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 quality of golf's current "offseason," the intriguing future of Jordan Spieth and the international expansion of the PGA Tour.
The ebbs and flows of the eternal golf schedule have once again reached an improbable peak during an unlikely time, as we briefly interrupt this holiday shopping season for some compelling action on the links.
Last week saw Henrik Stenson hold off Rory McIlroy at the Race to Dubai finale; this weekend found Jordan Spieth lapping the Australian Open field; and in coming days we’ll witness 18 of the world’s best players tee it up at the Chevron, er, Target, uh, Northwestern Mutual, sorry, Hero World Challenge.
Tiger Woods’ tournament, of course, will be most noteworthy because of Woods’ return from a lingering back injury, which should leave observers hanging the tinsel with a little less care as they keep one eye fixated on the proceedings at Isleworth.
It’s not April, it’s not July, it’s not even September. Traditional golf peaks on the sporting landscape no longer mean as much as the competitors and the competition itself.
If you build it, they will come? More like, if they come, we’ll build it up. - Jason Sobel
There’s no telling what Jordan Spieth’s impressive Australian Open victory on Sunday will lead to next year and beyond, but the hype is going to keep building for this bright young talent. There was the Australian golf writer who watched Spieth’s final-round 63 and declared it “almost beyond comprehension” on “the most difficult championship course in the country.” There was world No. 1 Rory McIlroy, who finished 15 shots behind Spieth at The Australian Golf Club, with high praise in a tweet: “You could give me another 100 rounds today at The Australian and I wouldn’t sniff 63.” And then there was Adam Scott, who finished nine shots behind Spieth. There was recognition of the high achievement in Scott’s observations, and something else, too. There was a hint of caution from a player who remembers what it was like to be the young upstart labeled the next big thing.
“He needs to surge, to push himself to surge now because you don't know how many chances you'll get getting to that level,” Scott said. “For him to make the most of it, he's got to push himself and expect a lot.” Spieth looks more than game for pushing himself, and that means we all get to see the fun part next. We get to see if he’s ready to push McIlroy and Scott on some larger stages with even more at stake next year. - Randall Mell
The unknown world of international expansion became a degree more focused on Sunday with the completion of the PGA Tour China’s inaugural season.
With the PGA Tour’s shift to a wrap-around schedule the circuit also transformed the way players ascend to golf’s largest stage, making the Web.com Tour the primary avenue to “big league” employment. Along with that came the addition of the PGA Tour China, PGA Tour Latinoamerica and PGA Tour Canada, as the feeder circuits for the Web.com Tour.
It’s worth noting that the first class from China is an eclectic mix of would-be Tour types, including two players from China, an Australian, an American and a South Korean.
The PGA Tour has always been a global destination and now hopefuls from far-flung locales have an avenue to get there. - Rex Hoggard