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Cut Line Hope-less Feeling

The year’s first cut may still be a day away, the victim of torrential rains at the Sony Open, but “Cut Line” remains unaffected by La Nina – the weather cycle blamed for the current weather woes – or poor drainage.

Among this week’s early exits are LPGA commissioner Mike Whan and a desert exodus that has “Cut Line” wondering what’s next for the Bob Hope Classic?

Made Cut

Robert the Great. It may not sit well with the “Little League Dads,” and it will likely never lead to sporting immortality, but with a shoulder shrug Robert Garrigus showed why he’s one of the most refreshing players on the PGA Tour.

“That's how it goes. That's golf. I've lost about 133 golf tournaments, and it's not that big a deal,” Garrigus said following his missed 3-footer on the second playoff hole at last week’s Tournament of Champions.

From the depths of self-imposed drug rehab comes an enlightening perspective that transcends trophies and missed tap-ins.

Island hopping. It is, essentially, the best two-for-one on Tour. Play the season opener on Maui and then jump the short flight to Honolulu for the year’s first full-field event (Sony Open). It’s a good gig if you can get it, but the math has not always added up.

This year, however, the logistics of the Hawaiian two-fer have resulted in a stronger than normal field in Honolulu. Twenty-three of the 33 2010 winners who began their year at Kapalua signed on to play this week’s soggy Sony.

“If I win and go to Kapalua, I'm here (Sony Open). I don't see why you wouldn't play,” Jim Furyk said.

Of course, that shift may also have something to do with the frigid truth that there is currently snow on the ground in 49 of the 50 states.

Statute of limitations. “Cut Line” was rather clear on this last week, Camilo Villegas violated the Rules of Golf at the Tournament of Champions and it doesn’t matter if it came to light via a fellow competitor, Twitter, e-mail or smoke signal the integrity of the competition was rightfully upheld.

But the timing of Villegas’ subsequent disqualification, some 12 hours after he’d signed his scorecard, that has some demanding change. As is often the case, however, there is no easy fix. In fact, building in a “buffer” to avoid a similar situation in the future creates an entirely new set of problems.

“The whole reason the (Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews) and (U.S. Golf Association) have rejected it is there are too many ramifications if you do that,” Mike Davis, the USGA’s senior director of rules and competition, told “Cut Line.”

“If you gave Camilo a four-stroke penalty (and let him play) the problem with that is all the ramifications it has. You may all of a sudden screw up a cut. It could be the U.S. Amateur and you just played 36 holes of stroke play and your entire bracket could get messed up. Nobody likes these continued call ins, but to change it in this one instance would cause so many problems.”
Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Magic Whan. It’s been a busy 2011 for LPGA commissioner Mike Whan, and the circuit is more than a month shy of its season opener.

Whan told the rank and file to hold off on booking their flights to the Tres Marias Championship in Mexico amid security concerns and now he has denied more non-member starts to teen phenom Alexis Thompson.

“We agreed for security reasons we are not convinced today that (the Tres Marias Championship) is a go,” Whan said. “We may have to move it back or postpone.”

As for Thompson, the 15-year-old wanted 12 sponsor exemptions instead of the current maximum of six. Whan said no, but did allow for non-members to compete in Monday qualifying. Thompson is a great talent, but if she wants more starts she should petition the tour for membership.
Missed Cut

Magic Whan II. The new LPGA chief isn’t batting 1.000, at least not when it comes to a proposed event that will pay players what is essentially Monopoly money.

Whan’s plan to award “mock” money to players at the inaugural Founders Cup with the actual purse going to charity is best described as the wrong execution of the right idea. Although Whan said he will pay players a stipend to help cover their expenses, the sacrifice is too great when your average LPGA player can expect somewhere between 12 and 15 starts.

Besides, if anyone in golf should be doing some pro bono work it’s the suits in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. According to reports Tour commissioner Tim Finchem earned $5.3 million in base pay and bonuses in 2008, enough to rank him third on the ’08 money list.

Tweet of the Week: @natalie_gulbis “1-11-11. Hope everyone has a great day!” she Tweeted . . . on Jan. 12.

Hope-less. The Bob Hope Classic is one of three Tour events that currently doesn’t have a title sponsor, and if the current trend continues that won’t change anytime soon.

As has become something of a tradition some of the Tour’s stars will play the European Tour’s Abu Dhabi Championship, including Phil Mickelson, next week instead of the Hope. Tour members must be granted a “conflicting event release” to play overseas the same week as a Tour event. For next week’s Hope the Tour has issued nine releases, the same as last year.

Although eight of those players hold duel membership on the PGA and European tours, on the ground in California it still adds up to one of the weakest fields on Tour. As tournament patriarch Bob Hope once said, “If you haven’t got any charity in your heart, you have the worst kind of heart trouble.”