Cut Line An Eventful Offseason


No PGA Tour event this week, no 36-hole cut, no worries. From Doug Barron to Michelle Wie’s breakthrough, the “off-season” has never been so eventful.

Made Cut

The Tom Watson accord. Say what you will about the hard-line elders at the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, but they know a good show when they see one and aren’t afraid to tinker with the rules to make magic happen.

Watson’s historic run at Turnberry last July created an interesting dilemma since the would-be champion was 59 years old and would have just a single year of eligibility left to play the Open Championship had he survived the 72nd hole and ensuing playoff. As a result, the R&A added a clause that would make aging champions eligible for five additional years after they turn 60 if they finish in the top 10.

Good stuff, but we challenge the R&A to go one better. Imagine the possibilities if officials could woo Jack Nicklaus out of retirement and back to St. Andrews in 2010?

Wie win. The LPGA Tour and its new commish needed a “W” from the Big “W” like Bill Belichick needed a Sunday mulligan.

No one, however, needed the breakthrough more than the 20-year-old Stanford student. Earning her tour card last winter was a good start and her Solheim Cup heroics gave her reason to be optimistic, but getting off the victory schnied to finish her rookie year is like Christmas in November.

Even on a bum wheel, Wie put a decade’s worth of bad decisions and bad breaks behind her.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

New grooves, schmooves. After Doug Barron’s legal bout with the Tour, the buzz on the Disney practice range last week was all about the new rules governing grooves on Tour next year.

“Some guys are in for a rude awakening,” said one Tour player.

Sunday’s scoreboard, however, suggests the hype over the rollback is much ado about nothing, or, at least, much ado about nothing much.

Among Sunday’s winners and almost winners were Stephen Ames, Justin Leonard (Children’s Miracle Network Classic) and Tiger Woods (Australian Masters), who were all playing conforming Nike irons and wedges.

LPGA 2010 schedule. In an ultimate good news/bad news deal, the circuit released its 2010 lineup to mixed reviews, although given the general state of the economy and the circuit’s perception issues with former commissioner Carolyn Bivens, most consider the 24-event docket a victory of form, if not function.

But there is still work to do. The ’10 schedule is the lightest since 1971 and features just two tournaments during a nine-week run starting in April.

The schedule also is heavy with international stops. The first event in the United States will be the LPGA Classic at La Costa Resort in California in late March and there are 17 “off” weeks after things get going.

Missed Cut

Doug Barron v. PGA Tour Inc. Make your own judgment on the merits of the case and, in a macro way, it really doesn’t matter who is right or wrong. From a perception point of view all that matters is that golf has been dragged into the doping era.

Whether the Tour started down the anti-doping path as a result of its Olympic aspirations or simply as a byproduct of the world we live in, golf – perhaps the only sport that could have avoided doping scrutiny – is now part of the conversation, and for what?

A 40-year-old journeyman whose only crime may be his unshakable belief in his own innocence and a naïve approach to the anti-doping process? Golf in the Olympics may end up being a boon for the game, but at what cost? No word of the Barron law suit, or his request to play the second stage of Q-School, but the Tour-driven Web site was quick to post the story when a U.S. magistrate denied Barron’s request for an injunction.

The Tour is a business that is keen to protect its own interest, but hand-picking news that’s convenient is dangerous and transparent. The Tour should take a page from Major League Baseball’s Web site, which may spin the news but it does not censor it.

Associated Press golf writer Doug Ferguson tweeted it best, “( should change name to”