In this week’s pre-PGA Championship edition we examine Tiger Woods’ new limited schedule, Jordan Spieth’s limited progress and the limits of the AT&T Byron Nelson’s new home.
See you when we see you. When Tiger Woods opted to not play last week’s Wells Fargo Championship there was a light undercurrent of concern considering that it would mean a month between starts for the Masters champion.
For a player with a medical history like Woods perhaps the concerns were understandable, but various posts on social media this week showed Woods practicing at Bethpage Black, site of next week’s PGA Championship.
Woods has repeatedly said after last season’s 18-event campaign that he would not play as much going forward and his decision to skip the Quail Hollow event, which had been a staple on his schedule, appears to be proof of this new approach.
There’s also a chance that between now and the start of the PGA Tour playoffs that Woods will make just five more starts. Given the results so far in his comeback it would be foolish to question his scaled-back schedule. Quality over quantity seems to be working just fine.
Wanamaker Trophy half full. On the eve of the year’s second major, we are going to take the high road.
The PGA Championship will sport the strongest all-professional field of the year with each of the top 100 players in the world rankings – which, the PGA proudly says, has never happened before in a major championship – and a lineup that features 34 major champions.
Of course, the championship’s move to May will certainly be scrutinized next week at Bethpage Black, which probably won’t be at its mid-summer toughest considering the need for warm weather to groom rough heights.
The highs next week in New York are forecast at 65 degrees with rain chances hovering between 20 and 40 percent. If that sounds more like fall football weather just remember last year’s triple-digit temperatures at Bellerive. New York in May doesn’t sound terrible now, does it?
Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)
Being Jordan. On Thursday at the AT&T Byron Nelson, Jordan Spieth did what Jordan Spieth has done so many times in his career, playing his first seven holes in 5 under par.
He followed that blistering start with a double bogey and two bogeys for a 3-under round, which has also become the norm for the 11-time Tour winner.
Throughout Spieth’s recent swoon he’s preached patience and the message was no different on Thursday. “I've told you guys ahead of time it's just a matter of time. This is different. I feel good. I feel like I'm really in the right place,” he said.
Spieth, who is nine shots back after Day 2 in Dallas, may not be poised for a breakthrough this week, but at least he’s not becoming a prisoner of the moment.
Tweet of the week:
Tomorrow I will celebrate my 34th birthday but I have already begun a new and better chapter in my life. Thank you to my friends and family for being there for me. pic.twitter.com/XJjFYyojlh— Chris Kirk (@Chris_Kirk_) May 7, 2019
A lifestyle many would consider glamorous often conceals the reality of life on Tour. For the father of three it was an easy choice to leave it all behind for now.
Dallas stars? When officials relocated this week’s AT&T Byron Nelson from TPC Four Seasons in Irving, Texas, to Trinity Forest last year the idea was the upgrade would help attract a better field. But if the last two events are any indication it’s time to call this a failed experiment.
Although Trinity Forest is in Dallas, it feels closer to the middle of nowhere and the Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw design is, well, turning out to be an acquired taste for many Tour types.
Just two players from the top 20 in the world ranking, No. 3 Brooks Koepka and No. 19 Patrick Reed, are in this week’s field. The projected strength of field (219) is well below what it was when the event was played at TPC Four Seasons, which was also not the most popular stop but at least it was centrally located.
The Nelson’s new spot on the schedule, before the PGA Championship, probably doesn’t help the event’s outlook either, but the tournament’s strength-of-field woes are starting to feel more and more self-inflicted.
Sideshows. Not to pile on the folks in Dallas but it’s also time tournament officials stop sacrificing competitive integrity for gimmicky attention grabs.
Tony Romo is playing his third Tour event in two years this week at the Nelson. After missing the cut the last two years at the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship, the former Cowboys quarterback did the same on his home course at Trinity Forest. He opened with a 5-over 76 on Thursday and followed that with a 74 on Day 2. When he signed his card, he was was tied for 148th out of 153 players. It’s worth pointing out his 74 was his best round ever on Tour.
It’s also worth pointing out that Romo has played all three events on sponsor exemptions, which events are allowed to dole out however they wish. But when a player like Boo Weekley, a three-time Tour winner and former Ryder Cup player, can’t get into the field as the first alternate it might be time to reexamine the system.