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.
Brooke Henderson became the first male or female golfer in 45 years to win the Canadian Open. Put that into perspective and talk a bit about Brooke’s performance on Sunday.
Jim Deeks, Fairways Magazine (@jimdeeks): There are not enough superlative adjectives to describe Brooke’s accomplishment on Sunday. Considering how often, in so many sports, Canadians have come to the brink of major international victory, only to falter at the finish line, Brooke’s win not only put our fears to rest, and restored our collective confidence in ourselves, but did so with such a resounding boom that I’d describe it as one of the great moments in Canadian sport… along with Mike Weir’s Masters win in 2003, the Blue Jays winning the World Series in 1992, Team Canada’s victory in 1972, Northern Dancer winning the Kentucky Derby in 1964, and Rocket Richard’s 50-goals season in 1944. To shoot 65 any time is huge, but to do it in that context and atmosphere? Truly stunning.
Craig Loughry, Golf Ontario (@craigloughry): Brooke’s win can’t be underplayed/stated. She was an absolute assassin on Sunday. She shot the 2nd lowest round of the day on Sunday to close it out. Really, it’s just mind boggling what she did, winning on home turf, under some personal adversity earlier in the year. She’s as tough as nails. This should be front page news across Canada; its just such an amazing story – and not just for golf.
Michael Schurman, Master Professional / Life Member, PGA of Canada: OVER THE MOON! Our finest players Mike Weir and George Knudson had chances to pull off this feat but were unable to do it. Brook Henderson deserves all the credit in the world. I really like her game! She’s a superb driver, excellent iron player, has a good short game and she is a reliable putter. If you study tour events, the winner does something during the last two or three holes like make a long putt, hit an iron shot stiff or chip-in. The others miss a short putt, fail on an ‘up and down’ etc. Brook doesn’t do the bad things. Sometimes she gets beaten but she doesn’t beat herself. Plus, American TV loves her. I don’t know who her agent is but if she hasn’t already done it, it’s time for the big time! She has it all!
Dave Kaplan, Freelance Writer (@davykap): It was an incredible achievement capped by an incredible Sunday performance in which Henderson shot a 7-under 65 to stave off all challengers. 45 years! That is just unbelievable. To put that into perspective, 1973 was four years removed from Woodstock. Know what else happened in 1973? That was the year Secretariat won the Triple Crown, Spiro Agnew resigned, and the Supreme Court ruled on Roe v. Wade. Clearly, Henderson deserves a national holiday in this country. In fact, I propose we change the name of the upcoming long weekend holiday from Labour Day to Brooke Henderson Day to commemorate her achievement.
TJ Rule, GolfAwayTours (@GolfAwayTJ): Well, she’s certainly in a class of her own! I was so proud watching her performance on Sunday. I was nervous that she might just plod along making pars and someone would come out of the woodwork and steal it from her, but she wasn’t letting that happen! That back nine performance was incredible given the pressure she must have been feeling. She has already become a superstar, and the best female golfer that this country has ever produced, but this win, under that pressure, bodes very well for her future in the game. She has what it takes from a game and mind perspective to be the best in the world!
Hal Quinn, Freelance Writer, Vancouver: Jocelyne Bourassa is one of the most genuine athletes I’ve met in this sports writing career journey. For Henderson to be the ‘next one’ is so apropos while separated by generations, both so real and giving of their time. Henderson’s final round was astounding. Under the home-grown pressure, that was the best round ever played by a Canuck on the soil.
Peter Mumford, Fairways Magazine (@FairwaysMag): Brooke’s win breaks a streak that was Canadian golf’s equivalent of the Leaf’s Stanley Cup drought. It’s huge but even more so since there really weren’t that many golfers (men or women) that had a realistic chance of doing it before. The way she got over this hurdle shows she has the talent and fortitude to fashion a World Golf Hall of Fame career. I was most impressed with her putting on Sunday – she avoided the three putts that sunk her chances last time she had the lead in a tournament – and her overall plan to play “smart aggressive”. Nobody was going to catch her.
The Tiger Woods / Phil Mickelson match was officially announced last week, partially via Phil’s new Twitter account, and purports to be a Pay-Per-View event in Las Vegas. How much would you be willing to pay to see this (if anything) and what’s your reaction to making it PPV?
Deeks: I would be willing to pay zero dollars. And even if it were free, I’d still rather mow the lawn. All I can think of is P.T. Barnum, who very astutely said, about 150 years ago, “there’s a sucker born every minute.” If these guys had agreed to play and give EVERY SINGLE CENT of revenue to a worthy charity, and no prize money, then I might have some respect for them. I still wouldn’t watch, but at least I’d give them some credit. Otherwise, pox on everyone associated with this cynical waste of time.
Loughry: I’d be willing to spend exactly $0 to watch THE MATCH. But I’ll watch it at a friend’s house or bar if the opportunity presents itself. I’m interested in watching it, I’m not interested in paying for it (pay per view), because you can bet the viewer will still be bombarded with commercial advertising in some form, why would I want to pay for that?
Schurman: I can barely watch either on regular TV. Steak without the sizzle! Past the best before date! Like watching paint dry! If you could let me watch a match in the holodeck (Star Trek) with Hogan Vs. Nicklaus, Jones Vs. Woods, Nelson Vs Vardon each at their peak and in their prime with the same equipment then I’d be interested.
