Cut Line: Pros face political and social fire

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In this week’s eclectic edition, we cover presidential politics, pace of play and Pat Perez’s quest for context.

Made Cut

Executive privilege. Ernie Els was descending the hill from Riviera Country Club’s first tee last week when a fan shouted, ‘Yeah Ernie, Trump.”

Els, slump shouldered, dismissed the fan with a wave and without looking back. It was a tough week for the Big Easy, who missed the cut in Los Angeles and endured a surprising amount of slings and arrows on social media following a round of golf with President Donald Trump.

Rory McIlroy has experienced similar push back after he played a round with the POTUS recently. What those detractors seem to be missing is the apolitical realities of playing golf with the leader of the free world.

The New York Times anonymously polled players last week in Los Angeles, with 50 of 56 saying they would accept an invitation to play golf with President Trump.

“If it was Barack Obama, I would have played. If it was Hillary Clinton, I would have played,” Els told the New York Times.

For most Tour pros, playing golf with the president isn’t some tacit approval of his politics, it’s a respectful appreciation for the office – nothing more, nothing less.

Tweet of the week: ‏

The former U.S. Navy lieutenant has made headlines for a lot of reasons lately, primarily his emotional open letter to his late father, but it’s still his service that we respect the most.


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Setting the pace. In a conference call this week R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers announced that this year’s British Amateur will feature “ready golf” as a way of speeding up play.

“Pace of play is something that we’ve been talking about extensively in the last 12 months,” Slumbers said. “The more evidence that I’ve seen this year, the more I’m going to continue talking about it because I think it is increasingly important to the development of the game.”

Slumbers also said this week that tour professionals are “role models,” including their pace of play that sets a bad example for young amateurs, which is certainly a fair assessment. Given that influence, however, why wouldn’t the R&A make the same “ready golf” move for The Open?

Tweet of the week II:

Funny and refreshingly self-deprecating moment for the Tour rookie particularly after finishing tied for 17th last week at Genesis Open.


Missed Cut

Florida Snag. There was a time when the PGA Tour event at Doral in South Florida was considered the unofficial start of the season, but that World Golf Championship has moved to Mexico City and for the first time since 1965 the circuit won’t have more than three events in its early-season swing through the Sunshine State.

The move away from Doral lightly impacted this week’s field at the Honda Classic, but the real damage will probably be felt later this month at the Valspar Championship in Palm Harbor, Fla.

The Valspar Championship is now wedged between an international WGC and the Arnold Palmer Invitational, which is certain to draw a solid following the passing of Palmer last year.

The folks in Tampa have worked hard to make their event relevant during a tough stretch on the schedule, but the new Florida “swing” is starting to feel more like a slap.

Context is king. It is curious that his comments regarding Tiger Woods’ future have created so much controversy, because we have heard Pat Perez offer much edgier opinions on other topics.

But any time Woods is involved sensitivities are heightened, and Perez’s take on where Tiger goes from here set social media abuzz.

“Personally, I don’t think you’ll see him again this year. I think he’s out. The only thing he’s going to care about is Augusta. ... It’s not like he’s got his favorite major courses after Augusta,” Perez said during his monthly Sirius/XM show “Out of Bounds.” “I’m telling you, I don’t think you’re going to see this guy again. The guy can’t show up to an interview [in Los Angeles]. You think he thinks he can beat somebody? The guy can’t stand during an interview.”

Perez has never been shy with his opinion, but context is required here. Essentially, Perez’s thoughts were an extension of what he said earlier this year in Maui when the conversation turned to Woods.

“I hope he plays well, I’ve known the guy my whole life and he’s made us a lot of money,” he said at the Tournament of Champions. “What I don’t want to see is him struggle, because he won’t do it long. If he plays all five tournaments and misses all five cuts you won’t see him again. That’s just not in him.”

Maybe Perez isn’t your brand of vodka, but he deserves to have his comments taken in context.