Cut Line: Rors returns just in time

By Rex HoggardDecember 6, 2013, 6:59 pm

There is no cut this week at the Northwestern Mutual World Challenge or the Nedbank Golf Challenge, but between Rory McIlroy’s late-season heroics in Oz and the ongoing legal dust-up between the PGA Tour and Vijay Singh, Cut Line has more than enough material to fill in the blanks.

Made Cut

More “Rors.” Like clockwork the media has detailed every one of Rory McIlroy’s missteps this season, both on and off the course, and perhaps for good reason.

Signing a hefty endorsement deal with Nike was always going to bring scrutiny, and his continued issues with his former management firm, the second agent he’s dismissed in his young career, is concerning.

Fair play, however, demands the critics give credit where it is due, and the Northern Irishman’s victory last week at the Australian Open is an unmistakable sign of progress. Although the Open field was not the deepest, McIlroy out-dueled perhaps the hottest player on the planet, Adam Scott, to claim his first title of 2013.

McIlroy’s 2013 campaign was disappointing, but a little perspective can be helpful. The Ulsterman remained virtually the same in nearly every major statistical category in 2013 compared to ’12 with one exception – strokes gained putting.

And the cavernous difference between seasons? His average was .196 strokes higher in that category in ’13 compared to the previous season. Or, put another way, he was .196 strokes on the wrong side of the thin green line.

Doing right by rookies. Although it took some time, the PGA Tour finally got around to filling in a hole that had affected the Rookie of the Year Award for some time.

Starting with the 2013-14 season, the circuit will define a rookie season as the year when a player participates in 10 or more events as a member or finishes in the top 125 as a member on the money list.

New to 2013-14, however, is a stipulation that would remove a player from rookie-of-the-year consideration if he played in more than seven events on Tour as a pro in any prior season.

Call it the Trevor Immelman addendum. In 2006, the South African won the Rookie of the Year Award having played 14 times on Tour in ’05 and 12 times in ’04 and ’03. While Immelman’s 2006 season was impressive - he won the Western Open and finished runner-up on two other occasions - he was, by most definitions, a Tour veteran.

Still, that it took a half-dozen years to close this loophole is baffling. And you thought slow play was an issue only between the ropes.

Tweet of the week:

@JasonDufner “Since @TigerWoods is not being nice, I need your bag @PGA_JohnDaly that has the TV on it for next Saturday.”

The Duf was concerned that he would miss his beloved Auburn Tigers playing Missouri in the SEC Championship game on Saturday. The PGA champion had jokingly “petitioned” Woods, the host for this week’s Northwestern Mutual World Challenge, to play 36 holes on Thursday and Friday so he wouldn’t miss the game. According to Dufner, the host was less than accommodating. He must still be upset over Stanford’s loss to USC.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

So long to Sherwood. This week’s World Challenge at tony Sherwood Country Club will be the last, ending a 13-year run for Woods that was his only competitive tie to his Los Angeles childhood.

The event will move to Isleworth near Orlando, Fla., in 2014 and reports suggest it will head to the Bahamas after that, a move that seems to have been prompted more by financial realities than geographic sentimentality.

“It was just a lot of factors, but certainly title sponsorship is a key part of it,” explained Greg McLaughlin, president and CEO of the Tiger Woods Foundation. “So definitively, if we had someone who said, ‘You have to stay here,’ then we’d stay here. But that wasn’t the case.”

Sponsorship realities aside, this week’s World Challenge will likely be Woods’ last L.A. area start for some time and the host, who grew up in nearby Cypress, Calif., admitted this would be an “emotional” Sunday.

Unless caddie Joe LaCava can talk his boss into playing the Northern Trust Open or the powers that be at the PGA of America or U.S. Golf Association decide to bring a major back to the area, Sunday may be Woods’ competitive swan song from the City of Angels.

Missed Cut

Spike-mark gate. The unsavory episode involving Simon Dyson and the infamous tapping down of a spike mark during the BMW Masters in October came to a confusing conclusion this week.

The European Tour’s disciplinary panel ruled “that act was committed by him in knowledge of the rule forbidding such act.”

