Cut Line: Top seeds gone, but all is not lost

By Rex HoggardFebruary 23, 2013, 12:30 am

MARANA, Ariz. – The great WGC-blizzard of 2013 will be remembered for three things: a mass exodus of all four top-seeded players before the weekend, an empty void at least partially filled with a collection of feel-good stories and well, snow – nearly 4 inches of the white stuff – that turned this year’s WGC-Accenture Match Play into something that more resembled the Olympic downhill trials.

Made Cut

Seeing daylight from the DL. The Match Play is as good a litmus test for a player’s form as any in golf. Every match features Sunday-like pressure and the normal flow of Tour life is upended by the urgency of now.

It’s a simple truth and had everything to do with the Teflon smiles on Tim Clark and Jason Day’s faces Friday at Dove Mountain. Both players have endured their share of medical setbacks in recent years, so when both emerged from the second round it was reason to celebrate.

“This last (injury) was hard. To not hit a golf shot for almost a year is a long time,” said Clark, whose 2011 season was cut short because of elbow surgery.

Clark beat Adam Scott (2 and 1) and Thorbjorn Olesen (3 and 2) to advance to the Sweet 16, while Day – who was slowed last year by an ailing foot – cruised to victory in Round 1 with a 6-and-5 walkover of Zach Johnson and survived a 19-hole bout with Russell Henley on Friday.

You know what they say: Beware the mended golfer . . . or something like that.

One voice. While the PGA Tour remains mum on what the circuit’s official response will be to the U.S. Golf Association and Royal & Ancient’s proposed ban on anchoring, players who participated in Monday’s conference calls seem to be united in their distaste for the proposal.

Although one member of the Player Advisory Council said “everybody was against (the ban)” during Monday’s 35-minute conference call, another council member softened that stance but conceded those voicing opinions against the rule change were “more in the majority.”

After the PAC conference call, commissioner Tim Finchem conducted a second call with the Policy Board to formulate the circuit’s official response to the proposal, which is nearing the end of a 90-day comment period.

There has been no formal comment on the Tour’s stance, but the seeds of discontent seem to have taken hold among the play-for-pay set.

“I have said all along, take anchoring out of the equation, is this the best way to make rules for our sport? Should the PGA Tour make its own rules? No. Should the PGA Tour and the PGA of America and the USGA and R&A and journalists be involved? I think so,” said Paul Goydos, one of four player directors on the Policy Board. “I don’t think this is the way we should be writing rules for our sport.”

This isn’t about long putters anymore; it’s about the long view.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Seeing red. Any way you slice it, Tiger Woods’ Round 1 loss to Charles Howell III, just his third one-and-done week in 13 Match Plays, is reason to reassess; but the truth is, some early exits are unavoidable.

Consider that Woods was bogey-free and 2 under when Howell closed him out in darkness on the 17th hole Thursday – he missed four birdie attempts from inside 11 feet, hit 12 of 13 fairways and 14 of 17 greens, and simply ran into a hot hand, regardless of seedings.

“I played well, I really did, I hit a lot of good shots out there,” Woods said. “I didn’t make a bogey out there. Unfortunately, it’s the nature of the format, and I’m not advancing.”

Before we press the collective panic button know this: There’s nothing wrong with Woods that 72 holes of stroke play can’t fix.

Missed Cut

Bracket busting. Blame it on the format, the world golf ranking or the snow, whatever the culprit, it doesn’t make a weekend marquee that is barren of a single top-seeded player any easier to stomach – not for Accenture executives, television types and certainly not for fans.

For the first time since 2002, the game’s alpha and omega, at least according to the world ranking arithmetic, were bounced in Round 1. On Friday, the remaining top dogs (Luke Donald and Louis Oosthuizen) joined world No. 1 Rory McIlroy and No. 2 Woods on the couch.

“It’s kind of the nature of the beast,” said Donald, who just made it past the turn in his 7-and-6 loss to Scott Piercy. “I think over 18 holes anyone has got a chance. I think maybe the No. 1 seeds or the higher seeds, maybe there's a little bit more expectation on their shoulders and the other guys have nothing to lose.”

