Winds Whiffs of Change

By Rex HoggardMay 8, 2009, 4:00 pm
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PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. ' Like The Players, which has been decided the last two years by random gusts of wind, Cut Line is known to follow the currents and this weeks edition is all about the winds of change on the PGA Tour.
Made Cut
  • TPC Sawgrass: Where The Players Championship ranks in the hierarchy of the games top tournaments really doesnt matter when the first tee shot goes in the air on Thursday, but if the leaderboard heading into the weekend is any indication the golf course is of major quality.
    Among the early leaders were bomber Bubba Watson alongside plodder Scott Verplank, veteran David Toms and newcomer John Mallinger, speedster Angel Cabrera and slowpoke Ben Crane.
    I think it's suited for pretty much anyone, Tiger Woods said. It's fast, it's running so everybody is going to be hitting the ball in the same spots.
    Like Phil Mickelson and southern politics, the only constant at TPC is an utter lack of predictability.
  • Rory McIlroy: We continue to be amazed by the Northern Irishman with the textbook swing and a demeanor so easy he seemed almost oblivious to his triple bogey-bogey finish on Day 1 at The Players.
    What doesnt amaze is McIlroys decision to forgo special temporary membership on the PGA Tour following a six-event swing that featured five top-20 finishes and enough cash to give him a crack in the top-125 door.
    There were hushed rumblings earlier this week on the practice range regarding McIlroys decision, but the jingoistic jabs missed the realities of an increasingly global game.
    This debate is a non-starter. If McIlroy takes a Tour card he will be giving up his freedom to play across the globe whenever and where ever he wants, as well sizable sums of appearance fees. Instead, he can keep his European Tour card, cherry pick his U.S. starts and solidify his status as a global player.
    We didnt invent the ancient game, not even sure were the best at it anymore despite Paul Azingers handiwork last year at Valhalla, and its not a foregone conclusion that the PGA Tour will remain the center of the professional universe. Just ask McIlroy.
    Missed Cut ' Did not finish (MDF)
  • PGA Tour: Fresh capital is always good news in these cash-strapped times and the announcement that SBS (Seoul Broadcasting System) had signed on for a decade of fruity drinks with umbrellas at the season opener in Hawaii was a blast of economic fresh air on an otherwise hot and humid day.
    Its the timing of the lucrative revelation that was so confusing. Just as Woods was rolling past the halfway house at the circuits marquee event is not the time to be trotting out executives for ceremonial photo ops.
    Just a hunch, but Roger Goodell doesnt hold his state of the NFL during halftime at the Super Bowl, and the first round of The Players should be considered a spin-free zone.
  • World Order: On Day 1 at The Players there were more rounds under par than at the Bob Hope Classic, and yet world No. 2 Phil Mickelson was not among them. The morning wave scorched the layout thanks to soft greens and near-perfect conditions, and yet world No. 1 Tiger Woods managed to turn a 66 into a 71.
    Bizarro world has overtaken the golf world to the extent one half expected Woods to try a few left-handed flop shots because, it makes things fun, and Mickelson to give Stevie Williams a tryout on the bag because, weve got such great chemistry. And the oddities didnt stop at the top of the marquee.
    Richard S. was holding down Top Johnson honors over Zach and Dustin, Jeev was running away with the low Singh award over Vijay and Sergio Garcia continued to gush about how much he loves TPC Sawgrass, perhaps the most compelling argument The Players is not a major.
    Whats next, John Daly shedding 40 pounds and dialing his game back to 1995? Oh, scratch that.

    Missed Cut
  • Sea Island PGA Tour event: There are no guarantees in life and a Tour event on the idyllic patch of Georgia coast was always going to have to overcome a litany of hurdles. A pair of recent, and independent, happenings proved to be too high.
    Given a different economic environment, a title sponsor would have been a lock for the purposed event, but the downturn slowed the search to a crawl and ultimately proved to be too difficult.
    The haymaker, however, likely came last week with the announcement that the HSBC Champions event in China had been bumped to WGC status and would be played around the same time as the Sea Island stop. That Davis Love III, Sea Islands Tour ambassador who would have likely served as the unofficial host of the Sea Island stop, had already qualified for the HSBC didnt help things.
    Lost in the minutia is an event that players would have instantly taken to on a course that would have immediately ranked among the best on Tour. A victim of progress it seems.
  • Manny Ramirez: Taking a shot at the disgraced slugger may be on the wrong side of the out-of-bounds stakes for Cut Line, but some missteps, however far afield, are too egregious to pass up.
    Its hardly a surprise there are performance-enhancing drugs in baseball, but Ramirezs lame decision-making was followed by an even more lame excuse: Recently I saw a physician for a personal health issue. He gave me a medication, not a steroid, which he thought was OK to give me. Unfortunately, the medication was banned under our drug policy. And yet the Dodger didnt challenge his 50-game suspension nor seek relief under the leagues therapeutic-use exemption.
    Seems the only truly banned substance in Major League Baseball is truth serum.

