Irish Ayes. We’re going to double up on everyone’s favorite Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy this week, after he made plenty of headlines despite not hitting a shot that mattered.
First, McIlroy turned some heads when he said in a podcast that the European Ryder Cup selection process should take a page from the American process and focus on fielding the Continent’s best dozen, regardless of their tour membership.
“It should be the best 12 players from Europe versus the best 12 players from the U.S.,” McIlroy told the podcast No Laying Up. “For me, there shouldn’t be anything to do with membership of tours. To have a guy like Paul Casey not on our team when he is playing some of the best golf in the world right now, it definitely hurt us [at Hazeltine].”
You can’t argue with McIlroy’s logic considering that Casey was ranked 13th in the world the week of this year’s matches and Russell Knox was 19th. Neither player made the trip to Hazeltine.
McIlroy also took some heat for skipping the Turkish Airlines Open, where he was reportedly going to receive a hefty appearance fee.
“Over the last few months we have seen there is a lot of difference between top golfers and top athletes with some golfers missing events because of a few mosquitoes,” Ahmet Agaoglu, the president of the Turkish Golf Federation, told the Telegraph. “True sports people rise above this.”
McIlroy’s decision to skip this week’s European Tour stop, as well as his choice to skip this summer’s Olympics in Rio, is an issue of personal safety. You may not like his choices, but after a bomb attack injured 12 people last week near Antalya, site of this week’s event, there is no place for petty criticism.
Clean living. When golf embarked on its mission to rejoin the Olympics one of the side notes was the need for drug testing, which came late to the game compared to other sports.
Although few, if any, believe there’s a doping problem in professional golf, concerns of inadvertent violations were very real in the run up to this year’s Games.
But this week the International Golf Federation, which governed golf’s return to the Olympics, announced that there were no doping violations in golf during the Rio Games.
All total, there were 197 tests performed in Rio during both competitions, 98 for the men and 99 for the women between May 6 and the end of the Games on Aug. 21.
Doping is a reality in all sports, maybe even golf, but clearing its first Olympic hurdle was a big step to finally proving that golf might be the exception to that unfortunate rule.
Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)
Tiger Time, again. Woods announced on Nov. 1 that he plans to play the Hero World Challenge next month in the Bahamas.
Stop me if you’ve heard this.
This isn’t about being a stereotypical media cynic as much as it is a track record of false starts after he announced he planned to return to competition after more than a year of inactivity at last month’s Safeway Open only to pull the plug at the last minute.
Woods said his game was “vulnerable” and skipped the season opener in Napa, Calif., which is entirely understandable after his lengthy journey back to competitive relevance; and he sounded upbeat this week that he’s finally ready for prime time.
“I am excited to make my return at the Hero World Challenge at Albany and play in this terrific tournament,” Woods said in a release.
Woods’ return will be good for golf, good for Woods, but Cut Line is going to hold off on the celebration until we see that first tee shot in the Bahamas.
Tweet of the week: @KevinStreelman “Why did the PGA Tour give me the very first tee time [on Thursday in Las Vegas]?”
We’re not going to say Streelman is the world’s biggest Chicago Cubs fan, but he may or may not have once turned down a chance to throw out the first pitch at a Chicago White Sox game because ... well, you get it.
Silence. As election day approaches for the United States, those at the USGA are also facing a tough decision.
Although the USGA has remained silent regarding its choice to play next year’s U.S. Women’s Open at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., the indecisiveness has only led to more handwringing.
The course is owned by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, who recently came under fire for a series of vulgar comments made about women.
In a recent op-ed piece, outspoken activist Martha Burk said LPGA players are “acting like good little girls and remaining mute” and said the USGA “is at the core a boys’ club willing to exploit the women for monetary gain.”
Whatever your politics, your political affiliation, your views of Trump and this year’s presidential campaign, silence is no longer an option for the USGA.