Anchored putters, beta blockers and comebacks


The impending ban on anchoring and long putters has plenty of play-for-pay types feeling anxious; just don’t expect a run on beta blockers to ease frayed nerves. Both issues bookend a nervous edition of Cut Line.

Made Cut

The good fight. Jarrod Lyle, who was sidelined earlier this year with his second bout with leukemia, met with reporters this week in Australia and suggested that he may not have given up on his dream of playing professional golf.

“I do want to get back to golf at some stage but I guess if I never hit another shot I'll be happy,” said Lyle. “As long as I've got my health and as long as I've got my family with me I'm a happy boy.”

Cut Line has plenty of issues with the capriciousness of the Tour’s Comeback Player of the Year award (see Missed Cut), but if Lyle ever pegs it in another Tour event they should rename the award in Lyle’s honor and retire the chalice.

Tweet of the week I: @IanJamesPoulter “Kingston Heath is totally awesome. Someone please tell modern day architects we don’t need 8,000 yard tracks. They’re not enjoyable.”

Not sure Poult’s message needs any further explanation, but it’s worth pointing out that just eight of 49 Tour courses in 2012 came in under 7,000 yards, while 15 layouts measured over 7,400. #Discuss

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Beta testing. A New York Times story this week examined panic attacks and the use of beta blockers to help combat anxiety on Tour. The story came in the wake of Charlie Beljan’s emotional victory last week at the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic after he was hospitalized on Friday following a panic attack.

It’s worth pointing out that a source close to Beljan confirmed to Cut Line last week that he wasn’t given any medication and experience suggests that even if he were given beta blockers to help alleviate his anxiety they likely wouldn’t have had time to impact his play at Disney.

Cut Line didn’t stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night but we have spent enough time with Doug Barron – the only player ever suspended under the Tour’s anti-doping policy for testing positive for beta blockers, and synthetic testosterone, in 2009 – to know there is no quick fix.

Beljan didn’t win because he had a better drug. He won because, at least for one week, he had a better game than anyone else.

The slow burn. We’re starting to see what Davis Love III meant when he advised officials from the U.S. Golf Association last month that whatever decision they make regarding long putters and anchoring, it should be made quickly.

Chatter is reaching a crescendo as the golf world awaits the announcement later this year, including this missive from Graeme McDowell in Australia: “They're convinced the research has shown that under pressure on a Sunday afternoon the long putter just kind of takes one extraneous movement out of the putting stroke. It just makes it physically easier to stroke the putter when the nerves are there (and) I think we should be leveling the playing field (by banning it).”

Brandt Snedeker joined the conversation on Thursday’s “Morning Drive:” “Their (USGA and R&A) charge is protecting the game of golf, not making sure it's OK for Tour players. What's best for the game of golf might hurt a couple guys in the short run, but it might benefit the game in the long run.”

The only sliver of good news is that with all the handwringing over a potential anchoring ban, we’re not talking about how far players hit the golf ball . . . oh, wait.

Tweet of the week II: @Willie_Mack_III (professional Willie Mack III) “Today’s relationship status with my golf is: It’s complicated.”

The Flint, Mich.-based Tour hopeful was reacting to his first-round 76 at the second stage of Q-School this week, but Cut Line had a chance to watch Mack play at Southern Hills Plantation and was impressed. Mack and his game may not work things out in time for this year’s final stage, but he is certainly entertaining.

Missed Cut

De Nile. The general rules on this are rather clear, a slumping player switches clubs, caddies and eventually wives in an attempt to wrest themselves off the schnied, but Cut Line can’t help but think that the only thing Lee Westwood needs right now is a mirror.

According to a report on Thursday in the Daily Mail the Englishman has split with caddie Billy Foster, who missed much of the season with a knee injury, and his newly hired short-game coach Tony Johnstone. After the PGA Championship Westwood, who has slipped from No. 1 in the world golf ranking in May 2011 to fourth, split with swing coach Pete Cowen.

We know there are two kinds of caddies and swing coaches on Tour: those who have been fired and those who are about to be, but Westy may be taking that cliché a bit too far.

Don’t call it a comeback. Ballots for PGA Tour Player and Rookie of the Year went out this week with a combined 10 players nominated for their respective awards – with all due respect to Bubba Watson, we’re not sure one victory, albeit a big one at Augusta National, rates POY consideration.

Absent from the ballot for the second consecutive year, however, were nominees for Comeback Player of the Year. The Tour, or maybe it is the Policy Board and Player Advisory Council, have soured on the Comeback award in recent years, perhaps as a result of Steve Stricker claiming the honor in back-to-back years (2006-07).

Cut Line understands that some years there will not be a viable Comeback candidate, but explain again how J.B. Holmes doesn’t rate consideration in 2012? How about Ben Curtis? Or even Tiger Woods?

Holmes had brain surgery in September 2011 and yet played well enough this season to keep his card, while Curtis hadn’t finished inside the top 100 in earnings in three consecutive seasons but won the Texas Open this season and finished runner-up at The Players to finish 30th in earnings.

And Woods won three times in ’12 following the two worst years of his career and made a run at the Player of the Year trophy. It was, by any definition, a comeback from injury, both physical and otherwise. Just don’t expect the Tour to acknowledge it.