Cut Line Awards and Conspiracies


By their very nature, year-ending awards are subjective and circumspect, particularly in 2010 when the game’s established hierarchy (read: Tiger Woods) took something of a competitive hiatus leaving a void that was not easily filled.

In Europe the answer was a split decision, while on this side of the pond the polling seemed a bit more sinister. In the twilight of 2010 it is balloting, not birdies and bogeys, that highlight this week’s made and missed cuts.

Made Cut

European Tour co-Player of the Year. As a rule, ties are about as un-American as nationalized healthcare and FIFA, but the European circuit’s move last week to name Martin Kaymer and Graeme McDowell co-Players of the Year was brilliant.

Both won majors, both starred on the European Ryder Cup team, although McDowell’s point-clinching match may have been the year’s best drama (Team Division), and both collected multiple titles. Toss a euro in the air to decide who had the best year and you couldn’t go wrong.

In fact, the move could create an interesting trend. Imagine the possibilities of Ryder Cup co-captains? May we suggest Colin Montgomerie and Sandy Lyle.

Youth. If the Rickie Fowler-Rory McIlroy PGA Tour Rookie of the Year row has got you sideways take solace in the reality of a pair of legitimate young stars.

Even more encouraging is the Tour’s grasp of what the current crop of Gen-Xers could mean for the circuit. In years past, the danger was to dub the rookie du jour the “next Tiger Woods.” Fowler and McIlroy, however, have the potential to be something else, something special, even without the aid of 14 major championships.

“I've never in my tenure seen so much buzz and interest about rookies and young players,” Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said this week. “It has led us to conclude that we really need to focus on that dynamic as we go into 2011, and it will be our primary promotional focus to get people to pay attention to how well the veterans continue to play, and the young stars.”

Good idea, young vs. old has the potential for more parity then say, the United States vs. Europe.

Tweet of the Week. @WestwoodLee “Just been to the dentist and got to have two more appointments. Who’d have thought it with my teeth?”

We may have to retire the “Tweet of the Week” option and simply have everyone pick up the Englishman’s direct feed.
Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Tiger Woods. The swing, by almost all accounts, is better. The game trending in the right direction. And Sunday’s playoff loss to McDowell was less about what Woods didn’t do than it was about what the Northern Irishman was able to accomplish.

Either way, the bow Woods put on 2010 gave reason for the golf world to be optimistic. But the Sunday success at Sherwood does solidify a chilling message that golf still needs Woods more than the world No. 2 needs golf.

A 2.7 final-round rating for the Chevron World Challenge, which was played opposite a compelling Sunday NFL lineup, was slightly higher than this year’s Open Championship. When the claret jug and St. Andrews can’t top a silly season cash grab something is not right.

Improved fields. A designated tournaments proposal wasn’t the answer, and “Cut Line” is willing to wager his weekly milk money that the circuit’s “voluntary” effort to convince Tour types to play more will be about as popular as a PGA rules official at Whistling Straits.

Curious that the Tour is asking for more participation, yet created a season-long format that encourages less play.

“The FedEx Cup has made me play fewer tournaments,” Stewart Cink said last week at the Chevron. “You don’t have to play in the fall. Before you had to play (some of the fall events) to get into the Tour Championship.”

As for what he thought the magic bullet may be to improve fields at wanting events Cink, a former Policy Board member, offered the most-pointed response to date.

“Whatever the Wells Fargo Championship does is the magic bullet,” Cink said. “They’ve got it all – great course, services. It’s like any other business, you have to spend money.”
Missed Cut

PGA Tour Rookie of the Year. Rickie Fowler is good for the game – polite, engaging and infinitely talented – and in 2010 he may have been the circuit’s “True Rookie of the Year,” but no amount of political correctness or justification can change the fact that Rory McIlroy should have won the award.

McIlroy was the only rookie to win on Tour this season and his final-round 62 at Quail Hollow should top any list of best rounds of the year. He also finished third in two majors and just four spots behind Fowler on the money list in 12 fewer events.

On Sunday at Chevron, McIlroy tried to temper the fallout by saying Fowler deserved the award because he was a “true” rookie, an argument that rings a tad hollow considering that Todd Hamilton collected the award in 2004 after a lucrative and lengthy career in Japan.

Whatever the rank-and-file’s reason for voting Fowler the ROY – Lee Westwood suggested it was in response to McIlroy’s decision to forfeit his Tour membership next year – it was misguided.