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    Johnson begins Open week as 12/1 betting favorite

    By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 5:15 pm

    Dustin Johnson heads into The Open as the top-ranked player in the world, and he's also an understandable betting favorite as he looks to win a second career major.

    Johnson has not played since the U.S. Open, where he led by four shots at the halfway point and eventually finished third. He has three top-10 finishes in nine Open appearances, notably a T-2 finish at Royal St. George's in 2011.

    Johnson opened as a 12/1 favorite when the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook first published odds for Carnoustie after the U.S. Open, and he remains at that number with the first round just three days away.

    Here's a look at the latest odds on some of the other top contenders, according to the Westgate:

    12/1: Dustin Johnson

    16/1: Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose

    20/1: Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood, Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm

    25/1: Jason Day, Henrik Stenson, Tiger Woods

    30/1: Sergio Garcia, Francesco Molinari, Paul Casey, Alex Noren, Patrick Reed

    40/1: Hideki Matsuyama, Marc Leishman, Branden Grace, Tyrrell Hatton

    50/1: Phil Mickelson, Ian Poulter, Matthew Fitzpatrick

    60/1: Russell Knox, Louis Oosthuizen, Matt Kuchar, Bryson DeChambeau, Zach Johnson, Tony Finau, Bubba Watson

    80/1: Lee Westwood, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Thomas Pieters, Xander Schauffele

    100/1: Shane Lowry, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker, Ryan Fox, Thorbjorn Olesen

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    Woods needs top-10 at Open to qualify for WGC

    By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 4:34 pm

    If Tiger Woods is going to qualify for the final WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club, he'll need to do something he hasn't done in five years this week at The Open.

    Woods has won eight times at Firestone, including his most recent PGA Tour victory in 2013, and has openly stated that he would like to qualify for the no-cut event in Akron before it shifts to Memphis next year. But in order to do so, Woods will need to move into the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking after this week's event at Carnoustie.

    Woods is currently ranked No. 71 in the world, down two spots from last week, and based on projections it means that he'll need to finish no worse than a tie for eighth to have a chance of cracking the top 50. Woods' last top-10 finish at a major came at the 2013 Open at Muirfield, where he tied for sixth.

    Updated Official World Golf Ranking

    There are actually two OWGR cutoffs for the Bridgestone, July 23 and July 30. That means that Woods could theoretically still add a start at next week's RBC Canadian Open to chase a spot in the top 50, but he has said on multiple occasions that this week will be his last start of the month. The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational will be played Aug. 2-5.

    There wasn't much movement in the world rankings last week, with the top 10 staying the same heading into the season's third major. Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm. Defending Open champ Jordan Spieth is ranked sixth, with Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Tommy Fleetwood rounding out the top 10.

    Despite taking the week off, Sweden's Alex Noren moved up three spots from No. 14 to No. 11, passing Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Paul Casey.

    John Deere Classic champ Michael Kim went from No. 473 to No. 215 in the latest rankings, while South African Brandon Stone jumped from 371st to 110th with his win at the Scottish Open.

    Getty Images

    Spieth takes familiar break ahead of Open defense

    By Rex HoggardJuly 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – As his title chances seemed to be slipping away during the final round of last year’s Open Championship, Jordan Spieth’s caddie took a moment to remind him who he was.

    Following a bogey at No. 13, Michael Greller referenced a recent vacation he’d taken to Mexico where he’d spent time with Michael Phelps and Michael Jordan and why he deserved to be among that group of singular athletes.

    Spieth, who won last year’s Open, decided to continue the tradition, spending time in Cabo again before this week’s championship.

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    “I kind of went through the same schedule,” Spieth said on Monday at Carnoustie. “It was nice to have a little vacation.”

    Spieth hasn’t played since the Travelers Championship; instead he attended the Special Olympics USA Games earlier this month in Seattle with his sister. It was Spieth’s first time back to the Pacific Northwest since he won the 2015 U.S. Open.

    “I went out to Chambers Bay with [Greller],” Spieth said. “We kind of walked down the 18th hole. It was cool reliving those memories.”

    But most of all Spieth said he needed a break after a particularly tough season.

    “I had the itch to get back to it after a couple weeks of not really working,” he said. “It was nice to kind of have that itch to get back.”