Cut Line: Norman, Couples steal headlines during Tour Championship

By Rex HoggardSeptember 21, 2012, 9:09 pm

ATLANTA – Greg Norman and Fred Couples didn’t hit a shot this week at the Tour Championship – although the former seemed to have no problem taking a few swipes in East Lake’s direction – but the icons highlight this week’s playoff edition of Cut Line as the PGA Tour inches toward a FedEx finish that may leave some pining for a formula with less madness and more math.

Made Cut

Ror-ing away. Give the 23-year-old mop head credit for once again deftly sidestepping the question of whether he will play for the United Kingdom or Ireland in the 2016 Olympics, but it was his handling of Norman’s comments that lands Rory McIlroy on the correct side of this week’s cut.

The Intimidator – as Woods jokingly called him this week – once again proved to be the coolest head in the room when asked about the Shark’s take that Woods was intimidated by him, dismissing the idea if not the legend who suggested it.

“How can I intimidate Tiger Woods? I mean, the guy’s got 75 or 70-whatever (actually 74) PGA Tour wins, 14 majors … I mean, he’s been the biggest thing ever in our sport,” McIlroy smiled. “How could some little 23-year-old from Northern Ireland with a few wins come up and intimidate him? It’s just not possible.”

The Ulsterman has created an interesting dynamic atop the world order with his play, but it’s his refreshingly straightforward take on complicated subjects that is making him a fan favorite.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Freddie’s Hall call. Couples himself nailed it, dubbing his induction into the World Golf Hall of Fame a “popularity vote,” and given the historical litmus test his record of 15 PGA Tour titles and a major (1992 Masters) would suggest Mr. Cool has it right.

In short, Boom Boom is the prom king, an agelessly iconic figure who landed his spot in the Hall because of what he meant to the game, not necessarily what he did while he was playing it.

And how Couples, who didn’t receive the required 65 percent of the vote but was the only candidate to ballot better than 50 percent (51), was given the nod before Davis Love III, a 20-time Tour winner with one major who received just 38 percent of the vote, is a sad indictment on the system.

Couples’ inclusion also opens a Pandora's Box for future classes. If 15 and one is now the standard would that mean that Craig Stadler, 13 wins and a major, is destined for a spot in the Hall? What of Mark O’Meara, 16 and two, and Jim Furyk, 16 and one, and Corey Pavin, 15 and one?

Hall of Fame voting is never perfect, but the St. Augustine, Fla., institution is in danger of becoming the Hall of Good.

No FedEx Fix in sight. On this Tour commissioner Tim Finchem was clear, although strangely misguided.

Cut Line asked the commish on Wednesday at East Lake if he was at all uncomfortable with the possibility that McIlroy could win two of four playoff events, a major and finish second at the Tour Championship and still not win the FedEx Cup.

“I don't think we're uncomfortable with that phenomenon,” Finchem said. “You can't just perform here. You have to perform or the odds are very much stacked against you if you come in seeded low. The odds are very much helping you if you come in top 5. So that part of the structure we like.”

Can’t help but wonder what McIlroy will think of the “structure” on Sunday.

A “long” debate. With a decision looming from the U.S. Golf Association and the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews on the future of long putters Finchem was asked how the Tour would handle a potential change.

Although the commissioner seemed comfortable with how the deliberations were progressing he also stressed that he didn’t feel like a change was “imminent,” which would suggest that if the ruling bodies do alter the rules the change would not be implemented until the beginning of the next rules cycle (2016).

Finchem also said that he hadn’t had many talks with the Tour frat brothers about the potential adjustment, but that seems likely to change as we inch closer to a resolution.

“He will be getting a mouthful from the players,” one Tour type figured this week. “It could create a large and long discussion about two sets of rules (one for amateurs and one for professionals).”

Missed Cut

Shark and minnows. Greg Norman has never shied away from the occasional jab at Woods, the byproduct of an estrangement that stretches back more than a decade, but last week the Shark may have taken things a step too far.

“What I'm seeing is that Tiger's really intimidated by Rory,” Norman said. “When have you ever seen him intimidated by another player? Never.”

Neither Woods nor McIlroy wanted much to do with the debate but it was another legend who seemed to put the row in context.

“Quiet Greg, quiet. Down boy,” Jack Nicklaus told Washington D.C.’s ESPN 980. “I think Tiger had a pretty darn good year. It’s the first time he has gotten himself back in contention at the majors . . . Tiger has a lot of wins left in him.”

The only thing that seems to intimidate the 2012 Woods is the 2000 Woods. Well that and Ray Lewis.

Tweet of the week: @DanJenkinsGD (sports writing legend Dan Jenkins) “Greg Norman says Arnold (Palmer) passed the torch to Jack (Nicklaus), Jack passed it to him, he passed it to Tiger. There’s one exchange there I don’t recall.”

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Watch: Bubba casually hits flop shot over caddie's head

By Grill Room TeamMarch 22, 2018, 9:20 pm

We've seen this go wrong. Really wrong.

But when your end-of-year bonus is a couple of brand new vehicles, you're expected to go above and beyond every now and then.

One of those times came early Thursday at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, where Bubba Watson’s caddie Ted Scott let his boss hit a flop shot over his head.

It wasn’t quite Phil Mickelson over Dave Pelz, but the again, nothing is.

And the unique warm-up session paid off, as Watson went on to defeat Marc Leishman 3 and 2 to move to 2-0-0 in group play.

