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 World Cup of Golf is being played this week in Melbourne, Australia, an event that started life back in the 50’s as the Canada Cup and one which we’ve won three times. This year the World Cup is getting almost no press in North America as it is totally overshadowed by the Woods-Mickelson pay-per-view pillow fight. You would think that national team events should be quite popular in golf as they are in soccer (football), baseball and hockey. Why doesn’t the golf version resonate more with fans and the media?
Jim Deeks, Fairways Magazine (@jimdeeks): I think there’s just way too much golf to choose from, and every second event seems to be a Tour Championship or Season Finale or World Event or Major or FedEx Playoff or God knows what else. I’m sorry the World Cup has received zero coverage (in fact, your question was the first I’d heard of it), but I’m not surprised.
Michael Schurman, Master Professional / Life Member, PGA of Canada: It’s a shame the World Cup has lost its lustre but let’s face it an event that isn’t a major or the Ryder Cup MUST have a gigantic purse! The made for TV farce has a much deeper and more sinister purpose. The $9M purse was decided upon in an attempt to ‘get’ the player’s attention. It is also the reason none of that money is going to charity because that would erode the significance of it. However, the players are going to be ‘miked’ and there will be huge trash talk. In fact, the two are going to have many, many on course challenges for side bets and that money is going to charity. For example, “Hey, Tiger $1,000 says you can’t drive it into this fairway”…ca ching! Hey, Phil $5,000 for longest drive in the fairway. Where I believe there is something sinister going on is that Jay Monahan just signed a mega $$$$ contract for gambling on golf. What if this match is the first of many (like Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf) only viewers are taught how to bet using this match as a vehicle and then they get connected to Vegas Insta Bet. Billions of $$$$ could change hands in seconds around the world. People don’t watch US College Football because they like football, they watch because they love to bet. Who in their right mind could enjoy a Professional Boxing Match watching two incredible athletes pound each other’s face in unless you could bet? IMO, the future of the PGA TOUR is going to be shown on Friday night.
Craig Loughry, Golf Ontario (@craigloughry): I’m not exactly sure why it hasn’t gotten much follow not just this year, but over the last several years. Date doesn’t help, nor the fact many top players take a pass participating in it. And for international team play, everyone is pretty much sold on the Ryder Cup, and to a much less degree on the Presidents Cup. Olympics, well maybe in time that’s the venue that everyone (fans, media and players) gears up for, but that will take time. For golf, the Majors and Ryder Cup are the draws. The World Cup doesn’t get much love from the PGA TOUR or Euro Tour as they seem to have their own focus. So, until that changes, I don’t think the World Cup of Golf will change in terms of its popularity or status.
Dave Kaplan, Freelance Writer (@davykap): There’s a golf World Cup? Just kidding. I’m not quite sure what the answer to this is but I would imagine it has something to do with the dates it is played. Mid-November is not a good time of the year for a “premier” golf tournament because most of the golf-viewing public is already burned out by overexposure to the sport after 11 months. The Ryder Cup is pretty much the last event of the calendar season I pay any attention to until the Hawaii swing in January. That break is much needed. You simply can’t get up for golf every week of the year. You need some down time for a few months and unfortunately the World Cup takes place during this downtime. That’s my take, at least.
TJ Rule, Golf Away Tours (@GolfAwayTJ): That is a good question. I love team events in golf, obviously the Ryder and President’s Cups are another animal altogether, but the World Cup should get more love. However, perhaps it’s because the event doesn’t draw the big names. I mean the Spanish team this year is Adrian Otaegui and Jorge Campillo. Huh? And Kyle Stanley is playing for the USA. Those aren’t necessarily names that generate buzz. Imagine if the organizers for the silly Woods-Mickelson event instead put their money into sending those two as teammates in the World Cup, then you’d get some viewership! I’ll be watching as much as possible this year, but only because of the course it’s being played on, which is one of the coolest looking courses around.
Hal Quinn, Freelance Writer, Vancouver: Golf is too much with us. There is no break from the action anymore. The only things that matter are the Majors, the Players’, and the Ryder Cup. The rest is Rich Lerner trying to justify his per diem. When something as meaningless as the FedEx Cup is hyped every day on The Golf Channel, how can something as quaint as the World nee Canada Cup get any juice? The Presidents Cup signalled the end. Savour the memories of Canucks in toques at the Old Course.
Peter Mumford, Fairways Magazine (@FairwaysMag): I’m old enough to recall the excitement in 1968 when George Knudson and Al Balding won the former Canada Cup. The event had been won by the Americans seven out of the previous eight years, led by Nicklaus and Palmer, so the Canadian duo’s accomplishments were huge. It’s too bad such a classic event has been shuffled off to Silly Season but without support from either major tour, it just doesn’t stand a chance. For some countries, this is the pinnacle of their golfing season and an opportunity for heretofore unknowns to make a name for themselves on the world stage. I may be in the minority, but I’ll definitely be watching.
