The major season has officially arrived with this week’s Kraft Nabisco Championship and Cut Line goes for the Grand Slam with a major player (Stacy Lewis), a major misunderstanding (Annika Sorenstam and Michelle Wie), a major concern (2016 Olympic golf course) and a major faux pas (TPC San Antonio).
Stacy Lewis. If the world No. 1 is a tad too vanilla for some, consider that Lewis spent the week before the season’s first major championship not scouting the Mission Hills course for this week’s Kraft Nabisco or searching for answers on a lonely practice tee, but instead giving pep talks and advice to the Arkansas women’s golf team.
In an example of extreme pro bono work, Lewis is listed as a volunteer assistant coach for the Razorbacks and spent last week at the Bryan National Collegiate in Greensboro, N.C.
“It was unbelievable,” Arkansas coach Shauna Estes-Taylor told Cut Line. “The team would tee off at 9:30 (a.m.), but she would be up at 5:30 to work out, spend the day with the team and then head to the range to practice afterward. She has such an unbelievable work ethic.”
After each round, Lewis would talk to the team and the Razorbacks responded, finishing second at the Bryan Collegiate. Guess it’s true that when the world No. 1 talks, people really do listen.
Straight talk. Here’s the rub, writers and wags lament the lack of straight shooters in sports and the parade of ubiquitous clichés – you know: at the end of the day it really is what it is – and yet when a player gives it to us straight we pick them apart like Texas road kill.
The most recent example of this came this week when Rory McIlroy was asked about his current lack of consistency and his decision to play the Texas Open.
“I don't care if I miss 10 cuts in a row if I win a major a year. I don't care. I mean, that's what it's all about is winning the big tournaments,” he said. “When people look back on a person's career, you don't say Jack Nicklaus was so consistent. You could say he finished 19 times second in a major. But what you think about is the 18 majors he won.”
McIlroy’s truth may not sit well with the folks at the Texas Open or in the press center, but that’s not the Ulsterman’s fault.
Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)
Straight talk, II. For many, Annika Sorenstam’s take on Michelle Wie’s wayward career was spot on and nothing that hasn’t been said numerous times over the past few years.
“She has a long way to go, let’s put it that way. There was a time when the LPGA really needed her. I thought she had a lot to bring to the table. Now she’s one out of many,” Sorenstam told Golf.com.
What lands the Swede in MDF is the apparent need for a 180 when her comments began circulating at the Kraft Nabisco.
“(Sorenstam) actually reached out to me last night, said a couple of things got misquoted,” Wie said on Thursday after her first round at Mission Hills. “I thought that was really nice of her to reach out to me. She apologized for what she said, and that's that.”
Perhaps Sorenstam was misquoted in the Q&A and an apology was in order, but if any player has earned the right to offer constructive criticism it is the former world No. 1. No apologies required.
Tweet of the week: @LukeDonad “A member just challenged me to a closet (to) the pin chipping contest, $5 a shot – love when that happens.”
Cut Line has lost his share of “friendly bets” on the golf course, but this much is certain – never, ever get into a money game with a Tour type, particularly a chipping contest with arguably the circuit’s preeminent short-game guru.
When hard and horrendous collide. TPC San Antonio was the second-toughest golf course on Tour last year (non-major championship category) and lived up to its tough-as-nails reputation on Thursday with about a quarter of the Texas Open field posting scores under par – and that’s not necessarily a good thing.
“Greg Norman designs golf courses to test professional golfers, not to please professional golfers,” Padraig Harrington said following Round 1 on the Norman-designed AT&T Oaks Course.
Although the Irishman was doing his best to be diplomatic, that sounds a lot like a more updated version of “It’s the best course of its kind.”
We used this line in last week’s edition, but it seems apropos to give it another run: “At some point in time golf course architects need to understand that hard and good are not synonymous,” Paul Goydos said.
Blame it on Rio. Gil Hanse is the refreshing exception to Goydos’ take on modern architecture, designing golf courses that can fairly test the world’s best and be enjoyed by the average player. If only he could begin his handiwork at the 2016 Olympic golf course in Brazil.
Another ground breaking deadline came and went this week at the Rio course with little action because of an ongoing land dispute and legal wrangling.
“Clearing continues, ground looks great with trees removed,” Hanse said in a text message to Cut Line. “The equipment (is) on site ready to go once we get the go ahead.”
The original ground breaking was scheduled for last October and officials had hoped to get started on April 1. Although there is still time for an adequate grow-in (18 months) and a professional test event sometime in 2015, organizers are officially on the clock.