Skip to main content

Cut Line: Tiger on clock for good reason; others not so much

Getty Images

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – In this week’s post-Open Championship edition of Cut Line, we celebrate Irish golf, contemplate the countdown to captain Tiger Woods’ tough choices and condemn the continued plague of slow play.

Made Cut

Emerald Isle. There were high expectations for Royal Portrush’s return to The Open rotation, but few could have envisioned a homecoming that was virtually flawless.

The layout proved to be as good as advertised, with players universally applauding the layout’s quality of design, and the crowds and logistics were equally impressive. That Ireland’s Shane Lowry won the claret jug only magnified that outcome.

News on Thursday that Ireland’s Adare Manor was named the venue for the 2026 Ryder Cup was an exclamation mark for the entire island.

It was a good week for Irish golf.

More roars for Rory. It’s difficult to imagine another missed cut that produced as much excitement and emotion as Rory McIlroy’s plight at last week’s Open, and even a week removed from his performance at Royal Portrush the Northern Irishman was still processing the moment.

“I didn't cry because I missed the cut, I was overwhelmed by the support that I got,” he said Wednesday.

McIlroy went on to explain that despite his best efforts to convince himself otherwise, last week’s Open wasn’t just another major. At least not for him or the other Northern Irishmen in the field.

“It's such a weird thing to say, but to think about a missed cut being one of the best experiences you ever had on a golf course,” McIlroy said. “I almost tried to downplay the majors this year, tried to treat them like every other event and I've realized they're not, they're not like any other event.”

Last week’s Portrush Open was certainly not just another major.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Timing. Although various sources say next year’s WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational will get a scheduling break and move to the Fourth of July weekend, two weeks before the season’s final major, that did little to help players struggle through jet lag and fatigue this week at TPC Searing-wind, um, Southwind.

The transition from Royal Portrush, where temperatures never reached the 70s, to Memphis, where it’s expected to inch into the 90s this weekend, was always going to be a challenge but it wasn’t until players arrived that they felt the true blast.

“[Wednesday] I came with the plan of playing 18 holes. I putted and warmed up, and after four holes, I teed off on 10, I think that was when I got to 14 or 15, I was dead,” first-round leader Jon Rahm said. “I couldn't swing properly. I was really tired.”

Players have known for some time that this major/WGC fortnight would be difficult, but knowing the heat and the jet lag were looming doesn’t make it any easier.

Presidential pondering. Although the cut off to qualify for this year’s U.S. Presidents Cup team is four weeks away, and captain Tiger Woods won’t have to name his four captain’s picks until later this fall, the questions are already starting to pile up.

Woods is currently 12th on the U.S. points list and outside the automatic qualifiers. He could certainly play his way onto his own team during the playoffs, which are now only three events, or he could slide in the wrong direction and be faced with the decision of picking himself.

Although it seems likely he would be strongly encouraged to pick himself by his own team, not to mention the Tour, he’s only scheduled to play one official event in the fall, the new Zozo Championship in Japan. It would also mean he’d play consecutive weeks with his own Hero World Challenge scheduled the week before the matches in December.

That the weather can be chilly in Melbourne in December – as evidenced by Sunday’s high in 2011, the last time the matches were played at Royal Melbourne, in the mid-60s – probably isn’t the best scenario considering that cold conditions have proven to be Woods’ kryptonite in recent months.

Still, it’s almost impossible to imagine how Woods, who would only need to play one match in the team session before Sunday’s singles, doesn’t wear both a captain’s and player’s hat at Royal Melbourne.

Missed Cut

On pace to be a problem. Or perhaps the more accurate assessment is that pace of play on Tour promises to continue to be a problem following last week’s exchange at The Open.

It’s no secret that J.B. Holmes is one of the circuit’s slower players and that was reinforced last Sunday when he found himself paired with Brooks Koepka at Royal Portrush. At one juncture, Koepka was spotted glaring at a walking rules official and pointing to a non-existent wrist watch.

“I'm ready to go most of the time. That's what I don't understand when it's your turn to hit, your glove is not on, then you start thinking about it, that's where the problem lies,” Koepka said on Sunday. “It's not that he takes that long. He doesn't do anything until his turn. That's the frustrating part. But he's not the only one that does it out here.”

In a single soundbite, the world No. 1 touched on both the problem and the solution of slow play on Tour. That Holmes is not an outlier in Tour circles is disheartening. That the solution, ready golf, is so simple is also strangely disheartening.

Tweet of the week. @maxhoma23 (Max Homa) “Somehow this fantasy golf discussion has started something great. Some of u guys have decided to donate money to St. Jude for every birdie I make tomorrow. I appreciate u guys! I challenge more of u to do the same. I made 1 whole birdie [on Thursday] so don’t be shy.”

Homa, who pledged to donate $200 for every birdie he makes this week, did better Friday with four birdies for a second-round 73 and is now on the hook for $1,000 to the folks at St. Jude and, if Cut Line can be so bold, found the best way ever to deal with trolls. Homa wins social media this week.