In a red, white and bruised edition of Cut Line we look at last week’s fireworks between the PGA Tour and many of its caddies, a budding friendship between the circuit and the PGA of America and the follies of instant polling.
Cooperation I. It was easy to confuse Wednesday’s news conference for a long-winded filibuster about old news.
Officials from the Tour and PGA gathered at San Francisco’s City Hall to announce the worst-kept secret since the Open Championship returned to Royal Portrush.
That Harding Park was declared the center of the golf universe as host site for the 2015 WGC-Match Play Championship, 2020 PGA Championship and 2025 Presidents Cup had been well documented.
What seemed to be overlooked was the fact that the party was made up of sometimes competing organizations.
The Tour and PGA have not always played nice with one another, but Wednesday’s announcement was an undeniable détente and a sign the two organizations are firmly entrenched in the same camp.
“There was obviously a lot of give and take and a lot of respect,” PGA president Ted Bishop told GolfChannel.com on Thursday. “There has been a tremendous sense of cooperation between our organizations that has allowed us to get a lot of things done.”
Much of that cooperation began with the united front the Tour and PGA put on during last year’s anchored-putting debate, which proves once again that there is always a silver lining.
Tom’s tightrope. U.S. Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson is still months away from having to name his three captain’s picks for this year’s matches, but in a scene that has become familiar in recent years the media masses want to know if Old Tom is planning to make Tiger Woods a pick if he doesn’t make the team.
Watson has clarified his stance regarding the injured alpha male, telling GolfChannel.com this week that, “If he’s playing well and he’s healthy he’s on the team.”
While some would like to interpret that broad statement as a blanket invitation for Woods to join the U.S. side later this year in Scotland, the truth is of all the recent Ryder Cup captains Watson has no interest in backing himself into a corner (see Pavin, Corey, 2010).
Woods still has plenty of time to make this year’s team, but don’t confuse Watson’s confidence for a blank check.
Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)
Cooperation II. While the Tour seems to be in an amicable mood when it comes to the PGA of America, that same cooperation doesn’t appear to be directed toward the circuit’s caddies.
GolfChannel.com obtained a letter sent to the Tour last month by the Association of Professional Tour Caddies, which was formed last year in an attempt to improve working conditions for the circuit’s loopers, and secure funding for health care and retirement programs.
After numerous attempts to work out an agreement with the Tour to secure the desired funding, the APTC sent the letter dated June 17 to commissioner Tim Finchem. It doesn’t paint a pretty picture.
“The APTC has worked tirelessly to work out a mutually-beneficial structure with the Tour to achieve the above purposes, while supporting the Tour and, most importantly, its players. Nonetheless, we have generally been met with roadblocks and a lack of commitment to build a positive outcome by the Tour,” the letter read.
The Tour declined to comment about the letter, but this doesn’t appear to be the final say in the matter.
Mixed messages. In a classic goods news/bad news deal, the Tour revealed on Wednesday that the WGC-Match Play Championship will be back on next year’s schedule, but had no new information about a title sponsor or a permanent home.
The Match Play’s trip to Harding Park is an inspired choice, but only a temporary measure which has created other headaches, particularly the date swap with the Wells Fargo Championship that will likely negatively impact the field in Charlotte, N.C., one of the Tour’s best events.
Officials also announced an encouraging format change for the World Golf Championship, but until Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., secures a sponsor and a new long-term home the championship salad bowl they dole out to each year’s winner will remain half empty.
Tweet of the week. @RickieFowlerPGA (Rickie Fowler) “Friends ... a buddy of mine and I were in an accident today . . . thankful we are both ok!”
Interesting way to report news. #NewAgeMedia
Rank and file. According to a Sports Illustrated poll, 64 percent of Vijay Singh’s peers think the Fijian should have been suspended for his violation of the Tour’s anti-doping policy last year.
While Singh may not be the most warm and fuzzy player, after a year covering the suspension – which was overturned when the World Anti-Doping Agency reversed its stance on deer-antler spray – know this, his lawsuit against the Tour is far from frivolous.
When all of the legal dust settles in the current bout, which could take years, many among that 64 percent will be asking to recast their votes.
Closed Open. The new qualifying for the Open Championship may make for a deeper field at the game’s oldest major, but along the way there has been plenty of collateral damage.
The Quicken Loans National and this week’s Greenbrier Classic are doubling as qualifiers, with the top-four players not already qualified who finish inside the top 12 earning a trip to Royal Liverpool.
Lost, however, is the romance of the old 36-hole qualifying, which gave players who may not have access to play in the Quicken Loans or Greenbrier events a chance of a lifetime.
The Royal & Ancient has shown no aversion to tinkering with its qualifying for the Open Championship in the past. Let’s hope they aren’t done.