In this week’s edition we celebrate the productive properties of competition, be it on the golf course for Patrick Reed or in the board room for the PGA Tour.
Premier pressure. It’s been a little over a month since news of a lucrative new tour emerged and although it’s too early to predict an outcome it seems as if there will be change one way or another.
The lure of enormous purses, limited schedules and small fields has, at the least, caught the attention of the rank and file and started a conversation that was probably long overdue.
“I don’t personally see it working right now, but things might change and there is always an amount of player power that will go into it,” Tommy Fleetwood told Golf Channel last week.
While Fleetwood is among a group of players who have publicly said they wouldn’t bolt the PGA Tour for the PGL, he was also among an even larger group of players who believe some of the PGL’s ideas are worth looking into.
In any business, competition can be a positive catalyst for change, even if that competition comes in the form of what looks like a hostile takeover.
Royal return. Royal Troon doesn’t have the historic cachet of the Old Course or the ambience of Muirfield, but it does hold a special place in the history of the game’s oldest championship and now a historic spot in The Open’s rotation.
The R&A announced this week Royal Troon will host the 2023 Open which will mark the 100th anniversary since the Scottish links first hosted the championship.
The last Open at Royal Troon was one of the championship’s most dramatic when Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson dueled on a historic Sunday, which along with the centennial celebration explains why the links was moved back into the rotation so quickly.
All of The Open venues are special, but some – like the Old Course and, yes, Troon – are a little more enticing than others.
Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)
Bay Hill bypass. When Tiger Woods skipped last week’s WGC-Mexico Championship it was easy to dismiss the no-show considering it was fresh off the Genesis Invitational, where he is the host, and is played on a course that’s considered quirky.
When he skipped this week’s Honda Classic, which is just 15 miles from his South Florida home, it was also easy to ignore the move considering the reputation of PGA National as an unnecessarily demanding test so early in the season.
But the news Friday that Woods will also skip next week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational, where he’s won eight times, is a little harder to dismiss.
This year’s schedule, with The Players directly after Bay Hill followed two weeks later by the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, doesn’t help, but trading reps for more rest at what was once a second home for Tiger is a reason to pause.
Woods also skipped the Honda Classic and Bay Hill last year and we all know how that turned out when it mattered at Augusta National. Maybe these no-shows should be less concerning and more eye-opening that when it comes to Woods’ schedule less is clearly the new norm.
Captain Curious. His victory at the 2018 Masters stands as the competitive high-point of Patrick Reed’s career, but his closing 67 last Sunday against a flawless leaderboard at the WGC-Mexico Championship ranks as his most gritty performance.
The one-stroke victory came against the likes of world No. 1 Rory McIlroy, third-round leader Justin Thomas, Bryson DeChambeau and Jon Rahm, which should also give the American some added style points.
And then, of course, there was all the outside noise that Reed had to endure following another week of criticism over his run in with the Rules of Golf at last year’s Hero World Challenge. This time it was no less than world No. 3 Brooks Koepka and former CBS analyst Peter Kostis who questioned Reed’s explanation of the violation.
Asked if controversy brings out the best in him, Reed offered a chilling response, “I'm used to it.” Reed’s troubles are largely self-inflicted and don’t appear to be quieting anytime soon, but at least for one afternoon he was able to ignore that noise and savor the cheers.
Tweet of the week: @PepperellEddie (Eddie Pepperell) “Oops!”
The Englishman posted the one-word response with a screenshot that showed @PReedGolf had blocked Pepperell along with a host of others.
Global concern. The headlines hit far too close to home this week when Lorenzo Gagli and Edoardo Molinari were quarantined over fears they had contracted the coronavirus virus prior to the European Tour’s Oman Open.
Gagli and Molinari were only held in quarantine briefly before testing negative for the virus, but the incident was one of many virus-related concerns this week in golf.
The LPGA Tour has cancelled three consecutive events this month in China, Singapore and Thailand over health-related concerns and earlier this month the European Tour postponed the Maybank Championship and the Volvo China Open, both scheduled for early spring.
Last week, Olympic officials estimated it would take another three months to decide the fate of the Tokyo Games, meaning a decision could be put off until late May, and San Francisco's mayor declared a state of emergency over coronavirus concerns, prompting the PGA of America, which is scheduled to hold the PGA Championship at Harding Park in May, to announce the organization is monitoring the outbreak.
Tweet of the week II: @DodoMolinari (Edoardo Molinari) “For everyone asking, I am absolutely fine. No symptoms at all, no fever, no cold, nothing wrong at all. Just very bored and annoyed. Hopefully this nightmare will be over soon!”