The Round Table: can Captain Weir deliver a win for the Internationals?

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.

Last week, Mike Weir was named International Team Captain for the 2024 Presidents Cup, which will be held at Royal Montreal. What does Weir bring to the team, and can he be the difference maker in what has become a very lopsided series?

Jim Deeks, Fairways Magazine (@jimdeeks): Mike is a pretty popular guy and I’m sure his players will respond well to his captaincy as long as he doesn’t get in their way and try to be too bossy… which I don’t believe is his nature.  But what may give the International team a boost is the number of big-name players from the U.S. team, who have defected to the LIV Tour and are therefore ineligible for the Presidents Cup… like Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Reed.  I don’t see Weir being the difference maker, but maybe the absentees will be.

Craig Loughry, Golf Ontario (@craigloughry): I think Weirsy brings a little bit of grit and fire to the table. I don’t know how inspirational he can be, but you have to like everything about him: his stature and how he played the game, he knows how to grind, hopefully he can bring that out in his team.

Michael Schurman, Master Professional / Hall of Fame Member, PGA of Canada: I keep pounding the same tune. First, the Presidents Cup is nothing more than a made-for-TV cash grab on the back of the Ryder Cup. Until it takes on its own identity nothing will change. The only hope for it is a continuous flow of the top USA players to LIV or do something revolutionary like include women. Matches made by a blind draw with whoever comes out of the hat vs whoever comes out of the hat.

TJ Rule, Golf Away Tours (@GolfAwayTJ): I’m not sure a coach can be that much of a difference maker in this event. The discrepancy in talent is just too big.  However, it was an obvious choice, and he should bring great energy to the event and get the crowd into it enough to make some difference.  But ultimately, it’s up to the players and the International team will still be heavy underdogs, unless all of the top US guys head over to LIV!

Hal Quinn, Freelance Writer, Vancouver: Well, he does have enough experience as a player and assistant. Don’t know how good his French is though. Not sure the captain can do much in either of these Cup events, other than listen to his assistants on the captain’s picks and pairings and choose decent looking uniforms. Hope the weather is good to show off a great course, which will be more enjoyable to watch than the scoreboard.

Peter Mumford, Fairways Magazine (@FairwaysMag): The Americans start off with a built-in advantage as they’re playing for their home country, while the Internationals have to feign allegiance to a vague concept that is neither home nor well defined. That makes the Internationals underdogs even before you weigh the talent of each team. Weir was usually the underdog in any match or competition he faced as a player – smaller, shorter off the tee, and at least until he won the Masters, never expected to be the champion. But Weir persevered and won. If he can impart a bit of that bulldog spirit in his players, maybe it can make a difference.

During an interview at the Australian Open, Adam Scott commented that he didn’t see why it was necessary to have the PGA Tour and LIV Golf come together. He said there’s no reason they can’t co-exist doing their own thing. Do you agree? 

Deeks: I agree that they can co-exist as long as the Saudis keep throwing money at the LIV Tour.  But without that pipeline, I don’t see LIV Golf lasting more than a week.  I also agree with Scott that I don’t see why the two bodies need to come together at all.  Despite the defections, I think the PGA Tour is enjoying an opportunity to have new talent rise to the top, while the LIV players will gradually become irrelevant and forgotten.

Loughry: Technically they don’t, but its not great for golf, unless you have a pathway for all golfers to the Majors. That would make the Majors that much more special, having the most quality fields all year.

Schurman: Exactly! That won’t happen as long as Jay Monahan parades around saying, “there is no path back to the PGA TOUR”. Players from the PGA TOUR can play events on the European TOUR, the Asian TOUR and the Australian TOUR and then return to the PGA TOUR. Why can’t they play LIV events and then return to the PGA TOUR? The PGA TOUR is becoming one of the most autocratic, monopolistic regimes in the world of sports. They own or oversee most of the major tours around the world and basically control the career of any professional male golfer which is strange since they operate one of the most capitalistic businesses: perform at a high standard or you don’t get paid, but you can only play in the events we sanction. You can’t play for more money than we are offering because we make the rules. BTW, the rules aren’t always equal or fair. Entry into some of our events is based on World Ranking Points. These points are earned based on your performance in certified tournaments. However, we do give points for tournaments with limited fields and in fact, the Hero Challenge only has a field of 20 players, the Masters 100 players, Memorial and Bay Hill have limited fields of 120 players. How do they know the victor isn’t coming out of those 30 players from 120 to 150?

Rule: I can’t figure out what will work.  I like to think they can co-exist, but let’s be honest, the top players need to play against the top players.  Other sports have tried to split the high-level talent and it has always failed.  I don’t see this being any different.  So, they need to fund a way to work together to get the top players playing in the same events.

Quinn: As mentioned around the Table before, I don’t think there’s anything to talk about. I agree they can go their separate ways as long as the Saudis want to keep writing cheques

Mumford: If the four major championships include LIV Golf players, then there’s no reason LIV Golf needs to find any common ground with the Tours. LIV Golf offers a unique product and presumably has the financial clout to go it alone. Players can choose where they want to play and the four majors can invite whoever they deem qualified, regardless of their home tour. It could add an exciting sideshow to every major if there were a LIV Golf vs PGA Tour backstory also playing out.

Player of the Year honours are open for debate but any vote by the PGA Tour or DP World Tour will not include LIV Golfers. However, Fairways Magazine is not constrained by allegiance to any Tour or organization  The candidates for Male Professional Player of the Year are: Scottie Scheffler with 4 wins (Phoenix Open, Arnold Palmer Invitational, Dell World Match Play and the Masters), Rory McIlroy with 3 wins (RBC Canadian Open, Tour Championship, CJ Cup plus the FedEx Cup and DP World Tour Championship) and Cam Smith (5 wins, Sentry Tournament of Champions, Players Championship, Open Championship, LIV Golf Chicago, and the Australian PGA). You may have another player in mind. In your opinion, who had the best year in 2022?

Deeks: While I would eliminate the LIV Golf Chicago victory, I’d still give Cam Smith the Fairways Male Player of the Year award.  Winning the Players and the Open – two very different events from each other, with very different challenges — are like winning two majors, in my view, and that, er, trumps Scottie Scheffler.

Loughry: For me its Cam Smith and it’s not even close if you consider the depth of field in the events he won. A close second is Scheffler, but winning the Players and Open Championships take the cake.

Schurman: Cam Smith. Two majors, the Tournament of Champions and a national championship. It isn’t even close. Or, how about Dustin Johnson with $34M in winnings which is 2 1/2 times the leading money winner on the PGA TOUR?

Rule: If you had asked me in April, I would have said that nobody has a chance to unseat Scheffler as the player of the year.  At that time, he had dominated the tour, and he didn’t play that poorly the rest of the year, but just didn’t win.  And two other players ended up throwing their names into the hat and legitimately so.  In the end it has to be Cam Smith.  He beat Rory head-to-head at the Open and that decides it in my mind.  Add that to winning the deepest field in golf at the Players and he deserves player of the year, no matter what tour he’s playing on.

Quinn: Rory took over as Number One, won two tours’ championships, and also took over the role of PGA Tour spokesman and chief defender. For 2022, he was definitely the guy to pay attention to on and off the course. In other words, the Player of the Year.

Mumford: I’ll give the nod to Cam Smith. He essentially won two majors against the best competition in the world, plus he won the Tournament of Champions, which I hold in very high regard, as it’s a field of winners, not just point grabbers and purse nabbers.

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

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