Cut Line: Rickie, Fight Club and haircuts

By Rex HoggardJanuary 29, 2016, 4:23 pm

In this week’s learning experience edition of Cut Line, the European Tour shows the world that there are answers for slow play, freshly minted professional Ryan Ruffels learns that some things are better left unsaid, and world No. 1 Jordan Spieth is discovering that being well-traveled is not necessarily a good thing.

Made Cut

On the move. Following his one-stroke victory in Abu Dhabi last Sunday, Rickie Fowler boarded his flight bound for SoCal at 2:30 a.m. and arrived in time to co-host a clinic on Monday.

It was all part of whirlwind journey for Fowler, but it’s been his climb up the Official World Golf Ranking that is even more impressive.

His victory in Abu Dhabi over the likes of Spieth and Rory McIlroy vaulted Fowler to fourth in the world, his highest career ranking, and squarely into a conversation that had been largely focused on a new “Big 3.”

“It’s amazing, about how much talk there is,” said Fowler, who has four worldwide victories since last May, including the Players Championship. “Whether it’s good or bad, it doesn’t matter. As long as they’re talking about it.”

It’s 8,456 miles from Abu Dhabi to San Diego, but that’s nothing compared to the ground Fowler has covered since being voted the PGA Tour’s most overrated player last spring.

On the clock. The European Tour unveiled its new pace of play policy last week and immediately drew equal amounts of compliments and criticism when Spieth was the first player issued a “monitoring” penalty.

Although it’s probably a bit early to claim complete success, there were anecdotal improvements last week that would suggest the policy has the potential to legitimately impact slow play.

A total of 18 groups were monitored on Day 1 in Abu Dhabi, but by Sunday officials had only put six groups on the clock after two additional players (England’s Daniel Brooks in Round 2, and France’s Benjamin Hebert during Sunday’s final round) were issued penalties.

When European Tour officials announced the new policy, they conceded that it is nothing more then a first step. After seeing the new rule in action, it appears to be the first meaningful step taken against slow play in decades.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

The first rule of fight club. Ryan Ruffels has plenty to learn as he begins his professional career, starting with this week’s Farmers Insurance Open.

For example, the 17-year-old will likely avoid further discussion of his match with Phil Mickelson last month.

According to a story in the Sydney News Herald, Ruffels had a $2,500 bet at 2-to-1 odds with Mickelson last month and birdied six of his last seven holes to beat Lefty.

On Wednesday at Torrey Pines, Mickelson had a different spin on the match, saying, “He’s young and he’s got some things to learn.

“One of them is you don’t discuss certain things. You don’t discuss specifics of what you play for,” Mickelson continued. “And you certainly don’t embellish and create a false amount just for your own benefit. So those things right there are – that’s high school stuff, and he’s going to have to stop doing that now that he’s out on the PGA Tour.”

You know the deal - the first rule of fight club is you do not talk about fight club.

Jet-setback. Dating to November’s WGC-HSBC Champions, Jordan Spieth’s frequent flyer account has received an impressive boost considering his last six events have been played in six countries.

There were stops in China (HSBC Champions), Australia (Emirates Open), the Bahamas (Hero World Challenge), Maui (Hyundai Tournament of Champions), the United Arab Emirates (Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship) and this week at the Singapore Open.

It’s a run that has taken its toll, as Spieth admitted last week, and it's something he won’t likely duplicate next year.

“It won't be something that I do in the future, to bounce back and forth from Asia as much as we did or Australia,” he said. “I'm very tired right now. As a team, we are kind of beat up mentally. Physically, we're not 100 percent right now.”

In Spieth’s defense, he’s not exactly showing any signs of jet lag, winning by eight strokes in Maui and tying for fifth last week in Abu Dhabi. But when it comes to scheduling, less is almost always more.

Missed Cut

Nip/tuck. Paired with Fowler on Sunday in Abu Dhabi many golf fans got a glimpse of Thomas Pieters, another Belgium bomber who appears destined to find his way onto a PGA Tour leaderboard this year.

At 6-foot-,5 Pieters is an imposing figure, but it was his hair that caused a stir on this side of the Atlantic when it was discovered the PGA Tour had tinkered with his headshot to make the 23-year-old look a little more clean cut.

“In the standard process of prepping new headshots for broadcast TV, electronic scoreboards and other uses – which always requires a bit of retouching and color-correction – our vendor was a bit too heavy-handed in the editing of Thomas Pieters’ photo,” a Tour spokesman said.

“The image has been returned more closely to the original photo – although some editing is always required – and reissued to our database. We regret this sequence of events and meant no disrespect to Thomas. We think he has a great head of hair.”

While Pieters seemed to be fine with the alteration, Cut Line can’t help but be curious as to why no one ever thought to give Miguel Angel Jimenez an electronic trim?

Tweet Facebook post of the week:

Guess the PGA Tour doesn't like my curly hair, so they gave me a photoshop haircut...The pic on the left is the...

Posted by Thomas Pieters on Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Getty Images

Vegas helicopters in to Carnoustie, without clubs

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 9:33 am

Jhonattan Vegas did some range work, putted a little and strolled to the first tee for his 5:31 a.m. ET start in the 147th Open Championship.

Everything before that, however, was far from routine.

Vegas' visa to travel to Scotland expired and the process to renew it got delayed - and it looked like his overseas' flight might suffer the same fate. Vegas, upon getting his visa updated, traveled from Houston, Texas to Toronto, Canada to Glasgow, Scotland, and then took a helicopter to Carnoustie.

He arrived in time on Thursday morning, but his clubs did not. Mizuno put together some irons for him and TaylorMade got him his preferred metal woods. He hit the clubs for the first time on the range, less than 90 minutes before his start.

