Should DJ be credited with a win when he didn’t shoot the lowest score?

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.

Ponte Vedra is no doubt beaming after points leader Dustin Johnson won the FedEx Cup and its $15 million payday. What was your take on the Tour Championship?

Craig Loughry, Golf Ontario (@craigloughry): My take on the Tour Championship is this, it was a good event, filled with some drama, the right player probably won the Fed-Ex Cup (and if you go back 6 weeks when he shot 80 and missed a few cuts everyone thought his career was done). I enjoyed the course and the struggles of many players who missed the fairway. Overall, I was entertained and I’m sure many others were too. So overall, I’m good with how it all played out.

Michael Schurman, Master Professional / Hall of Fame member, PGA of Canada: DJ performed exactly as a champion should. He got a little ‘tip’ and really put it to good use.

Dave Kaplan, Freelance Writer (@davykap): I didn’t watch it. The appeal of seeing whether Dustin Johnson added $15 million to his already hefty bank balance wasn’t enough to make me tune in. But it’s obvious that DJ is on fire right now. And when that dude catches fire, the other guys can only stand around and watch.

TJ Rule, Golf Away Tours (@GolfAwayTJ): I enjoyed watching the Tour Championship.  It was a close competition and the right guy won.  What a finish to the season for DJ, and what a great tourney for Mackenzie Hughes, capping off an amazing 2019-20 season.

Peter Mumford, Fairways Magazine (@FairwaysMag): It’s still a stupid format and an obscene amount of money. However, all credit to Dustin Johnson. He played the event as it was presented to him and won according to the format. Perhaps even more importantly, DJ has played some of the best golf on the planet recently, finishing T2, 1, 2 and 1 in his last four starts. That should certainly make him the favourite for the upcoming US Open, which seems like a weird thing to write in September, but that’s the crazy world we live in right now.

The win is listed as the 23rd victory of DJ’s career, but in reality, Xander Schauffele shot a lower score over four days than Johnson. (So did Scottie Scheffler.) Should DJ really get credit for a win when he started at -10?

Loughry: This is just an optically weird situation, but also odd to comprehend because we think of each week as its own tournament. If you accept the fact that the Tour Championship isn’t a tournament but a year-end finale, you can start to see how it makes some sense. Whether it’s right or wrong is up for interpretation. Getting credit for a win, no, I don’t believe it should count as a tournament win for DJ – he won the Cup, that’s it. He shouldn’t get the same recognition as a regular Tour event winner; he didn’t win that “tournament” over 4 days in the lowest number of strokes; he won the Fed Ex Cup. I think it needs work but don’t have any solutions to offer (at least not unpaid for solutions!).

Schurman: We can beat this subject to death or create a play-off method that is better. Of course, no other sport gives so much to the season leader, but the players have a big ‘voice’ in this matter. Don’t forget, DJ piled on the points during the first two playoff events as well, so it isn’t as though he didn’t earn his position.

Kaplan: That’s an interesting question. I think the win does count because that’s the format the PGA Tour chose and it would just be overly complicated giving the player with the lowest individual score for the week an unofficial, yet technically correct, victory. But I could be persuaded otherwise by convincing arguments . . .

Rule: Well, it was really just a 2 stroke advantage, and he likely would have played more aggressively if he was trailing so you can’t take his final actual score for the week into account.  It’s a tough one, but there’s no perfect solution to the playoffs in my mind but this one is the best they’ve had to date.

Mumford: DJ should be credited with winning the FedEx Cup, which is a contrived event based on points and handicaps but there’s no way he should have it recorded as another PGA Tour victory. Like the former “Silly Season” events, they’re good for the bank account but shouldn’t add anything to the official record books.

On the LPGA, the ANA Inspiration kicks off on Thursday at Mission Hills in California. The championship features eight of the Top 10 ranked players in the world but, due to a weird technicality, will be without AIG British Women’s Open champ Sophia Popov. Apart from that snub, what storyline intrigues you most about this major?

Loughry: For me its Stacy Lewis, it will be interesting to see which player shows up. She started the year with mediocre results, and then had two weeks of good play including a win. She’s a great player, I hope she’s rounding back into her old exceptional play self.  A close second would be Daniel Kang, 1st in rankings on Tour with two wins, it would be interesting to see her get a third and find out if she’s the super star player I think she is. A side story would be Brooke Henderson, although she’s only played a handful of events, I’d like to see her on the leaderboard on the final day. Results have been poor by her standard to date, I hope she’s driven to change that.

Schurman: “Snub” is an unfair choice of words. The field was set and announced before The Open. Popov qualifies for the ANA in 2021. Somehow the LPGA hasn’t garnered the same media attention as the PGA TOUR. The biggest story will be the forest fires, the smoke from them and the health hazard for people involved in the tournament.

Kaplan: It’s got to be the heat. Temperatures have reached 120˚F there recently which has caused the tour to permit caddies to ride in carts for the week, although players will have to walk. That alone will look funny and be worth a tune in. Aside from that, watching these pros grind it out in desert-like temperatures should be a good time. I’m looking forward to it.

Rule: It is a damn shame that Popov isn’t playing.  An exception should have been made, and they should be quick to change that rule for future years.  A major champ deserves to qualify for other majors for at least 2 years if not more.  Other than that, I’m excited of course to see how Brooke plays, hopefully getting more into tournament shape after so much time off.

Mumford:  I’m still trying to get over the fact that the winner of the last LPGA major isn’t part of this one. I know Mike Whan is trying to stick to a set of guidelines that were created to deal with COVID-19 and altered schedules, but just because the LPGA didn’t anticipate a non-member winning at Royal Troon doesn’t mean they should ignore it. “Hey Mike, two words: special invite!” Beyond the Popov fiasco, I’m keen to see if Danielle Kang is for real. She’s playing her best golf and probably needs a major to vault her to the elite level. She’s fun to watch and a serious draw for American fans, who generally only tune in to the LPGA when an American is in contention. As a Canadian, I’m obviously waiting for Brooke Henderson to round into form too.

 

The Round Table
The Round Table is a panel of golf writers, PGA members and industry experts.

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