Cut Line: Shaky start to 2013 season

By Rex HoggardJanuary 4, 2013, 4:58 pm

For the 27th time in the last 28 seasons, the Hyundai Tournament of Champions opens the PGA Tour calendar on Friday yet there is a very real sense of aloha (it means hello, and goodbye) to this week’s proceedings.

Next season will begin at October’s Open as the circuit transitions to a split-calendar schedule pushing the winners-only event deeper into the annual run and prompting some to wonder about the TOC’s place in the new order.

Made Cut

Good faith. Labor disputes have a nasty way of chasing the innocence from sports (see: NHL, 2012-13 season), but Cut Line was warmed this week to find the high road occupied amid what is turning into a difficult situation for the PGA Tour and its rules officials.

The circuit and the rules officials union failed to reach a new agreement when the old one expired last month, but officials showed up for work at this week’s opener in Kapaula and plan to continue to work despite the unrest.

Although the attorney for the rules officials’ union did not rule out the possibility of a strike, or a lockout, it is an encouraging sign that the show goes on despite the dispute.

“We would never do that (strike) to the players or the fans,” one rules official told Cut Line this week. “We love what we do.”

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Tournament of (missing) Champions. In fairness, this week’s TOC boasts nearly an 80-percent participation rate. That’s better than nearly any other event outside the majors and World Golf Championships, yet the inevitable focus at Kapalua is on who is not there.

Of the 37 different winners last year on Tour, 30 are at the opener. That it is world No. 1 Rory McIlory, No. 2 Luke Donald and No. 3 Tiger Woods who are among the no-shows, however, is a body blow that is difficult from which to recover.

Maybe it’s the venue or the Kona winds or simply the timing of the TOC so close to the holidays, but the event continues to have the feel of an All-Star game that is missing a couple MVPs.

Captain’s call. The PGA of America’s move to name Tom Watson captain of the next U.S. Ryder Cup team has created an interesting chess match for the Europeans, who will name the 2014 skipper for the Continent later this month in Abu Dhabi.

In December, Darren Clarke, one of the leading candidates for the ’14 gig, suggested Europe would need a “big presence” captain to match Watson and some considered that a call for Colin Montgomerie to have another turn at the big chair.

The idea is that the Scot, who never lost a singles match in eight Ryder Cups, would somehow mitigate Watson’s popularity with the Scottish galleries at Gleneagles. But Cut Line spent some time at the ’14 Ryder Cup venue last year and it should be pointed out that Monty is not as popular of a pick at home as one would think.

Missed Cut

Let the Games begin. It is concerning that the first headline of 2013 regarding McIlroy was a report that he may skip the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil in an attempt to not “upset” anyone with his decision to play for either Ireland or Great Britain.

In a new BBC documentary, the 23-year-old said, “I just think being from where we’re from, we’re placed in a very difficult position. I feel Northern Irish and obviously being from Northern Ireland you have a connection to Ireland and a connection to the UK. If I could and there was a Northern Irish team, I’d play for Northern Ireland.”

It seems returning golf to the Olympics was the easy part. Keeping politics out of the game is the real challenge.

Shark bait. That the membership at Medalist Club didn’t want Greg Norman involved in the redesign of the South Florida layout is understandable (the Shark’s design philosophy isn’t for everyone).

That Norman would have his feelings hurt, and even ask that his and co-designer Pete Dye’s name be removed from the course, is also understandable.

What stretches the boundaries of acceptable behavior, however, is news that Norman has requested that the clubhouse be cleared of any of his memorabilia, including the signature shark above the bar in the men's locker room, according to Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte.

Someone seems to need a timeout, or a hug.

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Five-time Open champ Thomson passes at 88

By Associated PressJune 20, 2018, 1:35 am

MELBOURNE, Australia – Five-time Open Championship winner Peter Thomson has died, his family said Wednesday. He was 88.

Thomson had been suffering from Parkinson's disease for more than four years and died at his Melbourne home surrounded by family members on Wednesday morning.

Born on Aug, 23, 1929, Thomson was two months short of his 89th birthday.

The first Australian to win The Open Championship, Thomson went on to secure the title five times between 1954 and 1965, a record equaled only by Tom Watson.

On the American senior circuit he won nine times in 1985.

Thomson also served as president of the Australian PGA for 32 years, designing and building courses in Australia and around the world, helping establish the Asian Tour and working behind the scenes for the Odyssey House drug rehabilitation organization where he was chairman for five years.