"I'm going to go out there and play with freedom," Vegas told Golf Channel's Todd Lewis.

Getty Images

How to watch The Open on TV and online

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 5:40 am

You want to watch the 147th Open? Here’s how you can do it.

Golf Channel and NBC Sports will be televising 182 hours of overall programming from the men's third major of the year at Carnoustie

In addition to the traditional coverage, the two networks will showcase three live alternate feeds: marquee groups, featured holes (our new 3-hole channel) and spotlight action. You can also watch replays of full-day coverage, Thursday-Sunday, in the Golf Channel app, NBC Sports apps, and on  

Here’s the weekly TV schedule, with live stream links in parentheses. You can view all the action on the Golf Channel mobile, as well. Alternate coverage is noted in italics:

(All times Eastern; GC=Golf Channel; NBC=NBC Sports; or check the GLE app)

Monday, July 16

GC: 7-9AM: Morning Drive (

GC: 9-11AM: Live From The Open (

GC: 7-9PM: Live From The Open (

Tuesday, July 17

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (

Wednesday, July 18

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (

Thursday, July 19

GC: Midnight-1:30AM: Midnight Drive (

GC: Day 1: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 1: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 1: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM ( Day 1: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (

Friday, July 20

GC: Day 2: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 2: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 2: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM ( Day 2: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (

Saturday, July 21

GC: Day 3: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (

NBC: Rd. 3: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-3PM ( Day 3: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-3PM ( Day 3: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-3PM ( Day 3: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-3PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 3-4PM (

Sunday, July 22

GC: Day 4: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (

NBC: Rd. 4: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-2:30PM ( Day 4: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-2:30PM ( Day 4: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-2PM ( Day 4: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-2PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 2:30-4PM (

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The Open 101: A guide to the year's third major

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 5:30 am

Take a look at some answers to frequently asked questions about The Open:

What's all this "The Open" stuff? I thought it was the British Open.

What you call it has historically depended on where you were. If you were in the U.S., you called it the British Open, just as Europeans refer to the PGA Championship as the U.S. PGA. Outside the U.S. it generally has been referred to as The Open Championship. The preferred name of the organizers is The Open.

How old is it?

It's the oldest golf championship, dating back to 1860.

Where is it played?

There is a rotation – or "rota" – of courses used. Currently there are 10: Royal Birkdale, Royal St. George's, Royal Liverpool and Royal Lytham and St. Annes, all in England; Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland and St. Andrews, Carnoustie, Royal Troon, Turnberry and Muirfield, all in Scotland. Muirfield was removed from the rota in 2016 when members voted against allowing female members, but when the vote was reversed in 2017 it was allowed back in.

Where will it be played this year?

At Carnoustie, which is located on the south-eastern shore of Scotland.

Who has won The Open on that course?

Going back to the first time Carnoustie hosted, in 1931, winners there have been Tommy Armour, Henry Cotton (1937), Ben Hogan (1953), Gary Player (1968), Tom Watson (1975), Paul Lawrie (1999), Padraig Harrington (2007).

Wasn't that the year Hogan nearly won the Slam?

Yep. He had won the Masters and U.S. Open that season, then traveled to Carnoustie and won that as well. It was the only time he ever played The Open. He was unable to play the PGA Championship that season because the dates conflicted with those of The Open.

Jean Van de Velde's name should be on that list, right?

This is true. He had a three-shot lead on the final hole in 1999 and made triple bogey. He lost in a playoff to Lawrie, which also included Justin Leonard.

Who has won this event the most?

Harry Vardon, who was from the Channel Island of Jersey, won a record six times between 1896 and 1914. Australian Peter Thomson, American Watson, Scot James Braid and Englishman J.H. Taylor each won five times.

What about the Morrises?

Tom Sr. won four times between 1861 and 1867. His son, Tom Jr., also won four times, between 1868 and 1872.

Have players from any particular country dominated?

In the early days, Scots won the first 29 Opens – not a shocker since they were all played at one of three Scottish courses, Prestwick, St. Andrews and Musselburgh. In the current era, going back to 1999 (we'll explain why that year in a minute), the scoreboard is United States, nine wins; South Africa, three wins; Ireland, two wins; Northern Ireland, two wins; and Sweden, one win. The only Scot to win in that period was Lawrie, who took advantage of one of the biggest collapses in golf history.

Who is this year's defending champion?

That would be American Jordan Spieth, who survived an adventerous final round to defeat Matt Kuchar by three strokes and earn the third leg of the career Grand Slam.

What is the trophy called?

The claret jug. It's official name is the Golf Champion Trophy, but you rarely hear that used. The claret jug replaced the original Challenge Belt in 1872. The winner of the claret jug gets to keep it for a year, then must return it (each winner gets a replica to keep).

Which Opens have been the most memorable?

Well, there was Palmer in 1961and '62; Van de Velde's collapse in 1999; Hogan's win in 1953; Tiger Woods' eight-shot domination of the 2000 Open at St. Andrews; Watson almost winning at age 59 in 2009; Doug Sanders missing what would have been a winning 3-foot putt at St. Andrews in 1970; Tony Jacklin becoming the first Briton to win the championship in 18 years; and, of course, the Duel in the Sun at Turnberry in 1977, in which Watson and Jack Nicklaus dueled head-to-head over the final 36 holes, Watson winning by shooting 65-65 to Nicklaus' 65-66.

When I watch this tournament on TV, I hear lots of unfamiliar terms, like "gorse" and "whin" and "burn." What do these terms mean?

Gorse is a prickly shrub, which sometimes is referred to as whin. Heather is also a shrub. What the scots call a burn, would also be considered a creek or stream.