Did You Miss the Cut

By Rex HoggardFebruary 26, 2010, 10:15 pm
The party at TPC Scottsdale’s 16th hole never stops, except for those who miss the cut or miss the point, and there were plenty of both during a week that featured the first public comments by Tiger Woods since “Black Friday” and a brave first step for a Tour favorite.

Made Cut

Chris Smith. The Tour veteran returned to work last week in Mexico eight months after the death of his wife in a car crash. Forget results because the scorecard couldn’t begin to touch how meaningful this first step was for Smith.

“It’s great to be back out here but this might be my only chance to play this year. I’ve got way too much to do at home to worry about playing golf,” Smith told Golf Channel’s Jerry Foltz.

Smith, an original in a game often dominated by the status quo, once reasoned that most other sports assign numbers to players so why not golf? Smith took 15, while good friend Jerry Kelly opted for 13. We’d like to suggest a new number for the part-time player, full-time father – No. 1.

The free market. If the populace is prone to vote with their pocket books than consider last week’s Allianz Championship the ultimate market correction.

Officials at the Champions Tour event made general admission free, a risky move that resulted in a spike in attendance, from about 9,000 on Friday last year to nearly 16,000 last week, and concession sales that doubled over 2009.

By comparison, Northern Trust Open officials upped the ante for walk-up tickets by $20, from $30 and $50, and felt the pinch at the gate. Which brings to mind the old campaign slogan for President Bill Clinton: It’s the economy stupid.

Pastels. We normally leave the fashion to those with better credentials, that is to say anyone that doesn’t buy their coats off-the-rack, but Ian Poulter’s Tour breakthrough last week in Tucson was the perfect combination of style and substance.

We’re not suggesting a Sunday leaderboard should resemble a catwalk, but a little color – say something between John Daly’s Loudmouth pants and Steve Stricker’s muted earth tones – couldn’t hurt.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

TPC tabs. Whatever your take on the timing and content of last Friday’s “Hello, again, world” event held by Tiger Woods at TPC Sawgrass, give the world No. 1 credit for not cutting any corners.

According to the Jacksonville Times-Union, the Woods camp will pick up the tab for last week’s press event, including the cost of the room in the TPC clubhouse, about $5,000, and the overtime for an estimated 30 sheriff’s deputies to secure the property.

As for all that lost marketing that Accenture endured because of the timing of the Woods’ event, chances are that check is not in the mail.

Tweet of the Week. Actually, it’s not a Tweet just an observation of the list of folks @Rorsmcilroy (Rory McIlroy) is following. It’s a list that includes California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenager, Lady Gaga, Tony Hawk and Kim Kardashian. You can tell a lot by who a person is following, we’re just not sure what all that means.

Missed Cut

Wednesday pre-qualifiers. The Tour started holding pre-qualifiers a few years ago in an attempt to weed out those players who had little or no chance to qualify via the traditional Monday qualifier, but an episode cropped up this week that stretches the reason of that rule.

Erik Compton, a two-time heart transplant recipient and one-man motivational dynamo, was nixed out of this week’s pre-qualifier for the Honda Classic because he’d missed the commitment deadline.

Shame on Compton for missing the deadline, but the truth is his playing record should exempt him from the Wednesday filter. Before being sidelined for his second heart transplant, he was a Nationwide Tour regular, he narrowly missed making it to the final stage of Q-School last year and tied for 40th last week in Mexico after winning that event’s Monday qualifier.

Flawed logic. Pundits who are demanding a pound of flesh by way of a Tour-mandated suspension of Woods for his actions are adding two plus two and getting five.

The arguments go that if John Daly and Jim Thorpe can be suspended by the circuit for their actions, surely Woods’ run-in with the Isleworth fire hydrant and revelations of his serial infidelity would qualify as detrimental to the game.

Missing, of course, in that logic is the fact that Thorpe (failure to pay taxes) and Daly (public intoxication) broke laws. Woods only broke hearts.
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Molinari reflects on beating Woods at Ryder Cup, Open

By Ryan LavnerSeptember 25, 2018, 9:11 am

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – Francesco Molinari might be a useful resource for the European Ryder Cup team.

He’s already beaten Tiger Woods, head to head, at a Ryder Cup and a major.

Molinari was in the anchor match at the 2012 Ryder Cup when Woods conceded on the final hole to give the Europeans an outright victory in the incredible comeback at Medinah. He said the last hole was a “blur,” and it remains the last Ryder Cup that both Molinari and Woods played.

“I’ve improved a lot as a player since 2012,” said Molinari, who lost his previous singles match against Woods in 2010, 4 and 3, “and I hope to show that on the course this week.”

The proof is the claret jug that he now keeps at home.

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To win his first major he needed to not only endure the circus that a Woods group brings, but he needed to outlast the 14-time major champion and a host of other worthy contenders to prevail at Carnoustie.

Reflecting on that momentous day Tuesday, Molinari said he initially was dreading the final-round date with Woods.

