Cut Line: Sorenstam, McIlroy need not apologize for opinions

By Rex HoggardApril 5, 2013, 4:39 pm

The major season has officially arrived with this week’s Kraft Nabisco Championship and Cut Line goes for the Grand Slam with a major player (Stacy Lewis), a major misunderstanding (Annika Sorenstam and Michelle Wie), a major concern (2016 Olympic golf course) and a major faux pas (TPC San Antonio).

Made Cut

Stacy Lewis. If the world No. 1 is a tad too vanilla for some, consider that Lewis spent the week before the season’s first major championship not scouting the Mission Hills course for this week’s Kraft Nabisco or searching for answers on a lonely practice tee, but instead giving pep talks and advice to the Arkansas women’s golf team.

In an example of extreme pro bono work, Lewis is listed as a volunteer assistant coach for the Razorbacks and spent last week at the Bryan National Collegiate in Greensboro, N.C.

“It was unbelievable,” Arkansas coach Shauna Estes-Taylor told Cut Line. “The team would tee off at 9:30 (a.m.), but she would be up at 5:30 to work out, spend the day with the team and then head to the range to practice afterward. She has such an unbelievable work ethic.”

After each round, Lewis would talk to the team and the Razorbacks responded, finishing second at the Bryan Collegiate. Guess it’s true that when the world No. 1 talks, people really do listen.

Straight talk. Here’s the rub, writers and wags lament the lack of straight shooters in sports and the parade of ubiquitous clichés – you know: at the end of the day it really is what it is – and yet when a player gives it to us straight we pick them apart like Texas road kill.

The most recent example of this came this week when Rory McIlroy was asked about his current lack of consistency and his decision to play the Texas Open.

“I don't care if I miss 10 cuts in a row if I win a major a year. I don't care. I mean, that's what it's all about is winning the big tournaments,” he said. “When people look back on a person's career, you don't say Jack Nicklaus was so consistent. You could say he finished 19 times second in a major. But what you think about is the 18 majors he won.”

McIlroy’s truth may not sit well with the folks at the Texas Open or in the press center, but that’s not the Ulsterman’s fault.


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Straight talk, II. For many, Annika Sorenstam’s take on Michelle Wie’s wayward career was spot on and nothing that hasn’t been said numerous times over the past few years.

“She has a long way to go, let’s put it that way. There was a time when the LPGA really needed her. I thought she had a lot to bring to the table. Now she’s one out of many,” Sorenstam told Golf.com.

What lands the Swede in MDF is the apparent need for a 180 when her comments began circulating at the Kraft Nabisco.

“(Sorenstam) actually reached out to me last night, said a couple of things got misquoted,” Wie said on Thursday after her first round at Mission Hills. “I thought that was really nice of her to reach out to me. She apologized for what she said, and that's that.”

Perhaps Sorenstam was misquoted in the Q&A and an apology was in order, but if any player has earned the right to offer constructive criticism it is the former world No. 1. No apologies required.

Tweet of the week: @LukeDonad “A member just challenged me to a closet (to) the pin chipping contest, $5 a shot – love when that happens.”

Cut Line has lost his share of “friendly bets” on the golf course, but this much is certain – never, ever get into a money game with a Tour type, particularly a chipping contest with arguably the circuit’s preeminent short-game guru.


Missed Cut

When hard and horrendous collide. TPC San Antonio was the second-toughest golf course on Tour last year (non-major championship category) and lived up to its tough-as-nails reputation on Thursday with about a quarter of the Texas Open field posting scores under par – and that’s not necessarily a good thing.

“Greg Norman designs golf courses to test professional golfers, not to please professional golfers,” Padraig Harrington said following Round 1 on the Norman-designed AT&T Oaks Course.

Although the Irishman was doing his best to be diplomatic, that sounds a lot like a more updated version of “It’s the best course of its kind.”

We used this line in last week’s edition, but it seems apropos to give it another run: “At some point in time golf course architects need to understand that hard and good are not synonymous,” Paul Goydos said.

Blame it on Rio. Gil Hanse is the refreshing exception to Goydos’ take on modern architecture, designing golf courses that can fairly test the world’s best and be enjoyed by the average player. If only he could begin his handiwork at the 2016 Olympic golf course in Brazil.

Another ground breaking deadline came and went this week at the Rio course with little action because of an ongoing land dispute and legal wrangling.

“Clearing continues, ground looks great with trees removed,” Hanse said in a text message to Cut Line. “The equipment (is) on site ready to go once we get the go ahead.”

The original ground breaking was scheduled for last October and officials had hoped to get started on April 1. Although there is still time for an adequate grow-in (18 months) and a professional test event sometime in 2015, organizers are officially on the clock.

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Johnson begins Open week as 12/1 betting favorite

By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 5:15 pm

Dustin Johnson heads into The Open as the top-ranked player in the world, and he's also an understandable betting favorite as he looks to win a second career major.

Johnson has not played since the U.S. Open, where he led by four shots at the halfway point and eventually finished third. He has three top-10 finishes in nine Open appearances, notably a T-2 finish at Royal St. George's in 2011.

