Cut Line Kings Captains and Little Guys


LEMONT, Ill. – No cut this week at the BMW Championship, unless of course you are one of those unlucky enough to be caught outside the top 30 in FedEx Cup points or named Greg Norman.

Made Cut

Arnold Palmer. Because he made charisma cool. Because he has a drink named after him. Because he can hang with presidents as easily as he can kibitz with the rank-and-file.

Because you still get chills watching those old black-and-whites from the 1960 U.S. Open at Cherry Hills. Because you still show up at the first tee at Bay Hill each week looking to take someone’s money. Because once a year at the Arnold Palmer Invitational you light up the press room with your wit and your wisdom.

But mostly because golf as we know it wouldn’t exist without you.

For all that, we fudge the record books and give The King one last weekend between the ropes for a cool 575 made cuts.

The little guy. Mark Wilson roared out of the gates on familiar turf on Friday and finds himself tied for the lead with Tiger Woods at the BMW Championship. We liked this story the first time we saw it, when the lead role was played by Heath Slocum and the back drop was Lower Manhattan.

Say what you will about the playoffs, but on consecutive weeks we’ve had Woods, Padraig Harrington and Steve Stricker rubbing elbows with the Wilsons and Slocums of the world. It may not be the “Duel in the Sun,” but it’s pretty good.

The NCAA Basketball Tournament has Gonzaga, Major League Baseball has the Tampa Bay Rays and golf has a group of unassuming plodders to keep things honest, and interesting.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Cog Hill. Tour golf fits the Southside fixture like baseball at Wrigley Field, and Rees Jones’ tinkering seems to be to most players’ liking. A single-minded focus to move on to something bigger and better, however, makes one wonder.

Cog Hill officials moved heaven and tons of earth in an attempt to woo a U.S. Open to the public facility and there have been rumblings that the club would push hard to host the 2016 Olympic Games if golf and Chicago get the IOC nod next month. Not so fast.

There’s nothing wrong with Cog Hill’s Dubsdread layout that some well-handled chainsaws can’t fix and before we move on to the Olympics or U.S. Open, the traffic problems on South Archer Avenue must be fixed.

Asked if Cog Hill should host a U.S. Open Zach Johnson paused for a long moment, “I’m not sure.” It wasn’t a slight against the club or course, just a sign they might be moving too fast.

Vijay Singh/Camilo Villegas/Sergio Garcia. The three-ball that ruled last year’s FedEx Cup playoffs are headed for, or are already enjoying, an early offseason.

Singh, who coasted to the Cup title last year, didn’t make it to Chicago for Round 3; Villegas, who gave the Fijian a run with victories in the last two playoff events in 2008, is 22 spots on the wrong side of East Lake and tied for 30th at Cog Hill; and Garcia, whose duel with Singh at The Barclays last year was the highlight of the postseason, is two rounds away from the sidelines.

To be fair, Singh has been hurt this year, Garcia is hurting emotionally after a high-profile split with his girlfriend and Villegas has simply been hard on the eyes. Not even the Yankees make it to the World Series every year.

Missed Cut

Greg Norman.The Australian blamed his ex-wife for not winning more major championships. Are we to understand that current wife Chris Everet plucked Adam Scott from the depths of a lost year? Doubtful.
Maybe Norman was being loyal to a friend or is hoping the heat of the Presidents Cup will give Scott the spark he’s been missing. If so, both are misguided, albeit plausible, ideas.

What flummoxed “Cut Line” is Norman’s disregard for Rory Sabbatini and the long-held tradition of calling a player that is being passed over to help soften the blow. U.S. captain Fred Couples made an emotional call to Brian Gay on Tuesday and sent Dustin Johnson a three-part text message on Monday explaining his picks and assuring the hard-hitting two-time Tour winner that he will be on a team soon enough.

Nearly a month before the matches Norman’s already under fire. He should ask Nick Faldo how clumsy captaincies go.

American LPGA players. This may sound jingoistic, but we glanced at the leaderboard today and wondered why the Pan-Asian Open is being played in Arkansas?

Some have tried to make this a tour problem, while others want to pin the blame on the Asian players. Both miss the mark. Despite the success of the U.S. Solheim Cup team last month, the home team has been something of a red, white and bust in individual events.

At one point on Friday, the leaderboard at the P&G Beauty NW Arkansas Championship featured just a single American in the top 15. It was easy for players to pin all of the tour’s woes on Carolyn Bivens, but players on the PGA Tour would likely have a different take on things – play better.