ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – There’s a little bit of everything – from some much-needed perspective to a curious world ranking debate – in this week’s fall finish edition.
Self-actualization. The first-world problems of a professional golfer rarely move the needle and there are times when perspective is in short supply among the play-for-pay types, but Chris Paisley’s deep dive into the “worst year of my life” this week on Twitter was equal parts honest and eye-opening.
“I couldn’t have imagined just how badly it would go, and the dark places it would take me,” Paisley wrote. “I genuinely felt as though I was done as a golfer for a large part of the year.”
How bad did things get? In 28 starts on the DP World Tour this year the Englishman played the weekend just twice, lost his tour card and plummeted outside the top 1,000 in the world ranking.
Paisley explained that the source of his struggles was a “really big” swing change that caused him to lose his “identity as a golfer.” He did offer a degree of optimism that his game has turned a corner and he had a decent run at DP World Tour Q-School, but it’s the unvarnished honesty that should give him a reason to look forward to 2023.
Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)
No going back. Rory McIlroy turned up the heat this week in the PGA Tour/LIV Golf clash by declaring that it’s time for LIV CEO Greg Norman to “exit stage left” and allow an “adult” in the room.
Lost in the hyperbole and headlines was the subtext that there could be room, however slight, for dialogue between the competing tours if Norman were gone. It’s a significant shift for the PGA Tour hard-liners who have dug in against the Saudi-backed league but not a sentiment that’s shared by all.
“They're recruiting college players, they're recruiting PGA Tour players, they're recruiting DP World Tour players. As long as they're actively trying a hostile takeover, take our players away, get them to break the rules and go somewhere else, I don't think it matters who's running it,” Davis Love III said this week at the RSM Classic. “I don't think we sit down with anybody unless they say, ‘Hey, we give.’”
Love, a five-time director on the Tour policy board, might be speaking for the majority and it might be too early for détente, but without a glimmer of hope, it’s difficult to imagine where the game goes from here.
End of an era. Honda Motors is stepping away as title sponsor of the PGA Tour’s south Florida event, ending the circuit’s longest-running title sponsorship and creating uncertainty during a crucial part of the schedule.
First reported by Golfweek.com and confirmed by multiple sources, next year’s Honda Classic will be the last for the auto manufacturer as a result of a condensed schedule. Although some contend the Tour’s creation of “elevated” events prompted the move, multiple sources told GolfChannel.com that Honda’s exit was in the works before LIV Golf disrupted the current model and prompted a dramatic change.
Although mired in a difficult spot on the schedule between the Genesis Invitational, which is hosted by Tiger Woods, and the Arnold Palmer Invitational, sources say officials in south Florida are searching for a replacement sponsor. Regardless of how it turns out, it’s a clear sign that change, however required, won’t be easy.
A good laugh. The world ranking in all its forms has always been a punchline regardless of what tour you play or your understanding of the math, but this week’s exchange, starting with Jon Rahm’s take, was particularly curious.
“I'm going to be as blunt as I can. I think the [world ranking] right now is laughable. Laughable. Laughable,” Rahm fumed at the DP World Tour Championship. “The fact that the RSM doesn't have any of the top 20 in the world [and] has more points than this event where we have seven of the top 20 is laughable.”
The math, which was overhauled to use what officials call “modern statistical techniques” to more accurately evaluated tournaments relative to each other, may not square with reality, which is Rahm’s point. But it was interesting that McIlroy had a dramatically different take on the new ranking format, calling it “the fairest system that you can come up with right now.”
“The reason that [the DP World Tour finale] has got 21 points and the RSM has got 39 is the person that wins the RSM has to beat  other guys.
You only have to beat 49 other guys here,” McIlroy said. “It’s pure numbers.”
Whether the current model is the best option isn’t the issue. The issue is how two-star players on the same side of the fence can have such wildly divergent takes.
Tweet of the week:
We’re not going to pretend we have a clue how Musk and Twitter burned through $44 billion so quickly or whether the platform is redeemable, but if there’s no Twitter, how are we going to know when there’s a rules violation on the PGA Tour?
Fall farewell. Whatever becomes of the Tour’s fall slate, the only absolute is that the post-Tour Championship schedule will look vastly different after this year.
The Tour’s move away from a split-calendar schedule will leave a condensed fall docket that will serve as a seedings series for players to either reclaim their Tour cards or improve their status. While the current model will include a two-year Tour exemption for winners of fall events according to various sources, gone will be any FedExCup points and, most likely, any kind of star power.
The move is part of the Tour’s overhaul to focus on star players and given the current climate, it’s difficult to second-guess the circuit’s choices. But for the fall events who have clawed out an existence, it does feel like an unceremonious ending.