Cut Line: PGA task force step in right direction

By Rex HoggardOctober 10, 2014, 4:37 pm

In this season-opening edition of Cut Line, the PGA of America embraces change for the Ryder Cup, Jarrod Lyle endears himself to even more fans and officials at the Open err with a missing exemption.

Made Cut

Ryder Cup reclamation. As bad as the U.S. Ryder Cup team’s five-point loss at Gleneagles may have been there is a measure of solace to be drawn from that losing legacy.

Earlier this week it was revealed that the PGA of America is creating a task force to examine every inch of the Ryder Cup process, from how captains and players are selected to the schedule of events during the matches.

“Basically we are giving the task force a blank canvas on all things on the Ryder Cup to give the PGA some input,” PGA president Ted Bishop told “The PGA is willing to take a step back and listen to some people that are involved in the process.”

The task force, which will be announced within the next week, will include former and current players, former captains and PGA officials; and numerous sources have indicated the blue-ribbon panel could include the likes of Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Paul Azinger.

If Gleneagles turns out to be rock bottom for the American side the silver lining will be it prompted some much needed change.

The survivor. Jarrod Lyle gave golf fans reason No. 326 to admire his persistence as well as his play.

Lyle returned to the PGA Tour this week following a second bout with leukemia thanks to a 6-under 66 at Monday’s qualifying event. The Australian birdied the second extra hole to earn his first PGA Tour start in 29 months.

“I was getting a little emotional on Tuesday just talking to guys on the range and thanking everyone for their support,” Lyle told “Hopefully, I will be a little better than I was in Melbourne (where he made his competitive return at the Australian Masters late last year).”

That Lyle didn’t receive a sponsor exemption into the Open defies logic (see Missed Cut below). That the man who has endured numerous bouts with chemotherapy and a bone-marrow transplant returned to the big leagues in competitive style is simply apropos.

Tweet of the week: @Oliver_Wilson “It’s starting to sink in that I actually won the Dunhill Links (Championship). Keep believing people, anything is possible.”

For Wilson, one of the game’s most likeable players, it may take some additional time to fully sink in that he finally found the winner’s circle. The Dunhill was his 181st start on the European Tour and his first victory on the circuit.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (DMF)

Leaving the swoosh. News this week that Cindy Davis is stepping down as president of Nike Golf sent a ripple through the equipment sector.

Golf executives come and go, but Davis’ tenure at Nike Golf was all at once dynamic and deliberate.

During an interview with Davis earlier this year she explained the nuances of balancing growth with sustainability, and under the 52-year-old’s leadership Nike Golf has delivered profitable growth every year since 2009, according to Nike executives.

Davis was also the first female to take the helm of a major golf equipment company and led many initiatives at Nike Golf, most recently the high profile signing of Rory McIlroy to a multi-year endorsement contract.

But then bringing the world No. 1 into the swoosh fold may turn out to be low-hanging fruit compared with the void the iconic brand must now fill to replace Davis.

Tweet of the week II: @PaulAzinger “(Question for Ian Poulter) With (the Ryder Cup) only two years away, are you shaking in your skates at the prospect of losing RC 2016?”

Poulter’s response on Thursday’s “Morning Drive” was, “Bring it on.” We love ‘Zinger’s passion for the matches, but let’s not poke the bear just yet. Just ask Michael Jordan.

Missed Cut

Sponsor enigma. It is the most difficult job a tournament director may have and most players will concede that receiving a sponsor exemption is a luxury not a right.

But it’s hard not to Monday morning quarterback the decision by officials at this week’s Open for not offering an exemption to Lyle, the feel-good story of the young season.

The two-time cancer survivor requested an exemption but was turned down. Instead, officials went with the likes of Andy Miller, who made his last Tour start in 2003 and is the son of tournament host Johnny Miller, for one of their exemptions.

For his part Lyle, who earned a spot in the field via Monday qualifying, took the high road.

