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Cut Line Cups Half Full

In retrospect, U.S. Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin’s wild-card picks were low-hanging fruit compared to the field that “Cut Line” faces this week.

In a rare “house divided” edition the Pavins, that’s Corey and wife Lisa, end up on opposite ends of the weekend axe, but at least neither of them have to suffer through four rounds at Cog Hill, which is about as popular as another September swoon by the Cubs.

Made Cut

Corey Pavin’s picks. If Captain America didn’t exactly take a page from Paul Azinger’s Ryder Cup playbook when he announced his four wild-card picks on Tuesday it was more a byproduct of circumstance than it was a wholesale philosophical shift.

This year’s matches may not be an entirely different game than the “us against the world” spirited home game that was Valhalla, but it’s close, and that had to factor into Pavin’s picks.

If Pavin is culpable of anything it is locking into his picks a tad early. He confirmed on Tuesday that his picks didn’t change over the last week, which likely cost Charley Hoffman a spot on the team. But given the hand Pavin has been dealt it’s hard to find fault in three veterans and a five-tool prospect.

FedEx Cup. It’s not perfect. May never be. But PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem’s big finish is 3-for-3 in crowning the correct champion and identifying the year’s top players.

In order, the cup has gone to Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh and Woods; and only three players have finished in the top 15 the last three years – Steve Stricker, Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk.

Not a Boise State in the bunch. Take that BCS.

Tweet of the Week: @stewartcink “Just finished at Deutsche Bank and my phone is eerily devoid of text, voice or e-mail from You Know Who.” Good news for Cink and his loyal army of followers he got the call, or maybe the news came via a Tweet.
Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Phil Mickelson. We’ve been on this treadmill since The Players Championship, Lefty poised on the mathematical doorstep to become the world’s top-ranked player for the first time in a Hall-of-Fame career, and yet each week slips by with another pedestrian performance and an unchanged lineup card.

To put Lefty’s lofty struggles in context, Woods has dropped five times more points in his average ranking (4.96) since January than Mickelson has gained (.82).

The BMW Championship marks the 260th week Mickelson has held the also-ran ranking – exactly twice as long as the next guy on the “bridesmaid” list, Nick Faldo (130 weeks). That’s not 19 runner-ups in major championships, but not a bad measure of a career or a man.

Cog Hill. Mickelson has never been shy in his assessment of Rees Jones’ nip/tuck of the South Side staple, but his discontent was joined by a chorus of other disgruntled players at this week’s BMW Championship.

“Two things you don’t want to hear as a player, Rees Jones and SubAir,” Paul Casey told XM Radio.

What’s lost in the Cog Hill bashing, however, is that Jones’ 2009 makeover of the public-access gem was prompted by the possibility of landing a U.S. Open on the Dubsdread layout, a possibility that turned long-shot when the U.S. Golf Association awarded the 2017 national championship to Wisconsin’s Erin Hills in June.

A word of caution to Tour types on this, you may not love Cog Hill, but the alternative is no stop at all in Chicago. And that’s not good for anyone.
Missed Cut

Lisa Pavin. The captain’s better half has not been bashful in expanding the role of the first lady, but a recent interview in Avid Golfer (Dallas) magazine may have stretched the boundaries of a captain’s wife, to say nothing of the fodder she has provided the United Kingdom press.

The article includes numerous photos of a scantily clad Lisa Pavin and comments that stretch the traditional role of a captain’s wife.

“I want this position to stand out. And I want to help the PGA brand the Ryder Cup to another level. To another market. To another niche. I think that’s where my business mind comes in,” Lisa Pavin said in the article. “It’s not just about clothes; people think my job only involves clothing. I’m thinking how to take the PGA of America to other people who wouldn’t normally be interested. That’s just my business mind working versus doing the usual responsibilities that a wife does. We’ll see if it works.”

Works for us, but the PGA of America may want to handle the U.S. team’s wardrobe if the magazine’s photos are any indication of Lisa Pavin’s sense of style.

New groove rule. News that the U.S. Golf Association is testing a potential “tournament ball” has drawn the attention of golf-dom, none other than Woods himself addressed the topic last week in Boston. But before the blue blazers consider any new regulations they may want to take a closer look at what happened the last time the organization adopted a similar rollback.

This year’s new groove rule was supposed to put more emphasis on hitting fairways and make greens harder to find for Tour types, but entering the season’s final month the measure seems to have been counter-intuitive.

Although Tour players are hitting slightly more fairways in 2010 (63.57) compared to previous years (2009, 62.91; 2008, 63.16; 2007, 63.03; 2006, 63.26) – a bump that could just as easily be attributed to wetter, more-receptive courses – the percentage of greens hit from 125 yards and in, the kind of wedge shots that were supposed to be impacted the most by the change, has actually gone up slightly (2010, 81.77; 2009, 81.38; 2008, 81.59; 2007, 80.31).

“Oh, no doubt, it's helped. I think (the new grooves) made it almost easier,” Ryan Palmer said. “I mean, look at the 59 (Paul Goydos at the John Deere Classic), the 60, 61s, and what did they do at Canada, Carl Pettersson shooting 59, Colonial, breaking records. The greens are soft and nobody is spinning the ball, and they're controlling their lob wedges easier.”

Just a hunch, but “easier” can’t be what the USGA had in mind.