In this week’s edition of Cut Line, we celebrate Harris English’s lesson of perseverance, prepare for what the PGA Tour hopes is an uneventful California swing and take notes from Bryson DeChambeau on how to Bryson-proof a course.
English major. Harris English is notoriously understated so it was no surprise that when pressed to sum up the last few years on the PGA Tour following his victory at the Sentry Tournament of Champions he shrugged, “Definitely some highs and lows, but that's the way golf rolls.”
Lost in his subtle brilliance was a climb from competitive obscurity back to PGA Tour winner and into the top 20 in the world ranking for the first time in his career. Not bad for a player who just two seasons ago lost his Tour card and looked to Justin Parsons to help rebuild his swing and confidence.
In 2020, English qualified for the Tour Championship – as well as the 2021 lid-lifter in Maui – with six top-10 finishes and just two missed cuts in 18 starts despite a bout with COVID-19 in June and an awkward membership into the lonely club of players who were forced to play by themselves on Tour before the circuit adjusted its coronavirus policy.
Throughout it all English excelled.
“I encouraged him to take ownership of lots of aspects of his golfing life and to take away distractions. That’s resonated with him and gown arms and legs,” Parsons told Cut Line last fall.
Or as English would simply explain, you know “some highs and lows.”
Tweet(s) of the week: @PepperellEddie (Eddie Pepperell) “Just had a dream that all of my woods were stolen at the driving range. The ones Ping have just made up for me to take to Dubai. I was distraught. I never would have thought I’d feel that way about my driver.”
Followed shortly by:
“The dream featured Chris Wood and Matt Fitzpatrick also which was a bit weird. Matt was doing some funky drill with a Swiss ball.”
We all have one of those friends.
Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)
California concerns. The Tour is confident that the protocols that have largely kept the circuit from suffering the kind of coronavirus setbacks endured by other professional sports leagues will lead to a safe California swing, but the concern heading into the COVID-19 hot spot is obvious.
With next week’s American Express looming followed by stops in San Diego, Pebble Beach and Los Angeles officials announced this week that there will be no fans at the Genesis Invitational, no multi-day pro-am at Pebble Beach and a smaller-than-anticipated footprint for fans at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
The Tour’s coronavirus protocols have become the benchmark in sports but the upcoming California swing promises to challenge even those standards.
Being Bryson. In a press conference to promote the upcoming Saudi International, DeChambeau was asked how he would Bryson-proof a course.
“I think as you look at golf courses like RBC Heritage or Colonial, you look at those golf courses that are more short, tight, whatnot, and even East Lake where you have a bunch of cross-bunkers in front of the green, you look at those types of golf courses, that's really the only way to combat it on any level,” he said.
There might be something to DeChambeau’s thinking here considering that he has four top-10 finishes in 13 combined starts at the Tour Championship, RBC Heritage and Charles Schwab Challenge. Of course, he did offer an asterisk.
“I would say still if I'm hitting a 4-iron off the tee when somebody is hitting a 3-wood, I would still classify that as a pretty good advantage,” he said. “So, no matter what, you really can't combat the distance.”
Let’s hope the folks at the USGA and R&A are paying attention.
Freedom. One day after a large group of President Donald Trump’s supporters illegally and forcibly stormed the U.S. Capitol last week in protest of the recent presidential election, Annika Sorenstam and Gary Player accepted the Presidential Medal of Freedom at the White House.
In a private ceremony that wasn’t open to the media, Player and Sorenstam accepted their medals as the country was still coming to terms with had happened at the U.S. Capitol, where five people died including a police officer.
Eventually the nation, and golf, began to understand the president’s role in the attack. The PGA of American canceled its contract with Trump National Golf Club Bedminster (N.J.) to host the 2022 PGA Championship, the R&A reiterated it has no plans to return The Open Championship to Trump-owned Turnberry for the “foreseeable future” and New York City moved to cancel its contract with the president’s company to run Ferry Point Golf Club.
For those inclined to give Player and Sorenstam the benefit of the doubt and adhere to the adage that you respect the office if not the person sitting in it, consider that long-time Trump ally Bill Belichick declined to accept the same medal citing the “tragic events of last week.”
Freedom to choose is the basic tenet of our society and it’s difficult to understand how neither Player nor Sorenstam seemed to realize how important it was to exercise that right.