Yet a few paragraphs later the panel stated that Dyson’s “conduct on the occasion in question involved a momentary aberration on his part, not a premeditated act of cheating.”

It all added up to a two-month suspension that will be deferred for 18 months as long as he avoids another rules snafu. If he weathers his 18 months of probation the suspension will be dropped.

Not for nothing, but Dyson should be more flummoxed by a £30,000 fine, and £7,500 in administration fees, the panel slapped on him. For £37,500 one would have expected something a little more definitive.

Testy times. While attorneys for Vijay Singh and the PGA Tour await a New York judge’s ruling on the circuit’s motion to dismiss the Fijian’s lawsuit, the stakes were elevated last week as the sides settled in for what promises to be a prolonged discovery clash.

Singh’s lawyers, in their attempts to show the Tour’s anti-doping policy is arbitrary, have requested a litany of documents – including anything related to a “possible or actual violation of the program” by five specific players.

On Tuesday, the Tour fired back.

“These individuals have nothing to do with this litigation,” the Tour’s attorney Jeffrey Mishkin wrote in a brief that was filed on Dec. 2. “Singh cannot and should not be permitted, in the guise of discovery, to engage in a fishing expedition that risks further harm to the interests of these and other third-party golfers.”

It seems about right that one of the most contentious years in golf would end with even more vitriol.

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Match-by-match: WGC-Dell Technologies, Sweet 16

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 24, 2018, 4:00 pm

Here is how things played out in the Round of 16 on Saturday at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play. The week began with 64 players taking on Austin Country Club,but the field is dwindling. Click here for Day 3 match results:

Match 97: Bubba Watson (35) def. Brian Harman (18), 2 and 1. Watson was 1 down going to the eighth hole, but he won four of the next five holes to turn around this battle of lefties. A 12-foot putt for eagle at the 12th dropped, giving him a 3 up lead coming home. It was Watson’s second eagle of the day. He looks as if he’s still riding the confidence from that Genesis Open victory last month. Watson will advance to play the winner of the Kiradech Aphibarnrat/Charles Howell III match in the quarterfinals.  

Match 100: Justin Thomas (2) def. Si Woo Kim (50), 6 and 5. Thomas remains on fire in this format, steamrolling Kim a day after completing a round-robin sweep of his group by blowing away Francesco Molinari, 7 and 5. The Kim match felt like it was over shortly after it started, with Thomas making the turn 5 up. Thomas will advance to play the winner of the Sergio Garcia/Kyle Stanley match in the quarterfinals.  

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Winning on Kerr's mind this week and beyond

By Randall MellMarch 24, 2018, 2:11 am

Cristie Kerr moved into position Friday to do more than win the 21st LPGA title of her career.

She moved into position to claim an LPGA Hall of Fame point this week.

Yes, winning is foremost on her mind at the Kia Classic, where she took the lead with an 8-under-par 64 in the second round, she’s on a larger quest, too.

After turning 40 last fall, Kerr was asked what her goals are.

“The Hall of Fame is attainable, if I stick with it,” she said.

Kerr is five shots ahead of Lizette Salas (67), In-Kyung Kim (69), Hee Young Park (70) and Caroline Hedwall (70).

It’s a good time for Kerr to get on a hot streak, with the year’s first major championship, the ANA Inspiration, next week. She has long been one of the best putters in the women’s game, but her ball-striking is impressive this week. She hit 17 greens in regulation Thursday, and she hit 16 on Friday.

“I like winning,” Kerr said. “I like challenging myself. Definitely doesn't get any easier as you get older, with the travel and recovery time. I got up this morning and I'm like, `Man, why does my hamstring hurt?’ From working around this hilly golf course.”

Kerr acknowledged Friday that her body is more vulnerable to time’s realities, but her mind isn’t.

Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

“The golf ball doesn't know an age,” Kerr said. “I've always said that. As long as I stay hungry, going to just keep playing.”

Kerr won two weeks after her 40th birthday last fall, boosting her LPGA Hall of Fame point total to 22. She is five points short of eligibility for induction. A player earns one point for an LPGA victory and two points for a major championship title. So there’s a lot of Hall of Fame ground to gain this week and next.

