Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. In this edition of After Further Review, our writers weigh in on the Phoenix Open's Sunday hangover, the winning Americans, the LPGA's amazing debut and Rory's win in Dubai.
The LPGA had a terrific idea this week. Knowing the Super Bowl would take precedence in the sporting world on Sunday, the tour opened its season with an event that ended on Saturday instead.
Now it’s time for the PGA Tour to follow suit.
Saturday at the Waste Management Phoenix Open is the biggest keg party in golf. By comparison, Sunday is its morning after, with lifeless bodies doing their walks of shame around TPC Scottsdale, just passing the time until the NFL’s big game gets started.
It’s not just the fans, either. Other than the handful of players in contention, most are annually more interested in the impending Super Bowl than their own performances.
All of which leads to one bright idea: The event should end on its biggest day, the proceedings reaching a crescendo late on Saturday afternoon, giving everyone involved a Sunday pass to watch the game. Hey, it worked for the LPGA this week. There’s no reason it wouldn’t work for the PGA Tour, as well. – Jason Sobel
The Presidents Cup is still more than eight months away, but there appears to be reason for optimism for the team in red, white and blue. The PGA Tour has conducted four events in 2015, and all four have been won by Americans expected to factor on the U.S. squad in South Korea: Patrick Reed, Jimmy Walker, Bill Haas and now Brooks Koepka.
Koepka joins the ranks of Reed, Rickie Fowler and Jordan Spieth among rising Americans who could participate in team events for years to come, as he will rise to No. 19 in the world rankings when they are published on Monday. While extrapolating off a small sample size can be dicey, the U.S. squad certainly seems like it will be a significant favorite come October – and that doesn’t even factor in potential veteran presence from the likes of Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods. – Will Gray
The LPGA delivered yet again in its season opener.
The Coates Golf Championship at Golden Ocala proved a rousing success as the LPGA’s new season opener. The galleries were stunning. Somebody joked that The Villages, the giant retirement community nearby, must have emptied out Saturday for the final round. Stacy Lewis said she was “shocked” at the crowds bunched along the ropes at the first tee for the first round.
Golden Ocala Golf & Equestrian Club was a fortuitous find, too. It’s the course the Coates folks wanted, and the LPGA couldn’t have been luckier they did. The course features eight “tribute holes,” replicas of famous holes, including Augusta National’s 12th, 13th and 16th, Royal Troon’s postage stamp hole and St. Andrews’ road hole. In truth, they’re all oddly fitted to the overall design. Naturally, as you would expect, they seriously disrupt the flow of Ron Garl’s design. They proved wonderful disruptions, though. There’s fun in the familiarity for fans, even if they don’t play exactly the same way for players.
What mattered was the way that course heightened the drama on the back nine of the third and final rounds. There were loads of birdies, but there was trouble, too. Just ask Lydia Ko. It made for electric finishes to the final two rounds. The movement on the leaderboard was stirring. You wish every course so ably hosted dramatic theater.
If you wondered how the LPGA could possibly match last year’s magical storylines, you got to be thinking they’re off to an awfully good start. – Randall Mell
During a radio interview this week an earnest host asked when Rory McIlroy would be able to play his way out the slump he was currently enduring.
After a few awkward moments he reminded the host that the world No. 1 finished runner-up at his season opener in Abu Dhabi and the Northern Irishman followed that with a victory on Sunday in Dubai.
Comparing Tiger Woods at his best (say, circa 2006) to anyone, including Woods, is a recipe for misplaced expectations, just as ignoring McIlroy’s own brand of greatness (he hasn’t finished outside the top 15 since August) is just as misplaced. –Rex Hoggard