Cut Line: Tiger is the new Mr. October

By Rex HoggardOctober 7, 2011, 10:37 pm

No one has ever accused Tiger Woods of being golf’s Mr. October – truth is just six of his 71 PGA Tour tilts were collected in October – but the game’s most polarizing figure delivered on many levels with his first Fall Series appearance this week.

Although rounds of 73-68 were probably not what Woods, or Presidents Cup captain Fred Couples, had in mind, his presence at CordeValle dramatically elevated an event that was little more than an afterthought on the Tour lineup and his persistence, if not his play, gave those pining for a comeback a reason to be optimistic.

Made Cut

Tiger Woods. No one dominates the news cycle like red shirt, and you have to give Woods credit for changing the conversation, although not entirely for the better.

The media masses are no longer fixated on his divorce or shattered endorsement portfolio. The current talking points are about birdies and bogeys, although there are far too many of the latter and not near enough of the former. His second-round 68 featured more putts (29) and fewer fairways hit (six) than his opening effort.

But whatever Woods’ motivations for playing the Open, his fall cameo suggests he’s more interested in competitive progress than the historical significance of a particular event. And after the last two years, that’s progress.

John Fry. In a refreshing twist to the old tale of sponsors complaining about weak fields and the PGA Tour sidestepping the elephant on the tee sheet with fast talk and slick video pleas from the commissioner, the patriarch of the northern California stop has a plan to make his Open special and all it will take from the Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., brass is an open mind.

Although Fry is famously reluctant to speak with the media, sources familiar with the proceedings have suggested that his plan is to move the event to the ultra-exclusive Institute golf course in 2013 and have the tournament serve as the start of a new season, instead of the anticlimactic end to the current calendar.

Imagine how much better fields will be in the fall if players could get an early jump on the FedEx Cup points list, to say nothing of a possible Masters invitation with a victory?

Tour officials often lament the limited space on the current golf calendar, so Fry offered a solution – create your own calendar.

Tweet of the week I: @JasonGore59 “Three Apples that changed the world: the one that Eve ate, the one that fell on Newton’s head and the one that Steve (Jobs) built. God speed Steve Jobs.”

Just out of curiosity we searched the iTunes “app store” for golf-related apps and got tired of counting somewhere around 500. Jobs didn’t play golf, he just made the game easier for the rest of us.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Crowds. Rounding up the world’s top players for some serious face time is always a noble pursuit – it was, after all, the impetus behind the FedEx Cup playoffs – but a new event in Asia promises to add to an already crowded year-ending calendar.

The Shanghai Masters, known to most players as the Lake Malaren event after the exclusive club that is scheduled to host the tournament through 2015, will be played Oct. 27-30 with a 30-player field. According to various sources, the field will consist of eight Chinese players and 22 “world players,” including the likes of Retief Goosen and Paul Casey.

The IMG-run event will be played the same week as the CIMB Asia Pacific Classic in Malaysia, a limited-field, co-sanctioned PGA Tour tournament. Because the event is co-sanctioned and not televised in the United States, Tour players are not required to request a competing-event release, a reality that will likely hurt the field in Malaysia.

Economics will also take a toll on the field in Malaysia. Last year Ben Crane won $1 million at the CIMB event. The winner of this year’s Lake Malaren stop will net $2 million for his troubles. Good news for the soon-to-be millionaire, not so good for the folks in Malaysia.

Rolex. The watchmaker pulled Woods back into the fold last week with a deal that is reported to be in excess of five years, becoming the first major post-November 2009 endorsement for the former Teflon kid.

Woods’ manager Mark Steinberg with Excel Sports Management said of the deal, “This makes a big statement. I think this shows me where people are with Tiger Woods.”

Cut Line sees where this is heading. Watchmaker Tag Heuer drops Woods in the wake of his November 2009 crash and he signs on with Rolex. What’s next? Trade in his former Gatorade deal for a “Mike’s Hard Lemonade” endorsement? Out with AT&T, in with Verizon and the ultimate marketing campaign, “Can you hear me now?”

Tweet of the week II: @Andres_Gonzales “@TigerWoods putting contest on the putting green . . . NOW!”

Talk about kicking a guy when he’s down.

Missed Cut

Belen Mozo. No one has ever accused Cut Line of being a prude and ESPN: The Magazine’s “Body Issue” is always a must-read . . . or, whatever, but news that the LPGA rookie will be featured in this year’s edition seemed a bit contrived.

Mozo is a fine player but shouldn’t the criteria for entry into the “Body Issue” be based on performance as well as attractiveness and body type?

In 13 events on the LPGA this year the Spaniard’s best finish is a tie for fifth and she missed the cut in seven of her first nine events. Maybe Cut Line is getting old, but we prefer a dollop of substance mixed in with our style.

Fred Couples. How’s that pick looking? Of course, that’s if Couples even noticed Woods’ play in California between updates on Steve Stricker’s ailing neck.

The danger of picking Woods, and strong-arming him into playing a Fall Series event, was the possibility that the captain’s choice would not deliver at CordeValle, which would bring more questions than answers for Captain America.

Last week Couples said of the pick, “I'm just thrilled that Tiger is healthy and ready to play and wants to be on the team.” Left unsaid, but implied, was the captain’s confidence that his man would find his form, but his sluggish start at the Open was a clear sign Woods’ action is still a work in progress.

Woods’ mind and body are willing. Unfortunately for Couples, his game has not been as accommodating.

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Football coach hates golf: Don't need practice swearing

By Jason CrookApril 20, 2018, 10:15 pm

Some football coaches are a little more talkative than others. On one side of the spectrum, there's Bill Belichick. On the other sits Washington State football coach Mike Leach.