Fair enough, but then why did it feel as if it was the Dove Mountain faithful who had been handed a 7-and-6 haymaker?

Let this end the debate to transform the Tour Championship into some sort of match-play event; it’s already quiet enough on the weekend at East Lake.

Quite Rors. Although three competitive rounds is hardly an adequate snapshot, it is safe to say that McIlroy’s transition to Nike Golf is officially off to a rocky start.

The Ulsterman has been here before and showed himself adept at slump busting (let last year’s historic romp at the PGA Championship forever put those doubts to bed), but nearly two months into 2013, McIlroy hasn’t come close to breaking par or seeing a weekend.

While McIlroy sounded upbeat about his long-term prospects even as he bolted property late Thursday following his loss to Shane Lowry in Round 1, the Swoosh-shaped elephant in the room was unavoidable.

There is little doubt McIlroy will play his way out of this mini-slide, but until he does the questions and pressure will only build.

Snow doubt. Let the record show that two of the last three “snow” delays on the PGA Tour have occurred atop this slice of Arizona cactus country, and that two of the last three WGCs at Dove Mountain have been impacted by the white stuff.

But, as any Tour official within 200 miles of Tucson will tell you, golf is an outdoor game and the Match Play is hardly the only event that is at the mercy of Mother Nature.

For Dove Mountain, however, the weather woes are only part of the problem. Sparse attendance, a remote location some 20 miles from downtown Tucson and a genuine distaste for the Jack Nicklaus-designed course by more than a few Tour players add up to one inevitable truth – it’s time to leave the mountain.

According to tournament sources the Tour’s contract with Dove Mountain is up at the end of 2014 and Cut Line would humbly suggest a change of venue. You don’t have to go to South America, Tampa (which currently has a Tour event struggling to find a sponsor) or the Middle East, just go.

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Davies wins by 10 on 'best ball-striking round'

By Associated PressJuly 16, 2018, 1:53 am

WHEATON, Ill. - Laura Davies immediately recognized the significance of having her name inscribed on the first U.S. Senior Women's Open trophy.

It might be a long time before anyone secures the title as emphatically as Davies did.

Davies went virtually unchallenged in Sunday's final round of the inaugural USGA championship for women 50 and older, claiming the title by 10 strokes over Juli Inkster.

''It's great seeing this (trophy) paraded down for the very first time and I get my name on it first, you know?'' Davies said. ''This championship will be played for many years and there will only be one first winner - obviously a proud moment for me to win that.''

The 54-year-old Davies shot a 5-under 68 to finish at 16-under 276 at Chicago Golf Club.

It was the English player's 85th career win, and she felt the pressure even though her lead was rarely in danger.

''I haven't won for eight years - my last win was India, 2010,'' Davies said. ''So that's the pressure you're playing under, when you're trying to do something for yourself, prove to yourself you can still win.

''So this ranks highly up there. And obviously it's a USGA event. It's hard comparing tournaments, but this is very high on my list of achievements.''

A 7-under 66 Saturday provided Davies with a five-shot lead over Inkster and what she said would be a sleepless night worrying about the pressure.

Full-field scores from the U.S. Senior Women’s Open

The World Golf Hall of Famer widened her advantage early Sunday when she birdied the par-5 second hole and Inkster made bogey. Davies said a par she salvaged at the 10th was another turning point.

''It wasn't the greatest hole I ever played, but I think that, to me, was when I really started to think I might have one hand on the trophy and just had to get the other one in there.''

Inkster shot an even-par 73. England's Trish Johnson also shot 73 to finish third, 12 shots back.

''I mean, she was absolutely spectacular this week,'' Johnson said about Davies. ''I've played against her for 35 years. Yesterday was the best I have ever seen her play in her entire career.

''She just said walking down 18 it was best ball-striking round she ever had. Considering she's won 85 tournaments, that's quite some feat.''

Danielle Ammaccapane was fourth and Yuko Saito finished fifth. Martha Leach was the top amateur, tying for 10th at 6-over 298.

