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Cut Line: The long and short of it

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In this week’s edition, TPC River Highlands makes the case that bigger isn’t always better, the field at the Quicken Loans National needs to be better, and it might be time to reassess the best use of sponsor exemptions on the Tour.

Made Cut

When less is more. It’s an apples-to-oranges deal, but entirely unavoidable considering the dramatic juxtaposition.

In one corner there was Erin Hills, a 7,800-yard brute that was built specifically to challenge the modern long ball; and in the other corner was TPC River Highlands, which was built in 1929 and at 6,841 yards qualifies as a bona fide welterweight in the Big Leagues.

In a single news cycle, one of those courses yielded a winning score of 16 under par, and the other was River Highlands with a 12-under winning tally.

To be fair, conditions at each course varied dramatically and the two layouts are Venus and Mars when it comes to design philosophy, but the last fortnight in golf has proven that you don’t fight distance gains with longer courses.

With 1,000 yards of additional real-estate, Erin Hills had 182 double bogeys during the U.S. Open, compared to 155 at TPC River Highlands last week.

There’s nothing wrong with Erin Hills that a little more wind and dryer conditions couldn’t have helped, but the last two weeks is another example that more length isn’t always the answer.

Tweet of the week: @LukeDonald (Luke Donald) “Love that 12 under won this week on a 6,850 yard course, last week at Erin Hills 7,650 yards and 16 under wins. Making courses long isn’t the answer.”

Better with Boo. Although his quest to win his fourth Tour title came up short last week at the Travelers Championship, Boo Weekley proved yet again that he’s still among the game’s most entertaining players on and off the course.

Consider a few examples of Boo’s best, like when asked on Saturday the last time he’d spoken to the media: “[In 2013] at Colonial. I think that was the last time I did any kind of media stuff besides getting in trouble or something or saying something wrong.”

Or when he was questioned about changing putters: “I change putters like I change underwear, man. If it don't work, we're putting another pair on. If these are a little too tight, you know, we're changing something, buddy. Something's going to get done.”

And this gem when a scribe inquired about his philosophy on life: “I ain't going to say everything's a joke, but, yeah, you've got to look at it as a joke. What you do for a living and when you get off the golf course, it's over with. It's time to have fun.”

You get the idea. Golf is enjoying an embarrassment of riches at the moment, with classic performances from the likes of Jordan Spieth, Brooks Koepka, et al in recent weeks, but things are always better with a little Boo.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Schedule Showdown. Maybe it’s the new course, maybe it’s what has become an inhospitable spot on the schedule, whatever the reason, or combination of reasons, this week’s Quicken Loans National desperately needs a lifeline.

The field at TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm includes just a single top-10 player from the Official World Golf Ranking and four from the top 30, which is about the same as last year’s field.

Compared to the Arnold Palmer Invitational or Memorial – which are also limited-field events with legends as hosts – those numbers paint a less-than-stellar picture.

This year’s field at Bay Hill had five top-10 players and 17 from the top 30, while the Memorial had six top-10 players and 16 from the top 30.

The Washington, D.C.-area stop deserves better. Tiger Woods deserves better, but without a better date, and a long-term home, that’s not going to happen.

Missed Cut

Game ready? There’s really no need for a task force here; the reasons behind Europe’s struggles in the Solheim Cup can be traced to single element.

When a handful of European Solheim Cup hopefuls teed off at this week’s KPMG Women’s PGA Championship it was their first start in two months. In fact, the Ladies European Tour has played just four events this year and the 2017 matches in Iowa loom just eight weeks away with the U.S. having won four of the last six meetings at the biennial event.

Although credit should probably be split among a number of factors, including that task force that dramatically changed the way players and captains were selected for the U.S. Ryder Cup team, one of the often overlooked elements of America’s reemergence last year at Hazeltine National was the introduction of the PGA Tour’s season-long points race and four-event postseason.

The playoffs forced Tour types to remain competitive later in the year, much like a more robust LET schedule would give the Europeans a better chance at what is becoming a one-sided affair.

Making a splash. Nothing gets folks fired up like a good cross-over story, so it was little surprise that Stephen Curry’s invitation to play in a Tour event in August has polarized the golf world.

While opinions vary wildly regarding the unrestricted sponsor exemption, from those who criticized officials for giving a coveted spot to an amateur when aspiring professionals go without to the theory that the two-time NBA MVP will bring some much needed attention to the Ellie Mae Classic, this really isn’t about Curry or his curious exemption.

The bigger issue is how all sponsor exemptions are doled out on the Tour. Although sponsors sign large checks for, among other things, the right to award exemptions, according to various sources the system lacks some basic checks and balances.

There’s always an element of entertainment to professional golf, even at the Tour level, but along with that there must also be a measure of competitive purity, otherwise it’s little more than professional wrestling.