Leach always delivers the goods, and when asked recently if he liked golf, he didn't hold back:

As wrong as the 57-year-old is on the topic (golf is awesome), the man makes some hilarious points:

• “It’s boring. I don’t care where that ball goes.”

• "Golfers are always practicing their swing. But you know what I never did? I never practice fishing in my living room.”

• "They'll line up over the ball and they'll say they're going to do something that you can't do with a sniper rifle and a scope, but they're going to do it with a stick and a ball."

• “Golf’s pretty much for people that don’t swear effectively enough or need practice. And so there are people that need golf, and I don’t think I do.”

So in conclusion, it's confirmed: Mike Leach - not a golf guy.

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Quiros takes 1-shot lead in Morocco

By Associated PressApril 20, 2018, 8:22 pm

RABAT, Morocco - Alvaro Quiros shot a solid 2-under 70 in windy conditions to push into a one-shot lead after two rounds of the Trophee Hassan II in Morocco on Friday.

Quiros fought the elements, carding seven birdies and five bogeys to move to 7 under overall and take the outright lead at the halfway point of the European Tour event.

The Spaniard was one clear of Andrew Dodt, who moved into contention with a 4-under 68 at the Royal Golf Dar Es Salam course. Dodt dropped two shots in his first six holes but the Australian recovered from that shaky start to collect four birdies and an eagle.

Full-field scores from the Trophee Hassan II

Erik van Rooyen of South Africa was another shot back in third on 5 under after his 71.

Bradley Dredge of Wales, who shared the first-round lead with Quiros, slipped off the pace with a 1-over 73. He's tied for fourth with Austin Connelly of Canada (71), 4 under par and three shots behind Quiros.

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Bogey-free Moore shares Valero lead

By Will GrayApril 20, 2018, 8:20 pm

Amid the swirling winds on a difficult track at the Valero Texas Open, Ryan Moore has yet to blink.

Moore was one of only two players among the 156-man field to go bogey-free during the opening round at TPC San Antonio, and he's now the only player still boasting a clean scorecard after a second-round 67 that included five birdies and the rest pars. At 9 under, the veteran shares the lead with Zach Johnson and was three shots clear of any other player at the end of the morning wave.

"Really, around this golf course what matters is the right distance," Moore told reporters. "You can get in some pretty tough spots if you're long and short. So I kind of hit it the right distance all day, gave myself plenty of good birdie opportunities and didn't stress myself out too much with too many up-and-downs."

While many players struggle to find a true offseason, Moore took nearly three months off between starts at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba and Waste Management Phoenix Open. During that time he shed nearly 20 pounds thanks to changes to his diet and teamed up with a new swing coach, Drew Steckel, in December.

The results have been solid if not spectacular, as Moore tied for fifth at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and finished T-16 last week at the RBC Heritage.

"It's been solid golf, especially the last few weeks. I haven't got a ton out of it," Moore said. "The putter just wasn't there. So this week, just got a little more comfortable with the putter and knocked a few putts in that kind of matter early in my rounds, and it's going in. That's kind of what's been missing lately."

Moore had a breakthrough season in 2016 that included his victory at the John Deere Classic and spot on the Ryder Cup team, but he hasn't sniffed career win No. 6 since a T-3 finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions 16 months ago. Should he keep a clean card this weekend in San Antonio, his chances to end that victory drought appear bright.

"I played some really nice golf yesterday, I just controlled the ball nicely all the way around and was bogey-free yesterday, so thought, 'Let's go try and do that again,'" Moore said. "So to play in tough, windy conditions, to go bogey-free (again), it was some good solid golf."

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Former champ Z. Johnson surges at Valero

By Will GrayApril 20, 2018, 7:31 pm

Midway through his opening round at the Valero Texas Open, Zach Johnson appeared far closer to a missed cut than a spot on the leaderboard.

Johnson initially struggled in the winds at TPC San Antonio, playing his first 13 holes in 3 over. But he eagled No. 14 and closed with three more birdies to post a 2-under 70, then went unconscious during a second-round 65 where he made six birdies over his first 10 holes.

It added up to a 9-under total at the halfway point, and instead of packing his bags the two-time major champ now shares the lead with Ryan Moore.

"You just never know. That's the beauty of this game," Johnson told reporters. "I didn't have anything going putting-wise. I felt like I was hitting some solid shots and wasn't getting rewarded, and you've just got to stay in it. You've got to persevere, grind it out, fight for pars. Shoot, I made some good pars all while being 3 over. You just never know."

Johnson won this event in both 2008 and 2009, but that was when it was held across town at La Cantera Golf Club. Since the switch to TPC San Antonio in 2010, he has only one top-10 finish and two missed cuts, including last year's early exit with consecutive rounds of 74.

But Friday he played like a man unaware of the venue shift, with four straight birdies on Nos. 12-15 and a hole-out eagle from the greenside bunker on the par-4 fifth hole. His closing bogey on No. 9 was his first dropped shot in the last 25 holes.

"The confidence is there, and when you can step on the tee with this kind of wind, you trust your clubs and trust your ball, that's pretty important," Johnson said. "I felt good. It was hard, I'm not going to deny that. That was one of the better 27-hole stretches that I've had in a long time."

Johnson's 65 was his first sub-70 score since an opening-round 69 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, a span of 12 stroke-play rounds. The veteran has made every cut in 11 starts this season, but his T-8 finish at the RSM Classic in November remains his only top-10 finish.

"I felt really good coming into the week," Johnson said. "Confidence was there, it just wasn't showing up on the scorecard."