Cut Line: Slow-heim Cup

By Rex HoggardSeptember 30, 2011, 7:18 pm

Two Cups added up to one full Sunday last week, with the emotionally-charged Solheim version setting the table for overtime at East Lake and Bill Haas’ shot-of-the-year performance.

It was so good that one almost wonders if golf really needs a spot at the Olympic table, but we digress.

Made Cut

Solheim Cup. Cut Line didn’t think the European team had to win this one or risk the matches become irrelevant, but a shootout on Sunday was needed to wrest the event out of a series of one-sided affairs.

Sunday in Ireland delivered both in the form of a fiercely contested win for the home team, to say nothing of the emotional withdrawal of America’s Cristie Kerr.

As for those who questioned Kerr’s injury-induced decision not to play, which cost the U.S. side a point but not the matches, they must not have been paying attention to her pained attempts to warm up Sunday morning.

We would also suggest the Solheim Cup powers consider hosting the event in Ireland every year. The morning viewing meshed nicely with the Tour Championship and getting to celebrate Arthur Guinness Day – that’s right, that Guinness – is always worth a trip to the Emerald Isle.

FedEx Cup. Sure the math could send the easily confused into seizures and the nonstop parade of potential winners was enough to flummox even the Tour’s own statisticians on Sunday, but two players going mano-a-mano for the Tour Championship, the FedEx Cup and a $10 million lifeline delivered all the competitive clarity one could want.

The system is not perfect, and given the nature of the game it may never be, but if the last hour of play at East Lake didn’t captivate then nothing will.

Maybe Haas’ out-of-the-pack victory doesn’t exactly fit the mold of a season-long competition – he was 25th on the points list to begin the week and winless in ’11 until the finale – but wild-card teams win championships all the time and no one ever said the 2007 New York Giants didn’t “deserve” the title . . . wait, scratch that.

Tweet of the Week: @Keegan_Bradley “I do not get why people say using a belly putter or long putter should not be allowed because it’s unfair blah blah. Everyone can use it!”

Blah, blah, blah couldn’t agree more.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

LPGA. So this was all an accounting issue. All involved had to assure the “t’s” were crossed and the “i’s” were dotted. Commissioner Mike Whan just needed the proper paperwork to rubber stamp and young Lexi Thompson could be on her way to tour membership and history.

“Lexi Thompson is a unique talent who has continued to grow, develop and mature both on and off the golf course since turning professional in 2010,” Whan said. “Her overall performance, most recently demonstrated by her win at the Navistar LPGA Classic, has currently placed her among the top 50 in the world on the Rolex Rankings. . . . Therefore, effective at the start of our 2012 season, Lexi will officially become a member of the LPGA Tour.”

But if this was all about procedure, why did it feel so personal? If Thompson was such a “unique talent” why not just concede as much following her victory in Alabama? And, most importantly, what is Cut Line supposed to do with this gross of “Let Lexi Play” t-shirts? That’s what we get for buying in bulk.

Tiger Woods. In the litany of foul balls he’s hit over the last two years or so, this one is, at worst, a misdemeanor – a stop sign he brushed past on his way to greener pastures.

There’s no begrudging either Woods or Joe LaCava for a move made in looper heaven. Where Woods got sideways was not running the impending move past Dustin Johnson, LaCava’s old boss. There are no hard rules when it comes to caddie swaps, but locker-room etiquette calls for the simplest of courtesies, even if by proxy.

Sometime before Sunday afternoon, when LaCava gave Johnson his decision, Woods’ people needed to reach out to Johnson’s people. This isn’t about permission, this is about protocol.

At the Dunhill Links Championship this week, Johnson said he doesn’t have any hard feelings about the split, but just to be safe U.S. Presidents Cup captain Fred Couples may want to avoid that Woods-Johnson fourball pairing at Royal Melbourne.

Missed Cut

Olympic odyssey. Maybe golf was destined for drug testing given the nature of sports today, but Cut Line couldn’t help but cringe recently when news surfaced that the World Anti-Doping Agency is considering a move that would add tobacco to its list of banned substances. It’s a move certain to draw the ire of Tour types if implemented.

