Cut Line: McIlroy can change narrative of lost year

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The PGA Tour’s Asian swing ends this week and Cut Line breaks down the far-fetched (Simon Dyson) and the far out (Rory McIlroy) from the Far East.


Made Cut

Lost season? Many pundits declared Rory McIlroy’s 2013 a wasted year long before he failed to advance to East Lake for the Tour Championship, and maybe a victory this week at the WGC-HSBC Champions will simply be the metaphorical cherry atop the trash sandwich.

Consider, however, how a victory this week in China against an A-list field would be viewed in historical context. A triumph would be his seventh Tour tilt and give him a victory in each of his first four seasons. It would also pave the way to the European Tour’s season-ending event in Dubai, which he is currently not qualified for, and set him up for a potential finish that could well change the conversation.

Currently tied for second and five strokes back at the HSBC, the Ulsterman could well manage a walk-off finish to ’13 and quiet the critics. That is if they are even still listening.

Ko-rect. LPGA commissioner Michael Whan wisely ended any speculation as to Lydia Ko’s future this week when the circuit announced it would waive its minimum age requirement and allow the 16-year-old to take up membership in 2014.

Ko turns 17 on April 24 and has already proven she is tour-tested, having won twice on the LPGA.

“We are looking forward to having Lydia as a full-time member for the 2014 season. It is not often that the LPGA welcomes a rookie who is already a back-to-back LPGA Tour champion,” Whan said in a statement on Monday.

Whan’s measured approach to waiving the age requirement is understandable, but as the game continues to trend younger and younger, officials must realize that, at least in the women’s game, 16 is the new 26.


Tweet of the week:

Note to self: Be sure to Trick or Treat in Peterson’s neighborhood next year.


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

China Syndrome. The independent contractors can play when and where they please, a truth that is unchanged even if said contractor is Tiger Woods. Yet the world No. 1’s absence from the HSBC field is a time-and-place head scratcher.

Woods has played the World Golf Championships event twice, in 2009 and ’10, but the event’s newfound status as an official Tour stop would have seemed to be a perfect time to give the HSBC another try.

He was in China on Monday after all for an 18-hole exhibition against McIlroy, and, according to media reports, he is scheduled to attend another outing in Asia before heading home.

“I do think that's something, from the Tour's point of view, that does need to be looked at,” Giles Morgan, global head of sponsorship and events for HSBC, told The Associated Press this week. “I'm not here to knock Tiger at all, because I feel that he's been absolutely instrumental in the growth. But we've reached a point where it's not about individuals. It's about growing the game of golf globally.”

Since the WGCs began in 1999, Woods has played in 41 of 44 championships and won 18 of them.

In short, he has been good to the global golf concept and they have given back in kind. Scheduling issues are understandable – Woods is playing next week’s European Tour event in Turkey – but if the stars didn’t align properly enough this week for him to play one has to question if they ever will?

Crime & punishment. News this week that the European Tour has convened a disciplinary hearing to address Simon Dyson’s disqualification from last week’s BMW Masters may be understandable.

What is not so clear are suggestions that Dyson could face a possible expulsion from the tour for tapping down a spike mark that was in his line.

While the violation was clear, and, according to European Tour officials, Dyson didn’t even remember doing it, the idea that he could be banned for life seems extreme considering there has been no suggestion that he habitually violates the rules.

Dyson’s punishment for his violation was a disqualification. For the circuit to consider more sanctions just seems like piling on.


Missed Cut

Hall call. Although news last month that the World Golf Hall of Fame was taking a year off to overhaul its induction system was encouraging, it is concerning that it came to such extreme measures.

Just ask David Graham. The two-time major champion, who is at home in Texas recovering from heart surgery, was recently inducted into the Texas Hall of Fame.

“It was really nice. They called me about a month ago and told me. It was a great honor,” Graham said. “It’s just not the Hall I was hoping (to be inducted into).”

Graham, like many of the game’s veterans, has waited patiently, hopefully to get the call from St. Augustine, Fla., that he would be enshrined, and he views the current overhaul as a sad episode in the Hall’s history.

“Clearly it has become a political Hall of Fame, and it’s a shame the powers have allowed that to happen,” Graham told Cut Line. “That place is supposed to be a shrine. It’s not supposed to be abused. It should never have gotten to where they need an announcement that they need to rethink the Hall of Fame. That’s a shame. I hope (PGA Tour commissioner Tim) Finchem considers the Hall of Fame an important part of his legacy.”