“I know it’s just the way these things work,” Lyle said. “I would have loved to have got (an exemption) but I went and did the next best thing.”

There are a lot of reasons tournament directors dole out exemptions, but when Lyle’s journey, and the exposure it is sure to deliver, isn’t good enough to rate a spot in the field it may be time to take a new look at an old system.

Breaking bad. When Heath Slocum set out at 10:15 a.m. (ET) for Day 1 at the Open it marked the end of an offseason that lasted exactly 24 days.

Yeah, it’s opening day ...

Of all the pieces that fell into place when the Tour transitioned to its split-calendar schedule last season, the absence of anything even close to a true offseason remains the square peg on the circuit’s board full of circular holes.

“It’s just so quick to restart after the Ryder Cup,” Matt Kuchar said this week. “It doesn’t feel like there’s any break. A one-week break is not a break.”

If absence makes fans’ hearts grow fonder then the Tour is in danger of running afoul of another cliché – familiarity could indeed breed contempt.

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S.Y. Kim leads Kang, A. Jutanugarn in Shanghai

By Associated PressOctober 19, 2018, 10:24 am

SHANGHAI  -- Sei Young Kim led the LPGA Shanghai by one stroke at the halfway point after shooting a 5-under-par 67 in the second round on Friday.

Kim made six birdies, including four straight from the sixth hole, to move to a 10-under 134 total. Her only setback was a bogey on the par-4 15th.

Kim struggled in the first half of the year, but is finishing it strong. She won her seventh career title in July at the Thornberry Creek Classic, was tied for fourth at the Women's British Open, and last month was runner-up at the Evian Championship.

''I made huge big par putts on 10, 11, 12,'' Kim said on Friday. ''I'm very happy with today's play.''

Danielle Kang (68) and overnight leader Ariya Jutanugarn (69) were one shot back.

Buick LPGA Shanghai: Articles, photos and videos

''I like attention. I like being in the final group. I like having crowds,'' Kang said. ''It's fun. You work hard to be in the final groups and work hard to be in the hunt and be the leader and chasing the leaders. That's why we play.''

She led into the last round at the Hana Bank Championship last week and finished tied for third.

Brittany Altomare had six birdies in a bogey-free round of 66, and was tied for fourth with Bronte Law (68) and Brittany Lincicome (68).

Angel Lin eagled the par-5 17th and finished with the day's lowest score of 65, which also included six birdies and a lone bogey.

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'Caveman golf' puts Koepka one back at CJ Cup

By Associated PressOctober 19, 2018, 10:12 am

JEJU ISLAND, South Korea – Brooks Koepka, recently named the PGA Tour Player of the Year, gave himself the perfect opportunity to become the No. 1 player in the world when he shot a 7-under par 65 to move to within one shot of the lead in the CJ Cup on Friday.

At the Nine Bridges course, the three-time major champion made an eagle on his closing hole to finish on 8-under par 136 after two rounds, just one stroke behind Scott Piercy, who was bogey-free in matching Koepka's 65.

With the wind subsiding and the course playing much easier than on the opening day when the scoring average was 73.26, 44 players – more than half the field of 78 – had under-par rounds.

Overnight leader Chez Reavie added a 70 to his opening-round 68 to sit in third place at 138, three behind Piercy. Sweden's Alex Noren was the other player in with a 65, which moved him into a tie for fourth place alongside Ian Poulter (69), four out of the lead.

The best round of the day was a 64 by Brian Harman, who was tied for sixth and five behind Piercy.

Full-field scores from the CJ Cup

CJ Cup: Articles, photos and videos

The 28-year-old Koepka will move to the top of the world rankings when they are announced on Monday if he wins the tournament.

Thomas, playing alongside Koepka, matched Koepka's eagle on the last, but that was only for a 70 and he is tied for 22nd place at 1 under.

Koepka's only bogey was on the par-5 ninth hole, where he hit a wayward tee shot. But he was otherwise pleased with the state of his ''caveman golf.''

