Cut Line: Saluting St. Andrews and booing Bubba

By Rex HoggardFebruary 5, 2016, 4:00 pm

Golf, like real estate, is all about location, location, location. The over-50 set, for example, enjoyed a dramatic upgrade this week with news that the Senior Open Championship is bound for the Old Course; while Bubba Watson would rather be, well, anywhere that’s not TPC Scottsdale.

Made Cut

Seniors to St. Andrews. With apologies to Augusta National, Pinehurst and Pebble Beach, there is no better place to hold a tournament, be it a major or otherwise, than the Home of Golf and news this week that the R&A will bring the Senior Open Championship to the Old Course for the first time qualifies as a major victory.

“They have allowed not just me, but many other great champions, an opportunity to return to a venue that means so much to everyone who plays the game,” said Tom Watson, who thought he’d taken his final stroll down the Old Course’s 18th fairway at last year’s Open.

From the quirky, ancient links to the Auld Grey Toon, everything about St. Andrews makes championships special and the 2018 Senior Open will be no different.

Looping legend. There are no caddies in the World Golf Hall of Fame, but if there were, Dave Renwick would be a first-ballot addition.

Renwick died on Feb. 4 after a lengthy battle with cancer. The 62-year-old was on the bag when three different players won major championships, starting with Jose Maria Olazabal at the 1994 Masters.

The next year he caddied for Steve Elkington when the Australian won the 1995 PGA Championship, but he enjoyed the most success while working for Vijay Singh, who he teamed with in June 1997.

Renwick worked for Singh when the Fijian won the 1998 PGA Championship, ’00 Masters and ’04 PGA Championship, the latter a season that included nine victories on the PGA Tour and Singh ascending to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking.

Players, caddies and officials wore black ribbons on Thursday at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic to honor Renwick; and Golf Digest’s John Huggan deftly described a life fully lived: “Renwick fit a variety of Caledonian stereotypes: Tough and uncompromising, an occasional hard drinker, honest to a fault.”

Tweet of the week: @thomaslevetgolf (Thomas Levet) “RIP Dave [Renwick]. You will be missed on tour, one of the top caddies if not the best.  #daverenwick”

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

“Gimmegate” revisited. You know the deal: if the headline is big enough, the news is big enough; and the LPGA’s decision to pair Suzann Pettersen and Alison Lee on Day 1 at the Coates Golf Championship was an example of this axiom.

“What happened back five months ago, I can barely remember,” Pettersen said.

To refresh Pettersen’s memory, Lee was a little too quick to rake a putt during her fourball match against Pettersen at last September’s Solheim Cup. The American thought the putt had been conceded and the incident led to a furor over sportsmanship.

The reunion went off without incident after Lee was able to get a pre-round nosebleed under control and both players dismissed the notion there are any unresolved issues.

As for the pairing it seemed a tad forced – that is, of course, unless you subscribe to the notion that the computer “randomly” spit out that pairing – but people are talking, which is never a bad thing.

Wheels of justice. Wednesday marked the one-year anniversary of the lawsuit filed by a group of caddies – which has ballooned to more than 160 plaintiffs – against the PGA Tour for what they claim are unpaid endorsement fees.

Little has changed since the original complaint was filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, with the majority of work in recent months focused on a request for a venue change (which was denied) and the Tour’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit (which is pending).

Both sides are currently in a holding pattern while judge Vince Chhabria considers the motion to dismiss, and the next management conference is scheduled for later this month.

In short, the court doesn’t appear to be in any rush to decide this case. As Sun Tzu once famously wrote, “The wheels of justice grind slow, but grind fine.”

Missed Cut

Being Bubba. By any measure, TPC Scottsdale is a bomber’s golf course. Look no further than the list of champions at the Waste Management Phoenix Open – Brooks Koepka, J.B. Holmes, Phil Mickelson, et al – to prove the point.

That, however, didn’t stop Bubba Watson, the poster child for the bombing set, from venting this week that the new and improved TPC Scottsdale isn’t to his liking.

“I don't like it. I'm not going to PC it. I don't like it at all. I just mentioned why I'm here. I've got three beautiful sponsors that love it here,” Watson said.

