Cut Line: Playoff punches

By Rex HoggardSeptember 16, 2011, 5:20 pm

To hear the chorus of discontent from PGA Tour types, one would think Rees Jones is to blame for everything from the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 to the Cubs prolonged pennant curse. Meanwhile, the long putter was dubbed by a member of American golf royalty as the game’s real toxic asset.

In short, it was a tough week for scapegoats or public enemies, depending on one’s point of view.

Made Cut

A senior moment. No, not Vinny Giles’ gloves-off take on long putters - although lost in the amateur legend’s claim that the U.S. Golf Association is “gutless” for allowing long putters - is his own use of the offending implement.

Instead we leave the last word on longer-than-standard-length putters to Dave Stockton Sr., who has become the game’s preeminent putting guru and a self-titled “old school guy.” Yet when asked his thoughts on long putters this week Stockton’s take was surprisingly measured and refreshingly realistic.

“The ball is in the USGA’s court, they can’t do anything. They can’t scale back now. You can’t say Freddie (Couples) we don’t want you to use it anymore, Phil (Mickelson) we don’t want you to use it anymore,” Stockton said. “It’s not going to putt it for you, you still have to do it right.”

A surprisingly calm head amid all the hyperbole.

Unintended consequences. In this Russell Henley is a victim of time and space. When the University of Georgia senior won the Nationwide Tour’s Stadion Classic in May he likely wasn’t lamenting his bad timing. But when his Georgia teammate Harris English followed him to the winner’s circle in July at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Invitational the clerical truth began sinking in.

When English turned pro last week after the Walker Cup he was able to accept full membership on the secondary circuit since his 60-day window to do so had not lapsed. Henley, however, was beyond his 60-day window and must wait until the 2012 season to take up Nationwide Tour membership.

Give credit to Nationwide Tour officials, who are currently reviewing the rule.

“The Policy Board is entertaining the idea of taking the 60-day window through the entire year,” Nationwide Tour tournament director Jim Duncan said. “It’s an odd situation when you have two amateurs, from the same team, win.”

It ‘s worth noting that in this era of increased scrutiny on college athletics that it would be golf trumpeting fewer restrictions and more common sense.

Tweet of the Week: @PaulAzinger “95 (percent) of Tour players loved Cog Hill. Now a high percentage don’t. Anyone can make a course harder. Not everyone can make it harder and better. #itsworse”


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Playoff particulars. The Tour wanted to entice the top of the marquee to play more in the fall. Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., wanted the Tour Championship to mean something. And finally the circuit’s suits wanted to cut back on its losing head-to-head battle with football. Check, check and check.

But if the game’s fringe fans were looking for a reason to tune out the playoffs it may be fast approaching. Three of the current top 10 players on the FedEx Cup points list are winless in 2011, creating the very real possibility that this year’s cup champion will cash the $10 million lottery ticket without having crashed the winner’s circle this season.

It could have happened last year, when Luke Donald finished third on the points list and Paul Casey was sixth, both without a “W” in 2010.

The current points system is widely considered an improvement over previous editions, but until the circuit’s mathematicians find a way to close the winless loophole the playoffs are one bad fall away from an untidy finish.

Trouble in paradise. It is a measure of how important the season-opening event is to Mark Rolfing that when pressed by “Cut Line” last week for details of his split with the event the Kapalua resident simply shrugged, “It’ll all work out.”

Perhaps, but organizers of the winner’s-only event don’t have a lot of time to make it work out for the 2012 event, which is why the PGA Tour’s Championship Management division will step in to run the tournament, at least in the short term.

“It is a lengthy application process where the IRS gets your not-for-profit status and that will take us several months,” Andy Pazder, the Tour’s executive vice president and chief of operations, said last week.

“As we contemplated the best approach to the 2012 tournament we thought we had to re-evaluate our earlier thought of hiring an executive director and pursuing what I would call the standard PGA Tour-tournament model.”

