Cut Line: Rumor has it


It was a tough week for anyone with a long putter in the bag, be they professionals or amateurs, deep-pocketed sponsors of World Golf Championships and PGA Tour types who hope to play more than a half dozen times next year. Who says the Tour doesn’t have a “hot stove” season?

Made Cut

To sue, or not to sue. Although it’s not exactly clear what type of action Keegan Bradley would take, the emotional core of this year’s U.S. Ryder Cup team seemed to suggest that any action the U.S. Golf Association and Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews would take against long putters, and specifically anchoring, would be met by some sort of challenge.

“I’m going to do whatever I have to do to protect myself and the other players on Tour,” Bradley told Golf Channel contributor Alex Miceli.

While it doesn’t seem likely a legal challenge would be very successful, Bradley’s push back seemed to spark a larger debate. Would banning anchoring, and by definition long putters, have an impact on the larger game, just not the 1 percent who play for pay?

“They've got to look beyond professional golf,” Adam Scott told Sports Illustrated. “The governing bodies don't run the Tour; they run golf. Some recreational golfers can't play the game without a long putter. I think that would be a shame if they're going to take people away from the game. I'm sure that's not their intention, but it'll be interesting to see what they come up with.”

In July, USGA executive director Mike Davis told Cut Line the ruling bodies were concerned that the long putter was becoming the norm at all levels, and that seems to be the motivation for what appears to be an impending ban. Tour players will adjust, they always do. But as Scott pointed out, it remains to be seen how the other 99 percent are impacted.

Tweet of the Week. @xHandedbandit (Josh Broadaway, who plays every shot cross-handed) “Blake Shelton winning (CMA) entertainer of the year is like me winning regular grip of the year! Give me a break! This is rigged, has to be.”

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Swoosh-ed. Rumors inched toward reality this week when Titleist confirmed it was letting Rory McIlroy out of his endorsement contract early, presumably to sign a mega-deal with Nike Golf.

The reported 10-year, $200 million deal would guarantee long-term financial stability for the Ulsterman, but at what cost?

The 22-year-old, who reportedly has already shot a Nike commercial with Woods, has largely avoided any major missteps during his rise to the top of the world order, but equipment changes are always risky and the golf landscape is riddled with well-intentioned, financially-motivated moves.

“He has to be very cautious. It’s going to be a dangerous time,” six-time major champion Nick Faldo told Cut Line. “The equipment is part of your golf DNA. I would be really careful about that. He’s young and saying to himself he can adapt, but I promise you it will be different.”

Net loss. The PGA Tour has, as best it could, taken steps to mitigate the impact of next year’s transition to a split-calendar schedule. The reality of the situation is that the dramatic loss of playing opportunities is a one-off anomaly, but that won’t make it any easier for players scrambling to retain their cards and fulfill endorsement contracts next season.

The Tour anticipates next year’s Q-School and Tour graduates will have about five fewer starts because of the loss of the four fall series events, which will transition to the start of the 2013-14 schedule, and the Mayakoba Golf Classic, which will move from February to the fall.

To mitigate that loss the Tour had eight events expand their field sizes in 2013 (adding 88 playing opportunities) and limited the number of unrestricted sponsor exemptions tournament directors can dole out, but that still leaves roughly a 400-spot gap in playing opportunities.

“Play better” is the commonly held battle cry for those jilted by administrative small print. But given next year’s condensed schedule, that will have to be adjusted to “play better, when you can.”

Missed Cut

When less is less. Officials at this week’s WGC-HSBC Champions blasted Tiger Woods and McIlroy for skipping the event in China, questioning how the two found time to play the two-man “Duel at Jinsha Lake” on Monday in China, where they received appearance fees, but not the $7 million World Golf Championship.

But on Monday Woods was heard during the exhibition with the Ulsterman saying he may scale back his schedule in 2013, leaving many to wonder if events like the HSBC should get used to disappointment.

“I've got four more rounds at my tournament in L.A. (World Challenge) and I'm done until Abu Dhabi next year, so I'm looking forward to having this extended break,” Woods said this week.

And if you think the folks at the HSBC Champions are sideways because of Woods’ no-show, imagine how officials at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions must feel? If the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship on the European Tour is Woods’ first start of 2013, that means he will skip Kapalua, again. He hasn’t played the Tour opener since 2005.