Despite having finished runner-up twice at TPC Scottsdale, which underwent a renovation before last year’s event, it’s Bubba’s Phoenix-area sponsors – Ping, Stance Socks and Oakley – that drew him to the Valley of the Sun, not a wide open golf course that favors the long ball.

The media should celebrate honest, unfiltered answers, but in the case of Bubba an “honest take” shouldn’t be an excuse for fundamentally flawed logic.

Follow the money. Late last year at the Hero World Challenge Tour commissioner Tim Finchem was asked his thoughts on appearance fees, which are not allowed in the United States but regularly lure top players to overseas events like last month’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship.

“There isn't anything happening out there that would say the guidelines are starting to get pushed by players in typically unique situations,” Finchem said. “Certain places have a fair amount of appearance money and it can, in turn, go to the player’s head.”

Appearance fees have become a talking point in recent days following world No. 1 Jordan Spieth’s jet-setting schedule to start the year with events in Maui (Hyundai Tournament of Champions), the United Arab Emirates (Abu Dhabi) and the Singapore Open.

But it’s the thinly veiled appearance fees that have been largely overlooked by the Tour. Rickie Fowler won the Abu Dhabi stop and flew directly to San Diego to play last week’s Farmers Insurance Open, where he missed the cut.

It’s safe to say Fowler wouldn’t have played Torrey Pines if Farmers Insurance weren’t one of his sponsors. To be fair to Fowler, there are dozens of Tour players with similar sponsorship deals that influence schedules.

It’s become a common practice driven by a competitive marketplace, the free market at work. What seems out of place, however, is Finchem’s decision to take such a high-minded approach to traditional appearance fees while ignoring the more nuanced version here in the United States.

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Storms halt Barbasol before Lincicome tees off

By Associated PressJuly 20, 2018, 11:29 pm

NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - Brittany Lincicome will have to wait until the weekend to resume her bid to make the cut in a PGA Tour event.

Overnight storms delayed the start of the second round Friday in the Barbasol Championship, and an afternoon thunderstorm suspended competition for good. The round will resume Saturday morning with much of the field still to play.

The second stoppage at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came 20 minutes before Lincicome's scheduled tee time.

Lincicome was near the bottom of the field after opening with a 6-over 78 on Thursday. The first LPGA player since Michelle Wie in 2008 to start a PGA Tour event, she needs a huge rebound to join Babe Zaharias (1945) as the only female players to make the cut.

Troy Merritt had the clubhouse lead at 15 under, following an opening 62 with a 67.

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Third-round tee times for the 147th Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 9:05 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Eighteen major champions made the cut at The Open and will be playing the weekend at Carnoustie, including 60-year-old ageless wonder Bernhard Langer, and both major champs so far this year, Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka.

Twenty-four-year-old Gavin Green will be first off solo Saturday at 4:15 a.m. ET. Reed and Rhys Enoch will follow along 10 minutes later.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, both at even par for the tournament, six shots behind leaders Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner, are in consecutive groups. Mickelson is playing with Austin Cook at 8:05 a.m. and Woods is with South Africa’s Shaun Norris at 8:15 a.m.

Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, both three shots off the lead, are also in consecutive groups. Fowler is at 10 a.m. with Thorbjorn Olesen and Spieth is 10 minutes later with Kevin Chappell. Rory McIlroy, looking to win his first major since the 2014 PGA Championship, is at 10:40 a.m. with Xander Schauffele. McIlroy is two shots behind.

Johnson and Kisner are last off at 11 a.m.

4:15AM ET: Gavin Green

4:25AM ET: Rhys Enoch, Patrick Reed

4:35AM ET: Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Justin Rose

4:45AM ET: Yusaku Miyazato, Tyrrell Hatton

4:55AM ET: Ross Fisher, Keegan Bradley

5:05AM ET: Ryan Fox, Jason Dufner

5:15AM ET: Bryson DeChambeau, Henrik Stenson

5:25AM ET: Tom Lewis, Sam Locke (a)

