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Hooks & Cuts: Phil (not that Phil) makes an appearance

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In this edition of Hooks & Cuts, reflections on Tiger Woods' struggles, Dustin Johnson's return, Rickie Fowler's future and Pete Carroll's decision.

• Punxsutawney Phil popped out of the ground the other day and saw Tiger blade a chip shot across the green. He scurried back in his hole, meaning six more weeks of winter.

• Flying home from Phoenix the plane was late in taking off.  The pilot blamed it on Carroll.

• Asked for his long-term prognosis, Erik Compton paused, took a deep breath and said with a slight smile, “I’m here now.”

• Justin Thomas is built like Jack Renner and launches it like Jack Nicklaus.

• For now, it appears Johnson’s come up for air after a deep dive into the party world.  Anthony Kim should be a cautionary tale.  Talent un-nurtured can become talent wasted.

• Rory McIlroy's not just the best player in the game, but maybe the fittest player in the game. Fit and flexed, but still flexible. 

• Earl Woods, in a 2001 Golf Digest interview, said, “The game is 90 percent mental.”  Consider that when Tiger talks technique.

• Phil Mickelson no doubt’s studied the Pelzian putting data, but he still seems a bit unsure on the greens in the heat of competition.

• Tiger’s been a master of his craft.  People of his ilk, writers and painters and musicians, have similarly struggled with demons and cold spells.  Mastery’s not a lifelong list of personal accomplishments.  It’s a holistic and spiritual commitment coupled with God-given talent.  It’s all shaken now.  The master is fighting for his golfing life right now.

• Bubba Watson appears really close to a multi-tourney winning jag.

• Looking ahead to the Presidents Cup later this year, it’s likely the same old faces won’t make the team or simply won’t want to travel to South Korea.  Fine, let the kids play.  Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, Patrick Reed, Fowler and Billy Horschel should all be on the U.S. squad.

• Hideki Matsuyama pauses at the top like Bob Murphy and then fires through like Bob Garrigus.

• Who is Fowler? Millenial star, marketing whiz kid, DiCaprio-Depp doppelganger, good player and by all accounts good guy, he’s all of that. But great player? He hasn’t proven that. Yet.

• Worse play call, Carroll at the Super Bowl or Jean Van de Velde at the Open?