According to the schedule the 2012 season gets underway this week, although the late start and light field at Kapalua certainly test the boundaries of the term “grand opening.” Luckily for Cut Line the new year provides plenty fodder to fill the void, from Royal Portrush’s slow climb back to international prominence to Jeff Overton’s curious deal cutting.
Jim Huber. The majors won’t be the same this year. The PGA Grand Slam of Golf may never recover, not after losing Huber, who died on Monday at 67.
The Emmy Award-winning Huber was a staple at the major championships, but it was at the 2011 Grand Slam event in Bermuda that we got to know and respect his work. During the evening Q&A with the four players Huber directed traffic and defied reason with his depth of knowledge, grilling David Toms on details of his 2001 PGA victory that even the champion didn’t remember.
His essays will be missed at this year’s major stops, but his spot at the Grand Slam of Golf may never be replaced.
A trip north. Perhaps news that the Irish Open will return to Royal Portrush for the first time since 1947 isn’t exactly stop-the-press stuff, but for the venerable links it could be a sign of things to come.
Following Portrush resident Darren Clarke’s Open Championship victory last year there was a groundswell of support for the game’s oldest championship to return to Northern Ireland for the first time since 1951.
The first step in that process was to bring a lesser event to Portrush to test the course and infrastructure, and June’s Irish Open qualifies as a good litmus test. As for those who say Royal Portrush is too remote and inaccessible to host an Open we have three words for you – Royal St. George’s.
Tweet of the Week: @DarrenClarke60 “Press conference (Friday) at Royal Portrush at 2 p.m. re: Irish Open then Van Morrison in concert tomorrow night in Belfast. #properweekend”
Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)
Player Advisory Council. Votes for this year’s 16-man PAC will be finalized on Friday in Hawaii but if player reaction is any indication this will feel more like a straw poll than a Super Tuesday.
“(Tour officials) don’t listen to what is said (in PAC meetings) so there’s really no use,” said one former PAC member.
Considering the sweeping changes currently being purposed to the Q-School and Nationwide Tour process as well as the circuit’s schedule it’s in the rank-and-file’s best interest to embrace activism not apathy right now.
Gary Woodland. The hard-swinging former college point guard is a breath of fresh air among the play-for-pay set and his recent move from Hambric Sports Management to Mark Steinberg and Excel Sports qualifies as one of those circle-of-life deals, but the big man may have run through an unfortunate stop sign in the process.
Woodland’s manager at Hambric was Blake Smith, the son of affable swing coach Randy Smith who had been working with Woodland since 2005. In the wake of Woodland’s move, the elder Smith decided it was best if the two no longer worked together.
Switching agents, and caddies, is part of the game, but this has the feel of needless collateral damage.
An active lifestyle. In the same news cycle, Lucas Glover injured his knee in a paddle boarding incident and Paul Casey may have landed himself on the extended DL with a dislocated shoulder while snowboarding.
The NFL is always considered the Tour’s major rival, so much so officials moved this week’s finish in Hawaii to Monday to avoid the first weekend of playoff action, but it seems it’s the X Games with which Camp Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., should really be concerned.
Hyundai Tournament of Champions. On paper this is a non-issue, a handful of the world’s best golfers playing in paradise and in primetime on the East Coast. In practice, however, the boffo blockbuster has started to feel more like golf’s version of Survivor Island.
Eleven players who were qualified for the Hyundai failed to make the trip this week, the largest number of no-shows since the event moved to Kapalua in 1999, and the 28-man field ties the record for the thinnest tee sheet.
Billed as golf’s All-Star game, attendance at Kapaula has felt more like the slam dunk contest in recent years. Missing from the opener are Phil Mickelson, who hasn’t played the Hyundai since 2001, world No. 1 Luke Donald and three of the four major champions from 2011.
The move to a Monday finish to avoid going head-to-head with the NFL playoffs will help, but unless officials find a way to improve attendance the Hyundai will continue to feel more like a soft opening.
Jeff Overton. The Tour player pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct following an incident on Dec. 10 in Bloomington, Ind., while charges of resisting law enforcement and public intoxication were dismissed.
Overton must complete 30 hours of community service and pay $165 in administrative cost, which, considering officers initially claimed he was not cooperative and was shouting at bystanders from his limousine, seems like a good deal.
Overton’s lawyer, however, wanted his day in court. “I would have like to take this to trial,” Sam Shapiro said. In December Overton told the Bloomington Herald-Times: “I feel my rights were violated. I'm sitting in my own limo and got pulled out. other than that, I'm going to let my lawyer handle it.”
Reading between the lines here, but it’s hard to tell if Overton did the right thing, or the easy thing.