Cut Line: Price is right and playoff progress

By Rex HoggardSeptember 11, 2015, 3:15 pm

A rare bye week on the PGA Tour means no cut this Friday, but we’ve got you covered with more than enough winners, losers and others to carry the golf world through the break.

Made Cut

The right Price. International captain Nick Price is still more than a month away from his second turn as skipper and already he has scored some metaphorical points for the rest of the world.

Price selected Steven Bowditch, an in-form rookie who makes a ton of birdies which is crucial during these international team events, and Sangmoon Bae, a South Korean star-in-waiting who is due to report for 21-months of mandatory military service at the end of this season.

Although Bae was likely a difficult choice given the political volatility of his situation, Price took a gamble that will pay off in home-crowd support and potentially crucial points.

Price also received an assist from one of his veterans. Ernie Els, a staple on nearly every International team since 1996, was in a similar position to Phil Mickelson on the points list but removed any potential urge for the International captain to make a similarly sentimental choice.

“I told Nick, I said, ‘Please don’t think of my experience and all my Presidents Cup play that I’m putting any pressure on you to pick me. Pick who you have to pick. Pick who is best for the team,’” Els said.

This may not be the year the Internationals turn the tide in what has become a biennial blowout, but it won’t be the result of a lack of effort from Price.

Playoff progress. Golf’s version of postseason pressure has always been relative.

For some, just making it to The Barclays, the first playoff stop, is a measure of success and job security, with the drawback for those not advancing to all four postseason events a few weeks off and a full PGA Tour card in 2015-16.

For Hunter Mahan, however, the pressure was very real, if not self-imposed, as he scrambled to keep his playoff hopes alive on Monday. Mahan is the only player to have participated in every postseason event in the FedEx Cup era.

Mahan closed with rounds of 64-70 to tie for fourth place, his first top-5 finish in 2015, and moved from 91st on the point list to 52nd and into next week’s BMW Championship.

“It's the goal of every player to be in the Tour Championship at the end of the year. I'm proud of that and I want to continue that this year,” Mahan said at TPC Boston.

Mahan still has work to do if he’s going to keep his streak alive and earn a spot at East Lake, but the pressure seems to be exactly what he needed to kick start his season.

Tweet of the week:

Horschel was bypassed, again, for a potential captain’s pick at No. 14 on the U.S. point list.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Captain’s choice. To be clear, no one “deserves” to be a captain’s pick. The only way to assure yourself a spot on any team is to qualify, so the idea that someone was somehow slighted by this week’s selections is misguided.

A pick is, with apologies to all of those who carry Walkie Talkies and motor around in customized golf carts, a captain’s most important job.

Captain’s picks rarely emerge as the Man of the Match, but they can turn out to be liabilities – Greg Norman’s selection of Adam Scott during the 2009 matches when the Australian went 1-4 immediately comes to mind – and Jay Haas’ decision to go with a comfort pick in Phil Mickelson feels like the latter.

This isn’t about making room for the next generation or what other players “deserved” a pick ahead of Mickelson, this is about doing what’s best for the American team and given Lefty’s record the last two years it’s hard to say he was the right man.

Postseason swoon. While Mahan was one of four players to move into the top 70 with their play at last week’s Deutsche Bank Championship, Sergio Garcia will also be in the field at Conway Farms, but his journey to the BMW took a vastly different road.

The Spaniard sat out the first two playoff stops and has dropped from 31st to 54th on the point list.

According to Garcia’s manager, he simply wanted some extra time off and that’s certainly his prerogative, but he will need a big week at the BMW if he’s going to advance to East Lake for the fourth consecutive year otherwise he could have simply taken the entire month off.

Missed Cut

Something is rank-ing. Rory McIlroy didn’t play The Barclays and reclaimed the top spot in the Official World Golf Ranking from Jordan Spieth. Spieth missed the cut at the Deutsche Bank Championship and jumped ahead of the Northern Irishman on Monday.

What’s next, Jason Day overtakes both would-be alpha males by playing his final 18 holes left-handed in his next start?

Actually, McIlroy will regain the No. 1 ranking this week despite the world’s best players remaining idle this week.

It’s always tough to criticize the ranking, however complicated it might be, because there’s never been an easier, more straightforward way of determining the world order.

