Each week we ask our panel of writers, PGA members and golf industry experts to weigh in with their views on the hot topics of the day.
The Valero Texas Open featured a particularly weak field with only a handful of top ranked players. Does that affect your likelihood of watching or are you ok to watch any PGA Tour players?
Jim Deeks, Fairways Magazine (@jimdeeks): I watched, but only because I had nothing better to do. Normally, though, I’m a fair-weather viewer… that is, I look at the leaderboard and decide if there’s anyone I want to be bothered watching. Yesterday, no, but I watched anyway. I believe I slept through most of it.
Craig Loughry, Golf Ontario (@craigloughry): I watch every week, I’m a fan. Venue/field doesn’t matter. But Majors are can’t miss, I definitely park more time to watch more of those events.
Michael Schurman, Master Professional / Life Member, PGA of Canada: These are the events on the PGA TOUR that I feel sorry for. They have been the mainstay for over 50 years but no longer offer anything exceptional to the fans. In fact, they epitomize the saying ‘a regular tour event’. Professional golf is lot like a trapeze artist in a circus…..everything is on the line from your perspective but it’s only entertainment to the spectators. This tournament is very important to those who play but the entertainment isn’t anything special to the fans. Even though the players own their own jets and/or travel first class, Texas is a little out of the way when 5 out of 6 events are in the east. It might help if there was a ‘Texas swing’ where all the Texas events were held in succession and worked together offering something to the players for playing all 3. What saddens me about this event but I marvel at is the $7M raised for the charity without the top players.
Dave Kaplan, Freelance Writer (@davykap): It’s certainly not ideal. There were a few interesting story lines, like Mullinax’s course record on Saturday (and his subsequent choke on the 17th hole on Sunday) and the impressive pro debut of 19-year-old Joaquin Niemann, but that was far from must-see television. The PGA Tour is already in a tough place at this time of the year trying to compete with Major League Baseball and the NHL and NBA playoffs. It can use all the help it can get, and that starts with some of the sport’s bigger players committing to more tournaments in April and early May.
TJ Rule, Golf Away Tours (@GolfAwayTJ): I watch golf tournaments for three reasons typically: 1) players I love to watch; 2) golf courses I want to see; 3) Canadians in contention. This past weekend didn’t tick any of those boxes, so needless to say I wasn’t parked on my couch watching golf on Sunday. Although it was nice to see Hearn with his best finish in a while! When is Tiger back by the way??
Hal Quinn, Freelance Writer, Vancouver: Back when the Tour stopped in Vancouver, the unwashed annually bemoaned the fact that no ‘stars’ ever showed up. I suggested that they buy a cheap ticket to a practice round and sit in the range bleachers for a few hours. From that perspective they all learned how incredibly good the guys were they’d never heard of and who couldn’t make a cut. For the same reason I like watching the Euro Tour and stops like Valero on Thursdays and Fridays. These guys that don’t play on the weekend are good, very good.
Peter Mumford, Fairways Magazine (@FairwaysMag): I generally watch parts of most PGA Tour events but it’s difficult to get excited when there are few recognizable players in the field and I don’t really have any particular rooting interest. Perhaps the hardest part is listening to the broadcast crew who struggle to deliver much in the way of compelling TV. They seem to only get excited when Tiger is in the field.
The Zurich Classic of New Orleans goes this weekend, featuring teams of two players. What teams will you be excited to watch?
Deeks: The question has prompted me to look at the pairings. I’ll be excited to see if the team of Bronson Burgoon and Conrad Shindler get into the field… they’re alternates right now. I’ve never heard of either of them, but on name value alone, they pack one helluva 1-2 punch. I see Jim Furyk and David Duval are teamed up, assuming Duval knows which garage his clubs are stored in. My money, though, would have to be on Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson. A win by them might demonstrate the power of cooperation, and keep Britain in the European Union.
Loughry: Team Spain jumps out: Garcia/Cabrera Bello, early $$ is on them. Team Patrick (Reed/Cantley) could be alright too. The “loosey goosey” group: Perez/Dufner could do some damage. Seriously though, what the heck is with Sabbatini and Daly? A throw back to 2003? I hope to hear the back story on how these guys pick their partners.
Schurman: I like this ‘stuff’! I am so ‘died in the wool traditionalist’ when it comes to the tour; I like it when someone ‘makes’ me change it up a bit. The only thing I’d do different in this event is to have a two-man scramble on one of the rounds. For these who are looking to organize a new tour event, you heard it here first: I’d like to see a two-man scramble match play event.
Kaplan: I think team Patrick (Reed and Cantlay) is going to cruise to the victory. Reed’s already amazing at team format golf, and I think he will be playing with a chip on his shoulders all week in his first tournament back since winning the Masters. Plus, Cantlay is quietly putting together quite the season. He’s made 9 of 10 cuts, earned his first career PGA Tour victory, and is putting himself in a great position to take a run at the FedEx Cup.
