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Cut Line: For Brooks, (non-)rivaly with Rory comes down to simple math

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In this week’s arithmetic-heavy Cut Line, the world No. 1 uses simple math to prove his point while a pair of rule violations lead to some serious calculations.

Made Cut

Majors not malice. Some thought Brooks Koepka was taking a jab at Rory McIlroy this week when he dismissed the notion of a rivalry between the two, but if we’ve learned anything about Koepka this year, it was simply Brooks being Brooks.

“I've been out here for what, five years? Rory hasn't won a major since I've been on the PGA Tour,” Koepka told the AFP. “So I don't view it as a rivalry.”

Although that might sound like dismissive criticism of the Northern Irishman, for Koepka, it’s simple math. He’s won four majors since McIlroy picked his fourth at the 2014 PGA.

The Tour’s rank-and-file might not like it — they opted for McIlroy in last season’s Player of the Year voting — but Koepka has been consistently clear: majors matter.

Bounce back. If anyone needs a rebound season, it’s Jordan Spieth.

The Golden Child failed to advance to the Tour Championship for the second consecutive season and has just one top-5 finish in on Tour since April of 2018. He's started to turn things around this week at the CJ Cup, where he’s making his 2019-20 season debut, with opening rounds of 70-65.

Those rounds marked the first time since June he’s started an event with back-to-back sub-par rounds. After an extended off-season, his optimism was evident.

“What I’m looking for is to build confidence as the round goes on, and it was a solid day today,” he said on Thursday. “I feel like I’ll gain more and more control and more trust in what I’m working on the more swings I get in tournament rounds.”

There is still plenty of ground to cover in Spieth’s road back to relevance, but it’s a start.

Tweet of the week

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

End of an era. Phil Mickelson hasn’t been the most competitively realistic player in recent years, but this week Lefty embraced the inevitable.

“There are much better options of players that have played consistently at a high level that deserve to be on the team,” said Mickelson, who hasn’t finished better than 48th since the Masters and has slipped to 47th in the world ranking. “Even if I were to win, I have not done enough to warrant a pick.”

Mickelson hasn’t missed a team event in 24 years but that streak seems certain to come to an end this year with the deadline looming for U.S. captain Tiger Woods to announce his Presidents Cup picks.

Instead, Mickelson’s focus is on next year’s Ryder Cup. “I’m excited about making the Ryder Cup team next year, and I plan on doing that,” he said.

It seems Lefty will only take realism so far.

Math. Among the significant changes this season on Tour is a lowered cut threshold, from the top 70 and ties to the top 65 and ties. This change was in response to weekend fields that exceeded 78 players and prompted the circuit to add a secondary cut in 2008.

Along with the change ,the Tour nixed the secondary cut and pointed out that, statistically, there would be far fewer chances of 78 or more players making it to the weekend with the new top 65 and ties threshold.

That said, 78 players advanced to the weekend at last week’s Houston Open, the fourth event of the season.

Missed Cut

By the book. Other sports have weird and at times dreadful officiating. Golf has its wildly complicated rule book.

Golf’s rule makers engaged in some simplifying of the rules and regulations this year, and most agree it’s made things a bit more civil. But there are still issues, as evidenced by a pair of rules snafus this week.

On Thursday at the French Open, Marcel Siem thought the field was using preferred lies. For his first nine holes, he lifted, cleaned and placed his golf ball five times. Unfortunately, officials were not using preferred lies, and Siem was issued a two-shot penalty for each violation (10 total) and disqualified himself from the event.

Siem had it easy compared to Lee Ann Walker, who opened with rounds of 85-74 at the Senior LPGA Championship. It wasn’t until late in her second round at French Lick Resort that Walker was made aware that she’d been putting with her caddie standing directly behind her, which is a violation Rule 10.2b.

Walker had to add 42 penalty shots to her first-round total and 16 penalty strokes for to her second-round score. “It was my fault for not knowing the rules. I don’t have anyone to blame but myself. Big lesson learned,” she said.

Both Siem and Walker’s penalties were self-inflicted, but that doesn’t change the reality that golf’s rules are still too complicated.