Cut Line: Throwing out comparisons

By Rex HoggardMay 25, 2012, 8:23 pm

FORT WORTH, Texas – Jason Dufner is 36 holes away from becoming the first player to score the DFW Slam – victories at the Byron Nelson and Colonial in the same year – since Ben Hogan in 1946. If he’s not careful he will be saddled with a Texas-sized nickname – may we suggest the Lonesome Dufner.

Made Cut

Jason Hogan . . . eh, Dufner. Comparisons to the Hawk are not entirely unfounded. Both were/are all-world ball-strikers, driven to perfection with a serious love-hate relationship with their putters. Both were/have been incorrectly labeled aloof and both seem to have played/play the game sans a pulse.

So it was no surprise then that when Cut Line asked Dufner’s swing coach, Chuck Cook, who his man’s swing resembled the answer was easy.

“He looks a lot like Hogan,” Cook said on Friday from Italy. “Hogan had his arms in front of him all the time just like Jason.”

And just like the Hawk, Dufner seems to be peaking a little later in life, having won two of his last three starts, after beginning his career 0-for-156, and breaking free of the pack on Friday at the Crowne Plaza Inviational with a second-round 64 to take the clubhouse lead at 11 under par.

The comparisons are not lost on Dufner, although he quickly dismissed the notion with an economy of words that would make Hogan proud.

“You can’t copy that (swing),” Dufner said. “You can try, but you can’t copy that.”

Stewart Cink. The cliché “These guys are good” comes to mind when one reviews Cink’s week in Fort Worth.

Almost a year ago a fan won a contest on Facebook to play with Cink in the Colonial pro-am, but when the six-time PGA Tour winner checked his schedule and realized his oldest son’s high school graduation was this week he was confronted with a dilemma.

Davis Love III offered to take Cink’s spot in the pro-am, but he decided to fly to Texas on Tuesday, play the pro-am and withdraw from the Colonial to assure he didn’t miss his son’s big day

“I told him Davis would do it but he said, ‘No, I made a commitment I’m doing it,’” said Mac Barnhardt, Cink’s manager with Crown Sports Management.

In one of those good karma deals, Kyle Reifers, the man who replaced Cink in the field, rounded Colonial in 65 strokes on Thursday and made a leaderboard cameo before slumping on Friday.

Seems these guys are good people and good players.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

The price of pace of play. As distasteful as Morgan Pressel’s run in with an LPGA official’s stopwatch was last week, and it was, there is no ignoring the fact that at least the ladies circuit is trying to do something about the scourge that is slow play.

Pressel was assessed a slow play penalty during her semifinal match at the Sybase Match Play Championship last week, an incident compounded by the fact the match was on the clock because of the languid pace of her opponent Azahara Munoz.

“Pace of play is an issue, but in that situation, I’m not sure it should have been called,” Pressel told’s Randall Mell. “I’m a little upset, and I think I have a right to be. It was an unfortunate situation that could have changed the whole outcome of the tournament.”

Like a healthy diet, this doesn’t taste very good, but it’s still the right thing.

Tweet of the week: @Southpaw444 (Steve Flesch) “Apparently there was a break in a PGA Tour headquarters and all the slow play regulations were stolen out of the vault.”

Missed Cut

7-irons. Or is it the lad who windmills them? Either way, Rory McIlroy deserves a timeout following his outburst on Thursday at this week’s BMW PGA Championship.

At Wentworth’s par-5 12th hole in Round 1, the Ulsterman “double crossed” his second shot and ended up on the wrong side of an out-of-bounds line by a half inch. After a poor provisional shot, McIlroy sent the offending 7-iron sailing.

“It's pretty disappointing,” McIlroy said. “I feel like I'm playing well, I just need to go out there and shoot a score.”

Tour officials said they planned to review the incident and issue the appropriate penalty if one was merited, although if one were to ask the 7-iron, the culpability would be rather clear.

As for those who have turned this into a Tiger vs. Rory debate, comparing the heat Woods took when he kicked his club last month at Augusta National to the relatively gentle treatment McIlroy received this week, this isn’t about picking sides, it’s about deciding what’s acceptable behavior. And neither incident qualifies as acceptable.

Hogan’s (lonely) Alley. To be clear, this is not an indictment against the Crowne Plaza field, just the players who should be in it. Or maybe the blame should go to the PGA Tour schedule makers who have relegated the event to the post-Players, pre-U.S. Open wasteland.

With respect to the players who have braved 30 mph gusts and bottomless plates of Texas brisket this week – a list that includes two of the top 10 players in the Official World Golf Ranking and six of the top 10 on the FedEx Cup points list – a piece of the game’s past seems to be slipping away.

In this the numbers don’t lie. This week’s winner will earn 50 world ranking points, compared to 64 for the winner at this week’s BMW PGA Championship on the European Tour. Although that’s up slightly from last year (46), it’s below what the Colonial champion earned in the four previous outings (2007-’10).

Colonial, one of the Tour’s most well-liked courses, deserves better. Hogan, one of the game’s hardest workers and iconic figures, deserves better.

Getty Images

Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship

By Tiger TrackerJuly 20, 2018, 2:30 pm

Tiger Woods shot his second consecutive 70 on Friday at Carnoustie and enters weekend play at even par for the championship, still in contention for major No. 15.