Rule: Obviously the all-Canadian team of Mac Hughes and Corey Conners, both of whom are showing better form lately, so they may just be there on the weekend. But aside from the Canadians in the field, I’m cheering for the veteran team of Furyk and Duval to turn back the clock!
Quinn: Won’t be setting the PVR to record the Rory Sabbatini – John Daly tandem but it would be nice if household-name alternates Bronson Burgoon and Conrad Shindler get in. In fact, there aren’t many compelling twosomes, and though hardly exciting, it will be fun to watch Sergio – Cabrera Bello and Rose-Stenson.
Mumford: Team Canada (Hughes and Conners) will be one to keep an eye on. If I were placing a bet, it would likely go on the Olympic medal team of Rose and Stenson, who seem ideally suited to one another. Ironically, they’ll be paired for the first two days against a duo that seem particularly unsuited for each other: popular easy going Matt Kuchar and unpopular finicky, twitchy Bubba Watson. What’s up with that? Do opposites attract in team golf?
Sergio Garcia had a mini meltdown at Valero and momentarily lost his driver after throwing it into the trees. Acceptable behaviour or inexcusable? What’s your reaction if a playing partner starts tossing clubs?
Deeks: In my teens and twenties, I was hardly the poster boy for good behaviour on a golf course. I don’t know how people could stand playing with me; I was so foul-tempered. My worst moment came when I flung my 8-iron after a chunk, and it broke in half when it hit my pull-cart. That was the first step in a self-administered program of attitude adjustment. Later, as a father of two promising young golfer sons, I made it clear to them in their early teens that, other than a mild muttered oath after a bad shot, tantrums, sulking, and above all, club-throwing were not acceptable and their club memberships would not be subsidized further by their Dad if it happened again. Throwing clubs is ridiculous, immature, and possibly dangerous to bystanders. It should NEVER be tolerated, and Sergio should be severely fined for his action. If a playing partner of mine tossed one club, he’d be reprimanded; two and I’d walk off the course. The days of accepting and chuckling at a Tommy Bolt are long gone.
Loughry: Imagine that? An emotional Spaniard. I like the show of emotion, it means he cares. However, tossing your club doesn’t set a great example for kids. I understand it’s in the heat of the moment but he has to understand you can’t do those things. He certainly didn’t look his best, and I’m certain his playing partners didn’t feel too comfortable with it either. I’m the type that would just snicker about it off to the side.
Schurman: I play with a group of Ontario PGA Pro’s who have played together every Friday for over 25 years. One day, one of our hot-heads threw a club following his second shot into the first green. It landed on the end of the grip and spronged like a pogo stick straight up landing on the roof of our cart (not his). I got out, picked it up and put it into my bag and said “Don’t dare touch that until we’re done today.” Play resumed and we actually had a nice day. On #18 green, after we putted I walked over, took the club out of my bag and handed it to him. I shook his hand, looked him straight in the eye and said “Thank-you” and walked away. He never threw another club while playing with me. I’ve buried a few and broken a few but one day a fellow Pro I was playing with said to me, you aren’t good enough to get that angry; that was the last time I broke one, flipped one or buried one. Now I pout until somebody tells a joke.
Kaplan: That is totally unacceptable behaviour from the Spaniard. The last thing amateur golf needs is more hot-headed players who think it’s OK to meltdown and start throwing clubs because Sergio does it. I don’t like golfing with people who cannot keep their emotions in check. I don’t mind the occasional outburst here and there. But when it starts happening after every missed shot and clubs starting getting thrown, the atmosphere gets too tense and no one has any fun. Respect the course and your playing partners, and keep your shit together!
Rule: I like Sergio and always have, which is different from most people, especially in North America. But throwing a club is just juvenile and inexcusable. It’s something I expect from a hot headed young player (read: Rahm), but not from a veteran who has clearly adjusted his attitude for the better, following his big year last year. I’ll give him a pass on this one, but if he does it again, I may have to go back to Miguel Angel Jimenez as my favourite Spaniard!
Quinn: Vividly recall a fellow junior helicoptering his six iron. It didn’t come down out of the tree. And once, playing with my father and I, the same guy slammed his driver on a tee marker, damaging both. My old man simply said: “You’re not good enough to get mad.” That cured him. Sergio is clearly good enough to get mad. Now, when I see a hurler I think of what my Dad said and just laugh.
Mumford: Tommy Bolt used to say, “Always throw a club forward. That way you don’t have to walk back to retrieve it.” Not only were Sergio’s actions inexcusable, they became even more embarrassing when he had to search for the club. He knows better and also knows that when his emotions get the better of him, he won’t play his best golf. Over the years I’ve played with a few club throwers but none better than my friend Ron, normally a pretty jovial fellow but given to fierce temper tantrums that would leave him stewing, cursing and muttering threats long after his errant hit. At an appropriate time, usually several holes later, Ron would remove the offending club from his bag and like some weird kind of performance art, he would hurl it high into the air and yell at it with a brilliant string of curse words as it fell to earth some 40-50 yards away. It cracked everybody up and evidently made Ron feel better too because he never mentioned the bad shot again.