Davies plans to play in the Women's British Open next month, and called this win a confidence-booster as she continues to compete against the younger generation. She finished tied for second at the LPGA's Bank of Hope Founders Cup earlier this year.

''You build up a little bit of momentum, and a golf course is a golf course,'' Davies said. ''Sometimes the field strength is a little bit different, but in your own mind if you've done something like this, 16 under for four rounds around a proper championship course, it can't do anything but fill you full of confidence.''

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Romo rallies to win American Century Championship

By Associated PressJuly 16, 2018, 12:42 am

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Nev. - Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo rallied from four points back to win his first American Century Championship at Lake Tahoe on Sunday.

Romo, who retired after the 2016 NFL season and is now an NFL analyst, had 27 points on the day to beat three-time defending champion Mark Mulder and San Jose Sharks captain Joe Pavelski, the the leader after the first two rounds.

''It's a special win,'' said Romo, who had finished second three times in seven previous trips to the annual celebrity golf tournament at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course. ''It feels like you're playing a tournament back home here. The day felt good for a lot of reasons.''

Romo tapped in for par, worth one point, on the 18th hole to finish with 71 points, three ahead of Mulder, the former major league pitcher. He then caught a flight to Berlin, Wis., where he was to compete in a 36-hole U.S. Amateur qualifying tournament on Monday.

The American Century Championship uses a modified Stableford scoring system which rewards points for eagles (six), birdies (three) and pars (one) and deducts points (two) for double bogeys or worse. Bogeys are worth zero points.

Pavelski had a 7-foot eagle putt on the par-5 18th that could have tied Romo, but it slid by. He finished with 66 points, tied for third with Ray Allen, who will be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Sept. 7.

Full-field scores from the American Century Championship

''It feels like nothing went in for me today,'' Pavelski said. ''But I couldn't ask for more than to have that putt to tie on the last hole.''

Romo plays as an amateur, so his $125,000 first-place check from the $600,000 purse will go to local charities and the Stowers Institute for Medical Research, the primary charitable arm of title sponsor American Century Investments.

Rounding out the top five were Trent Dilfer, a Super Bowl-winning quarterback with the Baltimore Ravens in 2001, and former tennis player Mardy Fish. Each had 62 points.

Golden State Warriors guard Steph Curry, who fell out of contention with a mediocre round Saturday, jumped into Lake Tahoe amidst much fanfare after losing a bet to his father, Dell. The elder Curry jumped into the lake last year, so he negotiated a 20-point handicap and won by two points.

Other notable players in the 92-player field included John Smoltz, the MLB hall of Fame pitcher who two weeks ago competed in the U.S. Senior Open and finished 10th here with 53 points; Steph Curry, who finished tied for 11th with retired Marine and wounded war hero Andrew Bachelder (50); actor Jack Wagner (16th, 47 points); Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (tied for 18th, 44 points); actor Ray Romano (tied for 71st, minus-26 points); comedian Larry the Cable Guy (tied for 77th, minus-33 points); and former NBA great Charles Barkley, who finished alone in last with minus-93 points.

The tournament drew 57,097 fans for the week, setting an attendance record for the fourth straight year.

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Singh tops Maggert in playoff for first senior major

By Associated PressJuly 16, 2018, 12:10 am

HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. - Vijay Singh birdied the second playoff hole to beat Jeff Maggert and win the Constellation Senior Players Championship on Sunday.

Singh knocked in a putt from about 2 feet after a nearly perfect approach on the 18th hole at Exmoor Country Club, giving an understated fist pump as the ball fell in. That gave him his first major title on the PGA Tour Champions to go with victories at the Masters and two PGA Championships.

Singh (67) and Maggert (68) finished at 20-under 268. Brandt Jobe (66) was two strokes behind, while Jerry Kelly (64) and defending champion Scott McCarron (71) finished at 17 under.

Maggert had chances to win in regulation and on the first playoff hole.

He bogeyed the par-4 16th to fall into a tie with Singh at 20 under and missed potential winning birdie putts at the end of regulation and on the first playoff hole.

