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.
Tiger Woods released a 3-second video of himself hitting an iron along with a two-word caption, “Making progress” and the golf media has gone berserk. Are you excited?
Jim Deeks, Fairways Magazine (@jimdeeks): Nope. Interested yes, but not excited. It’ll be hard to believe if Tiger can ever come back and compete again, but then, he’s demonstrated more than once that he’s truly a Timex watch. (Takes a licking and keeps on ticking.)
Craig Loughry, Golf Ontario (@craigloughry): Isn’t it exciting though? Yes, 100% this would rock the sports world. I do find it exciting and something to look forward to. There isn’t much to get all giddy about in golf right now with everything wrapped up. So, yes, I could see how this went viral.
Michael Schurman, Master Professional / Hall of Fame Member, PGA of Canada: I’ll be glad when Tiger, Phil, Trump are gone. Phil is still somewhat newsworthy, but they are all basically past their “best before date”. However, if Trump runs in 2024 and loses, again, be sure to watch the Presidential Inauguration on Monday Jan 20, 2025. If you think he didn’t go easily in 2020, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet!
TJ Rule, Golf Away Tours (@GolfAwayTJ): So excited! He’s going to play in the Masters in April, I’m convinced. And excited. I’m sure he won’t come back unless he thinks he can win, so let’s hope he comes back at some time.
Hal Quinn, Freelance Writer, Vancouver: In instances like this, I loudly and proudly proclaim that I am not part of that segment of the “golf media” carrying the berserkiness gene. Eldrick being Eldrick, the general public (poor things) will never know what happened — and what led to — his latest “incident” that morning. That he can hit shots for three-seconds shouldn’t register on anyone’s radar.
Peter Mumford, Fairways Magazine (@FairwaysMag): Not in the least. While I wish Tiger all the best in his recovery and look forward to him competing again, I’ve quite enjoyed the silence coming out of his camp and the relatively small amount of time the golf media has spent obsessing over his every move. I suppose now the coverage will be amped up to the point where nothing is too trivial to report. It’s way too much, too often.
On the European Tour, Collin Morikawa overtook Rory McIlroy in the final nine holes to win the DP World Tour Championship and the Race to Dubai. He’s the first American to ever win the money title but he did so by only playing three regular European Tour events. The rest were co-sanctioned events (majors and WGC Championships). Morikawa did nothing wrong in winning the title, but a lot of people would prefer that the rules be changed so that only those who support the European Tour week in and week out are eligible to win the Race to Dubai. How do you see it?
Deeks: I agree with those who think the rules should be more restrictive to bonafide Euro (sorry, DP) players. Good for Morikawa, but I bet even he probably feels a bit sheepish about winning the money title.
Loughry: Golf is certainly a global game, but this is a European Tour and under the current sanctions/rules, this was made possible. It doesn’t seem quite right, but I have no doubt that the European players who play PGA Tour full time want the opportunity to play in the European Tour finals (Rory, Westy, Rose, Garcia, Poulter, Fleetwood, etc.). And that’s something I don’t think the Euro Tour (sorry newly renamed DP World Tour) wants to change. And the policy seems to now fit the re-branding and new name of the Tour. I don’t think they want this gateway closed as its the only way the some of these players can get points from WGC’s and Majors, and also deliver star studded fields.
Schurman: You can’t have your ‘cake’ and eat it too. Last week we discussed the huge money on the horizon for several new tours, expanded tours and even unthought-of tours. The majors and the WGC are part of every major tour including the PGA TOUR. Once you step into the realm of world golf you automatically want to attract the best players. Morikawa is an Affiliate Member of the European TOUR and as such has the right to play in all events he qualifies for. This situation is only going to compound as the organizers around the world struggle for supremacy until either one emerges from the pack, or they amalgamate.
Rule: Yeah, I agree it seems weird, but just goes to show how well he played in the co-santioned events that he can win the title only playing a few events. It’s probably a one-off, as he had an exceptional year and deserves the title in my mind.
Quinn: In the court of public opinion, and in the hallways of various and numerous human rights organizations (bless their ineffective efforts, worldwide), it would be a race away from Dubai. However, the total points thing used to be a chalice, if not Holy Grail, for the members who made the Tour what it was, before the oil leakage. Of course, the non-Euro Tour events shouldn’t count. In the olde expression ‘it goes without saying’ it’s that obvious. In the current situation — next a Crypto Currency Tour? — who the heck cares who wins this impossible-to-follow or care about ‘race.’
Mumford: Maybe no one saw this coming but the huge discrepancy between purses on the Euro Tour and the majors and WGCs opened the door for it. It doesn’t sit right with me. If a player from another Tour wants a shot at the money title, there should be a reasonable number of events he has to play and three is not enough. I hope they change the eligibility requirements.
Now that the 2021 season is over for professional golfers, amongst all the highlights, what’s the one that stands out most to you?
Deeks: I tend to pay more attention to women’s golf these days, partly because of my interest in Brooke Henderson, but also because I find the women more interesting to watch than the bomb-and-gougers on the men’s tour, and the sloth-like pace of the Champions Tour. So the highlight that stands out for me is the continuing and increasing dominance of foreign players on the LPGA – Nelly Korda notwithstanding. Look at an LPGA leaderboard on Sunday in any given week, and there’s rarely more than two American flags on it, but usually several Asians, some Euros, and (in a better year than this one), usually one Canadian.
Loughry: What a blur it all was, with the season being as long as it is, honestly, its really hard to recall it all. If I had to pick one though, it would have to be Mickelson’s Major win at The Ocean Course. Winning the PGA Championship at his age while showing virtually no great results all year on the big Tour was really the story for me. Its gotta be THE story.
Schurman: We are seeing more and more golf coverage to the extent that on several occasions there was confusion among the networks as to what content they wanted to show. The LPGA is really taking hold of audiences through some wonderful play. Bernard Langer is the most underappreciated player of all time. The PGA TOUR is starting to struggle with recognition of who the top players are with so many ‘up and comers’ combined with the shortening of the time the best actually dominate. Last, why does golf have a ‘wrap-around’ season? The NHL, NBA, NFL etc. all play their seasons in two calendar years, but they aren’t ‘wrap around’ seasons.
Rule: It has to be Phil’s win at Kiawah, as that came out of nowhere. He hasn’t played well in any other regular tour event all year, and you wouldn’t think that Kiawah, with its relatively tight fairways and windy conditions, would suit his game. It was one for the ages, and certainly stands out as the highlight of the year in professional golf.
Quinn: This is a really tough one — so many low-lights it’s hard to chose. Is it the PGA Tour totally prostituting itself with on-line gambling — hello Gamblers Anonymous, you be in for a boon — with the talking heads chuckling and reading out the changing odds on the eventual Tourney winner or the more exciting (and potentially addictive and expensive) closest to the pin gambit on each threesome? As the stomach turns, so hard to decide. It might be the Koepka — DeChambeau “match” except it’s only 12 holes and I along with millions and millions of other golfers have no interest in that or their pseudo-rivalry feud-y thing. Or maybe it was Greg Norman going all shark and Saudi on us? If there are blood diamonds, is there blood oil? Ya, it all stands in stark relief to the real issues, but good that it’s over.
Mumford: Plenty of highlights from which to choose on many Tours. The Olympics, Hideki winning a green jacket were awesome. Jon Rahm winning the U.S. Open after his Covid DQ at the Memorial is right there too, especially since I’ve picked him to win just about every major for the past three years. But Phil the Thrill capturing the PGA Championship at the age of (almost) 52 stands out more than the rest. It was something out of the twilight zone. Nobody saw that coming.