5:35AM ET: Paul Casey, Chris Wood

5:45AM ET: Bernhard Langer, Rafa Cabrera Bello

6:00AM ET: Paul Dunne, Brett Rumford

6:10AM ET: Masahiro Kawamura, Shubhankar Sharma

6:20AM ET: Cameron Smith, Brendan Steele

6:30AM ET: Marc Leishman, Lee Westwood

6:40AM ET: Byeong Hun An, Kevin Na

6:50AM ET: Julian Suri, Adam Hadwin

7:00AM ET: Gary Woodland, Si-Woo Kim

7:10AM ET: Yuta Ikeda, Satoshi Kodaira

7:20AM ET: Marcus Kinhult, Thomas Pieters

7:30AM ET: Beau Hossler, Haotong Li

7:45AM ET: Cameron Davis, Sean Crocker

7:55AM ET: Louis Oosthuizen, Stewart Cink

8:05AM ET: Phil Mickeslon, Austin Cook

8:15AM ET: Tiger Woods, Shaun Norris

8:25AM ET: Lucas Herbert, Michael Kim

8:35AM ET: Jason Day, Francesco Molinari

8:45AM ET: Sung Kang, Webb Simpson

8:55AM ET: Patrick Cantlay, Eddie Pepperell

9:05AM ET: Matthew Southgate, Brooks Koepka

9:15AM ET: Kyle Stanley, Adam Scott

9:30AM ET: Charley Hoffman, Alex Noren

9:40AM ET: Ryan Moore, Brandon Stone

9:50AM ET: Luke List, Danny Willett

10:00AM ET: Thorbjorn Olesen, Rickie Fowler

10:10AM ET: Jordan Spieth, Kevin Chappell

10:20AM ET: Zander Lombard, Tony Finau

10:30AM ET: Matt Kuchar, Erik Van Rooyen

10:40AM ET: Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele

10:50AM ET: Pat Perez, Tommy Fleetwood

11:00AM ET: Kevin Kisner, Zach Johnson

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Facial hair Fowler's new good-luck charm

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 8:12 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Before, during and after the Fourth of July, Rickie Fowler missed a few appointments with his razor.

He arrived in the United Kingdom for last week’s Scottish Open still unshaved and he tied for sixth place. Fowler, like most golfers, can give in to superstition, so he's decided to keep the caveman look going for this week’s Open Championship.

“There could be some variations,” he smiled following his round on Friday at Carnoustie.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

At this rate, he may never shave again. Fowler followed an opening 70 with a 69 on Friday to move into a tie for 11th place, just three strokes off the lead.

Fowler also has some friendly competition in the beard department, with his roommate this week Justin Thomas also going for the rugged look.

“I think he kind of followed my lead in a way. I think he ended up at home, and he had a little bit of scruff going. It's just fun,” Fowler said. “We mess around with it. Obviously, not taking it too seriously. But like I said, ended up playing halfway decent last week, so I couldn't really shave it off going into this week.”

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Spieth (67) rebounds from tough Round 1 finish

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 7:55 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Guess whose putter is starting to heat up again at a major?

Even with a few wayward shots Friday at Carnoustie, Jordan Spieth made a significant climb up the leaderboard in the second round, firing a 4-under 67 to move just three shots off the lead.

Spieth showed his trademark grit in bouncing back from a rough finish Thursday, when he mis-clubbed on the 15th hole, leading to a double bogey, and ended up playing the last four holes in 4 over.

“I don’t know if I actually regrouped,” he said. “It more kind of fires me up a little.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Spieth missed more than half of his fairways in the second round, but he was able to play his approach shots from the proper side of the hole. Sure, he “stole a few,” particularly with unlikely birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 after errant drives, but he took advantage and put himself in position to defend his claret jug.

Spieth needed only 25 putts in the second round, and he credited a post-round adjustment Thursday for the improvement. The tweak allows his arms to do more of the work in his stroke, and he said he felt more confident on the greens.

“It’s come a long way in the last few months, no doubt,” he said.

More than anything, Spieth was relieved not to have to play “cut-line golf” on Friday, like he’s done each start since his spirited run at the Masters.

“I know that my swing isn’t exactly where I want it to be; it’s nowhere near where it was at Birkdale,” he said. “But the short game is on point, and the swing is working in the right direction to get the confidence back.”