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Cut Line: Pepper no holds barred post-Solheim

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For those still digesting the major championship season, to say nothing of last week’s Solheim Cup, get over it. The split-calendar has spoken and it’s time to move on to the playoffs and qualifying for next season. The dog days have never been so eventful.

Made Cut

Jordan rules. For all the handwringing over the new PGA Tour qualifying system (see Tweet of the week), Jordan Spieth has proven that all the tinkering and “closed shop” claims can still be overcome with stellar play.

Spieth began the season with no status of any kind, played his way into special temporary status with consecutive top-10 finishes in Puerto Rico and Tampa, and secured his Tour status with his playoff victory over Zach Johnson at the John Deere Classic.

Last week’s playoff loss to Patrick Reed at the Wyndham Championship likely exempted him all the way through to the Tour Championship and into a possible Presidents Cup spot.

Not every up-and-coming player can count on sponsor exemptions (he played Puerto Rico on an invitation), but regardless of the small print Jordan proved that a talented and determined player can still find his way.

More Pepper. A game that doesn’t always value an honest take will probably not be kind to Dottie Pepper following her post-game comments regarding last week’s Solheim Cup matches, but if the U.S. side is serious about making a game of it in two years they may want to keep the assistant captain’s number handy.

Pepper weighed in on the litany of rulings throughout the week at Colorado Golf Club and how long it took officials to act (25 minutes on Friday to make an incorrect ruling, for those scoring at home).

“The U.S. golfers handled the news of the error, which (U.S. captain Meg Mallon) and I delivered to them late that night, like champions, and they moved forward into Saturday as asked. But the damage had been done, mostly to the reputation of the competition's integrity,” she said on ESPN.com.

Pepper also addressed the general vibe of the event that seems to have drifted too far from its competitive core at the exact time it is gaining relevance thanks to Europe’s inspired play in the last two matches.

“It wasn't about participation medals, face paint, hair ribbons, spousal gown allowances, decorated hotel rooms, custom rain suits and ‘inside the ropes’ badges ... it was about pouring your heart and soul into something you got no material benefit from,” she said.

Where some see sour grapes, we see the fighting spirit of the American side who should get her turn in the captain’s chair.


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

He’s had his Phil. That Phil Mickelson announced last week he would skip this year’s PGA Grand Slam of Golf, to be held Oct. 14-16 in Bermuda, was hardly breaking news.

Lefty said he will skip the event because of a scheduling conflict and was replaced by Padraig Harrington. That the Grand Slam is played two weeks before the WGC-HSBC Champions in China – which Mickelson has played three out of the last four years and will, for the first time, be an official Tour event – may also factor into this.

But in Mickelson’s defense, he is hardly the only major champion to give the Grand Slam the slip. Just twice since the event moved to the fall and Bermuda in 2008 have all four of that season’s major champions played.

Not sure if it’s the purse – the winner’s share of $600,000 would be the second-lowest among regular Tour events – or location, but if 600 large and all the “Dark ’n Stormys” you can drink isn’t worth the flight to Bermuda then we don’t know what is. 

Room with a view. By most accounts, the nip/tuck of Liberty National is an upgrade over the 2009 version which was widely panned by players, and the ubiquitous views of lower Manhattan make this week’s Barclays a must-see event.

Still, Cut Line would like to see The Barclays – and the BMW Championship, for that matter – consider a more creative rotation of golf courses. Imagine a Barclays’ lineup that included Plainfield, Ridgewood, Baltusrol and Westchester ... to name few.

Ditto for the BMW, with a Chicago-land rotation that could feature Chicago Golf Club, Skokie, Olympia Fields and Shoreacres.

A guy can dream, can’t he?


Missed Cut

Tweet of the week: @KyleThompsonPGA “Amazed that our tour still charges over $4,000 for Web.com qualifying. Complete rip off.”

The common lament in professional circles when it comes to Q-School and diminished status is “play better,” but Thompson’s take goes well beyond self-preservation.

The introduction of the Tour’s new qualifying system means that for those players who did not finish inside the top 75 on the Web.com Tour money list, or between 126th and 200th in PGA Tour earnings, their big league dreams will likely have to wait for at least one year.

Consider the plight of Zack Sucher, who played his way into special temporary status on the Web.com Tour via Monday qualifying this season. He is the current “bubble boy” at No. 76 and seems likely to stay that way after an opening 76 at this week’s Cox Classic, the final regular-season event.

Sucher is currently $126 behind No. 75 Michael Connell and a spot in the four-event finals, which will dole out the reminder of next year’s PGA Tour cards. That’s $126 away from playing for a Tour card or paying $4,000 (the Q-School fee for an application that is turned in by Sept. 11) to simply improve their 2014 status on the secondary circuit (Nos. 76-100 on the regular-season money list are already conditionally exempt).

“You have one bad year and it feels like they throw you out on your butt,” said one Web.com Tour player.

The qualifying system has changed, whether that overhaul is for the better or not is to be determined, but the cost of Q-School has not. Seems $4,000 doesn’t buy what it used to.

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