Johnson opened as a 12/1 favorite when the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook first published odds for Carnoustie after the U.S. Open, and he remains at that number with the first round just three days away.

Here's a look at the latest odds on some of the other top contenders, according to the Westgate:

12/1: Dustin Johnson

16/1: Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose

20/1: Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood, Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm

25/1: Jason Day, Henrik Stenson, Tiger Woods

30/1: Sergio Garcia, Francesco Molinari, Paul Casey, Alex Noren, Patrick Reed

40/1: Hideki Matsuyama, Marc Leishman, Branden Grace, Tyrrell Hatton

50/1: Phil Mickelson, Ian Poulter, Matthew Fitzpatrick

60/1: Russell Knox, Louis Oosthuizen, Matt Kuchar, Bryson DeChambeau, Zach Johnson, Tony Finau, Bubba Watson

80/1: Lee Westwood, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Thomas Pieters, Xander Schauffele

100/1: Shane Lowry, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker, Ryan Fox, Thorbjorn Olesen

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Woods needs top-10 at Open to qualify for WGC

By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 4:34 pm

If Tiger Woods is going to qualify for the final WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club, he'll need to do something he hasn't done in five years this week at The Open.

Woods has won eight times at Firestone, including his most recent PGA Tour victory in 2013, and has openly stated that he would like to qualify for the no-cut event in Akron before it shifts to Memphis next year. But in order to do so, Woods will need to move into the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking after this week's event at Carnoustie.

Woods is currently ranked No. 71 in the world, down two spots from last week, and based on projections it means that he'll need to finish no worse than a tie for eighth to have a chance of cracking the top 50. Woods' last top-10 finish at a major came at the 2013 Open at Muirfield, where he tied for sixth.


Updated Official World Golf Ranking


There are actually two OWGR cutoffs for the Bridgestone, July 23 and July 30. That means that Woods could theoretically still add a start at next week's RBC Canadian Open to chase a spot in the top 50, but he has said on multiple occasions that this week will be his last start of the month. The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational will be played Aug. 2-5.

There wasn't much movement in the world rankings last week, with the top 10 staying the same heading into the season's third major. Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm. Defending Open champ Jordan Spieth is ranked sixth, with Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Tommy Fleetwood rounding out the top 10.

Despite taking the week off, Sweden's Alex Noren moved up three spots from No. 14 to No. 11, passing Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Paul Casey.

John Deere Classic champ Michael Kim went from No. 473 to No. 215 in the latest rankings, while South African Brandon Stone jumped from 371st to 110th with his win at the Scottish Open.

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Spieth takes familiar break ahead of Open defense

By Rex HoggardJuly 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – As his title chances seemed to be slipping away during the final round of last year’s Open Championship, Jordan Spieth’s caddie took a moment to remind him who he was.

Following a bogey at No. 13, Michael Greller referenced a recent vacation he’d taken to Mexico where he’d spent time with Michael Phelps and Michael Jordan and why he deserved to be among that group of singular athletes.

Spieth, who won last year’s Open, decided to continue the tradition, spending time in Cabo again before this week’s championship.


Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“I kind of went through the same schedule,” Spieth said on Monday at Carnoustie. “It was nice to have a little vacation.”

Spieth hasn’t played since the Travelers Championship; instead he attended the Special Olympics USA Games earlier this month in Seattle with his sister. It was Spieth’s first time back to the Pacific Northwest since he won the 2015 U.S. Open.

“I went out to Chambers Bay with [Greller],” Spieth said. “We kind of walked down the 18th hole. It was cool reliving those memories.”

But most of all Spieth said he needed a break after a particularly tough season.

“I had the itch to get back to it after a couple weeks of not really working,” he said. “It was nice to kind of have that itch to get back.”

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Harrington: Fiery Carnoustie evokes Hoylake in '06

By Ryan LavnerJuly 16, 2018, 3:45 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – One course came to mind when Padraig Harrington arrived on property and saw a firm, fast and yellow Carnoustie.

Hoylake in 2006.

That's when Tiger Woods avoided every bunker, bludgeoned the links with mid-irons and captured the last of his three Open titles.

So Harrington was asked: Given the similarity in firmness between Carnoustie and Hoylake, can Tiger stir the ghosts this week?


Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“I really don’t know,” Harrington said Monday. “He’s good enough to win this championship, no doubt about it. I don’t think he could play golf like the way he did in 2006. Nobody else could have tried to play the golf course the way he did, and nobody else could have played the way he did. I suspect he couldn’t play that way now, either. But I don’t know if that’s the strategy this week, to lay up that far back.”

With three days until the start of this championship, that’s the biggest question mark for Harrington, the 2007 winner here. He doesn’t know what his strategy will be – but his game plan will need to be “fluid.” Do you attack the course with driver and try to fly the fairway bunkers? Or do you attempt to lay back with an iron, even though it’s difficult to control the amount of run-out on the baked-out fairways and bring the bunkers into play?

“The fairways at Hoylake are quite flat, even though they were very fast,” Harrington said. “There’s a lot of undulations in the fairways here, so if you are trying to lay up, you can get hit the back of a slope and kick forward an extra 20 or 30 yards more than you think. So it’s not as easy to eliminate all the risk by laying up.”