Tale of two Cups and maybe a POY winner without a major

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.

Although they were supposedly outmatched by the US squad, Team Europe carried a 9-7 lead into the Monday singles of the Solheim Cup and hung on to upset the Yanks on home soil. Did the competition live up to your expectations and which players impressed you the most?

Jim Deeks, Fairways Magazine (@jimdeeks): It’s not that my social calendar is SO busy, but once again, I didn’t get to see more than a snippet or two of the Solheim over the weekend.  Part of my absence was due to the fact that (as mentioned here at the Round Table last week), I have some disdain for the conceit that this competition represents the crème de la crème of women’s golf… when the dominating Asians, Australasians and Canadians are not eligible to play.  Nonetheless, I was as always happy to see the Americans get waxed.

Craig Loughry, Golf Ontario (@craigloughry): The competition was great! I watched just about every minute. Team competitions made the difference as they split the individual matches. And what’s a Cup without a little Rules controversy? I’ve honestly never seen an opponent pick up a ball that was that close to the hole so quickly; maybe it wasn’t going to drop in, but it didn’t have much time/opportunity to. Regardless, both teams played some splendid golf, but I don’t mind that Team Europe stole the Cup, they earned it.

Michael Schurman, Master Professional / Hall of Fame Member, PGA of Canada: The only downside to this event is the fact it is a contest of “B” team players. Without the Korean ladies’ involvement, it’s simply a TV show much like the President’s Cup. However, it is one of the most compelling sporting events on TV! Women’s golf has started to enter the next level. The players have always put on a great display of golf but appeal to the masses just wasn’t there but that is changing. As it does, interest will grow, sponsors will see their advertising dollars provide an ROI and purses will finally begin to increase. All of them impressed me. I enjoyed the event! If Salas had made her short putt on #17 the entire outcome could have been different. The outcome pleased me though.

TJ Rule, Golf Away Tours (@GolfAwayTJ): I loved watching the Solheim Cup this year.  The play was very good and the Europeans played exceptionally well considering the crowd was 99% American.  My pick to lead the Euros was Leona Maguire and she was outstanding.  She never seemed to make a mistake, watch for this to catapult her into an LPGA winner sooner than later.  It’s great to see an Irish woman finally make a name for herself on the LPGA.

Hal Quinn, Freelance Writer, Vancouver: As expected, the event received little attention here on Tour Championship and family BBQ Labour Day weekend. Glimpsed enough to be reminded how nauseating it is to hear the leather-lunged mouth breathers chanting USA, and so nice to hear that the Euros won.

Peter Mumford, Fairways Magazine (@FairwaysMag): The Solheim Cup has come a long way and this latest chapter was on par with Ryder Cups. Great play by players on both sides and pretty evenly balanced as indicated by the fact that 16 of 28 matches went to the 18th hole. It would have been even better if European fans were permitted. Most impressed with Leona Maguire and Matilda Castren. Catriona Matthew clearly outcoached Pat Hurst too.

Patrick Cantlay won the Tour Championship and the FedEx Cup on Sunday, pocketing $15 million in the process. Do they have the format for this season ending event right yet or does it need more tweaking?

Deeks: It’s pretty confusing, and I still don’t quite get the point of giving the leaders such a headstart into the final tournament (although I suppose you could say it’s the equivalent of giving a high qualifier a bye into the second round of a match play event).  But overall, the cream rose to the top and I give Cantlay full marks for patience, composure, and great execution… and peaking at the right time.

Loughry: I think the format is as close as it can get when you’re trying to mesh points to strokes for public understanding of the leaderboard. But it just seems odd that they play the last event with a staggered leaderboard from day one, and the player who plays the best over the four days, doesn’t necessarily win that week. But what I and many other have to do is understand that the final week is to determine the best player over the Fed-Ex Cup season, not just the best player that week. They want it as close as possible that final week because if someone absolutely DOMINATED the regular season or first event or two, it would be anti-climactic. And the finish we had Sunday, was fairly entertaining, so I think the PGA Tour got what they were looking for. But I’ve heard players comments throughout the week, even some of them don’t think its quite right.