Getty Images

Scott and Sunesson a one-week partnership

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 2:13 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Adam Scott has been in between caddies for the last month and went with a bold stand-in for this week’s Open Championship, coaxing veteran looper Fanny Sunesson out of retirement to work for him at Carnoustie.

Sunesson caddied for Nick Faldo in his prime, as the duo won four major titles together. She also worked for Henrik Stenson and Sergio Garcia before a back injury forced her to retire.

But for this week’s championship, Scott convinced the Swede to return to the caddie corps. The results have been impressive, with the Australian following an opening 71 with a second-round 70 for a tie for 16th place.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“It's been going great. Fanny is, obviously, a fantastic caddie, and to be able to have that experience out there with me is certainly comforting,” Scott said. “We've gotten along really well. She's picked up on my game quickly, and I think we think about things in a very similar way.”

Scott was also asked about a potential long-term partnership between the duo, but he didn’t sound hopeful.

“It's just for this week,” he said. “It would be up to her, but I don't think she's making plans of a comeback. I was being a bit opportunistic in contacting her and coaxing her out of retirement, I guess. But I think she's having a good week. We'll just take it one week at the moment.”

Getty Images

After tense Augusta Sunday, Rory ready to be aggressive

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 1:51 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy temporarily lost his superpowers during the Masters.  

In one of the most surprising rounds of the year, he played tentatively and carefully during the final day. Squaring off against the major-less Patrick Reed, on the brink of history, with the backing of nearly the entire crowd, it was McIlroy who shrank in the moment, who looked like the one searching for validation. He shot a joyless 74 and wound up six shots behind Reed.

No, the final round was nowhere near as dispiriting as the finale in 2011, but McIlroy still sulked the following week. He binge-watched TV shows. Devoured a few books. Guzzled a couple of bottles of wine. His pity party lasted a few days, until his wife, Erica, finally dragged him out of the house for a walk.

Some deeper introspection was required, and McIlroy revealed a healthier self-analysis Friday at Carnoustie. He diagnosed what went wrong at Augusta, and then again two months later at the U.S. Open, where he blew himself out of the tournament with an opening 80.

“I was worrying too much about the result, not focusing on the process,” he said. “Sunday at Augusta was a big learning curve for me because, even if I hadn’t won that tournament, but I went down swinging and aggressive and committing to every shot, I would have walked away a lot happier.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

And so McIlroy has a new mantra this week at The Open.

Let it go.

Don’t hold back. Don’t worry about the repercussions. Don’t play scared.

“I’m committed to making sure, even if I don’t play my best golf and don’t shoot the scores I want, I’m going to go down swinging, and I’m going to go down giving my best,” he said. “The result is the byproduct of all the little things you do to lead up to that. Sometimes I’ve forgotten that, and I just need to get back in that mindset.”

It’s worked through two rounds, even after the cool, damp conditions led McIlroy to abandon his ultra-aggressive strategy. He offset a few mistakes with four birdies, shooting a second consecutive 69 to sit just a couple of shots off the lead.

During a sun-splashed first round, McIlroy gleefully banged driver on almost every hole, flying or skirting the bunkers that dot these baked-out, undulating fairways. He wasn’t particularly accurate, but he also didn’t need to be, as the thin, wispy rough enabled every player to at least advance their approach shots near the green.

Friday’s weather presented a different challenge. A steady morning rain took some of the fire out of parched fairways, but the cooler temperatures also reduced much of the bombers’ hang time. Suddenly, all of the bunkers were in play, and McIlroy needed to adjust his driver-heavy approach (he hit only six) on the fly.

“It just wasn’t worth it,” he said.

McIlroy hit a few “skanky” shots, in his words, but even his bigger misses – on the sixth and 17th holes – were on the proper side, allowing him to scramble for par and keep the round going.

It’s the fifth time in his career that he’s opened a major with back-to-back rounds in the 60s. He’s gone on to win three of the previous four – the lone exception that disastrous final round (80) at Augusta in 2011.

“I don’t want to say easy,” he said, “but it’s felt comfortable.”

The weekend gets uncomfortable for everyone, apparently even four-time major winners who, when in form, ooze confidence and swagger.

Once again McIlroy has that look at a major.

The only thing left to do?

Let it go.

Getty Images

Z. Johnson may have to pay for the jet home

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 1:23 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Zach Johnson will have some bragging rights when he gets back to the ultimate golf frat house on Friday after a second-round 67 moved him into the lead at The Open.

Johnson is rooming with Jordan Spieth, Jason Dufner, Kevin Kisner, Jimmy Walker, Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler this week at Carnoustie. It’s a tradition that began two years ago at Royal Troon.

Kisner joked on Thursday after he took the first-round lead that the perks for the house/tournament front-runner were limited: “I probably get to eat first,” he said.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

There is, however, one running wager.

“Two years ago we, I don't know if you call it bet, but agreement that, if you win, you get the jet and you buy it, so we go home,” said Johnson, who added that because of varying travel arrangements, the wager might not be needed this year. “I didn't pay last year. Somebody else did.”

Spieth won last year’s championship at Royal Birkdale.

Despite the expense, Johnson said he didn’t know how much it costs to charter a private flight back to the United States, but it’s a good problem to have.

“I’d be happy to fork it over,” he smiled.