Cut Line: USGA's Davis acts as peacemaker

By Rex HoggardMay 17, 2013, 10:59 pm

The USGA’s Mike Davis takes top honors in this week’s edition as he tries to head off a Texas-sized showdown next week, while the Byron Nelson Championship scores a much needed upgraded, but we can’t be sure the world’s best noticed.

Made Cut

Pragmatism. As expected, USGA executive director Mike Davis has quietly been playing peacemaker in the ongoing anchoring dispute between golf’s power brokers.

Unlike Peter Dawson, Davis’ counterpart at the R&A, who took exception to the PGA of America and PGA Tour’s public stance against the proposed ban on anchoring (seems he was only interested in comments of support), Davis told Golf Magazine that dissension was always going to be part of the process, although his opening comment about PGA president Ted Bishop is telling.

“Before Ted Bishop, trust me, there was a different mindset with the PGA of America. But listen, the PGA of America and Ted Bishop and the PGA Tour and Tim Finchem, have done exactly what we asked them to do,” Davis said.

“We had a 90-day comment period for the rule, and it's a divisive rule. But they've never specifically said they're not going to follow this rule. People want to think we're at war with the PGA of America and the PGA Tour, and it's just not the case.”

Building a consensus these days is akin to finding a wayward tee shot in the rough at quirky and confined Merion; which, by the way, may be the easiest part of Davis’ job this year.

Upgrades. A change of venue may not be the answer for all that ails the Byron Nelson Championship, but it seems officials are at least asking the right questions.

It was reported this week that the Nelson will move to Trinity Forest, a Bill Coore-Ben Crenshaw design that is expected to begin construction next year.

Mired with a bad date on the calendar and a golf course that has endured more bad facelifts than Joan Rivers, the Nelson has become an afterthought on the Tour schedule for most players.

But it seems officials and the deep pockets at AT&T, which is stepping in to sponsor the event, have realized the most important rule of the tournament business – location, location, location.


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Rory McIlroy. Just about the time the Ulsterman appeared to be playing his way out of his mini-slump arrives word that there is another twist in the world No. 2’s life.

Sources told Golf Channel on Friday that McIlroy is leaving Horizon Sports Management, which he joined in 2011, and will form his own management firm that will include various family and friends, including his father Gerry.

The new team won’t have much heavy lifting to do if reports of McIlroy’s 10-year deal with Nike Golf are accurate, and he’s not the first golf superstar to create his own management company.

Still, this is the second time McIlroy has changed his management team since he turned pro in 2007, and right now, after a rocky start with the Swoosh, he could use all the stability he can get.

Vijay Singh. It’s been more than a week since the Fijian stunned Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., and while the timing of his lawsuit remains suspect, a review of the filing suggests a legitimate beef.

The suit accuses the Tour of “violating its duty of care and good faith,” when reports surfaced in February that Singh had used a supplement that contained IGF-1, a substance that is on the circuit’s banned list.

What remains unknown, however, is what Singh hopes to achieve with the lawsuit. It’s hard to imagine a player who has nearly $70 million in career earnings needs the money, nor does it seem possible a successful day in court will repair his reputation. Fair or not, he will always be the “deer antler” guy.

Which leaves just one option – revenge.

The desire for justice is understandable, but the fact is Singh’s wounds are very much self-inflicted. IGF-1, a growth factor like HGH, was listed as an active ingredient in the spray at least three times on the company’s website that sells the supplement and has always been on the Tour’s banned-substance list. Perhaps IGF-1 shouldn’t have been on the banned list (see WADA below), but curious science doesn’t diminish culpability in this case.

Tweet of the week: @IanJamesPoulter “Oh well, it’s probably the only tournament you can lose your first match and still be OK. Tomorrow is another day. Good job, really.”

While Cut Line applauds the Englishman's attitude, if not his perspective, the round-robin nature of the Volvo World Match meant Poulter's Round 1 loss was simply a momentary setback. In our Friday four-ball, we call that a mulligan.


Missed Cut

Short memories. Independent contractors will say it’s a sign of the times, but this week’s less-than-star studded field at the Byron Nelson Championship suggests a baffling indifference to one of the game’s legends.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, before Lord Byron passed away, the Nelson regularly drew a deep field. But since 2006, when the Hall of Famer died, the current top 5 players in the Official World Golf Ranking have a combined four starts in Big D.

