Cut Line: With Tiger, Phil on top 2013 was better than most

By Rex HoggardDecember 14, 2013, 12:36 am

From a dramatically reworked competitive calendar to a contentious rule change, 2013 was a year of change for better or worse. Before the ball drops in Times Square, Cut Line fills out the final scorecard.

Made Cut

Leading men. Two players that don’t seem likely to share a taxi pulled off an impressive timeshare agreement atop the marquee in 2013.

It is a testament to the quality and quantity of golf that, depending on one’s point of view, 2013 could be considered the Year of Tiger or the Year of Phil.

Woods won five PGA Tour events – including The Players, a title that appeared out of his reach in recent years – claimed his 11th Player of the Year Award and secured the winning point for the U.S. side at the Presidents Cup.

While Mickelson came up one dimple short of shooting 59 on Day 1 at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, he defied the odds makers with his breakthrough at the Open Championship with arguably the best closing nine of the season and moved within a U.S. Open of the career Grand Slam.

Golf is at its best when the game’s alpha and omega are on top of their games, and 2013 was better than most.

Don’t call it a comeback. The Tour stopped doling out the Comeback Player of the Year Award a few seasons too early.

Consider the list of viable candidates in 2013. In 2011, Boo Weekley didn’t make it to the FedEx Cup playoffs, finished 180th in earnings and lost his Tour card. A year later, he narrowly kept his job after finishing 123rd on the point list. He rebounded this season, winning his third Tour title and advancing to East Lake.

And then there’s Henrik Stenson, who was ranked outside the top 100 in the world at this time last year but climbed out of his professional abyss to become the first player to complete the transatlantic slam, claiming the FedEx Cup and Race to Dubai titles.

The sentimental favorite, however, has to be Jarrod Lyle, who overcame leukemia for the second time and returned to competitive golf at last month’s Australian Masters. Whether Lyle ever plays on Tour again seemed irrelevant as he hugged his wife and young daughter after making the cut at Royal Melbourne. His comeback was complete.

Tweet of the year: @RexHoggardGC “No caddies in the Hall of Fame, but if there were (Jim Mackay) would be on the short list. #Bones”

We know, it’s more than a tad self-serving to give yourself such an honor, but the snapshot of Bones behind the 18th green at Muirfield following his bosses’ victory was a testament to the looping legend’s abilities and Lefty’s trust in his faithful sidekick.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Split decision. Other sports use split calendar schedules, a common refrain from those in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. None of those other professional leagues, however, play six games and then take a month and a half off like the Tour.

In the case of the Tour’s new wraparound line up, the ends justify the means.

With the new schedule, the Tour has a clean “out” at the Tour Championship while saving many of the former fall series starts from extinction and bringing the Asia swing events (WGC-HSBC Champions and CIMB Classic) into the FedEx Cup fold.

But there was a cost for all the cleanliness. The new qualifying system (see below) is off to an awkward start, the circuit’s Disney stop, a staple since 1971, is now a historical footnote and fans are left to digest a season that is six-events clear of the starting line and firmly on hold.

Perhaps the wraparound will grow on the golf world, like love grass in bunkers, but early reviews suggest it’s more like mold on bread.

Anchor down. In a move that pitted some of the game’s titans against each other and introduced “bifurcation” to the general golf lexicon, the move to ban anchoring left a mark on the calendar that will linger long into 2014.

The U.S. Golf Association and Royal & Ancient’s move against anchoring was belated at best and bullying at worst. Some, like Masters champion Adam Scott, argued that there was no scientific data to back up the rule makers’ claims that anchoring provided players an advantage.

The rule was eventually passed, but not before driving a wedge between the rule makers and the PGA Tour and PGA of America.

If there’s silver lining to this episode it may be that the USGA and R&A will become more democratic in the rule making process, including those (Tour types and PGA professionals) who are most impacted by these decisions.

Missed Cut

Qualified problem. Call it collateral damage. Call it a work in progress. Whatever the sound bite, the circuit’s new qualifying system was riddled with more bugs than

As a result of the new wraparound schedule, the road to the Tour shifted from Qualifying School to the four-event Tour Finals, which concluded with the Tour Championship at the Dye Course at TPC Sawgrass.

Supporters of the new system say it was an upgrade over Q-School because it factored in an entire year of play instead of just six rounds, yet when the dust settled at the finale the scoreboard suggested otherwise.

Kevin Tway, for example, began the Finals fifth on the money list but didn’t finish better than 52nd in the last four events and was washed back to 46th on the priority list.

