A lawsuit, a race for POY and our favourite par 3s

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.

As reported, 11 LIV golfers have sued the PGA Tour alleging that their suspensions weren’t lawful among other things. Three of the players have asked for a temporary restraining order so that they can compete in this week’s FedEx Cup playoff event. What’s your biggest takeaway from this lawsuit?

Jim Deeks, Fairways Magazine (@jimdeeks): This is a long way from being resolved. On the broader issue, I believe the Tour’s rules re: granting exemptions were/are quite clear, and all previous and existing members agreed to them as part of their membership. So, I have no sympathy, and hope they lose their case. Or even better, that the court refuses to hear it.

Craig Loughry, Golf Ontario (@craigloughry): The lawsuit is a stretch by these players, you can’t play both without permission by both organizations. That’s where this may end up someday, but not in the short term. This really indicates we’re just getting started. After the Fed-Ex Cup playoffs, we’ll see how many more players choose their future.

Michael Schurman, Master Professional / Hall of Fame Member, PGA of Canada: This story took place in the old west around 1880. A huge mountain man goes into a bar to get a drink only to find there no were seats at the bar. He looks around and grabs and young, slight fellow and heaves him across the room then takes his seat and orders a drink. The young guy gets to his feet and demands the rough-neck guy apologize. One thing leads to another, and they end up facing off in the street. Minutes later the giant rough mountain man lay dead in the street. A late comer asks “What happened? Was there a fight of some kind”? “Not really,” someone said. “That great big guy started it by being rude to Billy the Kid.” The moral of the story is make sure you know your enemy. Jay Monahan started this mess. Maybe the new guy in town is faster with a gun (more money).

TJ Rule, Golf Away Tours (@GolfAwayTJ): Well, I’m certainly happy that a judge denied the temporary restraining order against the three players, and hopefully that sends a message to other players. It’s just a shame that it has to be so divisive, imagine how uncomfortable it will be when all of the players from both tours play in the same tourney again. I guess I like the fact that they can’t just take the money from LIV and easily resume their PGA Tour career. Of course, this isn’t the end of the story though, is it.

Hal Quinn, Freelance Writer, Vancouver: Glad the judge made the right call. The flagrant and badly crafted attempt to have the court allow a double dip — cake and eat it too being the overused phrase of the week — certainly pissed off the Tour loyalists and got all their attention which is not a good thing for LIV. The lawyers aren’t finished but this was a good opening round for the Tour.

Peter Mumford, Fairways Magazine (@FairwaysMag): The judge properly denied the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO), which was asking too much – rich kids pleading hardship cuz they couldn’t get back in the sandbox with the other rich kids. As far as the rest of the suit is concerned, the judge also said she would be ready to hear it in September 2023, which means we have over a year to watch things play out. Maybe this was a necessary legal step that LIV Golf had to make but it sure looks greedy and drives a wedge between players on both sides where there wasn’t much of one before. The timing, necessary for the TRO but right before the playoffs, is questionable too. Why detract from the PGA Tour’s big event? LIV would have been better to wait until September when presumably a few more high-profile defections will occur and give them an even stronger hand. It will be harder now for the two sides to “talk,” given the elephant in the room.

Player of the Year honours will be decided on the PGA Tour after the FedEx Cup playoffs. Right now, it looks like a two-man race between Scottie Scheffler (4 wins including The Masters) and Cam Smith (3 wins including The Open Championship and The Players). Who would be your choice for POY honours now and are the playoffs likely to tip the balance or bring another player into consideration?

Deeks: Not sure who could play well enough to be considered, beyond Scheffler and Smith, who each had dominating seasons. My vote goes to Smith. But then, my vote, she don’t count.

Loughry: Right now, its Scheffler for POY for me, but Cam Smith is certainly pushing for it by his fine play. If one of them has one more win (only one of them) then, they get the nod for POY. If they both win one more event, its still Scheffler for me. Judging by momentum though, Cam is likely to be there in the end.

Schurman: Majors (including The Players earn 3 points to regular Tour events that earn one. Scheffler, 6 points; Smith, seven. POY Smith.

