Cut Line: Keeping it Rio

May 6, 2016

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – In this week’s edition of Cut Line, Jordan Spieth has fully recovered from his Masters meltdown, Tiger Woods is still in recovery mode and Zac Blair recovers nicely after head butting his putter on Friday at the Wells Fargo Championship.

Made Cut

View from 45. At 45 years old Phil Mickelson’s priorities are vastly different than those of his PGA Tour frat brothers.

The focus now is on majors, specifically that missing piece of his Grand Slam puzzle, the U.S. Open, and cementing his legacy as one of the game’s most accomplished players.

Consider his take on this year’s exceedingly busy schedule for many of the game’s top players with the addition of the Olympics. Lefty is currently not qualified for Rio, although he made it clear he’d like to change that, and sees the potential traffic jam of tournaments as an opportunity.

“The way I see it is that around the Olympics, if I can play well in the next two months and somehow get on the team, what a great opportunity to compete in the Olympics,” said Mickelson, who is back in the hunt at the Wells Fargo Championship just three shots off the lead. “And if I don’t, I’ve never had a three-week stretch of a break over the summer. So we’ll end up going on a family vacation so it’s a win-win the way I see it.”

Have to appreciate half-full Phil keeping things in perspective.

Moving on. It’s good theater to think Jordan Spieth has spent the weeks since rinsing his title chances into Rae’s Creek quietly tucked away in a dark room with just his thoughts, lamenting his missed Masters moment.

The reality is Spieth spent a week in the Bahamas on a buddys trip and even a few days this week getting to know Oakmont, site of this year’s U.S. Open.

“I’ve got ladies at the grocery stores putting their hand on me and going, ‘Really praying for you. How are you doing?’” Spieth said Tuesday. “I’m like, ‘My dog didn’t die. I’ll be OK. I’ll survive. It happens.’”

Now, the fact Spieth already has a green jacket in his closet certainly helps dull the sting of his Masters loss and that stunning quadruple-bogey 7 on the par-3 12th hole on Sunday.

But even if Spieth didn’t have his two-pack of major titles to ease his pain, chances are the game’s most level-headed 22-year-old would still be just fine.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Deep end of the pool. Like it or not, drug testing – real drug testing, not the light version used by the PGA Tour since it began its program in 2008 – is a part of sports today.

With millions of dollars at stake each week the temptation to bend the rules is too great as we’ve seen in nearly every other sport, and the only way to combat that threat, be it real or perceived by the public, is a comprehensive, completely transparent anti-doping program.

That program arrived on Friday for players potentially bound for the Olympics later this year.

One hundred and twenty players (60 men, 60 women) were placed into the Olympic testing pool that includes blood testing (the Tour’s policy does not have blood testing), out-of-competition testing (the Tour’s policy allows for this but it doesn’t seem to be used much, if at all) and a whereabouts requirement.

Most involved in golf have held that the game, unlike other sports, is above doping, which may be true, but for the first time there is a program in place to prove it.

Will he, won’t he? Another deadline passed and Tiger Woods remained on the sidelines, this time passing on next week’s Players Championship. Woods hasn’t made a start since last year’s Wyndham Championship.

Speculation has reached a fever pitch in recent weeks as Woods appears to inch closer to his comeback following multiple back procedures last year, fueled by reports of the former world No. 1 booking accommodations for the Memorial and registering for the U.S. Open.

Davis Love III, arguably Woods’ biggest advocate for a comeback considering his position as this year’s U.S. Ryder Cup captain, brought some sanity to the conversation earlier this week when he was asked about Tiger’s chances as a potential pick

“He needs to play,” Love said. “Hopefully, Tiger gets back and starts playing. He has to play enough to, one, to get going, and two, to impress everybody. It’s not just me.”

Eventually there will be an announcement that Woods is returning to the PGA Tour but that won’t be the end of his comeback, it will be the beginning.

Tweet of the week: @z_blair (Zac Blair) “For the record my putter is very very slightly bent… Not broken. And I’m gonna drop some blowsnakes next week with it!”

Blair was disqualified from the Wells Fargo Championship after he missed a birdie putt on the fifth hole, hit himself in the head with the offending implement and then putted out for par with the club.

Blair sent out an impressive mea culpa on Twitter: “Going forward I’m going to do my best to not let my emotions get in the way out on the golf course.”

Nobody wants that kind of outburst on the course, but give Blair credit for handling the situation with class and humility.

Missed Cut

Pro-am party. During Tuesday’s mandatory players meeting at the Wells Fargo Championship the agenda, as it often does, turned to weekly pro-am days and how to improve them.

The idea has been floated to have two professionals per group, one playing the front nine and the other finishing the round with the amateur partners.

“It would give the amateurs a chance to get to know more players and the players could use the extra time to get ready for the tournament,” said one player who asked not to be identified.

But the idea doesn’t seem to have much traction among players on the policy board and player advisory council despite a general consensus that pro-am days are too long.

Pro-am days are an important part of any tournament’s business and give the Tour access to countless corporate decision makers, but if there are ways to improve the product for both the players and the amateurs, that should be a top priority.

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