The Round Table: Too soon for Charlie, too late for AK

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.

So far this season on the PGA Tour, we’ve seen three Signature events and five regular events. Apart from the substantial difference in prize money, there hasn’t been a lot to distinguish one type from the other. Some would even argue that the regular events have been more exciting with three rookies winning and of course Nick Taylor taking the title at the WM Phoenix Open. How do you see it?

Jim Deeks, Fairways Magazine (@jimdeeks): I’m happy to admit that I don’t know which were the Signature events and which were the regulars. And even more importantly, I don’t care which is which. My interest in watching golf on TV has sunk to a new low. Funnily enough, the more money these guys make, the less interested I am in watching them do it.

Craig Loughry, Golf Ontario (@craigloughry): I don’t want to say it, but the product has some issues right now. There have only been a few events that have been a must or desired to tune into. Ratings have been meh. There is room for improvement. They need a good storyline or two here soon. A few marquee players to rattle off some wins.

Michael Schurman, Master Professional / Hall of Fame Member, PGA of Canada: It has been a very lacklustre year so far. Players I enjoy watching leapt to LIV, the remaining name players either haven’t played much yet or have been mediocre at best. Pebble is wonderful because I’ve played there and love the course and area. Once again, Riviera is one of my favourites and I’ve played there too. Waste Management is OK, but it concerns me that the environment will expand. For some unknown reason, big money has never affected the quality of play. I hear of pressure for certain events like the majors, but I never hear about pressure for money. The only exception is the FedEx Cup. As players earn more and more, the impact of money will become less and less.

TJ Rule, Golf Away Tours (@GolfAwayTJ): I have to admit I’m more drawn to the signature events given the strength of field but when it comes down to Sunday drama, it’s fun to watch guys chase their first victory and change their lives, so that does capture my attention. Always great to see a Canadian win as well. But ultimately, I get excited for the bigger events and will look forward to watching the Players more so than the Cognizant.

Hal Quinn, Freelance Writer, Vancouver: Not that there’s anything wrong with it, but… watching the non-Majors, even the elevated purse events,  now is a lot like watching the Hogan Tour, er, insert next sponsor name here, now Korn Ferry. Sure, it’s great golf — there are so many young men and women shooting lights out now it’s almost boring without McCord or Nance telling us what a great shot we just witnessed into a green with family-member spectators — but do we care anymore? So what if a young guy had to work  a real job before finding his game and his Canadian girlfriend before winning $1.4 M in Mexico? That’s a hard sell for the Tour to an audience that is suffering financially, and one that used to love it.

Peter Mumford, Fairways Magazine (@FairwaysMag): With the Signature Events, the PGA Tour has created a “reward” Tour. Players have no risk, and they get a big cheque regardless of how they play. There’s no drama either – just millionaires getting more millions. Kinda like LIV Golf. I enjoy watching the Friday cut, following a rookie or grinder trying to engineer a lifechanging story like Jake Knapp did last week. More money is supposed to guarantee a better field but that doesn’t necessarily guarantee a better product for golf fans.

Last week, 15-year-old Charlie Woods (pictured at top) attempted to qualify for this week’s Cognizant Classic on the PGA Tour through a pre-qualifying event. He shot 86. His competitive record shows some encouraging results from high school golf but nothing from AJGA or USGA tournaments. Is it crazy to leapfrog all the way to a pro qualifier or is there more at play here? 

Deeks: I kinda feel sorry for Charlie. Every shot he hits from now on, every score he records, every word he utters is going to be watched, analysed, scrutinized and parsed, as it appears that he wants to follow in his father’s footsteps. What pressure he’s going to face. If I were his father, I’d be saying “sure, play competitive golf, but your education comes first, and only after getting a college degree and only after making it clear that you will be a dominant force in golf, should you consider making it a profession.”

