In this week’s Far East edition of Cut Line, the PGA Tour expands its influence in Asia, William McGirt chooses Jackson, Miss., over Shanghai and Tiger talks 18 majors.
Hall call. When the World Golf Hall of Fame overhauled its selection process in 2014 some, including your scribe, warned that the new 16-person selection committee had the potential to become too political.
Under the old system, hundreds of voters cast Hall of Fame ballots, which would make individual conflicts less impactful. But with just 16 voters, the potential for petty politics seemed more likely.
On Tuesday, the Hall announced the class of 2017, which includes Davis Love III, Meg Mallon, Lorena Ochoa, Ian Woosnam and Henry Longhurst. You can debate the merits of each inductee all you want, but collectively the selection committee’s decisions have proven to be worthy choices.
The new system may not be perfect, but after selecting two classes it’s hard to argue with the results.
Storm relief. In the wake of Hurricane Matthew earlier this month, officials at Harbour Town Golf Links have been working to clear some 800 trees that were lost and assess what damage, if any, was caused by the storm’s surge, which flooded parts of the 16th, 17th and 18th holes.
That recovery, however, was secondary as the entire Hilton Head community worked to return to normal, a process that may take months.
Even as officials assessed the damage to Harbour Town, home to the RBC Heritage since 1969, they were also coming up with ways the tournament could help the community rebound.
“There is a unique feel to this community and the rallying cry in helping out, from where we were last week to today is amazing. But it’s going to take a while,” said Heritage tournament director Steve Wilmot. “We’re trying to figure out how best the Heritage Foundation can help the community.”
Golf is always at its best when it’s working to help others.
Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)
Second still sucks. He may not be ready for primetime, but Tiger Woods still made plenty of headlines this week beginning with the unveiling of TGR, a new company for all of Woods’ off-course businesses.
“It’s a hard realization knowing that I’m not scoring like I should be,” Woods said. “My feel for hitting 150-yard 7-irons and taking stuff off of it. All that stuff I kind of lost the feel of that.
“You’ve waited over a year to get back to this point, let’s be smart about it and not rush it. That’s my brain saying that, but heart is saying, ‘Tiger, let’s play.’”
There was also a bit of an odd exchange between Rose and Woods when the host asked if the 14-time major champion still believed he could reach Jack Nicklaus’ mark of 18 Grand Slam victories.
“To be honest with you, no,” Woods said, before adding, “I’ve accepted I’m going to get more.”
It’s nice to see inactivity hasn’t dulled Tiger’s competitive edge, but there is an old line that seems apropos – the only way to win a major, is to play in a major.
Expansion. News this week that the PGA Tour plans to expand its footprint in Asia with the addition of a new event in South Korea was hardly a surprise.
The circuit has now given players three events in Asia to pick from and made it easier to package starts in the fall. The move also gave the Tour a greater presence in an emerging golf market.
But like most moves involving the Tour schedule, the new event will not be a boon for everyone, with the added start likely making things harder for the domestic fall events that have carved out a niche for themselves since the advent of the wraparound schedule.
It’s seems unlikely the Tour would extend the fall portion of the schedule past the third week of November, which means a current event would have to be played opposite the South Korea tournament.
Giving members playing opportunities is part of the Tour’s DNA, but in this case it certainly feels like growing pains.
Farm hand. To be clear, it’s not William McGirt’s decision to skip next week’s WGC-HSBC Champions in China that lands on the wrong side of the cut (that decision should be applauded), it’s the Tour’s inability to read a room that seems askew.
Fresh off a career year that included a victory at the Memorial, McGirt decided not to make the long flight to Shanghai. Instead, he’ll play the pro-am at the Sanderson Farms Championship, an event he’s played every year since 2011.
Tour rules don’t allow McGirt to play the opposite-field Mississippi stop since he’s qualified for the World Golf Championship, so he picked the only way he could to participate.
“I want to support a tournament I love and a cause I believe in,” McGirt said. “So that's what I'm going to do. I'd love to play in the tournament itself, but I can't. So I'm going to do whatever I can to help.”
There are probably plenty of reasons for the circuit’s opposite-event policy, but in this particular case common sense doesn’t appear to be one of them.