It’s a long-term goal that motivates Kerr to take care of her body.

“I don't think the golf changes,” Kerr said. “I think, physically, it gets harder as you get older. Like I said, I've got tape on my hamstring. I strained it, just a little bit yesterday, walking around this golf course. It's tough as you get older, just being fresh and rested. I put more focus into that as I've gotten older. I still practice, but off the course I try to get more rest.”

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Big names chasing Kerr into the weekend at Kia Classic

By Associated PressMarch 24, 2018, 1:55 am

CARLSBAD, Calif. - Cristie Kerr shot an 8-under 64 on Friday in the Kia Classic to take a five-stroke lead into the weekend.

The 40-year-old Kerr had eight birdies in her second straight bogey-free round to reach 13-under 131 at rain-softened Aviara.

''I like winning. I like challenging myself,'' Kerr said. ''Definitely doesn't get any easier as you get older with the travel and recovery time. I got up this morning and I'm like, 'Man, why does my hamstring hurt?' From working around this hilly golf course. The golf ball doesn't know an age. I've always said that. As long as I stay hungry, going to just keep playing.''

She has 20 LPGA victories, winning at Aviara in 2015. She won twice last year and helped the U.S. beat Europe in her ninth Solheim Cup appearance.

''It's tough as you get older just being fresh and rested,'' Kerr said. ''I put more focus into that as I've gotten older. I still practice, but off the course I try to get more rest.''

Lizette Salas, In-Kyung Kim, Hee Young Park and Caroline Hedwall were tied for second. Salas shot 67, Kim 69, and Park and Hedwall 70.

''I really like this golf course. I really like the environment,'' said Salas, the former University of Southern California player from Azusa. ''My family gets to come out. So much confidence at the beginning of the week, and definitely showed the first two days.

Jeong Eun Lee was 7 under after a 69, and defending ANA champion So Yeon Ryu had a 70 to get to 6 under.

Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

Ariya Jutanugarn (72), Brooke Henderson (70) and 2016 winner Lydia Ko (71) were 5 under. Shanshan Feng (68) was another stroke back, and Singapore winner Michelle Wie (72) was 1 under.

Lexi Thompson was 2 over after a 74, making the cut on the number in the final event before the major ANA Inspiration next week at Mission Hills.

Kerr opened with birdies on the par-5 10th and par-3 11th, added birdies on the par-4 16th, 18th and second, and ran off three in a row on the par-3 sixth, par-4 seventh and par-5 eighth.

''I don't think you can fall asleep on one shot,'' Kerr said. ''It's a really good golf course. I think I play better on courses that demand the focus, so I think that's why I've played well here in the past. ... I'm trying not to put limits on myself right now. I've got some good things going on with my swing.''

She has long been one best putters and green-readers in the world.

''I can see the subtleties that a lot of people can't,'' Kerr said. ''It's a gift from God being able to do that. I've always had that, so I'm lucky.''

Laura Davies withdrew after an opening 82. The 54-year-old Davies tied for second last week in the Founders Cup in Phoenix, playing through painful left Achilles and calf problems.

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DJ hits 489-yard drive, but it doesn't count for history

By Rex HoggardMarch 24, 2018, 12:22 am

AUSTIN, Texas – Dustin Johnson is no stranger to big drives, but even for DJ this one was impressive.

Trailing in his Day 3 match at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, Johnson launched a drive at the par-5 12th hole that traveled 489 yards, but that number comes with an asterisk.

“He got lucky it hit the road,” smiled Kevin Kisner, who was leading the world No. 1, 3 up, at the time. “I thought he would make an eagle for sure, he only had 80 yards [to the hole]. He didn’t hit a very good putt.”

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Full bracket | Scoring | Group standings

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Articles, photos and videos

Johnson’s drive, which was 139 yards past Kisner’s tee shot, is the longest recorded on the PGA Tour in the ShotLink era, surpassing Davis Love III’s drive of 476 yards in 2004 at the Tournament of Champions.

The drive will not go into the record books, however, because the Tour doesn’t count statistics from the Match Play.

It should also be noted, Kisner halved the 12th hole with a birdie and won the match, 4 and 3, to advance to the round of 16.