Rule: It seems like no matter how the playoffs play out, it’ll be between those two players. I suppose if one of the other two major winners – Justin Thomas or Matt Fitzpatrick – runs the table in the playoffs, then they would have to enter the conversation but that’s unlikely. I would lean towards Scottie Scheffler at this point in time, but it’s sure been a long time since his dominant stretch in the spring. So, I guess it’s still up for grabs!

Quinn: Right now, it’s Smith, but reserve the right to withdraw all support if he accepts the rumoured $100 Million (U.S.) from LIV.  Poor 29-year-old has only made $9,189,629 (U.S.) this year. Very cheeky and dishonest and a number of other choice adjectives if he plays the playoffs then jumps. In that scenario, it would be righteous if Rory, the Tour’s star defender, took the Cup.

Mumford: Terrific season for Scheffler but unless he blitzes the playoffs, Smith has this in the bag. Effectively, two major wins and the way he dusted Rory McIlroy at the Open will be talked about for a long time, especially that putt around the Road Hole bunker from off the green. The kid makes magic and is easily my choice for POY. The mullet rules!

What’s your favourite par 3 hole and what makes it so special?

Deeks: My favourite par 3 is No. 16 at Augusta, but alas, I’ve never played it.  For sheer drama, No. 16 at Cabot Cliffs is breathtaking. But the one that really stands out is one on the back nine at Red Mountain in Phuket, Thailand. It’s only about an 8-iron but the elevation is about 70 feet from tee down to green, and if your ball lands close to hole, after about a minute of hang time, it’s exhilarating.

Loughry: Hole 14 from the tips at The Ocean Course. It doesn’t look like much but it’s a beast. Crowned green surrounded by lots of junk, ocean in the background. If you’re short it rolls back 20 yards, left and right and long is waste area. It just looks cool from the tee too. Another sneaky cool par 3 is #10 at The National Golf Club of Canada, elevated, always plays into the wind, water short and right, bunker long, tiered green, it has it all.

Schurman: That is a very tough choice! Credit Valley #11. Beaumaris #7. Uplands #17. Port Royal (Bermuda) #16. London Hunt #8. There’s no escape. You have to hit a shot. Every score from -1 to +5 is in play every day.

Rule: Now that’s a tough question. So many to choose from and I’m sure I could name a different hole if you asked me the question on any given day. But as I sit here racking my brain, two immediately come to mind. Both of them have the advantage of being seaside, so the location and view add to the greatness of the hole. The location also adds to the variety of weather conditions in which the holes are played, which I think is an important attribute for a great par 3. The holes differ greatly in length, however.  I love short par 3’s and think all courses should have one. Perhaps the best short 3 in the world is the 7th at Pebble Beach.  Well protected by bunkers, it’s a challenge even when there’s no wind and you have a wedge in your hand. But add in the wind and you could be knocking down a 5 iron to a small target.  The other hole is the spectacular 17th hole at the Castle Course in St Andrews. Certainly the best hole on the course, it allows the player to run a ball in down the slope from the left or fly it directly to the green. I know there are several other great ones that would make my list but those are the two that come to mind as I write this.

Quinn: Maybe it was because the warm California sunshine and spectacular Pacific Ocean views were such a welcome respite from a bleak Canadian winter, but for whatever reason — maybe it was back-to-back birdies — two par 3s on Tom Fazio’s Pelican Hill Ocean South, on the cliffs off Newport Beach, remain high on the list of personal favs. And they are back-to-back themselves, the 160-yard 12th and the 130-yard 13th, are pure design beauty with wonderful ocean views, and with the on and offshore breezes, pure fun to play. Could play the twosome every day, and never tire of them.

Mumford: The 17th at Muskoka Bay Club is stunning, 170-yards across a pond to a sloping green surrounded on three sides by water with forest and wetlands behind. Technically it’s not an island green but it might as well be, as there’s precious little bail out room. Putting is no bargain either, as the green slopes back to front and is divided in the middle by a ridge that runs to either side. Part of the charm of this hole is its location deep in the woods, a serene pond with sunlight sparkling on the water, so peaceful but so crucial. It’s the penultimate hole where a dropped shot or two can be critical to making a decent score. You get a glimpse of the hole from the adjacent 11th, so like the 17th at Sawgrass and other terrific par 3s late in a round, that hero shot is on your mind as you complete the back nine.

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

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