Cut Line: Tiger out of the woods yet?

By Rex HoggardJuly 3, 2015, 7:22 pm

In honor of this weekend’s Fourth of July festivities we present a red, white and blue edition of Cut Line, from Donald Trump’s explosive comments on the campaign trail to golf’s fizzling response.

Made Cut

Out of the Woods. It’s easy to overstate this. Just as easy, in fact, as it was to put too much stock in Tiger Woods’ opening-round 80 at the U.S. Open or that third-round 85 at the Memorial.

The truth is Woods’ opening 66 on Thursday at the Greenbrier Classic will mean little if he doesn’t build on that momentum, but considering the competitive depths he has plunged to in recent weeks it would explain his optimism.

“I made a little bit of progress since last time I played,” Woods said on Wednesday. “Obviously not really saying much, but I'm looking forward to [Thursday]. Really looking forward to competing again and getting out here and playing.”

It’s become dangerously easy to stake Woods’ fortunes to a single round in recent years, but in golf that is short sighted and overly simplistic. But in this case, fans should be optimistic because Tiger is inspired to play, and after the road he’s been down in recent months that’s progress.

Unqualified success. After years of confusion and indifference, the Royal & Ancient seems to have conjured up a qualifying process for the Open Championship that is both understandable and entertaining.

In its second year, the qualifying series began last week at the Travelers Championship with four players – Brian Harman, Graham DeLaet, Carl Pettersson and Luke Donald – earning invitations in two weeks to St. Andrews via their finishes at TPC River Highlands.

Top finishers this week at the Greenbrier Classic – the top 4 players who finish among the top 12 on Sunday who are currently not eligible – and next week at the John Deere Classic. It’s a similar scenario on the European Tour.

Compared to the old International Final Qualifiers, 36-hole events held weeks before the Open at an awkward time in the schedule, the new system strikes a solid balance between competitive integrity and the realities of a global game.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Empty words. Or maybe hollow promises would be a more accurate assessment of how golf’s major players handled Donald Trump’s insensitive remarks this week.

“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re sending people that have lots of problems,” Trump said in his presidential campaign kickoff. “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

After a few days of awkward silence, the PGA Tour, PGA of America, USGA and LPGA issued a joint statement: “While the LPGA, PGA of America, PGA Tour and USGA do not usually comment on Presidential politics, Mr. Trump's comments are inconsistent with our strong commitment to an inclusive and welcoming environment in the game of golf.”

Missing from that statement, however, was any mention of possible sanctions or repercussions for Trump’s comments. No acknowledgement that all four organizations hold championships on Trump’s various golf courses and no suggestion whatsoever that they were considering distancing themselves from the candidate.

Just words. Empty words.

Empty words II. Phil Mickelson has not been charged with a crime nor is he under investigation, according to an ESPN "Outside the Lines" report this week.

But the report did tie Mickelson to Greg Silveira, a former sports gambling handicapper who has pleaded guilty to three counts of money laundering. The money was from a “gambling client,” who according to two unnamed sources in the OTL story is Mickelson.

Last year, Mickelson was tied to iconic sports gambler and entrepreneur Billy Walters in a federal investigation into insider trading, an investigation Lefty has been at least partially cleared.

Yet while Mickelson doesn’t appear to have broken any laws, he may have run afoul of the PGA Tour player handbook.

The code of conduct section of the handbook forbids a player to, “associate with or have dealings with persons whose activities, including gambling, might reflect adversely upon the integrity of the game of golf.”

According to the handbook, a player found in violation of this section “shall be subject to a suspension from tournament play for a minimum period of two seasons.”

While federal officials don’t have any interest in Mickelson, the Tour may want to review it’s own handbook.

Tweet of the week:

Give the 2013-14 Rookie of the Year credit for coming clean, but there is something to be said for discretion being the better part of valor.

Missed Cut

Background noise. Remember when Jordan Spieth won the Masters and turned around three days later and teed it up at the RBC Heritage?

Remember young Jordan was lauded as a refreshing change from the insular Tour player norm for his decision to fulfill his commitment despite the whirlwind that accompanies a first major?

It is interesting that some of those same folks from the gallery who applauded Spieth for his decision to play Harbour Town are now roasting the 21-year-old’s decision to play next week’s John Deere Classic with the single-season Grand Slam on the line at St. Andrews.

Spieth became the sixth player to win the first two legs of the single-season Grand Slam by playing a schedule he felt was right for him, changing that schedule now to acknowledge the gravity of the moment, or worse to appease critics, would not only be foolish, but it simply wouldn’t be Jordan.

