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.
Team Langer won the PNC Championship on Sunday but much of the attention was on Tiger Woods and his son Charlie who finished tied for fifth. We’ve now seen Tiger in two tournaments in the past three weeks. At The Hero he walked 72 holes, while he rode much of the 36-hole PNC but didn’t appear to have any physical issues at either event. Tiger indicated his game was still a bit rusty but most of the time he was able to hit his shots the way he wanted. Based on the limited once a month schedule he indicates he will play, do you think Tiger will win another PGA Tour title in 2024?
Jim Deeks, Fairways Magazine (@jimdeeks): As I’ve said many times, in awe, you can never underestimate Tiger’s ability, or ability to defy expectations. So, sure, he may win another event, but the question is, how many will he play?
Craig Loughry, Golf Ontario (@craigloughry): Tiger hit enough good shots to show me he still has some game. On the right course and he catches some breaks I think he could win on the PGA Tour again. Let’s not forget, the talent pool is watered down a bit with many top players on LIV, so it is IMO a little easier for him to do so. Whether it be in a limited field event, or some other.
Michael Schurman, Master Professional / Hall of Fame Member, PGA of Canada: First, the Langers; Jason Langer’s putting was off the charts. I am always amazed at the skill level of the ‘children’. The shot quality is outstanding and of course, the mannerisms are fun too. I’m torn between wanting Tiger to win or not. With a victory, he breaks the record held by Sam Snead, but the game would benefit from the exposure if he won particularly if it was a major. My betting mind says “no” but he is just one of those guys you don’t bet against.
TJ Rule, Golf Away Tours (@GolfAwayTJ): As optimistic as I usually am about Tiger, I do find it hard to believe he can win again. However, he has surprised us before, so I’ll hold out hope. It is encouraging that it seems like he can walk a full 72 holes now, although his lack of competitive reps may hurt his chances. That being said, it hasn’t hurt the LIV guys’ performance as much as many thought it would!
Hal Quinn, Freelance Writer, Vancouver: It’s all in the limp, not the limpid Tiger-text comments about having to be fit for 72 holes. Ignore all that, just watch the replay of Woods walking off the final green at Albany. Talked to a caddy this week who tried to help his guy get ‘conditional’ status on the Seniors Tour (not all are Champions). The numbers he posted — for a 56-year-old — were amazing. He didn’t come close, ate the $10,000 expenses getting to the last stage, and headed back home. The young guys who didn’t make it at the Tour Q-school, and the kids who made conditional on the Korn Ferry, can really play. Eldrick’s time has passed.
Peter Mumford, Fairways Magazine (@FairwaysMag): If I’ve learned anything watching Tiger for the past 25 years, it’s to never bet against him. In the right conditions on the right golf course, I think he can win again. There has never been any doubt about his motivation and mental game. It’s only about overcoming his physical limitations. So, barring further injury, I predict he’ll add at least one more W to the record books in 2024.
The deadline is less than two weeks away for the PGA Tour and PIF to get a merger deal done. Meanwhile the Tour has struck an agreement with Strategic Sports Group to inject as much as $3 billion into a new for-profit entity. It’s not clear how PIF and SSG could work together but it’s even less clear how LIV and the PGA Tour could continue to co-exist. Do you see a scenario where that can happen?
Deeks: I hope they DON’T get a deal done. And the players who defected to LIV can rot in hell with all their dirty, tainted millions, as far as I’m concerned. After the Rahm poach/defection, I can’t see how or why the PGA Tour or its players would want to partner with these people.
Loughry: I’m not sure PIF wants to share the spotlight, and likely feels a little betrayed with the PGA Tour exploring other options while negotiating, but I could be wrong. The timing of recent signing (Rahm), and departure of Wells Fargo is concerning. We all have an idea what this environment should look like going forward for fans, I’m sure the people sitting at the table do too. Whether egos can be set aside considering what has happened the last 24 months to work it all out, uh, that’s the real question.
