toughest course on Tour last year. Hard but fair should be the goal of every tournament official, the trick is not letting that fine line become blurred by Mother Nature.

Tweet of the week: @JustinThomas34 (Justin Thomas) “As a positive at least I hit a 4-iron 315 [yards] out of a fairway bunker today. That’s about all I got. What a brutal day! #holywind”

Got to love Thomas’ half-full take after what was widely considered a half-empty day.

Selective enforcement. It’s one of the central themes behind Vijay Singh’s lawsuit against the Tour and the notion surfaced again last week after the circuit warned caddie Duane Bock that his shorts didn’t conform to the Tour’s dress code.

Bock, who caddies for Kevin Kisner, was told following the third round that his red shorts were verboten by a policy that states caddies, “are required to wear solid-colored khaki-style long pants . . . or solid-colored, knee-length tailored shorts.”

Bock told that he had no problem with officials policing what caddies wear, but that he would like to see more consistency in the enforcement of the policy.

On Friday, for example, Stenson’s caddie Gareth Lord wore a similar pair of red shorts and told that officials said nothing to him about it.

It’s this kind of selective enforcement that led some to question the Tour’s motives.

Bock is, after all, among 167 caddies who filed a class-action lawsuit against the Tour earlier this year claiming the circuit has engaged in restraint of trade and anticompetitive conduct involving the caddie bib.

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Watch: Moore does impressions of Tiger, Poults, Bubba

By Grill Room TeamJuly 16, 2018, 10:36 pm
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Johnson begins Open week as 12/1 betting favorite

By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 5:15 pm

Dustin Johnson heads into The Open as the top-ranked player in the world, and he's also an understandable betting favorite as he looks to win a second career major.

Johnson has not played since the U.S. Open, where he led by four shots at the halfway point and eventually finished third. He has three top-10 finishes in nine Open appearances, notably a T-2 finish at Royal St. George's in 2011.

Johnson opened as a 12/1 favorite when the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook first published odds for Carnoustie after the U.S. Open, and he remains at that number with the first round just three days away.

Here's a look at the latest odds on some of the other top contenders, according to the Westgate:

12/1: Dustin Johnson

16/1: Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose

20/1: Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood, Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm

25/1: Jason Day, Henrik Stenson, Tiger Woods

30/1: Sergio Garcia, Francesco Molinari, Paul Casey, Alex Noren, Patrick Reed

40/1: Hideki Matsuyama, Marc Leishman, Branden Grace, Tyrrell Hatton

50/1: Phil Mickelson, Ian Poulter, Matthew Fitzpatrick

60/1: Russell Knox, Louis Oosthuizen, Matt Kuchar, Bryson DeChambeau, Zach Johnson, Tony Finau, Bubba Watson

80/1: Lee Westwood, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Thomas Pieters, Xander Schauffele

100/1: Shane Lowry, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker, Ryan Fox, Thorbjorn Olesen

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Woods needs top-10 at Open to qualify for WGC

By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 4:34 pm

If Tiger Woods is going to qualify for the final WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club, he'll need to do something he hasn't done in five years this week at The Open.

Woods has won eight times at Firestone, including his most recent PGA Tour victory in 2013, and has openly stated that he would like to qualify for the no-cut event in Akron before it shifts to Memphis next year. But in order to do so, Woods will need to move into the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking after this week's event at Carnoustie.

Woods is currently ranked No. 71 in the world, down two spots from last week, and based on projections it means that he'll need to finish no worse than a tie for eighth to have a chance of cracking the top 50. Woods' last top-10 finish at a major came at the 2013 Open at Muirfield, where he tied for sixth.

Updated Official World Golf Ranking

There are actually two OWGR cutoffs for the Bridgestone, July 23 and July 30. That means that Woods could theoretically still add a start at next week's RBC Canadian Open to chase a spot in the top 50, but he has said on multiple occasions that this week will be his last start of the month. The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational will be played Aug. 2-5.

There wasn't much movement in the world rankings last week, with the top 10 staying the same heading into the season's third major. Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm. Defending Open champ Jordan Spieth is ranked sixth, with Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Tommy Fleetwood rounding out the top 10.

Despite taking the week off, Sweden's Alex Noren moved up three spots from No. 14 to No. 11, passing Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Paul Casey.

John Deere Classic champ Michael Kim went from No. 473 to No. 215 in the latest rankings, while South African Brandon Stone jumped from 371st to 110th with his win at the Scottish Open.

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Spieth takes familiar break ahead of Open defense

By Rex HoggardJuly 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – As his title chances seemed to be slipping away during the final round of last year’s Open Championship, Jordan Spieth’s caddie took a moment to remind him who he was.

Following a bogey at No. 13, Michael Greller referenced a recent vacation he’d taken to Mexico where he’d spent time with Michael Phelps and Michael Jordan and why he deserved to be among that group of singular athletes.

Spieth, who won last year’s Open, decided to continue the tradition, spending time in Cabo again before this week’s championship.

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“I kind of went through the same schedule,” Spieth said on Monday at Carnoustie. “It was nice to have a little vacation.”

Spieth hasn’t played since the Travelers Championship; instead he attended the Special Olympics USA Games earlier this month in Seattle with his sister. It was Spieth’s first time back to the Pacific Northwest since he won the 2015 U.S. Open.

“I went out to Chambers Bay with [Greller],” Spieth said. “We kind of walked down the 18th hole. It was cool reliving those memories.”

But most of all Spieth said he needed a break after a particularly tough season.

“I had the itch to get back to it after a couple weeks of not really working,” he said. “It was nice to kind of have that itch to get back.”