Cut Line: On rivalries, the King and team play


In this week’s Cut Line, Jordan Spieth and Jason Day prove that rivalry dreams really do come true, Arnold Palmer shows that he’s still the King and Europe demonstrates, again, that the United States still has room for improvement in team play.

Made Cut

Must see TV. In the four-hole stretch just after the turn on Thursday at Conway Farms, Jordan Spieth made a hole-in-one, chipped in for birdie and added another birdie to go 4 under par for the day at the BMW Championship.

During that same stretch, Jason Day – who was paired with Spieth and Rickie Fowler – holed out from a fairway bunker at the par-4 first for eagle and added two additional birdies to remain four strokes clear of Spieth.

“I'm enjoying it so much that I wish I could play another 18 holes today,” said Day, who finished his round of 61 on Friday morning. “These next few days are going to be exciting.”

The bad news: the PGA of America cancelled this year’s Grand Slam of Golf, which would have included Spieth, Day and Zach Johnson. The good news: Presidents Cup captains Jay Haas and Nick Price should already have penciled in a Spieth vs. Day singles match next month in Korea.

Still the King. On Monday, Arnold Palmer hosted 120 players at his course in Latrobe, Pa., to benefit his Champions for Arnold’s Kids foundation.

At 86 years old, Palmer is still the charismatic champion many grew up idolizing, greeting each player as they exited a chartered flight from central Florida, and lingering on the first tee long enough to tease his grandson Sam Saunders, who carded a 63 at the Latrobe Classic.

Asked what the Latrobe course record is, Palmer smiled, “It’s well below that [63].”

More than four decades after his last PGA Tour victory, Palmer continues to prove that he is still one of the game’s biggest draws.

Playing tough. At first blush, Saunders’ tie for fourth place last week at the Hotel Fitness Championship, the first of four Finals events on the Tour, is notable only because of his lineage, but it turns out some top-5 finishes are better than others.

Saunders, who failed to advance to the FedEx Cup Playoffs in his first year on the PGA Tour this season, fell while riding a Segway last month near his home in Colorado and was rushed to the hospital. He suffered a cracked skull in the fall and a hematoma.

After spending two nights in the intensive care unit, doctors released Saunders but advised the 28-year-old not to play the upcoming Tour Finals. With his job for next season on the line, however, he did play, and play well, last week.

“It was scary and I was a little out of it but otherwise I felt fine,” Saunders told Golf Channel.

Saunders will take this week’s Small Business Connection Championship off but plans to play the last two Finals events.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Spoiler alert. The Europeans are pretty good at golf.

That shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who has watched the United States drop six of the last seven Ryder Cup matches, or – more recently – the European grab a Day 1 lead at this week’s Solheim Cup.

Last week’s Walker Cup was another reminder that the ancient game wasn’t born in the United States and there is no preordained requirement that the Red, White and Blue dominate the modern version.

Although there are plenty of reasons why the U.S. has struggled in recent years to keep pace with the players across the pond, there is one simple fix that doesn’t require a task force to conjure up a solution – play better.

Tweet of the week.


Missed Cut

A half-empty cup. As compelling as this week’s Solheim Cup may be, there is no ignoring the missing . . . eh, elements in the room.

Not in the field this week in Germany are the world Nos. 1 and 2, Korea’s Inbee Park and New Zealand’s Lydia Ko, respectively.

It’s a geographic reality that isn’t a new problem, nor does there seem to be a straightforward fix considering that the men's Presidents Cup, now in it’s 21st year, is still searching for its own identity.

But that doesn’t change the fact that the LPGA has a problem when its top two players are watching one of its most high-profile events.