There is still no magic bullet when it comes to the ranking math, but there certainly must be something that makes more sense than the current model.

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Kang on cheating allegation: 'I did the right thing'

By Ryan LavnerJuly 19, 2018, 1:26 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Three weeks after his playing partner claimed that he “cheated” while taking an improper drop at the Quicken Loans National, Sung Kang insisted Thursday that he did nothing wrong.

Joel Dahmen tweeted that Kang cheated after a lengthy dispute about where his ball had last crossed the line of a hazard. A PGA Tour official ruled in Kang’s favor, he made par on the hole, shot 64 and earned one of the available spots in the Open Championship.

Kang didn’t learn of the controversy until the next day, when he received an email from a PGA Tour communications official seeking comment. He researched online what the furor was about, then issued a brief statement through the Tour (which added its own statement, saying that there was “no clear evidence” to suggest that Kang dropped incorrectly).

Kang said he tried to clear the air with Dahmen before the first round of last week’s John Deere Classic, but they never had the opportunity to discuss their differences.

“I followed the rules official and I think I did the right thing,” Kang told a handful of reporters Thursday following his opening round at Carnoustie, where he shot a 2-under 69 to sit three shots off the early lead.

Kang said he was hesitant to discuss the incident with reporters, because he said there clearly was a difference in opinions. He said he’d already told his side to South Korean news outlets but that “whatever I say, some people are going to trust it and some people are not going to trust it. Then I’ve got to think about it more and more when it’s not going to help my golf game.”

“I really want to say a lot of things about it, the truth about what happened,” he added, “but I’m not going to say anything.”

Kang said that he wouldn’t alter his approach when dealing with rulings in the future.

“No. Why?” he said. “I did the right thing. There’s no point in changing.”

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Kisner (67) enjoying 'frat' life, soccer matches with Jordan and Co.

By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2018, 12:49 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The frat house tradition continued this year at The Open, with a group of seven high-profile Americans rooming together for the week, including early first-round leader Kevin Kisner.

Kisner explained after his opening 5-under 66 that the group – which includes Jordan Spieth, Jason Dufner, Zach Johnson, Jimmy Walker, Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler – has spent the week talking about how demanding Carnoustie is playing and enjoying the summer weather.

“We're out there playing soccer at night and hanging out,” he said.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

To be clear, this isn’t a proper soccer match, but instead a penalty-kick situation with all but one player taking turns trying to score.

“I just try to smash [Dufner] in the face,” Kisner laughed. “He's the all-time goalie.”

Although Kisner said he’s always impressed with the athletic prowess of other players, Spieth has proven himself particularly adept on the impromptu pitch.

“Jordan scored when Duf tripped, it was hilarious,” Kisner smiled. “[Spieth] is good until he sends it over the goal four houses over, and we've got to go knock on a neighbor’s door for the soccer ball.”

The group is actually staying in two local houses that are next to each other, one with a large enough back yard and a soccer net, but perhaps not enough soccer balls.

“We’re going to have to Amazon Prime a couple new balls to replace the ones we lost,” Kisner said.

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Van Rooyen continues links run with impressive 67

By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2018, 12:27 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – For Erik van Rooyen familiarity has not bred contempt.

The South African, like many European Tour players, has been on a links golf odyssey the last three weeks, playing the Irish Open, Scottish Open and this week’s Open Championship in consecutive weeks, and the crash course paid off on Day 1 at Carnoustie when he opened with a 4-under 67 to assure himself a spot among the early leaders.

Although van Rooyen missed the cut last week just down the coast at Gullane Golf Club, he entered the final round in Ireland with a four-stroke lead.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“I didn't pull it off the final day,” said van Rooyen, who closed with a 74 to tie for fourth place. “I still think I played pretty well. I was nervous. That's completely normal, and I'll learn how to deal with that. I'll take that experience into tournaments like this.”

Van Rooyen, who was alone in second place when he completed his round, began his round with back-to-back birdies and was bogey-free until the last hole. It was just what one would expect from a player who has immersed himself in links golf for the better part of a month.

“We've been playing nice golf now the last three weeks, so definitely used to the way this course is playing, definitely used to handling the wind,” he said. “So I'll be ready.”