Loughry: Yes, it’s too big a jump talent-wise for Charlie (Highschool to PGA Tour), but I just think he was doing it for the experience, to test the waters. There is nothing wrong with that other than everyone else’s expectations. I didn’t have any – he’s 15 and isn’t a “man” yet.

Schurman: Tiger should read some of his press clippings. He was highly critical of Michelle Wie who wanted to accelerate her level of competition. Tiger’s comment was “Learn to win at every level”. I think his prophecy came true. Wie suffered various injuries that limited her career, but she never achieved what she should have. Charlie hasn’t dominated at any level – why should he expect to compete 3 or 4 levels beyond his current development? In fact, the ‘sink or swim against bigger boys’ approach might cause a fear of swimming.

Rule: I guess he’s really no different than other young hotshot scratch handicap golfers that think they can catch lightning in a bottle and shoot that one good round that qualifies them for a tournament. I don’t see anything wrong with it and hope he doesn’t get raked over the coals for trying. He’s not accepting a sponsor’s invite or anything, he’s trying to qualify just like any low handicap can try. It’s sad to see him struggle so much (didn’t he make a 12 on one hole or something?), but hopefully he tries again and is successful at some point in time. Can’t imagine the pressure on him to have success right away.

Quinn: There are parameters for child abuse, but evidently they don’t apply to sport, particularly golf. Michelle Wie is the most egregious example. Good on Eldrick to allow Charlie to endure abuse from the gallery and grease his way into a qualifier for which he was eminently not qualified — AJGA/USGA do have standards — great parenting. Beyond that, the cynical publicity grab by the Cognizant Classic (sic) was simply desperate and should not have survived the board room suggestion stage.

Mumford: Maybe this was Charlie with his head in the clouds from reading his own press and Tiger decided to let the real world bring him back to down to earth. If not, then Tiger needs a wake-up call too. And needs to follow his own advice – learn to win at every level. As a test, Charley failed miserably. Go beat some other juniors, then when you’re truly ready, we’ll see how you do against professionals. Anything else is just a sideshow.

Reports are that former PGA Tour player Anthony Kim will tee it up this week in the LIV Golf event in Saudi Arabia. Kim hasn’t played competitive golf in more than 12 years since injuries forced him out of the game. How do you think he’ll do?

Deeks: As I said a couple of weeks ago, I really couldn’t care less about Anthony Kim. Didn’t like him a decade ago, won’t like him now unless he’s had a personality transplant. To answer the question, I don’t think he’ll make the cut. Wait… they don’t have cuts on the LIV Tour, do they? Okay, he won’t break 75.

Loughry: I have no idea how AK will do, but I believe many will tune in to watch, including me. Lots are saying he still has game, whether he can display it is another question. He has more to lose than gain. I hope he’s respectable, we could use a bit of a story in golf right now.

Schurman: Anthony Kim was an arrogant ‘pup’. His bravado still rings in my ears. The big question for him is “What happens to his $10M insurance payout” if he is suddenly healthy enough to compete?

Rule: Who knows and who cares? I guess I’m a bit curious to see how he plays but it won’t make me tune in to watch. Saying that, it will be impressive if he can compete after that long of a competitive break. And hey, if it does get some fans interested and watching, that’s good for the sport as a whole, and for LIV.  I’ll look for the Fairways Monday Report to find out how he did.

Quinn: The best thing about this Kim resurrection is that it’s LIV,  so no one will see it. The other thing is that no one cares other than the insurance company that LIV bailed out of Kim’s $10 M policy. The only thing appropriate about the whole PR stunt is that it’s being staged in Saudi Arabia.

Mumford: Another sideshow. Don’t let it be said that Greg Norman doesn’t know how to generate publicity. This is nostalgia and curiosity wrapped up in a metaphorical auto-racing pretext – looking for excitement, expecting a crash. Anthony Kim adds a few more eyeballs, nothing more. Fifteen extra minutes of fame, then back to obscurity. He might wish he’d remained an enigma.

Fairways Magazine

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