Cut Line: Taking stock of playoffs, Presidents Cup

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No PGA Tour stop this week, no problem. Cut Line has plenty to fill the scorecard in a post-season pause edition.

Made Cut

Oh, captain I. Any captain, be it for a Presidents Cup or Ryder Cup squad, will tell you the toughest part of the gig is making your wildcard picks.

You want to select players who will contribute to the team and inevitably there will be those who get left off. While solid arguments could have been made for Brian Harman, Jason Dufner and Gary Woodland, Nos. 12, 13 and 14, respectively, on the U.S. Presidents Cup points list, given the landscape it’s hard to see how Phil Mickelson shouldn’t have made the American team when Stricker announced his picks on Wednesday.

Although Mickelson hasn’t had the best season, U.S. captain Steve Stricker recognized the one thing his team needed was experience and leadership, and Lefty brings plenty on both fronts.

If the International team finds some way to upset the Americans in New Jersey in three weeks, maybe it’ll be worth revisiting the Mickelson pick, until then Captain American deserves the benefit of the doubt.

More than a bagman. It’s hard to overstate the impact Jimmy Johnson has had on Justin Thomas, who teamed with the veteran caddie in mid-2015.

Thomas has won all six of his Tour titles with Johnson on the bag, including this year’s PGA Championship, and is always quick to acknowledge how important it is to have someone with as much experience as Johnson.

Late Monday following his victory at the Dell Technologies Championship, Thomas was being peppered with a few random questions when he was asked the last time he purchased golf balls?

“Last summer,” he laughed. “I was with some buddies and had no golf balls in my bag so I had to go into the pro shop and buy some. When I’m home I’m so unprepared. I never have golf balls, I never have a towel. I need Jimmy in my life, badly.”

With two playoff events remaining, Thomas still hasn’t technically wrapped up the Tour’s Player of the Year Award; but there’s no doubt who deserves to win the Caddie of the Year Award.

Tweet of the week:

@JordanSpieth: “Big congrats [Justin Thomas], good battle out there! 2 down 2 to go till [the Presidents Cup] and love where my game is trending.”

Thomas responded, “Fun battle bro. Won’t be our last either.”

Not sure if you know this, but Spieth and Thomas have been running mates for the better part of the last decade (it was only mentioned about a gazillion times during last week’s telecast), but on Monday at TPC Boston the measure of that relationship was on display when Spieth stopped his post-round interview to congratulation Thomas.

Some may like their rivalries with a dollop of animosity, but genuine friendship is tough to beat.


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Postseason pangs. At the turn for this year’s playoffs it’s worth taking stock in what has been a less-than-stellar year for some of the game’s top names.

Missing from next week’s field at the BMW Championship for the first time since 2007, the year the playoffs began, will be Bubba Watson, who failed to play his way into the third postseason stop with a tie for 69th at TPC Boston.

Adam Scott also failed to advance for just the third time in the playoff era, as did Branden Grace and Chris Kirk, who just three years ago entered the Tour Championship ranked first on the points list.

The playoffs may still be a confusing mix of golf and math to many fans, but in the simplest terms if a player makes it to East Lake for the finale he’s had a very good season.

Conversely, if a player like Watson or Scott don’t even advance to the BMW, they have some work to do.


Missed Cut

Oh, captain II. International captain Nick Price is 0-for-2 as a captain – although in fairness, if the Tour would have agreed to his desire to change the event’s format to match that played at the Ryder Cup that record could be vastly different – and yet he didn’t exactly set the world on fire with his picks.

His first pick, Emiliano Grillo, made perfect sense. The Argentine finished the qualification process strong with a 22nd-place finish in Boston and has 7 top-25 finishes this season. But for his second pick, Price dipped all the way to 16th on the points list to select Anirban Lahiri, who was the only member of the International team who failed to earn even a half point two years ago in South Korea.

Even Lahiri was surprised by the pick.

“I was just shocked,” he said. “I was honestly expecting him to deliver bad news, but my wife and I were just in shock.”

Lahiri is one of the game’s most genuine and enjoyable players and perhaps he will be an unexpected boost for Price and his team. But for the sake of the matches, we should all hope Price’s gamble pays off.