Cut Line Legends and Bodies


Meaningful golf remains, at least for the 125 or so independent contractors in search of gainful employment in 2010, which means another Friday comes and goes with an eclectic assortment of would-be champions and woebegone also-rans.

We begin this week’s edition with a man who spent the better part of the last half century searching for the truth, and end it with a man who decided truth is a matter of political expediency.

Made Cut

Furman Bisher: Late in the summer of 2006 and just down the road from Royal Yellow Brick Road (aka Hoylake) a colleague spotted the deans of golf writing, Dan Jenkins and Bisher, having drinks and holding court in a local pub.

Two hours later more than a century of sports writing packed up and headed home and the history lesson they left behind, from Hogan to Jones to Cobb, was worth the late night, to say nothing of the Transatlantic flight, bad food and roundabouts.

On Sunday Bisher penned his final column for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and already press rooms from Torrey Pines to TPC Sawgrass seem less welcoming.

For 59 years Bisher was the voice of Atlanta sports, covering Super Bowls and Olympics and World Series with equal parts creativity and depth of knowledge. But it was his presence at Augusta National that will be missed the most. Bisher may not have coined the sports writing staple, “swans to Capistrano,” but he used it more artfully than any other to refer to golf’s annual Masters migration.

Fittingly, Bisher’s final literary turn for the Journal-Constitution was written on his trusty Royal typewriter and came complete with a familiar ending – Selah.

The Body: A threesome of LPGA players were among the athletes who went “Henrik Stenson” for ESPN The Magazine’s now-annual “Body” issue.

Some will twist this into something undignified or banal, while others will applaud the LPGA trio for bringing some much-needed attention to a sport that has suffered more than its share of body blows this season. Lost amid the cacophony of the debate, however, will be a new perspective of professional golfers as athletes. Although a running joke in mainstream sports circles, anyone who has ever spent any amount of time in the Tour’s travelling gym can attest – these guys are good and, regardless of stereotype, are in good shape.

Of course, the Tour can hold off on supplemental performance-enhancing drug testing, the issue also includes “athletes” from table tennis and sumo wrestling.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

John Daly: Another 180 from JD should come as no surprise. A healthy, happy and controversy-free Daly is good for the game, as well as the Tour, but his announcement this week that he would play the Viking Classic later this month doesn’t pass the sniff test.

According to Daly his injuries have healed enough thanks to stem cell injections that his doctors cleared him to play and he quickly accepted a sponsor’s invitation for the Viking. Yet at 215th in earnings (with about $68K) there is little chance he will convert the freebie into a 2010 Tour card and he said in a recent interview that he will use the start to test new wedges with next year’s conforming grooves.

Daly also has taken another pass on going to Q-School to reclaim his playing privileges, all of which doesn’t sound like a man on a card quest. Daly may be good for the gate, but wouldn’t that exemption feel better if it went to a player who was serious about earning or keeping a Tour card?

Justin Timberlake: The host with the most is putting on a good show in a town that knows a thing or two about star power, and practice range scuttlebutt has it the Las Vegas stop, thanks to Timberlake’s work and cache, could land a spot in the FedEx Cup schedule on future calendars. But the entertainer went sideways when he compared himself to the uber-cool “Rat Pack.”

“I'm kind of intrigued by the fact that maybe we can bring that type of synergy and that type of style, that type of legend about the game in modern day,” Timberlake said. “I just have to find three or four other guys who can really get out there and play and who love it, who can play the part and dress the part.”

You’re cool, baby, but Sinatra? Martin? Davis Jr.? Really?

Missed Cut

The economy: After 42 years one of the Tour’s lunchbox events took a 10-count this week, the victim of a sagging economy and an undesirable date on the circuit’s crowded mid-summer docket.

The charity that ran the Tour’s Milwaukee stop announced this week they would dissolve and the scramble to replace U.S. Bank, which did not pick up its three-year title sponsor option after this year’s playing, appears over.

A spot on the schedule alongside the British Open made Milwaukee something of a competitive afterthought, but it seems like a melancholy swansong for an event that gave us “Hello, world” in 1996 for Tiger Woods’ professional debut.

Officials were hopeful the tournament could return to the fold in 2011 and “Cut Line” can think of one possible winning scenario – The Steve Stricker Invitational.

Robert Allenby: Waxed 5 and 3 in Sunday singles, it seems the Aussie waxed a few minutes too long outside the International side’s cabin at Harding Park last weekend.

There is no question the Aussie out-punted his coverage when he labeled Anthony Kim, his Sunday singles opponent, the “John Daly” of the new generation and said the young American was out until 4 a.m. on the eve of the final matches.

The Tour, Allenby, Kim and golf would have been better off if Allenby would have pleaded “no comment” and joined his teammates on the bus, but the forced, Tour-driven public apology simply gave the row more legs, and his claim that his comments were “taken out of context” begs the question: in what context should they have been taken?