NORTON, Mass. – As the sun set on a rare PGA Tour Friday without a 36-hole cut, this week’s axe at the Deutsche Bank Championship falls on Saturday, Cut Line dug deep to fill the void.
Fortunately for your correspondent, Rocco Mediate’s misguided attempt at tough love and Phil Mickelson’s tough equipment choice make for low-hanging fruit.
Phil Mickelson. Asked on Friday afternoon if they would ever consider using a belly putter one Tour type deadpanned, “I hope not.” For many, longer-than-standard-length putters are the tools of desperate men, yet watching Lefty wield a belly putter on Day 1 at the Deutsche Bank Championship it was impossible not to consider the harm in the alternative – doing nothing.
If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again hoping for a different result, consider Mickelson’s bold move this week a call to reason. The man who had slipped to 133rd on Tour on putts from 10 to 15 feet felt it was time for a change, regardless of perceptions or misguided sentimentality. Whether one is a purest or forever in search of a putting fix, you can’t fault Lefty’s reasoning.
“Look, I’m willing to try new things. I’ve hit two drivers, no drivers in Opens. I don’t mind trying something different,” Mickelson said on Thursday.
Considering Mickelson’s haphazard opening effort with the long stick – 13 putts, including five one-putts, on his first nine followed by 16 putts coming in – we’d humbly suggest he consider a two-putter rotation – one short, one long.
Tweet of the week: @Keegan_Bradley “Phil looks so good with (the) belly putter! He’d putt well with a hockey stick . . .”
In Bradley’s defense, it only looked like Mickelson was putting with a hockey stick on TPC Boston’s back nine. #16putts
Tiger Woods. U.S. Presidents Cup captain Fred Couples asked the former alpha male to add an odd fall event to his lineup, anyone who has ever read a book on swing theory says he needs “reps,” and the Tour has been hounding him for years to play more. Done, done and done.
Whatever the ends are for Woods to play the Frys.com Open the means are worthwhile, regardless of where he finishes. Slice up this week’s news conference at Notah Begay III’s charity event until two plus two make 18, but the only things worth noting were that Woods’ mind and body are finally willing.
“I’ve been hurt for a very long time. Back to 2007 when I ruptured my ACL, it was a very tough road,” he said. “It’s been years since I actually felt good. Sometimes you get out of bed in the morning and it’s tough. Now it’s fun, I can spring out of bed and go to practice.”
Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)
FedEx Cup playoffs. The 2009 postseason – when Woods and Mickelson went head-to-head at East Lake with the latter winning the Tour Championship and the former hoisting the season-long trophy – may end up being the circuit’s playoff high-water mark, but it’s hard to argue that the current system isn’t an improvement over the subdued monotony that came before 2007.
That’s not to say the circuit couldn’t attempt a nip/tuck of the current playoff system. The Tour has avoided tinkering with the points system for two seasons following a 2008 postseason that most considered too explosive.
Troy Matteson, the Day 1 leader at TPC Boston, was on the wrong side of the ’08 rollercoaster, dropping from 97th to 124th, and out of the Deutsche Bank, following a missed cut at The Barclays.
That was the same year that Vijay Singh won the first two playoff events (Barclays and Deutsche Bank) and Camilo Villegas won the last two (BMW and Tour Championship) and the $10 million lottery ticket went to the big Fijian.
Matteson, however, would like to see a little bit of that ’08 unpredictability back in the postseason.
“I want it to be as volatile as it can be,” said Matteson, who at 97th in FedEx Cup points could use a big swing this week to get him into the BMW Championship. “(2008), that was the year it was the most volatile, and then they started tapering it back from there. I wish it was even more so the other way (volatile) so you could move further.”
We’re guessing Villegas probably doesn’t share Matteson’s affinity for the ’08 playoff ride, but then volatility . . . eh, variety is the spice of life.
U.S. Golf Association. The closed shop that is the U.S. Walker Cup team selection process has again thrown a baffling haymaker and cost another deserving amateur a spot on the national team.
This time it was John Peterson who received the snub despite a resume that includes a NCAA individual crown and the seventh spot in the amateur rankings. It’s been eight years since Brandt Snedeker felt a similar sting, but he still gets worked up over it.
“I’m a proponent of a points system. I feel like there are some politics involved, that’s not fair to an 18, 19, 20 year old kid. It’s hard to take,” said Snedeker, who won the 2003 U.S. Amateur Public Links and was a first-team All-American and yet failed to make the U.S. squad. “They say (Peterson) was kind of outspoken, but we’ve all said stuff we didn’t mean at 18, 19, 20 years old. It just doesn’t seem fair.”
If only the Walker Cup selection process was as outspoken.
First-pitch throes. It will be a moment Keegan Bradley will never forget. No, not his maiden major at Atlanta Athletic Club last month, but his chance-of-a-lifetime toss to open the Boston-New York series on Tuesday at storied Fenway Park.
Two nights later, Phil Mickelson threw out the first pitch in the rubber match between the Red Sox and Yankees. Again, a once-in-a-life deal.
For Red Sox Nation, however, the PGA Tour may not want to make too much of the fact that Boston lost Games 1 and 3 to the Yankees, but won Game 2 on Wednesday, 9-5, the night former Red Sox Mo Vaughn and John Valentin tossed out the first pitch.
These guys may be good, but they are not the best of luck for Boston.
Rocco Mediate. Mediate is among the best quotes in the game, but on this the Tour funnyman should have opted for a more measured answer. It wasn’t his sharp criticism of Woods’ swing under both current swing coach Sean Foley and his former instructor Hank Haney so much as it was his utter disregard of the facts.
“I love the way he plays, but I'm disgusted with what's going on with him because it's sad for our game,” Mediate told the San Francisco Chronicle.
“The physical motion is wrong. To get that stress off his body is a piece of cake – the guys working with him just don't know. Sean knows some stuff, but what's going on with Tiger is not correct. That's why he keeps breaking and that's why the ball keeps going sideways.”
Foley, who has been working with Woods for a year but has only 12 Tour starts with him because of injury and a scandal-induced hiatus, declined comment when asked his reaction to Mediate’s remarks.
“Rocco is entitled to his opinion and I respect that. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions but no one is entitled to their own facts. Tiger's record while I helped him speaks for itself. The last three years I was with Tiger he won 45 percent of his starts, he finished in the top 10 in 85 percent of his tournaments,” Haney told GolfChannel.com.
“The assertion by Rocco that my teaching somehow contributed to Tiger's decline is frankly absurd and clearly not supported by the facts.”
We love Mediate, but he may want to stick with punch lines, not unwarranted punches.