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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Davies leads Inkster after Day 1 of Senior LPGA Champ.

By Associated PressOctober 16, 2018, 1:10 am

FRENCH LICK, Ind. - Laura Davies opened with a 4-under 68 despite finishing with two bogeys Monday, giving her a one-shot lead over Juli Inkster after Round 1 of the Senior LPGA Championship.

Davies, who earlier this year won the inaugural U.S. Senior Women's Open, had a lost ball on the par-5 18th hole on The Pete Dye Course at French Lick Resort. She still salvaged a bogey in chilly, windy weather that had the 55-year-old from England bundled up in a blanket between shots.

Inkster, runner-up to Davies at the Senior Women's Open, made eagle on the closing hole for a 69.

Jane Crafter was at 70. Defending champion Trish Johnson opened with a 73.

Temperatures were in the high 40s, but the damp air and wind made it feel even colder.

Inkster made a bogey on the 17th hole by missing the green with a 9-iron.

''As old as I am, I still get made and I crushed that drive on 18,'' said Inkster, who followed with a 3-wood to 15 feet to set up her eagle.

The 54-hole event concludes Wednesday.

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Miller to retire from broadcast booth in 2019

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 15, 2018, 9:14 pm

After nearly 30 years in the broadcast booth, Johnny Miller is ready to hang up his microphone.

Following a Hall of Fame playing career that included a pair of major titles, Miller has become one of the most outspoken voices in the game as lead golf analyst for NBC Sports. But at age 71 he has decided to retire from broadcasting following the 2019 Waste Management Phoenix Open.

“The call of being there for my grandkids, to teach them how to fish. I felt it was a higher calling,” Miller told “The parents are trying to make a living, and grandparents can be there like my father was with my four boys. He was there every day for them. I'm a big believer that there is a time and a season for everything.”

Miller was named lead analyst for NBC in 1990, making his broadcast debut at what was then known as the Bob Hope Desert Classic. He still remained competitive, notably winning the 1994 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am at age 46, but made an indelible mark on the next generation of Tour pros with his frank and candid assessment of the action from some of golf’s biggest events.

Miller’s broadcasting career has included 20 U.S. Opens, 14 Ryder Cups, nine Presidents Cups, three Open Championships and the 2016 Olympics. While he has teamed in the booth with Dan Hicks for the past 20 years, Miller’s previous on-air partners included Bryant Gumbel, Charlie Jones, Jim Lampley and Dick Enberg.

His farewell event will be in Phoenix Jan. 31-Feb. 3, at a tournament he won in back-to-back years in 1974-75.

“When it comes to serving golf fans with sharp insight on what is happening inside the ropes, Johnny Miller is the gold standard,” said NBC lead golf producer Tommy Roy. “It has been an honor working with him, and while it might not be Johnny’s personal style, it will be fun to send him off at one of the PGA Tour’s best parties at TPC Scottsdale.”

Miller was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1998 after a playing career that included wins at the 1973 U.S. Open at Oakmont and The Open in 1976 at Royal Birkdale. Before turning pro, he won the 1964 U.S. Junior Amateur and was low amateur at the 1966 U.S. Open at Olympic, where he tied for eighth at age 19.

Born and raised in San Francisco, Miller now lives in Utah with his wife, Linda, and annually serves as tournament host of the PGA Tour’s Safeway Open in Napa, Calif.

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Randall's Rant: Tiger vs. Phil feels like a ripoff

By Randall MellOctober 15, 2018, 7:45 pm

Usually, you have to buy something before you feel like you were ripped off.

The wonder in the marketing of Tiger vs. Phil and “The Match” is how it is making so many people feel as if they are getting ripped off before they’ve shelled out a single penny for the product.

Phil Mickelson gets credit for this miscue.

Apparently, the smartest guy in the room isn’t the smartest marketing guy.

He was a little bit like that telemarketer who teases you into thinking you’ve won a free weekend getaway, only to lead you into the discovery that there’s a shady catch, with fine print and a price tag.

There was something as slippery as snake oil in the original pitch.

In Mickelson’s eagerness to create some excitement, he hinted back during The Players in May about the possibility of a big-money, head-to-head match with Woods. A couple months later, he leaked more details, before it was ready to be fully announced.

So while there was an initial buzz over news of the Thanksgiving weekend matchup, the original pitch set up a real buzzkill when it was later announced that you were only going to get to see it live on pay-per-view.

The news landed with a thud but no price tag. We’re still waiting to see what it’s going to cost when these two meet at Shadow Creek in Las Vegas, but anything that feels even slightly inflated now is going to further dampen the original enthusiasm Mickelson created.

Without Woods or Mickelson putting up their own money, this $9 million winner-take-all event was always going to feel more like a money grab than real competition.

When we were expecting to see it on network or cable TV, we didn’t care so much. Tiger's and Phil’s hands would have felt as if they were reaching into corporate America’s pockets. Now, it feels as if they’re digging into ours.

Last week, there was more disappointing news, with the Las Vegas Review-Journal reporting that tickets won’t be sold to the public, that the match at Shadow Creek will only be open to select sponsors and VIPs.

Now there’s a larger insult to the common fan, who can’t help but feel he isn’t worthy or important enough to gain admittance.

Sorry, but that’s how news of a closed gate landed on the heels of the pay-per-view news.

“The Match” was never going to be meaningful golf in any historical sense.

This matchup was never going to rekindle the magic Tiger vs. Phil brought in their epic Duel at Doral in ’05.

The $9 million was never going to buy the legitimacy a major championship or PGA Tour Sunday clash could bring.

It was never going to be more than an exhibition, with no lingering historical significance, but that was OK as quasi silly-season fare on TV on Thanksgiving weekend (Nov. 23), the traditional weekend of the old Skins Game.

“The Match” still has a chance to be meaningful, but first and foremost as entertainment, not real competition. That’s what this was always going to be about, but now the bar is raised.

Pay per view does that.

“You get what you pay for” is an adage that doesn’t apply to free (or already-paid for) TV. It does to pay per view. Expectations go way up when you aren’t just channel surfing to a telecast. So the higher the price tag they end up putting on this showdown, the more entertaining this has to be.

If Phil brings his “A-Game” to his trash talking, and if Tiger can bring some clever repartee, this can still be fun. If the prerecorded segments wedged between shots are insightful, even meaningful in their ability to make us understand these players in ways we didn’t before, this will be worthwhile.

Ultimately, “The Match” is a success if it leaves folks who paid to see it feeling as if they weren’t as ripped off as the people who refused to pay for it. That’s the handicap a history of free golf on TV brings. Welcome to pay-per-view, Tiger and Phil.

Celia Barquin Arozamena Iowa State University athletics

Trial date set for drifter charged with killing Barquin Arozamena

By Associated PressOctober 15, 2018, 7:28 pm

AMES, Iowa – A judge has scheduled a January trial for a 22-year-old Iowa drifter charged with killing a top amateur golfer from Spain.

District Judge Bethany Currie ruled Monday that Collin Richards will stand trial Jan. 15 for first-degree murder in the death of Iowa State University student Celia Barquin Arozamena.

Richards entered a written not guilty plea Monday morning and waived his right to a speedy trial. The filing canceled an in-person arraignment hearing that had been scheduled for later Monday.

Investigators say Richards attacked Barquin on Sept. 17 while she was playing a round at a public course in Ames, near the university campus. Her body was found in a pond on the course riddled with stab wounds.

Richards faces life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted.