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Dotting the 'i' in Ohio

Jack Nicklaus
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DUBLIN, Ohio – It’s a new week, which means there must be a new world No. 1. Luke Donald, however, doesn’t have the look of a man renting the top spot, while Presidents Cup captain Fred Couples is already reserving a spot on the American team plane for Tiger Woods.

Both players bookend this week’s edition, which Cut Line would gladly trade for a tattoo that explains when, and why, Rory Sabbatini will be suspended.

Made Cut

Luke Donald. The Englishman ascended atop the Official World Golf Ranking in style last week, a KO of reigning No. 1 Lee Westwood in OT at the European Tour’s flagship event in England.

Those who point to Donald’s major record or a perceived inability to close are missing the point. No one has been more consistent over the last 24 months than Donald.

All in all, it was a good week for the Brothers Donald. Just days after Luke won the BMW PGA Championship his older brother, Christian, was hired to caddie for Martin Kaymer, one of four players to hold the top spot in the world in less than a year.

“You never know how good you can become,” Christian Donald said of his brother’s accomplishments. “He’s been so close and worked so hard. It’s brilliant.”

Rickie Fowler. The standard bearer for the Tour’s generation next has had better rounds on much bigger stages, but few as meaningful as his first-round 68 on Thursday at Muirfield Village.

A little more than a week after losing the only swing coach he’s ever had, Fowler was back at work doing what Barry McDonnell had been teaching him to do since he was 7 years old – play golf with confidence and with a purpose.

McDonnell died last Tuesday and Fowler is scheduled to attend a memorial for him next week at Murrieta (Calif.) Valley Golf Range, the public practice tee where the duo perfected that slashing action.

He may be just 22 years old, but Fowler knows that playing for McDonnell at the Memorial will be a lot easier than saying goodbye to him next week at Murrieta Valley. “That will be where it really hits me,” Fowler said.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Jack Nicklaus. Never easy calling out a legend and if the Golden Bear had all the facts he likely would have reacted differently, but on Tuesday Nicklaus seemed downright flummoxed by the news that Jason Day, who has recently been granted playing privileges at Muirfield Village, wasn’t playing this week’s Memorial.

“He does, and he's not here? We'll take that away,” Nicklaus deadpanned.

What Nicklaus didn’t know is that the young Australian is moving this week from Dallas to Columbus with his wife, Ellie, who is recovering from surgery and had a follow-up appointment this week in Houston.

Nicklaus, who famously played more than 19 events in a season just five times in his Hall of Fame career, always made his family a priority. Which makes Day’s absence easily excused.

Memorial. First Muirfield Village was swamped by 7 inches of rain in May that made Nicklaus consider a new name for his storied club: “Lake Muirfield Village.” Then Tiger Woods was sidelined with injury and forced to skip the event for the second time in four years.

The final blow came on Monday when the whole of Columbus, Ohio, went dark with the news Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel was resigning in the wake of a tattoos-for-memorabilia scandal.

The first question in Nicklaus’ annual “State of the Golden Bear” press conference was about Tressel. Even on the rare occasions when it doesn’t rain during the Memorial, the dark clouds are impossible to escape.

Tweet of the week: @JustinRose99 “Just been called Mr. (Adam) Scott all night by our waiter! Funny how girls don’t seem to make that mistake!”

Missed Cut

Rory Sabbatini. Not sure what’s worse, that Sabbo is getting a slap on the wrist for what can only be called chronically bad behavior or that there is no way to know whether the Tour’s preeminent bad boy is even in the penalty box.

Neither the PGA Tour nor Sabbatini is saying, but when Memorial officials announced via the tournament’s website that he’d withdrawn from the field the speculation was he’d been given a two-week suspension for an on-course dustup with Sean O’Hair in New Orleans.

Yet Sabbo has played the Memorial just once since 2006 and hasn’t been seen at next week’s FedEx St. Jude Classic in over a decade (2000). If he is suspended, forcing him to miss two events he likely wouldn’t play is a recipe for recidivism. If he hasn’t been suspended then why not?

Heritage. We know times are tough, but when the Tour is unable to secure a title sponsor for a 42-year-old staple that is almost universally considered the circuit’s “best in class” something is wrong.

Numerous reports that a new title was imminent seem to have been premature and although there is still no deadline for The Heritage to secure a sponsor time is running short.

“Working it hard with the Tour and keeping our fingers crossed. We are certainly into the 13th hour though,” tournament director Steve Wilmot wrote in an email last week.

Fred Couples. With more than five months before the U.S. team travels to Australia for this year’s Presidents Cup matches Captain America seemed to box himself in when he told Golf Channel’s Todd Lewis that he would pick Tiger Woods for this year’s squad even if he didn’t qualify.

Corey Pavin tried that box on for size at last year’s Ryder Cup and found the space, well confining.

Couples later correctly explained that Woods “doesn’t have to prove a lot to any captain.” But what if Woods continues to struggle, or worse, spends a large portion of the next few months on the DL because of injury? Woods has certainly earned the benefit of the doubt, but why box yourself in with such an early call?

Boom Boom does get kudos for suggesting, jokingly . . . we think, that his team be clad in Levi’s instead of Peter Millar, but “commissioner (Tim) Finchem said, ‘Sorry, we can’t play in jeans.’” Which lands commissioner Buzz Kill on the all-time “missed cut” list.