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Cut Line: Killing caddie races kills fun

Caddie races
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Cut Line bids farewell to the 2013 regular season with a mathematical and emotional breakdown of the Wyndham Championship field, a pros/cons look at the PGA Tour’s rumored buyout of the European circuit and a plea for Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., to reset the FedEx Cup points reset.

Made Cut

Greater Greensboro. Wyndham Championship tournament director Mark Brazil will tell you the field at his event has steadily improved in recent years, although he prefers to make that assessment based on star power and not statistics.

“I love counting big names, household names, that’s the way I gauge it. I don’t gauge it on rankings,” Brazil said. “You get a Fred Couples here, he’s not ranked, but he’s still one of the top draws. A guy like Padraig Harrington, name recognition is huge.”

It is curious, however, that the Official World Golf Ranking math makes a compelling argument that since the Greensboro, N.C., stop moved into the pre-FedEx Cup playoffs spot in 2007 business has steadily improved.

In 2006, the last year the event was played in October, the Wyndham champion received 18 world Ranking points. The ’07 winner, Brandt Snedeker, received 24 points. That total jumped to 30 points in ’08, 32 in ’09, 38 in ’11 and 42 in ’12. This week’s champion is projected to receive 44 points.

In this case Brazil’s heart and his head tell the same story.

Bethpage and beyond. Right there behind Sasquatch and Nessie is the U.S. Golf Association’s baffling reluctance to put Bethpage’s Black Course and Torrey Pines’ South Course back into the U.S. Open rotation as a genuine mystery.

The 2008 Open at Torrey Pines may arguably be this generation’s best major, and Bethpage, although soaked for both Opens it hosted, is a perfect combination of qualify golf and prime location.

The USGA’s slow play on both venues has prompted the PGA of America to be a bit more proactive. Golfweek magazine reported this week that the PGA plans to name Bethpage the venue for the 2024 Ryder Cup and 2019 PGA Championship; and sources have told Cut Line that the association is vying to bring the year’s fourth major to Torrey Pines.

While the PGA deserves credit for outside-the-box thinking, may we suggest they hold off on any official announcement until, say ... next year’s U.S. Open. You know, for maximum coverage and all.

Tweet of the week: @Keegan_Bradley “Pains me to say (Jason Dufner) did a good job on (Howard Stern). I was hoping he’d be horrible and rushed outta there.”

No one was more surprised than Cut Line that Dufner handled his post-PGA media blitz almost as effortlessly as he negotiated his way around Oak Hill. #MediaDarling

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

NFL (No Fun League). PGA Tour officials say it’s a question of caddie safety, but the circuit’s move to ban caddie races at the Waste Management Open and Crown Plaza Invitational seems more like a wet blanket.

Players and caddies have been advised that the races at TPC Scottsdale’s 16th hole and Colonial’s 13th hole will no longer be allowed because, “It was a situation where we developed a little concern about caddies’ safety. Running 150 yards puts caddies at risk for injury,” Andy Pazder, the Tour’s executive vice president and chief of operations, told Cut Line.

We concede that no one wants to see a steady diet of lumbering loopers and that there are plenty of caddies who are more likely to break a bone than a land-speed record, but a game that is still considered too stuffy for its own good doesn’t need more rules.

“It’s Phoenix where they scream ‘Noonan’ while your man is hitting. It’s not a funeral,” one longtime Tour looper told Cut Line.

One world. Most say reports this week that the PGA Tour is looking to buy the European Tour were a bit premature, but as one longtime observer pointed out, “I wouldn’t be surprised if it is being considered. You know how it is with these things, where there is smoke ...”

Nor did Tour commissioner Tim Finchem – who called the reports “inaccurate” – put an end to speculation with his statement regarding the potential takeover.

“I have stated publicly on several occasions, the integration of professional golf can create additional value for our players, sponsors and fans ... Such integration has been ongoing since 1994,” Finchem said.

There is “up side” for both parties if such a mega-merger occurred. The financially challenged European Tour would be reinvigorated by the Tour’s deep pockets, and Finchem & Co. would get a stronger foothold in Asia and a piece of the Ryder Cup, which is jointly owned by the PGA of America and European Tour.

But the “down side” of such a move would also be significant, including a loss of identity for the European circuit and the probability that there would be fewer playing opportunities on both sides of the Atlantic divide.

Perhaps globalization is inevitable, but we’re not sure this is what Greg Norman had in mind when he first floated the idea of a world tour.

Missed Cut

Resets. Through the magic of mathematical creativity, Tiger Woods’ commanding, 767-point lead over Matt Kuchar in the FedEx Cup points race will be cut to 250-points following Sunday’s reset heading into the playoffs.

Officials consider this a necessity to maintain a competitive balance throughout the post-season, but it feels more like contrived marketing.

Last year, it was Rory McIlroy who was pencil whipped by the circuit’s new math after the Ulsterman won two playoff events (Deutsche Bank Championship and BMW Championship) and finished tied for 10th at the Tour Championship only to watch Brandt Snedeker – who went runner-up (Barclays), sixth (Deutsche Bank), T-37 (BMW) and first (Tour Championship) in the playoffs – slip away with the FedEx Cup and a not-so-small fortune.

“I think it's worked well, and the right people have won,” Finchem said last year at East Lake.

Perhaps, but it still feels like Woods will have to beat the other 124 playoff-bound players and the Tour’s calculators to complete a season that, by all accounts, is second to none.