Skip to main content

Cut Line: A good walk spoiled

AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am at Pebble Beach Golf Links
Getty Images

Remember when the old Crosby Clambake was all about clowning celebs and idyllic images of Stillwater Cove? The serenity that is the Monterey Peninsula was overshadowed this week by the pall of deer-antler spray, a sponsor exemption snafu and an anchoring reality that is starting to set in on the Champions Tour.

Catch a moonbeam, everybody.

Made Cut

Class act. Most years a Tour or Q-School grad having a good West Coast is little more than water-cooler talk, but the condensed realities of this year’s schedule have made a quick start stop-the-presses compelling.

Because the Tour transitions to a split-calendar schedule this year – a net loss of what were the Fall Series events to the start of the 2013-14 calendar compounded by the move of the Mayakoba Golf Classic, normally played opposite the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, from the West Coast swing to the fall – this week’s AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am is likely the last chance for those graduates to earn FedEx Cup points before the first reshuffle on Feb. 25.

In Cliffs Notes form, a bad reshuffle means few, if any, starts in Florida.

All of this makes this week’s start at Pebble Beach that much more important for the likes of Steve LeBrun and Luke List, who have dropped the most, 36 and 33 spots respectively, on the reshuffle points list through the Waste Management Phoenix Open. So far the big winners in the reshuffle shuffle are Nicholas Thompson, up 33 spots on the list, Doug LaBelle (26) and Scott Langley (25).  

Of course the good news for LeBrun, List & Co. is they do get to play Pebble Beach, they’re just not sure when they’ll get to play again on Tour.

Clambake kudos. With apologies to Harbour Town and Torrey Pines, this week’s lineup for the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am is the best walk on the PGA Tour (non-April in Augusta edition).

That the walk only got better in 2010 when officials added the Monterey Peninsula course to the rotation almost gives the event an embarrassment of riches. Almost.

Now if only officials can swap out Spyglass Hills for venerable Cypress Point, which last hosted the Clambake in 1990, we could call it a cool trifecta and players would start complaining that five hour-plus pro-am rounds are too short.

Tweet of the week: @KipHenley (Brian Gay’s caddie) “When the weather works out there is not a better place on earth to be an outdoor butler than Pebble.”

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Anchors away. Less than a month away from the close of the 90-day comment period on the pending ban on anchored strokes, the Champions Tour held a meeting of its Players Advisory Council on Thursday in south Florida with great interest.

Of particular concern for the over-50 circuit is the long putters use by some of its most marketable players, including Fred Couples and Bernhard Langer, and what impact the possible ban could have on the senior tour’s bottom line.

“I want to talk to Fred and Bernhard and size up if they are going to find another way (to putt) or whether they are going to pack up their tents and go home,” said John Cook, one of four player directors on the Champions Tour Policy Board.

Cut Line caught up with Langer on Thursday and discovered Cook may not like the German’s answer: “I would certainly try (to putt) another way,” Langer said. “It depends on what happens and we’re still in the question phase, but if I don’t enjoy the game anymore than I would stop playing.”

For those scoring at home that would be a vote frighteningly close to “pack up their tents and go home.”

Missed Cut

Swat-ed. Give S.W.A.T.S. founder Mitch Ross credit for going on John Maginnes’ show on Sirus/XM Radio this week, but the man behind Sports with Alternatives to Steroids, the company that produces the deer-antler spray that has landed Vijay Singh in the anti-doping penalty box, did little to help his cause during the 30-minute Q&A.

“Your body produces IGF-1 every day, it’s in food – meat and milk. You cannot ban a natural occurring substance,” Ross said. “(Deer) antler velvet is not on any banned substance list, NFL, baseball, but it was on the (PGA Tour green sheet, Aug. 2011). I didn’t know this and neither did Vijay.”

Although the body does produce IGF-1, the list of banned substances is filled with naturally occurring items – testosterone being the easiest example – and Doug Barron, the only player ever suspended under the Tour’s anti-doping policy, can attest to its legality when the science doesn’t match the scrutiny.

It’s also worth pointing out that IGF-1, which is described as a growth factor, like human growth hormone, has been on the Tour’s list of banned substances since testing began in 2008 and the 2011 green sheet item was entitled “anti-doping warning.”

Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, not their own facts.

Pebble Beach head fake. Anyone who has tried to dissect the Tour player’s handbook can attest to how convoluted and confusing it can be. By comparison, the U.S. tax code is “Green eggs and ham” simple. But the small print that lured Billy Hurley to the Monterey Peninsula only to discover that he’d been pencil whipped qualifies as a legitimate snafu.

Hurley tweeted earlier this week that he had received an exemption into the Pro-Am, but when he arrived at Pebble Beach he learned that the exemption in question was for players inside the top 150 on last year’s money list. Hurley is playing this season based on finishing inside the top 150 in FedEx Cup points but was 151st in earnings.

Tournament officials paid Hurley’s travel cost and, let’s be honest, a few days on the Monterey Peninsula is better than a poke in the eye, but the episode pointed out how confusing the Tour’s regulations can be. Even for tournament directors.