Conversely, Andrew Loupe, who started the finals with consecutive missed cuts and a withdrawal from the third stop, tied for sixth place at TPC Sawgrass and began the 2013-14 season ahead of Tway on the priority rankings.

“It’s turned into four one-week Q-Schools,” Jason Gore told Cut Line. “I wish over the course of time you could have four 15th-place finishes and get in, something that rewards consistent performances over just one good week.”

It doesn’t help that Q-School, once one of the year’s most compelling tournaments for stories of triumph and tragedy, is being played this week in case anyone was interested. Anyone?

Weather warning. It was a bad year for weathermen and anyone who plies their trade outside, say, like golfers.

From the gale force winds that reduced the season opener in Maui to 54 holes to the blizzard that led to delays at the WGC-Accenture Match Play, Mother Nature won in 2013.

All total, 22 of 40 events were impacted by weather delays from heavy fog at Torrey Pines to frost at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

The elements have always been a part of the game, but after slogging through four seasons in one day at Dove Mountain it may be time for the Tour to start experimenting with domed courses.

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M. Jutanugarn eyeing first win with L.A. Open lead

By Associated PressApril 21, 2018, 1:50 am

LOS ANGELES - Moriya Jutanugarn took the lead into the weekend at the Hugel-JTBC L.A. Open in her latest bid to join younger sister Ariya as an LPGA winner.

Moriya Jutanugarn shot a bogey-free 5-under 66 on Friday at Wilshire Country Club to get to 8-under 134 in the LPGA Tour's first event in Los Angeles since 2005. The 23-year-old from Thailand started fast with birdies on the par-5 second, par-4 third and par-3 fourth and added two more on the par-4 11th and par-5 13th.

Ariya Jutanugarn has seven LPGA victories.

Marina Alex was second after a 68.

Full-field scores from the Hugel-JTBC Open

So Yeon Ryu was 6 under after a 69, and fellow South Korean players Inbee Park(71) and Eun-Hee Ji (69). Park was the first-round leader at 66. Lexi Thompsonwas 3 under after a 71.

Top-ranked Shanshan Feng followed her opening 74 with a 67 to get to 1 under.

Ariya Jutanugarn (71) was even par, and Michelle Wie (70) was 1 over. Brooke Henderson, the Canadian star who won last week in Hawaii, had a 79 to miss the cut.

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Johnson, Moore co-lead Valero Texas Open through 36

By Associated PressApril 21, 2018, 1:00 am

SAN ANTONIO - Zach Johnson was going nowhere in the Valero Texas Open when it all changed with one putt.

He made an 8-foot par putt on the 13th hole of the opening round to stay at 2 under. He followed with a big drive, a hybrid into 12 feet and an eagle. Johnson was on his way, and he kept right on going Friday to a 7-under 65 and a share of the 36-hole lead with Ryan Moore.

''You just never know. That's the beauty of this game,'' Johnson said. ''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. You just never know.''

Moore had three birdies over his last five holes for a 67 and joined Johnson at 9-under 135.

They had a one-shot lead over Grayson Murray (69) and Andrew Landry (67).

Ben Crane (66), Martin Laird (65) and David Hearn (68) were three shots behind. Billy Horschel and Keegan Bradley shot 71 and were four shots behind at 5-under 139.

Full-field scores from the Valero Texas Open

Valero Texas Open: Articles, photos and videos

Sergio Garcia, who consulted Greg Norman on the design of the AT&T Oaks Course at the TPC San Antonio, had a short stay in his first time at the Texas Open since 2010. Garcia shot an even-par 72, and at one point became so frustrated he threw his driver into the shrubs.

Garcia finished at 2-over 146 and missed the cut.

It was the first time since 2010 that Garcia missed the cut in successive starts. That was the PGA Championship and, 10 weeks later, the Castello Masters in Spain. This time, he missed the cut in the Masters and Texas Open three weeks apart.

Johnson, a two-time winner of the Texas Open, appeared to be headed to a short week until the key par save on the 13th hole, followed by his eagle, par and three straight birdies. He began the second round Friday with five birdies in a six-hole stretch on the back nine, a sixth birdie on the par-4 first hole, and then an eagle on the short par-4 fifth when he holed out from a greenside bunker.

The only sour taste to his second round was a three-putt bogey from about 30 feet on his final hole. Even so, the view was much better than it was Thursday afternoon.

Moore thought he had wasted a good birdie opportunity on the par-5 14th hole when he left his 50-foot eagle putt about 6 feet short. But he made that, and then holed a similar putt from 8 feet for birdie on the next hole and capped his good finish with a 15-foot putt on the 17th.

