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Cut Line: Shots in the Dark

Tiger Woods hasn’t hit a golf shot since his ninth and final hole on Thursday at The Players Championship, Ryan Palmer didn’t think about a shot on his way to a first-round 65 at the Byron Nelson Championship and Sergio Garcia takes another shot at major championship karma. Just a thought, but if “El Nino” really wants off the Grand Slam schneid he may want to stop antagonizing the golf gods.

Made Cut

Show up, shut up and step up. For all those who believe a caddie is little more than a bag-toting mule, consider the week of the looper.

On the same day Dustin Johnson and Joe LaCava officially teamed to shoot 66 in Round 1 at the Byron Nelson Championship, DJ’s second sub-70 round since Doral, Ryan Palmer turned over the thinking duties to his man James Edmondson on his way to an opening 65 in Texas.

“All I did is get on each tee and waited until (Edmondson) told me what to do,” said Palmer, who has missed three cuts in his last six events.

“He told me what side of the tee box to get on, and what side he wanted me to be on, what target he wanted me to hit, and it was my job to hit the shot. I think there is something there because I was really relaxed and calm and at ease. It came easy.”

Having spent a good portion of his career in the caddie yard, “Cut Line” would also suggest players bring their caddies to the interview room as well. It would make life much more interesting for everyone involved.

New Hope. It has been the bane and benefactor for the PGA Tour’s traditional stop in the California desert for years: a five-day, pro-am format that paid the bills when sponsorship dollars were hard to come by but kept many pros away from the Coachella Valley.

But now with Humana signed on for eight years, Bob Hope Classic officials have the financial stability to dump the unpopular five-day format and at least one of the courses that made the event a “must miss” in recent years.

The new format will allow officials to go to three courses, making sure the widely-panned Classic Club never sneaks back into the rotation. As upgrades go, pencil the Hope in for “most improved” in 2012.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Ernie Els. “Cut Line” certainly appreciates the Big Easy’s pride of ownership for his architectural handiwork at Wentworth, but the ongoing debate over which event is better, The Players Championship or this week’s BMW PGA Championship, seems a tad misplaced.

“This (tournament) is definitely taking the place of the TPC,” Els told Reuters. “I also feel we’ve got a stronger field here and a classic golf course.”

The European Tour’s flagship event has seven of the top-9 players in the Official World Golf Ranking, but the argument that Americans should flock across the pond misses the point on several fronts, not the least of which is a purse this week in Dallas that is $200,000 more than what they are playing for in England.

“Why go elsewhere when we have the best tour in the world and everyone wants to come play here?” one Tour sage wisely asked.

The full Nelson. The punitive action levied on one Hunter Mahan will be more transparent, and probably much more swift, than the plight of perennial bad boy Rory Sabbatini, and for what? An honest answer?

Mahan, who is not playing this week’s Byron Nelson, was asked his feelings about TPC Four Seasons Las Colinas last week: “They should blow up the course and start over. I’m not the only one that thinks it,” he told Golfweek magazine.

An early-week hail storm didn’t help matters, transforming “TPC GUR” into a collection of pitch marks, but the frat brothers’ distaste of the D.A. Weibring redo is well documented, with just four of the top-20 players in the world ranking making the trip to Irving, Texas, this year.

Instead of getting fined for his outburst, Mahan should be praised, “Dallas has a lot of great courses. Las Colinas is what it is. Dallas deserves a world-class field.”

Tiger Woods. It was another eventful week for the artist formerly known as the world’s alpha male.

Five days after withdrawing from The Players Championship because of injury, Woods dropped to 12th in the world, and a day later he antagonized the press with a series of tweets before his Q&A at media day for the AT&T National event. Then 24 hours after that, found himself in the epicenter of more speculation when news broke that his longtime manager Mark Steinberg was leaving sports management giant IMG and possibly taking his high-profile client with him.

In between all that, Woods tempered expectations that he will play next month’s U.S. Open and put his current slide into perspective as only he can: “It took Jack (Nicklaus) over what, 24 years, 23 years to do what he did (win 18 majors). It takes time. I still have plenty of time, and I feel that going forward I'm excited about playing major championships and playing golf again. I just want to be healthy and solid, and I feel like I can give it a go.”

Nobody makes news like Woods, both on and off the golf course.

Missed Cut

Sergio Garcia. Officially it was a hangnail, or some such ailment, that kept the Spaniard from Monday’s British Open qualifying, yet he was healthy enough to shoot a first-round 66 three days later at the Byron Nelson Championship.

Garcia, who once lamented that he was “playing more than the field,” still has a number of avenues to earn a spot at the Open Championship, which he hasn’t missed in 13 years, but given his rocky relationship with the golf gods he shouldn’t count on it.

He did, however, say on Friday he may play the 36-hole qualifier for the U.S. Open if he hadn’t qualified by then. “I think that I'm willing to make a little bit of an effort,” he reasoned. Playing in a major, after all, is really the best way to win one.

Tweet of the week: @TigerWoods “Almost press conference time. I’ll donate $1 million to (the Tiger Woods Foundation) if no one asks me about the leg.”

Not a bad attempt at humor, and it should be noted he donated the $ 1 million despite being asked about his ailing left wheel with the first question at Aronimink Golf Club, but if he wanted to go over the top he should have offered to donate $10 million to every charity if he can make it through just one press conference without being asked to debate something Johnny Miller has said about his swing or his game.

“Johnny knows everything, doesn't he?” Woods smiled.


Follow Rex Hoggard on Twitter @RexHoggardGC