When you’ve had a season like that of Justin Thomas, it can be difficult to determine the most important metric amid such heady success. Unless you’re his dad.
Mike Thomas can recite chapter and verse on the accomplishments that are expected to earn his son the PGA Tour Player of the Year award: the five wins, the first major victory at the PGA Championship, the FedEx Cup title, record-setting rounds (59 at the Sony Open, 63 at the U.S. Open), the Arnold Palmer Award for topping the money list, the 3½-1½ record in his first U.S. team appearance at the Presidents Cup.
The 2017 season has brought an avalanche of accolades for the 24-year-old, but none of those tops his old man’s list of what matters.
If Donald Trump appears as expected Sunday at the Presidents Cup, he might find more spectators on the course than he did votes in Hudson County, N.J., where Liberty National Golf Club sits.
Looking east across New York harbor wouldn’t offer much succor either, since he lost his home county in Manhattan by a 9-to-1 margin. No, to find his base, the president would have to peer south to the only county around here that he carried, Staten Island, long known as the only borough welcoming of New York City’s garbage at its infamous, now-closed landfill.
Alternatively, he could just gaze around the locker room.
A man gets accustomed to hearing that things are out of his reach when he stands just 5-feet, 4½ inches or when he’s the blue-collar son of a Welsh dairy farmer with dreams of making it in a black-tie world.
Ian Woosnam is both of those things, but Tuesday night — four decades after he took to the road chasing the European Tour in a beat-up VW camper van stocked with a frugal diet of baked beans — he arrives at a berth in the World Golf Hall of Fame.
There’s an endearing distinctiveness to Conor McGregor’s swagger. It’s not his strut—chest puffed out, arms half-raised as though anticipating a TSA patdown on his way to the ring. Nor is it his sartorial style—the outsized shades and flashy three-piece suits that call to mind an upwardly mobile loan shark.
No. It’s the lower face: the constant, contemptuous gum chewing. The jutting jaw, as solid and tested as a blacksmith’s anvil. The lips that don’t so much smile as offer an affable warning of lurking menace.
I joined Andy Johnson from The Fried Egg, and SB Nation writers Brendan Porath and Richard Johnson for two fun shows after the first and second rounds of the 146th Open at Royal Birkdale. Very few Tour pros were hurt in the making of these shows!
On the final Sunday of the U.S. Open, I joined a roundtable with Gary Williams, Geoff Shackelford and Mark Rolfing on Golf Channel’s Morning Drive to debate whether the national Open has an identity crisis. You can watch the segment here.
The European Tour’s ‘Golf Sixes’ format has a lot of positives—and a few things that could easily cheapen the product. I discussed the radical new tournament format on Golf Channel’s ‘Morning Drive’ with Whit Watson and Charlie Rymer.
Tiger Woods has long been accustomed to owning the sports headlines on the day after the Arnold Palmer Invitational concludes. That PGA Tour event—which Woods has won eight times—wrapped on Sunday without its legendary namesake (who died in September) or the injured Woods, who in recent years has spent more time on the sidelines than Bill Belichick.
On March 7th Golf Channel airs a movie about the legendary Seve Ballesteros, which has me flashing back to this little memory of him that the St. Andrews Links Trust asked me to write for its magazine two years ago. Scanned from the printed issue since no digital version exists. Which is how Old Tom preferred things there.
There was a time when tournament appearances by Tiger Woods were theaters of high drama: the greatest golfer in history ruthlessly chasing down every record worthy of pursuit. But that was before chipping yips and back surgeries, before Achilles and ACL injuries, before personal scandal and swing woes, even before most folks had heard of Rory McIlroy. Or Barack Obama.
Woods returns to the PGA Tour this week 15 months after being sidelined by a pair of microdiscectomy procedures. His reappearance is cause for celebration but also for trepidation, since his more recent performances have veered between farce and tragedy.
The winner of 14 majors had been scheduled to return at the Safeway Open in October, but just three days after committing to play, Woods withdrew. “After a lot of soul searching and honest reflection, I know that I am not yet ready to play,” he said. “My health is good, and I feel strong, but my game is vulnerable and not where it needs to be.”
For fans weaned on Tiger’s cutthroat aggression and indomitable self-belief, the admission of frailty stood out, as though his clubs were suddenly carved from kryptonite. His withdrawal was no routine acknowledgment of competitive rustiness. Golf’s Gretzky was sitting out because he was scared of slipping on the ice.