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Weather extends Barbasol to Monday finish

By Associated PressJuly 23, 2018, 12:25 am

NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - A thunderstorm has suspended the fourth round of the PGA Tour's Barbasol Championship until Monday morning.

Sunday's third stoppage of play at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came with the four leaders - Hunter Mahan, Robert Streb, Tom Lovelady and Troy Merritt at 18 under par - and four other contenders waiting to begin the round.

The tournament will resume at 7:30 a.m. on Monday. Lightning caused one delay, and play was stopped earlier in the afternoon to clear water that accumulated on the course following a morning of steady and sometimes-heavy rain.

Inclement weather has plagued the tournament throughout the weekend. The second round was completed Saturday morning after being suspended by thunderstorms late Friday afternoon.

The resumption will mark the PGA Tour's second Monday finish this season. Jason Day won the Farmers Insurance Open in January after darkness delayed the sixth playoff hole, and he needed just 13 minutes to claim the victory.

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Watch: Spectator films as Woods' shot hits him

By Will GrayJuly 23, 2018, 12:07 am

It was a collision watched by millions of fans on television, and one that came at a pivotal juncture as Tiger Woods sought to win The Open. It also gave Colin Hauck the story of a lifetime.

Hauck was among dozens of fans situated along the left side of the 11th hole during the final round at Carnoustie as the pairing of Woods and Francesco Molinari hit their approach shots. After 10 holes of nearly flawless golf, Woods missed the fairway off the tee and then pulled his iron well left of the target.

The ball made square contact with Hauck, who hours later tweeted a video showing the entire sequence - even as he continued to record after Woods' shot sent him tumbling to the ground:

The bounce initially appeared fortuitous for Woods, as his ball bounded away from thicker rough and back toward the green. But an ambitious flop shot came up short, and he eventually made a double bogey to go from leading by a shot to trailing by one. He ultimately shot an even-par 71, tying for sixth two shots behind Molinari.

For his efforts as a human shield, Hauck received a signed glove and a handshake from Woods - not to mention a firsthand video account that will be sure to spark plenty of conversations in the coming years.

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Molinari retirement plan: coffee, books and Twitter

By Will GrayJuly 22, 2018, 9:35 pm

After breaking through for his first career major, Francesco Molinari now has a five-year exemption on the PGA Tour, a 10-year exemption in Europe and has solidified his standing as one of the best players in the world.

But not too long ago, the 35-year-old Italian was apparently thinking about life after golf.

Shortly after Molinari rolled in a final birdie putt to close out a two-shot victory at The Open, fellow Tour player Wesley Bryan tweeted a picture of a note that he wrote after the two played together during the third round of the WGC-HSBC Champions in China in October. In it, Bryan shared Molinari's plans to retire as early as 2020 to hang out at cafes and "become a Twitter troll":

Molinari is active on the social media platform, with more than 5,600 tweets sent out to nearly 150,000 followers since joining in 2010. But after lifting the claret jug at Carnoustie, it appears one of the few downsides of Molinari's victory is that the golf world won't get to see the veteran turn into a caffeinated, well-read troll anytime soon.

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Molinari had previously avoided Carnoustie on purpose

By Rex HoggardJuly 22, 2018, 9:17 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Sometimes a course just fits a player’s eye. They can’t really describe why, but more often than not it leads to solid finishes.

Francesco Molinari’s relationship with Carnoustie isn’t like that.

The Italian played his first major at Carnoustie, widely considered the toughest of all The Open venues, in 2007, and his first impression hasn’t really changed.

“There was nothing comforting about it,” he said on Sunday following a final-round 69 that lifted him to a two-stroke victory.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

In fact, following that first exposure to the Angus coast brute, Molinari has tried to avoid Carnoustie, largely skipping the Dunhill Links Championship, one of the European Tour’s marquee events, throughout his career.

“To be completely honest, it's one of the reasons why I didn't play the Dunhill Links in the last few years, because I got beaten up around here a few times in the past,” he said. “I didn't particularly enjoy that feeling. It's a really tough course. You can try and play smart golf, but some shots, you just have to hit it straight. There's no way around it. You can't really hide.”

Molinari’s relative dislike for the layout makes his performance this week even more impressive considering he played his last 37 holes bogey-free.

“To play the weekend bogey-free, it's unthinkable, to be honest. So very proud of today,” he said.