Sunday, March 26, 2017

Cut Line: A Masters question and a King crisis

In this week’s edition, there’s no time line for Tiger Woods’ return, no issues with this year’s U.S. Presidents Cup leadership, and no break for players this spring, at least as far as the PGA Tour schedule goes.

Made Cut

The task at hand. Most considered last year’s U.S. Ryder Cup victory at Hazeltine National a mission-accomplished moment for the task force that was born from the 2014 American loss in Scotland. But as many explained following that triumph last fall, it was just the beginning.

Another sign of that legacy unfolded this week when U.S. Presidents Cup captain Steve Stricker named Jim Furyk, next year’s Ryder Cup captain, his final assistant for this year’s matches.

It’s the kind of continuity players and officials said would make the U.S. teams for both events better. Stricker’s other assistants include Davis Love III, last year’s Ryder Cup captain, and Tiger Woods, a vice captain at Hazeltine.

For too long these biennial team events ignored the larger goal of creating the best possible scenario for the U.S. team to succeed, so the continuity between the two events is encouraging.

Consider it another win for the task force – eh, sorry, Ryder Cup committee.


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Bay Hill and beyond. Tiger Woods will be among the list of players who will not be in the field next week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Woods announced on his website on Thursday that he continues to recover from a back ailment that caused him to withdraw from the Dubai Desert Classic last month and miss the Genesis Open and Honda Classic.

“Presently, I have no timetable for my return to golf, but my treatments are continuing and going well,” Woods said.

That vague update, along with his lack of starts so far this year (he missed the cut in his only other event), also means that he will likely miss the Masters for just the second time since 1995.

Depending on how his rehabilitation goes, Woods’ next likely start would be The Players, which is the week after the Wells Fargo Championship that he normally plays, but that event is being held on a new course this year so that seems doubtful.

Although it’s still early in the year, the Yogi Berra line comes to mind for Woods’ season: “It’s getting late early.”


Missed Cut

Spring broken. When the field for the Arnold Palmer Invitational is released there are going to be some surprising omissions. Missing from the lineup will likely be world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, No. 5 Jordan Spieth, No. 7 Justin Thomas and No. 8 Adam Scott, to name a few.

Many will criticize those who won’t make the trip to Orlando, Fla., following last year’s passing of Palmer, but lost in that emotional take is the simple math of the current schedule. In a six-week window starting with the WGC-Mexico Championship there are two WGCs, an invitational (Bay Hill) and the Masters.

This week’s Valspar Championship is probably paying the steepest price of a disjointed Florida swing. The world ranking rating for this week’s event dropped from 358 points last year to 290 points this season.

They can’t all be must-play events, but this year’s schedule isn’t helping things.

Tweet of the week: @BillyHo_Golf (Billy Horschel) “Disappointing. Totally understand schedule issues. But first year without [Arnold Palmer]. Honor an icon! Without him [we] wouldn’t be in position we are today.”

Horschel’s point is valid, and next week’s event promises to be emotional, but the real test for the tournament is the years ahead when the current scheduling concerns are hopefully alleviated and players will have to decide how they plan to honor the King.


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