Cut Line Skipping School


ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – An event hasn’t been saved by a Monday turnaround like this since Tiger Woods limped his way to victory at Torrey Pines in 2008.

What started as a muddy, mindnumbing mess ended with Monday magic, the first Monday finish in 38 Ryder Cup matches. And the half-point victory was about as thin as the margin that separates those who made and missed this week’s cut.

Made Cut

Colin Montgomerie. The 2010 Ryder Cup was Monty’s major. It’s his final ticket to the Hall of Fame, although that conversation should have ended sometime around his fifth European Order of Merit title. It was his masterpiece.

Simply put, the man who can be petulant and perfectly entertaining, sometimes in the same sentence, out-captained America’s Corey Pavin.

From the golf course setup to his deft handling of an often-contentious media Monty’s leadership was easily worth a half point. And with the matches as tightly contested as ever, that half point was the deciding factor.

Emotion. The tough-guy who coined the notion that there’s no crying in golf (Frank Lickliter would be our best guess) never had to hit an uphill chip off a tight lie with a Ryder Cup on the line.

Whatever baggage Hunter Mahan carried home with him from Wales after his singles loss to Graeme McDowell no one will ever question his heart or his dedication to the biennial bout. He lost a point and gained a legion of fans with an emotional exit interview.

Boo Weekley was speaking for many this week when he said, “I almost cried for Hunter.” The Americans may have lost the cup, but they proved once and for all they care.

Cigar guy. The no-named fan caught famously flummoxed in a snapshot of Tiger Woods last week at Celtic Manor is the face of 2010.

With Woods letting go of the club following what appears to be a less-than-perfect chip the stunned look on “cigar guy’s” face is the perfect metaphor for a season that has produced copious amounts of double-takes in the world No. 1’s direction for all the wrong reasons.
Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Lee Westwood. His return from injury at Celtic Manor was solid, as if we expected anything less from the European horse, but he seemed to get caught up in the jingoistic tenor of the matches when he said he would limit his 2011 schedule to the European Tour.

Westwood’s desire to spend more time at home with his family in the United Kingdom is a refreshing twist on a “me first” tour, but the man who seems destined to unseat Woods atop the world ranking needs to consider his place in the golf universe.

Monty shunned a full PGA Tour schedule in his prime for the friendly confines of the European Tour, and he will make it into the Hall of Fame, but with an asterisks after having never won a major or a Tour-sanctioned event.

Westwood should ask himself WWGD? – What Would Gary (Player) Do?

Sea Island. Chamber of commerce weather made this week’s inaugural McGladrey Classic the gem of the Fall Series, but the Seaside Course should get a “best supporting actor” award.

Short by Tour standards, the par-70 layout is a rarity on the bomb-and-go circuit – a shot-maker’s special that clearly favors the plodders over the pounders with a leaderboard that includes the likes of David Toms, Heath Slocum and Brian Gay.

“We’ve gone too much about power,” said Gay. “We thought the new groove rule would dial everybody back and make hitting fairways important and it really hasn’t done anything.”

Nobody is asking for a steady diet of short and quirky layouts, but a little variety never hurt anyone.

Phil Mickelson. Lefty’s Ryder Cup record is, inexplicably, what we’ve become accustomed to (1-3-0 for an 11-17-6 overall record), but those who dismissed Mickelson’s week in Wales as a total write-off weren’t paying attention.

More so than any other American Mickelson has assumed a leadership role in the U.S. team room, annually taking on the task of rookie mentor and stepping in when things became too intense for Mahan on Monday with the press.

Ryder Cup records can be the game’s most-misleading litmus tests, because there is no way to quantify the importance of leadership.

Tweet of the Week: @ogilviej (Joe Ogilvie): “The line from TopGun, ‘I'll throw it in reverse and they'll fly right by’ is a perfect way to describe my last few months (on Tour).”
Missed Cut

John Daly. Fine, the big man played 18 events in 2010 and may have nothing to gain by submitting to the Q-School grind, but he should still try because that’s what professionals do.

It’s a self-perpetuating cycle, the more sponsor exemptions Daly gets the less he needs to play by the same set of rules as everyone else. But if the perpetual reclamation project really wanted to show the world he’s serious about his comeback he would have sent in his check and taken his chances in the Fall Classic.

Corey Pavin. It’s nitpicking, really. Waterproof-gate, a charter snafu that kept some American caddies off the team plane to Wales, his stoic reluctance to acknowledge even the most mundane team detail. But at a modern Ryder Cup all of the nitpicking adds up.

Pavin invested two years of his life into last week’s matches and by all team accounts he was a fine captain. But in this day and age when cups are decided by the thinnest of margins “fine” simply doesn’t cut it.

We’re not sure if the master tactician Paul Azinger could have squeezed another half point out of the U.S. side last week, but we sure would have liked to have seen him try.