Cut Line: Palmer celebrates and is honored


No PGA Tour cut this week, no Tour event, but no worries, Cut Line has you covered with the good (Arnold Palmer), the bad (Women’s British Open) and the ugly (FedEx Cup math).

Made Cut

The King. The same week he celebrated his 83rd birthday Arnold Palmer was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest honor given to civilians by Congress and the spry “King” didn’t miss a beat.

“I’m particularly proud of anything that the House and Senate agree on,” he smiled.

Perhaps the best part of the ceremony was during Jack Nicklaus’ speech when an emotional Golden Bear offered, “He’s a golf icon to the world – a good friend to me.”

Mel Brooks was right, it’s good to be the king.

One for the Mid-Ams. Nathan Smith won his fourth U.S. Mid-Amateur title Thursday at Conway Farms outside Chicago, beating Canadian hockey referee Garrett Rank, 1 up, in the final (seriously, we couldn’t make this up) and likely earning his fourth trip to the Masters.

Smith, 34, won his first Mid-Am in 2003 and followed with victories in ’09 and ’10. He’s also played on two U.S. Walker Cup teams.

We crossed paths with Smith two years ago at Augusta National following a particularly eventful 77 on Friday and asked if he was all right? “I tried on every single shot,” he beamed.

Note to U.S. Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III: if you’re looking for a possible alternate Smith wouldn’t be a bad option.

Tweet of the week: @KipHenley (PGA Tour caddie Kip Henley) “Slow play haters hate Ben Crane’s golf but if they could stand beside him for a day or two they would love his soul.”

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Weather warnings. Cut Line isn’t sure who should own this one, tournament organizers at the Women’s British Open or the United Kingdom weathermen who booted Friday’s forecast at Royal Liverpool, although in fairness to English meteorologists, weather predictions in the U.K. seem more of an art than a science.

Either way, those who marched out into winds that gusted to 60 mph early in Round 2 were thankful that officials halted play after an hour as conditions deteriorated and players struggled to keep golf balls from rolling off tees and greens.

Scores from the morning gale were eventually declared “ and void” and play was scheduled to restart on Saturday followed by a 36-hole Sunday.

“It would have been unfair to those competitors not to declare play and void and cancel all scores for the round,” said tournament director Susan Simpson.

Although wiping out the morning carnage seemed like the right thing to do, officials should expect armchair officiating on this one – cue Sergio Garcia on Line 1: “Why me, Sergio, why?”

Fall fortune and forlorn. One man’s missed opportunity is another’s good break. At least that would be the case with Jason Day and Aaron Baddeley, two of the Tour’s most consistent performers in recent years who struggled in the playoffs and failed to advance past the second round.

Normally both family men would use the fall to catch up on home time but because of their positions on various lists they will likely be headed back to work soon.

Day is currently 97th on the Tour money list with $918,000 and is likely assured a card in 2013 but indications are he will play the Open in October to assure his status.

While Baddeley, whose wife is due to have the couple’s third child the first week of December, is exempt next season via his 2011 Northern Trust Open victory, but at 47th in the world golf ranking would probably play in the fall to maintain his status inside the top 50.

All of which is not ideal for either player, but Fall Series tournament directors, who are always scrambling to improve their fields, aren’t going to complain.

Missed Cut

Unrealistic expectations. Instead of celebrating Rory McIlroy’s two-stroke victory at the BMW Championship or his third triumph in four Tour starts or his 3.2-point lead over No. 2 Tiger Woods in the world golf ranking some in the world press elected to use the occasion, and perhaps an ill-timed comment by the Ulsterman, to rekindle a debate over whether he will play for Ireland or Great Britain in the Olympics . . . that’s the 2016 Games.

The fervor of the debate reached such a crescendo that McIlroy felt compelled to release an “open letter” to explain his position via Twitter.

McIlroy will have to make a tough choice when the time comes, but until then we should simply enjoy the show on the course.

Resets. With his victory at the BMW Championship, the bookend triumph of a one-and-one playoff run that began with his Deutsche Bank Championship “W” just six days earlier, McIlroy moved 3,232 points clear of No. 2 Woods in the FedEx Cup points race.

But before the Ulsterman arrived for his guest spot on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” on Wednesday his lead had been narrowed to 250 points via the circuit’s pre-Tour Championship reset. The only good news for McIlroy is that the Tour’s mathematicians don’t have another “off” week to tinker with the FedEx formula.

The reset was designed to keep the Tour Championship from becoming a non-story like it was in 2007 when Vijay Singh won; but consider the stories that will be written if McIlroy – the consensus player of the year this season – doesn’t win the cup and the $10 million lottery ticket goes to, say, No. 25 Webb Simpson. Outlandish? Nope, last year’s cup was won by Bill Haas, who was 25th and winless for the season when he arrived at East Lake.