Cut Line A Chalice Half Full


Maybe it’s the Crosby Weather that has engulfed every inch of the United States sans the Monterey Peninsula, but “Cut Line” has spent the week searching for the silver lining to the metaphorical storm cloud that has been hanging over the game in recent weeks.

Color us hopelessly hopeful, but the storm and the endless assault on golf has to end sooner or later. Doesn’t it?

Made Cut

USGA/Ping. We’ve read a lot of ambiguous press releases in our day, but the U.S. Golf Association’s missive on Thursday regarding the ongoing talks with Ping to find a solution to Groovegate had a Salvador Dali feel to it – there was a hidden meaning but most minds aren’t twisted enough to figure it out.

“Our conversation with Ping regarding the status of the Ping Eye 2 irons on the major professional American tours was productive, and we are hopeful that a solution can be found that respects and reflects the best interests of golfers and the game,” new USGA president Jim Hyler said in the statement.

Best guess translation? The USGA is trying to sweet talk Ping like a freshman on prom night and the good news for the game is that Ping is listening. Stay tuned.

Shore Course at Monterey Peninsula CC. Here’s the rub, most Tour courses aren’t the best tracks in town. Truth is, some Tour haunts aren’t even the best in that zip code (that’s right, you heard me TPC Sawgrass). But give AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am organizers credit, this year’s move from Poppy Hills to the Shore Course is an upgrade by any measure.

“It’s a terrific track. One of my favorites now on Tour. I think Mike Strantz did a great job in his design of the bunkering, the greens, the holes, the layout,” said Phil Mickelson, who opened with a 2-under 68 on the Shore Course and also liked the improved pace of play on the layout. “We’re used to having two or three groups waiting at the turn, and we didn't have to wait at all. We just kept on playing.”

That’s high cotton from a player who blasted the redesign at Cog Hill last year, “In the pro-am and the first round I had the same yardages and hit 5-iron on every one of the par 3s. That’s a failing grade in Golf Architecture 101.” And who hasn’t been back to the Bob Hope since the Classic Club debacle.

Steve Stricker. Yes, we all know he’s a nice guy and a great interview, but we give the nod to our favorite “Cheese head” because the man’s signature move – after the simple swing and smooth putting stroke – is the water works that seem to follow every victory.

Tough guys may scoff at Stricker’s show of emotion, but it’s a testament to how much the game means to him and the depths from which he’s climbed. If anyone deserves to be a two-time Comeback Player of the Year, it is Stricker.

Tweet of the week. Courtesy of Joe Ogilvie (@ogilviej): “There is a fourth alternative to the groove rule: swallow the ego, do a mea culpa and suspend the groove rule immediately . . . that my friends is the easiest and fairest solution . . .”

And to think, the Tour didn’t let him run for a second term on the Policy Board.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Anthony Kim. Forget that misguided decision to chase an appearance fee earlier this year when he should have been playing the Bob Hope Classic, AK lands on the also-ran list for his decision to play in a celebrity basketball game on Friday as part of the NBA All-Star weekend in Dallas.

We’ve shared a court with Kim and must concede that he has plenty of game, but have to wonder why a player with such a long list of off-course injuries would put himself in harm’s way on the cusp of what many say is shaping up to be a stellar year.

Kim’s pro career was slowed by an ankle injury sustained . . . wait for it, during a pickup basketball game, he struggled for weeks, by his own admission, to recover from batting practice at Fenway Park in 2008 and was nearly TKO’d while riding a horse in New Zealand later that same year.

To put it kindly, he’s a golf heavyweight with a recreational glass jaw.

Missed Cut

Champions Tour I. The world’s most closed shop seems to become an even tougher ticket every year. Consider the plight of Sandy Lyle, who could not get into this week’s Ace Group Classic in Florida, but qualified to play in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am via an arcane exemption.

To recap, Lyle has been honored with the Order of the British Empire but somehow was not fit to lead a European Ryder Cup team. He can win 29 events, two majors and a Players Championship yet is inexplicably not in the World Golf Hall of Fame and can land a spot at the Clambake but not among the senior set.

Life truly is stranger than fiction.

Champions Tour II. Jim Thorpe was been suspended from playing the circuit after pleading guilty to two counts of failure to pay taxes.

Although the decision is not surprising, the method of deliver falls under the wrong execution of the right idea category. Thorpe told Golf Channel’s Rich Lerner that he learned of his suspension via an e-mail from the Tour.

We can only assume Champions Tour officials and Thorpe aren’t Facebook friends and, in their defense, a suspension is probably too heavy for a simple text or Tweet.