Tom Watson proves age is just a number


The final salvos in the anchoring debate appear to have been lobbed this week and following months of debate and double talk this much is certain: There were no winners. Not the PGA Tour, not the USGA and R&A and certainly not golf.

Made Cut

Old Tom. He will be disconnected with today’s top players. He’s not familiar with the modern game. The Ryder Cup is a much different animal since he last led a team of Americans to victory across the pond in 1993.

There was no shortage of reasons to second-guess when the PGA of America took a flyer and named Tom Watson the U.S. captain for next year’s Ryder Cup, yet the sweet-swinging 63-year-old seems to have embraced those notions of relic resistance and proved that he is still spry enough to compete with some of those he will be leading next fall. All in the same week.

Watson began his week by naming Andy North one of his assistant captains. North has worked as an analyst for ESPN since 1993 and last played a PGA Tour event in 2006.

Watson followed that news with rounds of 68-69 to make the cut at The Greenbrier Classic. Whether or not he can recognize Bubba Watson in a crowded clubhouse, he’s still good enough to play the big left-hander to a draw through two rounds.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Grand Slammed. Whatever it is Inbee Park is vying for next month at the storied Old Course at St. Andrews this much is certain: A victory at the Women’s British Open would be grand. Cut Line will leave the rest of the story to the historians and Webster’s Dictionary.

The debate since Park won the U.S. Women’s Open last Sunday on Long Island is whether a victory at the Women’s British would complete the Grand Slam – it was, after all, the “Impregnable Quadrilateral” that Bobby Jones collected in 1930 – or simply set the stage for the fifth and final leg of the women’s major season at the Evian Championship?

Because the LPGA elevated the Evian to major status for the first time this season, the absolutist seem to have the upper hand in this conversation. But with or without an Evian title at year’s end, Park’s season will be historic. Some would even say grand.

Compromise. The USGA and R&A didn’t like the way an anchored stroke looked so they deemed it illegal. What wasn’t so clear following last week’s decision by the PGA Tour and PGA of America is why the rule makers were so inflexible on the idea that golfers at the recreational level should be given extra time to make the transition.

Both the Tour and PGA urged the rule makers to consider extending the anchoring-ban deadline at the grassroots level (to say, 2024), but the suggestion was quickly dismissed.

It is a sign of how far the USGA has come on this issue that in the fall of 1989 following Orville Moody’s victory at the U.S. Senior Open using a long putter it was the “art form” of putting and not the technical definition of a stroke that seemed to quiet calls to ban anchoring.

“Putting is a very individual art form,” then-USGA executive director David Fay told Golf Journal. “To inhibit a golfer’s individual style would take some of the fun out of the game, and that’s not why we make rules.”

Tweet of the week: @OgilvieJ (Joe Ogilvie): “Here’s the inconvenient truth: If professional golfers made the Rules of Golf, anchoring would’ve been banned for pros 30 years ago.”

Missed Cut

No Blanks. With a PGA Tour card comes a frequent-flyer card; it’s part of the gig. Players learn airports, favorable routes for direct flights and, above all, how to make your way through a TSA line as smoothly as possible.

All of which makes Kris Blanks’ run-in with TSA so baffling. The 40-year-old was catching a flight from West Palm Beach, Fla., to Charlotte, N.C., last Sunday when TSA officials discovered a fully loaded .40-caliber Glock 27 pistol in his carry-on bag.

Blanks told authorities that he had forgotten to remove the gun from his bag after a “road trip” and that he did not have a concealed-weapon permit. He was released early Sunday on a $3,000 bond.

We’re all entitled to mistakes but after a lifetime of wandering around airports Cut Line can’t help but offer some pro bono advice to the likeable journeyman – don’t mess with TSA. 

Asterisks. The Tour had no choice but to follow the USGA and R&A’s new rule on anchoring. The alternative was two sets of rules and too much confusion. Where the circuit chunked the chip shot, however, is the implementation of the rule.

The anchoring ban goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2016, some three months into the 2015-16 Tour season, but by most indications the circuit will not deviate from the USGA/R&A timetable.

One member of the player advisory council told Cut Line that if the Tour went with the new rule early (specifically in the fall of 2015) it would expose the circuit to possible legal action.

Fair enough, but for a Tour that detests asterisks almost as much as attorney’s fees, the decision to play a single season under two sets of rules seems all at once convenient and confusing. And wasn’t avoiding confusion what this was all about?