After just one week it’s already been an eventful offseason with the Royal & Ancient Golf Club ending 260 years of all-male membership, Steve Williams possibly ending an eventful career and Billy Horschel ending the season with a week to remember.
Royal reversal. Things move slowly at the Royal & Ancient, but on Thursday, change arrived with the speed of a long-awaited announcement.
Royal & Ancient Golf Club secretary Peter Dawson announced the results of a vote that overwhelmingly reversed the club’s all-male policy. The measure was approved by 85 percent of the club’s 2,400 members.
“Times move on and I think all of them probably realize it’s a bit ridiculous in this day and age,” said Laura Davies, who has been mentioned as a possible candidate for the first 15 or so memberships that will be offered to women following Thursday’s vote.
For Dawson, who is set to retire in September 2015, the vote is sure to define his legacy. He may not have been an agent of change at the club or as chief executive of the R&A, which runs the Open Championship and oversees golf everywhere in the world except the United States and Mexico, but he subtly helped shape the future of both organizations.
Billy Ho. It was a good week for Horschel & family.
He began on Sunday at the Tour Championship when he held off Rory McIlroy and a host of other challengers on his way to his second consecutive victory, and his third top-2 finish in his last three starts, as well as the FedEx Cup.
That adds up to $12.8 million in cash and deferred prizes, which will come in handy after his wife, Brittany, gave birth to the couple’s first child on Wednesday.
Horschel won’t have much time to celebrate, however, as he’s scheduled to leave with the U.S. Ryder Cup team on Sunday . . . wait, never mind.
Tweet of the week.
Greatest day of my life/greatest month of my life! The man upstairs has been so gracious to shine the light on me this past month! #blessed— Billy Horschel (@BillyHo_Golf) September 17, 2014
Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)
End of an era? It was not a surprise that caddie legend Steve Williams and Adam Scott announced this week the two were ending their “professional relationship,” but it does leave a few open-ended questions heading into next season.
Williams told reporters late last year he planned to cut back his schedule in coming seasons and seems destined to ride one of his race cars into his New Zealand golden years, but there will likely be no shortage of players who would be interested in working with the newest member of the Caddie Hall of Fame.
Scott clearly wasn’t interested in a part-time arrangement and is now in the market for a bagman. The world No. 2’s bag is sure to draw plenty of attention. As one Tour caddie told Cut Line this week, “There were a lot of guys going to Kinkos this week to dust off the resume.”
Mixed messages. It was a good news/bad news deal for Tiger Woods, who announced a new title sponsor (Hero) for his World Challenge on Monday.
Although Woods said shadow swinging without a golf club is the extent of his golf activities since the PGA Championship, his ailing back that has slowed him for most of this season is starting to improve.
“Some days I'm making bigger gains than others. Same days I'm backing off a little bit,” said Woods, who is scheduled to play the World Challenge in December.
“We're pretty much past the strength phase now, and I've got my strength where I want to have it, now I just need to get my fast twitch going and get my speed back, and that's going to take a little bit of time.”
Woods was also asked about McIlroy’s comments last week that he and Phil Mickelson were, “getting into sort of the last few holes of their career.”
“I thought it was funny. I mean, Phil has less holes to play than I do,” Woods laughed.
On Points. To be clear, this is not a D.A. Points problem. This is a PGA Tour problem. Unfortunately, Points found himself at the epicenter of a policy snafu that doesn’t seem to have an easy solution.
Points, who is exempt next year on the PGA Tour via his victory at the 2013 Shell Houston Open, decided to play this week’s Web.com Tour Championship to help bridge an offseason gap that spans two months. That’s when things got interesting.
It was brought to Points’ attention that his play at the secondary tour’s finale could impact the final money list and possibly keep someone from earning a Tour card.
“I thought unless I finish in the top 4 or 5 it wouldn’t make a difference [with the final money list], but then guys were on me about it,” said Points, who withdrew from the event on Wednesday. “I understand that and that’s not why I’m here. I’ve got a lot of friends who are playing in this. I’m not here to keep anybody from getting a job.”
Web.com Tour president Bill Calfee told Cut Line that the issue will likely be addressed again, but added, “We felt like it would be hard to tell that player he couldn’t play based on that criteria. We shouldn’t be in the position of denying a player an opportunity to make his living playing golf.”
The wrong fit. In hindsight, perhaps U.S. Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson would have picked Horschel instead of Webb Simpson. Maybe even Chris Kirk may have gotten the nod had the picks been announced two weeks later.
Whatever the outcome of next week’s matches, however, the one thing the PGA of America should revisit is when the captain’s picks are made - which occurred nearly a month before the team sets out for Scotland this year.
This week Watson offered a familiar logistical refrain, “There are so many different things that go into it, just getting the players over there and getting ready.”
For the record, the entire team will be catching a chartered flight out of Atlanta on Sunday and if this is about uniforms, then the question is do you want the best team in Scotland or the best-dressed team in Scotland?