Hey, whatever works.

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Spieth explains why he won't play in a 'dome'

By Rex HoggardMarch 22, 2018, 9:01 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – No one at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play was as excited about Thursday’s forecast as Jordan Spieth.

Winds blew across Austin Country Club to 20 mph, which is typical for this time of year in Texas, and Spieth put in a typical performance, beating HaoTong Li, 4 and 2, to remain undefeated entering the final day of pool play.

The windy conditions were exactly what Spieth, who never trailed in his match, wanted. In fact, demanding conditions factor into how he sets his schedule.

“I have, and will continue to schedule tournaments away from a dome, because it's just unusual for me. I like having the feel aspect,” said Spieth, who attended the University of Texas and played Austin Country Club in college. “Places with no wind, where it's just driving range shots, it's just never been something I've been used to. So I don't really know what to do on them.”

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Full bracket | Scoring | Group standings

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Articles, photos and videos

Spieth used the CareerBuilder Challenge as an example. The Coachella Valley event rarely has windy conditions, and as a result he’s never played the tournament.

“I played in a dome in Phoenix, and I didn't strike the ball well there. Actually I've had quite a few this year, where we didn't have very windy conditions,” said Spieth, who will face Patrick Reed in his final pool play match on Friday. “I don't go to Palm Springs, never have, because of that. Look at where you can take weeks off and if they match up with places that potentially aren't the best for me, then it works out.”

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Curry jokes about Romo's 77: 'Got him by a stroke'

By Grill Room TeamMarch 22, 2018, 8:40 pm

This just in ... professional athletes are competitive. Even when they're playing their secondary sport.

Playing in the Corales Punta Cana Resort & Club Championship on a sponsor exemption Thursday, former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo started hot with an even-par 36 on his opening nine holes, but faded down the stretch to open with a 5-over 77.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle's Ron Kroichick, Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry couldn't help but crack a smile when informed of the score, saying, "I got him by a stroke."

Curry was referencing his brief foray into pro golf last August, when he shot back-to-back 4-over 74s at the's Ellie Mae Classic.

So just in case Romo needed another reason to go low tomorrow when he tees off at 1 p.m. in the second round, he's got one.

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Group standings at WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 22, 2018, 7:20 pm

Here are the group standings for pool play at the 2018 WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play Championship in Austin, Texas. The player with the most points in each pool advanced to Saturday's Round of 16 in Austin, Texas. Click here for scoring and click here for the bracket.

Group 1 Group 2 Group 3 Group 4
(1) D. Johnson: 0-2-0 (2) J. Thomas: 1-0-0 (3) J. Rahm: 0-1-1 (4) J. Spieth: 2-0-0
(32) K. Kisner: 0-0-1 (21) F. Molinari: 1-0-0 (28) K. Aphibarnrat: 2-0-0 (19) P. Reed: 2-0-0
(38) A. Hadwin: 1-0-1
(48) P. Kizzire: 0-1-0 (43) C. Reavie: 1-1-0 (34) H. Li: 0-2-0
(52) B. Wiesberger: 1-0-0
(60) L. List: 0-1-0 (63) K. Bradley: 0-1-1 (49) C. Schwartzel: 0-2-0
Group 5 Group 6 Group 7 Group 8
(5) H. Matsuyama: 1-0-0 (6) R. McIlroy: 1-1-0 (7) S. Garcia: 1-0-0 (8) J. Day: 1-0-0
(30) P. Cantlay: 0-1-0
(18) B. Harman: 0-0-1 (20) X. Schauffele: 1-0-0 (25) L. Oosthuizen: 1-0-0
(46) C. Smith: 1-0-0 (44) J. Vegas: 0-1-1 (41) D. Frittelli: 0-1-0 (42) J. Dufner: 0-1-0
(53) Y. Miyazato: 0-1-0 (51) P. Uihlein: 1-0-0 (62) S. Sharma: 0-1-0 (56) J. Hahn: 0-1-0
Group 9 Group 10 Group 11 Group 12
(9) T. Fleetwood: 1-1-0 (10) P. Casey: 2-0-0 (11) M. Leishman: 0-2-0 (12) T. Hatton: 1-0-0
(26) D. Berger: 0-2-0 (31) M. Fitzpatrick: 0-1-0 (23) B. Grace: 1-1-0 (22) C. Hoffman: 0-1-0
(33) K. Chappell: 1-1-0 (45) K. Stanley: 1-1-0 (35) B. Watson: 2-0-0 (36) B. Steele: 1-0-0
(58) I. Poulter: 2-0-0 (51) R. Henley: 0-1-0 (64) J. Suri: 1-1-0 (55) A. Levy: 0-1-0
Group 13 Group 14 Group 15 Group 16
(13) A. Noren: 2-0-0 (14) P. Mickelson: 1-1-0 (15) P. Perez: 0-0-1 (16) M. Kuchar: 1-0-1
(29) T. Finau: 2-0-0 (17) R. Cabrera Bello: 1-1-0 (24) G. Woodland: 0-0-1 (27) R. Fisher: 1-1-0
(39) T. Pieters: 0-2-0 (40) S. Kodaira: 0-2-0 (37) W. Simpson: 0-0-1 (47) Y. Ikeda: 1-1-0
(61) K. Na: 0-2-0 (59) C. Howell III: 2-0-0 (50) S.W. Kim: 0-0-1 (54) Z. Johnson: 0-1-1