Cut Line: Too close to call

By Rex HoggardNovember 9, 2012, 9:23 pm

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – In honor of the season-ending numbers crunch that is the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic, Cut Line tries to channel his inner Nate Silver, the statistician and New York Times blogger who correctly predicted the presidential election in 49 of 50 states (with Florida still counting votes), and calculate Sunday’s outcome.

In the rush to crack the top 125 on the money list and secure status on Tour in 2013 one stat stood out – 76 of the 127 eligible players at Disney are currently outside the top 125. Prediction: expect plenty of two-way traffic on Sunday at Disney.

Made Cut

Perspective. Regardless of whether Gary Christian becomes a casualty of the season-ending money crunch, Cut Line would like to nominate the affable Englishman for the season’s Reality Check Award.

At 127th on the money list the 41-year-old rookie was facing a return trip to Q-School following a first-round 71 at Disney but on Wednesday he cut through the normally insular attitudes found at the season finale with a rare sense of perspective among the play-for-pay set.

“It's a dream come true,” Christian said. “If I hear anyone whining about anything on the Tour, they need to get their head examined.”

For Christian, Disney really is the happiest place in the world even during one of the year’s most stressful weeks.

Unity. As speculation increases in the buildup to the U.S. Golf Association and Royal & Ancient Golf Club’s announcement regarding anchoring later this year the pressure is escalating on PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem to break with tradition and revert to a set of “Tour rules.”

But if bifurcation of the Rules of Golf is the answer, as many have suggested, Finchem seems categorically opposed to the idea for all the right reasons. Earlier this summer the commish dismissed the idea of a set of “Tour rules” at a meeting of the circuit’s Player Advisory Council.

“He made it clear we would follow whatever (the USGA and R&A) did,” said one PAC member.

Whether Finchem’s decision is based on a sense of tradition or a fear of legal action doesn’t matter as much as what his stand means – a unified voice at a pivotal moment.

Tweet of the week: @LukeDonald late Tuesday. “Wow this is getting close. I just don’t know which way the decision will go. Will they or will they not ban the long putter!”


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Enough Blayne to go around. For those who have attempted to keep pace with the bizarre tale of Blayne Barber it has been difficult, if not impossible, to form a lasting conclusion.

The facts are these. Barber appeared to advance out of the first stage of PGA Tour Q-School at Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, Ga., despite a penalty on the 13th hole in Round 1 when he appeared to brush a leaf in a bunker.

Although Barber wasn’t sure he’d brushed the leaf – his caddie/brother said he had not – he assessed himself a one-stroke penalty only to discover later that night that it was a two-stroke penalty, which meant he’d signed for a lower score which would result in his disqualification.

Here’s the rub, Barber waited six days after the tournament ended to report the infraction, which resulted in his disqualification and opened the door for six additional players to advance to second stage.

“I wanted to believe I didn’t hit it, but I was going back and forth between this uncertainty in my mind. I didn’t want to start my entire career with this uncertainty in my head …” Barber told GolfChannel.com this week. “I was definitely pretty torn up about it; it was weighing on me pretty heavily.”

The subject was a hot topic on the practice tee this week at Disney with concerns ranging from Barber’s lack of knowledge regarding the Rules of Golf to the six-day delay in reporting the infraction. As one player said, “I’m glad he did the right thing, but I’m just not sure why it took him so long to get there.”

The long wait. And you think slow play on the golf course is a concern.

Although officials with the U.S. Golf Association have said a decision regarding long putters and anchoring will be made before the end of the year, the game seems caught in the limbo of the unknown.

According to various sources the powers that be plan to ban anchoring, and by definition the use of long putters, but the wait has sparked a wider debate over the legality of such a ban (see Bradley, Keegan) and even the inequity of such a move.

“It’s not an issue that I’m involved with, I understand both sides,” Phil Mickelson said this week. “It’s just that I don’t think you can take away what you’ve allowed players to use, practice and play with for 30 years. I think it is grossly unfair.”

Davis Love III, one of four player directors briefed by the USGA last month on the potential ban, urged officials to move quickly, whatever the decision, to avoid prolonged speculation and debate. We’re starting to understand what Love meant.


Missed Cut

No Magic. After 41 years the Tour’s annual stop at Walt Disney World appears to be on life support. The Disney stop loses the Children’s Miracle Network as sponsor this year and the event was not on a tentative 2013-14 schedule that  Cut Line  got a peek at last month, although officials stress there is still time to find a replacement.

Given the new reality of the circuit’s split-calendar schedule it’s difficult to imagine a last-minute reprieve. Beginning next season the Fall Series events will move into the FedEx Cup portion of the schedule, which means Disney would need to increase its purse all the while losing the cachet of being the circuit’s final event.

Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., may in fact find some magic for the Magic Kingdom, but in the land of Mouse this week that option seemed straight out of Fantasyland.

Trying to find more from less. One of the casualties of next year’s split-calendar schedule will be fewer playing opportunities for Tour types in 2013.

Because of the loss of the four Fall Series events and the Mayakoba Golf Classic, which will move from February to the fall, officials estimate there will be about five fewer starts in 2013 for players in the Web.com Tour and Q-School category.

Although this is a one-off anomaly, and officials have tried to mitigate the losses by expanding fields at some events and limiting unrestricted sponsor exemptions, that will do little to help players hard pressed for playing opportunities.

One suggestion to lesson this impact was to expand playoff-event fields to 144. Under the proposal the number of FedEx Cup-eligible players would remain the same – 125 at Barclays, 100 at the Deutsche Bank Championship and 70 at the BMW Championship – while the rest of the field simply played for money-list status similar to what NASCAR does during its “Chase for the Sprint Cup.”

That suggestion, however, seemed to fall on deaf ears, primarily because of the timing of the new qualifying system that is scheduled to run concurrent with the playoffs. “They didn’t want to hear it,” said one member of this year’s Players Advisory Council.

Just a hunch, but as playing opportunities dry up next season Tour officials should expect to hear plenty more about this topic.

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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.