Cut Line On the Right Track


The last time Tiger Woods returned to golf after an emotional hiatus following the death of his father at the 2006 U.S. Open he missed the cut. How things go next month at Augusta National remain to be seen, but given his earlier-than-anticipated announcement this week “Cut Line” is going to give him the competitive benefit of the doubt.

Made Cut

Tiger Woods. Opinions vary on whether the embattled world No. 1 is a new man following months of seclusion and therapy. The jury is still out on that. But if there is a 12-step re-entry process Tuesday’s initial step is encouraging for no other reason than it removed more question marks than it added.

That he announced “Return 2010” more than three weeks before he takes the field at Augusta National is a dramatic coloring outside the lines for Woods, and that he seems to have made a competitive sacrifice for logistical and practical reasons indicates damage control is almost as much a priority as golf ball control.

“I would imagine he's going to be a little rusty. He has not played a round of golf since November I think. Doesn't matter who you are. You are going to be competitively, you know, under the gun. You're going to be a little bit rusty,” Steve Stricker said.

For a star who has lost a healthy amount of luster in recent months, a little competitive rust may be a welcome reprieve.

Ben Crenshaw/Pinehurst. In the ego-driven business of golf course design it was refreshing last week to read Gentle Ben’s take on the tweaks he has planned for venerable Pinehurst No. 2.

Crenshaw, alongside design partner Bill Coore, were hired to nip/tuck the southern gem, but in an encouraging interview last week it was clear that when it comes to No. 2 less is more.

“The course is still there, it’s a museum piece,” Crenshaw told the Fayetteville Observer. “It’s a lot of golfers’ favorite course in the United States. It’s always been known as a wonderful strategic test of golf.”

Crenshaw, perhaps more than any of his fraternity brothers, understands that Donald Ross made tinkering an art form at No. 2, it’s why he lived there almost until the time of his death in 1948. Modern amenities are fine, but too much gloss can turn any “Mona Lisa” into “Dogs Playing Poker.”

South Carolina legislature. State politicos voted Wednesday to keep a measure in the budget that would allow for a $10 million loan to Beaufort County if the Tour is unable to find a replacement sponsor for the 2011 Heritage on Hilton Head Island.

There have been plenty down economy victims on the Tour schedule, the Buick Open being the most recent loss, but the Heritage has been a Lowcountry staple since 1969 and is one of the circuit’s best tournaments, to say nothing of one of the most-appreciated golf courses.

In honor of two-time Heritage champion Boo Weekley, may we suggest the Bass Pro Shops Heritage.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

“Random tee times.” Padraig Harrington is one of the most thoughtful, and entertaining, interviews in the game and to hear the Irishman speak last week it was little surprise he jumped at the chance to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day at the White House on Wednesday.

It is the shenanigans of the Tour leprechauns we are not keen with. At Doral last week Harrington said he’d take the chance of getting an afternoon first-round tee time for the opportunity to meet President Obama, who he presented with a set of golf clubs.

By luck, or design, Harrington ended up with a p.m. spot on the tee sheet. Fortunate? Sure, but Irish luck only goes so far. That Harrington is leading only makes it that much harder to stomach on a Tour that has always played by one set of rules.

As for Harrington “CL” has just one question, is there a Guinness tap in the Oval Office?

Micro-economics. As expected Computer Associates walked away from its spot in the World Golf Championships rotation after last week’s reported $12M bash at Doral.

Cut Line is hardly on texting terms with Warren Buffett, truth be told we’re grinding these days trying to turn our 201k into a 401k, but given the current economic headwinds and a tournament that was largely overshadowed by who was not there (Woods), why didn’t the Tour consider a “blue light” special for a sponsor that has gone the distance since 2007?

If there are Fortune 500 companies lined up to sign $12 million annual checks for an event without a Wednesday pro-am, great. If not, how about a little discount selling to get things moving again? Maybe a “buy two WGCs, get the third one half price” action?

Tweet of the week. @DanJenkins (Golf Digest columnist Dan Jenkins) “Tiger Watch. Masters field votes to give Tiger victory, focus attention on next tournament.”

A tad cynical, but funny.

Missed Cut

Tim Finchem. Less than 24 hours before Woods came out of the self-imposed woods, the commish said, “Tiger has indicated to us that he will give us reasonable notice, because we know we have got some preparation to do. I don't have the specific date when he’s going to come back.”

Although the Masters is run by Augusta National, not the Tour, it would seem either the commish is woefully out of the TW loop, a frightening thought, or he wasn’t completely forthcoming, an even more frightening thought. You choose.

John Daly. Just when we thought we’d heard the last of the big man for a few news cycles we get a link to Daly’s newest business venture,

The pies are being marketed to golf tournaments and existing restaurants. The line comes with a variety of promotional material and posters as well as a new slogan, “Grip it & Eat it.”

What’s next?, “Grip it & Snip it.”