Cut Line Trash-Talk Tour Style


LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – The marketing minds who dubbed this slice of central Florida “imagineering” the happiest place on earth never had to cajole a downhill, down grain 15-footer into the hole for birdie to keep their jobs.

Had they faced such a harsh reality Walt Disney World Resort may have gone with something closer to “It’s better than Sheboygan.” Still, Disney provides the perfectly apropos backdrop to the season finale and the year’s ultimate “Cut Line.”

Made Cut

Trash-talk. “Cut Line” is digging on the smack talk between Rickie Fowler, Aaron Baddeley and Troy Merritt – even if it’s mostly of the Twitter variety and relatively tame compared to, say, the venom spewed by the NBA’s Kevin Garnett.

Baddeley had his picture taken with the 2010 Kodak trophy, which was won by Kevin Streelman, and texted it to Merritt, while Fowler, who tied for the Kodak lead with a 6 footer on the Magnolia Course’s 17th hole on Friday, Tweeted, “And we’re tied at the top thanks to (Aaron Baddeley)! Nice birdie Badds!”

Fine, it may be on the soft side of Garnett’s on-court histrionics, but for golf that ranks right up there with “Your momma is so ugly . . .”

Shaun Micheel. The Children’s Miracle Network Classic is Micheel’s first event since his mother died and the soft-spoken former PGA Championship winner was predictably reticent at an event that normally fixates on the insular notion that a lost Tour card is reason to crawl into a pot bunker for an impromptu pity party.

“I had to help carry my mom’s body out of her house,” Micheel said on Wednesday. “The sun was coming up and people were going on with their everyday lives and I’m thinking they don’t know what just happened. It showed me that life goes on.”

Kind of puts things in perspective for the guy who finishes 126th in earnings on Sunday.

Sid Wilson. One of the good guys got his gold watch this week.

Wilson’s name has never showed up on a leaderboard or even a Tour tee sheet, but the circuit’s vice president of player relations has left his mark on a tour that had an earnings average of $104,000, or about $1 million less than it is now, when he set up shop in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

Wilson started his Tour career in 1987 in the public relations department, moved to player relations in 1993 and has handled the sometimes unenviable job of kid gloving Tour types with the patience and tact of an U.N. negotiator.

Predictably, after 23 years Wilson’s golden plan is simple – play golf.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Michelle Wie. We’ve watched and wondered, through bad wrist injuries and even worst blows to a developing psyche, if the Hawaiian phenom would, or could, live up to all the expectations.

In recent years she’s rallied, won and, more importantly, developed. But Thursday’s news that Wie withdrew from the Lorena Ochoa Invitational with an ailing back may be the most concerning of all her setbacks.

In retrospect, shaken confidence and a shaky wrist seem trite compared to a 21 year old with a balky back.

Kodak Challenge. It’s hard to get jazzed about a season-long race at say, the John Deere Classic but we have to admit the $1 million free-for-all has added a measure of intrigue to the season finale.

Three lively contenders in Fowler, Baddeley and Merritt and the winner-take-all intensity of it all has created a compelling undercard, but that was until Merritt’s group inched in nearly two holes behind Fowler on Friday.

They teed off 10 minutes apart. Does Kodak not make a stopwatch?

Missed Cut

European Tour. Lost amid the hyperbole of this week’s announcement that Rory McIlroy was done with his American experiment is a move this year by the European circuit to increase the minimum number of tournaments its players must play in 2011.

Starting next season European members will need at least 13 starts to maintain status, up one from this season. The move was a not-so-veiled attempt to keep its talent at home, but it may never be put into practice.

One longtime European insider told “Cut Line” this week there has been plenty of pushback over the new minimum and it may be repealed before it does any more harm.

Corey Pavin. Captain America inched closer to Captain Curmudgeon status this week, lashing back at Sun Mountain, the embattled rain-gear provider at this year’s Ryder Cup.

“I’ve tried to go high road,” Pavin told Golf World’s Tim Rosaforte last week at Harding Park. “But Sun Mountain kind of threw us under the bus (in an interview with the Associated Press), and that’s what bothers me.”

At worst Sun Mountain was protecting its brand, which took a beating in the wake of waterproof-gate. At best Pavin is trying to rewrite history.

Tweet of the week: @PaulAzinger “For those of you that keep asking, I will not be Ryder Cup captain in 2012 here in the United States. Thanks for your support. Go USA!”

Sorry to hear that, but it does clear the deck for a 2013 Presidents Cup captains gig, no?