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Cut Line: Stricker says no to elk, yes to bucks

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There is no cut at this week’s BMW Championship and the LPGA might not get around to the 36-hole axe at the Evian Championship until October at this rate, but Cut Line will fill the void with the week’s winners and losers.

Made Cut

Always bet on Bethpage Black. The PGA of America has a press conference planned next Tuesday on Long Island for a “historic golf announcement,” and rumor has it the association will name Bethpage Black the site of the 2019 PGA Championship and 2024 Ryder Cup.

A couple of things: the weather at Bethpage has to be better for an August PGA and September Ryder Cup – let’s be honest, it can’t be any worse than it’s been for two U.S. Opens in June – and the ’24 Ryder Cup would be a perfect fit for a Phil Mickelson captaincy. Imagine the People’s Captain at the people’s course.

Give the PGA credit for moving in so decisively when the U.S. Golf Association balked at a possible return to the New York muni. Next up, Torrey Pines. We hear SoCal is beautiful in August.

A reluctant champion. Colorado’s elk population is safe for now, and they can thank the looming prospect of an $11 million windfall and Steve Stricker’s sensitivity to PGA Tour one-somes.

Stricker – whose part-time plan this season has resulted in six top 10s, more than half his starts, and a fighting chance at East Lake in the FedEx Cup race – announced this week he will play the Tour Championship, skipping a long-planned hunting trip to Colorado.

“It’s our marquee event. It's the Super Bowl of our year, and for me to just kind of say, you know what, I'm in the top 10 (in FedEx Cup points), I'm not coming, to walk away from that I think would have been foolish,” he said this week.

Good guy Stricker also said that because there are no alternates for the 30-man field at the finale he didn’t like the idea of a player having to go out by himself at East Lake. That’s Stricker, the game’s nicest “marker.”


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Vive la 72 holes. The Evian Championship’s first turn as a major has been anything but smooth this season.

Initially, the first-year major came under the microscope when Inbee Park’s quest for the single-season Grand Slam was pencil whipped by the notion that a win at St. Andrews, site of last month’s Women’s British Open, would not be considered a proper Grand Slam.

Now officials, beset by Thursday’s downpour in France and an equally unforgiving forecast this weekend, are faced with a Monday finish. The LPGA even considered cutting the field to the top 50 and ties to finish play and the conversation immediately turned to whether a major could be reduced to 54 holes.

Sometimes, major status comes complete with major headaches.

Compromise. The back end of the 2013-14 PGA Tour schedule was released this week with few, if any, surprises. One item of note, however, was covered at last month’s PGA Championship but deserves revisiting.

In what was described as quintessential game of give and take, the Tour agreed to move the playoff “bye” week after the Tour Championship next year. In exchange, the PGA of America gave up the tag line “Glory’s Last Shot” in reference to the PGA Championship.

“Our (Ryder Cup) captain (Tom Watson) felt like it was imperative that our players had a week off after the Tour Championship and the beginning of the Ryder Cup,” PGA president Ted Bishop said last month. “Obviously the week off prior to the Ryder Cup, hopefully, will be good for our players.”

What won’t be good for the players will be the sprint from the Monday finish at the Deutsche Bank Championship near Boston to the BMW Championship, which will begin Thursday in Colorado.

Without the bye week, expect players to cut some corners. You know what else starts with a “B” – Barclays, Boston and BMW?

Tweet of the week: @WestwoodLee “Well, shouldn’t play injured but everybody wants to play the Tour Championship. Give it a night to see if my neck and back settle down.”

Mad props to Westy, this week’s bubble boy at 30th on the FedEx Cup points list, for giving it a go at the BMW Championship and he’s hardly the first player to struggle (first-round 80) while injured. But given another solid season at the majors we’d much rather see the Englishman on the trainer’s table right now. No one has ever come back too late from an injury.


Missed Cut

Don’t call it a comeback? Henrik Stenson doesn’t likely have any interest in the politics or pomp of post-season awards, but in the spirit of competitive relevance to ignore the Swede’s climb out of the professional abyss is a disservice.

In 2010, the Tour effectively retired the Comeback Player of the Year Award – a reaction, some say, to Stricker being named the comeback player in consecutive years (2006 and ’07). Or maybe it was an over-reaction.

While it certainly makes sense not to dole out the comeback award if there are no viable candidates, but when a player like Stenson, who went from 111th on the FedEx Cup list in 2012 to first this season and also leads the European Tour’s Race for Dubai, battles back it’s worth dredging the award out of storage.

Or maybe Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., should have Stricker send one of his CPOY awards to Stenson. He has extras.