Cut Line: No excuse for O'Grady, Garcia comments

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In this week’s edition we remember the historic statement Annika Sorenstam made 10 years ago at Colonial, the metaphorical comments made by a handful of PGA Tour players against the ban on anchoring and the insensitive remarks of Sergio Garcia and European Tour chief George O’Grady.

Made Cut

Conviction. In retrospect, some 10 years down the line, the decision to extend a sponsor invitation to Annika Sorenstam has a “low hanging fruit” feel to it.

A decade removed from that historic week and the impact on the game is still immeasurable – as evidenced by young girls walking around Colonial this week sporting “Go Annika” buttons – but at the time the decision was not exactly a tap in.

“There was debate,” said Dee Finley, the Colonial’s tournament chairman at the time. “We talked about and expected some pushback . . . Players do have their opinions and we didn’t anticipate a large pushback but we were concerned. That was probably No. 1 on our concern list.”

There was player pushback, albeit muted and largely anonymous, but when Sorenstam opened with a 1-over 71 in front of record crowds, whatever second-thoughts Finley & Co. had faded into the Texas hills.

“I think Mr. (Ben) Hogan would have approved,” Finley said.

Taking a stance. Whether you agree with Tim Clark, Carl Pettersson and the other Tour members who have formed a coalition to possibly challenge the ban on anchoring or not, their decision to not go quietly should be applauded not argued.

A lawsuit, if it comes to that, would be at least partially motivated by self-preservation, but there is more to this than simply being able to ply your trade with what has been an accepted implement for the better part of three decades.

“It bothers me that guys that have no stake in the game decide how guys are going to make a living doing,” said Brian Harman, who is not part of the group that is represented by Boston attorney Harry Manion. “We have no say in the way that they make those rules. I don’t see how that’s fair.”

This isn’t about where the butt of a putter rests so much as it is where the power to rule the game resides. For centuries the USGA and R&A’s stewardship of the game has been unchallenged and for good reason. But that doesn’t mean that it might not be time to modernize the rule making process for a modern game.

Tweet(s) of the week: @Griffin_Flesch (Steve Flesch’s son) “Happy Birthday (Steve Flesch). Only four years until the Champions Tour!”

And dad’s response: “But who’s counting right? Thanks Pal. Now go practice!”

Kids say the darndest things.


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Bunker mentalities. Maybe there really was a genuine desire for dialogue, and maybe the pushback the USGA and R&A received from various corners had already been anticipated, analyzed and discarded; but the rule maker’s decision to press ahead with the ban on anchoring leaves some – most notably Clark & Co. – feeling disenfranchised.

The rule makers have proven to be exceptional caretakers of the game for centuries and USGA executive director Mike Davis deserves credit for his leadership, if not his convictions.

“If you’re in governance and do nothing because you’re scared of the ramifications, you shouldn’t be in governance,” Davis said this week.

Still, whether you agree with the ban on anchoring or not it’s hard to accept the idea that this is what’s best for the game right now.

Reluctant seniors. They are all independent contractors, regardless of age, but Corey Pavin and Tom Lehman’s decision to skip this week’s Senior PGA Championship, the Champions Tour’s first major of 2013, and play the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial is curious.

Both are past champions at Hogan’s Alley and consider the classic layout a place where they can still compete on the “big tour.”

“There was a thought process. It wasn’t a very long process,” said Pavin, who is making his 30th consecutive start in Fort Worth. “I love being here, and I would rather play here . . . I feel like I can compete on this golf course. It is one of the few on the Tour that I feel like I can, so that’s why I’m here.”

That both players are former U.S. Ryder Cup captains, which is run by the PGA of America, and have played well at the Senior PGA – Lehman won the event in 2010 and Pavin finished tied for eighth in 2011 – also complicates things.

Both players have earned the benefit of the doubt in their careers, but in this case it seems like the Senior PGA deserved a little more consideration.


Missed Cut

Ignorance. It seems American sensitivities on race and tolerance have been lost in translation somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean, but that doesn’t absolve Garcia or O’Grady.

Maybe Garcia didn’t know his racially insensitive comment about Tiger Woods at an awards dinner on Tuesday in London was offensive, but he should have. Ditto for O’Grady, who in an attempt to mitigate the damage caused by the Spaniard’s comments only made things worse.

“We accept all races on the European Tour, we take it very strongly; most of Sergio’s friends happen to be very, er, are colored athletes in the United States,” O’Grady told Sky Sports on Thursday.

Cut Line doesn’t want to hear from our foreign friends about being an insular American anymore.