George O’Grady is out as the European Tour’s chief executive, Freddie Couples may be in as the Ryder Cup captain and Patrick Reed goes out of bounds in this week’s edition of Cut Line.
Bye George. It likely wasn’t the way George O’Grady wanted to step down, via a hasty press release in the middle of a four-event finals run, but the European Tour chief executive has made a career out of rolling with the changing times.
Severe economic headwinds in Europe and increased competition with the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup – a $10 million carrot many of the Continent’s best and brightest found impossible to ignore – made the CEO gig particularly demanding for O’Grady.
Still, O’Grady, who took over the post in January 2005, secured a lucrative deal for the creation of the Race to Dubai, established the Final Series and inked new TV deals last year.
Some will say O’Grady wasn’t aggressive enough at keeping Europe’s top players at home for more than just the occasional cameo and that the circuit has become too fragmented, but much like the news this week that he would be stepping down he was a pragmatist to the very end.
Freddie for ’16. It was a blunt and telling admission, “You know, I’m not a PGA of America guy,” Fred Couples told Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte last week.
While it’s true golf’s most interesting man wasn’t the PGA’s brand of vodka – what else would explain the association’s decision to bypass the undefeated Presidents Cup captain for a turn in the Ryder Cup chair? – that was the old PGA.
The new PGA, armed with a task force and a mandate to stop the U.S. team’s Ryder Cup slide, seems more inclined to outside of the box thinking, and Couples would be a popular change of course.
“When they all got home, they said, ‘We need you to do this,’” Couples said of the U.S. Ryder Cup team’s early lobbying.
Giving the U.S. side a popular captain is only part of the overhaul that will be needed to end Europe’s dominance in the biennial event, but it’s a good start.
Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)
Down the rabbit hole. When Dustin Johnson announced on July 31 that he was taking a leave of absence from golf because of “personal reasons,” there was plenty of speculation.
A day later when Golf.com reported Johnson had been suspended by the PGA Tour for failing his third drug test the speculation went into overdrive.
Now, however, we have learned that not all of Johnson’s “personal reasons” were self-inflicted.
Last week the eight time Tour winner filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Atlanta claiming 17 counts of possible racketeering, wire fraud and negligence violations against a former adviser and his former partners.
The most damaging part of the suit involved allegations that Mark and Rod Wittstadt, who are partners with the Morris Firm who were named in the lawsuit, “threatened to disclose private and confidential information about Johnson ... should he commence a lawsuit to seek repayment of the money,” for a loan of $3 million.
Seems there was more to DJ’s “personal problems” then anyone could have ever speculated.
Tweet of the week:
Say this about the Iceman, he’s not without a healthy amount of perspective.
An uneasy Reed. Earlier this year at the WGC-Cadillac Championship Patrick Reed caused a stir when he declared himself a top-5 player. At the Ryder Cup, he angered some European fans when he “shhh’ed” the crowd.
On Day 1 at the WGC-HSBC Champions Reed reacted to a three-putt at his first hole with an expletive and a gay slur that was picked up by television microphones.
“I’m sorry for using offensive language today in China. My passion to play well got the best of me and my word choice was unacceptable,” Reed tweeted.
The same passion that made Reed one of the American team’s few bright spots at September’s Ryder Cup is also to blame for his outburst in China.
There is no doubt Reed has the potential to be star, as well as the petulance to be his own worst nightmare.
The (Tour’s) golden rule. You know the deal, if you don’t have anything nice to say ... Or so the Tour figures when it comes to its members’ missteps, a truth that was hammered home this week with a pair of high-profile miscues.
With surprising speed, the Tour sent out a release following Reed’s slur at the WGC-HSBC Champions. Not surprising, the release was short on details.
“The PGA Tour ‘conduct unbecoming regulations’ prohibit the use of obscene language on the golf course. The Tour will deal with this matter internally in accordance with its regulations,” a Tour statement read.
Earlier in the week, the circuit’s decision to not speak ill of its members reached new levels when news emerged from the PGA Tour China that Xin-Jun Zhang had been suspended for six months for signing incorrect scorecards.
Zhang, the China circuit’s leading money winner, is a lock to earn a 2015 Web.com Tour, which is sure to test the Tour’s silence is golden rule.
Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., may be able to sidestep media scrutiny by clinging to an outdated concept of smoke and mirrors, but questions from its own membership over issues of competitive integrity may prove more difficult to avoid.