There was a time when it was almost impossible to get top American players across the pond for the British Open, much like it is now to get them across Texas to play the Byron Nelson Championship, but non-stops from Newark and an old-school qualifier in the New World solved all those woes.
Now, if only we can find a tonic for what ails Soren Hansen and Doug Barron.
International Final Qualifier. On Monday, Mother Nature willing, on a dusty layout near Plano, Texas, the type of field that gives some tournament directors chills will assemble for a singularly athletic cause.
There will be no money awarded, no Waterford crystal and certainly no FedEx Cup points. The only prize – a coveted spot in the game’s oldest member-member later this summer at St. Andrews.
The British Open qualifier is a cure for all those who say today’s pros are a spoiled, self-entitled lot. Among those who will play two on Monday will be Davis Love III, K.J. Choi, Charles Howell III and, yes, even Fred Couples. It’s enough to make Old Tom Morris proud.
Tony Romo. The Dallas Cowboy signal caller took some heat for pulling out of the Byron Nelson Championship Monday qualifier because it would have conflicted with the first day of team activities. Cue Allen Iverson: We’re talking about practice? Practice?
On Thursday Romo landed a little karma, birdieing three of last four holes and surviving a four-for-three playoff to advance to sectional qualifying for next month’s U.S. Open.
Word of caution, however. If Romo thinks the New Orleans Saints’ pass rush is tough, wait until he sees what the U.S. Golf Association plans to do with Pebble Beach’s pebbled-sized greens.
Tweet of the week: @stewarwtcink: “Who says today’s young kids have no work ethic. Just saw @RickieFowlerPGA changing his own spikes.”
Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)
European Solheim Cup captain Alison Nicholas. Annika Sorenstam was named a vice captain, along with Joanne Morley, last week by Nicholas for the 2011 matches.
Sorenstam is certainly qualified, having played in eight consecutive Solheim Cup matches for Europe and is the event’s all-time points winner with 24, but it seems a bit like bringing a knife to a spork fight.
One wouldn’t tab Mike Krzyzewski, who coached the U.S. basketball team to Olympic gold in 2008, to keep stats at the 2012 Games, and you don’t ask Sorenstam to shuttle players between holes and keep the sandwiches fresh. If Nicholas really needs another vice-captain, may we suggest Michael Jordan. He did a heck of a job last year at Harding Park.
Quail Hollow. Contrary to Phil Mickelson’s claim that the Charlotte gem has the Tour’s “worst-designed greens,” the club seems destined for an upgrade to the major-championship neighborhood.
In fact, we recently learned that top PGA of America set-up man Kerry Haigh was on property earlier this month when Rory McIlroy made magic. Many say Quail Hollow is the leader in the clubhouse to land either the 2017 PGA Championship, 2024 Ryder Cup or both.
Haigh did little to quiet the rumor mill when we asked whether Quail Hollow would be a better stroke-play or match-play venue?
“From what I saw it lends itself to being an exciting place for both, short par 4s, reachable par 5s, long par 4s. It’s just really a good venue,” Haigh said.
Translation: Things can get steamy in North Carolina in August, so bring some sun screen.
PGA Tour. We’ve tried to make this plea before to PGA Tour HQ, but in light of a recent op-ed piece by performance-enhancing drug poster child Doug Barron it seems apropos to give it one more run.
According to Barron if his lawyers fail to reach a settlement with the Tour regarding his one-year suspension for violating the circuit’s performance-enhancing drug policy by the end of May he will proceed with his lawsuit, which, among other things, will require the Tour reveal the results of every drug test that has been administered.
“(His fellow players) know I'm not looking to start a witch hunt,” Barron wrote in the article which appeared on golf.com. “All I'm trying to do is clear my name and ensure that the Tour creates a transparent process so that all players with legitimate medical issues are treated equally.”
Neither “Cut Line” nor Barron are looking for a smoking gun, but considering the scrutiny the sport is already under perhaps it is time to talk.
Soren Hansen. There is something rotten in Denmark and, according to a Copenhagen court, it is the former European Ryder Cup player.
Hansen was found guilty of tax evasion from 2002 to 2006. He had claimed residency in tax-haven Monaco during the period, but the court thought otherwise and has fined him $1.1 million.
And Hamlet thought he was a cursed Dane.
Tour Pros. There was a time when the top players would line up to pay homage to one of the game’s best “Godfather” style. The line of those waiting to hold court with Byron Nelson was a “who’s who.” Now the tournament that carries the legend’s name, if not his aura, features a field that is more “who’s that?”
In 2006 Nelson’s tournament drew six of the top 10 players in World Ranking. Four months later, at the age of 94, Iron Byron died and on some level his tournament seems to have passed as well.
This year the Nelson has drawn just two top-20 players to “Big D” – with Hunter Mahan at No. 17 the top card. The golf course, the independent contractors will moan, is a Tour must miss and without Nelson’s personal touch the event seems as good a time as any to take a break.
Don’t like the golf course, fine. Schedule issues, of course. But for what Iron Byron did for the game, how about a little self-imposed one-and-three?