LOS ANGELES – As the clock winds down on another West Coast swing – assuming the forecast doesn't wash away the Genesis Open entirely – Cut Line offers a postcard from Cali:
The new boss. He didn’t settle into his chair wearing a Hawaiian shirt, but he may as well have.
In his first meet and greet with the media as PGA Tour commissioner, Jay Monahan quickly struck the tone many expected he would, telling a handful of scribes in Maui, “I’m going to try and be as open and transparent as a I can be.”
There were no stunning revelations or dramatic course changes for the circuit, just an underlying message that things will be different under Monahan than they were with Tim Finchem, who stepped down at the end of last year.
An anecdotal example of this new dynamic came at the end of his hour-long Q&A, when he was asked if he tweets.
“I do not tweet, yet,” he smiled. “I would never say never.”
Monahan still has to deliver on all his promises – a reality that new European Tour chief Keith Pelley is coming to terms with – but you know what they say about first impressions.
Character building. We watched Jordan Spieth ask a locker room attendant in Maui if he needed help filling a cooler with water and a week later compliment the staff at Waialae Country Club for the breakfast buffet. He did both when he had no reason to think anyone was watching.
There are plenty of good people in golf and basic human kindness shouldn’t be overpraised, but there are few with as much fame and good fortune as Spieth who go out of their way to be so polite.
Spieth is special for a lot of reasons, primarily his golf, but his humility should not be overlooked.
Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)
Captain’s choice. On his way to this week’s Genesis Open, Jim Furyk stopped by the Callaway Performance Center in Carlsbad, Calif., to test some new wedges.
Between swings, I was able to sneak in a few questions for the 2018 U.S. Ryder Cup captain who was, believe it or not, diligently working on his own game.
Along those lines, I asked the obvious – if he’s playing well enough next year, would he consider being a playing captain in Paris?
Furyk conceded that the issue has been discussed and that he could, in theory, do both, but stressed that he would never make himself a pick.
“With my first pick, I pick me,” Furyk laughed. “That’s not going to happen.”
Flight status. Much was made of Tiger Woods’ “commercial” flight to Dubai, a 16-hour trip from Torrey Pines that some suggested led to the back spasms that have sidelined the 14-time major champion.
First, I suggests those who took that approach Google what an Emirates first-class suite looks like, a $36,000 ticket that includes a bed and personal bathroom.
And we counter those concerns with the reality for most Tour types. On the short flight from Maui to Honolulu, I found myself sitting next to and in front of a young family when one of the children kicked the back of my seat.
“I’m so sorry,” said Tony Finau, the Puerto Rico Open champion who was fresh off his first start at the Tournament of Champions.
Finau was flying coach with his wife, Alayna, and four children, ages 5 years to 7 months. It was only a 30-minute hop between islands, and Finau hasn’t had three back procedures since 2014, but it is an example of how the Tour’s other half lives.
Unrealted to Tiger, I have traveled with my own children and, by comparison, life with Finau’s crew was like being in a library for 30 minutes.
Economic interest. Tour player meetings have a familiar ebb and flow, with attendees normally addressing topics like pace of play and playing opportunities. But the year’s first meeting at Torrey Pines was much more interesting.
Although it was billed as more of a conversational item than something destined for implementation, players addressed the concept of revenue equity brought on by increased television rights fees.
The conversation centered on the USGA’s 12-year, $1.1 billion deal with Fox Sports that began in 2015 and the percentage of that windfall that goes to the U.S. Open purse.
According to one player who attended the meeting, it’s still early in the process, but the conversation seemed to draw the attention of the USGA, which announced on Feb. 7 (two weeks after the meeting) a $2 million purse increase for the U.S. Open to $12 million. That same player also pointed out that there has been a USGA official onsite talking with players at the last three Tour stops. “I’ve never seen that before,” he said.
The purse increase will likely appease some players, but not all. Stay tuned for more hard questions.
One step forward, two back. Pick your image. Tiger Woods gingerly swinging as he prepared for his first official Tour start in 15 months at Torrey Pines? Perhaps the 41-year-old making his way to a Q&A with sponsors in Dubai after withdrawing after just 18 holes? Or maybe the look on his face when asked by reporters this week in Los Angeles about not being able to play . . . oh wait, sorry.
However you want to remember Woods’ latest return, there is no doubt he’d rather forget the last few weeks.
The comeback, which was supposed to include four starts in five weeks, is on hold, perhaps indefinitely, which is the only headline that really mattered.