Notes Sutton May Halt Play Until Ryder Cup

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U.S. Ryder Cup captain Hal Sutton was eligible to play in the Memorial as a past champion, but showed up only to see players get fitted for uniforms. He will be at the Buick Classic this week to work for ABC Sports.
 
When will he play again? Maybe not until after the Ryder Cup in September.
 
'That's a possibility,' Sutton said. 'There's a lot of things going on in my life right now. I find I'm doing one thing and thinking about another thing. That's not going to work, and it's especially not going to work with my golf game. If need be, I'll play less to do the job I think needs to be done.'
 
He has played 12 tournaments this year, making five cuts. His best finish was a tie for 25th at New Orleans.
 
Sutton knew he might be stretched thin when he interviewed for the job, and he resigned from the PGA Tour policy board at the start of last year to create a little more time. But the captaincy means so much to him that he wants to channel all his spare time into the Sept. 17-19 matches.
 
Maybe it's an illustration how big the Ryder Cup has become.
 
Curtis Strange played only nine tournaments through the PGA Championship in 2001 (before the Ryder Cup was postponed by the Sept. 11 attacks) and made only two cuts, including a tie for fifth in Memphis. He was able to keep current through his work as an ABC analyst.
 
Ben Crenshaw, whose game already was deteriorating, played 13 times and missed 13 cuts in 1999.
 
The exception in recent years was Tom Kite, one of the great grinders on tour.
 
During the last year of his Ryder Cup captaincy in 1997, Kite played 19 tournaments through the PGA and was an occasional contender. He was runner-up at the Masters (12 shots behind Tiger Woods) and was fifth at the PGA. Some suggested he make himself a captain's pick.
 
Even after the Ryder Cup, Sutton is not sure how much longer he will play. He started working for ABC this year, and the departure of Strange opens up possibilities.
 
'I might be at a turning point in my life, in terms of where I go career-wise,' Sutton said. 'ABC comes into the picture. I don't know where that's going to go.'
 
Analyze This
Whatever Tiger Woods is working on with his swing, he doesn't want anyone to know.
 
Woods has been cagey with answers about what he says are minor changes. Asked to explain them during an interview last week at the Memorial, he replied, 'I'd rather not get into that. It will just get critiqued and overly analyzed.'
 
In the final round Sunday, there was a special camera set up on the fifth tee. Woods' caddie, Steve Williams, placed the golf bag in front of the camera to keep it off Woods' swing.
 
Tiger's Split
In a story that might make the relationship between Tiger Woods and Butch Harmon even icier, Harmon tells the Daily Telegraph in London about running into Phil Mickelson two weeks before the Masters.
 
Harmon told the newspaper he was walking down the range at The Players Championship when Phil Mickelson said to him, 'I need you to do me a favor. If your cell phone rings in the next two weeks and it's got an Orlando (area) code, don't answer it.'
 
Woods lives outside Orlando, Fla., and talk of his game -- and his split with Harmon -- was a hot topic right before the Masters.
 
'When we got to Augusta, I saw Phil on the range and he said, 'He didn't call, did he?'' Harmon said. 'I said, 'No, Phil, you're safe. You're going to win this week.''
 
Mickelson won his first major. Woods tied for 22nd, his worst finish ever as a pro at Augusta National.
 
Jack Gets His Answer
Jack Nicklaus is satisfied there won't be any more big gains in the golf ball, especially after meeting last week with USGA senior technical director Dick Rugge.
 
Rugge met with The Captains Club at the Memorial, which has several influential leaders and had written the USGA, Royal & Ancient, PGA Tour and others last year to complain about the distance the ball was going.
 
'They're putting a line in the sand to not let anything go any further,' Nicklaus said.
 
The USGA and R&A introduced a new test two weeks ago that uses a titanium driver instead of a wooden one and increased the swing speed from 109 mph to 120 mph.
 
The PGA Tour continues to gather data on how far the best players are hitting the ball, but Nicklaus said Rugge and PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem have told him they don't believe the game is being hurt.
 
He said Rugge's meeting with The Captains Club should not suggest the USGA is about to start rolling back the ball.
 
'There are no dots to connect,' Nicklaus said. 'What we need to do is take a year or two years to gather information before we even think about it. I think that's fair.'
 
Nicklaus said the USGA has made and sent to him golf balls that are scaled back, although he hasn't hit them.
 
'I'm not interested in hitting a golf ball that goes shorter now,' he said.
 
Asked about those golf balls, Rugge said they came from a 'well-evolved' project at the USGA that allows rules makers to better understand technology.
 
'I've got three engineers working hard on that,' Rugge said. 'We're learning more about balls. We need to explore all facets of the design and different performance characteristics.'
 
Divots
Craig Camarolli, the caddie for Dudley Hart, picked up $100 for eating a cicada during the pro-am round at the Memorial. Then, his boss got food poisoning and had to withdraw after the first round. ... There were 2,220 entries for the British Open this year at Royal Troon. ... Stephen Ames is 58-under-par in his last seven tournaments, with six top 10s and a tie for 13th. That has taken him to 11th on the PGA Tour money list with a career-high $1.7 million. ... Annika Sorenstam is wearing her own clothing line this week at the LPGA Championship, designed by longtime sponsor Cutter & Buck.
 
Stat Of The Week
Karrie Webb won her 30th LPGA Tour event last week, the previous standard for getting into the Hall of Fame. Under the new system, Webb earned enough points for the Hall of Fame four years ago.
 
Final Word
'It wasn't as exciting.' -- Annika Sorenstam, who watched part of the Colonial this year on TV.
 
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