Cut Line Haggis Hangover


The home of golf always seems to deliver the goods, whether it’s the Tennet’s lager or a timeless performance by someone named Theodorus. And for the 28th time the Auld Grey Toon didn’t disappoint, regardless of dismal overnights or a double-digit under-par total.

The same can’t be said for Phil Mickelson, who highlights this week’s “Cut Line” for all the wrong reasons.

Made Cut

St. Andrews. Not sure why the Royal & Ancient Golf Club is dragging its feet on the 2015 championship, but in the interest of saving time let’s pen the Old Course in to host the Open Championship every five years until the North Sea reclaims the storied links or man gives up the ancient game altogether.

St. Andrews is a gem, both inside and outside the ropes, and for all the wasted words over new tee boxes and narrowed fairways we didn’t hear a single frat brother dub the Old Course too easy.

One Scottish scribe wrote it best:  if technology ever deems the Old Course obsolete the powers that be have failed miserably.

Hall of Fame ceremony. On Thursday, the World Golf Hall of Fame announced it will begin holding its annual induction ceremony in May to coincide with The Players Championship, and on Friday interest in the event increased by 50 percent, or something like that.

Mired for years in a sleepy fall date, the ceremony was something of an afterthought as the golf season was coming to a close. The move to Players week may not immediately transform the event into Cooperstown, but on the coattails of the Tour’s marquee event it has a fighting chance.

Now on to more pressing matters, like a convoluted selection process that takes a degree from MIT, or a Tour lawyer, to understand.
Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Louis Oosthuizen. No, we’re not taking a shot at the South African for sucking every ounce of cold, wet air out the Open Championship. The performance, if not the name, was historic.

The Big Oosy lands on the “MDF” list for his plan to dump longtime caddie Zack Rasego following the Open Championship. When a player gets sideways it is common practice to change putters, caddies, managers, wives, whatever it takes to right the ship. But after seven years, Rasego, who grew up caddying in Sun City, South Africa, for the likes of Gary Player, deserved better.

Predictably, in the wake of Oosthuizen’s Open walk-over Rasego remains employed, but there’s always next week.

Tiger Woods. A PGA Tour player once boasted, “If I fell off my wallet I’d break my arm.” Which prompted the question:  How many bones would Woods break if he tumbled off his fortune?

The answer, at least in the short term, is $22 million, the amount Sports Illustrated estimated the world No. 1 is losing in endorsements in 2010. According to the report, Woods’ total earnings this year will be more than $90 million, down 30 percent from nearly $128 million two years ago.

That still places Woods first on the SI list of highest-earning American athletes, with Mickelson No. 2 with $62 million in earnings. That’s ahead of LeBron James, Alex Rodriguez and Kobe Bryant. Explain to us again how golf is a niche sport?

Designated tournament haters. Paul Casey’s tie for third at the Open Championship was encouraging and his post-final round assessment of his game and the golf course was honest and unfiltered, but more importantly the Englishman proved how far a little name recognition can go when he bolted Scotland for Canada.

Casey tops a marquee at the Canadian Open that is, by any measure, wanting and is example No. 256 of how a “designated tournament” rule could help tournaments in need.

The proposal, which is likely to be given final approval in the next few weeks, has been dubbed the “Tiger and Phil Rule” in some circles, but that misses the point. Just ask the folks in Canada, or Casey.

Tweet of the week: @stewartcink “Just finished watching son Connor play in a tournament. A 12 (-year-old) shot 66. I want to retire today.”
Missed Cut

Turning Stone executive. By almost every measure, the Turning Stone Championship is a hidden gem among players, who rave about the golf course and the resort’s amenities, but earlier this week the event made an unsightly bogey.

Ray Halbritter, Turning Stone CEO and the event’s founder, announced he will play the tournament, which will be held opposite the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational the first week of August, on a sponsor exemption, proudly pointing out he has dropped his handicap from about a 16 to a 2.

“I had a conversation with the people in charge, myself, and I got lucky and got approved to play,” mocked Halbritter.

Mark Cuban and Jerry Jones write big checks as well, but that doesn’t give them, or Halbritter, the right to “play” professional athlete for a day. If Halbritter wants a taste of the big leagues, Q-School is right around the corner.

Phil Mickelson. Lefty teased us with an early-week press conference that bordered on the effusive, suggesting that this was finally the Open Championship where he solved the links riddle.

Seventy-two holes and 289 strokes later, we all had the look of jilted Chicago Cubs fans. For the record, Mickelson has now played 15 Open Championships with just a single top-10 finish, an inexplicable hole in what is otherwise a Hall of Fame resume.

Maybe Lefty wants it too much, or maybe links golf asks a thoughtful man one too many questions, either way it adds up to one of golf’s most unthinkable titles – Best Player Never to Win an Open Championship.