The “fifth major” will, of course, carry on without Woods, not to mention world No. 1 Lee Westwood, but as Grand Slams go this one still appears to be searching for an identity.
Tim Clark. The wee defending champion put aside an elbow injury to play this week – though he did have to withdraw Friday after 10 holes – and offered the ultimate gesture of respect when he had Tour officials replace the South African flag flying in the “Circle of Champions” at TPC Sawgrass with Spain’s flag in honor of the late Seve Ballesteros.
“To have his flag up there is just a small little tribute to him. Obviously he deserves a whole lot more,” Clark said. “It went beyond just Spanish golf, it was world golf.”
As if all that wasn’t enough, Clark purchased cupcakes that were served on Thursday in the Sawgrass media center. In honor of Champagne Tony Lema, “Cut Line” would like to suggest a new, however misleading, nickname – “Cupcake Timmy Clark.”
17th Heaven. “Gimmick or good hole?” Lucas Glover was asked during his Wednesday practice round at the famed island hole, sparking a debate that Johnson Wagner seemed to end with a surprising testimonial.
“(In 2008) during the playoff (between Sergio Garcia and Paul Goydos) I came out here and watched,” Wagner said. “I think it’s a great hole. It makes you hit a shot and everybody has to play it.”
Pete Dye’s contrived circus may not be universally admired, but it is always on the players’ minds and maybe that’s the best any architect can hope for.
Quail Hollow. For the second consecutive year the Carolina gem delivered another Sunday slam without the aid of anyone named Tiger or Phil, which is no easy task for any event.
The bonafide mid-major gave us Rory McIlroy’s closing masterpiece last year and Lucas Glover’s short-game clinic last Sunday, but the Tour’s status in Charlotte seemed to be put on the clock last year when Quail Hollow was named the site of the 2017 PGA and became the leader in the clubhouse for the 2024 Ryder Cup.
Word around the caddie barn last week was the event will take a hiatus from Quail Hollow in 2015, ’16 and ’17 to retool for the PGA – during which time the Wells Fargo would rotate to another Carolina course, say Pinehurst – and return to Charlotte in 2018.
Seems about right. In NASCAR country four lefts always bring you home.
Tweet of the Week: @McIlroyRory “If I’m too young to know if I like a course or not Butch (Harmon) is too old to coach . . .”
It was the Northern Irishman’s response to criticism that he skipped The Players for all the wrong reasons.
Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)
Tiger Woods. The results may have been unsightly, but you can’t fault the man for trying. At worst, Woods’ nine-hole 42 was a rehab start that simply didn’t go well. At best, it may have convinced him to take the time needed to heal a particularly concerning Achilles injury.
Recovery time for an Achilles injury is about eight weeks, which means June’s U.S. Open may be questionable. But this is the same man who won a U.S. Open on a broken leg against doctor’s orders so it’s impossible to bet against Woods at Congressional, healthy or otherwise.
Golf needs Woods, but what it really needs is the former alpha male on two good legs.
Phil Mickelson. Lefty is no stranger to arm chair architecture, and Thursday’s indictment of TPC Sawgrass’ par-3 13th green, which he double bogeyed with an 8-iron in his hands, was anything but subtle.
“When I design courses I try not to screw the player like that,” Mickelson said. “I try to keep it a little fair.”
Outspoken assessments are certainly part of Mickelson’s charm, but it must be pointed out that this is the same player who is on record saying, “(Nos.) 16, 17 and 18 (at TPC Sawgrass) combine for the greatest risk-reward opportunity in all of golf.”
Sometimes a bad bounce is just a bad bounce, not the byproduct of a bad golf course.
May day. Five years into the experiment, The Players' move to the drier confines of May seems to be a relative success, but – as usual – unintended consequences have cropped up.
Conflicts with the European Tour schedule, which is heading into an important stretch, cost the event Westwood and McIlroy this year and the fields at the Byron Nelson and Colonial have been impacted by a seven-week run that includes the Wells Fargo, Players, Memorial and the U.S. Open.
Warmer temperatures may also be having an impact on the fans. The grandstands around the Stadium Course’s 18th hole were removed this year because, according to one official, it is simply too hot to sit and watch.
“I’m cynical, I know, but it feels non-major-esque,” said one Tour player.
Rory Sabbatini. We may never know what, if any, action is taken against the Tour’s bad boy for his reported misbehavior in New Orleans last month but this much is certain, without a more transparent system no amount of fines or suspensions are going to do much good.
Sabbo told Golfweek magazine: “I heard it all. Supposedly I had a fight with (Sean) O’Hair and I told the Tour to ‘F-off.’ Hearsay is hearsay.”
Although the facts remain unconfirmed, there is little doubt something happened at TPC Louisiana. Memo to Sabbo: misleading denials do no one any good, just ask Barry Bonds.
Follow Rex Hoggard on Twitter @RexHoggard