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 Brooks Koepka – Bryson DeChambeau brouhaha is still getting a lot of attention. Is this feud a good thing for the PGA Tour?
Jim Deeks, Fairways Magazine (@jimdeeks): On the basis of the old saying “any publicity is good publicity”, I suppose it’s a good thing. But from my perspective, it’s one egotistical pampered athlete vs. another egotistical pampered athlete (I won’t say who is which), so I really don’t give a rat’s bottom about it. I just wish there were more guys like McIlroy, Spieth and Rose on the Tour: gentlemen and good sports who adhere by the rules and never underappreciate the fans who make their lives possible.
Craig Loughry, Golf Ontario (@craigloughry): I don’t like either player (I do respect them both for their talent though), so for me this is a non-story. Does the Tour need some player rub? Yes, they sure do. Maybe not in your face like WWE (although that would be entertaining). It can’t be sunshine and lollipops all the time, too vanilla isn’t a god thing. Don’t get me wrong there are quite a few players that get under people’s skin for various reasons: Bubba and Reed come to mind.
Michael Schurman, Master Professional / Hall of Fame Member, PGA of Canada: I’d rather watch them arm wrestle. If these guys are smart, they’d call each other once a week and decide how each was going to keep the pot boiling. WWF!
TJ Rule, Golf Away Tours (@GolfAwayTJ): It’s great for the game, anything that gives the game attention, particularly outside of the die-hard fans, is great for the game. It’s just too bad that at least one of the guys isn’t likeable.
Peter Mumford, Fairways Magazine (@FairwaysMag): It’s not what the Tour wants to see as it destroys their contrived and ultra-controlled message that everything is just hunky dory in Ponte Vedra and love is all around. (Not Davis). However, golf fans should eat it up since it’s a nice offset to blah, blah and more blah.
On Sunday afternoon, Shanshan Feng was scheduled to play in the consolation match of the Bank of Hope LPGA Match Play Championship but decided to concede the match without playing. She cited fatigue and the desire to be well rested for the upcoming U.S. Women’s Open this week. What’s your take on her not playing the match?
Deeks: I like Shanshan Feng, but I think this decision was offside. Madam, you owe it to your Tour and to the fans to show up, regardless of whether you want to sleep in. Many of those fans presumably came through the gates to see YOU, so not appearing is selfish and inconsiderate. At least she didn’t try to fake an injury.
Loughry: Pretty weak decision pulling out like that, I’d actually fine her unless there was a medical note attached to it. It’s not fair or classy to sponsors, fans, the Tour, her competitor, and really everyone involved. I would liken this to Naomi Osaka in tennis, announcing in advance she would be skipping media appearances this week. At the Professional level, I don’t believe athletes should be able to wiggle out of any play, match, or media without a true identifiable injury or reason. Not, “I’m tired” or “don’t want to” that doesn’t cut it with me.
Schurman: Easy! She loses all prize money and is fined an equal amount of money plus loss of Rolex points equal to her place in the tournament and suspension for the 2022 Match Play. Sponsors put up a lot of money to back these events. They don’t deserve a spoiled brat pulling some kind of crap like this in the consolation round. If she has a medical issue that’s one thing but to play this far in the event and say you need to sleep in…no way.
Rule: I understand her decision, as they had to play a ton of golf last week in advance of their biggest tourney of the year. Perhaps it’s more of an issue for the Tour to have that event the week before a major, when the top players don’t feel they can skip the event but may end up playing 7 rounds. It also didn’t help that a couple of Feng’s matches went extra holes. That being said, I think each player has an obligation to play their matches until the end.
Mumford: I’m of two minds on this one. Feng should be fined or suspended for not completing the tournament. Tired is an excuse for old folks, not world class athletes. However, consolation matches are about as meaningful as mulligans and should be abolished. Maybe her withdrawal will lead to a positive change.
Speaking of matches, the fourth version of The Match is scheduled for July in Big Sky, Montana. This one pits Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady against Bryson DeChambeau and Aaron Rodgers. Are you more or less likely to watch this latest made-for-TV entertainment and what format and which participants would make you more likely to watch?
Deeks: I am so unlikely (read: definitely not) to watch this cynical exercise, I think you’d be more prone to see me watching a marathon race of snails. I’m not against made-for-TV entertainment (I was very involved in the Skins Game, after all), but the “competition” has to have some validity for me to be interested. Mind you, if it was Phil Mickelson and Charlize Theron vs. Bryson DeChambeau and Keira Knightley, I might have a different view.
Loughry: No interest at all other than seeing the golf course. They’ll create one of these Matches eventually that does catch my eye (I liked the idea of Tiger/Phil, but it didn’t show much good golf). I won’t watch this one, might look at highlights though….to see the course. PS: when’s the next big tennis match that shows mediocre Amateur athletes from other sports or Hollywood stars? Right…you’ll have to search or wait a while.
Schurman: I watch golf for the GOLF entertainment value and in the hope I might learn something. Please don’t ask us to comment on the match in this column because I’m not going to watch it.
Rule: I’m DeChambeau’d out at this point in time, so I have no interest in watching that event. Is he really a draw? I can think of so many more players I’d rather watch, choose someone with personality. Phil has turned into a great draw for this type of event. And I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I don’t have any interest in watching celebrity amateur golfers play the game.
Mumford: This one won’t be on my radar or schedule. However, I’d happily watch a match between professional golfers, male or female or a combination, if something significant was on the line like national bragging rights (Davis Cup style) or a lot of their own money.