Cut Line: Tiger, Beckham, money, politics, and golf

Golf Channel

In this week’s edition, Tiger Woods says no to big money and the World Golf Ranking math is no friend to Justin Rose.

Made Cut

A new fall. Whether Jordan Spieth was strong-armed by the PGA Tour into playing the last two weeks or simply wanted to get an early jump on his season doesn’t matter.

What matters here is that Spieth and Rickie Fowler added fall starts to their dance cards this year to help boost what has been a relatively overlooked part of the schedule for the game’s top players.

Because Spieth failed to add a new event to his schedule last season, and since he did not play at least 25 events, he was in violation of the circuit’s strength-of-field requirement. But instead of a fine, officials appeared to have worked out a deal for Spieth to add two new events to his 2018-19 schedule.

The result was some much-needed star power last week in Las Vegas and this week in Mexico. For a game that often allows itself to get lost in the rulebook, it was a refreshing to see a common-sense solution.

Follow the money. When someone says it’s not about the money, it’s always about the money. At least that seems to be the case more often than not. But for Tiger Woods, it really wasn’t about the money.

Woods reportedly turned down a lucrative offer to play the inaugural Saudi International next January on the European Tour. According to a report in The Telegraph, Woods was offered a $3.25 million appearance fee to play the event but decided against making the trip.

Woods played his first full schedule on Tour since 2012 this year, and given his regular bouts with injury, it’s likely his days of flying around the world to chase appearance fees is over. 

Or perhaps his decision to turn down the offer was motivated by the building tension around the Saudi Arabian government, which is sponsoring the event, following the pre-meditated killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Arabian embassy in Turkey last month.

Be it politics or prudence, Woods’ decision to turn down the offer was the right choice.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

World-ranking math for dummies. A week after victoriously returning to world No. 1 with his walk-off triumph at the Turkish Airlines Open Justin Rose will watch from his couch as Brooks Koepka moves back into the top spot Monday.

Neither Rose nor Koepka are playing this week, but according to the ranking gurus, Koepka’s divisor will drop from 45 to 44 events in the two-year calendar, which will cause his average points to increase to 10.32. That will be just ahead of Rose at 10.16.

As is normally the case, the quiet coup will prompt some to demand a new system, but it’s not weird math or minimum divisors that need fixing so much as it is a system with far too many trap doors and inflated standards.

The ranking is poised to undergo what Tour officials dubbed a re-evaluation, and although the optics of Rose getting bounced from the top spot during a “bye” week for both players isn’t great, any potential changes to the ranking must go well beyond who is first on the list.

Getting a read. Many of the changes to the Rules of Golf beginning next year are designed to simplify what most agree is an insanely complicated set of rules, but if early feedback is any indication, the new standard for green-reading material may be headed in the wrong direction.

The USGA and the R&A announced last month plans to limit the size and scale of detailed putting-green maps and any similar electronic or digital materials.

Players will be allowed to continue to use green-reading books beginning in 2019, but the new interpretation will limit images of greens to a scale of 3/8 inch to 5 yards (1:480). The problem with this new standard is that some Tour yardage books exceed that limit, particularly at courses (like Pebble Beach) with smaller greens.

The USGA plans to have members of its rules staff at the first two events in 2019 to answer questions, but as one Tour caddie told me, “This is not simple.”

Missed Cut

The people have spoken. And the message was clear – affordable and public golf can’t compete with a fancy new soccer stadium and retail space.

At least that’s the takeaway from this week’s referendum in South Florida that now opens the door for soccer star David Beckham and his partners to potentially develop a 25,000-seat soccer stadium on what is now Miami’s Melreese Golf Club.

Beckham can now negotiate a deal with the city to pave over the course that has been an area staple for over a half century and includes the Miami-Dade chapter of the First Tee, a program with 5,000 kids. That assumes, of course, that he gets the necessary votes from county commissioners, "and those votes are far from assured," per the Miami Herald.

Golf course closings are nothing new, particularly in Florida, but losing a legendary public layout seems like an excessive price to pay for progress. While Tuesday's vote is certainly a step in the wrong direction in the effort to save Melreese, it isn't the final nail in the course's coffin.

Tweet of the week:

Compton along with fellow professional Cristie Kerr learned to play the game at Melreese and had been vocal opponents of the new soccer stadium. The two-time heart transplant recipient has endured his share of loses in his career, but this one would likely sting the most should it come to pass.

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