Cut Line New Eras Old Errors


A new era kicked off this week in China (new No. 1), Hawaii (new sponsor at Kapalua) and San Francisco (new management at Harding Park), but “Cut Line” couldn’t help but be baffled by more rules errors.

Made Cut

Lee Westwood. You may not like the math or the method by which the Englishman scaled the World Golf Ranking, but you can’t dismiss the man.

If Westwood’s curious climb doesn’t move you, an ascent that was complicated by an injury that saw him pass Tiger Woods for the top spot from the DL, the journey is certainly noteworthy. Mired in an inexplicable slump, Westwood plummeted to 266th in the ranking seven years ago and trailed Woods by more than 10 average ranking points at this time last year (16.17 to 5.92).

It’s a shame the PGA Tour nixed the Comeback Player of the Year award, and that Westwood isn’t a circuit member, because the Englishman’s climb back would have likely retired the trophy for good.

Erik Compton. It is fall which means the two-time heart transplant recipient is doing what he does best – beating the odds.

Compton cruised out of the first stage of Tour Q-School last week, carding rounds of 66-69-70-70 to tie for fourth place, and is scheduled to play second stage later this month in north Florida. Although he’s made it to final stage just once, the motivational magician is confident with his game, and his health.

“I’m geared up for this time of year,” he said.

In journalism school the professors were clear on this, root for the story not the player. With Compton it’s often a tough distinction to make.

Tweet of the week: @McIlroyRory “And the winner is (European Caddie of the Year) . . . @Graeme_McDowell’s caddie Ken Comboy.” Almost as good as his man’s U.S. Open trophy. Almost.
Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Hyundai Tournament of Champions. The car maker stepped in to give the season-opener some breathing room this week, penning a sponsorship deal through at least 2013, and Mark Rolfing, the new host of the event and a Maui native, has energized the proceedings.

Whether the makeover can save the Hawaiian swing is now up to the top of the marquee. Neither Tiger Woods, who has not qualified for the winners-only tournament yet, nor Phil Mickelson have played Kapalua since 2005 and the event has felt more like spring training than opening day the last few years.

But it hasn’t been the sponsor or the name that has kept the elite away, it’s been the fierce Kona winds. And there’s not much Rolfing or Hyundai can do to change that.

TPC Harding Park. Or whatever the new corporate copyright that was hung on the San Fran gem last week.

Fine, the move will likely improve conditioning at the facility and assure the PGA Tour returns, in some form or fashion, to the storied muni on a regular basis, but “Cut Line” can’t resist the urge to shower off the latest branding bath.

What’s next? TPC Congressional? TPC Bethpage Black? TPC Blue Monster at Doral? Oh wait, scratch that.
Missed Cut

Turning Stone Resort. The popular fall stop will be missed yet the temperature of the fallout suggests it may have been inevitable.

The Tour doesn’t do ultimatums (See Martin, Casey), particularly when they are delivered at the point of a bayonet, to pinch a line from former Augusta National chairman Hootie Johnson.

According to numerous reports, Turning Stone Resort CEO Ray Halbritter – the same executive who gave himself a sponsor exemption into his own event this year before widespread criticism prompted him withdraw – told the Tour he wanted a stand-alone date in either June, July or August and either two weeks before or after a major.

Luckily for the folks at Augusta National we can only surmise that Halbritter didn’t like the weather in upstate New York the first week of April.

U.S. Golf Association. It has been among major championship golf’s greatest mysteries ever since Tiger Woods limped to the stage to hoist the 2008 U.S. Open trophy that Torrey Pines wasn’t immediately penciled in as a once-a-decade stop for the national championship.

Even more concerning was a report last week in the San Diego Union-Tribune that the USGA is in no apparent hurry to lock the SoCal layout into a regular spot in the national championship rotation.

“We’re not going to sit around waiting for a call to go to the prom,” Tom Wornham, the former president of the Century Club who now is the co-chair, told the Union-Tribune.

You may not like the architectural significance of the South Course, or the thought of back-to-back West Coast Opens, Pebble Beach is scheduled to host the 2019 championship, but if the ’08 event wasn’t enough to justify a return trip to Torrey Pines your standards are too high.

Rules snafus. First there was Dustin Johnson, who didn’t read Whistling Straits’ local rules sheet and gave us “Glory’s Last Shame,' and now Ryuji Imada and Nick Faldo take self-inflicted pain to a new level.

Imada was penalized 26 strokes for 13 violations of a local rule at last week’s Mission Hills Star Trophy and Faldo was disqualified for picking up his ball after missing a putt during the pro-am.

Two quick questions, when did “putting out” become optional and local rules sheets become junk mail?