The Sony Open is the only non-opposite-field event to receive fewer World Ranking points then the Nelson, and this week’s field features just five players ranked in the top 20.

Lord Byron deserves better.

WADA. Singh sued the Tour over his run-in with the anti-doping code, but it is the World Anti-Doping Agency that seems at fault.

The Tour follows the WADA policy because they are supposed to be the experts. But the agency flip-flopped late in the proceedings with Singh and announced that IGF-1, taken orally and in such small quantities, did not constitute a violation.

The agency announced this week it is reviewing IGF-1’s status on the banned list as a direct result of the Singh situation, but that does little to help Singh or the Tour.

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Hovland finally puts 'it' all together for U.S. Am title

By Ryan LavnerAugust 20, 2018, 1:35 am

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Viktor Hovland had an hour and a half to decompress and regroup for the afternoon session of the 36-hole final at the 118th U.S. Amateur. During that downtime, he scrolled on his phone for 20 minutes, uninterrupted, before he finally headed toward the buffet line in The Lodge.

Every college kid is glued to his iPhone, of course, but Hovland wasn’t replying to texts or sifting through his Twitter mentions or checking out Snapchat.

He was reading a philosophical debate about affirmative action.

“He’s constantly on his phone, reading articles, gaining knowledge, and there have been times this year that it’s 20 minutes before his tee time and he hasn’t warmed up yet, so we’re thinking, ‘Is Viktor going to warm up today or is he going to roll out there cold?’” said Oklahoma State assistant coach Donnie Darr. “He would go to the range, literally hit 10 to 12 balls and off to the first tee he’d go. He knows what he’s working on – he’s not down there searching.”

Or as OSU head coach Alan Bratton put it: “If you’ve got it, you’ve got it.”

Hovland, 20, might be more interested in worldly matters than sports, but his own success story might pop up on his news feed Sunday night.

With one last commanding performance at Pebble Beach, he capped a near-perfect week by defeating Devon Bling, 6 and 5, to win the U.S. Amateur.

The new Prince of Pebble’s dominance this week was astounding.

The fifth-ranked amateur in the world, Hovland never trailed during his final 86 holes and was 1 down only once in six matches. His 104 total holes tied the fewest played by a U.S. Amateur champion since 1979.

You’d never have known it was just the Norwegian’s second career victory – at any level.  

“It wasn’t anything flashy,” he said afterward, “but this week it all came together, which is really cool.”

His championship match against the 302nd-ranked Bling wasn’t flawless, but he also didn’t need to be.

Hovland so thoroughly trounced his opponents this week that he played 15 fewer holes than Bling, a sophomore at UCLA. In front of a few dozen family and friends, Bling played the best round of his life in the semifinals, but he was 5 over par during the morning 18 Sunday and managed only one non-par 5 birdie all day.  

Hovland led outright for all but two holes, taking the lead for good after the signature shot of the championship. On the fourth hole, he blasted his tee shot over the cliff, into an ice plant. After sliding down the embankment to reach his ball, he saw it sitting perfectly.

“It was a hit-and-hope moment,” he said, “and it ended up pretty sweet.”

Hovland chopped out to 3 feet, the unlikely birdie jump-starting his day. He took a 4-up lead into the intermission and never came close to surrendering that advantage during the afternoon.


 

U.S. Amateur: Articles, photos and videos


His eventual 6-and-5 decision was the second-largest margin of victory since 2010.

“He’s been on a steady rise,” said Bratton, who caddied for Hovland this week, “and I can’t wait to see where he goes from here.”

Bratton was also on the bag for the 2010 U.S. Amateur champion at Chambers Bay. But unlike Peter Uihlein, the top amateur who wanted to play for the top program, Hovland was an underrated addition in Stillwater.

In the summer of 2013, Bratton took a trip to Scotland to watch one of his prized recruits, Kristoffer Ventura, at the European Boys Championship. While there Bratton watched the rest of the Norwegian national team practice, and the newest and youngest member of that squad stood out.

“I promise you I know what good is when I see it,” Bratton said, “and Viktor was good.”

Still, Hovland never won as a junior – a common theme, until recently – and was lightly recruited through his senior year of high school, only receiving interest from Texas Tech, TCU, Tennessee and Bratton’s Oklahoma State program. Though many of his friends chose the pro route, Hovland was dead set on college. “I just didn’t think I was good enough for the pros,” he said.

