SAN DIEGO – If PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem thought his press conference earlier this year in Hawaii was a tad edgy, wait until next week’s players meeting in Los Angeles.
From legally questionable wedges to logically challenged policies on Tour members playing overseas, the commish may be longing for the warm embrace of the press by the time the rank-and-file are finished with him. Because as “Cut Line” has learned this week, there are no easy answers on the modern Tour.
John Daly. Nope, those rounds of 79-71 at Torrey Pines weren’t nearly good enough to keep the big man around for the weekend, but his moment of emotional clarity Friday afternoon was a welcome addition to a turbulent career.
“I’m tired of embarrassing myself. I just can’t do it anymore,” Daly said Friday while filming an upcoming episode of the Golf Channel series “Being John Daly.”
If you believe JD is going to hang up his FootJoys we’ve got some underwater SoCal real estate, both financially and geologically, that we’d like to show you. Daly has far too much talent to call it career and, let’s be honest, not a vast amount of marketable skills outside the ropes.
He did, however, show an encouraging sign of humility and reason when he was asked about playing next month’s AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am on a sponsor exemption.
“I’m not going to take that spot from anybody else,” Daly said.
No, he’s not finished. In fact, it seems Daly could finally be getting it.
Made Cut-Did Not Finish
Ping Eye 2 wedges. Never in the history of the game has 20-year-old technology caused such a buzz.
What largely seemed to be a non-issue ignited when Tour veteran Scott McCarron said Phil Mickelson’s use of the Ping Eye 2’s, U-groove clubs which have been grandfathered into use via a legal settlement between the PGA Tour, U.S. Golf Association and Ping, was akin to cheating.
In golf the “c” word doesn’t wash off very easily, and on Friday McCarron didn’t back down, “I didn’t say Phil was cheating. I said anyone using one of those clubs is cheating.”
On Tour the issue has a “healthcare” edge to it, dividing the circuit into two camps – those who are disappointed Mickelson is using the club and those who are angry with the Tour for not doing something about an arcane rule.
“I don’t have a tenth of the talent that Phil has and I would never even consider using that club,” Jay Williamson said.
While Tom Pernice Jr. was among the latter, saying: “Finchem needs to have everybody playing under equal guidelines. . . . It’s not the player’s fault by any means. Everybody is playing within the rules.”
Either way, Torrey’s Poa greens aren’t the bumpiest things Mickelson has had to navigate this week, but in Lefty’s defense there’s no reason to think he is trying to gain a competitive advantage. Truth is, anyone with an eBay account has access to the same technology. At least while supplies last.
Conflicting event releases. Next week’s inaugural meeting of this year’s Player Advisory Council promises to be a lively meet and greet.
After the Ping Eye 2 issue, expect players to tackle the Tour’s policy on conflicting event releases which came to a head last week when nine Tour members, including Anthony Kim who grew up at PGA West, were granted releases to play the European Tour’s Abu Dhabi Championship opposite the Bob Hope Classic.
Nine players were also granted releases for this week’s European Tour stop, including Kenny Perry, while this week’s stop at Torrey Pines, which has struggled to secure a long-term title sponsor, has just two Americans ranked inside the top 21 in the world (Mickelson and Lucas Glover, No. 21).
“(Finchem) has a magic wand but is reluctant to use it,” Joe Ogilvie said. “You have a sponsorless event in need of players and it kind of slaps your partner in the face (by giving releases).
Ogilvie said European players, like Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter, should be allowed releases, but Americans like Kim and Perry should not. Instead he suggests the Tour should give these players special attention in marketing material to make up for lost revenue from the money they would have received in appearance fees.
Sounds like a slippery slope, but drastic times may require a little sliding.
Jim Thorpe. The Champions Tour icon was sentenced to one-year in prison for failing to pay more than $2 million in income taxes, and the disconnect between the three-time Tour winner’s plight and that of Doug Barron is concerning.
On one hand we have a journeyman who underwent testosterone treatment because his testosterone levels had dropped to that of an 80-year-old man. As a result he was suspended from playing any major tour for a year.
On the other hand we have Thorpe who has been sideways with the IRS before and is now bound for prison. But the reality is the senior scofflaw will likely be back between the ropes long before Barron.
On the PGA Tour, justice truly is blind.
Accenture. Hard to blame the financial services company for its fall from golf grace, but it’s still impossible to ignore how far the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship has tumbled.
Last year the event was the center of the golf universe when Tiger Woods made his much-anticipated comeback after knee surgery. This year it looks as if both Woods and Mickelson, Nos. 1 and 2, are out.
At this rate officials should rename next month’s Match Play, golf’s version of the “Big Dance,” the NIT.