Schurman: The most interesting thing about this whole mess for me is how the non-playing partners have the least to say about it. I was taught the golden rule; they with the gold make the rules. In this case, they with the gold seem to be waiting to find out the rules. Why the sudden interest in golf? The PGA TOUR did a terrific job over the years attracting top sponsors and I thought they were slightly over-extended as far as public appeal or value is concerned and then out of nowhere comes a gold rush. At some point, the gold will talk and then we will see where everyone stands.
Rule: I’m done guessing to be honest. I have no clue where things stand and how close they are to getting anything done, and I don’t pretend to be an expert on these massive potential mergers. There are so many players involved at this stage that it seems like they would need even longer to make it all work, but I hope I’m pleasantly surprised by Dec 31st that they have something in place, and we can all just move on, hopefully all together in one direction. I would think that’s a long shot at this 11th hour though.
Quinn: Strategic Sports Group? Three really big ones? What is that — never heard of SSG before. Who or what is SSG and who is putting the $3B together (governments can put that kind of money in press releases to ‘procure’ jets and things, but a ‘Group.’?) It really is the olde mantra ‘follow the money.’ The Tour ain’t got it, PIF has, and SSG says it has $3B to help — help who?
Mumford: Not only do I not see it, I don’t want it. LIV played its role in shaking up the PGA Tour but now it’s time for real Tours to get back to playing real golf. LIV has a product that is unwatchable and a discredit to true professionals. I can live with 54 holes, but shotgun starts with no cut – that’s just player charity. Some get more, some less but they all get paid. The PGA Tour should take note here too. Their attempts to match LIV Golf with elevated, designated, big money, no-cut events should be trashed as soon as possible. Increase all the purses if they have that much extra floating around but enough with the PIPs and other handouts. Back to a merit system. LIV and the PIF can carry on with their exhibitions and poach all they want but like start-up leagues in hockey and football, fans and sponsors know what’s real and what’s just a money-frenzied mirage.
What story or event (in professional golf) are you most looking forward to in 2024?
Deeks: The end of LIV Golf. But I guess that’s not going to happen. Otherwise, Brooke Henderson winning the US Women’s Open, and a Canadian winning the Masters.
Loughry: Well, I really can’t wait to see Tiger on some kind of semi-regular basis. Especially at The Masters. That’s it, pretty simple and just forget about all this other anarchy in men’s professional golf.
Schurman: Other than hoping the politics get resolved I’m simply glad the season is over. I enjoy the five majors at a once-per-month pace, and I have a few regular events and news I follow. The Tiger Show continues as does the Phil Show and I’m tired of them both. The Ladies’ events are gaining momentum and long overdue increases in prize money. I’m going to rest for a month or so and when I come out of hibernation maybe everything will have changed. I know when my computer doesn’t work all I have to do is take out the battery and everything is fine. Merry Christmas to all.
Rule: The end of this PGA/PIF saga, hopefully, so we can get back to talking about golf, the players and the tournaments that matter. Beyond that, I am looking forward to watching the Presidents Cup at Royal Montreal. I was there when it they last hosted the event, and it was a great energy and enthusiasm. I expect the same next September and hopefully there are 2 or 3 Canadian players on the team.
Quinn: Life without LIV, that would be worth looking forward to, but unfortunately, we’re left with the carnage. And thanks to LIV, and its exposure of the Tour’s underbelly, the fanbase of PGA Tour golf that was supposedly it’s reason d’etre, has now had a massive wake-up call. It’s gone from Must See TV on Sundays to Who Gives a F#&k and Who Has the Remote? Maybe the Majors are okay, the rest are in real jeopardy.
Mumford: Sanity! Plus the majors and two Canadian Opens. Not sure what will shake out from the merger talks but it has become tiresome. An end to the mess will be welcome and something to look forward to but it’s hard to imagine it getting solved when one of the main players – Jay Monahan – who is tasked with finding a solution was instrumental in causing the problem in the first place.
On behalf of the Round Table members, I’d like to wish all our readers a very Merry Christmas and safe and Happy New Year! See you in January.