U.S. Needs Steve Stricker To Use Picks To Buck Buddy System That Made Him Captain.

By the time Steve Stricker makes his Ryder Cup captain’s picks after next week’s Tour Championship, the COVID-compromised qualification process to determine his troops will have lasted longer than the Siege of Leningrad—924 days to be exact. But Stricker will be announcing more than just six additional names on his roster. His choices will reveal whether the U.S. is investing in its future stars or remains hostage to a faded legend who isn’t eager to cede center stage.

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DeChambeau Maintains Stony Silence, Missing Chance To Hit Reset.

For those keeping count—admittedly a task less onerous than charting his 44 strokes on the final nine holes at the U.S. Open—Friday marked the sixth consecutive round after which Bryson DeChambeau has declined to speak with waiting media. His silent snit dates to the WGC FedEx St. Jude Invitational two weeks ago, when DeChambeau breezily told reporters that he didn’t need the COVID-19 vaccine because he’s healthy and wouldn’t take a shot from someone more needy, ignorance that suggested he reads the news with considerably less intensity than he does his yardage book.

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FedEx Cup Playoffs Protect Top Players And Stifle Cinderella Stories. One Easy Fix Could Change That.

In every other major sport, regular season performance matters about the same in the post-season, which is to say not at all. At best, it earns home field advantage but has no material impact on the remaining action. Only in the PGA Tour’s playoffs is weight still given to what a man accomplished during the last administration.

The FedEx Cup Playoffs began Thursday with The Northern Trust at Liberty National, which sits a 15-minute ferry ride across the Hudson from lower Manhattan. Now in it’s 15th year, the FedEx Cup has undergone more tweaks than a Wall Street trophy wife. And yet it remains a tweak shy of perfection.

Continue reading “FedEx Cup Playoffs Protect Top Players And Stifle Cinderella Stories. One Easy Fix Could Change That.”

As The Brooks-Bryson Beef Returns To Its Birthplace, It’s Time To Let It Die.

The PGA Tour returns this week to the birthplace of its most engaging tussle in recent memory, even if the most attentive fan would struggle to recall a single shot ever struck at Liberty National Golf Club.

On the morning of the final round of the Northern Trust two years ago—August 11, 2019 — I was standing by the practice putting green with Ricky Elliott and Claude Harmon III, respectively the caddie and (now former) coach of Brooks Koepka, when a clearly vexed Bryson DeChambeau approached and instructed Elliott to tell his boss to make any comments about slow play “to my face.”

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There Are Many Criticisms Of Golf In The Olympics. None Are Medal-Worthy.

Ricky Gervais had a biting comedic commentary that summed up the naysaying and negativity fueling social media. He likened Twitter to a man walking through the town square and seeing a flyer offering guitar lessons. “But I don’t (expletive) want guitar lessons!” the man rages, before dialing the advertised phone number to profanely scream as much at the guitar teacher.

He perfectly captured the essence of social media’s many mediocrities: the narcissistic belief that if it doesn’t matter to them, then it doesn’t matter, period. Hence they respond to tweets or stories with “Who cares?”, demonstrating the degree to which irony escapes the obtuse.

Continue reading “There Are Many Criticisms Of Golf In The Olympics. None Are Medal-Worthy.”

Grayson Murray’s Alcoholism Raises Question: How Involved Should PGA Tour Be In Personal Problems?

It’s unsurprising that some golf fans with long memories would find it difficult to muster sympathy for Grayson Murray.

He’s an abrasive and ignorant social media presence who once told Black people they wouldn’t be shot by police if they just obeyed the law, and whose infamous Twitter exchange with a high school girl could be generously described as creepy.

Still, it was disheartening to see how frequently respondents to his most recent social media post evidenced the very same lack of empathy that Murray himself has often been accused of.

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Bryson DeChambeau Keeps Losing His Cool. Who Will Be The Adult In the Room?

Back in 2015, a college coach told Golf Channel reporter Ryan Lavner that within five years Bryson DeChambeau, who had just won the U.S. Amateur, would either be No. 1 in the world or in a straitjacket. That DeChambeau currently occupies neither position isn’t to say that both are now beyond the realm of possibility. It simply varies by the week which outcome he seems to advance toward.

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European Tour ‘security’ Around Rory McIlroy A Joke, But No Laughing Matter.

To the extent that we think at all about security issues at golf tournaments, it’s typically in the context of spectators being ejected—justifiably so in instances of unruly behavior, questionably so if it’s because a rabbit-eared player heard a comment he didn’t like.

Security is conspicuous at most PGA Tour events, whether local police departments or companies hired to manage crowds. There’s another layer of security that passes largely unnoticed. High-profile players are assigned a uniformed police officer who does not stray from his side throughout the day. The Tour’s own security personnel also moves between groups.

Compare those protocols to what we witnessed Friday at Scottish Open, when a fan strode onto the 10th tee, snatched a club from Rory McIlroy’s bag, then proceeded to waggle it around for a time as though preparing to hit a shot as McIlroy, Jon Rahm and their caddies stared in disbelief. Eventually an official (one well-stricken in years, based on the video) approached and ushered the trespasser aside. Then two laggardly security officers showed up and frogmarched the man away, making a game attempt at appearing to do a job they had manifestly failed at.