There was a sliver of good news last week. Pazder said the Tour is considering increasing the number of events non-members can play, which may persuade players like Rory McIlroy and Darren Clarke to make the trip to Hawaii for the season opener.

Well, that, and a limited-field, no-cut event in paradise with a $5.6 million purse.


Missed Cut

Hall pass. This year’s Hall of Fame ballot came out last week with a deep field that included Tony Lema, Jug McSpaden, Don January and . . . Phil Mickelson. Last we checked Lefty was still looking for answers with a belly putter, not keepsakes to fill his HoF locker in St. Augustine, Fla.

Ditto for Davis Love III, who thought long and hard about taking the captain’s job for next year’s Ryder Cup because he still wants to play on a team, and Retief Goosen, one of 10 players on the international ballot and currently the 30th-ranked in the world.

There’s little doubt Mickelson - and probably Love and Goosen - is a lock for the Hall of Fame, but what’s the rush? Particularly when there are equally deserving candidates, like Stockton and Ken Venturi, who may get overlooked on the needlessly crowded ballot.

This is simple: potential Hall of Famers go on the ballot the first year after they play fewer than 15 PGA Tour events or when they turn 55 years old, whichever comes first. If you don’t qualify for the early-bird special at Denny’s, you shouldn’t qualify for the Hall of Fame.

September swoons. “What do you want?” barked Rees Jones, the normally affable architect turned understandably defensive by a storm not entirely of his own making.

Normally it’s the Cubs breaking hearts this time of year in the Second City and one man hasn’t shouldered this much collective hatred in Chicago-land since Steve Bartman reached over the fence at Wrigley Field.

Sure Jones’ nip/tuck of Cog Hill’s Dubsdread course has been widely panned by the Tour’s rank-and-field and even Steve Stricker, whose next ugly word will be his first, couldn’t avoid the roasting.

“The redo is not conducive to our tournament there. It was a little severe,” Stricker said. “It’s playable, but a little tricked up and goofy in spots. I feel real bad for the Jemsek family (owners of the course). They stuck a lot of money into (the renovation), and they’re great people. I liked it before, but the players just don’t like it. The redo isn’t good. It’s sad for the Jemsek family.”

“Cut Line,” however, can’t help but think that Jones and his handiwork at Cog Hill have become a diversion from the real problem in Chicago. The Tour is scheduled to move the BMW Championship to Indiana next year and Denver in 2014 and there is currently no official Chicago-area venue.

It’s also worth pointing out it was the Tour that relocated the BMW from its traditional July date, a much more popular spot on the Chicago sports calendar, and the Jemsek family that asked Jones to make a monster worthy of hosting a U.S. Open.

Maybe Jones went over the top at Cog Hill, but he didn’t trade away the Cubs’ bullpen, the Bears’ backfield or Chicago’s Tour stop.

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Golf Channel Ramps Up Six Weeks of Comprehensive College Golf Coverage Culminating With The NCAA Women's and Men's Golf Championships, May 18-30

By Golf Channel Public RelationsApril 24, 2018, 9:00 pm

Golf Channel to Announce NCAA Division I Women’s and Men’s Golf Championships Regional Selections on Wednesday, April 25 and Wednesday, May 2

 Golf Channel to Expand Coverage of NCAA Women’s and Men’s Regional Championships  

Driven: Oklahoma State Cowboys, a Four-Part Docu-Series Executive Produced by Rickie Fowler, Premieres on Golf Channel Monday, May 7

 More than 100 News and Tournament Hours Planned for Women’s and Men’s Championships, Back-to-Back Weeks at Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla.

 

ORLANDO, Fla., April 24, 2018 – With conference championships underway, golf fans will be able to follow their favorite college golf programs and alma maters as they attempt to qualify and compete in the 2018 NCAA Division I Women’s and Men’s Golf Championships in May at Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla., as Golf Channel expands its comprehensive on-air and digital collegiate golf coverage the next six weeks.

