In a trailblazing edition, Cut Lines takes a deep dive into new formats, new decisions regarding the use of video replay and new leadership at the PGA Tour.
The new normal. This week’s Zurich Classic of New Orleans is the first official team event on the Tour since 1981 and next week’s GolfSixes tournament on the European Tour will be an entirely new way to experience professional golf.
For a game that’s often criticized for being mired in its stodgy traditions, the new formats are a bona fide break from the traditional 72 holes of stroke play.
“We were talking about it on the range with a couple of other guys, and I think this would be fun if we had a couple of these events a year,” Jordan Spieth said this week at TPC Louisiana. “I think you’d still see a deeper field.”
This week’s two-man team format at the Zurich Classic has attracted one of the deepest fields to New Orleans in decades, with 13 of the top 25 in the world ranking (last year just 10 of the top 50 played the NOLA stop) teaming for two rounds of alternate shot and two of better-ball play.
There will always be room for traditional formats, but experiments like this week in Louisiana and next week in England will only give fans more reasons to pay attention.
Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)
Simply put. When the game’s rule makers start throwing around phrases like “naked-eye standard” and “reasonable judgment” it’s impossible not to take notice.
Although the USGA and R&A didn’t use the term “common sense,” that’s essentially what this week’s announcement meant to those who play the game at the highest level.
Officials will now have a more broad ability to assess possible infractions during replay reviews that could “reasonably have been seen with the naked eye.” Players will also be given more leeway when taking drops or determining a particular line, “as long as the player does what can reasonably be expected under the circumstances to make an accurate determination.”
These adjustments were billed as “limitations on use of video evidence,” which is understandable given the game’s recent run-ins with replay (see Thompson, Lexi 2017 ANA Inspiration).
While any adjustment to the Rules of Golf that allows for a measure of common sense is welcome, exactly where this new technological line will be drawn is not exactly known; and what golf needs right now is more answers, not more questions.
First 100 days. No, not that guy. Earlier this month (April 10), Jay Monahan marked his 100th day in office as PGA Tour commissioner with much less fanfare than the guy who resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
By all accounts, Monahan has been the energetic and engaging leader everyone thought he would be, ushering in what many consider a new era in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.
The increasingly crowded Tour schedule, however, continues to be an issue. Earlier this season some players balked at having two World Golf Championships in a four-week window, and things will get more interesting in the coming weeks as the European Tour enters a crucial part of its new Rolex Series schedule.
Monahan has been clear that his plan is to end the season earlier and condense the biggest events into a better-defined window. To do this the new commish will need to make some tough choices and work hand in hand with the European Tour, which – as the other guy celebrating his first 100 days in office has learned – is more challenging than he probably imagined.
No, thank you. Steve Stricker figured it was a long shot but given the unique circumstances surrounding this year’s U.S. Open he decided to ask the USGA for a special exemption.
“I wrote them quite a while back and asked for one, and they politely called me and declined,” Stricker told the Associated Press.
This year’s U.S. Open is at Erin Hills in Wisconsin, about an hour from Stricker’s home in Madison, and at 50 the native son figured this would be his last chance to play a “home” major.
The USGA has granted special exemptions in the past, including Retief Goosen last year, but it is rare and the association is understandably reluctant to dole out free passes to the national championship.
But if Stricker, who remains competitive on Tour and will captain this year’s U.S. Presidents Cup team, doesn’t qualify as a worthy recipient Cut Line isn’t sure who would.
Tweet of the week:
@bencranegolf Not only do u STEAL players time on the course now your not paying off your bets. 6k on putting green. Minister wld b proud— Tom Gillis (@tcgillis) April 25, 2017
Gillis, who played seven seasons on the Tour but hasn’t made a start since last year’s Wyndham Championship, went on to explain that Crane lost a $6,000 bet earlier this season in Phoenix, but declined to say who Crane lost to.
Charley Hoffman posted on Instagram that it was Daniel Berger who won the putting contest; and after his round on Thursday Crane told reporters “we’re all good. We had a great conversation about it.”
Berger confirmed that the issue had been “handled,” but the social media brouhaha proves that what happens in Phoenix doesn’t always stay in Phoenix.