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Cut Line: For Nicklaus, family trumps all his achievements

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The Golden Bear collects more golden moments, this time on Capitol Hill, while Cut Line examines the PGA Tour’s Saturday curse and a 54-hole title drought that has been two months in the making.

Made Cut                                                                                       

Mr. Nicklaus goes to Washington. Let’s just make it a cool 19 majors for the Golden Bear.

On Tuesday, Jack Nicklaus became the third golfer awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, the United States’ highest civilian honor, in the Capitol Rotunda.

Speaker of the House John Boehner called Nicklaus the “gold standard,” the Ohio State marching band performed and CBS Sports commentator Jim Nantz spoke of Nicklaus' win at the 1986 Masters, the last of his 18 major championships.

But it was Nicklaus’ five children and 22 grandchildren, who were all in attendance, who the World Golf Hall of Famer counted as his greatest accomplishment.

Nicklaus’ oldest son, Jack Nicklaus II, recalled a phone call the two had after the youngster had won a junior tournament.

“When I was done, there was a short silence and I thought it was about time to hang up,” remembered Nicklaus II. “Then he asked, ‘Jackie boy, would you like to know how your dad did? I just won the U.S. Open.’”

We measure our athletes by what they accomplish in the field of play – 18 majors, 73 PGA Tour titles. It’s telling that Nicklaus measures success with another set of numbers – five children, 22 grandchildren and one happy wife.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Blown saves. Like the New York Mets, the Tour is in desperate need of a closer.

It’s been two months since a 54-hole leader converted that advantage to victory, a run that dates back to Bill Haas at the Humana Challenge. Last Sunday Henrik Stenson, then the third-ranked player in the world, blew a two-stroke advantage through three days.

Ditto for Ryan Moore at the Valspar Championship, J.B. Holmes at the WGC-Cadillac Championship and Ian Poulter at the Honda Classic.

“They haven't played well enough. I'm not just a pretty face,” smiled Stenson when asked last Saturday about the 54-hole phenomenon.

Twenty-four hours later the Swede learned an even simpler explanation: Winning on the PGA Tour is hard.

“Steady improvement.” That was Notah Begay’s take on the progress Tiger Woods has made back home in South Florida the last few weeks.

Of course, whether that translates into a start at next month’s Masters, Begay couldn’t say, figuring his friend was “50-50” to play the year’s first major championship.

“I think his golf game as a whole is in a great place,” Begay said. “ I think it was good for him to take a step back, to reassess a variety of different things and do things on his timeline.”

Whether that timeline includes a drive down Magnolia Lane remains unknown to Begay, and probably even Woods.

Missed Cut

Don’t mess with ... Forget about the 31 players who failed to break 80, the handful (12) who were able to break par and even the 25 “others” (a score higher than double bogey) posted on Day 1 at the Valero Texas Open.

The only thing you need to know about Thursday’s action at TPC San Antonio could be summed up in 140 characters.

“I shot a million today but have to applaud the golf course set up. Mother Nature was in control today, but the golf course played fair,” tweeted Brian Harman, who actually shot a respectable 79 on a rough and wind-blown day.

The scoring split – the morning’s average was 78.61, nearly four strokes higher then the afternoon average (74.86) when the winds subsided slightly – supports Harman’s measured take.

Still, this is the same layout that played to a 73.286 scoring average and ranked as the eighth-toughest course on Tour last year. Hard but fair should be the goal of every tournament official, the trick is not letting that fine line become blurred by Mother Nature.

Tweet of the week: @JustinThomas34 (Justin Thomas) “As a positive at least I hit a 4-iron 315 [yards] out of a fairway bunker today. That’s about all I got. What a brutal day! #holywind”

Got to love Thomas’ half-full take after what was widely considered a half-empty day.

Selective enforcement. It’s one of the central themes behind Vijay Singh’s lawsuit against the Tour and the notion surfaced again last week after the circuit warned caddie Duane Bock that his shorts didn’t conform to the Tour’s dress code.

Bock, who caddies for Kevin Kisner, was told following the third round that his red shorts were verboten by a policy that states caddies, “are required to wear solid-colored khaki-style long pants . . . or solid-colored, knee-length tailored shorts.”

Bock told that he had no problem with officials policing what caddies wear, but that he would like to see more consistency in the enforcement of the policy.

On Friday, for example, Stenson’s caddie Gareth Lord wore a similar pair of red shorts and told that officials said nothing to him about it.

It’s this kind of selective enforcement that led some to question the Tour’s motives.

Bock is, after all, among 167 caddies who filed a class-action lawsuit against the Tour earlier this year claiming the circuit has engaged in restraint of trade and anticompetitive conduct involving the caddie bib.