“If I’m completely honest, I wasn’t exactly hoping to be paired with Tiger, not because I don’t like to play with him, but because, obviously, the hype and with him being in contention in a major, it’s going to be noisy and it’s going to be a lot of people," he said. 

“So the most challenging part was probably that moment when the draw came out, but then I quickly managed to think, You know, whatever. I don’t really care. I’m here to do a job, and they can’t really influence how I do my job.”  

To thrive in that situation gave Molinari a lot of confidence – especially heading into a pressure-cooker like the Ryder Cup.

Asked whether it’s more pressure trying to win a major or a Ryder Cup – since he’s now done both – Molinari said: “You won’t believe me, but it’s nowhere near. Carnoustie was nowhere near Medinah or in any matching ways. It’s hard to believe, but it’s probably because you play for a team; you play for a continent in our case, and you know about the tradition and what players have done in the past.”

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Woods 25/1 to break Nicklaus' record by age 50

By Will GraySeptember 25, 2018, 9:05 am

With his victory at the Tour Championship, Tiger Woods crept closer to Sam Snead's all-time PGA Tour wins mark. But he also got fans thinking about whether golf's most famous record is once again in play.

Woods has been stuck on 14 career major titles since the 2008 U.S. Open, although he had a pair of close calls this summer. But now that he's again a winner on Tour, oddsmakers at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook created bets on where Woods' career major haul will end up.

The line they drew in the sand? Dec. 30, 2025 - when Woods, now 42, will turn 50 years old.

According to the Westgate, Woods is a -150 favorite to win at least one more major by that time. He's 2/1 to win at least two more, 5/1 to win at least three more and 12/1 to win at least four more. But it'll take five more majors to break Nicklaus' record haul of 18, and the odds on Woods doing that by age 50 are set at 25/1.

There are also odds on Woods' 2019 major prospects, as he's already the betting favorite for the Masters at 9/1. Woods' odds of winning any major next year are listed at +225, while the pessimists can wager -275 that his major victory drought will extend to at least 2020.

There's even a bet for those expecting some serious history: the odds of Woods sweeping all four majors next year at age 43 are 200/1.

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All 12 Europeans have history at Le Golf National

By Ryan LavnerSeptember 25, 2018, 8:55 am

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – The European team has plenty of experience at Ryder Cup venue Le Golf National, which has been the longtime host of the French Open.

The question this week is whether it’ll matter.

The only American player to compete in this year’s French Open was Justin Thomas. Jordan Spieth, Tony Finau and Bubba Watson all got a look at Le Golf National before The Open.

Not surprisingly, the European team has a proven track record here – all 12 players have seen the course at some point. Alex Noren won in July. Tommy Fleetwood is a past champion, too. So is European vice captain Graeme McDowell. Francesco Molinari and assistant Lee Westwood also have runners-up here.

Ryder Cup: Articles, photos and videos

“I definitely think it’s a help to us, for sure,” Ian Poulter said. “It’s probably the most-played venue as a Ryder Cup venue for all of the European players that have played. So we definitely have a feel of how this golf course has played in very different weather conditions. I definitely think we have an understanding of how this golf course can play.”

Of course, this setup is no different than what players typically experience as they prepare for a major championship. They’ll play 18 holes each of the next two days, then maybe nine holes on Thursday, as they get a feel for the layout.  

“When it’s the best players in the world, and we play on golf courses week-in and week-out where we have to learn a new golf course, it’s difficult to say how much of an advantage it will be,” Fleetwood said. “It can only be a good thing, or it can’t do any harm that we know the course better or that we’ve played it more times.

“Knowledge can only be a good thing. Maybe it’s a little advantage, but it’s the best players in the world that are out here, so it’s not something to look at too much.”

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First-tee grandstand 'biggest you'll ever see'

By Ryan LavnerSeptember 25, 2018, 8:27 am

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – The first-tee nerves could be even more intense this week at the Ryder Cup.

If only because of the atmosphere.

The grandstand surrounding the first hole at Le Golf National is unlike anything that’s ever been seen at this event – a 6,500-seat behemoth that dwarfs the previous arenas.

“It’s the biggest grandstand you’ll ever see at a golf tournament,” Tommy Fleetwood said.

Ryder Cup: Articles, photos and videos

“It’s hard to explain to someone who hasn’t had to hit that tee shot before,” Ian Poulter said. “When I think back (to my first Ryder Cup) in 2004, the stand is nothing like what we have today. So it really is going to be quite a special moment Friday, and it’s going to be very interesting to see.”

Poulter said it’ll be his job to prepare, as best he can, the team’s rookies for what they’ll experience when the first ball goes in the air Friday morning.

“The No. 1 thing I’ve pictured since the Ryder Cup became a goal is that first tee shot,” Fleetwood said. “But nothing prepares you for the real thing. The grandstand is pretty big – there’s no denying that.

“It’s something that everybody wants in their career, so as nerve-wracking as it is, and whatever those feelings are, everybody wants that in their life. So you just have to take it on and let it all happen.”