“Through our new long-term partnership, the NCAA and Golf Channel are successfully raising the profile of college golf by shining a spotlight on the game’s future stars and the passion these programs have in competing for national championships,” said Molly Solomon, Golf Channel executive vice president of content and executive producer. “With our expanded coverage of the regional championships and partnering with OSU alum Rickie Fowler for Driven, our viewers will be treated to the most college golf coverage in network history leading into the NCAA Golf National Championships.”

REGIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS SELECTION ANNOUNCEMENTS: On Wednesday, April 25 at 5:30 p.m. ET (women) and continuing Wednesday, May 2 at 5:30 p.m. ET (men), Golf Channel will announce the teams and individuals selected by the NCAA to participate in the women’s and men’s regional championships, the first step on the road to the NCAA Golf Championships. Live streaming coverage of selection shows will be available through the Golf Channel Mobile App or GolfChannel.com, and Golf Channel will aggregate social content for the shows using the hashtag #NCAAGolf. 

  • Women’s Golf Championships Regional Selections, Wednesday, April 25, 5:30 p.m. ET: Golf Central will announce (live) the 72 teams and24 individuals selected to compete in the four NCAA Women’s Regional Championships, May 7-9 (18 teams and six individuals per regional). 24 teams and 12 individuals will advance from regional sites to the national championships.
  • Men’s Golf Championships Regional Selections, Wednesday, May 2, 5:30 p.m. ET: Golf Central will announce the 81 teams and 45 individuals selected to compete in the six NCAA Men’s Regional Championships, May 14-16 (13 teams and 10 individuals at three regionals and 14 teams and five individuals at three regionals). 30 teams and six individuals will advance from regional sites to the national championships.

GOLF CHANNEL TO EXPAND REGIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS COVERAGE: New for 2018, Golf Channel will feature expanded coverage of the final day of the NCAA women’s and men’s regional championships, Wednesday May 9 and Wednesday, May 16, respectively. Beginning within Morning Drive, Golf Channel’s daily lifestyle news show, and continuing hourly throughout the day via live Golf Central news updates from 9 a.m.-7 p.m. ET that will be published to Golf Channel Digital and Golf Channel’s social media handles. Coverage will conclude with live news segments, featuring highlights and interviews, announcing the teams and individuals who qualified for the women’s and men’s national championships.

RICKIE FOWLER AND NBC SPORTS COLLABORATE ON FOUR-PART DOCU-SERIES DRIVEN: OKLAHOMA STATE COWBOYS: NBC Sports Group is teaming up with PGA TOUR superstar Rickie Fowler to give viewers a dramatic behind-the-scenes look into Fowler’s alma mater in a four-part documentary series – Driven: Oklahoma State Cowboys. Driven, executive produced by Fowler, will premiere Monday, May 7 at 10 p.m. ET and continue Monday, May 14 (10 p.m. ET) and Monday, May 21 (8 p.m. ET). The finale will air on NBC on Saturday, June 16, recapping their season that culminates with a run at a potential 11th national championship, taking place on their home turf.

NCAA GOLF NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS COVERAGE: Contested in back-to-back weeks, May 18-30 at Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla., Golf Channel will dedicate its full suite of production resources to the NCAA Women’s and Men’s Golf Championships, featuring nearly 30 combined hours of live tournament coverage. In addition, Golf Central will feature nearly 30 hours of combined pre-and post-event live news coverage produced on location, as well as daily news updates on Morning Drive and Golf Channel Digital.                                             

Golf Channel NCAA Women’s Golf Championships Coverage

Monday, May   21       

Individual National   Championship  

4-8 p.m. ET (Live)

Tuesday, May   22          

Quarterfinals, Team   Match Play  

11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. ET   (Live)

Tuesday, May   22                 

Semifinals, Team Match   Play 

4-8 p.m. ET (Live)

Wednesday, May   23            

Team National   Championship  

4-8 p.m. ET (Live)

 

Golf Channel NCAA Men’s Golf Championships Coverage

Monday, May   28      

Individual National   Championship  

4-8 p.m. ET (Live)