His 15-footer on the 72nd hole rolled wide, forcing the playoff, and a downhill 12-footer on the same green went just past the edge.

Full-field scores from the Constellation Energy Senior Players

The 55-year-old Singh made some neat par saves to get into the playoff.

His tee shot on 17 landed near the trees to the right of the fairway, and his approach on 18 wound up in a bunker. But the big Fijian blasted to within a few feet to match Maggert's par.

McCarron - tied with Maggert and Bart Bryant for the lead through three rounds - was trying to join Arnold Palmer and Bernhard Langer as the only back-to-back winners of this major. He came back from a six-shot deficit to win at Caves Valley near Baltimore last year and got off to a good start on Sunday.

He birdied the first two holes to reach 18 under. But bogeys on the par-4 seventh and ninth holes knocked him off the lead. His tee shot on No. 7 rolled into a hole at the base of a tree and forced him to take an unplayable lie.

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Davies a fitting winner of inaugural USGA championship

By Randall MellJuly 15, 2018, 11:26 pm

Laura Davies confessed she did not sleep well on a five-shot lead Saturday night at the U.S. Senior Women’s Open.

It’s all you needed to know about what this inaugural event meant to the women who were part of the history being made at Chicago Golf Club.

The week was more than a parade of memories the game’s greats created playing in the USGA’s long-awaited showcase for women ages 50 and beyond.

The week was more than nostalgic. 

It was a chance to make another meaningful mark on the game.

In the end, Davies relished seeing the mark she made in her runaway, 10-shot victory. She could see it in the familiar etchings on the trophy she hoisted.

“I get my name on it first,” Davies said. “This championship will be played for many years, and there will only be one first winner. Obviously, quite a proud moment for me to win that.”

Really, all 120 players in the field made their marks at Chicago Golf Club. They were all pioneers of sorts this past week.

“It was very emotional seeing the USGA signs, because I've had such a long history, since my teens, playing in USGA championships,” said Amy Alcott, whose Hall of Fame career included the 1980 U.S. Women’s Open title. “I thought the week just came off beautifully. The USGA did a great job. It was just so classy how everything was done, this inaugural event, and how was it presented.”

Davies was thankful for what the USGA added to the women’s game, and she wasn’t alone. Gratefulness was the theme of the week.

Full-field scores from the U.S. Senior Women’s Open

The men have been competing in the U.S. Senior Open since 1980, and now the women have their equal opportunity to do the same.

“It was just great to be a part of the first,” three-time U.S. Women’s Open winner Hollis Stacy said. “The USGA did a great job of having it at such a great golf course. It's just been very memorable.”

Trish Johnson, who is English, like Davies, finished third, 12 shots back, but she left with a heart overflowing.

“Magnificent,” said Johnson, a three-time LPGA and 19-time LET winner. “Honestly, it's one of the best, most enjoyable weeks I've ever played in in any tournament anywhere.”

She played in the final group with Davies and runner-up Juli Inkster.

“Even this morning, just waiting to come out here, I thought, `God, not often do I actually think how lucky I am to do what I do,’” Johnson said.

At 54, Davies still plays the LPGA and LET regularly. She has now won 85 titles around the world, 20 of them LPGA titles, four of them majors, 45 of them LET titles.

With every swing this past week, she peeled back the years, turned back the clock, made fans and peers remember what she means to the women’s game.

This wasn’t the first time Davies made her mark in a USGA event. When she won the U.S. Women’s Open in 1987, she became just the second player from Europe to win the title, the first in 20 years. She opened a new door for internationals. The following year, Sweden’s Liselotte Neumann won the title.

“A lot of young Europeans and Asians decided that it wasn't just an American sport,” Davies said. “At that stage, it had been dominated, wholeheartedly, by all the names we all love, Lopez, Bradley, Daniel, Sheehan.”

Davies gave the rest of the world her name to love, her path to follow.

“It certainly made a lot of foreign girls think that they could take the Americans on,” Davies said.

In golf, it’s long been held that you can judge the stature of an event by the names on the trophy. Davies helps gives the inaugural U.S. Senior Women’s Open the monumental start it deserved.