On Wednesday, we caught up with Doug Barron, the only player to ever run afoul of the circuit’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs. Barron is currently playing the Nationwide Tour and plans to participate in Tour Q-School this fall following a one-year suspension after testing positive for testosterone, which he was taking under doctor’s orders to regulate a condition for low testosterone.

Barron was granted a “therapeutic use exemption” by the Tour last fall that allowed him to start taking testosterone again.

“I feel so much better, it’s incredible. I have energy back,” Barron said. “The thing is, I haven’t played golf worth a darn. I try my best. It’s tough to get a competitive edge back.”

In short, Barron lost an entire year of his career because the Tour needed to align itself with WADA’s policies for golf to become an Olympic sport. Maybe golf’s inclusion into the 2016 Games will be the boost Tour suits expect it to be, but at what cost?

Slooooow play. Hardly breaking news here, but the glacial pace of play at the Solheim Cup soured many fans on what should have been the LPGA’s moment in the sun.

Three of the four morning matches on Friday exceeded the five-hour, 20-minute allotment for rounds in Ireland. That U.S. captain Rosie Jones wasn’t overly concerned about the languid pace was even more concerning, but this is hardly an LPGA phenomenon.

“If you gave one guy two shots (penalty), the pace of play would pick up 15 percent,” said Joe Ogilvie, one of the PGA Tour’s fastest players. “Give us (distance-finding) lasers – 20 shots a tournament guys have weird angles into pins and take extra time to get yardages. A laser would cut that down by 20 percent.”

Give them golf carts and running shoes for all Cut Line cares, five-plus-hour rounds is too long.

Getty Images

Wie has hand surgery, out for rest of 2018

By Randall MellOctober 18, 2018, 9:43 pm

Michelle Wie will miss the rest of this season after undergoing surgery Thursday to fix injuries that have plagued her right hand in the second half of this year.

Wie announced in an Instagram post that three ailments have been causing the pain in her hand: an avulsion fracture, bone spurs and nerve entrapment.

An avulsion fracture is an injury to the bone where it attaches to a ligament or tendon.

View this post on Instagram

I think John Mayer once said, “Someday, everything will make perfect sense. So for now, laugh at the confusion, smile through the tears, be strong and keep reminding yourself that everything happens for a reason.” A lot of people have been asking me what’s been going on with my hand and I haven’t shared much, because I wasn’t sure what was going on myself. After countless MRI’s, X-rays, CT scans, and doctor consultations, I was diagnosed with having a small Avulsion Fracture, bone spurring, and nerve entrapment in my right hand. After 3 cortisone injections and some rest following the British Open, we were hoping it was going to be enough to grind through the rest of the season, but it just wasn’t enough to get me through. So I made the decision after Hana Bank to withdraw from the rest of the season, come back to the states, and get surgery to fix these issues. It’s been disheartening dealing with pain in my hand all year but hopefully I am finally on the path to being and STAYING pain free! Happy to announce that surgery was a success today and I cannot wait to start my rehab so that I can come back stronger and healthier than ever. Huge thank you to Dr. Weiland’s team at HSS for taking great care of me throughout this process and to all my fans for your unwavering support. It truly means the world to me. I’ll be back soon guys!!!! Promise

A post shared by Michelle Wie (@themichellewie) on

Dr. Andrew Weiland, an attending orthopedic surgeon at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, performed the procedure.

“It’s been disheartening dealing with pain in my hand all year, but, hopefully, I am finally on the path to being and staying pain free,” Wie wrote.

Wie withdrew during the first round of the Ricoh Women’s British Open with the hand injury on Aug. 2 and didn’t play again until teeing it up at the UL International Crown two weeks ago and the KEB Hana Bank Championship last week. She played those events with what she hoped was a new “pain-free swing,” one modeled after Steve Stricker, with more passive hands and wrists. She went 1-3 at the UL Crown and tied for 59th in the limited field Hana Bank.

“After 3 cortisone injections and some rest following the British Open, we were hoping it was going to be enough to grind through the rest of the season, but it just wasn’t enough to get me through,” she wrote.