Kaplan: I wouldn’t pay a single cent to watch this match. If it took place over a decade ago when both players were in their primes and did not like each other very much, I’d be willing to shell out a few dollars. But that is not the case anymore. Plus, watching television coverage of a single match is akin to watching paint dry, as we have all experienced when watching the final round of the WGC-Match Play — and even that final round has a consolation match for third place going on at the same time, so that viewers are not completely bored to death between shots. This has the potential to be one of the least entertaining pay-per-view events of all time.
Rule: I didn’t even know PPV still existed, other than for wrestling, which still seems to draw crowds for some reason. I won’t be paying for it, it’s not worth the trouble, even though I am interested in the match. But watching two guys play a match against each other isn’t the most scintillating TV anyway, given there’s so much dead air time. I’ll wait for the highlights thank you very much.
Quinn: Seniors Tour match. But it’s been entertaining so far, especially with Eldrick wielding a left-handed driver in the promo poster, Phil joining Twitter just to pimp the event, and the Tour demanding that the pot be reduced to $9 M so as not to be on par (so to speak) with the FedEx fandango’s $10 M. That’s about it. Show’s over.
Mumford: We need to nip this in the bud before we see a spate of these ill-conceived cash grabs foisted on the public like they matter. Apart from the morbidly curious, nobody cares about this match. Ten years ago it was gold; now it’s barely even golf.
The first FedEx Cup playoff was held in New York on the weekend with Bryson DeChambeau winning in convincing style. However, weekend ratings were abysmal and most of the media is critical once again of the FedEx Cup playoff format. If you were PGA Tour commissioner and could make a change to the end of the season, how would you structure it?
Deeks: I would have two 72-hole events, over consecutive weekends and culminating at East Lake, in which all the winners of the season’s PGA Tour events competed. The winner would receive $10 million, all others would receive $25,000 for their trouble. If they chose not to play, they would receive only a one-year exemption.
Loughry: So, I’d still have a winner for each event, but I’d probably just let the field keep their score week to week and run a cumulative total for the Fed-Ex Cup run, the player with the best/lowest score at the end of the Tour Championship is the winner overall. That way every stroke counts, and you’d see guys grinding on every shot even if they were 10 shots back in any given week. The only other way I can think of, is putting some kind of weighted average on the field related to their Fed-Ex Cup ranking. So, if the #75 ranked player beats the #1 ranked Fed-Ex Cup player, they’d get so many points, which shifts their ranking at the end of the tournament. And that would continue week to week so you might have significant ranking changes. The only pitfall I see in that is that going into the final event, you wouldn’t really know who would win the Fed-Ex Cup (similar to the predicament they have now, complicated points race as you don’t know exactly why or what the final standing is until players are finished.
Schurman: I thought the broadcast was very good! I particularly liked the projected impact of missing or making a putt. DeChambeau is a fascinating character who BTW didn’t invent same length irons, Moe Norman did. A big problem for viewers is trying to figure out where everyone stands in the overall, the correlation between the number of strokes taken converted into FedEx points is confusing. I don’t have an answer yet but I do think the final at East Lake should feature the top 30 with everyone starting at zero and not play it as an individual event combined with the final round of the playoffs. Maybe start with the top 40 at East Lake and have a cut to the low 30 after the 1st round, a clean sheet in the next round cut to the low 20, and a clean sheet in the next round cut to the top 10 and a clean sheet in the last round for the ‘big’ money.
Kaplan: I would cancel the Tournament of Champions — which no one actually watches — and transform the playoffs into a bracket-style single-elimination match play tournament that features every player who has won an event during the course of the regular season. Winner gets $10 million, or some other outlandish sum that none of us will ever earn in our lifetimes.
Rule: This is a tough one. The year will always revolve around the majors, as we discussed last week, so it’s tough to generate buzz around the “playoffs”. They did what they could to get the best players to play in the events by making the top prize so enticing. I think I would watch if the tournaments were played on amazing golf courses, although that’s not always as easy as it seems. But imagine watching 70 guys this week competing at Pine Valley or National Golf Links? Then I’d watch. But I won’t hold my breath!
Quinn: First, I’d blow up the statue of Tim Finchem, or however they’ve memorialized him at TPC Sawgrass. Then I’d tell all the multi-millionaires that the cash cow stops uddering millions when the NFL kicks off. FedEx, in their wisdom, signed a long-term deal. When that expires, perfect. The excitement ends, as is the normal rhythm of the natural world, after the 4th Major. That’s how it should be structured. It is a grande olde game, after all, and its season ends naturally every year. At least it should.
Mumford: There are three things wrong with the current format: FedEx Cup points that nobody understands; the fact that you can skip a tournament and still be a contender; and that you can have two winners on the final Sunday. So, here’s how I fix it. The top 125 qualify but the top 25 get a bye for the first tournament. That’s the only concession they receive for finishing the regular season on top. Otherwise everyone starts even. In the first event, you cut to low 70 and ties on Friday. Anybody missing the cut is done for the season. In the second event, the field is approximately 95 (70 + top 25) and everybody starts even. You again cut to low 70 on Friday but then cut the bottom 20 on Saturday and again on Sunday. That leaves approximately 30 who start the Tour Championship even. Cut to low 15 on Friday, then everybody starts even on Saturday and you cut to the low 8. Those 8 all start even on Sunday and play for $10 million. The emphasis isn’t so much on winning each stage but rather on not being eliminated. Everything comes down to the final round for the survivors. Kind of like most playoffs that work well.