HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. – The buzz on the Harbour Town practice tee this week was a trifecta of hot-button topics, from the proposed Nationwide Tour/Q-School makeover and the future of the Heritage to a rash – or maybe it should be dubbed rush – of long-putter converts Cut Line offers a Lowcountry lowdown.
Ken Green. The amputee figures he’s a 3 or 4 handicap these days, but the emotional leaderboard doesn’t give strokes. A year after becoming the first amputee to play a major tour, Green is back on the tee sheet for this week’s Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf event in Savannah, Ga.
Green – who lost his right leg, brother, girlfriend and dog in a June 2009 recreational vehicle accident – finished 26th out of 33 teams at last year’s Legends. Paired this week with Mark Calcavecchia he’d like to better that mark, but it doesn’t seem likely.
“Taking a step back, it’s awful. Being worse than a year ago is not easy to take. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to say I’m worse a year later. I never would have foreseen that,” Green told Golfweek magazine.
Another 26th-place finish would be a competitive victory. Just having the 51-year-old in the field is an emotional walk-over.
Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)
Long putters. Maybe it was Adam Scott at the Masters, or Brendan Steele last week in Texas. Whatever the tonic, long is no longer wrong on the PGA Tour.
On Wednesday at Harbour Town there were no fewer than a dozen players experimenting with long putters, including the likes of Ernie Els and Camilo Villegas. Whatever stigma that may have been attached to long putters is fading with every victory.
“I’m tired of getting beat every week by a guy using one of these things,” said one top-50 player on the Harbour Town putting green on Wednesday.
With comments like that, why do we get the feeling there’s a U.S. Golf Association official plowing through the 'implements” section of the Rules of Golf right now?
Nationwide Tour/Q-School proposal. For more than 2 ½ hours on Wednesday players asked, officials answered and a proposal inched its way toward reality.
If the time and tenor of this week’s Players Advisory Council meeting is any indication there are still plenty of questions to be answered in regard to the proposal to make the secondary circuit the primary avenue to a PGA Tour card. But it’s not the proposal that concerns so much as it is the process.
Both Paul Goydos, one of four player directors on the Policy Board that will ultimately vote on the new plan, and Jim Furyk – a PAC member, former player director and, by his own admission, one of the more critical voices in the room on Wednesday – dismissed initial questions about the proposal.
“I’m probably not the right guy to ask,” said Goydos. Furyk had a similar take. Both players are on the second nine of their careers and Goydos conceded he would not play the Nationwide Tour again if it came to that, yet they will help chart the Tour’s future on this topic.
Neither Furyk, who is exempt on Tour through his 45th birthday, nor Goydos will ever be impacted by the new rule. Ditto for the four player directors, whose average age is 43. So the question is, who is the right guy to ask?
Dustin Johnson/Bobby Brown split. Player-caddie break-ups are rarely enjoyable, particularly for such a high-profile pairing, but they are largely inevitable.
According to a member of 'Team Dustin' the split between Johnson and Brown had nothing to do with the slugger’s final-round missteps at last year’s U.S. Open or PGA Championship and the source said the break-up was “amicable.” In this caddies are like swing coaches, just fired or about to be fired.
Johnson begins the search for a new caddie next week in Korea, and we have one question: Where do we send our resume?
Tweet of the week: @PaulGoydosPGA “Hilton Head is a great place to continue my lousy play. I need to step up to mediocrity.”
The Heritage. Whether this is the last stop for the Tour in the Lowcountry will likely not be known for months and officials were optimistic a new title sponsor could be found as this week’s event got underway. That it has come to such 11th-hour dramatics is baffling.
Since 1969 the Heritage has been a Tour staple, the perfect post-Masters tonic for stressed professionals on one of the circuit’s most revered golf courses, and yet the tournament has been on life support since Verizon stepped down last year.
Tour officials have gone on record saying that everyone involved is pulling in the same direction. We’re just not sure which direction that is.
World Golf Ranking. Who knew 'Luke Donald Disease' was a pass to the peak of the world?
With apologies to Donald, who was unfairly saddled with that label following a series of missed Sunday chances, the ranking could reach a new low this week if the Englishman wins the Heritage and climbs atop the world heap.
Donald has been unquestionably one of the game’s most consistent players over the last two years, but he has just two victories in his two-year world ranking window, hasn’t won a stroke-play tournament on American soil since 2006 and will be the second man in the last six months to hold the top spot without a major on his resume.
Maybe all the current system needs is a name change. We suggest calling it a money list, or maybe FedEx Cup points list. Both seem more apropos.
Follow Rex Hoggard on Twitter @RexHoggard