Lists Letters and Lessons


ORLANDO, Fla. – Thirty-six holes remain for a windswept Florida Swing that has been dominated by headliners hoisting trophies (Camilo Villegas, Ernie Els, Jim Furyk) and stealing the spotlight (Tiger Woods).

But before golf breaks Spring Training and heads north for the Grand Slam season, “Cut Line” has a Sunshine State scorecard including Arnold Palmer, John Daly and everyone in between.

Made Cut

Bay Hill. Arnold Palmer’s goal was to, “make more than 18 par 5s.” Mission accomplished, and not a moment too soon.

On Friday at Arnie’s place, soft-spoken Steve Stricker was the quintessential spokesman to address the changes to the golf course, which Stricker had not seen since he last played the event in 2005.

“It was a hard course and my game wasn’t real good at the time,” Stricker said. “It was also during my kid’s spring break, so we’d come down here, stay in the same hotel as the players and just go to the amusement parks.”

Thanks to Palmer’s handiwork, Orlando now has one less amusement park and the Tour a golf course players don’t have to avoid.

Erik Compton. That the two-time heart-transplant recipient made the cut at Bay Hill was all well and good. That he did it with a ticker that’s running at 130 beats per minute is a testament to how much resolve the 30-year-old has.

During a community Q&A earlier this week at Winter Park (Fla.) Golf Club, Compton explained to the crowd that when his heart rate is elevated, unlike normal hearts, it takes hours to slow down. Which means that if he’s unable to keep his emotions in check on the first tee he will play his entire round at what amounts to a full sprint.

“By the end of my round it feels like I’ve run a marathon,” Compton said.

But then, when you’ve covered as much inspirational ground as Compton, 4 ½ hours at 130 rpms is all part of the package.
Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Slow play short list. News this week that the Tour is circulating a list that ranks players based on their pace of play was welcome. It is the method of measurement that has “CL” a little dubious of the list’s validity, however.

According to The Associated Press, the Tour is using Shotlink technology to separate the turtles from hares, measuring how long it takes them to hit each shot. While we applaud any effort to stomp out slow play, the use of Shotlink, which is primarily operated by volunteers walking with each group and imputing data via a handheld device, is about as scientific as our NCAA Tournament bracket.

“I talked to one of the Tour officials and asked, ‘Do they know the right time to start the clock?’” Ben Curtis said. “But it gives the Tour an idea, a good reference point to help solve pace of play.”

Besides, if Lucas Glover is not even in the top-15 fastest, which he is not according to one player, we suggest the Tour find a more reliable method, like John Paramor’s stopwatch.

Manic Mondays. Whether it be a shrewd attempt at media manipulation or a nod to expediency, Tiger Woods’ plan to hold his first public press conference since his life was transformed from charmed to contentious is a move in the right direction, if not wildly inconvenient.

Most scribes normally don’t arrive at Augusta National until late Monday or early Tuesday and many national media types were likely planning on being at the NCAA championship game in Indianapolis on Monday.

But then holding his first media meet-and-greet on Monday will reduce the impact of his return and immediately remove the elephant from the room before things have even started. Given the circumstances, sooner is better later.
Missed Cut

Favoritism. Word last week that Tour commissioner Tim Finchem sent a memo to tournament directors explaining why Steve Elkington needed sponsor invitations this year seems curious, at best, and biased, at worst.

According to reports Finchem’s memo, which was dated Nov. 23, chronicles Elkington’s career and points out that “he has also been a tournament favorite for his work with the sponsors.”

Although Tour officials said it was a regular procedure when a player’s eligibility status changes they declined to give specific examples of other similar letters and some tournament directors said they felt pressure to give Elkington an exemption.

Champions Tour. For a circuit with a legal track record well south of the Mendoza Line – as best we can tell if it weren’t for Doug Barron the Tour would be 0-fer in court – news Wednesday that the over-50 set had turned down Ken Green’s request for a major medical exemption was curious.

Green, who lost the lower portion of his right leg in a car accident last June, has been attempting a comeback to professional golf since he was released from the hospital and he had 13 months of exempt status through the career-victory category at the time of the accident.

“I just wanted something I earned. I don’t understand what they were thinking. I could probably only play one year, anyway; that’s it. I’d never make the top 30 and stay on the Champions Tour,” Green told Golfweek.

All of which reminds us of a quote from former Tour player Dan Olsen a few years ago, “Ponte Vedra Beach (Fla.) is a country club for bad lawyers.” And bad decisions it would seem.
Tweet of the Week:
@PGA_JohnDaly: “sorry haven’t been (Tweeting) been depressed – Bay Hill and Houston turned me down during Friday’s round at Transitions for (a sponsor’s exemption).”

This from the player who was cited by the Tour in 1998 for “failure to give best effort” after depositing a couple sleeves of balls into a lake and signing for an 18 on Bay Hill’s par-5 sixth hole.