Tuesday, May   29          

Quarterfinals, Team   Match Play  

11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. ET   (Live)

Tuesday, May   29                 

Semifinals, Team Match   Play 

4-8 p.m. ET (Live)

Wednesday, May   30            

Team National   Championship  

4-8 p.m. ET (Live)

 

COLLEGE CENTRAL – GOLF CHANNEL DIGITAL COVERAGE: Golf Channel is providing comprehensive coverage leading up to and during the NCAA Women’s and Men’s Golf Championships as part of College Central,Golf Channel Digital’s home for college golf. Led by Jay Coffin, Ryan Lavner and Steve Burkowski, College Central will be the source for all things college golf, including tournament results and scores, features and columns, video highlights and breaking news.

CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPS NEWS COVERAGE: Golf Channel will cover the conference championships with scores and analysis across its on-air news platforms - Morning Drive and Golf Central – and online within College Central.

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With help from partner, Burns could secure Tour status

By Ryan LavnerApril 24, 2018, 8:33 pm

AVONDALE, La. – This week Sam Burns has yet another chance to secure special temporary membership for the rest of the PGA Tour season, but his partner may determine whether he’s ultimately successful.

In an interesting twist, Burns is burning one of his seven available sponsor exemptions this week at the Zurich Classic. He is 80 non-member points shy of securing special temporary membership, which would allow him to receive unlimited sponsor exemptions for the rest of the season.

Burns needs at least a two-way tie for fourth to earn the necessary points, but it won’t all depend on how he plays this week. The Zurich is a two-man game, with two rounds apiece of fourballs and alternate shot.

Burns' partner this week is William McGirt. Their games couldn’t be more different – Burns ranks eighth on Tour in driving distance, at 309 yards per pop, while McGirt is 143rd (290) – but they hope to compliment each other over four days at TPC Louisiana.


Zurich Classic of New Orleans: Articles, photos and videos


“I got a good pair of spurs sharpened up last week while I was in San Antonio,” joked McGirt, who is looking for his first top-10 since the fall. “I told him I was going to ride him hard this week. It’ll be fun.”

Burns will have at least two (and maybe three) more opportunities to earn status, with starts lined up next week at the Wells Fargo Championship and also at the Memorial. He doesn’t face quite as much pressure because he won earlier this month on the Web.com Tour and currently sits fourth on the money list, essentially locking up his PGA Tour card for next season.

“It’s obviously nice to have that win,” he said, “but at the same time you have to be careful and make sure you play enough out there to where you’re secure for sure. You don’t want to get at the end of the year and then have two or three events left and you have to make a certain amount of money to get your card.

“So I’m just going step by step, tournament by tournament, and trying to figure out what’s the best route.”   

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Spieth-Palmer draw Rahm-Bryan early at Zurich

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 24, 2018, 7:49 pm

AVONDALE, La. – The PGA Tour’s only team event gets underway Thursday at the Zurich Classic. Here are some featured groups to watch at TPC Louisiana.

Justin Thomas-Bud Cauley/Daniel Berger-Gary Woodland: 8:39 a.m. ET Thursday off 10 tee, 2:08 p.m. Friday off 1: 

The Bama boys, Thomas and Cauley, team up for the second consecutive year, after tying for fifth a year ago on the strength of a final-round 61. Berger teamed with Thomas Pieters a year ago but missed the cut, so he’ll try his luck with Woodland, who also shares a management team at Excel Sports.

Jordan Spieth-Ryan Palmer/Jon Rahm-Wesley Bryan: 8:52 a.m. Thursday off 10, 2:19 p.m. Friday off 1: 

Spieth and Palmer finished fourth a year ago, five shots back of the leaders. Spieth is making his first start since his epic Sunday run at the Masters. Rahm and Bryan have opposite strengths – Rahm is one of the game’s preeminent drivers, while Bryan, statistically, is one of the worst – but the Spaniard is coming off a European Tour victory at home. Another wrinkle here: Even though no world-ranking points are on offer this week, Rahm is set to supplant Spieth as the third-ranked player in the world.