During recruiting, Hovland would talk on the phone with Bratton for hours, about almost everything – TV shows, politics, philosophy. He devours podcasts. He’s an ardent movie critic. He extensively researches and then welcomes a debate on the day’s hottest topics.

Even without any tournament titles on Hovland’s résumé, Bratton was so smitten that he didn’t bother to bring in another recruit for the class of 2016. He was all-in, with no backup option, and Hovland visited the campus for the first time a week before signing day his senior year.

The gamble paid off.

Hovland closed out his freshman season with five consecutive top-10s and earned first-team All-Big 12 honors, but as a sophomore he truly became an elite player.

During his freshman year his swing was too shallow and he struggled to get the ball airborne. At OSU’s event at Southern Highlands in Las Vegas, Hovland bubbled with frustration when he couldn’t stop his shots on the firm greens.

“For the life of me I could hit a 3-wood off the deck,” he said. “It was disgusting to look at.”

He finally had enough last fall, when he flew to South Florida to see his swing coach, Denny Lucas, for three days over the Thanksgiving break. They worked to get Hovland more into his left side at impact and compress the ball. 

The difference was significant and immediate. He won his first college tournament in the spring, only once placed outside the top 25 in an event and became a first-team All-American. He also saved his best for the biggest stages, leading off the Cowboys in match play and going a perfect 3-0 as they cruised to the NCAA title.

“Prior to that he got a lot out of that because his mis-hits were so good, but his good shots are way better now,” Darr said. “His ball flight is higher, so he’s more versatile as a player. He can hit it farther and hit it both ways. I think you’re going to see he’s going to win a lot of tournaments moving forward.” 

This summer, Hovland reached the Round of 16 at the British Amateur and tied for second at the European Amateur before his resounding performance here at Pebble Beach. He’s the first player since Florida’s Bubba Dickerson (2001) to be part of a NCAA title team and win the U.S. Amateur in the same year.

“I always thought I had a pretty good vocabulary,” Hovland said, “but I’m at a loss for words. It’s really special. I just hope it’s the start of something great.” 

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After Further Review: Women's No. 1 ranking a precarious perch

By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 20, 2018, 1:20 am

Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On musical chairs at the top of the women's rankings ...

Women’s golf is a game of musical chairs these days. The Rolex Women’s World Rankings are a testament to the depth of the tour, with seven changes at No. 1 in the last 14 months. Ariya Jutanugarn looked as if she might be on her way to  dominating this season, but her latest run at No. 1 lasted three weeks. Sung Hyun Park’s victory Sunday at the Indy Women in Tech Championship helped her take back the top ranking. Park lasted a week at No. 1 the first time she got there late last fall. Jutanugarn lasted two weeks at No. 1 the first time she got there last summer. Sung Hyun Park, Jutanugarn, Inbee Park, So Yeon Ryu, Shanshan Feng and Lydia Ko have all taken turns at the top since June of 2017, and there’s no reason to believe anyone should get too comfortable on the game’s throne the rest of the year. - Randall Mell


On a promising day for U.S. Ryder Cup chances ...

This year’s Ryder Cup is still weeks away, but Sunday was a good day for the U.S. team.

Brandt Snedeker birdied two of his last four holes to win the Wyndham Championship and set the stage for a potential captain’s pick and his third start at the biennial matches.

If U.S. captain Jim Furyk can rest easier with his four picks coming into focus, he can also take solace in Webb Simpson’s play at the Wyndham. Simpson, who held on to the final automatic qualifying spot at the PGA Championship, closed with a 62 at Sedgefield Country Club to finish tied for second place.

And Furyk shot a final-round 63 to tie for fourth at the Wyndham, so a good day all the way around for the U.S. captain. - Rex Hoggard

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S.H. Park tops Salas for Indy title, takes over No.1

By Randall MellAugust 20, 2018, 12:03 am

Sung Hyun Park moved back to Rolex world No. 1 with her victory Sunday at the Indy Women in Tech Championship.

With her 10-foot birdie defeating Lizette Salas on the first sudden death playoff hole at Brickyard Crossing, Park knocked Ariya Jutanugarn off the top of the world rankings.

It marks Park’s second ascension to world No. 1.

Park lasted a week at the top the first time she moved to No. 1 in November of last year. Jutanugarn’s second run at No. 1 ends after three weeks.


Full-field scores from Indy Women in Tech Championship


There has been a lot of movement at the top of the world rankings in the women’s game the last two seasons, with Park marking the seventh change at the top in the last 14 months.

