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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Murray fixes swing flaw, recovers momentum

By Associated PressApril 20, 2018, 2:24 am

SAN ANTONIO - Grayson Murray fixed a flaw in his swing and hit the ball well enough that blustery conditions weren't an issue for him Thursday in the Valero Texas Open.

Coming off a missed cut at Hilton Head last week, Murray made seven birdies for a 5-under 67 and a one-shot lead. His only mistake was a double bogey from a greenside bunker on the par-3 seventh hole.

''Just the fact I did give myself enough opportunities today for birdie, it took a lot of pressure off,'' Murray said.

Of the five players at 68, only Chesson Hadley played in the morning side of the draw, and he called it among his best rounds of the year because of gusts. The wind died in the afternoon and scoring improved slightly on the AT&T Oaks Course at the TPC San Antonio. Keegan Bradley, Ryan Moore, Billy Horschel and Matt Atkins each posted 68. Horschel and Moore played bogey-free.

''Struck the ball really well, something that we've been working hard on,'' Horschel said. ''Could have been better, yeah. I didn't really make anything out there today. But I'm happy with it.''

Sergio Garcia, who consulted Greg Norman on the design of the course, played the Texas Open for the first time since 2010 and shot a 74. Adam Scott failed to make a birdie in his round of 75. Scott is at No. 59 in the world and needs to stay in the top 60 by May 21 to be exempt for the U.S. Open.

Harris English was in the group at 69, while two-time Texas Open champion Zach Johnson, Nick Watney and Brandt Snedeker were among those at 70. Johnson saved his round by going 5 under over his final five holes, starting with a 12-foot eagle putt on the par-5 14th hole. He birdied the last three.

Full-field scores from the Valero Texas Open

Valero Texas Open: Articles, photos and videos

Murray was coming off a pair of top 15s at Bay Hill and the Houston Open when his game got away from him last week in the RBC Heritage, and he shot 74-70 to miss the cut. He got that sorted out in the five days between teeing it up in San Antonio.

He said he was coming down too steep, which meant he would flip his hands and hit a sharp draw or pull out of it and hit it short and right.

''I was hitting each club 10 yards shorter than I normally do, and you can't play like that because your caddie is trying to give you a number and a club, and you keep hitting these bad shots or keep coming up short,'' Murray said. ''I got back to the basics with the setup and the takeaway, got my club in a better position at the top, which kind of frees my downswing. Then I can start going at it.''

Even so, Murray thought he wasted his good start - three birdies in his first six holes - when his bunker shot at No. 7 came out with no spin and rolled off the green into a deep swale. He hit his third short to about 7 feet, but missed the putt and took double bogey.

''I would have loved to limit that to a bogey because bogeys don't really kill you - doubles are the ones that now you've got to have an eagle or two birdies to come back with, and out here it's kind of tough to make birdies,'' Murray said. ''But I kept my head. My caddie keeps me very positive out there, that's why I think we could finish 4 under the last nine holes.''

Only 34 players in the 156-man field managed to break par.

Horschel missed four birdie chances inside 18 feet on the back nine. What pleased him the most was the way he struck the ball, particularly after his tie for fifth last week at the RBC Heritage. Horschel was one shot behind going into the last round and closed with a 72.

But he's all about momentum, and he can only hope this is the start of one of his runs. Horschel won the FedEx Cup in 2014 when he finished second and won the final two playoff events.

''I'm a big momentum player. I've got to get the train moving forward,'' he said. ''I've always been a guy who gets on a little roll, get that train moving and jump in that winner's circle.''

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LPGA back in L.A.: Inbee Park leads by 1

By Associated PressApril 20, 2018, 1:53 am

LOS ANGELES - Inbee Park's flirtation with retirement is in the rear-view mirror.

Backed by a large contingent of South Korean fans, Park shot a 5-under 66 for a one-shot lead Thursday in the opening round of the HUGEL-JTBC LA Open in the LPGA's return to Los Angeles after a 13-year absence.

Showers ended shortly before Park's threesome, including second-ranked Lexi Thompson, teed off at windy Wilshire Country Club just south of Hollywood.

Using a new putter, Park birdied four consecutive holes on the back nine before a bogey on the par-4 17th. She quickly recovered and rolled in birdie putts on the second and fifth holes to finish off her round.

''I never played a tournament outside Korea having this much Korean supporters out,'' Park said. ''I almost feel like I'm playing back home. It's almost like a little Korea.''

That applies to the food, too, with nearby Koreatown's restaurants beckoning.

''Too many,'' Park said.

The third-ranked Park banished the blade-style putter she used in her Founders Cup victory last month in Phoenix, a playoff loss in the ANA Inspiration and a tie for third last week in Hawaii. She went back to one that feels more comfortable and has brought her success in the past.