''That was a huge momentum putt there,'' Moore said of the 14th. ''It was a tough putt from down there with a lot of wind. That green is pretty exposed and ... yeah, really short and committed to that second putt really well and knocked it right in the middle.''

The birdies on the 14th and 15th were important to Moore because he missed a pair of 10-foot birdie tries to start the back nine.

''So it was nice to get those and get going in the right direction on the back,'' he said.

The cut was at 1-over 145, and because 80 players made the cut, there will be a 54-hole cut on Saturday.

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Garcia tosses driver, misses Valero cut

By Will GrayApril 21, 2018, 1:00 am

It wasn't quite to the level of his watery meltdown earlier this month at the Masters, but Sergio Garcia still got frustrated during the second round of the Valero Texas Open - and his driver paid the price.

Garcia had a hand in redesigning the AT&T Oaks Course along with Greg Norman several years ago, but this marked his first return to TPC San Antonio since 2010. After an opening-round 74, Garcia arrived to the tee of the short par-4 fifth hole and decided to get aggressive with driver in hand.

When his shot sailed well left, a heated Garcia chucked the club deep into the bushes that lined the tee box:

It took considerable effort for Garcia to find and retrieve the club amid the branches, and once he did things only got worse. He appeared to shank a chip once he got up to his ball, leading to a bogey on one of the easiest holes on a demanding track.

Garcia closed out his round with four straight pars, and at 2 over he eventually missed the cut by a shot. It marks the first time he has missed consecutive cuts on the PGA Tour since 2003, when he sat out the weekend at the AT&T Byron Nelson, Fort Worth Invitational and Memorial Tournament in successive weeks.

Garcia entered the week ranked No. 10 in the world, and he was the only top-20 player among the 156-man field. He missed the cut at the Masters in defense of his title after carding an octuple-bogey 13 on the 15th hole during the opening round.

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Daly-Allen team grabs Legends of Golf lead on Day 2

By Associated PressApril 20, 2018, 11:14 pm

RIDGEDALE, Mo. - John Daly and Michael Allen took the second-round lead Friday in the cool and breezy Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf.

Daly and Allen shot an 8-under 46 on the Top of the Rock par-3 course with wind gusting to 15 mph and the temperature only in the high-50s at Big Cedar Lodge. They had three birdies on the front nine in alternate-shot play and added five more on the back in better-ball play to get to 13 under.

''Michael and I go back to the South African days in the late 80s and playing that tour,'' Daly said. ''We've been buddies since. He's just fun to play with. We feed off each other pretty good. And if he's not comfortable guinea-pigging on one hole, I'll go first.''

On Thursday, they opened with a 66 on the regulation Buffalo Ridge course. They will rotate to the 13-hole Mountain Top par-3 course on Saturday, and return to Top of the Rock for the final round Sunday.

''I went to high school in Jeff City, so it's cool to have the fans behind us,'' Daly said.

Allen won the PGA Tour Champions team event with David Frost in 2012 and Woody Austin in 2016.

''I'm just here to free up John,'' Allen said. ''It was fun. Luckily, I started making good putts today. We just want to keep the good times rolling.''

Full-field scores from the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf

Defending champions Vijay Singh and Carlos Franco were a stroke back along with Bernhard Langer-Tom Lehman and Paul Broadhurst-Kirk Triplett. Singh and Franco had a 7-under 32 in best-ball play at Mountain Top, and Lehman-Langer and Broadhurst-Tripplet each shot 6-under 48 at Top of the Rock.

''Part of the issue here is all the tees are elevated, so you're up high hitting to a green that's down below and the wind is blowing, and there is more time for that wind to affect it,'' Lehman said. ''If you guess wrong on the wind, you can hit a really good shot and kind of look stupid.''

Former UCLA teammates Scott McCarron and Brandt Jobe were two strokes back at 11 under with Steve Flesch and David Toms and the Spanish side of Jose Maria Olazabal and Miguel Angel Jimenez. McCarron-Jobe had a 47, and Jimenez-Olazabal a 48 at Top of the Rock, and Tom Flesch shot 34 at Mountain Top.

First-round leaders Jeff Maggert and Jesper Parnevik had a 52 at Top of the Rock to fall three shots back at 10 under. Madison, Wisconsin, friends Steve Stricker and Jerry Kelly also were 10 under after a 32 at Mountain Top. Jay Haas aced the 131-yard seventh hole at Mountain Top with a gap wedge. Haas and fellow 64-year-old Peter Jacobsen were 8 under after a 32.