''I feel like my game is in a good spot. I feel like the way I played today, if I can carry that momentum into Saturday and Sunday, it will be fun,'' Koepka, winner of the U.S. Open and the PGA Championship, said.

''My game is pretty simple. I guess you can call it like caveman golf – you see the ball, hit the ball and go find it again. You're not going to see any emotion just because I'm so focused, but I'm enjoying it.''

Piercy, who has fallen to No. 252 in the world ranking despite winning the Zurich Classic earlier this year with Billy Horschel – there are no world ranking points for a team event – was rarely out of position in a round in which he found 13 of 14 fairways off the tee and reached 16 greens in regulation.

''Obviously, the wind was down a little bit and from a little bit different direction, so 10 miles an hour wind versus 20s is quite a big difference,'' said Piercy, who is looking for his first individual PGA Tour win since the Barbasol Championship in July 2015.

''It was a good day. Hit a couple close and then my putter showed up and made some putts of some pretty good length.''

Australia's Marc Leishman, winner last week at the CIMB Classic in Kuala Lumpur, shot a 71 and was seven behind. Paul Casey's 73 included a hole-in-one on the par-3 seventh hole and the Englishman is nine behind Piercy.

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Koepka primed for CJ Cup win and world No. 1

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 19, 2018, 6:00 am

Brooks Koepka wants a 2-for-1 at the CJ Cup. If he can collect his second non-major PGA Tour victory he can become world No. 1 for the first time in his career.

He’s in great position to accomplish his goal.

Koepka eagled the par-5 18th en route to a 7-under 65 in the second round at Nine Bridges in Juju Island, South Korea. At 8 under par, he is one back of 36-hole leader Scott Piercy (65).

"Obviously the wind didn't blow. It was a different golf course than it was yesterday, you were able to take advantage of these par 5s," said Koepka, who opened in 71 on Day 1. "Felt like it was a lot more gettable. I putted so well, great ball-striking day, great putting day and very pleased with it."

Koepka, currently ranked third in the world, began the day three shots off the lead, but rapidly ascended the leaderboard. He birdied four of his first eight holes before finding trouble at the ninth. Koepka hooked his tee shot out of bounds, but the ninth is a par 5 and he was able to salvage bogey.

Full-field scores from the CJ Cup

CJ Cup: Articles, photos and videos

Current Official World Golf Ranking

That was his only dropped shot of the day.

The reigning Tour Player of the Year birdied the 12th and 14th holes in his bid to keep pace with Piercy. Koepka was two back as he played his final hole, where he knocked his second shot to 10 feet. He deftly converted the eagle effort to tie Piercy and earn a spot in Saturday’s final twosome. Piercy later pulled a shot ahead with a birdie at the ninth, his final hole of the day.

Koepka has officially won four PGA Tour events, but three of those are majors (2017, ’18 U.S. Open; 2018 PGA). His lone non-major win was the 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open.

"Just keep doing what I'm doing," Koepka said of his plan for the final two rounds. "I'm hitting it well and making putts. I felt like I probably could have shot about 7, 8 under on the front side there, missed a couple. You know, doing everything right and that's what you've got to do and hopefully this wind stays away."

He can still reach world No. 1 with a solo second place, assuming Justin Thomas, currently world No. 4, doesn’t win this week.

That will take a mighty weekend effort by the defending champ.

Thomas also eagled the 18th hole to go from 1 over to 1 under. He shot 2-under 70 in the second round and is seven shots off the lead.

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'Go in'? Yes, JT wants an ace at the par-4 14th

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 19, 2018, 5:11 am

Justin Thomas didn’t hesitate after hitting his tee shot on the 353-yard, par-4 14th in Round 2 of the CJ Cup.

“Go in,” he immediately said.

“Please go in,” he added.

Thomas’ tee shot was on a great line, but it landed just short of the green. Surprisingly, it took three more shots for his ball to "go in." After birdies on Nos. 12 and 13, Thomas parred the 14th.