Without the worry of weather woes, however, “Cut Line” forges ahead following a hurried week of surprise introductions and even more surprising omissions.
Wanted. New LPGA commish. Must be pragmatic, polite, connected and insightful with some experience in the golf industry preferred.
Enter Michael Whan, a boyish-looking 44-year-old with Scottish roots which will come in handy as he attempts to play into a two-club economic headwind with a tour that weathered perhaps its most turbulent year.
Whan was off to a good start, bolting his New York introduction party for a meeting of tournament owners in California. Next order of business: lure Annika Sorenstam out of retirement, get Michelle Wie off the victory schneid and convince papa Tiger that Sam Alexis Woods is plenty old enough to give LPGA Q-School a whirl.
Youth. A couple of good Fall Series weeks are hardly reason to declare golf reinvented, but Rickie Fowler and Jamie Lovemark – to say nothing of Rory McIlroy, Ryo Ishikawa, Kyle Stanley and Michael Sim – are making 20 look like the new 30 on Tour.
It’s best, however, to avoid unrealistic comparisons. Contrary to the Japanese media’s claim, Ishikawa is not the next Tiger Woods. As for Fowler, one observer compared him to a bold, young Lanny Wadkins (not bad company considering Wadkins gets his Hall of Fame nod on Monday), while Stanley has the work ethic and single-minded focus of Vijay Singh, and Lovemark the daring confidence of Phil Mickelson (either the younger or older version).
As for McIlroy, he may be the most complete player in the group at the moment. Now, if only he could decide which side of the big pond he wants to conquer next year.
Seve Ballesteros. Treatment following four brain surgeries is going well and the Spaniard’s recent interview on the BBC showed a man drained by the medical process but nowhere close to dormie.
“The medical results are very good, but it is necessary he rests,” Ballesteros’ nephew, Ivan, wrote in an e-mail this week.
We’ve seen this match before, the fearless Spaniard 1 down in a match and he gets up-and-down from a parking lot to secure the title. It never gets old or uninspiring.
Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)
Charles Barkley. Still not sure his swing is any better now than it was before he started working with Hank Haney, although in Haney’s defense it wasn’t from a lack of effort or insight, but Sir Charles is nothing if not the master of the hilariously obvious.
During an interview this week on “The Late Show with David Letterman,” Barkley passed the buck when he was asked about the state of his game.
“I think Hank’s the problem,” he smiled. “He teaches Tiger Woods, really? You gonna rest your hat on that. Anybody can help Tiger. But I’m the problem here.”
Pinehurst tinkering. By some estimates No. 2 had lost some of its charm and championship quality over the years and it’s hard to imagine a better tandem to give the grande dame a nip/tuck than the uber-architectural pairing of Ben Crenshw and Bill Coore.
According to reports, the makeover will ready the course for the 2014 U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open and will not feature much additional length, which is a new concept in major championship once overs.
Yet the concern is that Donald Ross spent a lifetime tinkering No. 2 to perfection and as much as we like the Coore/Crenshaw portfolio (not for nothing, but Sugarloaf Mountain in central Florida is quietly the area’s best layout) it’s hard to imagine anyone recapturing that magic.
Race to Dubai. The R2D got the MC not because economic circumstances robbed the big finish of 25 percent of its bank, but because it’s created a system that has left one of the European Tour’s top players inexplicably on the bench this week.
Francesco Molinari, No. 12 on the tour’s R2D standings and 45th in the world ranking, is enjoying this week’s action at both Euro Tour events (Volvo World Match Play and Singapore Open) like the rest of us, on the television, because of some seriously convoluted and confusing eligibility requirements.
Although Molinari was offered a last-minute exemption when Chris Wood withdrew from the Match Play on Monday, he declined because he wouldn’t have been able to properly prepare. The point is, he shouldn’t need a freebie to protect his status this late in the R2D race.
And if all that wasn’t enough, players at this week’s Match Play event at Finca Cortesin Golf Club in Spain are having to ride buggies from greens to far-flung tees at least 10 times. What would Coore and Crenshaw think?
Nationwide Tour. Some promotions are better than others, a tough lesson Michael Sim learned following his third victory on the Nationwide Tour on Aug. 23.
Since his “battlefield promotion,” the Aussie has managed just two Tour starts, the Turning Stone Resort Championship, which he played on a sponsor exemption, and this week’s Viking Classic, which will likely be the only event he will qualify for with his “promotion” status.
Timing is partially to blame, with his third victory coming just as the Tour’s playoffs began, but it must really be a tough economy when promotions come with that much small print.