In a “dog days” edition of Cut Line, we savor Jordan Spieth’s historic Open victory, lament knee-jerk reactions to record scoring and look ahead to what the late-summer PGA Tour schedule could look like in coming years.
A golden week. By the time Jordan Spieth boarded his private jet bound for the U.S. it was the dawn of a new week that promised to bring new milestones.
On Sunday, Spieth won The Open in dramatic fashion with arguably the greatest bogey in major championship history on the 13th hole and three birdies and an eagle over his next four holes to secure the third leg of the career Grand Slam.
On Thursday, Spieth celebrated his 24th birthday in style, with a cake balanced atop the claret jug and an eye toward the future.
Most players would need some time to process the last five days, but Spieth’s intermission will be short lived. He gets back to work next week at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational – for what it’s worth, he’s never won a World Golf Championship – and he will arrive at next month’s PGA Championship with a chance to become the youngest player to ever complete the career slam.
As Ferris Bueller famously opined: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
Tweet of the week:
Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)
Rush to judgment. In the wake of another record scoring week at The Open that included Branden Grace’s 62 on Saturday at Royal Birkdale came a predictably misguided call to action.
One golf writer went so far as to argue that the only solution to out-of-control scoring is 9,000- to 10,000-yard golf courses, a solution that drew the ire of many fans and players.
More real estate is not the answer, as evidenced by Erin Hills at last month’s U.S. Open. Brooks Koepka scorched the 7,800-yard layout with a 16-under total and Justin Thomas’ 9-under 63 on Saturday is now the lowest score in relation to par at a men’s major.
Given the premise that golf’s ruling bodies are unable or uninterested in rolling back equipment, it’s not longer courses that will stem the scoring tide but more nuanced designs.
Consider Colonial, site of the Dean & DeLuca Invitational, currently ranks as the sixth-toughest layout on the Tour this season at 7,200 yards and featured just a single player, champion Kevin Kisner, double digits (10 under) under par.
If low scoring is an issue – and the massive crowds at both Royal Birkdale and Erin Hills suggest otherwise – better-designed courses, not a few hundred (or thousand) more yards, is the only realistic answer.
Change is coming. Although there’s still no official word on a potential schedule makeover that would see the PGA Championship moved to May and the Tour season end on Labor Day, all indications are it’s just a matter of time.
Considering the changing landscape it’s worth putting some of the potential alterations into context. The Tour’s regular season would likely end next week – with the PGA bumped up – and would be followed by four consecutive weeks of playoff events with the finale held the last week of August in Atlanta.
Last week’s Open would conclude the major championship season, which draws the most attention from your average golf fan. There would also need to be some form of contraction, although there would be room to possibly displace events after the Tour Championship with the wraparound schedule to make room for the earlier finish.
None of these changes are official yet, but for better or worse it may be time to officially start taking notice.
The Fighter. In late 2014 your scribe traveled to Australia to write a feature on Jarrod Lyle, the endearing giant who had beaten cancer not once but twice and was readying for his return to the Tour.
Over the course of a week with Lyle, his wife, Briony, and daughter, Lusi, the old clichés cropped up about keeping things in perspective and appreciating whatever came next, but it was a single comment from that time with Lyle that stood out.
“I want to give it [the Tour] one last chance and not have any regrets,” Lyle said of his impending comeback.
Lyle’s competitive fortunes didn’t turn out the way he’d hoped and he returned to Australia last fall, but remained upbeat and at ease with his choices.
This week Lyle confirmed via FaceBook that his leukemia had returned.
“Sadly it’s all 100 percent true, another cancer diagnosis. I’m determined to be positive through this (as much as I can) so here is my last moment before the chemo is hooked up. Could be one of my last pics with a ‘full’ head of hair!” he wrote.
Lyle’s plight is unimaginable and utterly unfair, but having watched his resolve to beat cancer the second time and return to the Tour, if anyone can do it a third time it’s Jarrod.