Cut Line: Amid turmoil, McIlroy seeks consistency


DUBLIN, Ohio – At a place that is known for its inclement weather, it’s apropos that Rory McIlroy seems to have weathered various storms in recent months and is ready to move on with his stellar career, while changes to the Tour Finals promise to bring more headwinds to the new qualifying system.

Made Cut

Changing the conversation. It wasn’t the Friday he expected.

Bogey, birdie, double bogey, double bogey, double bogey, bogey. When Rory McIlroy turned on Friday at the Memorial it all added up to a 43, the fourth consecutive event he’s shot 40 or worse over nine holes, but considering the path the Ulsterman has been on the last two weeks, he chose the high road.

“It’s not disastrous,” he said after a second-round 78 left him inside the top 25. “I’m still hitting a lot of good shots.”

All things considered, McIlroy was content to consider this most recent valley an opportunity, not an obstacle.

On the eve of last week’s BMW PGA Championship, he announced he’d broken off his engagement to tennis star Caroline Wozniacki. Four days later he was hoisting the trophy at the European Tour’s flagship event for his first victory of 2014.

As if all that wasn’t enough to deal with, McIlroy injured his left knee during Thursday’s first round at the Memorial and has spent much of the week limping around Muirfield Village. Actually, he continues to say he “twerked” his knee. He really needs to Google that.

Jaime Diaz. During an age of increasingly blurred lines between journalism and uninformed vitriol from every corner of the blogosphere it was a rare moment to savor on Wednesday at Muirfield Village.

Diaz, the editor-in-chief for Golf World magazine, was honored this week as the 2014 Memorial Journalism Award winner for a career that started in 1989 at Golf Digest and included stops at The New York Times and Sports Illustrated.

“Jaime and I have worked together many times over the years,” Nicklaus said in his address to a large crowd gathered for the ceremony. “The respect I have for Jaime transcends his ability as a writer. He has always been someone I trust and I think he has the best interests of the game in mind.”

Amid the den of the modern media buzz, Diaz, like Nicklaus did on the golf course, still transcends the noise and nonsense with class and creativity.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Left wondering. With the countdown to Pinehurst winding down, this week’s Memorial is a crucial litmus test for Phil Mickelson, who is mired in arguably the worst slump of his career.

“I do feel after the last 10 days of practice that my game is sharper than it has been all year,” Mickelson said Wednesday. “If I don't have the results, I've got to look at something else.”

After a fast start Thursday, Lefty stumbled home, playing his final three holes in 5 over par for a 72. On Friday, Mickelson balanced three bogeys against five birdies to easily make the cut but was still looking for answers as he headed into the weekend.

Mickelson still has two weeks to figure things out in time for Pinehurst, but as baseball great Yogi Berra once opined, “It’s getting late early.”

Unintended consequences. Of all the elements that went into the decision to ban anchoring last year, it seems clear the U.S. Golf Association and Royal & Ancient never considered how the implementation of the rule change would impact those on the ground.

Consider that for Keegan Bradley, who became the first player to win a major championship (2011 PGA Championship) using an anchored putter, the January 2016 anchoring ban deadline has loomed large for more than a year.

“It weights on your mind. You’ve got almost like a ticking clock in your head,” he said Thursday at the Memorial, where he made the transition to a non-anchored putter.

But he also knew the move would draw plenty of unwanted attention, so when he decided to go with a non-anchored putter he tried to keep it “under the radar.” A first-round 67, however, nixed those plans and he spent Thursday afternoon answering questions he’d hoped to avoid.

“The negatives are just simple; mentally I’m aware that people are watching me,” Bradley said. “That’s the hardest part.”

From 30,000 feet, the USGA and R&A’s decision was easy, clinical even. But down in the weeds things will be much more complicated.

Missed Cut

Qualified confusion. Let’s call this the wrong execution of the right idea. Tour officials told players Thursday it was revamping the four-event Finals just one year into the experiment. The goal of the changes is to shift more importance back to regular-season performance, but the result will be even more confusion at the new PGA Tour qualifying events.

The move also left players confused about the Tour’s intentions. Numerous players told Cut Line they had been informed by officials just two weeks ago there would be no changes to this year’s Tour Finals.

There is also the issue that the Tour deviated from the model that was approved by the Tour player advisory council, according to one member of the PAC; and the fact that the change comes 10 events into a 21-event regular season.

To put that in context, imagine the NBA announcing midway through the regular season that the format for the playoffs would now be a best-of-nine series.

Tweet of the week: This week’s tweet is actually an avatar change by Wozniacki (@CaroWozniacki). She switched to a picture of herself dressed as a witch and stirring a pot.

Draw your own conclusions. #WitchyWoman?

Daly dose. Just when we thought John Daly no longer had the ability of shock and awe, he brings another showstopper.

In an interview this week with Yahoo!, Daly said he has lost an estimated $55 million to $57 million gambling during his eventful life.

“I had a lot of fun doing it,” he said in the interview.

To put that number in context, his losses add up to an average hit of $110,000 for every Tour event Long John has played in his career.