Of all the things golf does well there is a lack of collective urgency that borders on the pathological. From career development to pace of play, the game never appears to be in a rush. At the risk of being issued a “bad time” by a Tour stopwatch, Cut Line is taking the slow road this week, from Matt Kuchar’s long climb to the top to Kevin Na’s languid pace to . . . well, anything. The wait is on.
The long road. It was, of all things, a missed cut at the 1998 Texas Open that sent smiling Matt Kuchar on his curious path to PGA Tour stardom.
“He was still set on the Bobby Jones, gentleman amateur golfer thing, and then he missed the cut in Texas,” recalled Kuchar’s father, Peter, last weekend at TPC Sawgrass. “He called me on the way home (to Florida) and said, ‘Dad, I want to give this another shot.’”
Kuchar you may recall eschewed the bright lights and big money of pro golf following sweetheart finishes at the 1998 Masters and U.S. Open, electing instead to complete his degree at Georgia Tech and embrace the relatively subdued life of an amateur golfer.
Eventually the call of a play-for-pay existence was too much for Kuchar to ignore and he slowly played his way to pro golf stardom (a solo second-place finish this week at the Nelson will move him to fourth in the World Golf Ranking and make him the highest-ranked American).
Not bad for an Opie Griffith-type with an affinity for the quiet life.
Lemons into lemonade. If it’s true that most tournaments are won or lost by a player’s attitude, count Brandt Snedeker’s week at the Volvo World Match Play Championship as a victory.
Snedeker – the only American playing this week’s European Tour stop – could have gone into a dark shell when his flight to Spain was diverted because of a medical emergency and his golf clubs were lost by the airline and failed to arrive until after he began his first-round match, but instead he rolled with the punches and cruised to an easy Round 1 victory with a patchwork set of borrowed clubs.
With a set of replacement irons from Bridgestone, a TaylorMade putter out of the Finca Cortesin pro shop and John Senden’s backup driver Snedeker won his Day 1 match, 5 and 4, over Thomas Bjorn.
Snedeker had been trying to find a replacement driver after he cracked the head on his “gamer” earlier this year at Doral, and according to his manager the borrowed version is exactly what he’s been looking for.
Let’s just hope Senden doesn’t ask for the driver back.
Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)
Monty being Monty. In the Scotsman’s defense it’s not as though he unearthed new territory last week when he told BBC Radio that American golf fans are a tad too rough around the edges for his liking.
“I don't think the golf fans in America are members of golf clubs in the way they are here,” Montgomerie said. “At Wentworth next week (BMW PGA Championship), most of the fans will be golfers and understand and respect the etiquette of the game.”
The most amazing part of all this is that it took Montgomerie a career to come to grips with this truth. “I made a mistake and answered back (at the 1997 U.S. Open) and I paid for it for about 10 years,” he said.
Cut Line is really going to miss Monty at this year’s Ryder Cup.
Enablers. The PGA Tour has all the small print they need to combat slow play at the game’s highest level, the only thing they are missing is the resolve to use existing regulations.
Last week, Tiger Woods said the pace of play on Tour today is “worse” than it was a few years ago and Kuchar suggested the circuit consider a “shot clock” to combat slow play, but this isn’t about Na – who is hardly the circuit’s only snail – so much as it is a baffling aversion to confrontation by Tour officials.
According to Tour policy, if a player is “determined to be unreasonably slow he may be timed individually . . . regardless of whether his group is out of position.” Yet it has been 17 years since the circuit doled out a stroke penalty for slow play despite progressively longer rounds.
The only thing the Tour needs to crack down on slow play is a stopwatch and the will to use it.
Tweet of the week: @ElkPGA (Steve Elkington) “Who has the most pressure on them today (Sunday) at The Players Championship? Rules officials.”
Point missers. You have to give Tour commissioner Tim Finchem credit for his rare moment of clarity last week when he was asked about the all-male membership issue at Augusta National and the circuit’s tacit approval of that policy.
“We have a policy that says that when we go out and do a co-sanctioned event (like the Masters), we are going to play it at a club that is as open to women members, open to minority members, etc., and we follow that policy carefully,” Finchem said.
“In the case of the Masters, we have concluded a number of times now, and we have certainly not moved off of this; that we are not going to give up the Masters as a tournament on our tour. It's too important.”
Although we appreciate the “too big to fail” concept, where Cut Line became confused was when it was suggested that even if the Tour decided to distance themselves from Augusta National it would do little, if anything, to alter the club’s membership policies.
Perhaps, but it seems as if the Tour has vacated the moral high ground with that philosophy. This debate isn’t about enacting change; it’s about doing what’s right.