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Cut Line: Tour slow playing; Norman taking heat

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Turns out the old adage is true, everything is bigger in Texas – from Kevin Na’s big numbers at TPC San Antonio to the big gap between wishful thinking and reality for Greg Norman when it comes to his much-maligned AT&T Oaks Course.

Made Cut

Slow play. Although the dramatic makeover of the PGA Tour’s qualifying process is just a year and a half away, neither the players nor circuit officials seem to have any sense of urgency to finalize the details to the plan.

The 16-member Player Advisory Council met last week at the Heritage and according to Tour sources considered, and rejected, an assortment of proposals. At issue is how to seed the 150 or so players for the three-event finals series that will determine who earns the 50 Tour cards.

“There’s a reason we’re going slowly on this,” policy board member Jim Furyk told Golf Digest. “It’s very complicated, and it's very important. We know that we are determining how a professional career develops here.”

Cut Line is normally averse to any form of slow play, but when it comes to the complicated new qualifying process we suggest taking all the time they need.

Sweet 16. Self-deprecation goes a long way in Cut Line’s book and Na certainly endeared himself to fans this week when he revisited the scene of last year’s train wreck on TPC San Antonio’s ninth hole.

Na recounted each of his 16 shots he attempted during the first round on the 474-yard par-4 ninth for a camera crew, took a chainsaw to a few of the offending trees and even returned the same shirt he wore last year to the woods adjacent the ninth during Thursday’s opening round.

In a good news/bad news deal, Na made par on the hole during Round 1 this year on his way to a 7-over 79 and an inglorious withdrawal.


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Mindless golf. Call it the Bubba Watson effect or maybe it’s just a sign of the times; whatever the case, the “less is more” philosophy seems to be catching on among the play-for-pay set with Thursday’s front-runner at the Valero Texas Open the embodiment of the new normal . . . or maybe it’s the new abnormal.

Three weeks ago Matt Every “fired” his swing coach and embraced a laissez faire attitude toward all things golf, eschewing the Ben Hogan model of finding your game in the dirt for a more laidback approach

“I came out here (on Wednesday) and hit about 15 balls and it wasn't good. So I went and hit some putts,” Every said following his course-record 63 at TPC San Antonio on Thursday.

“I was actually walking by the range and I saw the same guys every week, they tinker with their swings and spend all day Tuesday and Wednesday practicing and like I'm glad I'm not one of those guys.”

Love Every’s honesty, but Cut Line doesn’t see this ending well.

Missing the point(s). Whatever it was that drove Lee Westwood to the other side of the globe for this week’s Indonesian Masters – weak fields, nice golf course, good takeout – the impact on the world golf ranking is undeniably concerning.

At issue here are appearance fees, which the Englishman is likely getting to play the Asian Tour event. While free money is good for world No. 3 Westwood – to say nothing of a chance to tune up his game against a Double-A field – essentially Asian officials are paying for world ranking points.

Consider that last year’s Indonesian Masters champion – Westwood, who used the victory to climb to No. 1 in world – received 20 world ranking points while the winner of the Texas Open, Brendan Steele, received 28 points.

You do the math.

Tweet of the week: @LukeDonald “@LeeWestwood nice police escort (to the golf course on Thursday), I hear you only get one of those at that event if you are ranked in the top 500!”


Missed Cut

Feeding frenzy. News item: The Shark is stunned to hear players don’t like TPC San Antonio. In a related item, America’s farmers are flummoxed by news that 9-year-olds don’t like spinach.

On Friday’s “Morning Drive,” Greg Norman, who designed the San Antonio layout with an assist from Sergio Garcia, said most players like his handiwork.

The truth is, the Texas Open is in a tough spot on the schedule sandwiched between the Masters and the run-up to The Players Championship, but the Shark is a tad misguided, or misinformed, if he thinks the layout isn’t at least partially to blame for the weak field this week in Texas.

“I think Greg was pissed off when he made that place,” one player said following Thursday’s round.

Norman is hardly public enemy No. 1 when it comes to Tour architects – we believe Rees Jones has that title locked up – but clearly he hasn’t asked many Tour types their opinions of TPC San Antonio. We’d suggest he start with Na.

European Ryder Cup selection. This is going to get ugly. Always does, but this year’s selection process promises to be even more intriguing for European officials if Carl Pettersson’s victory last week at the Heritage is any indication.

Because Pettersson is not a European Tour member he does not appear on either the world or European points list for Ryder Cup selection and it seems possible he could get caught in the same no-man’s land that kept Justin Rose off the 2010 team.

As it now stands, the European team would include Rory McIlroy, Peter Hanson, Martin Kaymer, Rose and Paul Lawrie from the European list; while the world points list would include Donald, Westwood, Graeme McDowell, Sergio Garcia and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano.

Among the players on the “outside” who would be looking to be one of the two captain’s picks would be Paul Casey, Padraig Harrington, Ian Poulter, Alvaro Quiros, Thomas Bjorn, both of the Molinari brothers and Pettersson.

“The best five players in Europe will come first followed by the best five [off the world ranking], so if Carl Pettersson is looking at a pick he’s going to have to play extremely well to get that pick,” McDowell said on Friday’s “Morning Drive.” “There are going to be four or five guys who are deserving to be a pick this year that are not going to get on that team by merit.”

Note to European captain Jose Maria Olazabal: you thought winning a green jacket was hard.

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