SHEBOYGAN, Wis. – The Ryder Cup is always the story within the story during PGA Championship week, but this year the biennial grudge matches stole the spotlight from “Glory’s Last Shot” for all the wrong reasons.
If the captain’s press conference on Wednesday was any indication, this year’s matches may make the heated “War on the Shore” look like the Tavistock Cup. WWE’s Vince McMahan would have been proud, and “Cut Line” scarcely knows where to start.
Tiger Woods. Whatever the relationship between the world No. 1 and Sean Foley, Woods gets kudos for bringing in a second set of eyes – let’s be honest, the video stuff didn’t seem to be working – and realizing he needed help.
Be it by desperation or design, Foley seems a good fit for Camp Eldrick. His credentials (having coached two players to three Tour titles in the last two months) are beyond reproach and his deft handling of this week’s media frenzy suggests he’s up to the task of living in the world No. 1’s fish bowl.
A word of unsolicited caution, however. Swing instructors are like football coaches, they get too much praise during the good times and far too much blame during the bad. Just ask Hank Haney.
Club pros. Twenty non-descript players, the lunchbox set of professional golf, will quietly go about their business this week at the 92nd PGA Championship. Most will be gone long before Sunday’s trophy ceremony, but all will cherish the experience to the extreme.
“Shot 67 (on Wednesday),” said Ryan Benzel, one of “Cut Line’s” favorite 9-5ers and a Pacific Northwest teaching pro. “This is awesome.”
Not bad for a guy who folds shirts and hawks tee times for a living.
Tweet of the Week: @PaulAzinger “Tiger said he would accept pick to play (Ryder Cup). Said he wants to be there! Does that now make him a lock to be on the team? I say it does.”
Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)
Woods, Phil Mickelson and Anthony Kim. Wednesday’s soiree at captain Corey Pavin’s rented house wasn’t mandatory. Wasn’t even highly recommended, but for one player wrestling with public perception problems and another fresh off a stint on the DL it was a curious miss.
According to multiple sources, all but three players from the top 20 on the U.S. points list attended the meeting, with Woods, Mickelson and Kim taking a curious pass.
Lefty is first on the points list and certainly deserves a pass, and perhaps Woods and Kim had perfectly legitimate reasons for skipping – fondue on the menu and a cash bar come to mind – but it just seems the American side could use all the team building it can get right now.
Corey Pavin/Jim Gray. Whatever side of the he said/he said debate you subscribe to, the high-profile row between the U.S. Ryder Cup captain and the Golf Channel contributor leaves little room for conversation.
Both miss the 54-hole cut because they let what should have been a private conversation between adults escalate into a strange public disagreement on Wednesday at the PGA Championship.
Whistling Straits’ 18th hole. Herb Kohler’s gem has been described by some as the best 17-hole course in the world, and this week’s PGA suggests there is something to that with players largely praising the faux links layout.
The Straits’ 18th hole remains a work in progress, however. A new fairway built down the left side will get little use this week since it would require a 310- to 320-yard drive to reach the short grass and little room beyond that before there is more rough and hazards.
One Tour caddie didn’t pull any punches when asked if anyone would use the new landing area, “Yeah, if you’re a dumbass.”
Colin Montgomerie. “Cut Line” has had big fun with the European skipper this year, but the Scot’s actions of late have slid from the entertaining to the inexplicable.
Monty scolded reporters earlier this week for asking about a reported injunction he has against an ex-girlfriend. According to a recent Golf.com report he, “won an injunction in the British courts to prevent his ex-girlfriend from revealing details about their relationship.”
“Excuse me, I'm here to talk about the Ryder Cup,” Montgomerie said when asked about the injunction on Wednesday. “So please, no further questions on that or any other subject regarding anything – or anything regarding my private life. By definition that is private.”
Curious then that Monty had a much different take on Woods’ “private life” earlier this year when he wrote an article in the Telegraph Sport.
“Turning up at Celtic Manor could be one of the hardest things Tiger ever does. He will worry about how the wives of the other players will react to him,” Monty wrote. “Some of them might find it hard to welcome Tiger back into the group.”
Similarly, some might find Monty’s comments difficult to stomach.
United Kingdom taxman. Whether Woods, or any other American, would accept an invitation to play this year’s Ryder Cup took an interesting turn last week when reports surfaced that they may be subject to U.K. taxes on endorsements and other income.
For Woods, whose portfolio already has taken a healthy hit this year, that could be as much as £1million. The European Tour, which runs overseas Ryder Cups, is in discussions with U.K. tax officials.
“My accountant has told me I could be liable,” Paul Casey said. “I will always go back because it’s home, but I fear it will keep people away. I’m not a huge fan of paying through the nose for something.”
And fans heading to this year’s matches in Wales thought they were paying through the nose.