THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – There is no cut at Tiger Woods’ 18-man member-member at Sherwood Country Club or the PGA Tour Qualifying School Tournament, although there will be those wishing there were after a few more days in the Coachella Valley, but Cut Line carries on.
Besides, if this segment of the schedule is supposed to be the game’s silly season, why does it feel so serious?
Tiger Woods. It seems rumors of his demise have been greatly exaggerated, at least that’s the vibe within “Team Tiger” and beyond. In order, Woods finished third at the Australian Open, secured the winning point for the American side at the Presidents Cup and signed a new bag deal.
A win this week at his Chevron World Challenge, where he is leading by three strokes through two windy rounds, would make the off-season taste a little better but either way the progress he’s talked about on the practice tee in south Florida is starting to manifest itself when it counts.
“I know I’m playing better and it’s nice to see my position on the leaderboard equate to it,” Woods said on Friday.
Comebacks are curious things, and rarely do they go to script, but it’s impossible to ignore “red shirt’s” momentum.
Q-School. No, not that institution that is akin to professional dental surgery, but the eclectic collection of players who have braved heavy winds and even weightier pressure this week in the California desert.
Sweeping changes have been proposed for the current Nationwide Tour/Q-School model that will, essentially, water down the current version of the Fall Classic. Maybe these alterations are for the best, but the Darwinistic simplicity and drama of Q-School will be missed.
Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)
Rory McIlroy. Tough to criticize the Ulsterman for his decision to play next year’s Irish Open instead of the AT&T National, which will be played at Congressional, but the entire affair has the feel of a missed opportunity.
After McIlroy lapped the field at Congressional in June at the U.S. Open, an encore would have added an entirely new level of interest to the AT&T, but his attendance in Ireland will be, as one newspaper explained, “a mega-boon.”
In truth, this isn’t a Rory problem so much as it is a scheduling problem. When personal loyalties are pitted against professional advancement no one wins.
World Cup. Ever since the event lost its World Golf Championship affiliation in 2007, the World Cup has been dying a slow death. News that the event’s sponsor was not pleased with the product only accelerated that truth.
Omega president Stephen Urquhart vented publicly following last week’s event, which featured the first American victory in 11 years, saying, “China is too immature a market to put the World Cup where it should be. It's too early for China to support by itself a tournament on this scale.”
There is a seemingly obvious fix for the current cup concerns, however. Following the International side’s defeat at last month’s Presidents Cup, some suggested the “Rest of the World” players could benefit from playing another team event during even years.
During Ryder Cup years, the World Cup could pit the top 12 players from the southern hemisphere against those from the northern hemisphere who were not from the United States or Europe.
It’s a dramatic change to the current format, but so is extinction.
The death of ball-striking. Professional golf is a putting contest, has been since long before driver heads and golf balls were put on HGH, or whatever it is they do to make traditional courses obsolete, but as Cut Line scrolled through the season-ending statistics, one line jarringly proved that point.
Just once in the last four seasons has the man who has won the ball-striking category – a combination of driving accuracy, length and greens in regulation – kept his Tour card
Boo Weekley led this year’s ball-striking field and finished 180th in earnings. Charles Warren was last year’s front-runner and was 149th on the money list. Ditto for 2008 leader Joe Durant (129th in cash). Jonathan Byrd in 2009 is the lone exception and he was a pedestrian 67th in earnings.
Ben Hogan once reasoned that too much importance was given to putting. Maybe the “Hawk” was onto something.
Robert Allenby. He was a flyer pick for International captain Greg Norman, spent the week before the matches complaining about the greens at the Australian Open and was the only player at Royal Melbourne to get blanked (0-4-0). So it only makes sense that the Australian would do some soul searching and blame anyone who was within a sand wedge of his locker for his performance.
The issue escalated into a heated exchange with Geoff Ogilvy – who Allenby teamed with in Saturday foursomes at Royal Melbourne and is one of the game’s most endearing and respectful players – at the Australian PGA.
Two years ago at Harding Park Allenby accused Anthony Kim of carousing late into the night before his Sunday singles match, which he soundly lost to Kim, 5 and 3.
We suggest Allenby find a 2-for-1 special on perspective, and a mirror while he’s at it.
Tweet of the week: @geoffogilvy “Warms the heart to see Robert (Allenby) playing so well this week (at the Australian PGA).”