He also wrote for newspapers and magazines for more than 60 years and was patron of the Australian Golf Writers Association.

In 1979 he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his service to golf and in 2001 became an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for his contributions as a player and administrator and for community service.

Thomson is survived by his wife Mary, son Andrew and daughters Deirdre Baker, Pan Prendergast and Fiona Stanway, their spouses, 11 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Funeral arrangements were to be announced over the next few days.

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Gaston leaves USC to become head coach at Texas A&M

By Ryan LavnerJune 19, 2018, 11:00 pm

In a major shakeup in the women’s college golf world, USC coach Andrea Gaston has accepted an offer to become the new head coach at Texas A&M.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Gaston, who informed her players of her decision Monday night, has been one of the most successful coaches over the past two decades, leading the Trojans to three NCAA titles and producing five NCAA individual champions during her 22-year reign. They have finished in the top 5 at nationals in an NCAA-record 13 consecutive seasons.

This year was arguably Gaston’s most impressive coaching job. She returned last fall after undergoing treatment for uterine cancer, but a promising season was seemingly derailed after losing two stars to the pro ranks at the halfway point. Instead, she guided a team with four freshmen and a sophomore to the third seed in stroke play and a NCAA semifinals appearance. Of the four years that match play has been used in the women’s game, USC has advanced to the semifinals three times.  

Texas A&M could use a coach with Gaston’s track record.

Last month the Aggies fired coach Trelle McCombs after 11 seasons following a third consecutive NCAA regional exit. A&M had won conference titles as recently as 2010 (Big 10) and 2015 (SEC), but this year the team finished 13th at SECs.

The head-coaching job at Southern Cal is one of the most sought-after in the country and will have no shortage of outside interest. If the Trojans look to promote internally, men’s assistant Justin Silverstein spent four years under Gaston and helped the team win the 2013 NCAA title.  

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Spieth 'blacked out' after Travelers holeout

By Will GrayJune 19, 2018, 9:44 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – It was perhaps the most-replayed shot (and celebration) of the year.

Jordan Spieth’s bunker holeout to win the Travelers Championship last year in a playoff over Daniel Berger nearly broke the Internet, as fans relived that raucous chest bump between Spieth and caddie Michael Greller after Spieth threw his wedge and Greller threw his rake.

Back in Connecticut to defend his title, Spieth admitted that he has watched replays of the scene dozens of times – even if, in the heat of the moment, he wasn’t exactly choreographing every move.

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“Just that celebration in general, I blacked out,” Spieth said. “It drops and you just react. For me, I’ve had a few instances where I’ve been able to celebrate or react on a 72nd, 73rd hole, 74th hole, whatever it may be, and it just shows how much it means to us.”

Spieth and Greller’s celebration was so memorable that tournament officials later shipped the rake to Greller as a keepsake. It’s a memory that still draws a smile from the defending champ, whose split-second decision to go for a chest bump over another form of celebration provided an appropriate cap to a high-energy sequence of events.

“There’s been a lot of pretty bad celebrations on the PGA Tour. There’s been a lot of missed high-fives,” Spieth said. “I’ve been part of plenty of them. Pretty hard to miss when I’m going into Michael for a chest bump.”

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Pregnant Lewis playing final events before break

By Randall MellJune 19, 2018, 9:27 pm

Stacy Lewis will be looking to make the most of her last three starts of 2018 in her annual return to her collegiate roots this week.

Lewis, due to give birth to her first child on Nov. 3, will tee it up in Friday’s start to the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers, Arkansas. She won the NCAA individual women’s national title in 2007 while playing at the University of Arkansas. She is planning to play the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship next week and then the Marathon Classic two weeks after that before taking the rest of the year off to get ready for her baby’s arrival.

Lewis, 33, said she is beginning to feel the effects of being with child.

“Things have definitely gotten harder, I would say, over the last week or so, the heat of the summer and all that,” Lewis said Tuesday. “I'm actually excited. I'm looking forward to the break and being able to decorate the baby's room and do all that kind of stuff and to be a mom - just super excited.”

Lewis says she is managing her energy levels, but she is eager to compete.

“Taking a few more naps and resting a little bit more,” she said. “Other than that, the game's been pretty good.”

Lewis won the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship in 2014, and she was credited with an unofficial title in ’07, while still a senior at Arkansas. That event was reduced to 18 holes because of multiple rain delays. Lewis is a popular alumni still actively involved with the university.