PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — It looked as though 70 players would make the cut at the Wachovia Championship until Tripp Isenhour missed a 15-foot par putt on the final hole, dropping the cut to 3 over par and allowing 15 players back into the tournament.
The third round barely finished because of a two-hour rain delay, and having 85 players didn’t help.
Now, the PGA Tour again is looking at changing the longtime policy that the top 70 and ties make the cut. Several alternatives were discussed last week by the Player Advisory Council, and it likely will come up at the tour policy board meeting at the end of the month.
Among the options:
• Top 60 players and ties.
• Top 65 players and ties.
• The nearest number to 70 players.
• Top 70 and ties, but if the number goes over 78, revert to nearest to 70.
• Top 70 and ties make the cut on Friday, and another cut on Saturday for top 70 and ties.
Once the cut is made, there typically is separation at the bottom of the leaderboard. In a case such as Wachovia, 85 players made the cut, but a dozen or so would not have advanced to the final round.
One reason the cut policy is under review is to cope with pace of play. When a large number of players make the cut and bad weather is in the forecast, officials have little choice but to play in threesomes off both tees. That can really become a problem on the West Coast, where tournaments typically end at 3 p.m. for network television.
Tiger Woods said he would favor top 60 and ties, no exceptions.
“Play better,” he said. “Either you play better or you don’t.”
But there are some ramifications.
Chris Couch (New Orleans) and Brad Faxon (Hartford) each made the cut on the number and went on to win in the last two years. One suggestion was top 60 and everyone within 10 shots of the lead, similar to what the U.S. Open does.
“I wouldn’t want to see that because in the summer, when fields are 156, you’re cutting out 100 guys,” said Jeff Sluman, who favors a Saturday cut if there are more than 78 players.
Sluman lobbied for a change in the cut policy a dozen years ago when he was on the policy board. He now is on the PAC, and he described last week’s meeting as “many thoughts and no consensus.”
The next step is the May 28 policy board meeting, at which time the board could send it back to the PAC for a specific proposal. Whether anything changes for 2008 is uncertain. Any change to tour regulations requires two policy board meetings.
Tiger’s Design: Among those watching Tiger Woods at the Wachovia Championship last week was Beau Welling, who used to be the top designer for Tom Fazio and played a big role in the redesign of Quail Hollow.
But his presence had more to do with the future.
Woods has hired Welling to do the work on Al Ruwaya in Dubai, the first golf course for Tiger Woods Design. The golf course is supposed to be done by September 2009.
Woods said Bryon Bell, whom he hired as president of Tiger Woods Design, found Welling after looking at the philosophies of various design companies.
“Beau fit what we wanted to have happen,” Woods said.
Dubai is the only course in which Woods is involved, and he did not say whether he would continue to use Welling for other projects.
Welling now has his own company, and golf course design is not his only interest. He recently was appointed president of the U.S. Curling Association.
Athletes and Golf: Golf Digest gleaned the USGA Golf Handicap and Information Network, talked to state associates and even the athletes themselves to come up with a list of the top athlete golfers for its June issue of the magazine.
Rick Rhoden, the baseball pitcher and leading money-winner on the Celebrity Players Tour, was No. 1 on the list with a plus-2.5 handicap, followed by former hockey player Ray Sheppard (plus 2.5) and former Green Bay Packer Sterling Sharpe (plus 2.4). The top 10 included six football players – three quarterbacks, two kickers and a wide receiver.
Michael Jordan was in a tie for 30th, while home run king Henry Aaron was tied for 209th. Of the 220 athletes in the ranking, football produced the most with 70 players. Six women made the list, led by tennis player Gigi Fernandez (1.6) in a tie for 36th.
Pink Spikes: CHAMP Spikes has launched a “Pink on the Links” program to raise money and awareness for breast cancer research, pledging donations on behalf of players who wear pink spikes on Mother’s Day at The Players Championship on the PGA Tour and at the Michelob Ultra Open on the LPGA Tour.
“This was a perfect opportunity for us to honor mothers everywhere and directly fund research to find a cure for a disease that affects so many women,” CHAMP president Harris MacNeill said.
More than a dozen players already were wearing the pink spikes at Sawgrass, including two-time Masters champion Jose Maria Olazabal, two-time U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen, Justin Leonard, Chad Campbell and Corey Pavin.
Divots: The Memorial has given sponsors’ exemptions to John Daly and tour rookie Kyle Reifers, who used to caddie at Muirfield Village when he was in high school. … The Women’s British Open has a new title sponsor (Ricoh) and will continue to play mostly links. It will be held for the first time this year at St. Andrews, along with Royal Lytham & St. Annes in 2009 and Royal Birkdale in 2010. It likely will go to Sunningdale next year. … Jim Colbert is famous for telling guys who complain to “Play better.” Jeff Sluman put a new wrinkle on that phrase when he said last week of various PGA Tour policies, “Nothing has ever been done out here that has held a great player back.” … A report by Deloitte & Touche says the Irish economy received a $194.6 million boost from the Ryder Cup. The report said spectators spent 60 percent more than they did four years ago at The Belfry in England.
Stat of the Week: John Daly has shot 80 or higher 50 times on the PGA Tour. Arnold Palmer had 48 rounds in the 80s during his career, but only 11 of them before he turned 50.