Cut Line: Phil's feelin' it

By Rex HoggardJanuary 13, 2012, 9:33 pm

No need for a caucus or a primary, the PGA Tour has their man for another four years, and beyond, but Tim Finchem’s inauguration gift is more trouble in paradise. Why is it that “aloha” is starting to sound more and more like “goodbye” for the circuit?

Made Cut

The return of touchy, feely. Fresh from one of his worst putting years as a professional, which sent Phil Mickelson spiraling outside the top 100 in most putting categories and into the unorthodox clutches of a long putter, it is encouraging to hear Lefty is going back to something a little more unscientific.

“Phil has committed himself to playing more freely and mentally to getting away from mechanics,” said Mickelson’s swing coach Butch Harmon, who spent last week in Scottsdale, Ariz., working with the left-hander.

Eschewing mechanics may not be the answer, but a free-swinging Lefty is an entertaining Lefty.

Four more years. No, this isn’t a plea to keep President Barack Obama in the White House. It is in response to the PGA Tour Policy Board’s decision to extend commissioner Tim Finchem’s time in the Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., big house.

The board extended Finchem’s contract through 2016 and although he’s not always been the most transparent commissioner – his dogged reluctance to publish player fines continues to be a curious diversion from the pro sport status quo – the former lobbyist is credited with guiding the circuit through one of its most challenging chapters.

Despite a prolonged recession and Tiger Woods’ 2009 scandal, Finchem maintained a full schedule, extended the circuit’s contracts with NBC Sports and CBS Sports through the next decade and, according to various reports, is close to renewing FedEx as the sponsor of the season-long points race and signing Hyundai to replace Nationwide as the umbrella sponsor of the secondary circuit.

Nor does this seem to be Finchem’s swan song. Although he will be 69 when his current contract expires, he didn’t sound like a man who is easing happily toward his golden years late Wednesday when Cut Line caught up with him.

“When I first became commissioner after five or six years people would ask me how long I wanted to do this,” Finchem said. “I don’t have a particular time frame in mind. I think it has to do with what’s best for the organization. ... I’m getting a little older so you have to ask yourself those questions a little more often, but I’m not worried about that right now.”

Magic Whan. The LPGA, for so long a “sell” item on the golf landscape, may be the leading candidate for comeback player of the year in 2012.

The circuit released its ’12 schedule this week to widespread acclaim. The 27-event lineup includes four more events than the 2011 schedule and a total purse that is nearly $7 million more than last year.

“We’re going in the right direction, and the best news is that I don’t think we are done yet,” said Mike Whan, the circuit’s second-year commissioner. “It is fun announcing this schedule, but it’s more exciting to me knowing there is more just around the corner.”

Seems rumors of the LPGA’s death were greatly exaggerated.

Tweet of the week: @JasonGore59 “Thank you everyone! Absolutely amazing!”

Gore was referring to a Twitter campaign that landed him a coveted sponsor exemption into the Northern Trust Open. It’s time, tweeps, to turn your considerable powers to something even more pressing – #SlowPlay.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Imperfect paradise. Much was made of the less-than-stellar field at last week’s Hyundai Tournament of Champions and an extended conversation with a Tour official made Cut Line realize that sometimes there is just no painting around warts.

For 10 minutes the official outlined why the half-dozen or so no-shows skipped Kapalua. By all accounts they were excused absences, from Lucas Glover’s paddle-boarding miscue to an assortment of New Year’s newborns.

So the question remains, other than outlawing paddle boarding and baby making how do you improve on a no-cut, free-money event held in paradise on a golf course with more room to miss than a Texas driving range?

That there is no material answer may be the most concerning thing of all.

Tweet of the week II: @Elkpga (Steve Elkington) “Possible pairing for AT&T. Is Tiger (Woods) and (Tim) Tebow? Awkward. What do they talk about for three days?”

Missed Cut

The slow standard. Carping about slow play on Tour has become a cliché, like spotless black courtesy cars and anything John Daly does, but last week’s display at Kapalua renewed calls for something to be done.

Despite a 27-man field and a tee sheet of twosomes, the weekend telecast consistently went long because of the languid pace of play. “It’s not that hard, be ready when it’s your turn. Slow play is killing our sport,” world No. 1 Luke Donald tweeted.

Some complain that Tour officials are to blame for not issuing fines, but monetary penalties will not solve this. If the circuit wanted to get tough on slow play, they would assess one-shot penalties for every violation after an initial warning and publish the names of habitual offenders.

Writing checks is easy. Being saddled as a snail, well that doesn’t wash off.

Cross signals from the Crosby. Cyberspace is abuzz over which amateur, Tim Tebow or Tony Romo, Tiger Woods will be paired with when he makes his Tour debut next month at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. Remember the days when we would get worked up over which pro Woods was going to be paired with?

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Lauren Thompson and a giant 'gator eating a turtle

By Grill Room TeamApril 19, 2018, 4:53 pm

Really, the headline says it all.

"Morning Drive" co-host Lauren Thompson was playing the Ritz Carlton Grande Lakes on Thursday in Orlando, Fla., when her threesome turned into a foursome, with the appearance of a giant alligator. Techincally, it was a fivesome, as the 'gator had a turtle in its mouth.

Hey, it's a slow news week for Grill Room.

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Sources confirm Charles Schwab to sponsor Colonial event

By Rex HoggardApril 19, 2018, 2:42 pm

Multiple sources have confirmed to that officials at Colonial are poised to announce a new sponsorship agreement with Charles Schwab Corporation.

Tournament officials scrambled this year after Dean & DeLuca ended its sponsorship of the event just two years into a six-year agreement, pulling together an assortment of local sponsors and renaming the event the Fort Worth Invitational.

