This is an odd week in professional golf. The LPGA has a week off following the Solheim Cup; they at least will resume their 2021 season at the Cambria Portland Classic next week. Meanwhile, the PGA Tour is basking in the glow (not so much) of the Tour Championship and enjoying their off-season – one whole week before starting the 2021-2022 wrap-around season next week at the Fortinet Championship (formerly the Safeway Open). As a friend of mine says, “There’s way too much and it’s all too confusing. Wake me when the next Major comes around.”
Money vs tradition
I was quite surprised at the number of people who told me they didn’t watch the Tour Championship but did tune in to the Solheim Cup. Reasons varied but usually boiled down to the Tour Championship being just about money – a bunch of millionaires duking it out for more millions in a contrived format. An obscene cash grab. And ultimately, not a “big” win in terms of legacy, at least compared to Majors, WGC’s and team competitions.
The Solheim Cup on the other hand was all about bragging rights, tradition and pride. Nobody earned a cent. Every missed putt was gut wrenching, the emotion on every woman’s face told the story, sometimes a happy outcome, sometimes not. It was evident in the galleries too, even though there were scant few European fans. You don’t see that kind of emotion at the weekly slogs.
The PGA Tour keeps throwing more and more FedEx money at the Tour Championship to try to turn it into something special, hoping they’ll generate the same kind of intensity and drama as the Majors. Newsflash: you can’t buy that. It has to be earned. The players aren’t complaining but they’d tee it up in a cornfield if there was $60 million on the line. Ironically, some of them are going to give it everything they have in a couple of weeks at the Ryder Cup for no money. Can’t wait for that to start.
Captain America is out
Speaking of the Ryder Cup, Steve Stricker announced his six captain’s picks for the U.S. team this week and Captain America Patrick Reed is not on the squad. Stricker added Tony Finau, Xander Schauffele, Jordan Spieth and Harris English – pretty obvious choices given their performance over the past twelve months. More questionable perhaps was the choice of Daniel Berger and Scottie Scheffler. They ranked 12th and 14th on the points list and to get to them, Stricker had to pass over Reed (#11) and Webb Simpson (#13). Reed has a 7-3-2 record in three previous Ryder Cups and is undefeated in singles. He brings an emotion to the U.S. squad that few others can match. Stricker indicated that the coaches were unsure of his condition after his recent bout with pneumonia and hospitalization, but Reed showed up at the Tour Championship and finished T17. Hardly an invalid. With six Ryder Cup rookies in the lineup, you might think Reed’s experience would be a valuable commodity, even though it comes with distractions. I’m not a fan of his personality but it’s hard to argue with the intensity and emotion he brings to the event. Pretty sure the Europeans are happy knowing they won’t have to face Reed at Whistling Straits.
In this week’s Round Table, a couple of panelists referenced the fact that the Solheim Cup doesn’t include the world’s best players. I guess for starters, it was never intended to be a “world” championship – simply a friendly competition between the U.S. and Europe to promote women’s golf, sportsmanship (sportswomanship?) and showcase amazing talent. At the time it was started, there were few Asian players on the LPGA and South Korea in particular wasn’t much of a powerhouse in women’s golf. Now it’s different and it would be very cool to see all of the world’s best in a team format. There are certainly enough excellent players to form two more teams – Team Asia (South Korea, Japan, China, Thailand, Philippines etc.) and Team International (Canada, Australia, Mexico, South Africa, Colombia, Brazil etc.). Asia could play the Internationals the same year as the U.S. and Europe play and the two winners could face off the following year. Or they could figure out a way that four teams could compete in a Solheim type format. Regardless, bringing the best players together in a team format would be a win for golf fans and for women’s golf.
Upcoming Provincial Championships
Ontario Disability Championship, Sept 15-16, Woodington Lake Golf Club, Tottenham, ON
Ontario Senior Men’s Championship, Sept 14-16, Loyalist Golf Club, Bath, ON
Ken Crow (1959-2021)
I didn’t see this initially, but Ken Crow passed away on August 23rd. Ken was a fixture at Pinehurst Resort for over twenty years, serving in a number of capacities including head teaching pro. On several media trips to the Resort, Ken was always a super friendly presence and the guy who couldn’t do enough for you. His obituary is HERE.
Hal Quinn brought Ken’s passing to my attention when he sent me a link to an amazing feat that Ken’s son achieved at Pinehurst when he and his mother went out to pay tribute to Ken – two swings, two aces! You can see it HERE.
The European Tour is playing one of its flagship events this week – the BMW PGA Championship – at Wentworth Golf Club in Virginia Water, England. I’ve not played golf in that part of the UK but images from Wentworth sure make me want to add it to the Bucket List. Neighbouring courses such as St. George’s Hill, Walton Heath and others ranked in the UK Top 100 would make a spectacular itinerary for an upcoming golf adventure.
CJGA Charity Tournament looking for more teams
The final 2021 CJGA charity golf tournament is being held next Friday (Sept 17th) at Lebovic Golf Club and still has openings for 11 teams. All golfers will be treated to a round of golf, power cart, and all F&B for the day. Plus, each guest will receive 2 additional return visits to Lebovic Golf Club for the 2021 golf season to play a round (which includes golf, power cart, and all F&B). So, it is like 3 for the price of 1. All of the proceeds from the event will be donated to the Canadian Junior Golf Association to help grow junior golf in Canada. The tournament link is HERE.