ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Davis Love III dominates this week’s edition of Cut Line, from his decision to heed the advice of many and give his son a spot in the RSM Classic, to his choice of vice captains for next year’s Ryder Cup, the host with the most had an eventful end to the PGA Tour year.
Love-fest. Let it be known this was not Love’s idea. The truth is he had to be convinced by his brother, Mark, and RSM Classic tournament director Scott Reid that it was the right time to give his son, Dru, a sponsor exemption into the field at Sea Island Resort.
As Love explained, “I was nervous he would get off to a bad start and have a bad day because he’s volatile, he can shoot 62 or 82, like his dad.”
Dru Love, a junior at the University of Alabama, opened with an even-par 70 to set up a surreal DL3 vs. DL4 showdown on Friday.
“I hope he beats me, because I want to play well and if he beats me he’s playing even better,” the elder Love said Thursday.
Dru Love was poised to win the family match when he moved to 3 under for the week through 11 holes on Friday, but he struggled coming in for a 76.
The bad news: Dru missed the cut (and lost the duo’s father/son match). The good news: “He’ll learn from it,” Davis Love said.
Bridging the transatlantic gap. Brian Davis’ mind began moving quickly as he learned the news this week that the European Tour had changed its membership requirements.
Instead of 13 starts (including the majors and World Golf Championships) to maintain membership in Europe, the circuit and new chief executive Keith Pelley reduced that number to five events (excluding the majors and World Golf Championships), essentially giving players outside the top 50 in the world ranking a realistic chance of juggling status in the United States and Europe.
“They are trying to make it work. The golfing landscape has changed and you have to change with the times,” said England’s Davis, who last played a full season in Europe in 2004. “It definitely changes my way of thinking because the last few years I’ve struggled and then you flip a switch and play well, you look to play another tour again.”
Whether the move leads to more players taking up membership on both tours remains to be seen, but it already has players thinking about it and that’s a start.
Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)
Vice and vices. The first shot of the 2016 Ryder Cup is still more than 10 months away, but that didn’t stop U.S. captain Davis Love III from padding his sideline staff.
On Wednesday, Love named Tiger Woods, Jim Furyk and Steve Stricker vice captains for next year’s matches. Even Paul McGinley, the European captain who took the U.S. side to the cleaners in 2014, said the news was a “a bit strange.”
Captain America explained that the preemptive strike is all part of a push to be proactive that was born from the Ryder Cup task force, and if the early signings produce a U.S. victory, let’s make it a tradition.
The truly odd part of the announcement, however, was the inclusion of Woods, who made it clear he wants to play and be vice captain at Hazeltine National.
“It's great that he wants to help the U.S. team in any way that he can, and if that's not in a playing capacity, then as a vice captain. Just sort of makes me think what really his health is like and how he feels like he's going to come back from that,” Rory McIlroy said. “I'd rather see him on the course at Hazeltine but if not, at least he'll be there and it will be a good addition for them.”
Although this seems well short of Woods transitioning into a ceremonial golfer role, it does appear the soon-to-be 40-year-old is settling into a new chapter in his career.
Tweet of the week: @TheSergioGarcia “I think I’ve missed this tournament twice in 17 years so give me a break and take a chill pill my friend.”
El Nino was taking aim at social media criticism of his decision to skip the European Tour’s season finale in Dubai this week, but the entire narrative seems askew.
The independent contractors make decisions on when and where to play based on any number of reasons – as evidenced by Garcia’s choice to skip the first two FedEx Cup playoff events last season – but ultimately it’s up to the player to do what’s best for him, not for an individual tournament.
Uneven lies. The Tour informed players earlier this fall that because of a scheduling anomaly this week’s RSM Classic would be played at the same time as the TaylorMade Pebble Beach Invitational, a non-sanctioned event popular among Tour players.
Players were informed via a memo that: “Keeping with the Tour’s longstanding policy which prohibits conflicting event releases for events held in North America we will not be granting releases to players who are eligible for the [RSM Classic].
Although the move was designed to protect the field at Sea Island Resort, the policy has created a unique double standard for players participating in overseas events this week.
Both Patrick Reed (DP World Tour Championship) and Jimmy Walker (Dunlop Phoenix on the Japan Golf Tour) are playing competing events this week, but because the Tour’s policy stipulates the releases will not be granted to play “North America” events those who normally play the Pebble Beach stop did not have that luxury.
“I love playing the Pebble event; it’s one of my favorite tournaments but I couldn’t. But the guys in Europe and [Japan] can go do their thing,” said one player in this week’s field at the RSM Classic. “It’s weird.”
Weird and strangely wrong.