Colonial’s status on the PGA Tour schedule became even more uncertain when the PGA Championship announced it would move from August to May, beginning in 2019 as part of a major overhaul of the circuit’s schedule.

According to the Dallas News, and confirmed by multiple sources at the club, officials plan to announce the new long-term agreement with Charles Schwab on Monday that will begin in 2019.

News of a long-term sponsorship deal would also suggest the event will remain in May in 2019 and beyond. The Tour has indicated it plans to announce the ’19 schedule at next month’s Players Championship.

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PNC Extends Title Sponsorship of PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Golf Channel Public RelationsApril 19, 2018, 1:00 pm

ORLANDO, Fla., April 19, 2018 – IMG and NBC Sports today announced that The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. has extended its contract as title sponsor of the PNC Father/Son Challenge, the tournament that pairs the games’ legends alongside their sons, daughters and grandchildren.

PNC’s multi-year extension as title sponsor keeps the PGA Tour Challenge Event in Orlando reflecting the bank’s commitment to Central Florida. PNC has served as title sponsor of the tournament since 2012. The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club Orlando, Grande Lakes will continue to play host to the PNC Father/Son Challenge. The 2018 PNC Father/Son Challenge will take place Friday-Sunday, Dec. 14-16, with television coverage on Golf Channel and NBC.

“The PNC Father/Son Challenge long ago became one of my family’s favorite golf tournaments,” said 18-time major champion Jack Nicklaus. “I have had the pleasure of playing with my sons, and last year, partnering with my 15-year-old grandson GT was a thrill. I am delighted the event—a uniquely special one to us fathers and grandfathers, and perhaps to the many fans out there watching from home or outside the ropes—will continue for many years to come.”

“After our victory in 2016, I said that this win was as good as anything I have done in my career,” said former World No. 1 and major champion David Duval, who alongside his stepson Nick Karavites captured the 2016 title. “I felt blessed to have Nick inside the ropes with me and to have our family surrounding us all week. That’s what makes the PNC Father/Son Challenge so special, and I’m pleased to hear that PNC has extended its support of the event. This golf tournament means so much to all of us who are lucky enough to have the opportunity to play in this event.”

The tournament also holds three events in qualifier markets per year. This year they will be in Dallas, Chicago, and Philadelphia.

“The PNC Father/Son Challenge allows fans to see golf’s legends playing the game they love alongside those they love most,” said Alastair Johnston, vice chairman, IMG. “We are grateful for PNC’s ongoing support of this unique tournament and we look forward to returning to Orlando to celebrate golf and family for many years to come.”

Community support is a key aspect of the tournament and PNC’s sponsorship. PNC is committed to donating $150,000 annually to local non-profits over the life of its sponsorship. Across six previous years of title sponsorship, PNC has already donated $900,000 to Arnie’s Army Charitable Foundation and the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children to support the “Healthy Families Orange” program. Over the years, PNC has also had the opportunity through this tournament to co-host events for local women in business, to put on clinics and provide free access to the tournament for active military, and even provide a service dog for a local veteran.

"PNC's long-standing sponsorship of the Father/Son Challenge reflects the philanthropic values we share with the PGA Tour and the golf community, as well as our focus on strong relationships,” said Bill Demchak, chairman, president and chief executive officer of The PNC Financial Services Group. “As PNC Bank continues to expand its footprint, the PNC Father/Son tournament helps us gain visibility with new audiences and to strengthen the relationships we enjoy today with more than 8 million retail, wealth, and corporate and institutional banking customers across the country.”

“NBC Sports is extremely proud of our heritage as co-founder for the Father/Son Challenge, one of golf’s most special events that closes out the calendar year on the golf schedule,” said Jon Miller, President, Programming, NBC Sports. “Our relationship with PNC Bank elevates this event each year as a must-attend and must-see event for players and fans alike, and we look forward to our continued relationship with PNC Bank for years to come.”

Past winners of the PNC Father/Son Challenge include some of the biggest names in golf including Raymond Floyd (1995, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2001), Jack Nicklaus (1999), Bernhard Langer (2005-06, 2014), Davis Love III (2012) and David Duval (2016).  Masters champion Angel Cabrera and his son, Angel Cabrera Jr. captured the 2017 title.

To qualify for the PNC Father/Son Challenge, participants must have won either a major championship or THE PLAYERS Championship in their career. The professional’s partner must not currently hold a Tour card, and while the majority of partners in the history of the event have been the sons of the golf legends, the family-themed tournament has seen daughters, grandsons and one father – Justin Leonard’s dad, Larry – participate over the years.

The PNC Father/Son Challenge is operated in partnership by IMG and NBC Sports.

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Fire damages National Golf Links of America clubhouse

By Will GrayApril 19, 2018, 12:55 pm

A fire broke out Wednesday at National Golf Links of America in Southampton, N.Y., causing "extensive damage" to a portion of the historic course's clubhouse.

According to a report, an initial call was made to the Southampton police department about a fire on the roof of the clubhouse at 11:34 a.m. With the club's gates too narrow to fit a fire truck through, more than 100 firefighters from various departments helped douse the flames by transporting water up a hill to the east side of the clubhouse.

The fire was reportedly extinguished by 2:30 p.m., with no injuries requiring medical attention. According to a Golf Digest report, the club was undergoing construction on its outdoor eating area known as "the Birdcage" and that most of the club's historical documents reside on the opposite end of the clubhouse from where the fire broke out and was contained.

Opened in 1911, National Golf Links of America was designed by C.B. MacDonald and hosted the inaugural Walker Cup in 1922. The biennial matches returned in 2013 to NGLA, which is often rated among the top courses in the U.S. and sits adjacent to Shinnecock Hills, site of this summer's U.S. Open.