Cut Line: Scott mending, Lefty ripping

By Rex HoggardAugust 3, 2012, 9:13 pm

Cut Line was sent back to school, or at least reaching for a slide rule, for this week’s edition complete with a confounding breakdown of Reno’s modified Stableford scoring system and a glimpse at the 2013 PGA Tour math, which seems to be a lesson in subtraction.

Made Cut

Great Scott. In his first event since his Lytham letdown Adam Scott was surprisingly forthcoming when he faced reporters this week at Firestone.

Scott, who has never seemed entirely at ease in front of a room full of reporters, said he spent the week since the Open Championship picking apart his finish in search of learning opportunities, not stewing over what could have been.

“I certainly didn't beat myself up and have to curl up in a corner,” Scott said. “The next few days were quiet, but they were just the same as after any other major. I pretty much find myself on the couch for about 48 hours after a major.”

Funny, Cut Line normally finds himself on the couch for 48 hours during a major.

The long and short of Turkey. Still no official word on whether Tiger Woods will play the unofficial-but-lucrative Turkish Airways World Golf Finals in October, but one paper in the United Kingdom has reported that players in the $5.3 million event will be allowed to wear shorts.

Although there have been multiple reports that Woods would play the match-play event that will feature an eight-man field, his manager Mark Steinberg said the deal has not been finalized.

The event is an attempt to improve Turkey’s bid for the 2020 Summer Olympics and will award $1.5 million to the winner. As for the move to allow shorts, Cut Line has forwarded the item to PGA of America officials just in time for next week’s championship in South Carolina, where daytime temperatures are expected to hover above 90 degrees.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Filling a Jones. The Tour is inching toward this fall’s playoffs which means it must be time to take some shots at oft-criticized architect Rees Jones, although with the BMW Championship moving to Crooked Stick from Cog Hill it doesn’t seem worth the effort.

In fact, only East Lake, which Jones restored in 1994, is on the Tour dance card this fall, but that didn’t stop Phil Mickelson from taking a jab seemingly in Jones’ direction this week when Lefty was asked about some of the changes officials have planned for Bethpage’s Black Course which will host The Barclays, the first playoff event.

“I've always been a fan of the original designer's interests in how a golf hole is designed to play from its inception, as opposed to somebody else who comes in and tries to alter it for their own benefit or ego,” Mickelson smiled.

Was it just Cut Line or does Mickelson’s “somebody” sound vaguely familiar?

Making a point. For the first time since the 2006 International, Tour types will play a modified Stableford scoring format at this week’s Reno-Tahoe Open.

The system awards points – 8 for a double eagle, 5 for an eagle, 2 for a birdie, zero for a par, minus-1 for a bogey and minus-3 for a double bogey or worse. Give credit to the opposite-field stop for trying to stand out on a crowded calendar but the contrived scoring could present an interesting dilemma late Sunday as Padraig Harrington pointed out.

“If you’ve got an 8-point lead, you could pick your ball up going down the last and just wave at the crowd,” the Irishman mused. “That would be an interesting one, wouldn't it?  I've done enough, guys. Seventy-one holes is all I have to play this week.”

And you thought the world golf ranking math could get a little crazy.

Tweet of the week: @JustinRose99 “Beautiful day here at Firestone. Little fact for ya. After the rubber workers were laid off the Firestone family used them to hand dig the great South Course to give them work.”

Um, that’s cool . . . I guess.

Missed Cut

When less is less. Give the Tour credit for trying to conjure some lemonade from the lemon that may be the abbreviated 2013 season, but as the circuit transitions to a split-year calendar next year one of the unintended consequences will be fewer playing opportunities for this year’s Tour and Q-School graduates.

The 2013 season will end at the Tour Championship in September followed almost immediately by the 2013-14 campaign that will kick off with what was the fall series, which means four fewer events for players to earn their Tour cards in ’13.

Officials are trying to mitigate the impact of the transition by expanding field sizes in as many as nine events according to The Associated Press. Some spring events are being asked to increase their field size from 144 to 156 and at least three invitational events – the Arnold Palmer Invitational, AT&T National and Colonial – will increase from 120 players to 132.

The move is expected to add an additional 90 spots, but that will do little to make up the difference. All told the Tour will lose 657 playing opportunities because of the transition (132-player field at the Justin Timberlake; 132, Open;132, McGladrey Classic and 128, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic), which means it’s a net loss of 567 playing opportunities in ’13.

Such a reduction made Cut Line curious if the Tour planned a “make good,” maybe a reduced rate for this year’s Q-School? Nope, according to this year’s application players starting at first stage will pay between $4,500 and $6,000, the same as last year.

Seems the Tour is not familiar with the word “prorate.”

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Minjee Lee co-leads Walmart NW Arkansas Championship

By Associated PressJune 24, 2018, 12:25 am

ROGERS, Ark. - Minjee Lee wasn't all that concerned when she missed her first cut of the year this month at the ShopRite LPGA Classic.

The ninth-ranked Australian has certainly looked at ease and back in form at Pinnacle Country Club in her first event since then.

Lee and Japan's Nasa Hataoka each shot 6-under 65 on Saturday to share the second-round lead in the NW Arkansas Championship 13-under 129. Lee is chasing her fifth victory since turning pro three years ago. It's also an opportunity to put any lingering frustration over that missed cut two weeks ago behind her for good.

''I didn't particularly hit it bad, even though I missed the cut at ShopRite, I just didn't really hole any putts,'' Lee said. ''I'd been hitting it pretty solid going into that tournament and even into this tournament, too. Just to see a couple putts roll in has been nice.''

