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Cut Line: World Golf HOF should take a page from MLB

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For those who contend the season doesn’t really start until next week’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, or maybe it’s the Farmers Insurance Open, Cut Line offers a crowded dance card of comings and goings that begins with The Honda Classic’s move to keep PGA National in the PGA Tour rotation and may end with Kapalua dropping out of the lineup.

Made Cut

No Hall Call. Whatever side of the Barry Bonds/Roger Clemens debate you reside on, this week’s no-vote by Baseball’s Hall of Fame makes the World Golf Hall of Fame’s increasingly inclusionary practices seem reactionary.

No major leaguer received the 75 percent of the vote required for induction for just the eighth time since 1936, the ugly byproduct of the game’s steroids era and an intriguing lead for golf’s HOF to follow.

Where baseball seems content with quality over quantity, the World Golf Hall of Fame sees strength in numbers even when it seems a more discerning approach would be a better option.

As one golf scribe recently pointed out, this is the Hall of Fame, not the Hall of Good. If everyone is special, no one is.

Location, location, location. The Honda Classic’s status as one of the circuit’s most improved stops received another boost this week with news the event had extended its contract with PGA National.

Following more than a decade of substandard venues and poor fields, the brain trust in South Florida realized those two elements are not mutually exclusive and moved to PGA National in 2007. The results have been indisputable.

In 2012, the event may have had the best closing round (non-major category) thanks to Tiger Woods’ spirited Sunday charge and Rory McIlroy’s gutsy victory, and the event has quickly become a “can’t miss” stop on the crowded Florida swing.

It doesn’t hurt that many high-profile Tour types (Woods, McIlroy, et al) now call South Florida home, but the No. 1 rule when trying to woo a quality field on Tour is simple – location, location, location.

Tweet of the week: @Scott_Langley “Here we go! #SonyOpen”

On cue, the rookie roared out in his first turn as a card-carrying member with an 8-under 62 to take the early lead. Apparently Langley never got the memo that says newcomers are supposed to ease their way into Tour life.

Keeping up with Jones. Good to see the American Society of Golf Course Architects named Rees Jones this year’s recipient of the Donald Ross Award. Whether you like Jones’ work or not, his impact on the game, particularly at the highest level, is undeniable.

There are four Jones redesigns in the PGA Tour rotation this year and that doesn’t include his current work at venerable staples like Oakland Hills, Baltusrol and Bellerive.

The Open Doctor’s portfolio is beyond reproach, but Cut Line can only assume that Phil Mickelson didn’t have a vote for the Ross Award.


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Celebrity. It was a telling measure of McIlroy’s growing reach that on the same day he announced plans for his new charity foundation, pictures of what were reportedly the Ulsterman’s new Nike Golf clubs were leaked.

A member of Team Rory declined to comment on the pictures but did say they were disappointed the incident overshadowed the release of McIlroy’s “six bags” initiative, which will begin next week in Abu Dhabi and benefit the Northern Ireland Cancer Fund for Children.

It’s a valuable lesson that took Woods more than a decade to learn: When the world is watching it’s often impossible to control the message.

Oh, captain. Next year’s European Ryder Cup captain, and possibly the 2016 skipper, will be announced next week in Abu Dhabi and momentum seems to be building for Colin Montgomerie to get a second turn at the big chair.

Although Monty – who was successful in his first campaign (2010) and owns a home just miles from Gleneagles, site of the 2014 matches – is certainly a viable option it seems the European tournament committee, like the PGA of America, is missing an opportunity.

Although Sandy Lyle’s Ryder Cup snub doesn’t feel as egregious as Larry Nelson’s, it is still one of the game’s great mysteries that a two-time major champion from Scotland doesn’t even rate consideration.


Missed Cut

Aloha. To be fair there is nothing organizers at last week’s Hyundai Tournament of Champions could have done about the blustery conditions that reduced the event to 54 holes and pushed the finale to Tuesday, but the weather woes will do little to help a tournament already on the ropes.

This is the last year of Hyundai’s current deal with the tournament and the combination of poor weather and missing stars (last week’s event was played sans world No. 1 McIlroy, No. 2 Luke Donald and No. 3 Woods) will only make the current contract talks to secure an extension that much more difficult.

As former Kapalua organizer Mark Rolfing told the Honolulu Advertiser last week, “weaker fields and the date’s conflict with the International Consumer Electronics Show could mortally wound a Tour stop that goes back nearly 50 years.”

For the record, if Hyundai fails to re-sign and the event goes the way of the Dodo bird it would mark the second tournament hijacked by the circuit’s new split-calendar schedule (the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic should be considered the first), but it would be the most high profile.

The dreaded pass along. It occurs from time to time when something Cut Line has written is relayed to a player via a third party and something is lost in translation. Something like that transpired last week between NBC’s Johnny Miller and Ian Poulter; though, Cut Line was not involved.

During the telecast of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, Miller referred to the Englishman as “fairly dramatic.” When the episode was passed on to Poulter via his legion of followers on Twitter, however, he was led to believe Miller called him a “drama queen.”

This prompted a series of pointed tweets from Poulter including, “Johnny Miller why don't you come interview me live and say that stuff straight to my face. . . . Was (sic) you watching a different channel?”

For all of Twitter’s attributes, and believe me Cut Line would be lost without its 140-character updates, it is what the platform fails to provide that is often the most concerning – context.

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