For a major championship winner to be overshadowed by the loser requires either an epic meltdown or equally epic grace. Rory McIlroy is guilty of both, which is why the Northern Irishman headlines this week’s Cut Line.
Rory McIlroy. Forget for a moment his curious penchant for snowmen on his major championship scorecards and instead observe the ageless grace the 21-year-old showed on Sunday at Augusta National.
In order, McIlroy bounced his title chances off no fewer than two trees, a ubiquitous azalea bush and Jones Cabin at the 10th hole, signed for a closing 80, answered every question from the media and, to add the ultimate insult to injury, had to share his plane to Asia with Charl Schwartzel, who lifted the green jacket many thought McIlroy was destined to win.
McIlroy responded with a Tweet featuring a picture of he and Schwartzel wearing the green jacket, “Glad one of us has a green jacket on.” Glad golf has McIlroy.
Pinehurst No. 2. We got an early peak at the new and improved North Carolina gem this week, or as Pinehurst owner Bob Dedman Jr., figured, “We’ve gone backward to go forward.”
Give Dedman and the Pinehurst family credit for trusting the design dynamo of Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore and having the courage to tinker with such an iconic course. No. 2’s green complexes remain virtually unchanged but the conversion to more “wild areas” has the effect of creating cleaner corridors and more definition.
The makeover also promises to make the 2014 U.S. Open, followed a week later by the Women’s Open on the Donald Ross masterpiece, interesting for all those who carry notebooks for a living. As a rule, Tour types don’t like change, and this is a big one.
Tweet of the week: @stewartcink “I’m neurotic. No bogeys today (Thursday in Texas) after making eight bogeys (the) last round at Augusta. I like no bogeys more.” Augusta National will do that to you.
Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)
Micro-analysis. Some colleagues have taken umbrage with Tiger Woods’ post-round interview with Bill Macatee on Sunday at the Masters. Here is the interview in its curt entirety:
BM. Tiger, 67 today. You said earlier in the week you just wanted to get to the second nine on Sunday to give yourself a chance. Do you feel like you played well enough today to win?
TW: Well, we'll see. Right now I'm one back, and we'll see what Adam (Scott) does.
BM. As you sit here now, do you feel like you're back in the thick of things, in the fight, the way you played today, especially in the opening nine, going out in 31?
TW: Yeah, I'm one back. We'll see what happens.
BM. Are you going to go in to get something to eat, go to the range? What's your plan?
TW: I'm going to go eat. I'm starving.
Warm and fuzzy it is not, but neither is the exchange a reason to demand another public apology. Woods has never been a good interview, particularly after an 18-putt back nine just cost him green jacket No. 5. To expect more is our problem, not his.
South African WGC. Consider the $10 million Tournament of Hope a 5-and-4 winner for golf, international or otherwise.
The new tournament, along with the third-year WGC-HSBC Champions in China, continues to reverse the jingoistic trend that relegated all World Golf Championships to the Lower 48.
At its core, however, it was the worst kind of compromise – at the point of a bayonet, as former Augusta National chairman Hootie Johnson once said.
“The internationals now hold the power in world golf,” Sunshine Tour commissioner Garreth Tindall said. “For how long, we don't know.”
Power plays in sports rarely turn out well. See work stoppage, NFL.
Hope springs eternal. News this week that Humana has signed on to sponsor the Bob Hope Classic through 2020, to say nothing of the event’s new four-day format, was a victory for all those who enjoy “golf in a dome,” but leaves us hoping there’s a similar announcement waiting next week when the Tour arrives in Hilton Head Island, S.C.
The Heritage has been on life support since MCI stepped down as title sponsor in 2006 – the event’s move from its traditional post-Masters date this year certainly hasn’t helped, either – and news from the Low Country that the 41-year Tour staple would be saved has not been encouraging.
Sources familiar with the negotiations say at least two potential title sponsors are considering the Heritage. All those with an affinity for shrimp and cheese grits certainly hope so.
Follow the bouncing BMW. There are no shortage of reasons for the BMW Championship’s vagabond existence in recent years, but none that make last week’s pill any easier to swallow.
News that the BMW will be played at Cherry Hills near Denver in 2014, along with the event’s previously scheduled trip to Crooked Stick in Indianapolis in 2012, is a sign Chicago, the nation’s third-largest market, may become a bit player in the BMW picture. The event is currently not scheduled to return to Cog Hill, although the 2013 site has not been selected.
The issue is lackluster attendance and interest since the BMW became part of the Tour’s “Playoff” rota in 2007 and moved from its traditional July 4 date to September.
Unintended consequences have turned one of the circuit’s great stops into a circus, and may leave one of the nation’s best golf towns with a part-time tournament.
Na’s new low. No way to sugarcoat this one. Kevin Na made history for all the wrong reasons on Thursday at the Texas Open, hitting a tree, himself and a new low when he signed for a 12-over-par 16 on the par-4 ninth hole.
Na’s nightmare started when he had to take an unplayable lie off a tee and was assessed a two-stroke penalty when his ball ricocheted off another tree and hit him. Eleven strokes later Na went into the Tour record books for the highest score on a par 4 ever posted.
There was a positive, however. Na played the hole in just over 20 minutes, which is an improvement over the South Korean slowpoke’s normal languid pace of play.
Follow Rex Hoggard on Twitter @RexHoggard