Cut Line Golden Jack


DUBLIN, Ohio – Tiger Woods  will play the weekend at Muirfield Village, his slightly hyperbolic goal to start the week after playing his last two events MC-WD. Ditto for Phil Mickelson, who needs to win and hope Woods finishes no better than a three-way tie for third to ascend to No. 1 in the world.

As for the rest of the golf world, from bucket list moments (Kevin Streelman) to bucket-headed moves (Colin Montgomerie) time has run out.

Made Cut

Bucket lists. Kevin Streelman, a Midwesterner by birth and Jack Nicklaus fan by heritage, was mulling about the halfway house at Muirfield Village last Sunday after missing the cut at the Colonial when he spotted Nicklaus and his son, Jack II, coming up the ninth fairway.

After “soft stalking” Nicklaus at the turn, the Golden Bear asked Streelman to join him. What followed was a blur, as Streelman remembered the events and recounted them. The third-year Tour player birdied Nos. 10, 11 and 12, with no putt longer than 9 feet, added more birdies at the 15th and 16th holes and holed out from a greenside bunker for birdie at No. 17. A bogey at the closing hole left him at 5-under 31.

“Jack was just watching and said, ‘You beat me by nine (strokes). You’ve got to give me a shot a hole next time,’” Streelman smiled. “That’s about as cool as it can be.”

Jack Nicklaus. The Golden one invented the scrum, the free-for-all between players and media after the interview proper, and neither age nor competitive inactivity has dulled golf’s sharpest knife. All of which makes Nicklaus’ annual “State of the Golden Bear” at the Memorial a “can’t miss” for those who carry notebooks.

Among Tuesday’s highlights:

  • “I suppose that win in ’86 was a mistake. I suppose in many ways.” The “win,” of course, was his final Masters victory, among the greatest events in all of golf, if not sport.
  •  “I said firmly that (Nicklaus’ record of 18 majors) will be broken by Tiger [Woods]. If it is, it’s OK. I just want to be the first one there to shake his hand.”
  • “The press asked me what do you remember from that great (British) Open  in 1977? I said very simply, ‘I lost.’ I have a different phrase for the 1960 (U.S. Open). ‘I blew it.’”
  • “I was over in the Bahamas fishing during the Masters and we came in from fishing to watch the last nine holes. I thought that was a pretty big sacrifice for me.”
  • “Somewhere along the line the (U.S. Golf Association) and (Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews) need to figure out a plan, every other sport is played in three hours or less. Except maybe your five sets of tennis.”

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Designated tournaments. The jury is still out whether the proposed plan to woo top players to wanting events has legs, but most who attended Tuesday’s Player Advisory Council meeting at Muirfield Village agreed the Tour has a need for change and the proposed plan has potential.

The rub, however, is that players have to be mandated to do what’s best for the Tour as opposed to what they perceive is best for their games.

On this the independent contractors have a 3-up lead, while those who pay the contracts (tournaments) are left watching from the clubhouse.

Tweet of the week: @stewartcink “I can’t change the channel from ‘Antique Roadshow.’” Takes a big man to admit that.

Pace of play. One Tour caddie who began his looping career on the hallowed links at Pebble Beach heard that rounds at the seaside course are currently taking upwards of 5 ½ hours.

“Every 20 (handicap) is heading to the back tees,” the caddie sighed. “It’s brutal.”

The greatest meeting of air, sea and land may be an American masterpiece, but the folks at Pebble Beach should take a page from Tour rookie Rickie Fowler‘s book – hit it hard and walk fast.
Missed Cut

U.S. Golf Association. Karma clearly doesn’t have a vote on the USGA’s executive council. If she did Vijay Singh would be paying $500 for a tee time at Pebble Beach like the rest of us instead of riding a freebie exemption to the national championship.

To make matters worse, Singh had already decided he wouldn’t attempt 36-hole qualifying on Monday like every other Tour pro large and small.

“When I found out my tee time is 7:30 (a.m.), I said, ‘I’m not going to go and qualify,’” Singh said. “I was really debating it.”

If only the USGA would have debated it a tad longer.

Colin Montgomerie. Revelations this week of Monty’s off-course antics aside, the European Ryder Cup captain is adding more intrigue to this year’s biennial grudge match than Samuel A. Ryder could have ever imagined.

Prior to his Fleet Street revelations, Monty had stirred the Ryder Cup waters yet again, insinuating that a European on the bubble for a captain’s pick should play the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles in August.

“I’ll be very surprised if I pick any player on the border of the team whom I ask to play at Gleneagles and they don’t show up,” the Scot said. “I expect there will be about eight candidates for my three wild cards and it should be a given that they turn up at the final event.”

Forget “designated tournaments,” the Tour should strong-arm like Monty if they want guys to play more.