Speaking of the Woods-Mickelson match, which player has the most to gain or lose based on the outcome?
Deeks: It amazes me that this snooze event is even happening. Ask a million people two days after it’s over, and I bet no more than 10 could tell you who won. Ask a million people in advance who cares who wins, and I bet no one raises their hand. Therefore, neither player has anything to lose, and both players are going to be paid a S***load of money. I hope both players will donate every cent to victims of the California wildfires.
Schurman: Woods at -220 (a $220 bet wins $100) or Mickelson at +170 (a $100 bet wins $170) says Mickelson is the better bet. Other than that, the whole thing is of little interest except for the trash talking. BTW, remember in the 1960’s and early ’70’s Johnny Miller tried to set-up a series of matches with Nicklaus. Jack refused saying that type of thinking would end the PGA Tour and low and behold didn’t tennis do it and they almost broke their tour.
Loughry: Most to gain is Phil. He’s just playing so inconsistently, he needs something to build on. Does Tiger have anything to lose? Just bragging rights, which is enough for him to show some teeth!
Kaplan: Neither player has anything to lose here. It’s not like they are playing with their own money on the line or for world ranking points or really for anything else of consequence. These two past-their-prime icons are playing for bragging rights and an amount of money that is both not relatable and insulting to the average viewer, considering how fantastically wealthy both guys already are! I’m really not interested in watching this match, although I was pleased to learn that they put Charles Barkley in the booth for the event to provide some comic relief. I suppose whoever wins the match has the most to gain because from what I have read, only portions of the winnings are going to charity.
Rule: I don’t think either one has anything to gain…or lose. This isn’t going to impact either one of their reputations or selling power, I guess the only thing for them to gain is the money they are allegedly playing for. Perhaps Tiger has a bit to gain in showing his new easy-going personality and gaining more fans, but let’s be honest, who’s going to pay to watch this thing? Not me!
Quinn: They’re both going to be losers in this one. Doubt the pay-per-view tally will even cover the pot. How can they win? The money means nothing to them, the rivalry is long dead, they can’t play close to their peaks, so why the hit and giggle? The golf won’t be scintillating, they aren’t stand-up guys (as in comedy), so it makes no sense on any PPV level.
Mumford: The whole thing is an embarrassment and nobody except the promoters have anything to gain. If Michael Schurman is correct and this is the future of golf, paired up with a whole lot of side bets, then it’s definitely a sad day for the game as the focus will turn to a celebrity style reality show, where talent is replaced by personality and people demand instant results. The Skins Game was fun for a while but even that got tedious. This one is just odious.
There is no official vote for Player of the Year that encompasses all the men’s and women’s professional tours. However, we may create one here. Who gets your vote as 2018 World Player of the Year?
Deeks: My vote would be Ariya Jutanugarn. If you look at the LPGA stats (http://www.lpga.com/statistics), she was thoroughly dominant on the LPGA, more so than the men on their respective Tours. Ariya won nearly 80% more money than 2nd place money winner Minjee Lee. Brooke Henderson had a great season, no question, so she gets Canadian Player of the Year.,
Schurman: I can’t get over Langer’s constant performances but I think the fur-lined pot goes to Brooks Koepka who missed part of the season with what was almost a career-ending wrist injury and then in the last half he won three times with two majors. One more special performance like another major and he’s had a Hall of Fame career in one season.
Loughry: Koepka. Majors mean more (they just do) and he snagged two. Close second would be Francesco though. Honorable mentions: Ariya, Brooke and Tiger.
Kaplan: Brooks Koepka by a landslide. The guy won two majors and became the first player to successfully defend a U.S. Open title since Curtis Strange in 1989.
Rule: It’s certainly tough to compare players on separate tours, but it would be hard to vote against Jutanugarn for the distance she put between herself at the other top LPGA players this year. She had a dominant year and considering the number of ladies who have been No 1 in the world in the past few years, she has solidified her spot there for the foreseeable future, with 7 top tens in her last 10 events. My second pick would be Molinari, who not only won a major over a resurgent Tiger Woods, but also won twice on the Euro Tour and dominated during his MVP performance at the Ryder Cup.
Quinn: If it were a ‘he’ who had a year like Jutanugarn the golf world would be going Tiger-maniacal. I watch a lot of the LPGA Tour because of Brooke, and as we all know, the competition out there and the level of play is really outstanding. Having such a huge season week in week out against all of the South Koreans, Chinese and US-Euro-Canada players gets Ariya my vote.
Mumford: In the men’s game I found it tough to decide between Brooks Koepka’s two majors and Francesco Molinari’s phenomenal season with a major, another PGA Tour victory, the Race to Dubai, two more Euro Tour victories and that magical run at the Ryder Cup. It’s nearly impossible to get past two majors but I’d still give the edge to Molinari. However, Ariya Jutanugarn had an even better season that him. She totally dominated the LPGA, so she gets my vote for Player of the Year.