Carl Pettersson can’t play for their European Ryder Cup team, their loss considering his form of late; still can’t completely understand the ruling that cost him two strokes last Sunday at Kiawah – note to future PGA competitors, if you see official David Price heading your way, run – and has no interest in a week off.
Rarely does one self-deprecating “Swedish redneck” provide so much fodder for Cut Line, but as Pettersson explained with a wide smile following his opening-round 62 at the Wyndham Championship, “I deal with hangovers well.”
Home-field advantage. On a tour often diluted by endless playing opportunities and crowded schedules, Pettersson did the right thing this week by choosing loyalty and the Wyndham Championship over lethargy.
That Pettersson grabbed the Day 1 lead at an event he likely considers his “fifth major,” only gives credence to the notion of instant karma and solidifies his place as one of the game’s most genial players.
Following one of the most draining weeks of his career, where he finished tied for third despite a two-stroke penalty on Sunday, and at the front end of a grueling playoff stretch that will likely feature seven events in eight weeks, Pettersson returned to Sedgefield Country Club, where he is a member and went to nearby Grimsley High School.
In an unrelated item, Grimsley may have the worst nickname ever for a golf team – The Whirlies.
Oh, assistant captains. So some view the gig of assistant captain for the Ryder Cup as little more than a golf cart driver, but both skippers seemed to take comfort when selecting who will carry the walkie-talkies for this year’s matches.
Davis Love III completed his card this week when he named Scott Verplank and Jeff Sluman his final two assistants, joining Fred Couples and Mike Hulbert; while Europe’s Jose Maria Olazabal went with Thomas Bjorn, Darren Clarke and Paul McGinley as his vice captains.
Although easily dismissed, assistants can have a profound impact on the matches. Just ask Paul Azinger, whose “Pods” system dovetailed with the personalities of his assistants and led to the only U.S. victory in the last five Ryder Cups.
Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)
For Pete’s sake. There are two kinds of swing coaches, those who have been fired and those who are about to be, but that Tour truth didn’t make the news that world No. 4 Lee Westwood had split with longtime swing coach Pete Cowen any easier to digest.
According to Westwood’s manager, ISM’s Chubby Chandler, the Englishman felt like it was time for a change and he wasn’t happy with the amount of time he was getting to work with Cowen, who also coaches Graeme McDowell and Louis Oosthuizen. Chandler also said Westwood planned to change his routine and start working with a short-game coach at next week’s Barclays.
Westwood’s ball-striking, however, has never been questioned and it seems as though the affable Cowen was the fall guy for Westwood following a pair of pedestrian majors (T-45 at the British Open and missed cut at the PGA).
Westwood’s decision to turn to a short-game expert seems logical. Turning on Cowen just seems reactionary.
Long view. The U.S. Golf Association and Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews have promised a decision regarding the ongoing long-putter debate by next month and although the drumbeat seems poised against long putters a quick glance at the Wyndham Championship leaderboard shows why the rule makers should tread carefully.
Long-putter stalwarts Pettersson, your Day 1 leader, and Tim Clark, the early second-round pacesetter, have been using longer-than-standard-length putters for well over 10 years.
As the USGA and R&A grapple with a clean, long-term decision – and in fairness to the ruling bodies it’s important to point out that they were studying the long putter long before Keegan Bradley became the first to win a major with one at last year’s PGA – Clark and Pettersson are Exhibits A and B why they may need to consider a grandfather clause.
“Great chance.” The words, etched in 20-point type across the front page of last Sunday’s Charleston Post and Courier, caught many by surprise. Luckily all involved had a few hours of free time on a shuttle bus to digest PGA of America president Allen Wronowski’s take on Kiawah Island’s chances as a future PGA venue.
Ridiculously long commutes for fans combined with poor viewing areas created one of the most logistically challenging major venues in recent history, but that’s not why Pete Dye’s seaside gem should be removed from any potential PGA rotation.
As one longtime observer explained, “If you have to change the Rules of Golf to hold a major at your course, maybe your course should not hold a major.”
The PGA can call them “sandy areas” and play them “through the green” if they wish, but if it looks like a bunker and feels like a bunker . . .
Tweets of the week: @chubby6665 (ISM’s Chubby Chandler) “I felt like I’d been there (Kiawah) a month! They need to build a few restaurants before they have another big event.”
@LukeDonald “And maybe a few more roads leading into the place!”
Unruly. Perhaps the incident had no impact on the outcome, what with Rory McIlroy laying an “eight spot” on the PGA field for his second major walk-off, but given the situation and the circumstances the two strokes PGA officials added to Pettersson’s card early in his round on Sunday at Kiawah exceeds the boundaries of common sense.
Without question Pettersson brushed a leaf with his backswing while hitting out of a hazard on the first hole, a violation of the Rules of Golf. Yet it is equally clear that the Swede-turned-Carolinian had no intent to improve his lie or gain a competitive advantage with the action.
“Why don’t professional golfers make rules for professional golfers?” asked Golf Channel’s David Feherty, who was the walking analyst with Pettersson’s group on Sunday. “We’re the only sport that allows amateurs (to make rules). It’s not working for me if a guy is trying to make a living. A major championship may have hung in the balance.”
Just like he did in 2010 when Dustin Johnson was assessed a two-stroke penalty at Whistling Straits for a similar infraction, PGA official David Price made the correct ruling on Sunday at Kiawah. But that doesn’t mean it was the right call.
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