Rory McIlroy’s caddie, Harry Diamond, retrieves a club from the unwelcome visitor.
Continue reading “European Tour ‘security’ Around Rory McIlroy A Joke, But No Laughing Matter.”

Missteps by Mickelson and DeChambeau Expose Attitude That Media Exists To Flatter.

The relationship between professional athletes and the press is fraught by its very nature, moreso in the wake of Naomi Osaka suggesting that media questioning is injurious to her mental health. However, at this week’s Rocket Mortgage Classic, two of golf’s biggest stars seemed more concerned about damage to their pride and ego.

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Complaints About COVID19 Rules Make Players Look Like Whiny One Per Cent.

The Open Championship has long been a bonanza for bellyaching by professional golfers, regardless of where the game’s oldest major is contested. British weather is too fickle (accepted as fact by all but disputatious Scots). British food is too lardaceous (“Do you have any vegetables that aren’t fried?” a former editor once asked a waiter. Answer: “No.”). British water pressure makes showering feel like being peed upon (if only the water were that warm). And that’s all before the capricious linksland bounces that short-circuit the minds of those accustomed to hitting a golf ball through the air and seeing it stop in proximity to where it landed.

This year’s Open at Royal St. George’s should have been this year’s Open at St. Andrews, but because last year’s Open at Royal St. George’s didn’t happen, this year’s Open at St. Andrews has become next year’s Open at St. Andrews, while last year’s Open at Royal St. George’s becomes this year’s. One thing hasn’t changed: the griping. What has changed is that it has commenced much earlier than usual.

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In Brooks Vs. Bryson, Koepka’s free beer stunt falls flat.

While it remains unclear how Brooks Koepka’s engagement strategy will impact his share of the PGA Tour’s $40 million bonus fund for players who “move the needle” with fans, there must already be a direct correlation between his social media posts and Jay Monahan’s Mylanta consumption.

The last couple of weeks — and in particular the last 24 hours — will have reminded the commissioner that the solution to one problem invariably creates other, intertwined sources of heartburn. In his bid to neuter the threat posed by a Saudi-financed rival tour, Monahan devised the Player Impact Program to bestow cash on the needle-movers and prevent their splitting.

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Clandestine Kiawah Meeting Could Be Saudis’ Waterloo.

The Crown Prince is nothing if not opportunistic, whether waiting until a dissident journalist enters the Istanbul consulate to have him dismembered or choosing an event with 20 club pros in the field to make his final pitch promising top players that they don’t have to share riches with also-rans.

On the eve of the 103rd PGA Championship, the chatter at Kiawah Island is less about potential winners of the year’s second major than a possible splintering of the (men’s) game if a sufficient number of elite players sign-on with the Saudi-financed Super League Golf for fees reported at $30 million or more. It’s a controversial concept that rumbled along for years in near-secrecy without gaining traction, but which seems now to be hurtling toward the decisive moment like an executioner’s sulthan.

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PGA Tour Boss Jay Monahan Digs A Line In The Sand Against Upstart Leagues.

A friend who knows him once told me that there are two Jay Monahans. “There’s Golf Jay and Hockey Jay,” he said of the mulish Boston native, “and you don’t want to meet Hockey Jay.”

It sounds as though it was Hockey Jay who addressed a meeting of PGA Tour players this week in Charlotte, at which the commissioner laid out in unambiguous terms the sanctions awaiting anyone who joins either of the splinter circuits promising gaudy sums in a bid to upend professional golf’s established order.

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Bellyachers Begone–Rickie Fowler’s Free Ride Into PGA Championship Is A Good Thing.

Every comeback success for a PGA Tour star has an inescapable corollary in that some other struggling player will be shunted into the crosshairs of pitiless commentators who were previously focused on his now-resurgent peer. For that reason alone, Jordan Spieth ought to stand Rickie Fowler a drink when they next meet.

Like all professional golfers, Fowler is accustomed to criticism. The slings and arrows of Strokes Gained statistics will draw blood from even the very best, much less someone struggling with swing changes who has managed only four top 20 finishes in the past year. But whereas Spieth was scrutinized almost exclusively for his on-course performance, judgments on Fowler seem less about play than perception, the chaffing sense among golf fans that he is coasting down Easy Street.

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PGA Tour’s New Incentive Plan Is Schoolyard Math—And Makes Perfect Sense.

The most jarring revelation of the last 24 hours wasn’t that the PGA Tour will now reward its most prominent players regardless of performance, but that a sport hitherto known as a citadel of conservative capitalism actually harbors a wealth of socialist sentiment. How else to explain the convulsive reaction when Golfweek revealed the existence — previously unannounced by the Tour — of the Player Impact Program, which will dispense $40 million in bonuses to 10 stars deemed to have most moved the needle in terms of fan engagement?

On social media (always a reliable indicator of the broader world), a remarkable number of golf fans who usually genuflect at the altar of Adam Smith were apoplectic at the idea of wealthy players receiving money for such nebulous reasons, dollars that could be used to benefit the greater good, whether boosting purses in the minor leagues, rehiring Tour employees laid off during the pandemic or otherwise growing the game. In short, anything except further swelling Rickie Fowler’s already tumescent bank account.

Who knew it was so easy to convert the “up-by-the-bootstraps” brigade into Bernie bros?

Two men who will benefit from the PIP: Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler.
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