Jason Day-Ryan Ruffels/Brooks Koepka-Marc Turnesa: 1:31 p.m. Thursday off 1, 9:42 a.m. Friday off 10: 

Two stars with questionable sidekicks. Ruffels is an up-and-coming Australian who has been playing primarily in Latin America. (He also shares a manager with Day.) Turnesa, meanwhile, got the call late last week from Koepka, who is finally ready to return from a 15-week layoff because of a wrist injury. They both play out of Medalist in South Florida, but Turnesa, 40, has turned his attention to real estate instead of professional golf.

Patrick Reed-Patrick Cantlay/Jonas Blixt-Cameron Smith: 1:44 p.m. Thursday off 1, 9:53 a.m. Friday off 10: 

Reed makes his first start as Masters champion after taking off the past two weeks. This duo tied for 14th last year, undone by a Saturday 75 in foursomes play. Blixt and Smith are the defending champions, after shooting 27 under par last year and holding off Kevin Kisner and Scott Brown in a playoff. Blixt doesn’t have a top-10 on Tour since then, while Smith tied for fifth at the Match Play and the Masters.

Justin Rose-Henrik Stenson/Bubba Watson-Matt Kuchar: 1:57 p.m. Thursday off 1, 10:04 a.m. Friday off 10:

Rose and Stenson, who have proved to be a formidable pairing in the Ryder Cup, were a stunning missed cut last year, after shooting 6 under par for two rounds. Watson teamed up with J.B. Holmes to finish fifth last year, while Kuchar is making his first start in this event since 2009.

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Zurich Classic: Tee times, TV schedule, stats

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 24, 2018, 7:09 pm

The PGA Tour tries team competition for the second year in a row at the Zurich Classic. Here are the key stats and information for play at TPC LouisianaClick here for full-field tee times.

How to watch:

Thursday, Rd. 1: Golf Channel, 2:30-6:30PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Friday, Rd. 2: Golf Channel, 2:30-6:30PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Saturday, Rd. 3: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6 p.m.

Sunday, Rd. 4: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6 p.m.


Purse: $7,200,000 ($1,036,800 to each winner)

Course: TPC Louisiana (par 72; 7,425 yards)

Defending champions: Cameron Smith and Jonas Blixt (-27) in a playoff over Scott Brown and Kevin Kisner


News and notes

• All four reigning major champions - Brooks Koepka, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Patrick Reed - are in the field this week. This is the first time all four reigning major winners have played this event since 1984 (Ben Crenshaw, Larry Nelson, Tom Watson, Hall Sutton).

 Both members of winning team this week will earn an official PGA Tour victory, two-year Tour exemptions, and exemptions into the Players and PGA Championships.

• That said, no Official World Golf Ranking points are awarded from this event and winners will not earn exemptions into the 2019 Masters.


Notable teams in the field 

Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson

 Rose won this event in 2014, when it was individual stroke play. From 2012-16, he was a combined 60 under at TPC Louisiana in stroke play, seven shots better than any other player.

 Rose has dramatically improved his performance on the greens from last season, moving from 123rd in strokes gained-putting to 10th.

 Stenson's last three starts look like this: solo 4th at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, T-6 at the Houston Open, and T-5 at the Masters.

Jon Rahm and Wesley Bryan

 Rahm is coming off a victory at the Spanish Open, his second worldwide win in 2018 and fifth since Jan. 2017.

 Rahm outdrives Bryan by an average of 30 yards off the tee, 305.1 to 276.3.

 Rahm is second on Tour in the strokes gained-off the tee, while Bryan is 210th, last among qualifying players.

Patrick Reed and Patrick Cantlay

 Reed is just the fifth reigning Masters champ to play the Zurich since 2000, joining Vijay Singh, Phil Mickelson (twice), and Bubba Watson.

 Reed has gone T-2, T-7, T-9, WIN in his last four starts.

 Cantlay broke through for his maiden PGA Tour win earlier this season at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in Las Vegas.