Schurman: The reason the format exists is that the Players’ Policy Board is too influential. Naturally, they want to protect the player who has the best record for the season but outside of the major league sports who grant the top seed a first-round bye they have it wrong. Firstly, the final should be the top 36 FedEx points earners. There should be a 36-hole cut to the top 24. A second cut after 54 holes and a reshuffle to zero. Then a 36 hole one-day event with the top 12 for all the ‘marbles’ with a score-based draw during the lunch break.

Rule: There was another tournament on last weekend?  I was so wrapped up in the Solheim that I didn’t watch any of the FedEx Cup finale.   So I guess for me it needs tweaking, but don’t ask me how.  It was nice to see that Cantlay won, he’s battled so much over the years and he seems like one of the good guys.

Quinn: It is already so convoluted and contrived — the ridiculous purse doesn’t help — that it is beyond tweaking. The goofy ‘wrap around’ season is more than long enough to identify the top 30 guys. There is no need for three faux ‘playoffs’ except to spread more money around. Top 30 in a one-off at East Lake — done and done.

Mumford: I think I say this every year but let’s blow it up and do something completely different. The Northern Trust and BMW are terrific events but not required for the playoffs. Keep them in the regular schedule with increased points. Use some of the FedEx Cup money to reward players by order of finish from the regular season. Then the Top 30 in the standings make the Tour Championship and start even. Winner collects the trophy and big payday; the other 29 share in the obscene cash grab.

Now that the 2020-2021 season is over, voting will begin shortly for Player of the Year honours. There were six majors played during the past twelve months with six different winners. The leading candidates for POY honours appear to be Patrick Cantlay who won four tournaments including the Tour Championship but no majors, Jon Rahm who won the 2021 U.S. Open and had 15 Top 10’s but no other victories, Bryson DeChambeau who won the 2020 U.S. Open last September, had one other win and changed the game with his newfound length, and perhaps Collin Morikawa, who had two victories including the Open Championship. Who’s your pick for Player of the Year?

Deeks: Tough call, but I’d have to go with Rahm, who seemed to be on the leaderboard of every tournament this year.  If someone asked me “who’s the best player in golf right now?” I’d say Jon Rahm… and therefore, he gets my vote for POY.  (Although, with my fourth career hole-in-one this past weekend, I’d say I’m right in the mix.)

Loughry: POY? It was a two-horse race really. My gut tells me Rahm is the Player of the Year, but the facts are pointing to Cantlay. My only knock on Patrick is being Major-less. He won the Fed-Ex Cup though, and played some fine golf all year, especially late in the season.

Schurman: Professional golf is one of the most capitalistic entities in all of the activities undertaken by humans worldwide. Shoot the lowest score and win all the spoils. According to the list provided they are 1. Cantlay (3 wins + a big one); T2. Morikawa (one win + a big one); T2. DeChambeau (one win + one big one) 4. Rahm (one big one). If Morikawa or DeChambeau had one more win, that would trump (sorry, a poor choice of words) Cantlay.

Rule: This is a tough one to predict this year, as nobody truly dominated the season, but the finish to the year by Cantlay has to make him the front-runner, despite not winning a major.  I know three of the four tourneys he won had limited fields, but they were strong fields, and the Memorial was his 4th, always one of the toughest fields of the year.  He’s my pick for Player of the Year.

Quinn: It is a tough one with Rahm leading almost every stat category, but Cantlay won four with the last two pressure packed and against better fields than the Majors, especially the Masters. He’s my POY — which stands for Putter of the Year.

Mumford: I can’t think of another year when POY honours went to someone who didn’t win a major, but Cantlay’s four wins overshadow just about everything else. Rahm was clearly the best player statistically all year and DeChambeau changed the game but winning is what it’s all about. Odd too that in just about every other individual sport, an Olympic Gold medal would virtually guarantee “Athlete of the Year” honours but not in pro golf. Sorry, Xander Schauffele. My vote for Player of the Year goes to Patty Ice.

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

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