Cut Line: Daly walks away; Tiger steps up


SYDNEY – Those who mistakenly refer to this portion of the golf calendar as the “silly season” must not be paying attention. A particularly eventful news cycle has given us Steve Williams unplugged, John Daly unhinged and Tiger Woods unencumbered.

Made Cut

Tiger Woods. Any way you slice it it’s been a good week for the world No. 58. In order he’s doused the flames caused by estranged former caddie Williams, signed a long-missing golf bag endorsement deal, carded his first bogey-free round since Torrey Pines and held his first lead since Augusta National.

On Williams, Woods deftly handled the New Zealander’s racial slur that occurred last week at a function in Shanghai. “Stevie’s certainly not a racist, there’s no doubt about that. It was a comment that shouldn’t have been made and was certainly one that he wished he didn’t make,” Woods said on Tuesday.

On Thursday he carded a flawless 68 followed by a 67 on Day 2 to move into the lead at the Australian Open and announced he has penned an endorsement deal with Fuse Science, a Florida-based sports nutrition company.

“Life goes forward and this is it,” he said.

PGA Tour. It has been the unwieldy elephant in the room for some time. The WGC-HSBC Champions has been a World Golf Championship in name only and the circuit’s fall lineup has, at least until this year, had the feel of a postgame party that no one was invited to.

So news that the Tour is considering a plan that would allow the circuit to begin a new season in the fall was good news on many fronts. The move would allow the HSBC to become an official event without upending the year-end money race and move the Fall Series events into the FedEx Cup portion of the schedule.

Commissioner Tim Finchem told Golfweek magazine that if the Policy Board approves the idea, along with a restructuring of the Nationwide Tour/Q-School process, the new schedule could be in place for the 2013 season.

Next up for Finchem, world peace and Daly’s behavior.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

The American Presidents Cup bench. Last week U.S. captain Fred Couples said that Steve Stricker, on the shelf since the Tour Championship, “would be fine to play” next week’s matches.

If not, and allowed, he’d consider playing one of his assistant captains. Following Hunter Mahan’s withdrawal from the Australian Open on Friday he may have to press both of his assistants, John Cook and Jay Haas, into action.

Mahan withdrew on Friday after struggling with an ailing right shoulder on Day 1 at The Lakes. Although he sounded like a man who would be ready to play at Royal Melbourne he did leave open the possibility that he may need to be replaced, “If Fred has to call (Couples’ already-identified first alternate Keegan Bradley), then . . .”

Let’s hope that if that call must come it’s in time for Bradley, who wasn’t asked to come to Royal Melbourne and serve as a special assistant just in case, to make the long trek from Florida to Australia.

Lefty’s Hall call. Phil Mickelson sealed his ticket to the World Golf Hall of Fame years ago, yet the question remains – what’s the rush?

At 41 Mickelson is still an active player by any measure, having won this year on the PGA Tour and finishing runner-up at the Open Championship. Induction into the Hall of Fame is time for reflection, something players still looking to pad their resumes are reluctant to do.

By including “active” players the Hall is also doing an injustice to deserving inductees. Consider that Mickelson garnered 72 percent of the vote, while the likes of Ken Venturi and Tony Lema were overlooked, again.

This is an easy fix. If a player isn’t old enough to qualify for a senior discount at the movies he’s not old enough to be considered for the Hall of Fame.

Missed Cut

Indecision ’11. Let’s hope this is the last word on the Tour’s process for determining its end-of-the-year awards and news that the circuit included five candidates for the Player of the Year award seemed obvious enough.

What flummoxed us was news that the ballot also includes five candidates for the Rookie of the Year award. With all due respect to Chris Kirk, Scott Stallings, Brendan Steele and Jhonattan Vegas, this year’s ROY is a one-man race – with an honorable mention going to Masters champion Charl Schwartzel. Keegan Bradley is this year’s top newcomer thanks to two Tour tilts with a PGA Championship high card.

The idea of five “candidates” for the rookie award smacks of a third-grade fun run where everyone earns “participation medals.” If everyone is special no one is.

Tweet of the week I. @BrendanSteele “Happy to be nominated for (Rookie of the Year) but we all know (Keegan Bradley) should get every vote. Unreal year buddy.”

John Daly. Long John seems to have finally exhausted whatever good will remains for him, at least in Australia, following his withdrawal from this week’s Australian Open.

After pumping seven golf balls into a water hazard adjacent The Lakes’ 11th hole on Thursday, Daly bolted the property with his 8-year-old son Patrick in tow. It was his third WD in his past eight tournaments and his 30th early exit in the modern era.

“It is very disappointing for the tournament. It is certainly unprofessional, and I am extremely bitter and disappointed that he has treated this championship this way,” said Trevor Herden, the Australian Open tournament director. “It is becoming a bit of a habit. . . . It is unacceptable and I certainly hope that all the tours deal with it in the appropriate manner this time.”

Only Australian Craig Parry, who was paired with Daly at The Lakes, seemed in any way supportive of the withdrawal.

“He had the right club, he would have reached the green but the wind was blowing pretty hard from left to right,” he said. “I’m sure everyone would like to walk off at some stage in their career.”

Perhaps everyone has considered taking a dive, but only Daly was indifferent enough to do it.

Tweet of the week II. @PGA_JohnDaly “My playing partner Craig Parry’s words are the facts.”

Has someone hacked JD’s account again?