The victory was Park’s third LPGA title of the year, matching Jutanugarn for most on tour this season.

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Playoff qualifiers: 2018 FedExCup Top 125

By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 20, 2018, 12:00 am

Top 125 in the 2017-18 FedExCup point standings, through the final regular-season event, the Wyndham Championship. These players qualify for the FedExCup Playoffs.

1. Dustin Johnson 2,717
2. Justin Thomas 2,634
3. Brooks Koepka 2,012
4. Justin Rose 1,991
5. Bubba Watson 1,879
6. Jason Day 1,771
7. Webb Simpson 1,710
8. Francesco Molinari 1,682
9. Bryson DeChambeau 1,617


10. Patrick Reed 1,555
11. Phil Mickelson 1,546
12. Tony Finau 1,509
13. Jon Rahm 1,430
14. Patrick Cantlay 1,388
15. Patton Kizzire 1,386
16. Paul Casey 1,319
17. Rickie Fowler 1,302
18. Kyle Stanley 1,198
19. Kevin Na 1,183


20. Tiger Woods 1,162
21. Rory McIlroy 1,154
22. Marc Leishman 1,148
23. Tommy Fleetwood 1,130
24. Chesson Hadley 1,122
25. Pat Perez 1,116
26. Andrew Landry 1,116
27. Aaron Wise 1,086
28. Xander Schauffele 1,081
29. Luke List 1,080


30. Brandt Snedeker 1,077
31. Austin Cook 1,060
32. Brian Harman 1,056
33. Gary Woodland 1,044
34. Ian Poulter 1,030
35. Andrew Putnam 1,026
36. Chez Reavie 1,020
37. Ryan Armour 1,006
38. Brendan Steele 998
39. Alex Noren 989


40. Kevin Kisner 971
41. Billy Horschel 960
42. Beau Hossler 957
43. Jordan Spieth 945
44. Byeong Hun An 913
45. Emiliano Grillo 901
46. Si Woo Kim 893
47. Charles Howell III 885
48. Brian Gay 880
49. Keegan Bradley 872


50. Henrik Stenson 868
51. J.J. Spaun 849
52. Zach Johnson 839
53. Cameron Smith 821
54. Scott Piercy 802
55. Ryan Moore 795
56. Rafa Cabrera Bello 784
57. Whee Kim 764
58. Stewart Cink 758
59. Chris Kirk 756


60. Ted Potter Jr. 744
61. Jimmy Walker 719
62. Jason Kokrak 700
63. C.T. Pan 693
64. Matt Kuchar 679
65. Joel Dahmen 676
66. Michael Kim 675
67. Kevin Streelman 673
68. Keith Mitchell 659
69. J.B. Holmes 640


70. Adam Hadwin 638
71. Brice Garnett 634
72. Kelly Kraft 627
73. Adam Scott 623
74. Louis Oosthuizen 620
75. Troy Merritt 616
76. Hideki Matsuyama 607
77. Satoshi Kodaira 600
78. Kevin Chappell 597
79. James Hahn 596


80. Tom Hoge 594
81. Peter Uihlein 593
82. Branden Grace 590
83. Abraham Ancer 589
84. Russell Knox 585
85. Kevin Tway 577
86. Jamie Lovemark 576
87. Ollie Schniederjans 573
88. Russell Henley 569
89. Daniel Berger 565


90. Jason Dufner 557
91. Anirban Lahiri 555
92. Tyrrell Hatton 550
93. Patrick Rodgers 541
94. Brandon Harkins 528
95. Trey Mullinax 528
96. Charl Schwartzel 528
97. Rory Sabbatini 521
98. Charley Hoffman 515
99. Alex Cejka 502


100. Ryan Palmer 500
101. Richy Werenski 498
102. Nick Watney 491
103. Danny Lee 481
104. Sung Kang 480
105. John Huh 480
106. Harold Varner III 474
107. Scott Stallings 470
108. Tyler Duncan 457
109. William McGirt 449


110. J.T. Poston 448
111. Bronson Burgoon 446
112. Vaughn Taylor 445
113. Martin Laird 443
114. Sam Ryder 442
115. Grayson Murray 438
116. Ryan Blaum 433
117. Scott Brown 422
118. Brian Stuard 421
119. Nick Taylor 420


120. Sam Saunders 420
121. Sean O'Hair 417
122. Bud Cauley 405
123. Jhonattan Vegas 394
124. Harris English 383
125. Seamus Power 377