Cut Line: Historic moments for Tiger, PGA of America

By Rex HoggardNovember 28, 2014, 7:30 pm

The PGA of America makes history with the election of a new secretary, the LPGA ends a historic year and Tiger Woods resumes his historic march with a new “swing consultant.”

Made Cut

The right person. Suzy Whaley didn’t set out to make history. The Connecticut club professional never intended to be a trailblazer, but then pioneers rarely do.

Whaley’s sweeping election to secretary of the PGA of America last Saturday made her the first female elected to serve as an officer for the association and puts her in line to become president in four years.

For Whaley, however, her decision to run for office was a chance to take what she does every day at TPC River Highlands – everything from player development to her creative junior programs – to a national level.

“For me it wasn’t about making history. For me it was about being a candidate that felt we could be a part of a team and part of a plan that could truly help us move forward,” Whaley told Cut Line.

Regardless of gender, the PGA is better prepared to move forward then they were a week ago.

That’s a wrap. Fitting that a day after Whaley broke through the PGA’s grass ceiling the LPGA wrapped up what many consider its best season.

What already qualified as an embarrassment of riches for commissioner Michael Whan ended with a roar when rookie of the year Lydia Ko won the CME Group Tour Championship and Stacy Lewis claimed the Player of the Year title.

Along the way Michelle Wie (U.S. Women’s Open) and Lexi Thompson (Kraft Nabisco Championship) joined the major championship club and Lewis and Inbee Park traded the top spot in the Rolex ranking with compelling regularity.

It was a best-case scenario for Whan and Co. with equal parts parity and star power. The challenge now? Doing it all again in 2015.


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

No. 5 for Tiger. News late last week that Tiger Woods had teamed with a new set of eyes – in this case “swing consultant” Chris Como – was as surprising as it was sensational.

While the jury is still out on Como, by most accounts the Texas-based coach is an intellectual and an idyllic fit for the former world No. 1.

“He speaks Tiger’s language and his biomechanics background fits perfectly with what he is interested in,” said one longtime PGA Tour swing coach.

But there was some concern that Como, who was virtually unknown in general golf circles before last week, may be a tad too technical for a player who has, by some accounts, become too technical in recent years.

Still, the 37-year-old swing coach was saying all the right things and if he can keep Woods off the “DL” – he’s played a full season just three times in the last seven years – Tiger’s fifth different swing as a professional will be viewed as at least a step in the right direction.

“The idea of having a person rely on a teacher is bad,” Como told Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte. “You have to know about yourself, rely on yourself.”


Tweet of the week:


Missed Cut

When a rookie is not a rookie. Brooks Koepka completed a memorable season on the European Tour by winning that circuit’s Rookie of the Year Award.

Koepka, who won this month’s Turkish Airlines Open, now moves on to the PGA Tour where he begins his first full season in the United States, just not as a rookie year.

Because of the Tour’s small print the young American will not be a rookie in 2015, a technicality that will keep him from sweeping the rookie of the year awards on both sides of the pond.

It likely doesn’t matter to Koepka, but it is a shame when convoluted rules get in the way of a good story.

Monday morning quarterback. PGA of America officials raised a few eyebrows last week when they revealed that had this year’s PGA Championship gone to a Monday finish it would have cost the association an estimated $750,000.

Instead, officials rushed things along in diminishing light and the threat of poor weather by making the final two groups essentially play the final hole as a foursome.

“It’s all about the competition first and foremost. If it goes into Monday, so be it,” PGA CEO Pete Bevacqua told Cut Line. “There’s always a possibility you are going to be playing into Monday. Was it rushed? Certainly. [But] we were happy with the ending.”

Judging by Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler’s reaction to the finish, it’s likely they were even less pleased with the “rushed” finish.

Cut Line is a fan of any move that speeds up play, but considering what was on the line at Valhalla the impromptu two-minute drill may have been a tad much.

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Berger more than ready to rebound at Travelers

By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 9:54 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Daniel Berger hopes that this year he gets to be on the other end of a viral moment at the Travelers Championship.

Berger was a hard-luck runner-up last year at TPC River Highlands, a spectator as Jordan Spieth holed a bunker shot to defeat him in a playoff. It was the second straight year that the 25-year-old came up just short outside Hartford, as he carried a three-shot lead into the 2016 event before fading to a tie for fifth.

While he wasn’t lacking any motivation after last year’s close call, Berger got another dose last week at the U.S. Open when he joined Tony Finau as a surprise participant in the final group Sunday, only to shoot a 73 and drift to a T-6 finish.


Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


“It was one of the best experiences of my professional golf career so far. I feel like I’m going to be in such a better place next time I’m in that position, having felt those emotions and kind of gone through it,” Berger said. “There was a lot of reflection after that because I felt like I played good enough to get it done Sunday. I didn’t make as many putts as I wanted to, but I hit a lot of really good putts. And that’s really all you can do.”

Berger missed the cut earlier this month to end his quest for three straight titles in Memphis, but his otherwise consistent season has now included six top-20 finishes since January. After working his way into contention last week and still with a score to settle at TPC River Highlands, he’s eager to get back to work against another star-studded field.

“I think all these experiences you just learn from,” Berger said. “I think last week, having learned from that, I think that’s even going to make me a little better this week. So I’m excited to get going.”

