Cut Line: Captains Outrageous


Miguel Angel Jimenez’s bid to captain a European Ryder Cup team may be lost in translation, John Daly’s take that Phil Mickelson could someday become a “playing captain” for the U.S. side needs no interpretation, and Lefty’s message was crystal clear when he signed on to be an assistant coach … for Arizona State.

Made Cut

Win one for Lefty. Phil Mickelson endured a disproportionate amount of criticism following his remarks on Sunday at September’s Ryder Cup.

After one too many losses in the biennial event Lefty used the postmatch platform to question the U.S. side’s philosophy, which is clearly not working, more so than captain Tom Watson.

Know this about the southpaw - above all else Mickelson is a competitor, which is what drove him to question the American system and was on display this week when he announced he would serve as an interim assistant golf coach for Arizona State.

Mickelson will join his brother, Tim who is the head coach of the Sun Devils’ golf team, on the sidelines and, more importantly, on the recruiting trail.

He will also get some valuable time behind the wheel of a golf cart as he nears his day as a Ryder Cup captain. Lefty isn’t a coup leader, just a competitor.

Ko-ngratulations. The name on the trophy says LPGA Player of the Year, but it may as well declare Lydia Ko this season’s top newcomer in all of golf.

Ko, who at 17 became the youngest to win the LPGA’s Louise Suggs Award, won twice in her first full season as a professional and became the circuit’s youngest millionaire. All told, she has 13 top-10 finishes and moved to No. 3 in the world ranking.

With a monsoon of respect for Chesson Hadley, the PGA Tour’s rookie of the year, and whoever wins the European Tour’s top newcomer trophy, Ko was the class of this year’s freshman class.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

The pace of progress. While there are no easy answers, give credit to the USGA for tackling golf’s 400-pound pace-of-play elephant this week.

The USGA’s pace-of-play summit will not likely present any quick fixes, the association’s findings did shed some light on slow play.

For example, according to preliminary data the amount of time it takes to play a round increases when green speeds exceed 11 on the Stimpmeter; and that increasing intervals between tee times to 11 minutes has shaved 14 minutes off the average LPGA round this season.

That the summit covered 16 hours of meetings over two days is the punch line to a bad joke, but at least the USGA is trying to make a difference, however languid the pace may be.

A final “Ror.” Rory McIlroy hasn’t hit a shot that mattered since the Dunhill Links Championship in early October and will close out his season next week at the European Tour’s finale in Dubai, and yet he is still a virtual lock to win the circuit’s season-long race.

A few years back the PGA Tour reinvented the wheel when Vijay Singh arrived at the Tour Championship needing only to remain upright for four days to win the FedEx Cup. Let’s hope the European Tour doesn’t follow Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.’s lead and try to Rory-proof its system.

Although McIlroy didn’t play the first three final-series events his lead in the Race to Dubai standings is such that he will likely lock up the title this week.

So what.

It may not be the drama officials would have liked, but when you’ve won two of the season’s four major championships, a World Golf Championships event and the European Tour’s flagship event (BMW PGA) no amount of small print or mathematical madness should dull that dominance.

Tweet of the week: Jason Dufner tweeted a photo of himself this week with an elephant, which seemed odd considering he is an “avid Auburn fan,” according to his own Twitter account. I wonder where he’s seen one of those before?



Missed Cut

Why not MAJ? While the PGA of America continues to dissect its options for future Ryder Cup captains, the European team seemed to narrow its list of possible captains to exclude anyone without a Rosetta Stone membership.

Consider that Miguel Angel Jimenez’s bid to captain the next European team took a hit when Sergio Garcia questioned the Spaniard’s sometimes-spotty English.

“Becoming a captain is different,” Garcia said. “From the time you get appointed there is more than a year and a half of activities, engagements, interviews and so on that a new captain has to deal with. So it is important that everyone he speaks to over that period understands exactly what he is saying because words can be misinterpreted.”

The language barrier may have been what cost K.J. Choi a chance to captain next year’s International Presidents Cup team in Korea, but it seems baffling the same concerns would keep Jimenez out of the big chair.

Besides, golf’s most interesting man really doesn’t have to say anything to get his point across.

My captain. Give “JD” credit for outside-the-box thinking, but when John Daly opined this week that Mickelson and Tiger Woods should be considered for the role of playing captains for future Ryder Cups he caused a few double takes.

It seems inevitable Woods and Mickelson will remain competitive late enough into their careers to wear two hats at the matches, but there is a reason why there hasn’t been a playing captain since Arnold Palmer in 1963.

The matches have become golf’s most scrutinized event, and the gig demands a two-year commitment from captains that would preclude a player from a normal competitive schedule.

While there are no such things as bad ideas in the overhaul of the U.S. Ryder Cup system, let’s just stick a pin in that playing-captain concept.