The 22-year-old Lee needed only 24 putts during her opening 64 on Friday, helping her to match the low round of her career. Despite needing 28 putts Saturday, she still briefly took the outright lead after reaching as low as 14 under after a birdie on the par-5 seventh.

Full-field scores from the Walmart Arkansas Championship

Lee missed the green on the par-4 ninth soon thereafter to lead to her only bogey of the day and a tie with the 19-year-old Hataoka, who is in pursuit of her first career win.

Hataoka birdied six of eight holes midway through her bogey-free round on Saturday. It was yet another stellar performance from the Japanese teenager, who has finished in the top 10 in four of her last five tournaments and will be a part of Sunday's final pairing.

''I try to make birdies and try to be under par, that's really the key for me to get a top ten,'' Hataoka said. ''Golf is just trying to be in the top 10 every single week, so that's the key.''

Third-ranked Lexi Thompson matched the low round of the day with a 64 to get to 11 under. She hit 17 of 18 fairways and shot a 5-under 30 on her opening nine, The American is in search of her first win since September in the Indy Women in Tech Championship.

Ariya Jutanugarn and Celine Boutier were 10 under.

First-round leader Gaby Lopez followed her opening 63 with a 75 to drop to 4 under. Fellow former Arkansas star Stacy Lewis also was 4 under after a 72.

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Henley will try to put heat on Casey in final round

By Will GrayJune 23, 2018, 11:55 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – While it will be a tall task for anyone to catch Paul Casey at the Travelers Championship, the man who will start the round most within reach of the Englishman is Russell Henley.

Henley was in the penultimate group at TPC River Highlands on Saturday, but he’ll now anchor things during the final round as he looks to overcome a four-shot deficit behind Casey. After a 3-under 67, Henley sits at 12 under through 54 holes and one shot clear of the three players tied for third.

Henley closed his third round with a run of five straight pars, then became the beneficiary of a pair of late bogeys from Brian Harman that left Henley alone in second place.

Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

“Could have made a couple more putts, but to end with two up-and-downs like that was nice,” Henley said. “I felt a little bit weird over the shots coming in, put me in some bad spots. But it was nice to have the short game to back me up.”

Henley has won three times on Tour, most recently at the 2017 Houston Open, and he cracked the top 25 at both the Masters and U.S. Open. But with Casey riding a wave of confidence and coming off an 8-under 62 that marked the best round of the week, he knows he’ll have his work cut out for him in order to nab trophy No. 4.

“I think I can shoot a low number on this course. You’ve got to make the putts,” Henley said. “I’m definitely hitting it well enough, and if I can get a couple putts to fall, that would be good. But I can’t control what he’s doing. I can just try to keep playing solid.”

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Back from back injury, Casey eyeing another win

By Will GrayJune 23, 2018, 11:36 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Given his four-shot cushion at the Travelers Championship and his recent victory at the Valspar Championship, it’s easy to forget that Paul Casey hit the disabled list in between.

Casey had to withdraw from The Players Championship because of a bad back, becoming the only player in the top 50 in the world rankings to miss the PGA Tour’s flagship event. He flew back to England to get treatment, and Casey admitted that his T-20 finish at last month’s BMW PGA Championship came while he was still on the mend.

“I wasn’t 100 percent fit with the back injury, which was L-4, L-5, S-1 (vertebrae) all out of place,” Casey said. “Big inflammation, nerve pain down the leg and up the back. I didn’t know what was going on.”

Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Thanks in large part to a combination of MRIs, back adjustments and anti-inflammatories, Casey finally turned the corner. His T-16 finish at last week’s U.S. Open was the first event for which he felt fully healthy since before the Players, and he’s on the cusp of a second title since March after successfully battling through the injury.

“We thought we were fixing it, but we weren’t. We were kind of hitting the effects rather than the cause,” Casey said. “Eventually we figured out the cause, which was structural.”

Casey started the third round at TPC River Highlands two shots off the lead, but he’s now four clear of Russell Henley after firing an 8-under 62 that marked the low round of the week.

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Bubba thinks he'll need a Sunday 60 to scare Casey

By Will GrayJune 23, 2018, 11:15 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Perhaps moreso than at most PGA Tour venues, a low score is never really out of reach at TPC River Highlands. Positioned as a welcome change of pace after the U.S. Open, the Travelers Championship offers a lush layout that often pushes the balance much closer to reward than risk.

This is where Jim Furyk shot a 58 on the par-70 layout two years ago – and he didn’t even win that week. So even though Paul Casey enters the final round with a commanding four-shot lead, there’s still plenty of hope for the chase pack that something special could be in store.

Count Bubba Watson among the group who still believe the title is up for grabs – even if it might require a Herculean effort, even by his standards.

Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Watson has won the Travelers twice, including in a 2015 playoff over Casey. But starting the final round in a large tie for sixth at 10 under, six shots behind Casey, he estimates that he’ll need to flirt with golf’s magic number to give the Englishman something to worry about.

“My 7 under yesterday, I need to do better than that. I’m going to have to get to like 10 [under],” Watson said. “The only beauty is, getting out in front, you have a chance to put a number up and maybe scare them. But to scare them, you’re going to have to shoot 10 under at worst, where I’m at anyway.”

Watson started the third round three shots off the lead, and he made an early move with birdies on Nos. 1 and 2 en route to an outward 32. The southpaw couldn’t sustain that momentum, as bogeys on Nos. 16 and 17 turned a potential 65 into a relatively disappointing 67.

“Bad decision on the par-3, and then a very tough tee shot for me on 17, and it just creeped into the bunker,” Watson said. “Just, that’s golf. You have mistakes every once in a while.”