Cut Line: Waiting to exhale


The excitement of Sunday’s shootout at Atlanta Athletic Club had barely subsided when the golf world went on a collective rant about young Keegan Bradley’s use of a belly putter and Fred Couples’ use of his captain’s picks. The major championship season may be over, but there are still plenty of cuts and controversy to be dissected.

Made Cut

Keegan Bradley. The cow bells haven’t stopped since the beanpole closed with three birdies – the PGA can call Atlanta Athletic Club’s 18th whatever they want, it was a par 5 – to force overtime against Jason Dufner.

“Crazy Stuff,” was Bradley’s assessment shortly after his breakthrough and he certainly did his part to increase the profile of the season’s final major with his post-PGA media blitz.

A guy named Keegan may not have captivated middle America with a perfect 1-for-1 start to his major career, but he soon will.

Something old . . . Perhaps only the West Coast staples of Torrey Pines – the North not Rees Jones’ nip/tucked South Course – Pebble Beach and Riviera can stand up to the current run of turn-back-the-clock classics on the PGA Tour.

Over the next six weeks, the circuit will stop at Sedgefield (Wyndham Championship), Plainfield (The Barclays) and East Lake (Tour Championship). Or, as we like to call it, the Donald Ross Swing.

“(Atlanta Athletic Club) was really kind of a beast compared to this old lady,” Ernie Els said of Sedgefield. “You kind of play trying to survive, (whereas at Sedgefield) you can almost attack a golf course. It was nice a change.”

Tweet of the Week: @elkpga (Steve Elkington): “(Golf Channel analyst) Tim Rosaforte said Tiger should play a Nationwide (Tour) event to get reps. I’m going outside to wait for a fairy to shat a gold nugget on my porch.”

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Glory’s Last Kerfuffle. The PGA Championship has caused the worst kind of revisionist nonsense. From Bradley’s use of a belly putter to Phil Mickelson’s continued rants against Rees Jones’ handiwork, the season’s final major has become a one-stop shop for everything that plagues the ancient game.

Full disclosure here, your Cut Line correspondent has been a belly putter convert from way back, but to suddenly dub the lengthy implement “public enemy No. 1” in the ongoing equipment debate is shortsighted and fundamentally flawed. That they have been playing majors since 1860 and just one has been won by a non-standard length putter is all one needs to know about the evils of the long putter.

As for the Phil v. Rees brouhaha, the fallout has spilled over into New Orleans, where Jones is on the hook to build a championship course in the Big Easy’s City Park. Renowned New Orleans’ columnist Peter Finney wrote this week, “Jones has a $24.5 million challenge to come up with a golf course that will stand the test of time, not for a one-week ‘championship,’ but for 50 weeks a year, over years and years and years, when the touring pros are in another town and your clients are folks trying to break 100.”

Lost in that logic is how beneficial an East Lake-like revitalization would be for City Park, not to mention the immediate upgrade the Zurich Classic would enjoy if it were moved from the West Bank hinterlands into the heart of the city.

The PGA has become a catchall for the game’s ills of late, but this revisionism seems a bit much. The thought did occur late Sunday, however, that Jimmy Hoffa may be buried in the middle of Atlanta Athletic Club’s 15th green.

A Big Difference.  Last year at this time Ernie Els was the FedEx Cup frontrunner, 149 points clear of Steve Stricker and cruising. This week the Big Easy is fighting for his playoff life, mired at 126th on the points list although his opening 65 at the Wyndham Championship has improved his postseason picture.

The same can’t be said of Padraig Harrington (130th in FedEx Cup points), who cancelled a family vacation to play Greensboro and rallied with birdies at Nos. 15 and 17 to make the cut but will need a solid weekend to crack the top 125 and advance to The Barclays.

A postseason marquee without the likes of Harrington, not to mention Tiger Woods, may not be a recipe for marketing magic, but for the first time in five tries the end of the season actually feels . . . well, playoff-like.

Missed Cut

Motor City moves. News this week that General Motors and the Tour had reached an impasse in their efforts to bring the circuit back to Detroit was of little surprise to insiders who questioned all along how the circuit was going to add an event to an already crowded summer dance card.

There had been some speculation that a return to Detroit could be possible if The Heritage failed to find a new title sponsor, but the South Carolina staple signed a five-year deal with the Royal Bank of Canada in June.

Cadillac’s sponsorship of the World Golf Championships event at Doral runs through 2016, but unless they can relocate the Blue Monster to Detroit and trade its March date for something closer to the Fourth of July, Cut Line suspects we haven’t heard the last from GM.

Freddie Couples. Boom Boom has made this clear: you can’t spell Presidents Cup without T-I-G-E-R. The U.S. captain has said on numerous occasions that, even at 28th on the current points list, Woods will be among his dozen in November when the matches return to Royal Melbourne.

“There will be somebody upset because they’ve probably had an incredible year. If Tiger can show us he can play back to any kind of form he’ll be great to have on the team,” said Couples, although he softened his stance this week and is urging Woods to add some starts to his pre-Presidents Cup schedule.

Still, there are currently 17 potential “somebodies” who could get passed over for a Woods pick, which Couples will make on Sept. 26. Among that group is your most-recent major winner and two-time 2011 Tour champion Keegan Bradley (No. 18), cup stalwart Zach Johnson (No. 14) and last year’s Ryder Cup star and Rookie of the Year Rickie Fowler (No. 11).

We can just see the text message from Captain America now, “I’m really sorry, but I promised Michael Jordan . . .”