Cut Line: Kirk rebounds at Crowne; Rory sinks in Ireland


In this week’s meteorological edition of Cut Line, an “Irish” gale blows Rory McIlroy off course at Royal County Down, Chris Kirk rebounds from an imperfect storm at TPC Sawgrass and the PGA Tour endures another soggy week in Texas.

Made Cut

Sawgrass inspiration. How a player handles defeats is often much more telling than what follows a victory and Kirk certainly proved a point last Sunday at Colonial.

Following a closing-round 75 at The Players, where he started the final round with a one-stroke lead but faded into a tie for 13th place, the Crowne Plaza Invitational was Kirk’s next start.

After beginning the final 18 holes three shots back, Kirk played his last four holes in 1 under for his fourth PGA Tour title and a healthy measure of redemption.

“It looks like he doesn’t have pulse out there, but he does. He does get nervous,” said Scott Hamilton, Kirk’s swing coach. “Sawgrass was a good learning experience for him and he used that to deal with the pressure on Sunday at Colonial.”

Losing is never easy, but channeled the proper way it can make things easier the next time.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Weather warning I. In 2011 after closing rounds of 74-73 at Royal St. George’s, McIlroy revealed that links golf, in particular links weather, was not exactly his thing.

“I'm not a fan of golf tournaments that the outcome is predicted so much by the weather. It's not my sort of golf,” McIlroy said at the time. “I’m looking forward to getting back and playing in Akron [WGC-Bridgestone Invitational], playing the PGA [Championship] and getting back into some nice conditions.”

The world No. 1 seemed to put that miscue behind him with his victory last July at Royal Liverpool, but an opening-round 80 at the Irish Open in difficult conditions reminded observers that while McIlroy’s game is largely above reproach, he’s still vulnerable to the elements.

Clarifications. When U.S. Golf Association executive director Mike Davis recently suggested that Chambers Bay, site of this year’s U.S. Open, was a test that would require an additional level of preparation many Tour types bristled at the notion.

“What’s Mike Davis’ handicap?” asked McIlroy following his victory at the Wells Fargo Championship.

This week at the opening of the Jack Nicklaus room at the USGA Museum, Davis expanded on his comments, telling Golf Digest: “This is going to be my 26th U.S. Open, and I’ve noticed that players just don’t play as much golf there [at the Open site].

“They’ll play nine holes a day, rely on their caddies instead of coming in early to play three or four rounds the week before like they did in the past . . . it’s just the way things have become. And what I wanted to communicate is that the advantage really goes to the player who knows the course inside and out. There is so much bounciness to that course that you just can’t learn it quickly.”

While Davis’ extended explanation dulls the edges of his original comments, it still doesn’t indemnify his thoughts on Chambers Bay. The best player the third week of June should win, not the player with the most extra credit.

Missed Cut

Weather warning II. As bad as things looked at Royal County Down on Day 2 at the Irish Open, it was continued storms in Texas that most impacted play this week.

Some 4 1/2 inches of rain fell Thursday night at the AT&T Byron Nelson, delaying second-round play for three hours and swamping an already soaked TPC Four Seasons Resort. Officials even had to shorten one of the layout’s holes, the 406-yard, par-4 14th, to 100 yards (par 3) because of water in the fairway.

It’s the second consecutive week of wet and wild conditions for the Tour’s Texas swing which doesn’t bode well for next week’s Memorial, which has endured notoriously bad weather for years.

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Olympic effort. While the 2015-16 Tour schedule continues to be a work in progress, early indications suggest next year’s hodgepodge of events will be a confusing mess of conflicting events and crowded calendars.

Although the circuit continues to piece together the later portion of the 2016 line up, according to various sources things will become compacted early with the movement of the WGC-Dell Match Play to the last week of March, two weeks before the Masters.

Because of the Olympic Games, which will be played in Brazil Aug. 11-14, the PGA Championship will be held two weeks earlier than normal, July 28-31, and will be one of two majors played in a three-week span.

It also means there will likely be a Tour event played the week of the men’s Olympic Games and allow for just a six-week window to play the four FedEx Cup playoff events and Ryder Cup.

Officials wanted to grow the game with golf’s return to the Olympics and one thing is certain, there will be an increase of rounds played late next summer. At least at the highest level.