Cut Line: Paddy's Parade


There was nothing lucky about Irishman Padraig Harrington’s opening round at the Transitions Championship while John Daly continues to test the boundaries of charity in this week’s St. Patrick’s Day edition of Cut Line.

Faith and begorrah indeed.

Made Cut

St. Paddy’s Day. “It’s nice they named a day after me,” smiled Padraig Harrington, tongue firmly planted in cheek following his opening 61 at Innisbrook.

Harrington hasn’t had much to smile about recently, not that his pedestrian play has darkened the affable Irishman’s optimistic persona. Harrington’s slide from 14th in the World Golf Ranking two years ago to 90th has been less a free-fall and more of a slow decay, but throughout it all he never lost his perspective.

“I have no one else to blame but myself,” Harrington said following his career-low round Thursday. “It is a little frustrating, but I'm working, like everybody else, working to keep a good attitude and be patient and let it happen and look at the positives.”

Compared to driving the snakes out of Ireland, a victory this week for Harrington wouldn’t exactly be parade worthy, but since the Guinness is already flowing it would definitely be worth extending the weekend just in case.

Location, location, location. It’s the golden rule of real estate and, to an even greater extent, hosting PGA Tour events.

Consider sleepy Innisbrook resort, a stop on the circuit that former tournament director Gerald Goodman once described as, “I’m the redneck between a king (Arnold Palmer Invitational) and a bear (Honda Classic which benefits a Jack Nicklaus charity).

But what the Transitions lacks in curb appeal it makes up for with one of the most underrated golf courses on Tour. In a recent Golf Digest poll of Tour players the Copperhead course ranked ninth, the only Florida layout in the top 10 and two spots ahead of TPC Sawgrass.

Proof of Innisbrook’s subtle draw can be found in the World Ranking math. After the World Golf Championships, the Transitions has the second-deepest field on Tour this year behind the Northern Trust Open. For every tournament director who has ever asked how they can improve the quality of their fields, Innisbrook is the answer.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

An ace to agonize over. As soon as the golf ball left the face of Paul Casey’s 8-iron his face twisted into a distorted gaze, “Oh no, not now,” he mumbled.

Just moments before Casey had made a deal with his caddie, the “Wee Man” Craig Connelly, that since they were so far out of the hunt at the WGC-Cadillac Championship they might as well play for something.

“Whatever I win I’ll split with you,” said Casey prior to his tee shot at the par-3 15th hole, which he aced. “I’ve never wanted to not make a hole-in-one so bad in my entire life.”

As Connelly began celebrating his good fortune, and thinking of how he was going to split a Cadillac with his boss, a volunteer informed both player and caddie that the “win a Cadillac” hole was No. 13, not the 15th hole.

“Gutted,” grinned Connelly, who refused to even walk to the 15th green as his boss happily plucked his golf ball out of the hole.

When less is more. Much has been made of Tiger Woods’ early exit last Sunday from Doral and the subsequent news that he’d suffered a mild strain of his left Achilles tendon that may keep him out of next week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational.

The old Woods, the guy who won a U.S. Open on one leg, would never have tapped out with even the slightest chance he could win, but then the old guy didn’t have much use for the long view. Thankfully, the new guy is proving to be more prudent, with an eye toward the majors and protecting his often-injured left leg.

The fishbowl of Woods’ existence has little room for the benefit of the doubt, but it seems the public’s expectations become more unrealistic with each episode.

“I just don’t understand how people have forgotten so quickly that in 13 years he won 14 majors and 80 times,” swing coach Sean Foley told Golf Channel’s “Morning Drive” crew on Friday.

“He very well may know what he’s doing . . . This is one of the greatest players that has ever lived but we’re in a time of growth. It may not look like that to people but that’s what it is.”

World order. On Wednesday Luke Donald met with a group of reporters at the Transitions Championship to answer the obligatory World Golf Ranking questions. With a victory this week at Innisbrook, No. 2 Donald will unseat No. 1 Rory McIlroy atop the ranking.

Shortly after Donald’s Q&A, McIlroy had dinner at the White House and huddled with President Barack Obama to talk swing theory, NCAA basketball and world peace, although not necessarily in that order.

Maybe Woods had it right, second does suck.

Tweet of the week: @SamSaunders87 (Sam Saunders) “(Andres Gonzales) I have heard we are playing golf together (on Friday). Dreams do come true I guess.”

And we guess that when your grandfather is Arnold Palmer the term “dream foursome” requires a subjective amount of creativity.

Missed Cut

Daly dose. When John Daly pumped his supply of golf balls into a lake adjacent the Lakes Course’s 10th hole during the opening round of last year’s Australian Open, his lifetime supply of sponsor exemptions should have gone into the murky depths as well.

“I'm extremely bitter and disappointed that he's treated this championship this way. It's become a bit of a habit,” said Trevor Herden, the Australian Open’s tournament director. “It's unacceptable and I certainly hope that all of the tours deal with it in the appropriate manner this time.”

For Transitions Championship officials the “appropriate manner” was yet another sponsor exemption for a player who has no right to expect such charity. For the record, in six starts at Innisbrook Daly has missed three cuts, withdrawn twice, signed for six scores north of 73 and has never finished better than 55th.

Yet he still gets a freebie while local standout Ted Potter Jr., who actually has a Tour card and a promising career ahead of him, sits at home in Ocala. Whoever said you have one chance to make a good first impression never met JD.