''Last week was just an awkward week where I missed a lot of short ones and I just wasn't really comfortable with the putter,'' Park said, ''so I just wanted to have a different look.''

The 29-year-old Hall of Famer recently said she was 50-50 about retiring before returning to the tour in early March after a six-month break. Momentum has been going her way ever since.

Marina Alex was second. Thompson was one of seven players at 68 in partly sunny and unseasonable temperatures in the low 60s.

Full-field scores from the Hugel-JTBC Open

Alex tied Park with a birdie on No. 11. The American dropped a stroke with a bogey on the par-5 13th before rallying with a birdie on No. 14 to share the lead.

Alex found trouble on the par-4 17th. Her ball crossed over a winding creek, bounced and then rolled into the water, leaving Alex looking for it. Eventually, she salvaged a bogey to drop a shot behind Park. After a bad tee shot on 18, Alex managed a par to close at 67.

''I made a lot of the putts that I shouldn't, I wouldn't have expected to make,'' she said. ''I made two great saves on 17 and 18. Kind of got away with some not-so-solid golf shots in the beginning, and I capitalized on some great putts.''

Thompson returned from a two-week break after finishing tied for 20th at the ANA Inspiration, the year's first major.

She bogeyed her second hole, the par-4, 401-yard 11th, before settling down and birdieing four of the next eight holes, including the 14th, 15th and 16th.

''I changed a little thing that slipped my mind that I was working on earlier in the year,'' said Thompson, declining to share the change in her putting technique. ''I don't want to jinx it.''

ANA winner Pernilla Lundberg was among those in the logjam after a 68.

Natalie Gulbis was among five players tied for 10th at 69. Playing sparingly the last two years, Gulbis put together a round that included four birdies and two bogeys.

Top-ranked Shanshan Feng struggled to a 74 with five bogeys and two birdies.

The venerable course with views of the Hollywood sign and Griffith Observatory wasn't any kinder to eighth-ranked Cristie Kerr and Michelle Wie.

Both had up-and-down rounds that included three bogeys and a double-bogey on No. 10 for Kerr and five bogeys, including three in a row, for Wie. Wie, ranked 14th, had a few putts that lipped out.

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Horschel (68) builds on momentum at Valero

By Will GrayApril 20, 2018, 12:32 am

Billy Horschel only ever needs to see a faint glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel.

While some players require a slow ascent from missed cuts to contending on the weekend, Horschel's switches between the two can often be drastic. Last year he missed three straight cuts before defeating Jason Day in a playoff to win the AT&T Byron Nelson, a turnaround that Horschel said "still shocks me to this day."

The veteran is at it again, having missed five of six cuts prior to last week's RBC Heritage. But a few tweaks quickly produced results, as Horschel tied for fifth at Harbour Town. He wasted no time in building on that momentum with a bogey-free, 4-under 68 to open the Valero Texas Open that left him one shot behind Grayson Murray.

"I'm a big momentum player. I've got to get the train moving forward," Horschel told reporters Thursday. "I've always been a guy who gets on a little roll, get that train moving and jump into the winner's circle. So yeah, it would have been great to win last week, but it was just nice to play four really good rounds of golf."

Full-field scores from the Valero Texas Open

Valero Texas Open: Articles, photos and videos

Many big names tend to skip this week's stop at TPC San Antonio, but Horschel has managed to thrive on the difficult layout in recent years. He finished third in both 2013 and 2015, and tied for fourth in 2016.

With a return next week to the Zurich Classic of New Orleans where he notched his first career win in 2013 and a title defense in Dallas on the horizon, Horschel believes he's turning things around at just the right time.

"Gets the momentum going, carry it into this week, next week, which I've had a lot of success at," Horschel said. "Really the rest of the year, from here on in I have a lot of really good events I've played well in."

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Three years later, PXG launches new iron

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 19, 2018, 11:22 pm

Three years is a long time between launches of club lines, but Bob Parsons, founder and CEO of PXG, says his company had a very good reason for waiting that long to introduce its second-generation irons.

“Three years ago, when we introduced our first generation 0311 iron, we made a commitment that we would not release a product unless it was significantly better than our existing product,” Parsons said. “:Our GEN2 irons are better than our GEN1 irons in every respect. We believe it’s the best iron ever made, and the second-best iron ever made is our GEN1 iron.”

PXG’s 0311 GEN2 irons, which officially went on sale today, feature what the company says is the world’s thinnest clubface. They have a forged 8620 soft carbon steel body and PXG’s signature weighting technology. The hollow clubheads are filled with a new polymer material that PXG says not only dampens vibration, but also produces higher ball speeds and thus more distance.

The irons come in four “collections” – Tour Performance, Players, Xtreme Forgiveness and Super Game Improvement.

Cost is $400 per iron, or $500 for PXG’s “Extreme Dark” finish. Price includes custom fitting. For more information, visit