Buick LPGA Shanghai: Articles, photos and videos

Wie, who just turned 29 last week, started the year saying her top goal was to try to stay injury free. She won the HSBC Women’s World Championship in March, but her goal seemed doomed with a diagnosis of arthritis in both wrists before the year even started.

Over the last few years, Wie has dealt with neck, back, hip, knee and ankle injuries. Plus, there was an emergency appendectomy that knocked her out of action for more than a month late last season. Her wrists have been an issue going back to early in her career.

“I don’t think there is one joint or bone in her body that hasn’t had some sort of injury or issue,” Wie’s long-time swing coach, David Leadbetter, said earlier this year.

Getty Images

Woods receives his Tour Championship trophy

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 18, 2018, 8:57 pm

We all know the feeling of giddily anticipating something in the mail. But it's doubtful that any of us ever received anything as cool as what recently showed up at Tiger Woods' Florida digs.

This was Woods' prize for winning the Tour Championship. It's a replica of "Calamity Jane," Bobby Jones' famous putter. Do we even need to point out that the Tour Championship is played at East Lake, the Atlanta course where Jones was introduced to the game.

Woods broke a victory drought of more than five years by winning the Tour Championhip. It was his 80th PGA Tour win, leaving him just two shy of Sam Snead's all-time record.

Getty Images

Garcia 2 back in storm-halted Andalucia Masters

By Associated PressOctober 18, 2018, 7:08 pm

SOTOGRANDE, Spain  -- Ashley Chesters was leading on 5-under 66 at the Andalucia Valderrama Masters when play was suspended because of darkness with 60 golfers yet to complete their weather-hit first rounds on Thursday.

More than four hours was lost as play was twice suspended because of stormy conditions and the threat of lightning at the Real Club Valderrama in southern Spain.

Full-field scores from the Andalucia Valderrama Masters

English journeyman Chesters collected six birdies and one bogey to take a one-shot lead over Gregory Bourdy of France. Tournament host and defending champion Sergio Garcia was on 68 along with fellow Spaniards Alvaro Quiros and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, and Australia's Jason Scrivener.

''It's a shame I can't keep going because the last few holes were the best I played all day. Considering all the delays and everything, I'm very happy with 5 under,'' Chesters said. ''The forecast for the rest of the week is not very good either so I thought I'll just make as many birdies as I can and get in.''

Getty Images

Caddies drop lawsuit; Tour increases healthcare stipend

By Rex HoggardOctober 18, 2018, 3:33 pm

After nearly four years of litigation, a group of PGA Tour caddies have dropped their lawsuit against the circuit.

The lawsuit, which was filed in California in early 2015, centered on the bibs caddies wear during tournaments and ongoing attempts by the caddies to improve their healthcare and retirement options.

The caddies lost their class-action lawsuit in U.S. District Court and an appeal this year.

Separately, the Association of Professional Tour Caddies, which was not involved in the lawsuit but represents the caddies to the Tour, began negotiating with the circuit last year.

“I told the guys, if we really want a healthy working relationship with the Tour, we need to fix this and open the lines of communication,” said Scott Sajtinac, the president of the APTC.

In January 2017, Jay Monahan took over as commissioner of the Tour and began working with the APTC to find a solution to the healthcare issue. Sajtinac said the Tour has agreed to increase the stipend it gives caddies for healthcare beginning next year.

“It took a year and a half, but it turned out to be a good result,” Sajtinac said. “Our goal is to close that window for the guys because healthcare is such a massive chunk of our income.”

In a statement released by the Tour, officials pointed out the lawsuit and the “potential increase to the longtime caddie healthcare subsidy” are two separate issues.

“Although these two items have been reported together, they are not connected. The PGA Tour looks forward to continuing to support the caddies in the important role they play in the success of our members,” the statement said.

Caddies have received a stipend from the Tour for healthcare for some time, and although Sajtinac wouldn’t give the exact increase, he said it was over 300 percent. Along with the APTC’s ability to now negotiate healthcare plans as a group, the new stipend should dramatically reduce healthcare costs for caddies.

“It’s been really good,” said Sajtinac, who did add that there are currently no talks with the Tour to created a retirement program for caddies. “Everybody is really excited about this.”