Cut Line: Players continue to bypass Byron Nelson


In this week’s post-Players edition, Cut Line revisits a ruling that was anything but rosy, a big dilemma in Big D and Martin Kaymer’s “brave” comeback.

Made Cut

True champions. One of the more interesting facets of getting into the field at next week’s Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial is a little-known exemption for two players based on a vote by former champions and this year the balloting was particularly interesting.

One spot went to Kevin Tway, the son of PGA Tour veteran Bob and a current member of the circuit. Easy choice.

Turns out, the second pick, Jeff Curl, was an even easier choice for the former champions.

Curl, who is playing the Tour this year on conditional status, is the son of Rod Curl, who beat Jack Nicklaus to win the 1974 Colonial. Rod Curl approached tournament organizers about getting his son an exemption and lobbied many of the former champions on his son’s behalf.

The younger Curl received more than 30 votes to earn a spot in the field. According to a Colonial official, that’s “unheard of.” For example, if a player gets 15 votes from the former champions he historically has easily earned a spot in the field.

Nice to see democracy alive and well on the Tour.

Brave golf. From the abyss of the last two years and an hour-and-a-half icing that nearly cost him his comeback championship on Sunday, Martin Kaymer moved back among the world’s best with his victory at The Players.

The German had swooned from first in the Official World Golf Ranking to 61st as a result of swing changes and injury and maybe even indifference. We knew Kaymer was a talented player, but at TPC Sawgrass he proved he’s also resilient, winning for the first time anywhere in the world in 17 months.

Even more surprising is what wrested Kaymer off the competitive trash heap.

“You need to hit brave shots,” he announced after Thursday’s course-record tying 63. “Even if you screw up once in a while, it's okay, everybody does that once in a while, but at least you play brave, and that's good playing and that's not playing like a wimp, just trying to get it over with.”

Brave, indeed.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Great Scott. In a good news/bad news deal, Adam Scott will climb to No. 1 in the rankings from his couch this week.

Kudos to the Australian for playing well enough to move into such a lofty position, but shame on the world ranking for allowing it to happen in such an anticlimactic fashion.

It’s happened before, 11 times actually, and perhaps it’s inevitable in the imperfect world of professional golf, but that doesn’t make it any easier to stomach.

“The rankings are an imperfect science that have a reasonably good result and relative comparative competitive assessment. They do a reasonably good job,” Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said last week.

If that doesn’t sound like a ringing endorsement, it’s because it’s not.

Rose and rulings. Most observers agree that the PGA Tour got it right, that Justin Rose should have been absolved of any wrongdoing last Saturday when his ball moved while playing his third shot from behind the 18th green at TPC Sawgrass.

The new high-definition ruling that was implemented last year may as well have included a pixelated image of the Englishman’s golf ball, reading,  “The ball will not be deemed to have moved if that movement was not reasonably discernible to the naked eye at the time.”

What stings is that it took the Tour more than 12 hours to get the ruling correct and it still didn’t seem to have a good handle on what will become a litmus test for future rulings.

“If it's discernible to the player that it wasn't discernible to the naked eye, I mean, we determined that that's the only way we would have known, through sophisticated technology,” said Mark Russell, the Tour’s vice president of rules and competition.

Nor did Russell seem to have a good handle on the exact definition of “sophisticated equipment.” In Rose’s case, officials got it right. Unfortunately, golf’s already confusing rules seemed to have become even more perplexing.

Tweet of the week:


In related news, officials at next week’s Crowne Plaza Invitational will allow caddies into the clubhouse during the tournament and that building is about a third of the size of the sprawling monument at TPC Sawgrass.

Missed Cut

Half Nelson. A short-term memory is a key attribute for any Tour player, but when it comes to this week’s Byron Nelson Championship it seems the rank and file have forgotten far too much.

It is a sad testament to today’s Tour pros that since Nelson died in 2006 the quality of the field that still carries his name has become progressively weaker.

The winner of this week’s event in Dallas will earn 44 world ranking points, compared to the 56 points that Matt Every won in March at the Arnold Palmer Invitational or Matt Kuchar’s 70 points for winning last year’s Memorial.

The Nelson is clearly the distant third major in the Legends Slam category, and that’s not right.

Un-matched. According to various sources, the future of the WGC-Match Play Championship is more uncertain now than it was in February when Jason Day outlasted Victor Dubuisson at Dove Mountain.

Tour officials told a group of player managers last week at The Players that the format is likely to change, with a move to 36 or 54 holes of stroke play qualifying leading into a weekend of match play.

Nor does there seem to be much room on the 2014-15 schedule for pro golf’s version of March madness. The first open date next season isn’t until the week after The Players. Of course, that is if the Tour can land a new title sponsor.