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Cut Line: Slow-heim Cup

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Two Cups added up to one full Sunday last week, with the emotionally-charged Solheim version setting the table for overtime at East Lake and Bill Haas’ shot-of-the-year performance.

It was so good that one almost wonders if golf really needs a spot at the Olympic table, but we digress.

Made Cut

Solheim Cup. Cut Line didn’t think the European team had to win this one or risk the matches become irrelevant, but a shootout on Sunday was needed to wrest the event out of a series of one-sided affairs.

Sunday in Ireland delivered both in the form of a fiercely contested win for the home team, to say nothing of the emotional withdrawal of America’s Cristie Kerr.

As for those who questioned Kerr’s injury-induced decision not to play, which cost the U.S. side a point but not the matches, they must not have been paying attention to her pained attempts to warm up Sunday morning.

We would also suggest the Solheim Cup powers consider hosting the event in Ireland every year. The morning viewing meshed nicely with the Tour Championship and getting to celebrate Arthur Guinness Day – that’s right, that Guinness – is always worth a trip to the Emerald Isle.

FedEx Cup. Sure the math could send the easily confused into seizures and the nonstop parade of potential winners was enough to flummox even the Tour’s own statisticians on Sunday, but two players going mano-a-mano for the Tour Championship, the FedEx Cup and a $10 million lifeline delivered all the competitive clarity one could want.

The system is not perfect, and given the nature of the game it may never be, but if the last hour of play at East Lake didn’t captivate then nothing will.

Maybe Haas’ out-of-the-pack victory doesn’t exactly fit the mold of a season-long competition – he was 25th on the points list to begin the week and winless in ’11 until the finale – but wild-card teams win championships all the time and no one ever said the 2007 New York Giants didn’t “deserve” the title . . . wait, scratch that.

Tweet of the Week: @Keegan_Bradley “I do not get why people say using a belly putter or long putter should not be allowed because it’s unfair blah blah. Everyone can use it!”

Blah, blah, blah couldn’t agree more.


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

LPGA. So this was all an accounting issue. All involved had to assure the “t’s” were crossed and the “i’s” were dotted. Commissioner Mike Whan just needed the proper paperwork to rubber stamp and young Lexi Thompson could be on her way to tour membership and history.

“Lexi Thompson is a unique talent who has continued to grow, develop and mature both on and off the golf course since turning professional in 2010,” Whan said. “Her overall performance, most recently demonstrated by her win at the Navistar LPGA Classic, has currently placed her among the top 50 in the world on the Rolex Rankings. . . . Therefore, effective at the start of our 2012 season, Lexi will officially become a member of the LPGA Tour.”

But if this was all about procedure, why did it feel so personal? If Thompson was such a “unique talent” why not just concede as much following her victory in Alabama? And, most importantly, what is Cut Line supposed to do with this gross of “Let Lexi Play” t-shirts? That’s what we get for buying in bulk.

Tiger Woods. In the litany of foul balls he’s hit over the last two years or so, this one is, at worst, a misdemeanor – a stop sign he brushed past on his way to greener pastures.

There’s no begrudging either Woods or Joe LaCava for a move made in looper heaven. Where Woods got sideways was not running the impending move past Dustin Johnson, LaCava’s old boss. There are no hard rules when it comes to caddie swaps, but locker-room etiquette calls for the simplest of courtesies, even if by proxy.

Sometime before Sunday afternoon, when LaCava gave Johnson his decision, Woods’ people needed to reach out to Johnson’s people. This isn’t about permission, this is about protocol.

At the Dunhill Links Championship this week, Johnson said he doesn’t have any hard feelings about the split, but just to be safe U.S. Presidents Cup captain Fred Couples may want to avoid that Woods-Johnson fourball pairing at Royal Melbourne.


Missed Cut

Olympic odyssey. Maybe golf was destined for drug testing given the nature of sports today, but Cut Line couldn’t help but cringe recently when news surfaced that the World Anti-Doping Agency is considering a move that would add tobacco to its list of banned substances. It’s a move certain to draw the ire of Tour types if implemented.

On Wednesday, we caught up with Doug Barron, the only player to ever run afoul of the circuit’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs. Barron is currently playing the Nationwide Tour and plans to participate in Tour Q-School this fall following a one-year suspension after testing positive for testosterone, which he was taking under doctor’s orders to regulate a condition for low testosterone.

Barron was granted a “therapeutic use exemption” by the Tour last fall that allowed him to start taking testosterone again.

“I feel so much better, it’s incredible. I have energy back,” Barron said. “The thing is, I haven’t played golf worth a darn. I try my best. It’s tough to get a competitive edge back.”

In short, Barron lost an entire year of his career because the Tour needed to align itself with WADA’s policies for golf to become an Olympic sport. Maybe golf’s inclusion into the 2016 Games will be the boost Tour suits expect it to be, but at what cost?

Slooooow play. Hardly breaking news here, but the glacial pace of play at the Solheim Cup soured many fans on what should have been the LPGA’s moment in the sun.

Three of the four morning matches on Friday exceeded the five-hour, 20-minute allotment for rounds in Ireland. That U.S. captain Rosie Jones wasn’t overly concerned about the languid pace was even more concerning, but this is hardly an LPGA phenomenon.

“If you gave one guy two shots (penalty), the pace of play would pick up 15 percent,” said Joe Ogilvie, one of the PGA Tour’s fastest players. “Give us (distance-finding) lasers – 20 shots a tournament guys have weird angles into pins and take extra time to get yardages. A laser would cut that down by 20 percent.”

Give them golf carts and running shoes for all Cut Line cares, five-plus-hour rounds is too long.

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