Cut Line Freakonomics and Twitter fun


THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Aside from the LPGA Tour Championship, which has instituted a unique two-cut format, none of the other major events this week have a cut (although one could argue that few tournaments in the game need a cut more than the six-round Q-School finale), which means “Cut Line” had to work overtime to fill the void.

Made Cut

Lee Westwood. Give the Englishman a rare double, No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking and in the game’s budding, and wildly unofficial, Twitter wars.

Westwood has eschewed the normal mundane tweets from athletes that pass for insight (wonder if John Daly is watching an Arkansas game right now?) and has taken on a more active and creative role since joining Tweet-dom last month. Among some of his more imaginative offerings:

- “Isn’t it past your bedtime Rory (McIlroy)? Come on, finish your milk and biscuit and lights off.”

- “I can get (Ian Poulter) a deal on a jag when he wants a proper car that he can get more than just him and his hair gel in!”

-“(McIlroy) going grey gracefully young pup! I wasn’t pulling grey hairs out at 21!”

-“Hey Tiger (Woods) don’t give those peanut (butter) and banana sandwiches to Steve (Williams)! He’ll blow you away! Or the ear drums of the (microphone) man!”

The Euros don’t win the Ryder Cup because they are better than the U.S., they win it because they are funnier.

Andy Pazder. The news last month that Rick George was bolting the PGA Tour for the Texas Rangers front office was a bit of a surprise to some who considered the former tournament director a viable successor to commissioner Tim Finchem.

But Friday’s announcement that George was being replaced as executive vice president and chief of operations by Pazder was a triumph of reason.

Pazder, 44, has served the past three years as senior vice president of tournament administration and is largely lauded by players and the media for being forthright and accessible. That’s a rare combination at Camp Ponte Vedra Beach.

Captain’s choice. It seems a foregone conclusion that Davis Love III will be America’s next Ryder Cup captain – the PGA of America powers that be were scheduled to meet this week but no announcement seems imminent – which creates an interesting opportunity for DLIII.

Love could help right two egregious wrongs in his new role by picking Fred Couples and Larry Nelson to serve as his assistants. Couples, who will captain the U.S. Presidents Cup team next year in Australia, seems to have doomed his Ryder Cup chances with his two Presidents Cup stints, and Nelson, inexplicably passed over for his own captaincy, deserves a chance to serve.

And if Love has room on the team bus after all that, he can have Michael Jordan join the fun. We think Couples may have his cell number.

Tweet of the Week: @IanPoulter “Hey No. 1 (Westwood), I’m going to see No. 2 (Tiger Woods) this week. Shall I give him banter for that?”

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Designated tournaments. Turns out it was the tournaments and sponsors that sped the demise of the proposal that would have required the Tour’s top cards add a needy tournament to their schedules.

The concern, according to numerous tournament directors, is the stigma that would come with designation and the fallout that could follow if a field doesn’t improve after being labeled wanting.

In essence, the small market teams want to find a way to keep pace with the Yankees without the aid of a salary cap, and that magic bullet may not exist.

“I thought we were onto something pretty good,” Jim Furyk said. “I’m not sure what to do now.”

Hyundai. In a recent interview with CNBC Woods’ IMG manager Mark Steinberg said, “We’re close to a deal coming out of Asia and we're in discussions with a number of companies interested in being on his golf bag.”

Some have speculated the new deal could be with Hyundai. Although there is nothing to substantiate those rumors, the carmaker’s recent move to sponsor the Tour’s season opener at Kapalua suggests a newfound interest in all things golf.

It would be a cruel twist that the one year Woods may be inclined to play the season opener –  he hasn’t made the trip to Kapalua since 2005 –  he doesn’t qualify for the winner’s-only field.

Missed Cut

Fall freakonomics. Whatever the holdup was, next year’s Tour schedule contained few surprises when it was released this week – 41 events, at least $288 million in total purses and the economic reality many predicted for the post-Tour Championship badlands.

The 2011 schedule will feature just four Fall Series events, down from seven in 2007 when the post-Tour Championship lineup was introduced. At the time many figured that blatantly second-tier events would struggle to maintain sponsors and fan interest, and if Thursday’s schedule is any indication “many” were correct.

“It’s tough for guys who’ve had bad years,” said one member of the Tour’s Player Advisory Council. “I still think every event should be part of the FedEx Cup and the playoffs should be after Disney (the Fall Series finale).”

World Golf Ranking. The Chevron World Challenge is the diamond of the “silly season” lineup. Woods’ member-member draws a deep field (18 players from the top 50 in the World Ranking this year) and is played on a stellar golf course.

Whether that qualifies it to receive World Ranking points is up for debate, however. That the host can reclaim the top spot in the world with a victory on Sunday at Sherwood is a concern. That someone not in the elite field may be denied access to marquee events in 2011 is borderline unjust.

Last year Graeme McDowell, who replaced Woods in the Chevron field, finished second and moved from 55th to 38th in the ranking, bumping the likes of Peter Hanson and Alexander Noren out of the top 50 which is a crucial benchmark for entry into many top events.

To put the debate in context, consider the ramifications if the Skins Game had been doling out ranking points all those years. Couples – won the Skins Game five times and finished second five times – may still be ranked No. 1.