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Rory tired of the near-misses, determined to close

By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 9:46 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Rory McIlroy has returned to the Travelers Championship with an eye on bumping up his winning percentage.

McIlroy stormed from the back of the pack to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March, but that remains his lone worldwide win since the 2016 Tour Championship. It speaks to McIlroy’s considerable ability and lofty expectations that, even with a number of other high finishes this season, he is left unsatisfied.

“I feel like I’ve had five realistic chances to win this year, and I’ve been able to close out one of them. That’s a bit disappointing, I guess,” McIlroy said. “But at least I’ve given myself five chances to win golf tournaments, which is much more than I did last year.”


Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


The most memorable of McIlroy’s near-misses is likely the Masters, when he played alongside Patrick Reed in Sunday’s final group but struggled en route to a T-5 finish. But more frustrating in the Ulsterman’s eyes were his runner-up at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, when he led by two shots with eight holes to go, and a second-place showing behind Francesco Molinari at the BMW PGA Championship in May.

“There’s been some good golf in there,” he said. “I feel like I let Dubai and Wentworth get away a little bit.”

He’ll have a chance to rectify that trend this week at TPC River Highlands, where he finished T-17 last year in his tournament debut and liked the course and the tournament enough to keep it on his schedule. It comes on the heels of a missed cut at the U.S. Open, when he was 10 over through 11 holes and never got on track. McIlroy views that result as more of an aberration during a season in which he has had plenty of chances to contend on the weekend.

“I didn’t necessarily play that badly last week. I feel like if I play similarly this week, I might have a good chance to win,” McIlroy said. “I think when you play in conditions like that, it magnifies parts of your game that maybe don’t stack up quite as good as the rest of your game, and it magnified a couple of things for me that I worked on over the weekend.”

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Sunday run at Shinnecock gave Reed even more confidence

By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 9:08 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – While many big names are just coming around to the notion that the Travelers Championship is worth adding to the schedule, Patrick Reed has been making TPC River Highlands one of his favorite haunts for years.

Reed will make his seventh straight appearance outside Hartford, where he tied for fifth last year and was T-11 the year before that. He is eager to get back to the grind after a stressful week at the U.S. Open, both because of his past success here and because it will offer him a chance to build on a near-miss at Shinnecock Hills.

Reed started the final round three shots off the lead, but he quickly stormed toward the top of the leaderboard and became one of Brooks Koepka’s chief threats after birdies on five of his first seven holes. Reed couldn’t maintain the momentum in the middle of the round, carding three subsequent bogeys, and ultimately tied for fourth.


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It was a bittersweet result, but Reed is focusing on the positives after taking a couple days to reflect.

“If you would have told me that I had a chance to win coming down Sunday, I would have been pleased,” Reed said. “I felt like I just made too many careless mistakes towards the end, and because of that, you’re not going to win at any major making careless mistakes, especially on Sunday.”

Reed broke through for his first major title at the Masters, and he has now finished fourth or better in three straight majors dating back to a runner-up at the PGA last summer. With another chance to add to that record next month in Scotland, he hopes to carry the energy from last week’s close call into this week’s event on a course where he feels right at home.

“It just gives me confidence, more than anything,” Reed said. “Of course I would have loved to have closed it out and win, but it was a great week all in all, and there’s a lot of stuff I can take from it moving forward. That’s how I’m looking at it.”

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Koepka back to work, looking to add to trophy collection

By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 8:53 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Days after ensuring the U.S. Open trophy remained in his possession for another year, Brooks Koepka went back to work.

Koepka flew home to Florida after successfully defending his title at Shinnecock Hills, celebrating the victory Monday night with Dustin Johnson, Paulina Gretzky, swing coach Claude Harmon III and a handful of close friends. But he didn’t fully unwind because of a decision to honor his commitment to the Travelers Championship, becoming the first player to tee it up the week after a U.S. Open win since Justin Rose in 2013.

Koepka withdrew from the Travelers pro-am, but he flew north to Connecticut on Wednesday and arrived to TPC River Highlands around 3 p.m., quickly heading to the driving range to get in a light practice session.

“It still hasn’t sunk in, to be honest with you,” Koepka said. “I’m still focused on this week. It was just like, ‘All right, if I can get through this week, then I’m going to be hanging with my buddies next week.’ I know then maybe it’ll sink in, and I’ll get to reflect on it a little bit more.”


Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


Koepka’s plans next week with friends in Boston meant this week’s event outside Hartford made logistical sense. But he was also motivated to play this week because, plainly, he hasn’t had that many playing opportunities this year after missing nearly four months with a wrist injury.

“I’ve had so many months at home being on the couch. I don’t need to spend any more time on the couch,” Koepka said. “As far as skipping, it never crossed my mind.”

Koepka’s legacy was undoubtedly bolstered by his win at Shinnecock, as he became the first player in nearly 30 years to successfully defend a U.S. Open title. But he has only one other PGA Tour win to his credit, that being the 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open, and his goal for the rest of the season is to make 2018 his first year with multiple trophies on the mantle.

“If you’re out here for more than probably 15 events, it gives you a little better chance to win a couple times. Being on the sidelines isn’t fun,” Koepka said. “Keep doing what we’re doing and just try to win multiple times every year. I feel like I have the talent. I just never did it for whatever reason. Always felt like we ran into a buzzsaw. So just keep plugging away.”