Cut Line Silence golden for the PGA Tour


If transparency is the ultimate judge of any organization, consider the PGA Tour a long-overdue holdout to the sunshine rule. Like Las Vegas, what happens in Ponte Vedra Beach stays in Ponte Vedra Beach, at least as it applies to the circuit’s handling of disciplinary matters.

Silence may be golden, but it lands the Tour on the wrong side of this week’s cut, while Butch Harmon and Sean Foley advance to the weekend for taking the high road in a swing coach saga that has become far too personal.

Made Cut

Butch Harmon. There is no shortage of reasons to applaud the swing sage recently, not the least of which was a win -show finish for his crew at Doral (Nick Watney won followed by Dustin Johnson). But Harmon highlights this week’s “Made Cut” list because he’s entrenched himself well above the fray in the ongoing swing coach spat.

Nick Watney and Butch Harmon
Butch Harmon chats with Nick Watney, one of his many high-profile students. (Getty Images)

Hank Haney, who followed Harmon as Tiger Woods’ swing coach in 2003, has become very public in his critique of Woods' current swing via Twitter and Foley, who followed Haney, probably placed too much trust in some members of the media.

On Sunday at Doral before Watney and Johnson teed off, we asked Harmon if he had a Twitter account. “No,” he smiled. “Wouldn’t even know how to start one.” Nice to know.

Sean Foley. Speaking of Foley, we have to give the Canadian credit for recognizing his role in the current row.

In an interview this week he said: “I’ve read some of the things I’ve said in the past and I said after, ‘You know what? I wouldn’t want my son to read that I said that.’ I realized that things unconsciously come out. It shows me I have a lot to learn about being grateful, about being compassionate, being empathetic and just focusing on myself.”

Whether you agree with Foley’s swing philosophies doesn’t matter, time will be the ultimate arbiter of that, but his lack of ego and sense of self can only be a positive influence on Woods, that much is certain.

Mike Whan. And finally we salute the game’s ultimate consensus builder. Under pressure from his membership to come up with more mainland America events, the commissioner concocted the LPGA’s Founders Cup.

When the Monopoly Money Open drew the ire of the rank and file, Whan scrambled to find the middle ground. The result was this week’s event, which is not perfect but is better than another “bye” week.

If Whan’s not busy the next few weeks, he may want to stop by New York City to see how things are going between the NFL and the players union. That room could always use an extra cool head.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Tavistock Cup. The made-for-television event raises millions of dollars for charity and is the cream of the silly season crop, just don’t expect other tournaments to entirely embrace the early-week cash grab.

Of the 24 players who participated in the two-day event at Isleworth, just eight made it over to Innisbrook for the week’s only official-money event. Not exactly a ringing endorsement of the product.

A few years ago, one tournament director suggested Tavistock could play their event Tuesday and Wednesday of his tournament week, “Just pay me what I’d lose in pro-am fees.”

Tweet of the week: @TigerWoods “First win of the year, unfortunately it was against @jimmyfallon.”

Glad to see the former world No. 1 showing a softer side. Unfortunately his victory came while playing his new video game against the late-night host, and we don’t think it came with many World Golf Ranking points.

Missed Cut

John Smoltz. Loved the guy on the mound, he was a machine who mowed down opponents with power and precision – a rare combination for a modern pitcher – but we’ve seen this act before.

Seems the former Atlanta hurler plans to play the Nationwide Tour’s South Georgia Classic in April, which may do wonders at the gate but does little for the event’s competitive integrity.

Among Smoltz’s career highlights: he’s the only pitcher in MLB history to win 200 games and have 150 saves and he’s attempted to qualify for the U.S. Open – which is great if an impromptu baseball game breaks out at Kinderlou Forest Golf Club. If not, he should leave the sponsor exemptions to the real professionals.

Secrecy. Last week PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem was put on the spot for the circuit’s policy not to disclose fines, or as we like to call it, the skull and crossed putters society.

Finchem offered a familiar lament, “The biggest reason is that 90 percent-plus of the disciplinary matters we deal with, the public is not aware of them. We see no reason to advise the public of when one of our players does something silly. Why should we do that?”

That other sports embrace transparency over secrecy seems of little interest to Finchem.

“We are in a little different situation; that if a fight breaks out in the NBA between a couple of players and some fans, the commissioner pretty much needs to say, this is what I did to protect that from not happening again.”

But then if the Tour’s rules, like all laws, are aimed at prevention, then what harm would come from, say, publishing the complete list of “slow play” fines? A notice in Monday’s sports section would do more to speed up the circuit’s habitual snails than a private fine, and it would show the Tour is dedicated to stopping slow play.

Follow Rex Hoggard on Twitter @RexHoggard