Cut Line: PGA task force step in right direction

Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods at the 2012 Ryder Cup at Medinah. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

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In this season-opening edition of Cut Line, the PGA of America embraces change for the Ryder Cup, Jarrod Lyle endears himself to even more fans and officials at the Frys.com Open err with a missing exemption.

Made Cut

Ryder Cup reclamation. As bad as the U.S. Ryder Cup team’s five-point loss at Gleneagles may have been there is a measure of solace to be drawn from that losing legacy.

Earlier this week it was revealed that the PGA of America is creating a task force to examine every inch of the Ryder Cup process, from how captains and players are selected to the schedule of events during the matches.

“Basically we are giving the task force a blank canvas on all things on the Ryder Cup to give the PGA some input,” PGA president Ted Bishop told GolfChannel.com. “The PGA is willing to take a step back and listen to some people that are involved in the process.”

The task force, which will be announced within the next week, will include former and current players, former captains and PGA officials; and numerous sources have indicated the blue-ribbon panel could include the likes of Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Paul Azinger.

If Gleneagles turns out to be rock bottom for the American side the silver lining will be it prompted some much needed change.

The survivor. Jarrod Lyle gave golf fans reason No. 326 to admire his persistence as well as his play.

Lyle returned to the PGA Tour this week following a second bout with leukemia thanks to a 6-under 66 at Monday’s qualifying event. The Australian birdied the second extra hole to earn his first PGA Tour start in 29 months.

“I was getting a little emotional on Tuesday just talking to guys on the range and thanking everyone for their support,” Lyle told GolfChannel.com. “Hopefully, I will be a little better than I was in Melbourne (where he made his competitive return at the Australian Masters late last year).”

That Lyle didn’t receive a sponsor exemption into the Frys.com Open defies logic (see Missed Cut below). That the man who has endured numerous bouts with chemotherapy and a bone-marrow transplant returned to the big leagues in competitive style is simply apropos.

Tweet of the week: @Oliver_Wilson “It’s starting to sink in that I actually won the Dunhill Links (Championship). Keep believing people, anything is possible.”

For Wilson, one of the game’s most likeable players, it may take some additional time to fully sink in that he finally found the winner’s circle. The Dunhill was his 181st start on the European Tour and his first victory on the circuit.


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (DMF)

Leaving the swoosh. News this week that Cindy Davis is stepping down as president of Nike Golf sent a ripple through the equipment sector.

Golf executives come and go, but Davis’ tenure at Nike Golf was all at once dynamic and deliberate.

During an interview with Davis earlier this year she explained the nuances of balancing growth with sustainability, and under the 52-year-old’s leadership Nike Golf has delivered profitable growth every year since 2009, according to Nike executives.

Davis was also the first female to take the helm of a major golf equipment company and led many initiatives at Nike Golf, most recently the high profile signing of Rory McIlroy to a multi-year endorsement contract.

But then bringing the world No. 1 into the swoosh fold may turn out to be low-hanging fruit compared with the void the iconic brand must now fill to replace Davis.

Tweet of the week II: @PaulAzinger “(Question for Ian Poulter) With (the Ryder Cup) only two years away, are you shaking in your skates at the prospect of losing RC 2016?”

Poulter’s response on Thursday’s “Morning Drive” was, “Bring it on.” We love ‘Zinger’s passion for the matches, but let’s not poke the bear just yet. Just ask Michael Jordan.


Missed Cut

Sponsor enigma. It is the most difficult job a tournament director may have and most players will concede that receiving a sponsor exemption is a luxury not a right.

But it’s hard not to Monday morning quarterback the decision by officials at this week’s Frys.com Open for not offering an exemption to Lyle, the feel-good story of the young season.

The two-time cancer survivor requested an exemption but was turned down. Instead, officials went with the likes of Andy Miller, who made his last Tour start in 2003 and is the son of tournament host Johnny Miller, for one of their exemptions.

For his part Lyle, who earned a spot in the field via Monday qualifying, took the high road.

“I know it’s just the way these things work,” Lyle said. “I would have loved to have got (an exemption) but I went and did the next best thing.”

There are a lot of reasons tournament directors dole out exemptions, but when Lyle’s journey, and the exposure it is sure to deliver, isn’t good enough to rate a spot in the field it may be time to take a new look at an old system.

Breaking bad. When Heath Slocum set out at 10:15 a.m. (ET) for Day 1 at the Frys.com Open it marked the end of an offseason that lasted exactly 24 days.

Yeah, it’s opening day ...

Of all the pieces that fell into place when the Tour transitioned to its split-calendar schedule last season, the absence of anything even close to a true offseason remains the square peg on the circuit’s board full of circular holes.

“It’s just so quick to restart after the Ryder Cup,” Matt Kuchar said this week. “It doesn’t feel like there’s any break. A one-week break is not a break.”

If absence makes fans’ hearts grow fonder then the Tour is in danger of running afoul of another cliché – familiarity could indeed breed contempt.