Cut Line: Travelers reaches out to Newtown

By Rex HoggardJune 21, 2013, 8:57 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Thoughts and therapy on the road from Merion to TPC River Highlands.

Made Cut

The little tournament that could. The Tour doesn’t dole out “most improved” awards to tournaments, but if it did the Travelers Championship would be a perennial contender.

The “small market” stop regularly draws record crowds – in 2012 the Travelers gate was the second-best on Tour behind only the Waste Management Phoenix Open – via a collection of creative campaigns and programs, including a chatter flight from the U.S. Open to Hartford, Conn.

This week, however, the tournament once again exceeded expectations.

Following the horrific shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School last December in Newtown, Conn., about 48 miles from TPC River Highlands, tournament officials reached out to the community and asked what they could do to help.

“We met with a few families and the town and said, ‘What could we possibly do for you?’” said tournament director Nathan Grube. “Some of it is completely off the radar that they have asked to keep private, but there are other parts of it that are great.”

The tournament has pledged to indefinitely fund a First Tee program in Newtown and summer camps beginning this summer.

“We are going to stay in touch with them for years and years and years. We want to be a part of the recovery,” Grube said.

Justin Rose. On Tuesday the U.S. Open champion delivered the iconic “Top 10” list on the 'Late Show with David Letterman' (as an aside, that list wasn’t Dave’s best work).

Two days later Rose picked up where he left off at the Travelers Championship and had some trying to come up with a “Top 10” list of their own as to why he couldn’t become the first player since Ernie Els in 1997 to win the week after hoisting the Open trophy.

Even three bogeys through his first six holes on Thursday couldn’t slow Rose’s momentum. He finished with an opening 67 and has quickly proven himself adept at sidestepping the pitfalls that come with a maiden major.

Even Rose’s curious move to Excel Sports Management from 4 Sports & Entertainment this week was mitigated by the Englishman’s honesty.

“The timing is kind of ironic, I suppose, with everything that's happened,” Rose told Cut Line. “But it’s a decision I made quite some time ago and things take some time to figure themselves out.”

The best players are not always the best people, but in Rose’s case he seems as adept with a microphone as he is with a putter.

Sean Foley. The introspective swing coach knew when he signed on to work with Tiger Woods the fishbowl would be intense, and he has taken the nonstop analysis in stride.

What is lost in many reviews of Foley’s work, however, has been his ability to help a diverse group of players improve. Consider Rose and Hunter Mahan, who teed off in the last group on Sunday at Merion and opened his week at the Travelers with a 62.

“It’s a testament to Sean that what Justin is doing and what I’m doing and what Tiger is doing are completely different things,” Mahan said Thursday. “We all do different things and Sean has been able to help all of us.”

Lost in all the analysis is the only thing those three have in common – winning.


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Merion. Maybe the setup wasn’t perfect, the logistics were less than accommodating and the bottom line not exactly what the USGA would prefer, but from a pure competitive point of view the long awaited return of the U.S. Open to the East Course was a success.

Just ask Zach Johnson, one of the more outspoken critics of the USGA’s setup last week. “Oh, I hope so,” he said when asked if the Open should return to Merion.

The East Course may not be a perfect fit for a regular spot in the U.S. Open rotation, but let’s hope it’s not another 32 years before the national championship returns to Merion.

Slow play. While reporting a story this week on the PGA Tour’s pace-of-policy it occurred to Cut Line that the circuit and its players don’t seem to be having the same conversation.

Officials will tell you it’s a math problem, that 26 groups (with a 156-player field) on an 18-hole golf course adds up to only one thing – slow rounds. But many players contend it’s a policy and implementation problem.

“A guy comes in, makes the cut on the number. An official is standing there and says, ‘You know what, actually you shot 1 over today not even. You had a bad time on (No.) 14 and you missed the cut.’” Lucas Glover said. “He would probably play faster next time.”

We don’t know the answer to the circuit’s slow-play problem but this much is clear, until the Tour and its players start having the same conversation the perception will remain that the pace-of-play problem in golf starts at the top.

Tweet of the week: @PaulGoydosPGA “We’ve been plagued by slow play for years, and it turns out it was a 14 year old that was the problem.”

Goydos actually tweeted that missive in April after Chinese amateur Guan Tianlang was assessed a stroke penalty for slow play at the Masters, but it seems apropos given the ongoing debate on how to speed up play on the PGA Tour.


Missed Cut

Small print. While Cut Line is not litigious, the Tour’s move on June 12 to nix Vijay Singh’s lawsuit following his dust-up with the circuit’s anti-doping policy sets a curious precedent.

Singh sued the Tour in May claiming the circuit “(violated) its duty of care and good faith” after he admitted to using the Ultimate Spray, which contained IGF-1, a growth factor like human growth hormone that is on the circuit’s banned substances list. Although Singh was later absolved of any doping violation, he filed the lawsuit on the eve of this year’s Players Championship.

The Tour moved this month to dismiss the suit in New York Supreme Court, claiming that when players sign their membership application they agree not to sue the Tour and adhere to all aspects of the Tour’s anti-doping policy, which doesn’t have a provision for outside legal action within its appeal guidelines.

The Tour declined to comment on the motion, and a quick survey of players on the TPC River Highlands practice tee on Friday suggests that if the circuit is legally protected from its members that is news to them.

Here’s a line we never thought we’d pen: It may be time to consider a union in golf.

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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 GolfChannel.com. “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.