Cut Line: Village people put on a show


It’s raining so that must mean the PGA Tour is at Muirfield Village, but not even the ever-present threat of the weather-warning horn can dampen the proceedings this week thanks to tournament host Jack Nicklaus, who has the unique ability to make one, all at once, laugh and cry. And that’s before players ever even reach the redesigned 16th hole.

Made Cut

Golden moments. Only Jack Nicklaus, some 26 years removed from his last PGA Tour victory, can still captivate crowds and this week at Muirfield Village the Golden Bear did not disappoint.

On the eve of this year’s Memorial, Nicklaus honored his good friend and rival Tom Watson, who outdueled the Golden Bear in some of the game’s greatest clashes. But if Nicklaus holds a grudge against Old Tom it certainly didn’t seem that way during the induction ceremony.

“He embodies everything I could want in a friend,” an emotional Nicklaus said of Watson.

We all knew Nicklaus was a great champion, but we continue to learn what a great person he is.

Bulletin boards. OK, so European swing guru Pete Cowen didn’t do the Continent any favors when he suggested last week that captain Jose Maria Olazabal could whip the Americans at Medinah with his “B” team.

Yet considering Europe’s dominance in recent years it’s not a completely ridiculous comment and when asked later to clarify Cowen didn’t attempt to run for cover.

“People have been coming up to me to ask about it and I’ve been telling them that I meant what I said. To be honest, I get fed up with those who sit on the fence,” Cowen said. “They go on and on about how difficult away matches can be when they should be sending positive vibes.”

Cut Line doesn’t agree with Cowen but you have to appreciate the message, as well as the Englishman’s decision to own it.

Tweet of the Day: @Harris_English “Sitting in the safe house off No. 4 green (at Memorial). Jerry Springer is on TV. Ryo (Ishikawa) is getting his chance to experience America at its finest.”

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Scheduling. Maybe it was the three straight tournaments, ending with the Byron Nelson Championship where he tied for seventh, or the emotional World Golf Hall of Fame induction ceremony, or jet-setting stops in Italy and France to celebrate his wife’s 40th birthday. Or maybe it was the Tuesday outing on Long Island.

Or, for those who spend their time searching for gunmen on grassy knolls, it was a lax cell phone policy or that 7-over Thursday card that sent Phil Mickelson packing at the Memorial.

Chances are it was a combination of all these things that prompted Lefty to withdraw and, truth is, it doesn’t really matter. He made no secret about this, all that matters right now is the U.S. Open, a West Coast Open for the “People’s champion,” whatever that means.

You can question Mickelson’s scheduling, but not his priorities.

Status quo. First Capt. Boom Boom let it slip, as only Fred Couples could, that he was “going to help (U.S. Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III)” this year at Medinah, then he told anyone who would listen that it won’t be an “official” partnership.

Translation: The PGA of America isn’t ready or willing to embrace the idea that Couples – a two-time Presidents Cup captain who will get his third turn to go undefeated next year – may be exactly what the American side needs.

As a general rule, The PGA and PGA Tour don’t like to share captains and Captain Couples doesn’t exactly fit the mold of the buttoned-up skipper. But with the U.S. side mired in a 2-for-8 slump and desperately needing a victory on home soil this year, it may be time to color outside the lines.

Whatever Couples is bringing to the table at the Presidents Cup, it’s working. So we don’t care if you call him the “Lead golf cart driver/storyteller,” get him to Medinah and watch the fireworks.

Missed Cut

Not-so-sweet 16th. Nicklaus once referred to Muirfield Village’s par-3 16th as a good way to get from the 15th green to the 17th tee, a nondescript bridge that had a round-peg-in-a-square-hole feel to it.

Nicklaus’ answer was a new green, an extra 15 yards and a lake, transforming the former afterthought into the second-hardest hole this week. On Thursday, 17 tee shots found the water – including Mickelson and Bubba Watson on consecutive swings – and just 30 of 120 attempts found the green.

Only Nicklaus could turn a good way to get to the 17th tee into a reason to keep walking to the parking lot.

Grand Standing . . . eh, Slam. A year removed from the official start of his golden years, Colin Montgomerie revealed this week that he’s warming to the idea of a second career on the over-50 circuit, even suggesting that he is intrigued by the notion of winning the “Senior Slam.”

“I am tempted by the idea of a ‘senior grand slam,’” Monty said. “A tall order, I know, but golfing dreams are not the preserve of the young.”

Of course the entire affair smacks of revisionist nonsense by a player who realized a decade or so too late that he probably should have spent more energy chasing traditional majors instead of those eight European Tour Order of Merit titles.

Besides, has no one explained to Monty that the “Senior Slam” consists of five majors – Senior PGA, U.S. Senior Open, Tradition, Senior Players and British Senior Open – and that four of those tilts are contested in Lower 48?