In this week’s edition of Cut Line, John Daly turns 50, Spring Break turns social for some of the game’s top players, and an overly crowded schedule turns some potential Olympians away from this year’s Games.
Daly’s second act. Perhaps no one in golf needs an occupational mulligan as much as John Daly, who turned 50 on Thursday and is poised to make his PGA Tour Champions debut next week at the Insperity Invitational.
Earlier this month, I spent a hectic morning with Daly in his rolling merchandise outlet on Washington Road, about a par 5 from the front entrance to Augusta National, and there was no denying his continued zeal for the game and how much he’s embraced this next chapter.
As he looks ahead, Daly didn't seem to have much interest in looking back at an eventful life both on and off the golf course. Instead, he's choosing to focus his energy on the one constant in his career – his fans.
For Daly, his legacy is a matter of perspective, and he understands that he means many different things to different people.
“It’s going to be like a politician,” Daly figured. “You take the good with the bad. You know some people are going to say what a disgrace I was, and others are going to say, 'He did great with charity work and has a heart of gold.'”
You may not agree with some of his choices, but you can’t deny his honesty.
Tweet of the week:
THK U all 4 the bday wishes 2day I'm only "18" with "32" yrs of experience! Also $150 grand up from Fuzzy sayin I wouldn't make it to 50— John Daly (@PGA_JohnDaly) April 28, 2016
#SB2K16. Perhaps the most surprising part of the Bro-hamas vacation that was so well publicized via social media is the pushback the foursome of Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, Smylie Kaufman and Justin Thomas received.
Some in the media questioned the group’s decision to make their antics so public via a series of Snapchat posts.
Others, most notably Gary Player and Rory McIlroy, celebrated the week for what it was – a group of twenty-somethings doing what twenty-somethings do during spring break.
“After seeing all these Snapchats over the last few days, maybe I should have taken [Fowler] up on the invite!” McIlroy tweeted.
If there was one moment that gave us pause, it was Kaufman’s breakdown of Spieth’s chunked wedge shot at the 12th hole during the final round of the Masters. Although the Snapchat was unquestionably funny, it may have been too soon.
Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)
Progress or potential problems? The World Anti-Doping Agency released its annual doping violations report this week, a list of infractions that included six golfers.
The golfers were from Italy (three), France, Korea and South Africa, compared to just one golfer who was sanctioned on last year’s report.
The timing of the report was particularly interesting considering that any potential Olympians will be placed in a anti-doping testing pool on May 6 that is much more stringent than the methods used by the PGA Tour.
Ty Votaw, the vice president of the International Golf Foundation and the Tour’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer, told Golf.com that the report’s findings were a “validation of our testing procedures.”
Perhaps, but a significant portion of potential Olympians play the majority of their golf on the PGA Tour, which is not a signatory of the WADA code, and the circuit reported just a single performance-enhancing drug violation in 2015.
Maybe there is no need for concern as golf inches closer to its return to the Olympics, but as the WADA report suggests the anti-doping world is filled with possible missteps – both intended and otherwise.
Slippery slope. Things didn’t go exactly as planned for the United States Golf Association at last year’s U.S. Open at Chambers Bay, but give the organization credit for embracing a more sustainable golf course in a market that has largely been devoid of championship golf.
On Monday, however, the USGA seemed to take a step back during media day for this year’s U.S. Open at Oakmont Country Club, when executive director Mike Davis was asked about the layout’s renowned difficulty.
“I think in the past,the course rating has been somewhere in the low 80s, so the average golfer, even if it's not setup for a U.S. Open, has no idea how exacting this golf course is,” Davis said. “I believe it's up [to an] 80, 81, 82 course rating when it's set up for the U.S. Open.”
To put that number in context, the rating for this week’s stop at TPC Louisiana is 76.3, and last week at TPC San Antonio, which was statistically the second-toughest course on Tour last year, the tournament rating was 76.5.
Harder doesn’t always mean better.
Don’t blame it on Rio. On Monday, Charl Schwartzel joined Louis Oosthuizen on the sidelines for this year’s Olympics, announcing that he would be skipping the Games because of a “tight schedule.”
There has been no shortage of criticism of the South African’s decision to skip the Olympics, but the real blame should go to those tour executives who were unable, or unwilling, to accommodate golf’s return to the Games with a more user-friendly schedule.
After the U.S. Open, there will be virtually no rest for many players bound for Rio, with essentially mandatory starts at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational/French Open, Open Championship, PGA Championship, Olympics and then onto the FedEx Cup playoffs and Ryder Cup.
If the various tours wanted to truly embrace the Olympic vision, the schedule needed to be reduced, not reworked. Maybe, as officials have said, the 2020 schedules will be more accommodating to prepare for the Games in Japan, but that didn’t make Schwartzel and Oosthuizen’s decision any easier this year.