Cut Line The Crosby Conundrum


The Clambake is never a good week to miss the cut because that means one less round on venerable Pebble Beach Golf Links, not that Tiger Woods, who hasn’t played the old Crosby since 2002, seems much interested in the greatest meeting of land and sea.

Made Cut

Common sense. At least that’s what PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem hopes will prevail when the U.S. Golf Association comes up with a solution to the rules issue du jour.

Finchem, who met with the USGA last week to discuss a series of disqualifications resulting from incorrect scorecards, said he expects there will be “a few, little, small” changes to the rule, but also stressed that the Tour will continue to investigate potential violations that are reported from viewers, like the ones that got Camilo Villegas and Padraig Harrington bounced earlier this year.

“We like the fact that people call in. We like the fact people who watch the telecasts get excited about something they see,” Finchem said.

Lucas Glover said it best during an interview this week on Golf Channel’s “Morning Drive:”  “I’d rather be correct than be called a cheater.”

European Ryder Cup. Last year’s captain Colin Montgomerie said of the wildcard selection process, “that was a terrible day for me.” We can only guess how Paul Casey felt that day, having been left off the team despite being ranked seventh in the world at the time.

All of which partially explains why Europe’s 2012 skipper Jose Maria Olazabal went back to a two-pick system. But the more interesting element of the new European selection process is the qualifying window.

The Europeans start collecting points at the European Masters this September, which is similar to the changes made by 2008 U.S. captain Paul Azinger when he weighted his system heavily toward the most recent 12 months going into Valhalla.

It’s tough to argue with Azinger’s results. Now, if only the jackets that run the world golf ranking could come around to the single-calendar concept.

Frank Chirkinian. Credit must also go to Finchem and Jim Nantz for leading the campaign that landed the man known as “the father of televised golf” in the World Golf Hall of Fame.

There are no shortage of curious HOF misses each year, but had Chirkinian, who was diagnosed with lung cancer in September, been inducted into the Hall too late to enjoy the honor, it would have somehow seemed empty.

“He created the template for how golf is televised,” Nantz told Golf Channel insider and Golf World senior writer Tim Rosaforte. “There's not a golf show on the air anywhere that does not have Chirkinian’s finger prints on it.”

Tweet of the week: @geoffogilvy “10 years ago this week I played my first Pebble Beach Pro-Am, and this week to celebrate that milestone I thought I would play my second.”
Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Timing. If urban legend is to be believed, Woods was coming back to the Clambake for the first time since 2002 before fate and timing intervened.

According to multiple Tour sources, former-Woods-sponsor AT&T lobbied to reduce the field size at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am and to have Poppy Hills removed from the Crosby rotation and replaced with the popular Shore Course at Monterey Peninsula Country Club a few years back.

It was all designed to woo Woods back to the Pro-Am and it would have worked, some say, if not for the scandal that gripped golf last year. Amid allegations of serial infidelity AT&T dropped its sponsorship of Woods and likely cost Pebble Beach an encore visit from the former world No. 1.

From the reality-is-stranger-than-fiction department: one of the few people who could actually afford a green fee at Pebble Beach won’t even consider a few “comp” rounds.

New tunes. Darius Rucker of 'Hootie and the Blowfish' fame has penned a song for the PGA Tour called “Together, Anything is Possible.” We can only assume the lyrics “Together, any round can be played in four hours” must have already been taken.

Jones-ing for a rematch. The good news for Brendan Jones is that at 61st in the world ranking he’s probably a lock to make the field for the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, which will be set with Monday’s rankings.

The bad news is if someone withdraws or Tiger Woods drops in the ranking he may get a rematch of the worst kind. Jones went down to Woods, 3 and 2, at the 2009 Match Play in the latter’s first event back following an 8-month hiatus from competitive golf.
Missed Cut

U.S. Golf Association. Or, maybe the “MC” should go to the world golf ranking, but in this case the blemish is best shared.

Last weekend’s announcement that the USGA will rely more on the ranking instead of various money lists for entry into the U.S. Open seemed like an easy enough decision until one talks to the players impacted the most by the current ranking.

“Get rid of the ‘home tour’ bonus, get rid of appearance fees, get rid of the two-year rotation, up the purses in Europe and see where the guys want to play. If you want a legitimate ranking, that’s what you would have to do,” Arron Oberholser said.

There is no easy fix for the current system, and there may not be a remedy considering the fragmented state of the global game, but this much is certain, ignoring the problems and making the curious ranking math even more important is no substitute for real solutions.

European Tour. News that the circuit is set to announce the 2018 Ryder Cup site seemed to dovetail with speculation that the event will go to the highest bidder, a nondescript list that includes one layout that hasn’t been built in Spain.

With a monsoon of respect for the most recent European venues – The Belfry, The K Club and Muddy Manor, eh . . . Celtic Manor – “Cut Line” has two words for the powers that be: Castle Stuart.

The new links just outside of Inverness in northern Scotland looks like it’s been there for 200 years, which is an accomplishment in a country where anything built after 1900 is consider nouveau, has ample space for parking and corporate tents and enough risk/reward holes to make the USGA’s Mike Davis giddy with possibilities.

And for those who worry about the weather in northern Scotland in September we offer a simple question: Could the forecast have been much worse in Scotland last October than in Wales?